How I Play Survival in Arenas (Small Brackets)

Poor Russel Crowe. He should know that Hunter/Druid beats Warrior/Druid. :) So let’s talk about gladiatorial combat, shall we? I read some other posts in the last few days regarding Hunter specs and Arenas so I thought I should chime in on my opinions how Survival is working for me in Arena.

2v2 Arena (with Druid) and 3v3 Arena (with Warrior and Druid):
In most situations, 2v2 matches are long fights. This is just how it is, mostly due to the nature of mana drains and line-of-sight issues (or benefits, depending on your class). In most match-ups against a team with another Druid, prepare for matches to last longer than 10-15 minutes. If both teams play smart, even longer. 3v3 can be very similar in play style, but adds a third person to the mix. Games are about control, calculated response, and managing the pace of the game.

So, what does Survival bring to these brackets? And what does it lose from not being Marksmanship(11/41/9)?

  • Very short trap cooldowns
  • Longer trap durations (although Freezing Trap is still capped at 10 seconds)
  • Wyvern Sting
  • Counterattack
  • Deterrence
  • 10% more health as opposed to 5% from Endurance Training

Alternatively, you need to decide what you are giving up as well. In speccing into Survival for Arena, you lose some great talents.

  • Silencing Shot
  • Large bonus damage from Multi Shot
  • Improved Revive Pet
  • 30% Pet Movement Speed

The first major benefit your are going to find is the ridiculously short cooldowns on your traps and next-to-nothing mana costs to play them. I believe Freezing Trap costs 24 mana with all the talents. In a DPS/Healer combo controlling how much time the opposing team has to DPS is huge. And you and your Druid bring a lot of control to the table. You bring so much, in fact, that Hunter/Druid should never lose to Warrior/Druid foregoing any huge gear disparities and that you play it right. The fact that Entangling Roots is as good a CC as Cyclone is on everyone else, the Warrior should be locked down almost the entire fight. Other fights vary obviously, but you can see the benefit of being a ranged class versus a Druid healer.

I have only ever used three different traps in Arena thus far. Frost Trap, Freezing Trap, and Snake Trap. The utility from these three traps outweighs everything you can gain from the mediocre damage from fire traps. In fact, I don’t even have fire traps on my bars or hot-keyed at this point. Which trap to use is judgment calls you have to make on a case-by-case basis. This comes down to what needs to be done, how many people you need to worry about, and what class they are.

Wyvern Sting works great to fill in the CC spot when diminishing returns are high or you have an opportunity to control a DPS while they are already far away from your Druid. It’s just important to coordinate this with their Cyclones or Entangling Roots so you don’t waste it. Also make sure to overwrite Wyvern Sting with Scorpid Sting before you try to trap again.

I find that Counterattack is usable ridiculously often. Apparently people parry more often than I realized. And a 5-second immobilize is glorious in the few seconds in-between other Crowd Control methods. It becomes a life-saver when trying to survive the burst from melee classes such as Rogues and Warriors. Even if you only open a small gap, you saved yourself at least a couple swings of damage from them. And sometimes that makes all the difference.

The talent spec that I have chosen retained Scatter Shot, as I still find it absolutely crucial in PvP. And no amount of Readiness can replace the wonderfulness of Scatter Shot and its 30 second cooldown. I would never recommend playing any Marksmanship or Survival spec without taking Scatter Shot. The versatility is just too great. While it only lasts a few seconds, its not a true crowd control so it cannot be dispelled, cleansed, or anything similar. It can be used as a spell interrupt which can save someone’s life. And it will disorient your target which provides you (or a teammate) the opportunity to open a gap or break line of sight. It’s usefulness is almost unparalleled.

Giving up Silencing Shot was hard. A Silence on a 20 second cooldown has caused many casters to die. In addition, it was an instant attack that did moderate weapon damage which could be used when you are trying to squeeze out ever last bit of burst damage.

On that same note, the increased critical strike chance and damage from Multi Shot was great for finishing off people when they are low on health. A well-geared Hunter with these talents would have close to a 50% chance to crit with Multi Shot. And it is one of the hardest hitting shots Hunters have, if not the hardest.

If you have played 2v2 Arena at all, you know that the name of the game is who can get out of combat to drink the most. And the one talent that gives you a huge advantage to do this is Bestial Swiftness. Even a Scorpid can traverse an Arena in no time at all, keeping even the most pesky of druids in combat almost constantly. And teams know this, which is why being able to resurrect your pet in 4 seconds is such a crucial talent in most situations. So losing this will cause you to have to be more more agile in keeping up with the opposing healer and more careful about who your pet follows.

There are only a few viable burst DPS teams in 2v2. The most popular I have found is a Mage and Rogue. What makes this combo viable is well-coordinated crowd control. Between Sap, Blind, Polyporph, and the ability to reset some of these cooldowns and do it again causes the team to be lethal with the capability for lots of burst damage. Additionally, you will find one of the most popular 3v3 burst teams is Rogue/Mage/Priest, building off the strategy employed in 2v2. This is where talents like Deterrence and Counterattack really shine. In these burst teams, you will find yourself the target. And any team employing a Rogue or Warrior will try to wreck your day. When using Deterrence it is important to try to build a gap by strafing and preventing them from getting directly behind you, so that Deterrence can have the maximum effect and try to get the most out of Counterattack.

An under-appreciated talent for PvP is Surefooted. Most people never notice when this talent takes effect. But if you ever seen a Warrior charge you and you get away without Hamstring, you thank the Warrior for being less than intelligent, or thank Surefooted for resisting it. Take your pick.

As it stands, my highest rated Arena team is my 2v2 with a Druid. We hit 1714 last week and have yet to played this week. But I feel like I have less control in 2v2 than I did as 11/41/9. Alternatively, Survival is helping me do exactly what the talent tree suggests, survive. Xcebin, our druid, has pointed out that my survivability has gone up a lot, as I am more able to survive the focus fire I receive. You may draw your own conclusions about this, so I would suggest you play games yourself and find how you feel about it. Remember that a PvP Survival spec is very different than a PvE Survival spec. What I love abut 2v2 Arena is it feels more controlled to me. All I have to worry about is me and Xcebin and handling the opposing two members. It always feels like I have more control over what is happening as opposed to 5v5 where things can get hairy very quickly.

Please feel free to post any questions, comments, concerns, or corrections you might have about what I’ve said. I am always open to anything that can help me play better or questions I can answer.

About Drotara

Drotara (or BehemothDan) considers himself a geek on many levels. A web developer and programmer by trade, he has no shortage of geeky hobbies. When not fulfilling husband and daddy duties, he enjoys WoW, the WoW TCG, Magic: The Gathering, and great board games with friends and family.