Friday, March 4, 2011

[Paladin] Oh My! Arena, How Have You Been?

This post is dedicated to my guild’s bear tank, Buik, for nagging me to update already. ;)

My paladin hit level 85 about a week and a half ago, and since that time I’ve started PvPing. Battlegrounds, then Tol Barad, and finally, last night, arena.

Given the time frame, I didn’t have time to earn honor for a full set of blue PvP gear for myself, and I didn’t want to splurge on crafted blues. I’m not shooting for a title at the moment. I just wanted to get back in the groove of things and do some 2v2 with my long-time arena partner Cursedhoof.

So I entered my first arena match in my PvE blues and greens with a blue PvP honor chest and my old 200 resilience PvP trinket from WotLK. I wanted to be better geared, but as Cursedhoof pointed out, at this point we have no rating to lose and we’ll still be getting Conquest Points, so after some reflection it didn’t sound like a bad idea at all.

Hunter and holy paladin has long been described as one of the worst 2v2 arena combos ever. Seriously, there’s a thread on that topic at Arena Junkies and you will find hunter/holy pally listed on the first page. We made it work in Season 4 (the last season of Burning Crusade) , but it wasn’t as strong for the seasons we played in WotLK (Seasons 6 and 7).

The problem with hunter and holy paladin is a lack of burst and that the hunter is surprisingly squishy. Line of sight issues are absolutely horrible for us. It actually wasn’t too bad for us back in TBC, when Nagrand and Blade’s Edge were the arenas of choice. While a good healer can pillar hump with the best of them, the arenas that kill us are the Dalaran Sewers (boxes hate hunters because they’re so small the hunter is forced into melee range if he has to run around the corner to get on the same side as the kill target) and the Ring of Valor (we haven’t played this one yet in Cata, but throughout WotLK he would have to dismiss his pet or it would bug out while trying to get off the starting elevator).

As part of getting ready for arenas, I decided to sacrifice my paladin’s prot spec to make my first spec completely dedicated to holy PvP.

It might sound a little funny, especially from someone who had previously earned an arena title, but I had never actually specced entirely for PvP. Throughout TBC I used an odd holy spec that allowed me to PvE, PvP, and even tank content up to normal Magister’s Terrace. Unfortunately changes were made to how paladins worked early in WotLK so I lost the holy tanking ability, but with dual specs that wasn’t an issue. I could use my second spec for prot and my holy spec was a good PvE/PvP hybrid. There were a couple points here and there that were sub-optimal for one activity or another, but overall it was decent enough.

So why did I change now?

Well, the reason behind the decision was primarily Light of Dawn, and then it snowballed from there.

Light of Dawn is an AoE cone heal costing Holy Power. No mana would be needed, but it would also mean that I would not be able to use the instant cast Word of Glory heal at the same time, since they both rely on the Holy Power resource. An AoE heal for two people, even three, is a waste. Light of Dawn is not an arena talent.

I also realized that with Pursuit of Justice being on the second tier of the ret tree it was within easy pickings of a PvP spec, should I want it. While running faster is fun in PvE too, really it’s a godsend in PvP. (Few things make me happier than frustrating the warrior or DK who can’t seem to keep up with or kill me.)

So I decided that this season I would try a full PvP spec. Besides, questing with a full PvE holy spec is awful, and I could do dailies in PvP spec but PvE gear.

Our first night in the arena

Our first night of Season 9 was not terribly smooth. I can’t speak for my teammate, but I was in terrible form. I died twice before getting my bubble off in matches where my death most likely cost us the game. I always reminded my Season 7 3v3 ret pally partner that he should never die without having already used his bubble, so I was needless to say kicking myself seven ways to Sunday over it. I think the problem is that I was remembering how long I would live in WotLK, but I have virtually no PvP gear in Cata so I kept underestimating how much longer I could really stay standing.

Bubble early, bubble often, is what I have to tell myself now.

We also encountered one pain-in-the-neck disc priest who, while unable to keep his PvP partner up, was a master at running around boxes in the Dalaran area. We ended up wasting 5-10 minutes chasing him around until he finally gave up and left. If we managed to catch up in the open we could get him to maybe 40- 50% health before he got away again, but his mana regen was so strong he was always able to heal up again while getting mana back. He went from 20% mana when his partner died to full when he only had to maintain himself.

Rebuke is truly something awesome now. As a blood elf paladin I now have three different ways to interrupt a healer, and as a result of that, I had a crowning moment of awesome to redeem myself in one of our matches.

We were fighting a feral druid and a resto shaman. I wasn’t having much trouble keeping teammate up, but the resto shaman was good about ducking behind pillars to avoid being shot at by a hunter. So while my partner stayed on the feral, what I did was run up to the shaman and Arcane Torrent when she was lining up a Healing Wave. She ran away, of course, and when the silence wore off she started winding up a Healing Surge. I ran up to her and hit Rebuke. And if my teammate hadn’t killed the feral by then, I had my Hammer of Justice ready for a third interrupt.

Hammer of Justice is the third interrupt because it’s possible to trinket out of it, but Rebuke and Arcant Torrent prevent spellcasting for a few seconds afterwards, which means the healer just has to eat it.

We ended the night comfortably maxed out on Conquest Points, and to my surprise, epic PvP gear is not all that expensive! I remember having to scrimp for weeks to hope for a piece of arena point gear, but not so much now. I can reasonably expect a new piece every two weeks, starting with my PvP weapon as soon as next week. This is probably old news to some people, but since I hadn’t been PvPing all I knew was that there was a lot of epic arena gear that didn’t require a rating.

Certainly there is 2200 rating arena gear, which I never expect to get, but I should be able to get quite a few pieces of the lower tier epics before the next season starts.