Enter the Arena: A Guide to Total War: Arena Tier 3 & PvP

By Charles Ellis 09 May 2018 0

It is hard to imagine the culture shock a new player may encounter upon entering Total War: ARENA’s third tier. I managed to escape it: In the closed beta for the game, players were at each other’s throats from Tier 1. It was fast, furious and relatively simple. All that is gone now. With proper player versus player action now beginning at Tier 3, there’s actually some expectation that the player will know their way around the game. And the enemy is stronger and more experienced than ever.

Not quite at Tier 3 yet? Our Beginner’s Guide may help you get there.

This article is not a complete guide to Tier 3, the main reason being that the majority of concepts haven’t changed since Tier 1. The commanders still focus upon the same specialities. Cynane still (and always will going forward) work best with archers. Arminius will always excel with his horsemen. Instead it is the often unequal challenges that the player must face that makes this tier worthy of its own dedicated guide.

AT3 1

Before I provide tips, tricks and even some solutions to these problems, let’s look at some the most significant challenges Tier 3 presents.


There’s a pretty obvious one here. Your enemies will at last be human. We’ve all seen and heard the stories of the kinds of incompetence that particular set of overgrown monkeys can blunder into. Be confident that, to begin with just about every player will be better than you. Some will have played for many dozens, if not hundreds, of hours in the long line of betas that Arena has by now managed to rack up. They are better, they are ranking up their tenth or eleventh commander and they know all the units backwards. Against such veterans, resistance, if you’re alone, is futile.

AT3 2

To make matters worse, it is highly likely, if not certain, that you will command the weakest forces on either side. First off, whilst I admit this may have something to do with the time zone I play in, every match is more or less is guaranteed to have Tier 4 units, in other words units of a higher rank than you. This means that in certain areas, your units will be simply outmatched – there’s no way around this. In my experience this is particularly pertinent with archers, where an archer unit of a higher tier can simply destroy a lower tiered unit with little counter-play available to the weaker player. To add to your problems, even if you are facing units of an equal tier, it is very probable that their equipment will be that little bit better than yours. This combination of in-game advantages and greater experience levels of your opponents means that the odds are stacked against you.

Tips, Tricks and Solutions

Those are the two primary problems the neophyte will face in Arena. Some of them are the nature of the game itself, others can be cracked with some thinking and clever decision making.

AT3 3

Let’s begin with the beginning of the battle when you are selecting where your units will deploy. No matter what you are, infantry, cavalry, archers, anything, make sure there is someone else there. The last thing you want is for you to be left on your own holding a flank. Murphy’s Law says that flank will be where the enemy’s main thrust will come from, and you won’t earn much from being a mere speedbump on the road to the enemy’s victory.

Stick with your allies. They are only human, but the enemy doesn’t know whether they have the most experienced player in Arena or the most wet-nosed of wet-nosed noobs to contend with. Instead of launching an attack that they just might win, they may well leave you alone. If you’re lucky, you and your silent ally might even work together well enough to beat the enemy. In a situation where it is three against three, the chances are you’ll lose (see above). But six units piling in upon the enemy’s three, especially if those units manage to surround them, have the greatest chance of emerging the victor, whether they are tier 4 or not.

It’s worth remembering as well that, unexciting as it may sound, winning the game is guaranteed to earn the silver and experience you need to progress. Painful as it often is, acting for the good of the team ahead of yourself can be most beneficial. Despite my comments earlier, if your speed bump manages to hold up an entire flank for long enough that the enemy’s other flanks collapse and their base falls, then the sacrifice of three Tier 3 units holding off a horde of Tier 4s is well worth it. Units in phalanx work well in this regard. Remember, if you are lucky enough to have artillery support (they do appear at Tier 3), simply spotting for them as they do the heavy lifting will earn you a decent score as well. The damage they inflict could tip the balance in your favour as well.

AT3 4

Just because you’re Tier 3 and new doesn’t mean that you can’t pull off tricks of your own. Flanking can be extremely effective at turning a losing battle into a winning one. With one or two or even three enemy units pinned by your two, use the third to come around and shave off a hefty portion of their health and morale. If you’re lucky they may even break and run (free damage = free experience!). It’s worth mentioning that cavalry is an exception to the above rule that every Tier 3 unit is at a disadvantage in every game you’ll play. It is true that Tier 4 will beat Tier 3 in a head to head fight. But why do that? With its unparalleled ability to choose its battles, cavalry can ruin the day of any opposing unit so long as it moves fast and makes sure it flanks. If you can help allied units in a pickle, so much the better.

A little trick when it comes to flanking, is that in a particularly vicious melee, where a large number of units are intermingled, it is often worthwhile to cycle your units’ attacks between the enemy units by ordering to attack various enemies in turn. The damage output is unlucky to change much (everyone will continue fighting the enemy in front of them) but the cycling can potentially damage the enemy’s morale. If you can get an enemy unit to rout as a result of this, then the battle may well have been won.

AT3 5

One final recommendation: use abilities, use them often. The player that uses their abilities wisely will always win against the player who doesn’t. Particularly with some of the combat abilities which provide a quick boost of damage with not much a cool down, there is no reason not to. Even if you are losing badly, every bit counts.

Multiplayer is punishing to the new player at the best of times. I’d suggest Arena’s handling of the affair doesn’t help. Yet the skills learned as you progress through this punishing phase will stand you in good stead. Every one of these tips holds throughout the higher tiers. Furthermore, as your units become more effective and you yourself reach the mythical Tier 4 (and beyond!), you will find yourself able to pull off the most impressive stunts. There is a reason, after all, that multiplayer can be so addictive.



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