Strategy – the 3v3 compass

Posted: May 15, 2011 in WoW PvP

The much requested strategy section for 3s. First, again, a bit of a disclaimer. I play Arms warrior/Frost DK/Restoration shaman in my main team. I tried to get these strats as neutral as possible, but their origin clearly is TSG play. If your DK is in a shadowcleave or DK/mage/priest they’re propably very suboptimal, it’s just what works best for me. Those are the most commonly played comps, if you’re facing a completely different comp, feel free to ask for it in the comments, I will update the main post.

The most common moves and tricks will not be listed again and again in the specific comp sections, so here they are:

  • Stand next to two of your enemies, grip in the third and use hungering cold. Chose now what target you like to zerg. This is the core action you set up your burst around. Use it wise.
  • Only strangulate if you really want to get a kill, prevent one or make the enemy team fall behind, not just because you have it.
  • Use focus-mindfreeze pretty frequently, most healers, even the good ones, just don’t fake them when their team is under pressure. Although, don’t run 15 seconds to the healer and back, if the healer is well positioned then save your CDs and wait for a good chance and spot.
  • Don’t just mindlessly zerg into greater cooldowns, a shieldwall, a pain sup., even a barkskin can be a great indication to switch and to create even greater pressure.
  • Against rogues you have to be ready to counter both smokebombs. Usual pattern: first one trinket (because out of sap you can’t IBF, to low RP, and you mostly get silenced by garrote anyway), second one IBF. If you have to trinket a blind or a disarm then call that out, let your healer use a cooldown on smokebomb, like spiritlink totem, PW:Barrier, tranquility, bubble or whatever you find adequate.
  • Against mages you should always lay down a DnD on the invis position in the beginning. Further you should discuss whether you want to dispell the first block via throw or not, can be crucial. When you absolutely have to grip the mage to rupt a cast then use DarkSim first to potentially steal the blink.
  • Call out a feral druid’s pred. swiftness as often as you see it. Possibly your healer can dispell or ground it, can win you games.
  • Be aware of holy paladin’s hand of sacrifice, if they use it on the target you want to kill right before you freeze them (mid air, while you deathgrip them), the HC will break. Not desirable.
  • Always have a rotation to counter a priest’s inner focus or a holy pally’s aura mastery, e.g. grip/charge or throwdown, can create kill-opportunities.
  • The scattertraps of hunters on your healer can and must be intercepted by all costs, 12 seconds CC every 30 seconds are very lethal. Stand in the scatter range to get the trap off your healer.
  • Druids will often start out of stealth with a cyclone, interrupt that with a fast grip, it’s not that hard really.
  • Don’t EVER tunnel to much. If one of you can’t stick to a target which is still above 50% then switch.

The “balanced” comps (melee/caster/healer):

– RMP (rogue/mage/priest):
Against RMP you simply react to the situation. If you can rush in without interuption you zerg the priest. If you get the rogue out you zerg rogue. If both doesn’t happen, take mage. Lay down a DnD on the point where mage disappears when he uses invisibility. You should open with a triple-HC, stand next to two of them, grip the 3rd in and freeze. Then stun/silence priest and nuke the hell out of him. Will force trinkets on both DDs and most likely a Pain Sup. on Priest. If you or your mate-DD are nuked, watch for smokebombs, the RMP sets up their burst around it. Trinket first smokebomb stun, heroic leap/IBF the 2nd. 3rd you can probably freeze rogue and grip or silence mage, smth. like that. It’s really all about how hard you hit the priest vs. RMP. If the priest drops low in the first zerg and the mage trinkets HC, just use lichborne (or even shell) and bladestorm to be unsheepable. And be careful with trinketing blinds, a hard switch on you after it will be hard to survive.

– RLS (rogue/lock/shaman):
Pretty similar to RMP, although you hit lock this time. Zerg him from the beginning if you can’t get out rogue. Watch for smokebombs, hit whatever you can but be aware of the danger when you switch to e.g. shaman. The lock will be freecasting between you and your healer.  Rogue can die in a good throwdown switch. The damage it not that bursty like in RMP, although the pressure can be even greater. Don’t ever underestimate this comp, played well you will have a super-hard time.

– WLP/S (warrior/lock/paladin or shaman):
Start lock if you can get to him or warrior if you can’t. You can kill everyone here, watch out for recklessness/soulswap switches. Don’t tunnel lock here if warrior peels you off. War can die quite easily.

– Shadowcleave (DK/lock/druid or shaman):
Zerg lock from the beginning, you should win this easily, no further explanations here.

– KFC (KungFuCleave, warrior/hunter/shaman or priest):
Start on warrior, survive burst (especially recklessness) with good cooldown rotations, get the scatter-traps for your healer and switch to whatever you can. The longer you survive the match, the better. All 3 are killable in late game. Most optimal is an early forced shieldwall; HC all 3 and destroy warrior then. Don’t become desperate when you see the opening damage rotation where you possibly have to blow all your CDs in a few seconds, it gets better when you survive the beginning.

The melee cleaves:

– TSG (TheSuperGosus, warrior/dk/paladin or shaman):
 Take the initiative, it’s all about the momentum in the beginning. Rush in, start on DK, when he pops any sort of cooldown you grip their healer in, HC and roll over their warrior. You can kill their healer after he used trinket (or bubble if pally).
Try to shell his grip -> HC to stay mobile, don’t pop cooldowns too fast when you’re getting trained, but that shouldn’t happen. Most TSG mirrors we face are all about zerging warrior till healer trinkets and then zerging healer till death. A Perfect warrior fear and a well-timed mindfreeze can be key here.

– Ebola Cleave (DK/feral druid/shaman):
Start DK, switch hard to feral or shaman, be aware of HC/cyclone can be very hard to survive, both is instant and barely interruptable. Should be pretty doable though.

– Kitty Cleave (warrior/feral druid/paladin or shaman):
Pretty similar to EboCleave, less CC and more burst, harder for my taste. Switch between the melees, you won’t be able to get the healer in a decent switch position, especially if it’s a pally. Personally we train feral most of the  game and switch to warrior when he pops recklessness or to feral when you gets off a cyclone; stun him in casterform and he has to trinket or will just die.

– DK/ret-paladin/shaman: 
Never faced it, would prob. zerg the shaman from the beginning. Ret is a good target as well since patch 4.1, try to start on him if shaman is well-positioned.

– warrior/ret-paladin/priest:
Similar to the above, never faced it, shouldn’t be a problem after ret healing nerf in 4.1. Zerg ret and prossibly switch to priest. 

– DK/rogue/priest:
Beast comp. Be on whatever you can, most optimal would be a priest zerg if you have a clear opener. Watch out for smokebombs and counter a healer zerg with good peels/hard nuke on rogue. Be very cautious about what the rogue is specced to. Seen this comp with a combat rogue, 9 second kidney while being destroyed by both melees can be lethal for your healer right from the start.

The caster cleaves:

– LSD2 (lock/shaman/moonkin):
Start on lock (start on lock, switch on moonkin fast in blade’s edge and dalaran) without greater cooldowns, get lock decently low, CC shaman with a warrior fear, a Hex, HoJ or Cyclone (whatever your healer is), wait for his trinket, than grip shaman in, freeze both other DDs and nuke shaman with all CDs. If he is able to survive you’re in trouble and probably will lose.

– Shatterplay (mage/shadowpriest/shaman or druid):
Zerg one of the casters, we usually chose the mage. Works pretty fine if you can interrupt the sheeps/deeprings (strangulate/charge). Zerging healer might work just as well, however a good shadow-disarm can screw this completely and that will buy them time. 

– MLS/MLD (mage/lock/shaman or duid):
Since 4.1 this comp is pretty much like it was back then in WotLK; means that you can die at any time in any CC. Only viable strat we worked out was an oldschool TSG’ish all-in zerg on the shaman. That works 100% in the first try and secures a 50% win percentage against MLS. If you want to farm up your rating, simply don’t queue into that comp. 

– Shadowplay (shadowpriest/lock/shaman):
Well played the most dangerous comp you can imagine (glimpsing to Lord Hydra). Tons of damage, be it dots or direct, a million interrupts, solid CC, two dispell protections; annoying. Zerg lock or, if you’re extremely confident, shaman. In difficult situations split-damage can be a viable solution.


– hunter/lock/shaman:
Always playable, always dangerous. Zerg lock but be careful with scattertraps. Usually the DD being trained deals with them, at least we handle it that way. If you want to go shaman, be active on CCing/interrupting lock, otherwise his CC will destroy you.

DispellCleave & BoringCleave (healer/healer/warrior or DK):
Never faced in this season so far. Would most likely start on the DD, drag him near one of his healers, grip the other in, freeze/throwdown/strang one of them and go for it. Target really depends on what healers they play with. Viability to kill: priest > druid > pala > shaman. 

  1. Retorous says:

    Starting up a tsg for the new season and what we’re planning on doing is zerging healer right away by coming in freezing the group staying on the healer popping strangulate then once thats off knockdown and a hoj if necessary while having the group either frozen or aoe feared.

  2. Plaguezilla says:

    First, congrats on S9 Glad title. Love the information on the blog. Seems like you’ve been busy lately. I am hoping you get the time to put some unholy updates on the site. I am playing 3s with a rogue and priest, what do you think about this comp? We’re currently around 1600 and it seems like we’re kind of stalled atm, any suggestions? Generally we go hard on the most threating dps and hard switch to the healer if we find the opportunity.

    Plaguezilla Aman’thul

  3. Om1 says:

    I noticed that you did not list dk/rogue/priest as a good dk comp, but to me this sounds awesome, did you just forget it? 😛

    me and my friends are planing on playing this as soon as the rogue gets some gear.

    any pros/cons you can give me about this comp?

    first time here btw and first actually good dk blog I’ve come across 🙂 thanks

    • syreenee says:

      To quote me from down the comments:
      Your comp is probably the most terrifying healer-killing comp out there.
      You can just sap a DD and rush down the healer, stay on him if he pops cooldowns, he will most likely die (except for pally ofc).
      Start with all CDs; bomb, dance, pillar, erw, strang after kidney, there is nothing the healer can do to survive it.
      You can also CC the DDs pretty hard: sap, hungering cold after sap ran out, blind the DD that trinketet, fear afterwards.
      Although they DR each other, the time you get should be enough.
      Make sure to sap mages to avoid being kited away from their healers. Apart from that there is pretty much nothing to stop you.
      Weaknesses of the comp may be the late game, when your opener is not hard enough to force a good amount of CDs you may
      be in a bad spot overall. It’s not a cleave comp such as TSG, it’s even more “do or die” than TSG.

  4. Logan says:

    I just started a TSG and me and my warrior don’t have a lot of communication, though we haven’t been losing. I am fearing that this will destroy us soon once we start to climb. Though warrior is 1 of the 2 classes i really don’t know. could you just do a quick breakdown of how you get your kills as TSG without just says “pop everything zerg healer” Like how to chain stuff together, because i don’t know the warrior skills very well. I would post on AJ or something but that is all people do (and have) said to me and they just troll.

    Thank you in advance 🙂

    • syreenee says:

      Announce every cooldown you use and every CC you apply to your enemies, as simple as that. Always know what your partner can do and can’t, especially what target he can reach. If one of you can’t get to the target you chose then call that out and ask for another. “Can’t get to pally, can you switch to warrior?”
      Tell your mates what you are doing. Me and my warrior are constantly talking in Teamspeak.
      “Gripping next shaman heal.” “Kicked shaman, can you kick next?” “Switch to druid, can you throwdown? No? Kay, I strangulated him.” “I’ll freeze (hungering cold) right now, don’t bladestorm pls.” “Big switch to priest, pop reck (Recklessness) and calm (Deadly calm).”
      “I’ll grip mage if he blinks, don’t charge.” “Have no grip for mage blink, charge pls.” “Intervene me, you’re in trouble.” “Got rogue out of stealth, throwdown him.” “Fear the healer pls, he has no deseases.” “That warrior pops reck, disarm him pls.”
      To name a few.
      A list of important warrior skills (with links): Recklessness, Retaliation, Shield Wall, Deadly Calm, Intimidating Shout, Heroic Throw (which can silence when specced into it), Pummel, Heroic Leap, Throwdown, Charge, Disarm, Rallying Cry.
      Hope that helps a bit.

      • Logan says:

        Thank you very much, this helped a lot. This will help chain everything together very nicely along with helping me understand where most of there damage comes from. Much appritiated. As always, i am sure I will be back. 🙂

      • Logan says:

        I know this will be a very broad question. But what is your kill rotation on a target? If any that is. (like CC and cooldowns. I know mine, i mean as a team so like warrior cd’s and stuff)

        Also, are their any skills you save for specific situations? ex. Throwdown, or fear?

      • syreenee says:

        Can’t get too much into detail here because it really varies heavily and mostly depends on the target.
        An example may help you: we play against a pretty decent MLS, so all what’s left is zerging the shaman to death or die. My warrior charges lock to not get UA’d and so our healer is able to dispell the first nova. I’m getting straight to the shaman on mount and begin to deal damage. Warrior uses heroic leap or intervenes me and throwdowns shaman, I pop Pillar of Frost, my warrior uses Deadly Calm and Recklessness. He will almost instantly trinket and I decide whether to strangulate him or not. That depends on his HP, higher than 50/60% means I have to do it, to force his spirit link totem (which he can use while being silenced), if he is lower than 30/40% he will have to use it anyway so I save my strangulate. When he uses totem I try instantly to take it down with an auto hit or whatever is ready and then instanly grip one DD in and try to HC both DDs (kill the totem before you use HC, when you use it while the totem is standing amongst you they will all be knocked out of the freeze by the totem effect). I strangulate shaman then (if I still have it) to not let him dispell it, both DDs will trinket but hopefully too late. Shaman should die here pretty fast. Use your CC avoiding abilities when you find them most adequate, AMS the first CC you see and remember that lichborne also immunes sheep alongside fear when you use it preemptively. Warrior can recklessness -> berserkerrage the fears and bladestorm a poly right beforge it’s through or simply a nova. Trinket whenever you feel the time is right, usually the first CC that you can’t immunize.

  5. Mangoh says:

    Hey again Syreenee!

    Posted earlier on AJ wondering how to deal with rogues in 3s as frost. Got any hints? Know many DKs struggle with this. (Us that aint playing with holy paladin for HoF 😉

    • syreenee says:

      Depends on the bracket you fight them. In 2s they usually play double dps, where your playstyle should be focussed on survivng and deathstriking rogue (you can actually kill them with DS/FS spam) while in 3s they often play RMP/RLS, the big “balanced” comps. And like I said in the main post you have to watch out for what the game develops into: Against RMP/RLS you simply react to the situation. If you can rush in without interuption you zerg the healer. If you get the rogue out you zerg rogue. If both doesn’t happen, take the caster.
      If you’re playing TSG, a good strat is the begin zerging the rogue’s caster and when he blocks (if mage) or ports (if lock) then switch to rogue with a throwdown. Their healer will concentrate on getting healed his caster, if the rogue doesn’t trinket he will either be forced to pop 3 CDs or he will simply die.
      When you have to play defensive it’s very important to chains-kite the rogue, especially when being specced frost you’re able to do that, thanks to chain-roots. Get a bit distance between you and the rogue by chaining and then AMS, poison will fall off and you can kite (at least till they shadowstep/kidney/smokebomb you to death :>).

  6. Jarlexe says:

    k got question again 🙂 U suggest to go for warlock in most setups coz its easily trainable target. Well we played again Shadow priest/lock/druid at around 2k rating and we went for lock. It was nagrand arena. What happen was lock put his portal behind one of the pilars – we go on him pretty hard while he kite us to the mid of arena – as soon as his portal cd was back he just ported behind pilar and got full healed by druid who was already waiting for him there. In the same time druid was extremely easy to drop (felt super soft) – on maps like dalaran and blade’s age its even harder to stick to lock coz he will just jump down the bridge and just port up. How do u exactly kill lock that easy. From what i experienced letting him cast doesnt increase the dmg that much compared to what happen when u let hunter free cast or mage. Thx

    • syreenee says:

      Not quite sure what comp you played but i think it was standart frost TSG with a pally, correct me if I’m wrong. As TSG, as dumb as it may sound, it all depends on how hard you zerg. You have to create great pressure from the very beginning to not let them unfold their playstyle. Try to get on lock before he’s able to feel comfortable back there in nagrand arena. Sure, especially here you’re not able to prevent him from getting up his portal (which you should in other arenas, like dalaran), but don’t let them position them back there and discuss what to go for etc. Rush in, start on lock and nuke, use the momentum to force early cooldowns.
      If he kites you to the middle and then ports, just switch hard to priest or druid if he is in range. This is what I mean when I point out to not tunnel to much. Especially a druid-switch in a situation where the lock has to be healed will almost instantly force a treeform as a druid is very very vulnerable to switches. What’s also very useful is this warrior spec. My war uses it for quite a while now and it’s simply amazing. If used right, you can use the heroic throw to silence the lock when he’s at low HP; locks aren’t able to port when they’re silenced – he will probably just die if he’s relying to much on his port.

  7. Logan says:

    I am just about to start a shaman FTSG. so that you very much, very helpful 🙂

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