Blizzard Entertainment recently announced their 2008 Arena Tournament Schedule. Any serious Arena player who participates must read the schedule. It is divided into phases, and you might be left behind and out of the loop if you don’t read the schedule. The Arena Tournament is organized very nicely allowing anyone to join, test their character, class spec, change teams and other arrangements prior to the actual competition. However, if you haven’t joined the Arena Tournament yet, I recommend to do so really soon. You have freedom to test the realms until May 6, when registration will be officially closed. This is your chance to take a shot at $200,000 worth in prizes and show who’s the best and true Arena Champion.

Register to participate in the Arena Tournament before May 6, 2008.

Are you still undecided whether to spend $20 on the registration fee, because you don’t know what you will find on the other side of the fence once you are in the Arena Tournament? Or do you fear it is unbalanced and have no chance at winning? I sincerely think you must read this article and give yourself a chance to win this tournament because in the few days I have been talking with Arena players the feedback has been, in a nutshell, they love how Blizzard has balanced this tournament. Skill is the main factor that decides who wins. Everyone has more or less the same gear.

Once you register with a $20 registration fee, your account will become flagged to join the Arena Tournament Realm List. You will find out by login into World of Warcraft, at the Character List. Click the CHANGE REALM button. You will see the typical realm list. At the bottom you will find three tabs titled as: United States, Oceania, and Arena Tournament. After choosing the Arena Tournament tab you are welcomed with the character list … but surprise, your random character is level 70 and it is already geared up with the Merciless Gladiator Set … ready to rumble. Choose the faction, race, and class you wish to play with. You are almost ready to go.

You can only create three characters per realm. If you attempt to create a fourth character, you will get the following message: “You already have the maximum number of characters allowed on this realm”. Therefore, Choose wisely.

Your fresh-made character will spawn at a random town or village in the world. In my case, the Undead Rogue was spawned at the Deathknell in Tirisfal Glades. My Orc Warlock spawned at Fairbreeze Village in Silvermoon; and my Dwarf Hunter spawned at Shadowglen in Teldrassil.

You will notice a very drastic change between normal realms and the Arena Tournament realm … there is no quest NPCs and no local vendors. Right on the village of your starting location you will notice many Arena goblin NPC vendors lined up on top of wooden platforms.

The whole world is a ghost town except for the Arena NPCs. You won’t find creep/mobs, animals of any kind or otherwise. So don’t waste your valuable time exploring the world. You came here to beat everyone else and crown yourself Champion of the Arena Tournament with your real life pockets full of Franklin$. This is indeed: Serious Business.

The first thing to do is to check your Talent Tree. You have 61 points to spend them any way you wish. Then open the menu bar and select the Actionbars tab to enable all your bottom and right UI Bars. Open your spell tab and populate your action bars with all your class spells and abilities.

Secondly, go talk to the Arena Promoter. He has a few options for you to pick: Create a hearthstone (which will bind you to the location you are at). You can do this anywhere in Azeroth. The other options are a teleport to any major city within the world of Azeroth. You will find Class trainers lined up. These are in case you wish to unlearn your Talent Tree. And listen the good news … free of charge respec … any time.

Wish more good news? Talk to the Paymaster NPC, next to the Arena Promoter. She will give you 5,000 gold. Go spend them. Spent 2,000 gold? No sweat. Talk to her and she will reset your gold amount to 5,000 gold. It is Unlimited. Now head to the Arena Vendors and gear up if you don’t want the gear given to you as default after character creation.


General Goods
Gems Vendor
Cloth Armor
Leather Armor
Mail Armor
Plate Armor
Weapons Vendor

The General Goods Vendor is your first stop. It will give you: water and food, reagents, Flash powder, Heavy Netherweave Bandages, unlimited Healing and Mana potions, a free Mount, Fish oil, Shiny Fish Scales, free Soul Shards, Light feather, Mysterious Arrow and Mysterious Shell. I am not quite sure why it sells healing and mana pots. In the skirmish arena fights you can’t drink healing pots. That could be a good thing to balance the tournament, I guess.

The Enchantments Vendor is awesome. You can buy various items that work like the Aldor and Scryers inscriptions which you click to apply the enchantment to your head and shoulder. However, these enchants are based on the Enchanter Profession/Tradeskill Recipes. You can apply these to head, chest, bracer, weapons, boots, and gloves. No need to call for enchanters on Trade channel.

How balanced is this Arena Tournament when it comes to Gems? Very balanced. You buy gems from the NPC Vendor and all of them are blue gems. There are no purple gems at this vendor.

The Accessories Vendor will sell you necklaces, trinkets, cloaks, and most importantly your pant enchants usually sold by tailors and leatherworkers, such as Golden Spellthread, Runic Spellthread, Nethercobra Leg Armor, Nethercleft Leg Armor. You can also get Stabilized Eternium Scope or Khorium scope for your off-hand gun. Among the trinkets, I can imagine the grins on some people using the Lightning Capacitator which is available from this NPC vendor.

From the Weapons Vendor you may get a large range of Merciless Gladiator weapons, guns, idols, totems, librams, bows, fist weapons, wands, held-on-hand items, Shields, and non-Arena set weapons.

If you are a Warlock, open your bags. Your Core Felcloth Bag already has 28 soul shards, and your backpack has a Swift Razzashi Raptor mount, and extra Merciless Gladiator, Felwave set, 20 Heavy Netherweave Bandages, 5 Infernal stones, and five Grimoire books for your Felguard abilities.

If you are a Hunter, your first question is … how do I get a pet if there are no animals in the Arena Tournament server? Simply go to the Hunter Trainer. To his side you will see the Beastmaster NPC. He will have three options for you: He functions as stable, he can untrain your pet, and gives you a long list of animals to choose from: Bat, Boar, Carrion Bird, Cat, Dragonhawk, Nether Ray, Owl, Raptor, Ravager, Scorpid, Serpent, Spider, Warp Stalker, Wind Serpent, Wolf.

Hunters get a 28 slot bag full of purple Mysterious Arrow, a Swift Razzashi Raptor, 20 Heavy Netherweave Bandages and a 24 Slot Ammo Pouch Equip: Increases ranged attack speed by 15%.

Now that you are set and ready to kick some sovereign booties, your next step is to Purchase a Team Charter. Go to the Arena Organizer who stands next to the Arena Promoter and Paymaster. You can purchase a 2v2 (80g), 3v3 (120g) or 5v5 (200g) charter. You can invite family members or friends. Otherwise you can go to the official Arena Tournament forums to recruit someone, or use Trade Channel. There is no bank and no Auction House. There is no professions/tradeskills either. So Trade Channel is clear and it will do nicely to seek recruits.

Once your team is ready, talk to the Arena Battlemasters to start your first Arena Tournament match. You will find them not too far from the Arena NPC vendors. You may have to ride between areas to find them. They are not hard to distinguish … they are goblins atop an armored Netherwing drake mount.

You have the option to test your class and talent spec in the skirmish 2v2, 3v3, 5v5 arena without affecting your ranking.

Now that this quick review of what you can expect in the Arena Tournament Servers is over, I want to introduce you to some players who shared some feedback.

What motivated you to join the Arena Tournament?
Ownerizer: I was hoping I would get a bit of high end competition.

Propaganda: Just to play with friends and get to experience some new classes for free.

Zakron: Instant Season 2 Gear enabling true class balance was the reason I joined. Money was secondary to that.

Mackheenga: For the experience of playing and competing with a different character than the one on the live servers.

Yesterdayman: I played it on the test realm and it was a lot of fun.

Armonster: The Cash Prize. I have always played Counter-Strike professionally and WoW on the side. But for $200,000, I made the switch. We have 1900 rating (RPM).

Velica: I believe I can play a Warlock better than most, and want a shot at the $200,000.

I noted most of you have played over 50 games. Have your hopes to find high-end competition been fulfilled?

Ownerizer: For the most part, yes. The friend I came here with started messing up after it got really late though.

Armonster: Not until we make it to the WCG Finals. Hehe. Blizzard has done a great job so far and I look forward to this kind of Arena Tournaments being a regular thing.

Velica: Nope. Hard to find a team that is steady.

What are the best highlights you like about the Arena Tournament thus far?

Ownerizer: I love the fact the money isn’t capped and the arenas are for the most part stresss free. It’s a good way to test skill too, since everyone’s gear is the same now. I’ve liked that, I get to see if the people I came here with would be good to actually arena with on our actual server.

Propaganda: The being able to try anything with the amount of gear/gold available and having any class available.

Zakron: Class Balance, I like how great Blizzard has done making classes extremely balanced in 1v1, which I think is one reason I keep playing on Arena Tournament servers.

Mackheenga: The PvE and PvP gear combos you can make.

Yesterdayman: Instant Queue Matches.

Armonster: I really like the competitiveness on here, and the level playing field. Pretty much everyone has the same gear, so it puts the outcome of the match into the hands of the players. It is much harder to get a high rating here because of that.

Velica: Being able to try out different talent builds free of charge.

What flaws have you found thus far in the Arena Tournament that you dislike, and how would you solve them if you were a developer?

Propaganda: The only real flaws I’ve found are the limitatiosn in the things like the enchants and gear, I think you should be able to pick from anything on live servers to gear yourself. I’ve noticed a few enchants aren’t included and I think it would make for a wider field of play to have everything usable.

Zakron: I would suggest to Blizzard that the magic number is ‘0’. However, what I see as flaw is the emphasis is on 3v3s. I would like to be able to participate in three 2v2 Teams, etc. to improve everyone’s chance at winning by enabling the character to choose their whole 3 teams to be the same. What this would do is then enable players to be more likely to see their friends online and play. Otherwise, take the emphasis off 3v3s. Even after four days, I can’t seem to synchronize my timing with my 2 partners. So, increasing player’s play time by having three 3v3 teams or three 2v2 teams, etc. would be a great addition as not many players keep a diary. I would like to see a diary built into the game. A time tracking tool that alerts the player like a memo. Just something simple like a memo alarm. I am a JAVA developer looking for a job btw. smile What I would suggest is some sort of memo tool that the player could bring up and put a short note and a server time into its GUI. Then at whatever time they entered a pop up memo note would appear into the corner alerting of their note. This memo tool should not be dependant on which character you are on.

Mackheenga: The problems I face are the massive crowd control abilities of druids and the PvE and PvP combos of the rogues and paladins overpower that of the ones I can create for other class toons.

Yesterdayman: I haven’t really noticed many flaws … seems great to me.

Armonster: I really wish they added a wider selection of gear. But other than that, I haven’t seen many bugs. Besides the level 1 shaman running around this morning.

Velica: Hmm, nothing so far …

Is it hard to find people to create an Arena Group? Or would you want some kind of matchmaking system to make it easier to join a group?

Propaganda: It’s not that hard to get a group, but that could be because I made one with friends from real life. A matchmaking system would be good though, possibly something that showed people’s classes and personal/team ratings on live servers with a link to their armory.

Mackheenga: It’s not that hard because I play arena with my friends from my town, but the trade channel is very popular and seems to get the job done.

Yesterdayman: It’s pretty easy to make a group, making a good group is not so easy … many people are playing classes for the first time, and many are playing level 70s for the first time, but if you know some people in real life and come on the server together, you can do quite well.

Armonster: It’s hard to find a group because everyone pretty much says they are “experienced” on here. Best bet is looking on IRC, or elsewhere. A matchmaking system would be nice. Where you can select a group makeup and wait for players to join similar to the LFG system in Live Servers. I think Blizzard has done a good job so far, and I would definitely like to see more. Special shoutout to my guild FSB on Korgath.

Velica: Just people that aren’t serious about the tournament wasting time. Hopefully after third phase they will go away. Matchmaking?, but then again it’s difficult. Can’t tell who is skilled unless you play with them. I don’t even have a Warlock. But so far, I’m better than most warlocks I have come across. About 95% of them anyways. Yay, Drevash and Neverwind! Go Game Theory!