Assuming you are a regular World of Warcraft player, the Arena flavour of WoW gameplay may leave you a bit puzzled at first. Forget about experience, which is the main reward in World of Warcraft and begin to think about skill. In Arena Play everything is based off ratings, and being a team play, the relevant point is the rating your team can acquire. Getting higher ratings means your team has improved, and this is your reward goal.
Now, before going any further, consider you must have reached at least level 80 to enter Arena Matched. To tell the truth you can begin a little earlier, by playing skirmishes, but again you’ll need to be a level 70 to do so, so there’s no significant shortcut here. It’s more a way to allow you to practice before beginning the real Arena Experience.
Given this is going to be a beginner’s guide, we’ll cut short of all the formulas, the algorithms and the small quirks in the Arena Calculation phase. Just have a look at all the forums out there, no player seems to have always received the exact amount of points he or she was expecting. And really, it’s not very important. What matters is a simple concept: everything is based around ratings, and your team starts with an exact, clean, rating of zero.
As you enter the Arena, the system queues your team and goes looking for a team that is close in rating to your own. How much closer? Exactly within 150 points, and this mean at your first match you’ll face a team that can be rated between 0 and 150. Now this means that at the beginning you have little to nothing to loose, while your opponents are likely to have much more at a stake -because their teams probably has a rating higher than zero.
Understanding this is the key in Arena Play. You don’t have to play every match, as only 10 matches each week are required for point distribution. And you have to be smart in deciding when to play and when the risk of a defeat would bring you more harm than good. This is also the reason why there are so many arena calculators around the web: to allow teams to check and fine tune their ratings, preparing for the next match.
Since 2v2, 3v3 and 5v5 matches are rated in different ways, you may want to risk a more complex 5v5 match because it will pay more -point wise- than a 2v2, or instead prefer to keep a low profile and avoid the risk of a defeat. In short, this is entirely a matter of strategy and something that the average player will not enjoy being forced to compute by hand or with a scientific calculator.