Arena surrounds all players with Stone Walls and has a huge open space in the middle with resources ringed around the outside. The entire map is surrounded by a huge ring of trees. Sometimes (see map) small pocket open spaces are formed at the back of players' bases containing resources (stone or gold). This feature was later removed, and now the backspaces when present never generate piles of gold or stone.
Aside from the Stone Walls, the start-up for every player is the standard with 6 Berry Bushes, 8 small herdables (or six Cows), half of which in this case may or may not be inside player's walls (found in pairs), 2 aggressive huntables (Boars), a herd of 3-4 passive huntables (Deer), and normal amounts of gold and stone piles. In later patches, all herdables are generated inside the walls.
Regarding Relics, they can be found in regular numbers (5 in 1 vs 1 maps) and are always generated scattered in the central open space, Wild beasts can be found scattered, sometimes alone and sometimes in pairs, and in regular numbers. Sometimes larger maps contain extra Berry Bushes in the central open space
Arena is a map that favors boom strategies, due to the fact that walls are already in place and a rush early would take a long time to penetrate the Stone Walls, especially if defending players place towers. Since players starts walled and sometimes some of the herdables are generated outside the walls, it is advisable that the scout unit goes immediately to explore outside the immediate vicinity of the wall in order to find and take them while putting at least two of the other herdables (the initial 4 nearest to the Town Center) to scout the insides of the player's settlement. Herdables outside the wall are often lost because some players forget to do this. However, the Herdable issue was adressed in a later patch, and now they are always generated inside a player's walls.
For a boom strategy, players should go and take the nearest Gold and Stone Mines outside the wall and leave the mines inside the wall for later. This way, the player can secure a bit more of those resources. If the player luckily enough has an open space at the back with stone or gold, these mines also will be counted as a secured resource. This was rectified in later patches, and backspaces no longer generate stone or gold mines. Despite the number of Relics being normal, they can be a key item on Arena, as they can be found much more easily than on other maps. As the distance between them and the players' bases is closer than in most maps due to walls, those must be taken as soon as the player can create Monks.
Naturally, the only route to attack other camps is through the middle, forcing most of the fighting to be done there. The resources (gold and stone) outside an enemy's base should be a player's first target, as the player should try to limit the other as much as possible. Controlling the center of the map is key in every Arena match.
For an aggressive playstyle, players may perform a Fast Castle strategy followed by a sieging attack with infantry and siege units or by a Castle drop outside opponent player's walls, as those tactics are a very effective ways to pressure a player and forcing them out their walls. Archer and Tower rushes in the Feudal Age may work only as a way to pressure the opponent and the focus on this map for those is to deny the opponent to get outside their walls. In the Cumans' case, they can also perform a Feudal Age ram rush in order to breach an opponent wall very early in the match.
Civilizations that have advantages in Arena:
- Civilizations with good defensive bonuses, especially if they have good walls and Castles: Byzantines, Teutons, Spanish, Chinese, Mayans, Franks, Bulgarians, etc.
- Civilizations with good late-game bonuses: Turks, Byzantines, Teutons, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, etc.
- Civilizations with good siege weapons (especially rams, Trebuchets and Bombard Cannons, as those are needed for destroying walls and Castles): Tatars, Ethiopians, Celts, Khmer, Koreans, Chinese, Slavs, etc.
- Infantry-based civilizations (as most infantry units have bonus attack vs buildings): Aztecs, Goths, Burmese, Japanese, etc.
- Civilizations with bonuses regarding wood collection: Celts, Burmese, for example.
- Civilizations with strong economic bonuses: Cumans, Aztecs, Mayans, etc.
- Civilizations with Bonuses regarding Monks and Relics: Lithuanians, Aztecs, Indians etc.
- With this in mind, both civilizations introduced in Lords of the West are extremely powerful in Arena, especially the Burgundians. They nearly accord with all the advantages the Arena should have, and are now the most powerful civilization in this map. Sicilians also do a great job thanks to their faster Castle Drop and excellent infantry and siege weapons.
Civilizations that may struggle in Arena: