How do you “learn” arenas?

One of the biggest differences between low level hectic arena and organized, well played arena is how much pillar humping is done by the teams.


Most people playing arenas in the no-skill brackets (anywhere below 1400) see pillarhumping as some dishonorable endeavour akin to bringing a gun to a knife fight.  They get frustrated and rage inwardly or out at the cowardice, cheapness and stupidity of said pillar humper. It is not uncommon to hear “we lost but they pillar humped” as if that lessened the loss because they pretty much cheated.

So, step 1 in learning to better yourself in arenas is that using the maps provided and their terrain is not in fact cheating but rather something mandatory and not as easy as you think. 

Arena novices, are you listening?  Pillar humping is an important skill to learn in arenas!

So how do you practice this?  You go out and find a pillar of any shape and size and HUMP IT!


After enough time doing so, your real life skills should transfer over to your gaming skills and you will find your toon humps pillars with more ease.



I may be mistaken, but I believe Cynwise has a post (at least one) up about this very thing, but I’m not at a computer where I’m able to easily search the net so I can’t quite find it.  Cyn, gimme a link or something if you did…

The point of pillar humping is to prevent the enemy from hitting you by taking advantage of the pillar’s line of sight.  Since just about every direct attack (excluding most pet abilities) requires you to SEE your target, if there’s a massive pillar in the way, you can’t hit them.

Let’s illustrate this with the help of an unfriendly enemy warrior and a druid healer trying to prevent a charge or a shattering throw or a heroic leap or a flaming breath out of the warrior’s ass because they keep getting buffed for pvp so anything is possible!


In this picture, the black circle being a pillar should be obvious (or I really can’t help you).  The red line is showing you that the Druid is very temporarily safe from the angry warrior.  Of course, should that warrior move up or down a bit while the druid remained stationary, all bets are off and the line of sight is established again.

Imagine now that the druid is wanting not to get hit at all.  Simple enough, right?  He just stays on the opposite side of the pillar from the warrior!  Warrior moves up?  Druid moves down.  Warrior moves down? Druid moves up.

In this case, the match up is extremely unfair because the druid has travel form and kitty form and stomp and tons of things to go faster, so in essence, unless the druid messes up, he should be able to run around that pillar pretty much indefinitely without getting hit too often.  And even when he is hit, ok, keep pillar humping until you lose the warrior.  Shapeshift, lose all snare effects, run ahead, re-establish the lead.



Well, aside from that perfect example I just gave you of how not to die to a warrior by kiting him around a pillar which you like enough to hump, let’s go into an approach that is a little bit deeper.  2v2 because it’s easier to draw.

Triangulation! Or a version of it.  Or at least I end up drawing a few lines.

The ultimate scenario in any pvp situation where you have a healer and dps is for the healer to be completely safe from harm and able to heal the dps.

Let’s show you another picture, this time including a mage on the druid’s team versus a lone warrior.  It’s the same warrior and he’s still angry and big and scary.


Yes! It’s the arena in Nagrand! Four pillars! Wooo artistic detail!

What you can observe there is that the warrior is incapable of charging the druid.  That’s important for the druid.  He doesn’t like warriors getting all up in his face, yo.

The mage is fodder for the warrior currently, yes, but that’s not the point here.  The warrior can beat the mage up all he wants, the druid is in perfect line of sight to heal that mage while remaining free from danger.

A stupid warrior will just stand where he is and hope that with well-timed cooldowns, he’ll outdamage the druid’s heals.  Unlikely, even in a perfect situation with absolutely no crowd control being used.

A smart warrior will try to do a few things:

1- get into the druid’s face.  If the druid is proving particularly unwilling to take a beating, the warrior can try to…
2- force the mage to break line of sight with the healer.  This is done, in THIS particular case of melee/caster/healer setup, by running behind a pillar and breaking line of sight with both enemies.  This forces the mage/druid to readjust their positions, and there will possibly be a time when they do not have each other in line of sight.  If this isn’t working,
3- right click the arena pvp button on your minimap and “leave arena”.

To be honest, the warrior has no chance in this setup we’re discussing.  Unless perhaps he’s in full pvp gear and the mage/druid are level 10.  The mage has enough lolcc to immobilize that warrior to hell and back, and even if he broke through, the druid can root/cyclone until the mage gets things under control.  Really no point in discussing that scenario outside of showing how pillars work.


No matter your team or setup, no matter your strategy, you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO UNDERSTAND how pillars and line of sight works.  This post here is a beginner’s introduction to pillars and how they can be used.   If you don’t make the effort to study arena maps and look for all the points where line of sight is affected, you will never be a top team.

Funny, I know, to hear me saying this when I’m rarely ranked even close to 1500… but you know how it is, you don’t have to be ranked 1st in your battlegroup to understand these concepts… and when you do understand them, it in no way means you’re able to apply them.

I suck at line of sight and pillars.  However, I’m trying to learn at all times.  Simply looking at arena maps and visualizing possible ways to position myself has been helpful, and most importantly, practice, practice, practice. All the blog posts and guides and maps in the world won’t help me understand all this in the way that a few hundred arena matches will! The only thing I’ve got going for me now is that once I really started putting it to use, the 1250-1400 ranks flew by with barely a loss… last week, despite my mage partner still being in some green questing gear, we went 8-1. You also find that unless you start using them to YOUR advantage, you’re going to die quickly.  A healer standing out in the middle against two dps is not going to survive for long.

My true moment of zen came on warlock/priest team against a disc priest/ret paladin.  We fought them around pillars for about 15 minutes, my dots on both of them, constantly chasing the priest, our priest hiding from mana burn, target switches on both sides, cooldowns being timed, mana being regenerated…  had the priest at 4k health at one point but ran out of interrupts/fears/stuns of any kind and so the priest managed to heal. 

I thought nothing out of the ordinary was up even though I felt the Priest had been extremely effective in the way the pillar was used… until the match score came up and it showed the team ratings.  A 15 minute match with our team, with a team matchmaking rating of 1410ish, and their team, with a team rating of 1820.

It floored me: first that we had come so close to a victory against a team that is above the bads we normally play with (and are part of), second that it made sense that the Priest had used pillars and line of sight so much.  It really kicked my butt into gear to very quickly putting some theories to use, and it paid off.

So, with more arenas to come, and more theories to discover, I’m hoping we can finally clear the hurdles to be a 1500-1600 2s team and then worry about moving up.



10 Responses to “How do you “learn” arenas?”

  1. 1 Tania September 14, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Oh man. Teach me how to art! Your druid had me giggling so hard.

    Don’t make fun of themage’s greens, okay? She’s very sensitive.

  2. 4 Saga September 15, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Oh pillar humping my old friend…

    It’s come back to bite me in the ass at times though when my team mate gets feared off or chases someone off and I get CC’d behind a pillar *sigh* By the time I get out he’s dead *lol*

    For the most part the LoS thing is really important though. Well, it’s important when they die too – but in a bad way!

    I’ve noticed that when there’s a BM hunter we do nothing but hide behind pillars until he stops being so mean and red. Friggin BM Hunters *grumbles*

  3. 5 Syl September 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    A fun guide! And playing with LoS like that is indeed every PvP healer’s bread and butter. 🙂 In fact there are (were at least) even raid encounters where the principle of triangulation was a core element (looking at you Firemaw).
    Nagrand arena was always my favorite because of this. we actually had a 45mins match in there once because of 1v1 decision that just wouldn’t end, thanks to both equally skilled players making such use of the pillars. in the end we had one of the other team creating an alt on our server, just so we could finally decide (per /roll) who should agree to lose, rofl… x)
    On the other hand, I hated healing BEM; the ramp and bridge there are such a pita for healing your group. good luck trying to reach everybody… -_-

  4. 6 Elkagorasa September 15, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Thanks, reading through your post encourages me to go back and try arena’s again. Now if I could only find a good healer.. 🙂

  5. 7 Cynwise September 16, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I actually don’t have any posts up about pillar humping, and – this is the best part of all – now I don’t have to! I can point folks to yours! 🙂

    Awesome post!

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  1. 1 Learn2Hump | Mooseknuckle Patrol Trackback on September 16, 2011 at 5:43 pm

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