P.E.T.S. - Pathetically Easy Targets for Slaughter
Warlock pet survivability is currently laughably low. Due to this significant weakness it is more important than ever that you properly manage your pet in arena matches. When playing Warlock/Healer, especially, knowing when to pull your pet back and when to send it in is a necessary skill for success.
There are several comps that are going to give you more headaches re: pets than others. These are: Ret paladin/Healer and Death Knight/Healer. In general, however, if you face melee/healer there is a high chance they are just going to tunnel your pet the entire game.
Before I talk about how to handle this “strategy” it is helpful to analyze why an opposing teams constantly roflpwn pets rather than go after you or your healer.
1) Pets have fewer defenses than you or your healer. This allows melee to pump our more DPS when hitting your pet than they would against another target that has resilience, the ability to teleport, etc.
2) Attacking a pet is a win/win situation. If your healer tries to keep your pet up he will go OOM. If you health funnel your pet (necessary to prevent instant death), then you are CCing yourself. If you let it die and run off to resummon then you are CCing yourself.
3) Pet gibs happen in 3 or 4 seconds (often less against ret paladins). This is virtually a cost free way of completely shutting you down.
As you can see, by tunneling your pet melee do more damage and either crowd control you (DOTs fall off and your offensive pressure goes down) or deny you the resources you need to win (25% damage redirection, spell lock, etc). The sad fact of arena right now is that there is very little reason for melees to not to attack your pet. Or is there?
The case example I’m going to use to illustrate what you should do is Warlock/Healer vs. Ret/Healer (since rets will give you the most trouble) on Nagrand arena. At the beginning of the match, you should put your pet on stay towards the center of the arena (see picture). Once this is done, stand away from your pet (but still in range of it).
This accomplishes several things. Firstly, it will be obvious who the ret is going to go after because you will be far apart. Secondly, if he ever does decide to switch to your pet he will have to run over to it.
If the ret decides to go for you then congradulations, you’ve probably won the match! If he decides to run for the pet toss a UA, and ONLY a UA, on him then quickly fear. If he trinkets, then make sure to quickly reapply fear. Hopefully he will run towards your healer and away from his. Either way, while the ret is feared run to his healer and pull him off the pillar with an instant howl of terror. At the same time send your pet after the enemy healer to maximize its distance from the ret paladin.
Use this opportunity to load up the healer with DOTs. It is a good idea to cast UA first, followed by haunt, and then your two instant DOTs as haunt is in the air.
By now fear will have ended and you should make your way back towards the center of the arena. Keep full DOTs on the ret and his healer as much as possible. If at any point you see the ret head back towards his healer (which your pet is attacking) then pull your pet back to you, throw a health funnel on it, and then send it back in. This is the tricky part. Because ret paladins kill pets so quickly you will have a very small window after you stop casting health funnel to land a fear on the paladin or your pet will be dead. If the paladin does kill your pet, just resummon.
A useful trick after putting your pet on stay is to use the passive command (Ctrl+0 by default I believe). This will cause your pet to run back to the original “stay” location. Your goal is basically to have your pet kite the paladin by running back and forth between this location and the enemy healer, while keeping the enemy healer in combat as much as possible.
I hope this brief outline was helpful! As always, let me know if you have any questions.