Cataclysm patch 4.2 brings with it the start of a new PvP season, season 10, which means a new tier of PvP gear – Ruthless Gladiator’s Gear – has become available.
Following the Cataclysm pattern outlined in my Season 9 guide and 4.0.6 update, there are still three levels of PvP gear you can consider current: crafted, purchased with Honor Points, and purchased with Conquest Points.
- Crafted: Bloodthirsty Gladiator’s Gear (or equivalents)
- Honor: Vicious Gladiator’s Gear
- Conquest: Ruthless Gladiator’s Gear
There has been a substantial change with the introduction of Season 10, however. Unlike the previous 9 seasons, last season’s gear has been completely replaced by sets with the same name but different item levels. PvP gear is now marked with Season 9 or Season 10 in the tooltip to help distinguish between the two sets.
The changes affect the gear purchased with Honor Points and Conquest Points last season.
- ilvl 352 Bloodthirsty gear (purchased with Honor Points in Season 9) has been replaced by crafted ilvl 358 Bloodthirsty gear.
- ilvl 365 Vicious gear (purchased with Conquest Points in S9) has been replaced by ilvl 371 Vicious gear (purchased with Honor Points).
This means that, unlike every other previous season within an expansion, the gear earned in a previous season is actually worse than the same named set of the new season. Full Season 9 Conquest gear is inferior to Season 10′s honor gear by 6 item levels, or half a tier. This is a noticeable difference in PvP, so you will need to decide if grinding out the full set is worth it. Fortunately, the honor gains from regular Battlegrounds have been increased, so it should take less time than the Season 9 grind, which was too long (without Tol Barad.)
Due to this change, it is no longer advisable to grind Honor Points in the week between PvP Seasons, as the gear gained will be obsoleted at the start of the new season. Max out both your Honor and Justice Points to prepare for the new season, but wait for the new gear to drop before grinding out a new set.
Last season’s crafted pieces (blue gear with no set bonuses) are no longer available, as the patterns have been replaced with the new Bloodthirsty versions. Crafters do not need to do anything to upgrade existing recipes – the new ones just show up. If you have any of the old gear (like a Fireweave Robe), replace it with the new crafted Bloodthirsty gear right now. Or, better yet, go straight to Vicious gear through Honor Purchases.
A new level 85 character who wants to start playing in Battlegrounds should purchase the crafted Bloodthirsty gear as soon as possible. Getting the 2-piece bonus should be your priority if you are only getting a few crafted pieces because of the +400 Resilience bonus. The crafted gear lacks gem slots, so properly enchanted and gemmed S9 Bloodthirsty gear is about on par with the crafted S10 Bloodthirsty gear. A full crafted set is a great start.
You can, of course, start PvPing without PvP gear, but generally I don’t recommend it. Endgame PvP is designed around a certain amount of Resilience gear, and while you might do okay in PvE epics, your survivability will be low.
Let’s take a look at what you can get in Season 10 from PvP.
HONOR AND CONQUEST
The PvP vendors for level 85 are still in the Hall of Legends in Orgrimmar’s Valley of Strength and the Hall of Champions in Stormwind’s Old Town. There were some minor changes in Season 9, notably the addition of the <Honor Trade Goods> and <Honor Heirlooms> vendors, but otherwise things are the same.
If you’ve never been in these locations before, the picture above shows the Stormwind vendor layout, and below is the Orgrimmar layout. The person you’re going to want to talk to first is the <Honor Quartermaster>.
Regular battlegrounds, Tol Barad, and world PvP award Honor Points. With them, you can purchase last season’s top gear, Vicious Gladiator’s gear from the Honor Vendors. If you don’t participate in Arenas or Rated Battlegrounds, this is the set you should be aiming for. You can only have up to 4000 Honor Points at any one time, but there’s no limit to how many you can earn over time.
Arenas and Rated Battlegrounds award Conquest Points. Conquest Points purchase the current top PvP gear, Ruthless Gladiator’s gear, from the Conquest Vendors. There is a weekly cap to the amount of Conquest Points you can earn that is related to your Arena Rating and Rated Battleground Rating, but there’s no limit to the amount you can have at one time. You purchase Conquest gear from the <Conquest Quartermaster>.
The point costs for each set of appear to be unchanged from Season 9, with two exceptions.
The exceptions are for purchasing PvP weapons.
- PvP weapons can now be purchased with Honor Points. This is a great change, as PvP weapons were formerly not something regular Battleground players could acquire.
- PvP weapons now require a minimum number of points earned in Season 10. You must first get 7250 Honor Points before the Vicious weapons can be purchased, and 7250 Conquest Points for the Ruthless weapons. Points earned the week before Season 10 do count towards this total.
The first change is great for people who only run battlegrounds, and for people gearing up alts. It provides a way to put PvP gear in every slot to get Resilience up, and provides a level playing field for PvP.
The challenge it introduces, of course, is that those weapons are really good for starting out in PvE. This change could potentially drive people into PvP just to gear up their characters for raids, which is – in part – why we have the second change, requiring players to grind out a certain amount of Honor Points before they can get them. This will prevent these weapons from being easily obtainable for PvE, though 7,250 Honor isn’t a terrible amount to grind. The original figure of 18,500 Honor Points was 69% of the way through assembling a full Honor BG kit, and was probably prohibitive.
This is all a good thing. Battleground enthusiasts will now be able to get weapons, and PvE enthusiasts will find better weapons in PvE.
The Conquest weapons are similarly restricted to make them unavailable to endgame raiders at the beginning of Firelands. At the very top tier of PvP play, these weapons will not be unlocked until the 3rd week of Season 10. At the lowest tier, they’ll open up in 6 weeks.
LEVEL 85 GEARING STRATEGY
For level 85 endgame characters, I would adopt the following general strategy for gearing up for battlegrounds, Rated Battlegrounds, and Arenas:
- Get as many of the crafted Bloodthirsty pieces made as soon as you can. Any Resilience is good. Go for the 2-pc bonus (+400 Resilience) as soon as you can. These tend to be selling very cheaply on many Auction Houses right now.
- Supplement with good items gained from PvE, but only if they’re a substantial upgrade over the Bloodthirsty gear.
- Run Tol Barad dailies for the PvP head and shoulder enchants. Use good PvE enchants on your gear in the interim.
- PvP in regular BGs for Vicious gear. I use RatingBuster to help show what each upgrade will give me, but in general if the primary stat (Intellect, Strength, Agility) and Resilience bonuses are the same, I upgrade the secondary stats (Hit, Haste, Crit, Mastery) which favor my current specialization first.
- If you are upgrading from crafted Bloodthirsty gear, you will want the bonuses on the Vicious PvP hands first, followed by the 2-pc and 4-pc set bonuses. If you are coming off the Bloodthirsty gear purchased through PvP, the order doesn’t matter much.
- Once you have a complete set of Vicious gear, use Honor Points to get PvP enchants for your new head and shoulders. You don’t need Tol Barad dailies anymore.
- Participate in as many rated PvP matches as you can, up to the limit of Conquest Points you can gain each week. Even pugging Rated Battlegrounds can net you some benefit.
- Upgrade your weakest pieces with Conquest gear. If you have a mix of Bloodthirsty and Vicious gear, upgrade the Bloodthirsty to Ruthless first.
- Upgrade your PvP weapons whenever they become available, regardless of level. If you can upgrade to the Glorious Conquest weapons (2200+ Rating), do so in favor of other upgrades.
You can upgrade your Conquest armor to Glorious Conquest armor with a 2200+ PvP rating, but it is purely a cosmetic upgrade. A high PvP rating only gets you better PvP weapons, not better armor.
PVE GEAR IN PVP
Generally speaking, I don’t like having lots of PvE gear in PvP. You need a lot of Resilience to stay alive and do your job, and too much PvE gear dilutes it.
That said, if you are able to run Heroic raids, the ilvl 391 Heroic Firelands trinkets look like an attractive option over the Ruthless trinkets. Much like the Darkmoon Cards of Season 9, these trinkets can give you a damage boost without sacrificing a lot of Resilience.
If you’re able to get your hands on one of those trinkets, definitely consider them for PvP.
RATED PVP CHANGES
This doesn’t affect players who strictly play regular battlegrounds, but there have been some substantial changes to the way in which Conquest Points will be awarded in Season 10.
- Players will have different caps for Arenas and Rated Battlegrounds. They can earn total Conquest Points up to the higher of these two caps.
- Rated Battlegrounds will have a 22.2% higher Conquest Point cap than Arenas for the same PvP rating.
- Arena Conquest Point caps range from 1350 to 2700.
- Rated Battleground Conquest Point caps range from 1500 to 3300.
- The Arena and Rated Battleground caps govern how many Conquest Points can be gained doing that specific activity. If one’s total Conquest Point cap is higher than the activity cap, then the additional Conquest Points must come from another source.
I’ve talked about these changes before at some length, so let me focus instead upon what this means to the casual Arena and Rated Battleground player. If you’re running Arenas with friends for weekly Conquest Points:
- If your Arena rating is below 1500, you will not reach your total Conquest Point cap each week.
- At low Arena ratings, you can still get a minimum of 1350 Conquest Points, which is equivalent to the Season 9 cap.
- You can supplement your Conquest Point earnings through a variety of means – Rated Battlegrounds, daily random Battleground/CTA weekend rewards, or converting Valor Points to Conquest Points from raiding, Troll Heroics, and random Heroics.
- At the lowest ratings (or no rating at all), you’ll need 150 Conquest Points from other sources to hit your cap.
If you are able to run Arenas with your friends, it’s still a worthwhile activity that gives you a gearing edge in regular Battlegrounds. You can supplement it with other activities, including PvP, to gear slightly faster than in Season 9 at sub-1500 ratings.
One last note: if you are primarily a PvE player, you can convert Valor Point to Conquest Points at a 1:1 ratio. Once you have exhausted your Valor Point upgrades, you may want to consider using them to purchase Conquest PvP gear.
Like with previous seasons, I’ll update this page as new information is released.
June 28th, 2011 (Patch 4.2 Day): Patch 4.2 has dropped, but not all of the gear described in this article is available yet. Vicious Gladiator’s Gear is still available at the Conquest Quartermasters, but it now costs Honor Points. It’s marked with “Season 9″ underneath the title, which is a nice addition.
Ruthless Gladiator’s Gear is not yet available, but should be once Season 10 starts. I expect that all of the gear will shift to their normal places once that happens.
I’ve updated the section on crafted gear based on feedback from Poneria and Gameldar, as well as what I’ve finally observed on live. The crafted patterns now have “Bloodthirsty” in front of their previous items names (i.e. Bloodthirsty Fireweave Cowl instead of Fireweave Cowl), and they’re a little different from the original sets. They are slightly higher ilvl than the original (358 vs. 352) and generally lack gem sockets. It’s a moot point for upgrading – if you have Season 9 Bloodthirsty, go straight to Vicious, do not stop to craft – but it’s an interesting move by Blizzard.
I can also confirm that they lack all bonuses but the 2pc +400 Resilience bonus, so get whichever pieces you can get, in whatever order you can get them. The crafted Bloodthirsty gloves lack any unique bonus, so I’ll remove that section from the post – but those should still be the first ones you get with your Honor Points.
Also, Vicious PvP weapons currently require you to have earned 7250 Honor Points in the current season. I assume that requirement will go up to the 4.2 patch notes level when Season 10 starts, so it’s probably a good idea to grind out some honor this week and get them first.
Update 7/8/2011: Wow. I step away for a few days and miss a gear debacle.
- Blizzard screwed up the Conquest to Honor point conversion at the end of Season 9, making it so that players who had amassed Conquest Points with the goal of converting them to Honor points lost their stockpiles early.
- Blizzard failed to announce that the gear ilevels of the same tier of gear would change between seasons, so that the Season 9 Vicious gear is a lower ilevel than the Season 10 gear of the same name. This caused people to go farm Vicious gear during the week between the seasons, only to be rudely surprised that it was inferior to the gear purchased a week later.
Blizzard has issued an illuminating statement on the matter:
We agree that the mistakes made were very unfortunate and unfair to a lot of players. We’re currently exploring some options to try and alleviate some of the misfortune many of you experienced while purchasing PvP gear in the last week.
… We know we messed up in multiple ways. This not only made our intentions very unclear, but led players to make choices to spend their Honor Points they otherwise probably would not have made.
If everything went according to plan, you probably would’ve spent any HP over the 4,000 cap last week on any remaining Season 9 items you maybe didn’t have. You then would have saved 4,000 HP to get started on the low tier Season 10 items. This is the way we’re looking at it and will let you know if and when we have more information to share.
Looking at some threads on the forums, I see that this was picked up on the PTR but never made it into the patch notes. I’m sorry that I didn’t see those threads earlier – this is really a case where I feel like I let folks down in not catching it. Following the patch notes sometimes isn’t enough.
This season transition has not gone well. Let’s see what, if anything, Blizzard does to rectify the situation.
Update 7/15/2011: I have updated this post significantly to account for all of the changes that took place with this transition. Entire sections needed to be rewritten due to the issues around the transition from Season 9 to 10.
For my analysis of the changes, please see The Changing Face of PvP Gear and the Rocky Road to Season 10. My followup post, ilvl 365 Vicious Gear and the Phantom Tier, goes into the reasons behind the change. There are good reasons, though they don’t excuse the lack of communication on Blizzard’s part. But what’s done is done.
I updated the following in this post:
- Clarified the difference between the S9 and S10 versions of Bloodthirsty and Vicious gear.
- Added item levels to gear descriptions as appropriate.
- Updated the required weapon HP/CP requirements to 7250, not 18,500 Honor Points or 11,650 Conquest Points originally stated in the release notes.
- Added note about Points earned before Season 10 applying to weapon point limits. (Thanks, Gameldar, for these two!)
Blizzard has said that the 4k Honor Point compensation package will be coming to affected players on 7/19, next Tuesday’s maintenance. Affected players are defined as those who purchased Vicious gear between Seasons 9 and 10, and should receive the Honor Points via in-game email. I won’t be able to personally validate this, but it should be present after the servers come back up.