Back in Season 8 I stepped into Arena for the first time as a Retribution Paladin, with a Restoration Shaman partner who taught me the ins and outs of PvP. She had done Arenas before and in short order had me writing macros for cleanses, casting hands, Focus-crowd control, and especially, focus bursting healers and OOMing them.
It was a lot of fun and we got up to 1500 rating before she left the game and I didn't find another partner before the season ended.
So, Cataclysm comes out, and I keep poking guildies if anyone wanted to Arena with me but nobody really wanted to outside of one or two matches here or there and I was kicking sand with my hands jammed in my pockets, pouting about missing the fun.
Now, recently, my guild leader, Thistle, had swapped her mains from a holy priest to a hunter for raiding and was missing the priest somewhat fierce. I gently suggested Arenas and she cautiously accepted.
Thistle has her own history with obsessive PvP arenas in Guild Wars and didn't want to be addicted to it but I wasn't planning on doing Arenas for more than my Conquest Caps and seeing how far we could get without any hard-core arena play. We promised - no pouting or yelling over losses, no obsessing over our ratings and no grinding of duels or anything. A virtual hand-shake later, we were ready to be casual Arena folk.
Stepping into low-level Arena is always interesting. You're facing either very bad teams of people who have no idea what to do and are just trying to farm Conquest or you face good players who're starting up a new team. On top of it all, I hadn't been farming too much honor so I splurged what I had saved on a couple of trinkets and girded my loins. Thistle had a fair amount of Resilience gear and we walked in as a Discipline Priest and Retribution Paladin.
The first match was a complete stumble - we faced a burst team that just ate us and I was clumsy with CC and off-heals. But then we began to find our feet and we won the next three matches. Burst teams became manageable as we realized we'd have to survive the first minute and then we'd win and the panic gave way to a steady cool. It felt like last summer when my Resto friend and I would discuss each match and really try to understand how we were doing. We ended the night with a 3/1 win/loss ratio.
Before the week ended we got together again to cap out the last two matches and just demolished the first match - it was a feral druid/hunter comp and I was able to burst the hunter and keep him moving so he couldn't do crap while the Feral tried off-healing and once I had him below 10%, he CC'd me and tried to get LoS to go get healed but Thistle got a DoT on him and down he went. A minute in, the match was over.
The next two matches were more challenging and we felt evenly matched - we lost them both, but kept our spirits up. One of those matches had a frost mage which is my counter - I have no idea how to play against them in Arenas. It's my biggest weakness - I can counter hunters, boomkin, shadow priests, warlocks, but Mages just eat me alive. Ugh.
On top of that, Thistle's latency was a bit high and on the second match, I was still being clumsy with CC, kept swapping excessively and taking my time settling on a target which is terrible for arenas. I needed to pick a target and stick to it. Plus, my total lack of Resilience was draining Thistle's mana and we discussed making changes for the next week and I'd farm some honor for gear, but we wanted one more win to cap the night, so we queued again with 1/2.
The match was against a balance team in Nagrand arena - a Holy Paladin and a Rogue. Huh. Rogues can keep me slowed and CC'd like mad and OOM me if I go nuts with cleansing so I settled on the Paladin and the guy was pretty good - his resilience was good and he was kiting me around the pillars very well. The Rogue was sapping and slowing me like crazy and it felt like a loss - these guys were pretty good.
But after the initial clumsiness, we somehow stabilized the incoming damage and I began to focus the healer a bit better. Every time I got him low, the rogue would CC me and the paladin would LoS and heal back up. He was also fantastic at recovering mana and used his stun very effectively. But somehow, we kept up. I kept enough pressure on him that the rogue couldn't pressure my healer and had to keep swapping to me.
The minutes ticked on, we'd disengage for a few seconds at a time to recover mana and go at it again. On a couple of occasions I had to spam heals and HoP was continuously on cool down. I managed to get the Pladin below 10% mana and 50% health a couple of times but he was always able to get that last cool-down just in time and CC'd me or LoS'd the mana-burns.
Thistle and I were both just exhausted at this point, and all the damage I was eating was keeping her mana below 20% pretty much the entire match - if Paladins didn't have the kind of defensive play they do with self-heals (and if she had been any less awesome - she really won the fight by keeping up with such little mana), the match would've been over. Her Shadow Fiend was out every time her cool-down came up.
But then I saw an opening. My cool-downs were all coming up - Kings, Zealotry and Wings - and his mana was pretty low. I kept at him until he bubbled. Thistle was ready with her Mass Dispel - and then I hammered and hit all three. Thistle got a mana-burn off just before the rogue stunned her, and he trinketed and ran but it was over - with his mana less than 10% he stopped to cast a long heal and I had an interrupt in place.
He fell and I breathed over vent, "Thank god." The rogue kept up the fight for a few seconds longer but it was done. I sat with shaking hands as the match stats came up - 29 minutes. That fight went on for 29 minutes and then Thistle said, "Are we good now?"
I chuckled. Yes, we were good.
It's kind of funny that what was supposed to be a completely casual farming for Conquest Points night turned into a half-hour long match and it was fairly intense. I'm not a very good arena player but I think I know enough to be able to manage to hold my own at the lower levels and this match reminded me of the most fun games I had last summer - and on some level, it made me both grin and wince thinking about the other team. Poor bastards fought just as hard and just as long as we did and still lost after 30 minutes.
Unfortunately, the new Armory took out match-history so I don't remember their team name, but this is for you guys - while I feel a tiny bit bad that you lost, I'm also really happy that we won. Thank you for an awesome match.