Monday, January 31, 2011

Arena Intangibles: Pressure


Today, I'd like to talk a bit about something that is invisible, and impossible to measure, yet vital to your success in the arena. And how it makes you win. Sometimes called "Momentum", pressure is one of the most important aspects of victory, and being able to control it is a sure way to attain victory.

Pictured: Pressure
I'll start with an example: We lose against Mage/lock/druid and mage/lock/shaman just about every single time. I could make excuses about their CC is completely imbalanced, and how their damage is far too excessive, and I could talk for hours about how unfair warlock self healing is, but the truth of the matter is, this team wins every time because they completely out pressure us consistently, and have many, many tools to help them keep the pressure on thick.

How can you cause pressure? Understanding the ways that you can influence pressure, or momentum, in a battle will help ensure your success. The great news is that there are tons of things you may already do that cause pressure against your enemies. Have you ever scatter trapped a healer? You may not have even known it, but you were causing pressure at that time. When you blow your cooldowns and start really laying into a target, your pressure increases dramatically. The easiest way to visualize pressure is by picturing your team and the enemy team on either side of a pendulum, and you are both leaning on it as hard as you can. The team that can press hardest will win, right?

There are three main facets of pressure:
  1. Damage (and Healing)
  2. Interrupts
  3. Crowd Controls
If you look at any extremely successful team, they will typically excel in one of these categories, and be very strong in a second. Its extremely rare that a team excels in all three categories, but fortunately for us Hunters, we have the capability of strongly impacting all three of these categories. It is impossible to be successful in the arena without mastering pressure!

Stopping pressure is a whole other article in itself, so right now I'll just focus on how to increase your own pressure.

First, its important to recognize that Hunter damage is very reliant on your gear. Make sure that your gear is as optimized as it can be! Don't get cheap on your gems/enchants, unless you are going to be replacing those pieces soon. 100 attack power doesn't really seem that much, but lets say that 100 attack power is worth 30 dps on a target (its not, this is an example). The longer the fight goes, the more valuable that 100 attack power becomes! After only two minutes, that extra 30dps translates into 3600 extra damage, or roughly one extra Arcane Shot, for free! And it only gets better the more minor upgrades you make into your gear. If you can get just 5 of your gear pieces to contribute 30 dps more each, then that 3600 damage over two minutes becomes 18000 extra damage! That's as much damage as three non-crit explosive shots!

Secondly, its important to remember that the arena is 100% team combat. Your teammates are one of your most valuable resources. The pressure that you can put out by yourself can be substantial, but combined with your team its a much more multiplicative if you can work together effectively! This means that you need to communicate with your teammates. A scatter trap is a decent CC, but a healer who is able to cast for only three seconds could potentially heal a target for a large chunk of their life before you can get the next CC out. Its OK to overlap CCs with your partners a little bit to ensure that the target has no opportunities to get any instant casts out or do anything else crazy that you cant stop. Call out your CCs and make sure your partners are ready to capitalize on the windows you open with them! If you have ever watched my stream, you'd know that we are CONSTANTLY calling out what is happening to us and what sort of CCs we're attempting. If I scatter and get disabled and cant land the trap, I call it so my teammates can be ready to continue the CC without me.

My last piece of advice is this: I call it an intangible because its impossible to measure in anything less than a loss or a victory. If you lose, figure out what went wrong, and figure out a way for you to be able to increase your pressure on the other team, and I promise you'll be more successful.

In my next few articles, I'll talk a bit more about how you can boost pressure, and how you can help reduce the pressure that your enemies are putting out. Look forward to it.

Happy hunting.


  1. That's a good guide you've got there, keep it up.

  2. Great coverage, love all this gaming stuff!

  3. I agree about the pressure, but it really is a class advantage. Two friends and I went in on a 3v3 before 4.0, and it was hunter/lock/shammy for us, and we won against most teams. I'd Felhunter the priest/healer to stop the casting and eat the mana; the hunter would send the pet to start taking out whatever squishy or such that they could and DPS the others; the shammy would heal us and keep us buffed. It was a pretty good set up, and we weren't even that good.


  4. There was a time when warlocks were absolutely useless in pvp, and rogues naked with just two starting daggers would rape anyone else. True story.

  5. Wow, there's so much depth that I never knew. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Nice writeup! Never knew you can get so in depth with this. Following

  7. Is is better to use focus to do things like tranq and apply the healing debuff, or would that focus have been better spent on direct damage?

  8. @Euripides

    In my experience, the healing debuff is not a useful expense of focus, unless you know you're about to be unable to deal damage to that target for some reason (Ex: hes going out of LOS, throw a Widow Venom on him at the last second).

    Since I play with a shaman, I usually don't tranq very frequently, unless its a debuff that absolutely must come off, like heroism. But if you dont have an offensive dispel, I would try to clear important buffs before dpsing very hard.