Oct 052013

By Geldarion


Welcome to the war, comrades. You have been selected to receive the latest training and tactics fresh from the warfront. The tried-and-true strategies you are about to hear are extremely effective and CLASSIFIED. Let’s get to the briefing. Today, we discuss some preliminary strategies for solo-queue Arenas!

More after the Jump…

Patch 2.4 launched this last Tuesday, and it was a doozy. Bringing with it were a bunch of PvE stuff (*yawn*) and Warzone Arenas! These are the new form of Ranked Warzones, as 8v8 Ranked Warzones was disabled. With the new game mode, however, comes a lot of new strategies and fun. So let’s jump in.

How Arenas Work


Arenas can be accessed in two separate queues (note that you cannot be in both queues at the same time). These queues are the regular warzone queue and the Ranked queue.

The Ranked queue is split up into group and solo queues, but the group queue can only be accessed if you are in a group with three other people. This means that you cannot enter a Ranked game with duo or trio premade groups at all. The regular warzone queue, however, allows you to queue with any number of people from one to four.

Solo Ranked queues are subject to group composition matching in Arenas. According to my friend Tyler, an old-school Arena player that I started playing SWTOR with way back in the day, this restriction is eased the longer you are in the queue. Uneven teams do not happen often, but they can happen on roles that are not as prevalent, especially tanks. Group queue Arenas always maintain the groups, so you can test weird compositions against other weird compositions. Solo regular queues do not do group-matching as far as I am aware, as it seems they want to open it up to a bunch of people, irrespective of role.


There are two separate ratings for each of the Ranked Queue types. An initial rating is applied when you have completed 10 Ranked Arenas of a certain type. This rating is then adjusted based on who you lose or win against. Quitting a game (or even crashing out) will count as a loss, and result in a lowered rating.


I will go over details of each Arena map at some point, but for now, a quick look at the rules is a good idea.

To win an Arena match you must win two out of the three rounds. Each round is over after either an entire team has been killed (no revives are allowed), or after a five-minute time period plus a one-minute sudden-death time period.

The sudden-death mechanic is an acid field that starts from the edges and moves towards the center. This acid field pops stealthers out of stealth and starts a DoT that ticks for a percentage of your normal maximum health, regardless of mitigation, guard, shields, or damage reductions. Basically, the last one to get touched by the acid gas wins the round.


Here are some basic strategies to get you going in Arenas. This is going to be for purely solo play, as group composition needs to be considered very heavily for group play. As I just want to do an overview at this point, more general strategies (with very little consideration to group comps) are warranted.

Mark targets

You can actually click on the names in the top right corner, allowing you to pre-mark any targets that are not in stealth. So my first piece of direct advice: stealthers, get in stealth immediately upon entering the Arena. My second piece of advice is discuss target priority with your group members depending on the comp (see below).

Compare Comps

While I am not going to go too far into what group compositions to use and strategies to counter them and so on, I do think it is important to play to the general idea of the type of game you are getting into. There are really three types of matchups that happen with any frequency, 4 DPS, 3 DPS + 1 Heals, and 2 DPS + 1 Heals + 1 Tank.

For 4 DPS versus 4 DPS, it will really come down to who has better focus-fire skills. Definitely use a target marker, and only use one. Too many target markers means that people don’t focus as well. You can switch the marker when you switch targets, then everyone is on the same page. (NOTE: 3 DPS and 1 Tank is very similar, you just deal with the Tank last.)

For 3 DPS + 1 Heals, you need to kill the healer first. This may sound obvious, but it is true. You need to keep the DPS locked down with CC, so pick your targets to CC, and burn the healer. If you have a Commando in your group, have them use Electro-net at 50% of the healer’s health to prevent them from using escape skills such as Force Barrier or Cloaking Screen.

For 2 DPS + Heals + Tank, there are two strategies that seem to work. The first is to separate the tank and heals with knockbacks, then burn the healer down. The second strat is a little more complicated, but it can be good to change it up for round 2. The second strat involves locking down the healer, then burning down a DPS so the tank switches guard. Then you burn down the healer. This can be good because the DPS pops cooldowns and makes it easier to kill them after the healer is dead.


Focus-fire, focus-fire, focus-fire. You want all DPS on one target, moving like a single entity. Splitting up DPS = a loss.

Think about AoE vs. Single Target damage when you are planning your strategy. If the other team has a lot of Smash=specced Juggernauts or Marauders, then spread out, don’t let them AoE you down. If they have Snipers, use line-of-sight to bring them to you. If they have Sages, try to make them use Force Barrier quickly. If they have mostly melee, get up high and knock them off of ledges. Etc. Etc. I will do more detailed posts in the coming weeks on these kind of things.

Be patient. The over-extending player usually gets killed quickly. Let them come to you on your terms.

Protect your healer. Use CC, knockbacks, taunts (even if specced DPS), and other class tools to help keep the healer alive. Keeping an eye on their health is crucial.

All class cooldowns, as well as cooldowns for Warzone Adrenals and Warzone Medpacs, reset when the round is complete. Use all of your cooldowns every single round. If you don’t, you aren’t playing to your fullest.


Hopefully these tips help push your game to the next level! What tips do you have for Arenas? Let me know in the comments!

  8 Responses to “Tactical Strike: Arenas – A First Look”

  1. I’ve found a pretty cool tip for arenas, is that you can use you ground target AOE abilities to help control the movements of the other team. When someone sees a giant red circle on the ground they run out of it, and if you use that strategically it’s very helpful. For example, on the tattooine arena, the other team would try to sneak around the back of the sand igloo things and flank us… But by throwing down a xs freighter flyby in that corner, I prevented them from going there and kinda shepherded them back towards our killing field. Good article, Drew! I look forward to the next one.

  2. Not quite — 2 man and 3 man regular can get arenas.

  3. Yeah, I’m not sure where the idea that 2 and 3 man groups can’t get regular arenas came from.

  4. I mis-remembered this post from the devs. http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?p=6661949#edit6661949

    It makes sense to do it either ways. It is more fair without 2- and 3-man groups, but makes it so not as many people can get in.

  5. Apparently! I found this out later, thanks for posting. Fixed it.

  6. Great tips Geldarion, Thank you. Lovin the arenas!! Hope your next TS post covers tactics against specific classes. Not good enough yet to offer my own tips but instead have a couple of questions. I’m Vanguard tank with 3/4 Obroan sitting around 1800 solo rating. I’m quite durable and bring a nice bit of utility to the table but still struggle with guard swapping and even maintaining a enemy target sometimes. It all goes down so damn fast. Its easy to get lost in the optical overload of freeze bombs, saber throws, and mortar fire all within a few square yards. I back my camera out all the way, but sometimes that causes the surrounding structures to block my view. I use tab next enemy and sometimes mouse to acquire a target. I still get so pumped every match, adrenaline rush, just like the “ability”. How do ya slow down the environment? So many keys to smash!! Spero

  7. First off, I’ve played with you I think! (on the Harbinger, no?) And you are actually quite good, if memory serves!

    But answering your questions more specifically, do you have your focus target system operational? I am planning to do a post on that soon, but for now, just look at your UI settings and enable it, then go to your keybinds in your targeting section and hotkey Swap Focus Target and Acquire Focus Target’s Target. While you are at it, enable Target of Target, and hotkey that as well.

    This will enable you to grab an enemy DPS as a Focus Target, then use the Acquire Focus Target’s Target hotkey to get who he is targeting at all times. Just spam that in combo with guard and you should be able to get guard on the right person more easily.

    You can also use a hotkey to target your lead DPS (F1-F4 keys are default for you and your group, so figure out which corresponds to the main DPS). Then hit Target of Target, and you are on the right enemy target. If you were on a DPS class, you could use the Focus Target system to find the target of the main DPS too, but it is much more useful to you as a tank to help you swap guard.

    I have the camera zoom bound to Shift+scroll wheel, so I don’t accidentally zoom in the middle of combat, but always have the option to do so if I want.

    I hope that helps! Let me know if you want me to clarify something, or if this helps or not! Until then, see you in game!


  8. LOL, already have 600 keybinds. All out of keys. Guess it’s time for a Naga 12 button mouse. I’ll try this next time I’m in. Knew i was missing something. Thanks, Spero

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