When to perform a swap in arenas?
To be able to perform well in the Burning Crusade Classic arena, it is important to know when and how to perform a swap between your kill target and your off-target. Some matchups require a rigid strategy, where swapping would most of the time be counterproductive, while other matchups require flexibility and you will need to adapt and swap targets in order to ensure victory. This article covers two different aspects of this question: macro management (When you should swap target or keep tunneling), and micro management (How you should swap target).
Situational swaps in arenas
In arenas (or any other PVP environment), swapping targets should never be done randomly, and one can look at 3 specific indicators that can lead you to either tunnel one target or perform a swap between your kill target and your off-target(s).
– Cooldown usage
– Mana status
Knowing when to perform a swap is part of the tactical skills and awareness of any good arena player. During a game, you should do a quick check for these indicators and call for a swap with your partner when one (or more) of these conditions is satisfied.
Cooldowns usage (trinket and defensive abilities)
You should keep track of your enemies defensive cooldowns which are listed here for each class in TBC:
– All classes: PvP trinket
– Mage: Ice block, Cold Snap
– Priest: Pain suppression, Stoneform for Dwarves
– Druid: Nature Swiftness, Barkskin
– Rogue: Cloak of Shadows, Vanish
– Warlock: Fel Domination
– Paladin: Divine Shield, Blessing of Protection or Sacrifice
If you manage to get some of these abilities on cooldowns from a target, you should now look at your enemies and quickly deduce from their positioning, their armor, resistances, and remaining CDs and evaluate on which target you should go and if you are able to CC the other target.
This decision also relies on your own cooldowns.
– Do you have one Prep (Vanish) to set up a new opener with the other player controlled?
– Do you have your Shadowstep to reach the enemy?
In what we call situational matchups, that is this ability to consider swaps based on the previous factors that will grant you your win condition.
For example, as Rogue/Mage, getting both enemies trinkets used early on against Priest/Rogue leaves you with different options depending on: the Diminishing returns (DR) for your Sheep/Sap, your Kidney shot cooldown, your Vanish.
Basically, if you force a trinket on Polymorph from the Priest, and get the rogue’s trinket on KS, you could actually think about swapping to priest with a Blind rogue into Sap or Poly while you chose to go priest with a new Cheapshot-Kidney-Counterspell
This situation leads us to our second indicator.
In some situations, you will find yourself to be able to reach your initial off-target only, while your original kill target might be far away as he was running away from you (will often happen with the classes having high mobility and escape possibilities such as druids, mages and rogues).
It might also be one of your enemies who is overextending.
You should communicate with your teammate and consider performing a swap. This might even give you an advantage as the other enemy might not be able to peel or heal his friend who is now in a weak position, and a swap performed quickly might result in a kill. This is something that could happen quite often against Druid/Rogue teams when one of the players suffers a big pressure (deadly), or even Rogue/Mage or Rogue/Rogue team.
Imagine as a Rogue/ShadowPriest, being faced with a Druid/Rogue team composition. In many situations, you might consider going Druid but Druid’s mobility is quite huge and with great pressure, the player could even decide to completely leave his mate alone while his partner is Feared into Vanish-Sap, hypothetically out of his partner’s line of sight.
This could be your call for a swap, re set-up the dot with the Shadowpriest being “free cast” and then, land the kill with Cheapshot- Kidney because the Druid would be too late to connect and get his healing out damaged.
A caster being out of mana might become an easy kill target once he’s out of mana, and this is especially true if they have already used their defensive CDs as explained in the first indicator.
This usually occurs in games with healers as these will tend to be longer.
These particular moments will allow you to find some windows to land Sap while the enemy tries to drink, or just swap on the enemy because he won’t be able to flee and kite (let’s say an OOM mage) or heal himself (let’s say a Priest).
How to perform a swap
In order to perform an offensive swap, you sometimes need to be able to put pressure on your new main target as fast as possible. This means that you should either have some CDs left to help your offense, some CCs for the off-target, or a positioning or mana advantage.
In fast-paced games or high-pressure situations, swaps sometimes need to be done extremely fast, either defensively in order to peel and save your teammate or offensively as you might have a short kill window. This is when your mechanical skills come into play: changing your target quickly or doing a DPS burst.
It is also about resetting, using vanish, or running away while you wait for your next go.
In the video below (starting at 04:05) you can see a good example of scripted swap when the Shaman uses his trinket, the hunter/rogue swaps instantly on the warrior with a Blind on the Shaman because the warrior is now helpless. 👇
In some matchups, the strategy revolves around a swap planned in advance. In that case, the idea is usually to force a trinket or a defensive cooldown in a planned offensive manner by putting pressure on one target, before switching to the kill target. This can be called a fake go.
Once this is done, you might either go for the kill right away if you are able to, or want to reset for a short time in order to prepare your setup, wait for DRs on enemy to drop and your offensive CDs to come back.
The next step is then to reopen on that target, or to CC them and swap to the other enemy as their teammate is no longer able to use his trinket or his CDs to peel them.
For example, as Double Rogue against Priest/Mage (yes this is real sweaty), you may consider to Cheap Shot Priest, while the second rogue is using Sap on mage, and instantly Shadowstep the Priest. This leaves the opposing mage with two options:
– Praying for his priest to survive at least 10seconds alone against two free rogues (the pressure on him will be deadly at the end of those 10sec, and the mage could eventually be sapped again at the end of the first one)
– Using Ice Block or PvP Trinket to assist his partner (with damage or controls)
Usually, the trinket will be used and then a Blind from a rogue will come.
Back to the same options for the mage here, after using trinket on Sap, should I Ice Block that 10sec Blind?
If he doesn’t use it, his partner might die (we do not count any RNG factor here)
So once you get those two big cooldowns used (trinket + ice block), naturally the double rogue will consider swapping to mage as he will have no defensive way to survive two rogues without Ice Block (Blink once, yeah, and then?)
Here, this is what we call a scripted swap.
So as you can see, there are many ways to plan a swap in arenas. And if we only talked about this through the 2v2 bracket (because it is a bit more scripted than 3v3) you can be sure that it’s perfectly doable in 3v3 as well (for example, blinding druid, and instantly swapping to him as a team to kill him in a CS KS)