Since I am taking a temporal break on Arena after this weekend, I was planning to write this for quite a while, so I hope this teaches you guys something. I will post this on both Forums section + Tips so the information does not get lost.
I made this with the intention to let you guys know the reasons of why I got top 10 rank for at least 90% of the weeks I was able to participate in Arena (You can just imagine, feeding since July to this very day I write this, from all the top 10 weekly rewards and a very rare top 20 reward or so.)
It does not matter from what community you come from and when/why do you read this. In the very end, it's all the same goal: Achieving a certain place in the Fight Club for the manda/traces prize you desire or need. And I assure you that no matter how much time passes by, these ideas will remain true in a good amount of situations.
This may seem common knowledge, but it's what distinguishes a smart player from someone who's mind is set to not care, so read carefully.
1.- Those who start with a fire unit on defence nowadays are free points to experienced fighters. Why? Because Octavia eats fire units alive. Most people have second/max trascendence of Octavia, Patrone or Levi, and the combination of these will eat your [Insert Hermes/Athena/Lantern] alive.
2.- By so, Athena on defence set up is now outdated. She sure is a fun unit to rotate defence once in a while, but if you want to remain in the ranks of the reward that you need, she is no longer an option for defensive rotations.
3.- Hermes frontline (First slot) for defence is useless. He will A- Die too fast to Octavia, or B- Remain too low hitpoints to be able to use his special attack properly by AI (Will even get chain killed by bombers special attacks)
4.- The best-to-date combo for stalling and trying to put a bit of pressure (just a bit, it's not really hard if the AI does not react or you have good DPS team) is Nene > Kain > Diana > Patrone > Sunny OR Two Defenders + 3 Healers (In this case, Nene Kain Sunny Denali Akasha).
It allows to:
* Stall considerably due to 2 defenders being in the frontline. Nene being on first slot to waste some of Diana/Vincent/Gullveig's hitpoints. Putting her anywhere else is just giving her kill away due to how powerful Diana's stun can be (for example).
* Earn you some time, since even if Diana's stun does not kill your enemy, it will amazingly increase the length of the stall AND allow AI to build more special attack points to either kill you or restart the fight by having the defenders be fully healed again. Not fun, right?
* If you try to risk your fire units to half/low hitpoints to try and beat Kain, have fun getting sniped by Patrone's/Diana's insta kill/stun specials. You lost.
* You cannot properly use Octavia/Lantern in this rotation, as Octavia does not have her 5th skill on effect, and Lantern's special will not be able to kill Kain properly due to his huge elemental resistance buffs. Timing is priority to beating this rotation.
* Kain simply just won't die to Octavia/Diana's stun. Trust me, he has too much defence and life that you will be desperated the first times you attempt it. It will be worse if Sunny heals him to full life.
5.- You want to feed me some easy points and consider you an easy target to kick out of top 10/20/30? Set Hermes + 4 bombers or Hermes + 3 bombers/1 healer. You have given me such an easy way to rank up. Thank you!
6.- Octavia on defensive set ups, especially first slot, is a very, very bad idea. Just too vulnerable to stuns/insta kills of any element, and AI is not guaranteed to use her attack, due to how many other support units you placed after her (Bombers, healers...)
7.- Until someone combines the proper maxed trascendence combo of Edward + Papillon, Nene+Kain will remain the best formation, so consider doing those Nene ruins and Kain's when their events are up.
8.- If you are going for a top 10-20 spot, unless your deck is EXTREMELY good, you will have to stock up on tickets from stores/manda+rupees purchases every single day. Those who keep inflating scores are just free climbing points for veterans that know their jive, and will probably run out of challenge invitations before they know it. Attacking too early is a terrible idea.
9.- Don't underestimate your enemy. You will never know how many tickets they have stocked up from previous events/lotteries, what strategies they use to beat certain formations, or what units they are lately preparing. Take all your fights seriously, as each ticket counts.
10.- Yeah. Players team up on you to get you out of the spots. The rewards are too good to not form alliances.
11.- Don't use DEFENDERS to fight on offensive, and try to learn to fight WITHOUT healers. ALL rotations are possible to beat without either of them. You just have to keep practicing your timings/swappings on a Hermes+4 Bombers offensive set-up.
12.- Don't complain and whine you can't break a berserk defence or a 2 Def+2 Bomb+1 Healer if your trascended units are not on par with your enemie's. You deserve to lose just because of thinking a T1 can beat a T3, even with elemental advantage.
13.- Be kind with whoever you meet on chats. You don't know if he/she will be your future ally or enemy due to the way you behave.
14.- If you have Hermes, and 5 bombers (Lantern/Diana...), replace Lantern with Gullveig as needed (Let's say, depending if it's triple Fire or triple Ice defensive set-ups). If you remove Levi, you will lose a lot on accuracy and will lose eventually because Gullveig lacks the potential to help team break through defences. (You cannot use properly her special either, as it does not insta kill. Rather save skill points for Diana's stun/Hermes attacks)
15.- Practice constantly with your friendlist. Constantly challenge yourself and look to improve. Quality and smart choice making is what gets you to the top.
16.- Don't friendly fire. There are enough enemies already for you to also be hitting your own known mates. It's a waste of tickets in the long term.
Hope this helps you.