The arena is an all-out royal rumble with no teams. Combatants will gang up on an opponent and then start fighting each other. There are 40 opponents (not counting yourself), and they will spawn a few at a time as combatants are defeated. If you would rather fight in a team, take part in a tournament instead.
The equipment combatants start with is random, and comes in the following categories:
- Wooden staff
- Two-handed sword
- One-handed sword and shield
In addition to what you start with, you can pick up some items during the battle.
The prize money depends on how many combatants you can take down before being knocked out. Combatants knocked out by others don't count towards your total. As well as the money, you also get some experience in addition to the experience gained during the fight.
- 3: 2 denars, 5 EXP
- 6: 10 denars, 10 EXP
- 10: 25 denars, 10 EXP
- 20: 60 denars, 10 EXP
- last man standing: 250 denars, 200 EXP
The prizes do not stack; if you reach a particular level you only get that reward. The last man standing prize requires you to be the last one conscious.
If you're aiming for the 250 denar prize you will want to stay out of combat which means you need to take down your opponents quickly and preferably before they can attack you. Opponents spawn in random locations around the edges of the arena, so be sure to watch for new enemies stabbing you in the back. On some occasions several enemies will start heading for you, and you might be able to get far enough away from them for them to give up and fight each other instead, but this only works when new enemies spawn. Having points in Athletics will allow you to outrun and/or dodge them.
If you drop lots of opponents, you will tend to avoid having them gang up on you. If you try and avoid combat, sooner or later you will have a large crowd of angry men chasing you. This becomes tricky when the last 10 opponents spawn with very little delay. If you do not take down enough opponents during this time you will almost always have the full crowd of champion and veteran fighters chasing you.
Arena combat gives only minor benefits but is risk-free. All arena weapons deal blunt damage which disappears after each combat. This gives you an opportunity to try all sorts of tactics and approaches, finding advantages and disadvantages through experience. You will also gradually improve your character's weapon skills and your own combat senses.
The most balanced weapon. It trades damage and range for overall speed. You also have a shield, making archers less of a threat.
Archers are especially easy to slice up; just advance while blocking and come within melee range. But beware of lucky shots and archers aiming for your legs. An archer will sheath his bow and try punching you when you get within melee range.
Generally speaking if you have a one handed sword and a shield you should get in your opponents faces and stay there, blocking with your shield and hitting them when they blink.
Sacrificing the blocking capacity of a shield, the two handed sword has superior reach and power compared to its single handed counterpart. Using this weapon gives you a considerable advantage when using this weapon in swinging motion. But opponents with a wooden staff have better reach than you so be careful.
Two handed sword combat is your best option for earning cash if your weapon skills are not great. You can hit hard enough with just your base damage to quickly take down opponents, but you will be taking damage so unless you have damage reduction enabled in your options winning that 250 denar prize will require lots of finesse. When approaching archers try and be moving sideways from their aiming direction, especially when they are about to release. To improve your chances, you can pick up a shield from a fallen enemy and wear it on your back during fights for extra back protection. This enables you to hold it up front while advancing toward the archer, switching back to the sword when appropriately close.
The wooden staff (polearm) is wielded similarly to the two-handed sword but with slightly better reach. Your base damage with a staff tends to be low but your weapons reach, when combined with athletics, can often help you avoid getting hit.
Occasionally, combatants spawn with bows. If you specialise in melee combat this is the worst weapon to be stuck with but if you have archery skills (and sufficient athletics) this is the best weapon because you can attack from a safe distance and no one can block your attacks. The biggest threat will be from opponents with melee weapons, which will be everyone other than you -- when you start with a bow, no one else will be given one.
If you can, aim for your opponents head when they are running straight towards you, and you can drop them with one shot. You can aim for the feet of opponents with shields (or aim for their head when they swing their sword, shooting over their shields when they are blocking can also sometimes be accomplished). Also, aim into masses of combatants when they develop to help keep them from ganging up on you, and to rack up credit for difficult shots. But make sure you do not run out of arrows.
Sometimes when opponents fall, their weapons can be equipped. These weapons will pop out from their hands if you were watching closely (or you can go to your video settings and set Corpses to 0, which makes bodies disappear immediately, leaving the dropped weapons behind). If you pick up one of these, you seem to be slightly slower, presumably because of their encumberance, but the tactical advantages of doing so can be considerable.
For example, with a one handed sword you can sometimes pick up a fresh shield to replace yours. Ideally, you will do this before yours breaks, because being in close combat with no shield can be bad. Alternatively, you might pick up a polearm so you can fight from range (if you have enough athletics to make this useful).
Also, if you are an archer, you can sometimes get a bow and arrows. But do not count on having this happen very often. And, you also have to worry about other archers spawning. You should probably either try and stay away from the archer spawn point to reduce their accuracy, or stand with your back to the wall behind that spawn point (which might prevent further archers from spawning). With the mobile approach you ideally should be looking behind you between each shot, to watch for other opponents running towards you. You should also learn to draw your bow while you run, pausing momentarily to release, and running towards your opponents so you can shoot them from close range or away from them to keep them from hitting you, or in circles to line up a shot that has chances to hit multiple opponents. With the standing still strategy you need to keep the arena cleared of opponents or you will have to start running.
Initially you will spawn with a few other relatively inexperienced opponents. Opponents will spawn individually or in pairs, relatively slowly, but with gradually increasing skill levels. Pairs will often spawn fighting each other, which can be an opportunity for you to attack someone that is not trying to kill you, if you can get there in time (or if your aim with a bow is good enough). Towards the end, opponents will spawn extremely quickly and then stop when all 40 have spawned.
Sometimes the game gets confused, and the displayed count of opponents left will be wrong. If this count was too low, you can still win (with -1 opponents left). If this count was too high (or this might be if an opponent leaves the arena through a bug) you will have to exit. You can save and exit from the arena, but any blunt damage you have taken becomes permanent when you start outside the arena.
Some arenas have defects where opponents can sometimes leave the arena. For example, the tower behind the archer spawning point in Curaw sometimes lets opponents walk out through the wall. (You can also climb that tower by walking into the corner and jumping but you can knock yourself out when you come back down.)
No game time passes when you are in the arena.