The long awaited Arena has arrived! Thus, unlocking the grey-ed out icon that has sat at our landing screens for a good update (or two). This post will seek to cover the basic mechanics of the arena, answer some commonly asked questions and also discuss some strategies for getting through this new game mode.
As for those looking for the Mastery post or something about the general changes of the update, don’t fret! I’ll be working on it over the weekend and will post it by Sunday (or whatever it’s ready).
Minor Update (16/6): Matchmaking and Daily chest segments updated.
Before I begin, many thanks to Book for sharing his Arena notes with me before I started writing this post.
The Arena Fundamentals
While we’re not going to discuss the ongoing controversy over its naming convention of PvP (Player vs Player), the arena features a new game mechanic which has reworked the old stronghold v1.0 keeper as a combat-able opponent.
Despite the opponent being an AI-controlled one, gameplay has been admittedly smooth with minimal crashes, which is definitely a win over the co-op (real-time multi-player) mode. However, the AI is quite a badass in this scenario and plays almost as well or, I daresay, even better than human players (which will be discussed later in the post).
Energy and Degradation
First off, it is vital to know that the arena has a dual-limiter on the available play time for this game mode.
Mettle is a new energy resource which has a cap of 15, with a countdown recharge timer of ~60 mins/ mettle. A single refill requires 10 gems to replenish all 15 mettle, and subsequent refills are of +5 gems per additional recharge (ie. second time:15 gems; third time: 20 gems etc.).
Next, gear degrades by 33(.33333)% every battle, regardless of the outcome be it a win or a loss.
Degraded gear reduces in stats (attack and armor) based on the numerical % shown, but not in magical property/traits values. This means that you can still keep your 48 HP/Hit or 1,000+ Damage over 3s (DOT) – an important aspect to take note.
Skills also reduce in damage output, as well as attack and armor bonus stats. Thus, you’ll notice your Ice stalagmites dealing less and less damage per hit upon degradation.
Fortunately, trinkets do not degrade in the arena, and this helps in not needing to replace them ever so often.
Gear degradation affects all equipped gear, and this includes secondary weapons as well. Because of this, be sure to unequip them before starting the battle if they are absolutely unnecessary or you foresee yourself not using them.
If you have any gear at 0% (or have an indicator of -100%), you cannot start a match entirely. This will be prompted by a notification pop up to indicate as such. All in all, this essentially means you can only raid with any item a maximum of 3 times.
From this, the game introduces Hammers as a resource (not to be confused with Immortal Justice). These are non-purchase-able items which are available only from seasonal quests.
Thankfully, a single hammer repairs ALL degraded items (regardless of them being equipped or not) on use. As such, this should be used strategically and only when necessary.
Alternatively, you can choose to wait till the next day as that automatically repairs all of your gear instantly.
Although having two limiters seems harsh, personally, the main limiting factor is gear degradation more so than having a lack of mettle. Typically, unless a player has more than 5 sets of entirely different strong gears, the maximum he/she can go is 15 attempts in a day for arena.
This is unless, of course, there are hammers used to repair gear and/or one decides to play intensively with previously amassed good duplicates. Only then would mettle replenishment would be worthwhile and I guess 10 gems would hardly be a cost barrier at this stage.
TL;DR: Dual-limiting mechanic with mettle (energy) and gear degradation (to be repaired with hammer). Gear degradation decreases attack and armor stats and skill damage, but does not affect trait values.
Gear degradation is more of a limiter than mettle.
Arena allows you to select your desired opponent from a list of match-made opponents. A preview of the list only shows the stats, element colour, profile picture (ie armor) and number of potential points to be won. For convenience sake, let’s call them ‘Glory points‘ or GP for this post.
Matchmaking is based on the players who are closest to your ranking league and current GP. Additionally, the amount of GP to be won is based on the difference between the number of points between you and your opponent. This is also dependent on the stats of the opponent (not in reference your own gear, degraded or in good condition).
However, just like Stronghold v1.0, you are unable to see opponent gear until you choose to fight him/her. This brings up a pre-battle page which displays both characters and their respective gears.
You can also refresh the opponent list by clicking the bottom left button below. This will naturally change your entire list but it is a risky endeavor since you could potentially get a full list of stronger enemies. The refresh rate is 10 seconds cooldown after pressing the button.
Update: Matchmaking has been fixed to include a greater range of opponents stats, and this includes a fair distribution of 50 – 120 GP opponents.
TL;DR: Opponents show their face, element and stats. Points are calculated according to difference in points and in reference to stats.
Adopted from a Hockey rink design (credit to Book for spotting it), the arena features an open and uninterrupted space with semi-circular ends. The size of the arena is also relatively big. This promotes a quick and direct match between you and your opponent, yet allowing room for you to retreat should you wish for it.
Each battle is two minutes long and the winner is based on the best out of 3 rounds. At the end of every round, you and your opponent will have all your HP replenished, cooldown refreshed and status effects cleansed before starting the round proper.
As mentioned, the arena is a reworked stronghold keeper combat, and this time with an enhanced AI with substantial combat prowess.
AI units seem to have improved multipliers, and as observed, these include increased base dodge, increased damage resistance, increased chance of stun/slow/fear, increased damage output. Speculatively, this could be said to match up with the player, making the AI a worthy challenger instead of falling instantly to cheap tricks (as per the last stronghold v1.0 keeper).
What makes the AI even more dangerous is that there is an innate berserker damage increase (when the red rings circulate any character when they fall below 20% HP). Merging this with existing gears that also boost their berserker damage, and your opponent becomes a killing machine upon his/her dying breath.
Moreover, the behaviour of the AI is rather impressive (in a positive way).
Observations have been made of the opponent being able to dodge roll quickly away from danger zones (eg. AoE or persistent zones) when they are triggered to minimise HP loss. This also includes not approaching you head on when you’re launching a barrage of projectiles or firing a beam his/her way.
The AI-controlled opponent uses skills very appropriately as well, and at times when you might least expect them to do so. This unpredictability requires a level of caution, which can be done by waiting out for them to cast their good skills (eg. ice stalagmites, mist of death) and striking them within the cooldown time.
AIs are also fairly aggressive in their play style and are not afraid to engage in close-quarters combat despite using ranged weaponry. This might prove to be a disadvantage for users of ranged weapon types (esp. crossbows).
Should you manage to overcome the (dangerous) AI opponent, you’ll get rewarded with the appropriate amount of GP and your gear will be degraded by 33% after the match.
Something to note is that quitting/ ending the match before it ends (or disconnecting) will be considered as a loss. This means that you don’t get points and your gears still get degraded after it’s done.
TL;DR: AI is improved and deadly aggressive, even becomes even more so with lower HP. Play cautiously and always watch for legendary skill to trigger before rushing in.
Arena rewards can be sorted into 3 categories – Daily, Seasonal and Leaderboard
Daily rewards come from chests and these can be claimed from every 5 opponents cleared per day. Rewards from this chest include elemental boosters, energies, stronghold stones and gems. Chest rewards will improve as you climb up in the ranking leagues.
If you’ve forgotten or been too busy to do arena for a particular day, the daily chest ‘rolls over‘ to the next day. This allows you to claim two chests on the following day but after clearing 5 opponents each per chest.
On the flip side, the chest rewards will remain as the previous league you were in when the chest was first made available (at the start of every day).
Update: The chest rewards will be in accordance to the league which you choose to open them in. This means if you get your daily chest in Gold League, you can wait till you get Diamond League to get better rewards.
This means that if you were originally in Gold league and climbed to Diamond league, your chest will still remain as a Gold league reward chest when claiming it. This is indicated by the chest design icon, where each league has a different design.
Another feature of the arena would be seasonal quests, which is a series of four quests. These quests are essentially special checklists to fulfill in order to get certain rewards such as repair hammers, mastery materials or GP.
Arena quests are relatively achievable by regular standards (ie working adult who plays before and after work regularly). A bit of consistent effort and work is needed daily within the season/week ends.
As confirmed by the devs, these quests reset and change every season.
Lastly, ranking system gives chests (regular, legendary) and mastery material, at least in Bronze league and above. By ending the season at that league automatically grants you the rewards.
Looking at the overall list of rewards, the arena is indeed a good source of resources catered to the different spans of play. While legendary chests may be out of league for non-competitive players, at least daily rewards supplement a good flow of much-needed boosters to level up gears. It would (definitely) be better if there were crafting materials in the mix as well 😉
TL;DR: Good assortment of rewards for daily (boosters, stones, energy, gems), seasonal (hammers, mastery mats) and leaderboard (chests, mastery mats)
Now that the fundamentals have been covered, let’s look at the potential strategies which we can use for the Arena.
These strategies can essentially be categorised into pre-combat, of gear/skill and opponent selection, and during-combat, overcoming the AI.
Beat the Attrition (Pre-Combat)
First and foremost, de-equip any gears you deem unnecessary. This includes the less-used secondary weapons, and even skills which you don’t need can be considered. Of course, only do this if and only if you feel you are strong enough to best the opponent, if not it’ll be a waste of good gear usage.
In a time where duplicates are abundant, these repeated gears (especially Legendary or WC gear) are actually much much more useful in this scenario. I wouldn’t recommend using them for mastery yet as an additional Heaven’s Slammer or Ashray Mantle, even at T4, do provide a worthy boost to one’s stats.
If paired up with the right skills (see below), these can keep you alive long enough to win harder battles.
TL;DR: Unequip unnecessary gear; Level up your duplicates
Traits and Skills (Pre-Combat)
Battling a ~14k HP opponent with 15k stats is quite a challenge. Thus, magical properties/ traits and skills need to be carefully selected to wither down your opponent’s health within the shortest amount of time plausible.
As what I would always suggest first, attack speed should be of priority for gear choice since it helps boost damage output to respectable amounts. To match this would be run speed, which comes in handy when you’re choosing to play from afar (ie ranged weaponry or projectile skills).
Following close would be Damage over 3s (DOT) as it pierces through dodge and inflicts elemental-based lingering damage. Just like fire cone, DOT allows you to clear opponents over a distance (but of course over a given period of time).
Crowd control traits (fear, stun, slow) are also reasonable considerations and a >25% of either of these stats (supplemented by trinkets) would help with constant activation of these properties. Also consider having the new properties of stun/slow/fear resistance which can be found on Coliseum themed armors.
Skills play a vital part in Arena combat as well and below is a list of recommended skills to have (and to keep duplicates if possible):
Frost/Demonic/Healing/Lightning Shields – Additional layer of HP with added active bonuses (still working on this post!)
Smoke Veil – Reflect projectiles with added resistance to dodge scrape
Cyclone – Invulnerability while moving, also provides damage on contact
Ray of Darkness – Cuts through dodge(!) with HP/Hit per zap
Ice Stalagmites/Mist of Death – Legendary tier with legendary damage
Immortal Justice – Needs proper timing but has incredible damage output if triggered well
Entangling Vines – Successive damage and slow. Probably the only decent nature skill for now.
Fire Cone – Shoot and run! But with less burn damage.
Ice Burst/ Fire Cyclone/ Static Burst/ Nightmare Burst – Short invulnerability and high chance to overcome dodge, active DOT
Malevolent Rush – Increases dodge and rushes up to or away from the opponent (does not phase through opponents like before)
Haste – Increases attack/run speeds to excellent rates, used more offensive than defensive in Arena
Snowball – Chance to Stun with active and passive DOT
There are less preferred but decent offensive skills as well. However, these are put here because they essentially replace your shield slot, which is primarily meant for your defensive skill.
Ten Strikes – Good for quickly scrapping away your enemy’s dodge in a single skill, but hard to aim
Predatory strike – Ensures next hit as a critical with chance to stun
Avalanche – High chance to overcome dodge with slow
TL;DR: Attack Speed, DOT, Crowd Control, Run speed are recommended traits; Use shield, persistent zone and beam/projectile skills.
Pace yourself (Pre-Combat)
Degraded gear does not always mean a null possibility of defeating opponents. Even with -66%, as long as you possess excellent skills (as per above), you can still give a beat-down to a good number of opponents on your list.
Always use elemental advantage to your um..advantage, this will help you maximise the use of your gear and allow you to fight against stronger stat opponents who are much higher in stats than you are.
For myself, I use the opponent stats as a general gauge as to whom I select to battle against. This is also dependent on the skills which I have at that time and whether they have been degraded or not.
Good skills – 1.5x opponent stats of weak element
Good degraded skills – 1.25x opponent stats of weak element
Average skills – 1.0x opponent stats of weak element
Also something to note would be that Dark elemental users usually have it much easier than the rest. This is because good Nature-type skills are rarely equipped on characters and this shows up even less in the Arena.
Fire, on the other hand, has it the worst since Nature users (especially fully decked out in legendaries of the nature armor, glaive and Ice Stalagmites) can quickly wipe out a less observant player. Not to mention that fire has the least amount of dodge for stronger fire armors, making it a quicker battle against them all around.
TL;DR: Know your limits and select your opponents within achievable ranges, using elemental advantage to maximise your degraded gear.
Recognise skill ranges and cooldowns (During-Combat)
Admittedly important as you don’t want to be caught in the middle of an Ice stalagmites or Mist of death right before winning.
Remember that AI opponents have less predictable skill triggering patterns and it’s best to play cautiously (especially for fire/light melee users) until you are certain that their legendary skill has been cast.
Moreover, AI behaviour has been observed to trigger these powerful skills whenever you have been stunned or slowed, and are within immediate vicinity of them. This makes it hard to retaliate and if you do make it out alive, it’ll be a challenge to fight back.
…which brings us to the next point.
Defense is the best Offense (During-Combat)
If you’re weaker in terms of stats or facing a particularly dangerous opponent, don’t shy away from playing defensively and using your skills from a distance.
Although the Arena area is open, you can use its size to gain some distance between you and your opponent. This helps not only ranged players but also those with strong projectile/beam skills as well (eg. fire cone, ray of darkness).
If you wish to close the distance of an attack, always wait out their shield skill before activating your own defensive skill and going for the kill. This can also be aided with Haste and a high stun/slow/knockdown value, which will ensure your opponent is less likely to retaliate.
Always remember that opponents can make a fierce comeback, especially when they’re low on health which triggers the natural berserker damage. As discussed above, make sure that they have exhausted their good skills before going in for the kill. Alternatively, you can take down out from afar at this stage once your skills have cooled-down.
TL;DR: Keep your distance, watch your enemy skill cooldowns and strike after they’ve cast their strong spells.
Frequently Asked Questions
Compiled here are a list of questions which I’ve seen in the forums and chat channels over the past few days since the update.
Q: What are Coliseum weapons?
A: Coliseum-themed weapons are weapons with a gold motif at the base of their item card. When viewed in their item description, red drapes at the top left and right of the window pane.
These weapons include:
- Celestial Bolt (Light Glaive)
- Hafgufa Trident (Water Glaive)
- Wand Breaker (Dark Greatsword)
- Magma Shearer (Fire Duals)
These are all of the weapons as of this recent update and they can be gotten from gear/VIP/coliseum chests.
While you might not have these gears at T6 yet, its good to know that you can always equip these as a secondary weapon to count towards this quest.
Q: Can we have more gears slots?
A: The devs mentioned that they are working on that.
Thus, do be patient! 🙂
Q: It seems that with the current matchmaking, the most I can play effectively is 10 matches maximum. Is there a way to get more hammers?
A: Unfortunately, besides the Seasonal quests, there aren’t any other alternatives to get hammers. In this case, it might be more worthwhile to collect more duplicates instead to go beyond battle more than just 10 matches.
Q: Where is my opponent in the pre-battle screen?
A: There is an invisibility bug that causes the opponent model to flicker out of the pre-battle page. Thankfully, you can still see your opponents gear at the starting cutscene.
Q: What gives? I won the match but only got 10 points?!
A: This is another glitch which is triggered by having an internet connectivity issue (ie. the notification pops up) or switching apps mid-way of the match or during the loading screen after the Victory cutscene. Returning to the main screen will still show the ‘Victory‘ indicator but the match will be concluded as a draw, thus earning you only 10 points but degrading your gear.
That’s it for now! Hopefully this has shed some light for the arena and its strategies.
Do stay tuned for the upcoming mastery post. 🙂