Tag Archives: Gear

Battleground PvP Gear in Cataclysm Patch 4.0.6


Another patch has come and gone, and we continue to fight the good fight. Cataclysm patch 4.0.6 has brought a few new items to consider while gearing up for PvP, but nothing that changes the tiers of gear outlined in my Season 9 PvP Gear post.

Of note:

  • Glorious Conquest weapons – the upgraded versions of the Vicious weapons which require 2200 rating to acquire – are still unavailable. They will only become available when PvE progression gets to a point where they will not be substantial upgrades for raiders.
  • Tol Barad rewards have changed to make it worth your time to participate for Honor Points. Losing the battle awards 75 Honor Points, not zero, making it now worth participating in even if you lose.
  • New PvP enchants are now available.

Let’s take each of these in a little more detail.

UPGRADED CONQUEST WEAPONS

They’re on hold. The upgraded weapons you could get with a 2200 rating were first made unavailable due to some problems with the Conquest Point cap early in the season, then delayed further because they are better than most raiders could get at this time. The previous date of January 25th has been pushed back indefinitely, until progression raiding catches up.

This is really a minor inconvenience, especially for the tradeoff of not making raiders feel like they need to PvP to a 2200 rating to get decent weapons. Not having the upgraded PvP weapons isn’t sending Arena players into raids to try to get better stuff – it’s just not there yet. Parity between the two worlds is hard to achieve, and this delay is an interesting way to handle it.

TOL BARAD IS A NOW GOOD PLACE TO GEAR UP FOR PVP

Finally. When I first wrote my Season 9 PvP Gear guide, Tol Barad didn’t have much to offer over grinding regular battlegrounds. The honor return was good if you won, but lackluster if you lost, and there was no reason to collect commendations from the victory or the dailies.

No longer.

After some major flip flops in Tol Barad’s rewards, the battle has now settled in to:

  • 360 Honor Points for an offensive victory,
  • 180 Honor Points for a defensive victory, and
  • 75 Honor Points for a loss.

This is  actually a pretty good return on your time if you’re grinding Honor Points. A loss will usually net you around 100-125 honor for 25 minutes, about as much as a good AV or IoC victory. If you sneak in near the end of the battle, your Honor Per Minute goes way up, but it’s hard to gauge when it’s going to end, and it’s best to just queue for it when you see it’s up.

Furthermore, 4.0.6 has added new PvP enchants, available at both the Tol Barad quartermasters – Quartermaster Brazie for Alliance, Pogg for Horde – as well as the Honor Quartermasters in your capital city.

  • Head enchants give you 60 of a primary statand 35 Resilience. They cost 1000 Honor Points or 40 Tol Barad Commendations.
  • Shoulder enchants give you 50 of a primary stat and 25 Resilience. They cost 2000 Honor Points or 80 Tol Barad Commendations.

The naming convention is also somewhat clearer than previous versions of these enchants, with the Arcaniums of Vicious Agility, Intellect, and Strength for the head enchants, and the Greater Inscriptions of Vicious Agility, Intellect, and Strength for the shoulders. Having the season name in their titles leads me to believe that these enchants may be upgraded over different seasons, but that’s just a hunch. It certainly is nice to keep them all straight!

Finally, there have been some changes to the victory conditions in Tol Barad – it’s easier for Defenders to keep 0/3, easier for Attackers to take the last base at 2/3 – until we’ve seen them in action. It’s not going to change the fundamental structure of the battleground, but it is at least going to – perhaps – make it less frustrating overall.

GEARING STRATEGIES

I like having alternate currencies to play with when talking about how to gear up a character. They make it interesting – it’s not just all about how many points you can grind out.

So, I’ve slightly modified my own recommendations from the original guide:

  1. Get the crafted pieces made as soon as you can.
  2. Supplement with good items gained from PvE.
  3. Participate in Tol Barad whenever possible, win or lose. Do dailies for Commendations for PvP enchants.
  4. PvP in regular BGs to grind as much Honor Points as you can to get Bloodthirsty gear, focusing on offset pieces and the 2-pc set bonus.
  5. Participate in as many rated PvP matches as you can, up to the limit of Conquest Points you can gain this week.  Focus on gaining Vicious set pieces and weapons first. (As Taugrim points out in the comments below, if your class depends on their weapon, get the weapons first, before anything else.)
  6. Once your Vicious set is complete, start replacing Bloodthirsty offset pieces with Vicious.
  7. Once you’ve upgraded your offset, upgrade your weapons to the Glorious versions.
  8. Skip upgrading the Conquest armor unless you have points to burn at the end of a season (and even then, just consider stockpiling them at the cap.)

It’s nice that with a few changes of gear and reward, Tol Barad has become a place that is at least worth a PvPer’s time to visit.

Good changes, overall. I’m glad to see some PvP enchants in the mix finally.

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Sabotaging the Enemy: the Ethics of Gear

Sabotage: Level 10 PvP is my first PvP video, and I confess that I had a blast making it. I really enjoy the simplicity of low level PvP, especially on classes I don’t know all that well, and hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it.

But while making it, I found myself thinking about how I’d brought a gun to a knife fight.

Malone: You wanna know how you do it? Here’s how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way, and that’s how you get Capone! Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?

Ness: I have sworn to capture this man with all legal powers at my disposal and I will do so.

Malone: Well, the Lord hates a coward.

The Untouchables, 1987

Cynchronic has 107 spellpower and a mana pool that will never run out. Darkblade Cyn has 295 attack power and 48% crit. This is how I level lowbies, sadly – geared with a combination of enchanted heirlooms and hand me downs, leveled professions, and every twink consumable in my guild bank. They’re not twinks, but they’re close to it.

Whenever I level through the lower brackets, I’m always struck by how impressed people are by heirlooms in /bg chat. Either it’s because the opponents have them (which is bad) or someone on the team has them (which is good). And inspecting most players in the 10-14 brackets shows why – while some are clad in heirlooms, some in grey or all-white gear, but most are in quest gear with a few decent greens. Heirlooms are substantially better than quest rewards at this point, and they’ll definitely give you an edge at level 10.

But enchants are like heirlooms on steroids. I try not to get baited into this argument in /bg, but sometimes I can’t keep my mouth shut – the right enchants are worth more than heirlooms.

  • Darkblade Cyn gets +15 Agility from gear (heirlooms and some greens) and +60 Agility from enchants. That’s 4x more impact.
  • Cynchronic gets +22 Intellect from gear (with Shadow Goggles), and +7 Intellect/+30 Spellpower from enchants, or 1.68x more impact. Potentially, she could have +61 Spellpower from enchants, or 2.7x more impact.

I don’t know what it says about me but looking at both of these characters, I’m positive I could squeeze out a bit more power with better enchants and gear (Healing Power on the gloves instead of Minor Haste, Intellect on the DHC instead of Spellpower on the GSJ, Agility on bracers instead of Stamina, etc.). But they’re the gear I had lying around, and there are tradeoffs I made for PvP (Stamina has value, for instance.)

So, in any given 10-14 WSG, you could have this huge disparity of gear. My rogue could have +75 more Agility than the rogue next to her.

My own perfectionist standards aside, I was a twink in a leveling bracket.

I brought a gun to a knife fight. They would send one of mine to the hospital, I would send their entire team to the morgue – and then capture their flag.

Well, I wouldn’t really cap it – I’d drop it and /afk out, because I didn’t want the XP gain.

So… is this wrong?

ON TWINKS, MUNCHKINS, AND MIN/MAXERS

There are two great truths to /bg chat in the leveling battlegrounds.

  • Everyone hates lowbie scrubs.
  • Everyone hates overpowered twinks.

Before the great PVP bracket realignment, the most common complaint people would level against their own teammates is that their level was too low. Showing up as a level 52 in Alterac Valley (formerly 51-60) meant that OMG you were solely responsible for the team’s loss. By this way of thinking, the entire battleground became a question of how many x8s and x9s you had vs the other team. (This particular behavior has lessened a lot now that brackets are only 5 levels deep, but you still see it show up with gear complaints instead of level complaints.)

Blaming others for joining the team before they were a high enough level creates an interesting juxtaposition when compared with how people treated twinks, back in the days when the battlegrounds weren’t split. I won’t sugar-coat it – twinks ruined low-level PvP for many casual players, both by being unstoppable to their opponents and being abusive to their teammates. The new system is much better.

But… doesn’t it strike you as strange to put these two attitudes together? Don’t be better than I am, but don’t be worse than I am?

It’s like some strange video game version of Harrison Bergeron. I’m sitting here, thoroughly enjoying myself dancing across a battleground with the cameras rolling, and suddenly someone bursts in and shoots me with a shotgun.

Big Bear Butt recently had a great post on the difference between MMORPGs and old school RPGs that relates very directly to my experience shooting Sabotage: Level 10 PvP. Grabbing an embedded quote from that post:

“Munchkin” is a term used to describe certain types of gamers, namely those who make use of every avenue and loophole in the game rules to maximise the stats, abilities, and power level of their character, making the character into an awesome overpowered killing machine capable of gathering more loot and experience and becoming ever more powerful, even if it means occasionally pulling a fast one or ignoring certain other rules that might provide limitations. Oh, and roleplaying an actual character concept is secondary to making the character ever buffer and the acquisition of more loot and more powerful weapons, if it’s considered at all.

One of the premises that BBB puts forth is that while traditional RPGs (tabletop, LARP, what have you) look down upon this min/max style of play, MMORPGs, by their very nature as computer games, embrace and encourage it.

As a veteran of traditional RPGs, I happen to agree with much of what BBB says; computer games encourage you to min/max because there are fixed, immutable rules about how your characters interact with their environment. You can’t look at a boss fight and go, you know, we need about 100,000 marbles – or ball bearings, small and round is all we need – to defeat this guy, let’s go to Ironforge and see if they have some. You can’t alter the flow of a quest, or argue that something should happen simply because it’s a better story – you are limited, restricted, and balanced.

I once said, in reference to making a RPG for the Star Trek universe, that you have to be able to accommodate characters as wildly diverse as Data and Troi and still make it fun for both players. In a traditional RPG this is possible, since both characters are interesting to play and have stories to tell. But in a computer game, you have to define abilities – and then balance them toward common goals. WoW does a good job of keeping the classes different and distinct while balancing them in two key areas, even if it’s sometimes at the expense of believability. To paraphrase BBB: do you really believe someone who pokes something with sticks is as powerful as a wizard who can bend and reshape reality?

The way in which the two cultures (traditional RPGs and MMORPGs) approach munchkinism and min/maxing is instructive. The attitudes are products of the game environments, and each environment rewards totally different behaviors.

Let’s leave behind lowbie PvP for a bit. This isn’t really about lowbie PvP, anyways. Let’s consider Iwillhurtyou, a mighty warrior who has reached the pinnacle of his profession. He changes race and faction as necessary to play with friends and gain the best racial abilities. He is level 85, completed all of the necessary quests to receive the mightiest enchants, and changes professions as necessary to gain the best bonuses. When he receives a legendary item, he keeps it until something better comes along.

  • In a PvE setting, you’d call him a good raider.
  • In a PvP setting, you’d call him a good gladiator.
  • In a traditional RPG, you’d throw him out of your group until he got a decent name. Then you’d throw him out again for not sticking to a single character concept.

In some aspects, these two viewpoints couldn’t be further apart. Chasing down every last advantage can be seen as laudable or as abhorrent, depending on your point of view.

But min/maxing, munchkinism, isn’t really good or bad per se. It all depends on context.

THERE’S NO EXCUSE FOR RUDE BEHAVIOR

Within the structure of a video game, it’s good to be powerful. Yet there’s a counter argument to that, something along the lines of: you can be too powerful in PvP. It’s not fair to your opponents to go in that overpowered. I’m certain that I was a nightmare for the opposing team.

But… so what?

I mean, I showed up and was better geared than the opposition. Much better geared. It wasn’t about skill – I pressed a few buttons and people died. Because I was better geared, I had to press fewer buttons, that’s all.

I brought a gun to a knife fight and people died. Bad people, people with red over their heads, died. I did the job I was supposed to do in the battleground superbly well.

Does that make the other team bad players? They didn’t bother to gear up to my standards. Does that make the other 9 people on my team bad players? They didn’t bother to gear up, either. Nothing I did is not readily available to someone with an endgame character and some gold. Find a friendly enchanter, level some professions before you queue, and BAM – you are ready to be awesome.

Let’s extrapolate this out to the endgame again. I showed up, raid and arena ready, to a pug. The person who showed up in quest whites and greens to WSG, showed up in ilvl 318s and maybe a few 333s to the endgame pug. They’re not bad at what what we’re trying to do – they’re trying, at least – but they’re just undergeared.

Why should it matter to me?

I’m going to echo another one of BBB’s sentiments – it’s not my place to start criticizing your gear, or your performance. That’s not my role in a pug; we’re effectively strangers who have just met. All I ask is that you try to win.

Just because I happen to have better pixels than you doesn’t give me the right to be rude to you. Nor does it give you the right to be rude to me. We’re people trying to have fun in a game. I don’t know anything about you, nor you about me.

  • So what if someone is at the bottom of the bracket? Maybe this is their first time in. Maybe they’re taking a break from questing. Maybe they like PvP. Shocking, I know!
  • So what if someone doesn’t know what to do? You think battlegrounds come with instruction manuals?
  • So what if someone’s gear isn’t up to your standards, (which are totally arbitrary by the way)? That’s your problem. Deal with it. Someone’s probably looking at you and thinking the same thing.
  • So what if someone outgeared you before and was rude to you? That was someone different. Get over it.

Does having everyone be exceptionally skilled and geared increase your chances of winning? You betcha. But that’s what rated BGs are for, now. That’s what your friends and guildmates are for. You absolutely should strive to be your best, and to inspire others to be the best they can be, too.

But that’s where you have to stop.

Wanting to win doesn’t excuse you for being rude to another person. It just doesn’t. Fun comes before winning. This is, all things considered, still a video game. And you are – hopefully – playing this game for fun.

Just like the 9 other strangers you just met.

PVP IS NOT FAIR

The only place where PvP is even remotely fair is at the highest levels of endgame play, where top-notch players go and get the absolute best gear available to them. Everyone is in relatively the same gear levels, the same gear sets, the same enchants. Differences between classes become highlighted at that level, in part because everyone has worked hard to get the best gear.

For the rest of the time, PvP is a street fight.

Regular battlegrounds, no matter what level, will have a wide variety of gear and enchantment levels represented within them. Even most Arena matches will have this disparity too. Sometimes, you’re just simply outgeared. It happens. Work on your gear, but get over it.

Not everyone you play with  is going to be at your gear level in this game. Sometimes, they will be far under you – sometimes, far over you. In PvP, if you’re substantially outgeared by your opponent, you’re probably going to die. In PvE, if you’re substantially outgeared by your teammate, you’re getting carried through content. It happens.

No matter which way the gear imbalance lies, remember that we’re all here to have fun. Gear doesn’t convey a position of moral superiority; it just makes tasks easier.

Be good to each other out there. Have fun. Go roll a level 10 twink today and enjoy some pwnage.

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Horde Battle Standards Are Just Plain Better

Battle Standards are wonderful things. You plant a flag and give your team a buff – perhaps it’s increased damage, or increased health – but the various battle standards are excellent investments for all PvPers. Proper placement of a flag can give a stealth buff to your team that can (and will) turn the tide of battle.

The Alliance Battle Standard, and its counterpart, the Horde Battle Standard, are usable in any normal battleground and give people on your side a 15% increase to their health. The Alterac Valley-only Stormpike and Frostwolf Battle Standards give a 15% increase to damage, as do the Tol Barad-only Baradin’s Wardens and Hellscream’s Reach Standards. The flags stick around for 2 minutes or until destroyed, and while they have a long cooldown (10 minutes for the Alliance/Horde flags, 15 for the BG-specific ones) you should pop them at least once every fight.

Except… well, look at the Alliance and Horde standards again. Look at their cooldowns closely.

That’s right. The Horde Battle Standard has a cooldown of 2 minutes, and a duration of 2 minutes, while the Alliance Battle Standard still has a 10 minute CD. This is a bug that’s been reported on the forums, but no fix has been implemented yet.

So, even though I play mostly Alliance, I’m going to pass on a tip to every Horde PvPer out there: put your Horde Battle Standard into your regular rotation. Use it EVERY COOLDOWN. Macro it if you have to. Even if you “waste” it because there’s another Standard out, you’re just still the range of the buff. If you don’t have a Horde Battle Standard yet, WTF is wrong with you? Go get one now, it’s like 500 Honor Points! That’s less than 30 seconds attacking Tol Barad!

As for my fellow Alliance players… well, you’re screwed until this is fixed. Sorry. Kill these things as fast as you can. They’re 1-shots for endgame characters, but you have to target them manually like totems. It’s a pain, but what can you do? Faction change?

(Kidding! Kidding!)

Many special thanks to Bee over at High Latency Life for pointing this out!

Update 1/20/2011: Looks like this will be fixed in 4.0.6. From the PTR notes:

The cooldown on the Horde Battle Standard has been adjusted to 10 minutes to be consistent with the Alliance version.

This should help bring balance to the Force.

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A Price For Everything

Blizzard responded to the problems plaguing Tol Barad with an unexpected and interesting change:

Tol Barad: Winning as an attacker now rewards players with 1800 Honor Points, up from 180. Winning as a defender still rewards players with 180 Honor Points.

It’s interesting because while it doesn’t address any of the problems with the mechanics and rules of the battleground, it directly addresses the problem of motivation. Winning Tol Barad on offense is now the single highest Honor Point per minute activity in the game, bar none. Winning it on defense is as good as it was before, and losing it from either position still nets you nothing.

From a software developer’s point of view, I totally get this change. Compared to fixing the code around capture mechanics or victory conditions, a quick change to the reward structure is easy to implement, test, and deploy. It doesn’t preclude further work on the code to address the fundamental problems with the mechanics of the battleground.

But messing around with player motivations is a tricky, tricky thing.

If you’re gearing up for PvP and I offer you a choice between grinding out a dozen battlegrounds for a piece of gear (random BG finder), or a single one with some conditions (Tol Barad), you’re going to go for the single one. Would you rather spend 4 hours getting that gear, or 20-30 minutes?

The rational answer is, of course, the latter. But – and here’s the kicker – it’s only a rational choice if you meet all the conditions. And the conditions now include which side you’re on, not just if you win or lose.

Consider how you can spend those 30 minutes:

  • You can attack Tol Barad and take it, hitting the jackpot and getting 1800+ Honor.
  • You can defend Tol Barad successfully and get 180 Honor.
  • You can run maybe 2 random battlegrounds. Let’s say you win one for 120 Honor and lose one for 40? So there’s 160 Honor.
  • You could fight and lose the battle for Tol Barad, gaining nothing.
  • You could go do something else and come back later.

If you zone in to Tol Barad on offense, the decision is dead simple: fight. Fight for all you’re worth!

But if you zone into Tol Barad on defense, you’re now facing an interesting choice. It’s because you aren’t considering just this battle, but the next one too.

  • If you stay and fight hard and win, you get 180 Honor this battle. You’ll also be able to get 180 Honor the next battle, too, if you hold it.
  • If you stay and fight, but lose, you get no Honor, but you get a chance to get 1800 Honor the next battle. But you wasted 20-30 minutes of your time now in doing so.
  • If you throw the fight, surrender Tol Barad quickly, you have a good chance to get 1800 Honor the next battle, while spending none of your time now. You can go run some random BGs in the meanwhile.

If you only look at this battle, staying to defend makes sense. If you look at your overall Honor gain, though, throwing the battle and surrendering on defense is the absolute best strategy. It’s an interesting twist in that it benefits both sides to pursue this tactic, allowing Tol Barad to change hands every single battle, giving everyone equal access to the zone. The rewards for winning when attacking are so unbelievably good that both sides can see the obvious advantage to this arrangement.

By motivating attackers to win, this fix has also motivated defenders to lose. Tol Barad should no longer be held by one faction exclusively, which is a good thing. A very good thing, even!

But it’s at the cost of the heart and soul of the zone: the battle itself. When a game is set up so that one team should throw it in order to maximize their returns, they will do so, and it will cease being a game. There’s no competition, no struggle, no motivation to win. It becomes a meaningless, empty, and brutal ritual.

I think we’ve just found the price at which a battleground can be bought.

UPDATES

January 4th, 2011: The attacking side now gets 360 Honor Points, down from 1800. From Zahrym’s post:

While the goal with that change was to provide more incentive for the attacking forces to claim victory, it ultimately led to an undermining of the spirit of competition in Tol Barad. We’ve just applied a hotfix which has lowered the attacking faction’s gain to 360 Honor Points for a victory. The defending faction will still earn 180 Honor Points for a victory.

This is about as good of a change as Tol Barad could hope for at this point. It still convinces people that there is some value in attacking, without giving people a reason to trade wins.

I don’t think this is the final state of Tol Barad. There are numerous problems with the structure of the battleground that keeps it from changing hands very often in a balanced environment. But those will take time to fix.

In the meanwhile, I’ll go back to ignoring this island a little while longer.

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Battleground PvP Gear in Cataclysm Season 9

The Cataclysm brought with it many changes, including a new level cap and new battlegrounds. There have been some PvP gear changes too, some expected, others not.

ENDGAME: LEVEL 85

Yesterday marked the start of a new Arena season, and with it new gear becomes available.

Wait, hang on a second. That’s not right.

Yesterday marked the start of a new Rated PvP season, since it’s not just about Arenas anymore.  I talked a lot about these changes in Preparing for Rated Battlegrounds, but in case you missed it, there are to be three levels of gear available to level 85 characters at any given time:

  • Crafted gear
  • Honor gear
  • Conquest gear

The PvP vendors at the usual locations have been renamed to help you know what you’re getting and what kind of currency you’ll need – <Honor Quartermaster>, <Conquest Quartermaster>, and <Glorious Conquest Quartermaster>.  Gear at the Honor Quartermaster requires Honor Points to purchase, Conquest Quartermaster takes Conquest Points, and the Glorious Conquest Quartermaster…

Let’s talk about the Glorious Conquest Quartermasters for a minute.

One of the biggest shifts in the new gear model is that most PvP gear does not require PvP ratings to purchase. There is no longer a massive gear discrepancy between low and high rated players, as long as you can get the Conquest Points to purchase it, the top-tier gear is yours.

However, that removes one of the incentives players had to really excel in PvP – having better gear, having something to symbolize their accomplishment.  That’s where the Glorious Conquest Quartermasters come in.

See, if you have a 2200 rating or higher, you can exchange your regular Conquest armor for armor that looks a little different at the GCQ. It has the same stats, but requires a rating.

Weapons, however, are different. Players with high ratings can exchange their weapons and pay again to get upgraded versions with better stats. (Sometimes, much better stats.) So there’s still a reward for having a great rating, and it will make a difference in people’s gear – but it won’t be an overwhelming difference. If you’re getting the 2200 rating, you shouldn’t need a huge gear edge to take out someone with at 1500.

Keep in mind that weapons can only be purchased for Conquest Points, not Honor Points. You might come across some listed in Wowhead, but those are not available in-game.

The sets that are currently available are:

Since this is the start of an expansion, we’re not building upon a previous season’s gear in our kit. There’s been a complete and total stat revamp, and the gear curve between one tier and the other is very different.  Here’s a comparison of the 3 Cataclysm Warlock set pieces vs. the last two seasons of Wrath, and you can see how much stat inflation has taken place. Your Wrathful gear is not exactly useless… but it’s not very good at level 85, either.

The strategy I would adopt to gear up for BGs and rBGs is:

  1. Get the crafted pieces made as soon as you can.
  2. Supplement with good items gained from PvE.
  3. PvP in regular BGs to grind as much Honor Points as you can to get Bloodthirsty gear, focusing on offset pieces first.
  4. Participate in as many rated PvP matches as you can, up to the limit of Conquest Points you can gain this week.  Focus on gaining Vicious set pieces and weapons.
  5. Several weeks from now, when you’ve gotten your Conquest set, start replacing Bloodthirsty offset pieces with Vicious.
  6. Once you’ve upgraded your offset, upgrade your weapons to the Glorious versions.
  7. Skip upgrading the Conquest armor unless you have points to burn at the end of a season (and even then, just consider stockpiling them at the cap.)

Because there is a cap on the amount of Conquest points you can earn during any given week, you will see people’s gear improving at a similar rate over the upcoming weeks.

Itemization seems to be better on the crafted gear, with a good mix of values on each of the different primary and secondary stats. Cloth-wearers should especially take advantage of the options available in secondary stats (Mastery, Haste, Crit).

The costs have been standardized between currency types, which makes me very happy:

Slot Bloodthirsty
Honor Points
Vicious
Conquest Points
Head 2200 2200
Neck 1250 1250
Shoulder 1650 1650
Back 1250 1250
Chest 2200 2200
Wrist 1250 1250
Hands 1650 1650
Waist 1650 1650
Legs 2200 2200
Feet 1650 1650
Ring 1 1250 1250
Ring 2 1250 1250
Trinket 1 1650 1650
Trinket 2 1650 1650
2H Weapon/Ranged 3400
MH Weapon 2450
OH Weapon 950
Wand/Relic 700

The Bloodthirsty set is going to set you back 22,750 Honor Points. The Vicious set will set you back a bit more because of the weapon slots, around 26,850 – more if you’re a Warrior, Rogue, or Hunter.

I won’t sugar-coat this – you are going to have to rebuild your PvP kit from the ground up at level 85. But you’ve done it before, you can do it again. What’s working in your favor right now is that everyone is in the same position, so just keep at it and you’ll get geared in a few weeks.

TOL BARAD

There’s another source of gear that you should consider for your level 85 characters – Tol Barad. Much like Wintergrasp, Tol Barad victories award commendations, which in turn can be used to purchase gear from the Baradin’s Wardens or Hellscream’s Reach quartermasters.

Now, this isn’t PvP gear insofar as it’s got Resilience on it, but it’s a PvP zone and the rep rewards are pretty good. You’ll want to pick up the Battle Standard because… well, because you should have all the Battle Standards, really, I mean the regular one is only 550 Honor Points.

I don’t have a lot to say about Tol Barad yet. I haven’t fought in it, so I’ll reserve my opinion of it later. I will, however, point you to Gevlon’s take on Tol Barad, and will let you know what my own experience is once I get there.

LEVELING BRACKETS

Many of the previous seasons have been removed with the start of Season 9.

  • Level 80-84: Wrathful Gladiator’s gear is now your best bet, with most pieces being under 1000 Honor Points each. Good for the 80-84 bracket. There are some cheap Furious offset pieces available too, and the level 78 crafted blues are actually a really good cheap option here. Level 80 is also now the point when you can upgrade your PvP trinket to the 2-minute CD version, which you should ABSOLUTELY do.
  • Level 75-79: The Northrend crafted blue gear is your best bet at level 78. For the rest, you’re better off with PvE gear.
  • Level 70-74: Brutal Gladiator’s gear is really your only option. It will be good for the 70-74 bracket, but is outclassed by Northrend gear, and is not a good choice for the 75-79 bracket. Don’t spend a lot on it.
  • Levels 60-69: Outland gear is your best bet for these brackets. There are some respectable PvP epics from the old world BGs at level 60, but most of them will be replaced by level 65 quest greens.
  • < Level 60: Every level ending in 8, you should visit the WSG and AB quartermasters to get new PvP gear. The AB boots remain a terrific choice because of their built in speed enchant (add Mithril Spurs for more fast leveling goodness!) and many of the WSG pieces remain good choices for PvP and questing.
  • Level 10: Get the PvP trinket for 55 Honor Points as soon as you can. It’s cheap, and it WILL save your life.

THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH

So, the Jewelcrafting vendor appears to be gone. No more PvP for profit, time to make money the old fashioned way – loot it off the dead corpses of your enemies, or plunder it from the Auction House.

That’s okay. Right now you’re going to need all the Honor Points and Conquest Points you can get. 26k doesn’t grind itself overnight, after all!

UPDATES

December 28th: There have been several substantial changes to PvP gear in the last two weeks that bear note in this post.

  1. Due to a bug in the way in which MMR was calculated and Conquest points awarded, all 2200 rating weapons and gear now require level 86 to use. This restriction will be in place until January 25th. It doesn’t matter if you exploited the MMR bug or not; all high ilvl Conquest gear is no longer available for use (but it is purchasable.)
  2. Tol Barad has had a dramatic change to its reward structure, with attackers getting 10 times as much honor for a victory than defenders – a full 1800 Honor points. Tol Barad is worth doing, but only as an attacker. If you zone in on defense, it is probably worth throwing the game and coming back for the next match. (I can’t believe I am writing that, but there you have it.)

December 31st: The Tol Barad situation continues to worsen, with the scenario described in A Price For Everything becoming the norm on most servers. T-Bad is the absolute best way to get Bloodthirsty gear at this point, but it will likely come at the cost of win trading.

This is a thorny problem, and one which I hope Blizzard addresses soon.

January 3: The Tol Barad attacking Honor Points reward has been reduced to 360, making an offensive victory equal to two defensive victories. Best case would be to attack and win, then come back and defend.  T-Bad is still a good place to get honor if you win, but is no longer going to give you a piece of gear every victory. I believe that the “rush the bridge at the end of the battle” exploit has also been fixed, so we should be effectively back to where we were a little more than a week ago.

The other problems with the BG are still unresolved, sadly. But at least you won’t be win-trading for gear anymore.

Feburary 14: PvP enchants have been added into the game, and several major changes have been made to Tol Barad that make it worth your time to participate. Further changes are explored in my post on Battleground PvP Gear in Cataclysm Patch 4.0.6, including some changes to gearing strategies.

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The Case Against Heirlooms

I love Heirloom gear. I love having complete sets ready to go for pretty much any low level character I choose to roll. I spent much of Wrath obsessed with collecting them.  I have, at last count, 29 heirloom items. That’s twenty-nine pieces of Bind to Account gear, all dedicated to making me an awesome leveler.

And yet… I’m not an awesome leveler.  I’m just not.  I’m great at rolling alts, and pretty good at making them as powerful as I can at any given level, but I’m just not a great leveler.  I play with some great levelers, people who can take a toon to level 40 in two days, with full professions, and completely enjoy the experience along the way.

That’s not me.  Each level is a struggle, and there’s this constant sense of guilt that I should be doing it faster, better, are we there yet? that makes me wonder why I roll so many alts in the first place. Having all the Heirlooms in the game wouldn’t make me better at leveling.

And yet: I enjoy questing. One of my biggest personal lessons with the Level 19 Ambassador Project was how much I enjoyed discovering the stories behind the game, of seeing the reasons why places are the way they are. I enjoy collecting gear, of sifting through quest rewards for the best, the prettiest, the coolest-looking, the oddest. I love having torches and lanterns and pretty dresses. I can even enjoy leveling, when I forget that there’s a goal I’m trying to reach.

I laid out the case for Heirlooms in an earlier post, but it’s relevant to summarize it here.  Heirloom gear serves two purposes; to give experienced players a shorter path through content they’ve experienced before, and to allow for gear to be shared between characters on a server.  Heirlooms are good gear, sometimes great gear, sometimes the best gear you can get.  You can enchant them once and never have to enchant that slot again.  You can get stats that are otherwise rare or unavailable before level 60 (Hit, Haste, Resilience.)

But when Cataclysm comes, I think I’m going to level a lot of my alts without Heirlooms, or only with a few selected ones.  I’ve already started using my Heirlooms less and less, and am finding it a more enjoyable experience overall.

This is, frankly, odd for me to admit, since in terms of efficiency (and regular readers know how I feel about efficiency), Heirloom gear cannot be beaten.  (Even speed enchants on your boots can’t quite compare to Heirlooms for increasing your experience gain.) Going without the chest and shoulders means you are leveling 20% more.  That’s crazy.

And yet…

THIS ISN’T OLD CONTENT

The old world is not going to be old anymore.  The experience from 1-60 has been redesigned, the stories are different.  Leveled through Darkshore, Westfall, and the Barrens dozens of times before?  Well, you’ve never leveled through these zones.  They’re different now.  You can’t be bored with these quests yet, you’ve never done them!

Doing all of the tier 1-2 zones on a single character made me realize how different each zone could feel, how some zones appeal to you and others don’t.  Taking time to experience each zone and the stories within it is a good, enjoyable part of the game! Remember your first character, stumbling around without much of a clue, discovering new places, being awed by the immensity of this game?

Don’t rob yourself of that innocence too soon.  Take your time.  Stop and smell the roses.

(Okay, Outland and Northrend are still old content.  Get every XP boost you can to level through those quickly.)

THIS ISN’T THE FASTEST WAY TO GET A NEW RACE TO 85

If you are really in a hurry, Heirlooms will not get your new goblin or worgen to 85 by December 8th. No, if you want to play one of the new races in the endgame as soon as possible, your best strategy is to take an existing level 80 character to 85 and change their race.  There realm first racial achievements have been removed, so there’s even less incentive to try to do this, but if you’re dead set on playing the endgame with one of the new races?

Get your level 80 character ready to switch.

THIS ISN’T THE WAY TO BE OVERPOWERED

I’ve been rolling a lot of alts lately, and I’ve heard people talking in battlegrounds about how overpowered someone is because they have Heirlooms.  I think this is probably filtering into the Dungeon Finder, too – “lol no heirlooms.”

This is stupid.  It’s not stupid because it’s childish (though it’s that, too).  It’s not even stupid because it ignores player skill (which is also stupid.)  It’s stupid because it ignores math, and ignores a simple fact:  for the first 30 levels or so, your enchants are better than your gear.

I rolled a Hunter recently, why, I wasn’t quite sure, but I did and I’m enjoying it.  I tossed a Lovely Purple Dress on her and a set of enchanted white gear I got from the starting area vendors, and then proceeded to destroy the starting area. I tossed Heirlooms on her at level 10, keeping the same enchants, and have proceeded to destroy every instance and battleground I’ve been in.

Why?

+7 Agility to the boots.  +9 Stamina to the bracers.  +15 Agility to the gloves.  +15 Agility to the main hand weapon.  +100 Health to the chest.  +2 damage on the bow.  +16 Armor to the legs.

For a Hunter, that translates to 74 Ranged Attack Power and an additional 190 health, just from enchants.

A full kit of Heirlooms provides (at level 19): +5 Agility from the shoulders, +7 Agility from the chest, +3 Agility from the MH, +18 Stamina, +6 Haste, +6 Resilience, and a PvP trinket.  That’s 30 Ranged Attack Power and about 4% Haste, 180 health.  All good stats, and worth having for maximum pwnage, but it takes a while for gear to catch up to the wonderful enchantments you can place on level 1 items.

Think about that again.  A properly enchanted set of white gear gives you better bonuses than Heirlooms for the first 20 levels.

Heirlooms are a good way to ensure that several of your slots are filled with good, enchanted, blue-quality gear.  They mean you can enchant a slot once and never worry about it again, which I greatly appreciate given how much I love the Crusader enchant. But it’s not just the weapon damage that is important there: it’s always having an enchanted weapon. You save money, you don’t skimp on your Heirloom enchants like you might on something you’re going to replace in a few levels.

THEY OBSCURE YOUR VIEW OF THE GAME

A related pet peeve is that it also surprises me how often I hear players refer to Heirlooms as best-in slot items.  They’re not, or not always.  At any given level, for a specific class, they might be the best you can get – but more often than not, there’s something else you can get.  If you have Heirlooms and are leveling quickly, you’d probably never notice this.

What I’ve noticed while using Heirlooms is that I start ignoring whole swaths of gear, and stop making choices around them.  That’s okay – it’s one of the advantages of Heirlooms – but it’s also a disadvantage.  There are some really great items in the game that you’ll never acquire, never even notice, if you level in full heirlooms.

I obsess a bit on my twink blog about the best weapon for a given spec or situation.  And yet, I often use the Venerable Mass of McGowan for my MH weapon.  It’s a great tanking weapon because of the Agility, though there are some swords that outclass it for sheer DPS.  So I switch, depending on what situation I’m in.  (The 2H Heirlooms are all outdone by several different quest rewards and I don’t even have them on ‘block anymore.)

But Cyn, you’ll rightly say, why should I spend the time researching that when the Heirlooms are good enough, and when I’m going to outlevel that reward in a dungeon run or two anyways?

Because it’s a part of the game that you’re missing.  If you wear your Tattered Dreadmist set all the way from 1-80, not only do you miss out on any sense of progression in your appearance, you lose out on how bad and awkward the outfits were in Outland (and how drab everyone is in Northrend.)  Your gloves, helm, and boots change, but you basically look the same from 1-80.

If your goal is getting to 80, then maybe that doesn’t matter.  There’s no right or wrong here, just a matter of preference.  Looking like a clown in Outland isn’t something to seek out, exactly – but it’s part of the game, and a fun part of the game.  Replacing my purple tunic was a big step – though it was nice seeing my legs again!

THEY GET IN THE WAY OF LEARNING YOUR NEW CLASS

It’s one thing to say that Heirlooms let you skip over seeing a part of the game (gear).  The more I’ve leveled with them, the more I think that they can hinder becoming a real expert in your class.

Hear me out.

It’s fairly straightforward to pick out a good set of Heirlooms for a given class.  You might not get the best ones for your chosen spec, but you should be able to do pretty good overall.

But what if you want to tank instead of DPS?  There’s no gear that’s specific to tanking, and even though the instances 1-80 aren’t that demanding anymore, you’re not getting exposed to the idea that you should gear differently for tanking than for DPS – until you hit the endgame.  I ditched my DK’s Heirloom chest when he hit 70 and went with the crafted tank blues instead.

The difference was noticeable.  Having dedicated tank gear in all slots made a big improvement back in the days of Defense, but even at lower gear levels I believe it’s important to start learning the ins and outs of why gear works the way it does while leveling, not at the endgame.

It’s not just the roles of the holy trinity that need to be learned through the leveling process – the distinctions between gearing different specs are lost in the heirloom shuffle.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve got a Rogue I’m leveling Combat.  I’ve probably mentioned that I’m also not very good with her; I don’t really understand what I’m doing aside from Sinister Strike > Slice and Dice > SS x5 > Eviscerate, with occasional Blade Flurries to spread the damage around.  I’m basically doing what smarter Rogue players than I have told me what to do, and running LFD so that I can level her up.

The reason I’m leveling a Rogue is that I want to level her Enchanting and Inscription.  Heirlooms work great for this purpose; they let me grasp the basics of the class, keep the same gear throughout the process, and every once in a while drop into LFD for some dungeon runs.

But at the end of all of this, after I hit level 80, will I be a good Rogue player?  No. Absolutely not.  I grab random gear with Agility, Hit and Stamina off the AH or from dungeons, but basically I’m powering through on Heirlooms.

Conversely, I plan on leveling my warlocks in Cataclysm with minimal Heirlooms, precisely so I can see what it’s like.  I want to experience the new gear.  I want to see what it’s like in the field, how it looks, how it works.  I want to sit there actually thinking about a quest reward before turning in the quest.

There’s a counter-argument to be made to this – namely, that you don’t need to be an expert in how a class levels to be an expert in it at the endgame, or to be a really good endgame player.  I absolutely agree with this.  If leveling is not your goal, but the endgame is, then you probably don’t need to know the intricacies of how a class levels up.

But there are skills you learn while leveling that are important (kiting, trapping, jump shots, CC, pulling, healing on the move) that you need at level 80/85.  Don’t dismiss them out of hand if your goal is the endgame.

NEITHER WAY IS WRONG

I know me.  I’m going to waffle back and forth between using Heirlooms, not using Heirlooms.  I love them too much to abandon them entirely.  Some toons are going to be totally tricked out, and that means they get the purple dress and skull shoulders and staff.  Others are going to be left to fend for themselves.

That’s okay.

Leveling, it seems to me, is as much about the journey as it is the destination.  Sometimes we just want to take the highway and get there as fast as we can.  Sometimes we want to take back roads.  One might be faster, but that doesn’t make it better.

And that is the crux of my case against Heirlooms.

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A Pre-Cataclysm Warlock Guide

In case you were worried, Warlocks are going to be awesome in Cataclysm.

No, really.  While the changes 4.0.1 introduced might have everyone off-balance right now, and let’s face it, things are really screwy in terms of balance – the changes to Warlocks haven’t altered the fundamental awesomeness of the class.

The end of Wrath left Warlocks in a good, balanced state.  My primary concern with the changes was: is this going to make us unbalanced again?  And more importantly, will this fundamentally change the enjoyment we have in certain playstyles?

4.0.1 introduced a lot of changes, but it didn’t fundamentally change the way you play a warlock.  Yes, there is some increased complexity in some areas and rotations.  Yes, there is a lot of simplicity in other areas.

But overall, now is a great time to either roll a new warlock, or play your favorite one.

Let’s look at the changes.

MECHANICS

The Warlock’s Den has a great compilation of the changes in 4.0.1, but it’s all the changes.  If you’re just diving into the new patch, the changes can seem overwhelming.

The biggest news is that Soul Shards are completely revamped.  Gone is your old Soul Shard bag; in its place are three shards that you can use to empower certain spells through the new spell, Soulburn. This spell empowers other spells to either make them faster, hit harder, or give different effects.  Another new spell, Soul Harvest, regenerates both Soul Shards and your health.  Using Soul Shards creatively in combat is one of the new great challenges of playing warlocks.  It’s actually quite fun watching the bars light up when you burn a shard now!

As far as gear and stats go, you can Reforge your existing gear at a Highborne trainer near the Enchanting trainer in major cities.  Reforging allows you to swap one stat on gear, like Spirit, for another stat that isn’t on that gear, like Hit.  It costs 10g a pop and only works on ilvl 200+ gear.

You should consider reforging your gear for three reasons.  The first is that you need to get up to 17% hit to get raid bosses – not 13-14%, like before.  Why? Because all of the Hit-enhancing talents other people brought to you in raids are gone. If you’re still raiding, you’re going to need that Hit.

The second reason is that Spirit is officially useless to Warlocks again.  Life Tap’s spell and glyph have both changed, and Fel Armor has been modified, so that Spirit does nothing for you.  Reforge it or swap it out.

The third reason is a new stat: Mastery.  Mastery increases your damage according to your spec, and you can only get it via Reforging in 4.0.1. The value of Mastery depends on both your spec, your Hit, and your Haste, but in general it is a desirable stat.

Stats have been completely redone.  Intellect now gives you Spellpower, and Spellpower has been removed from most items in the game.  Intellect is now a desirable stat. How desirable?  Well, current thinking is that:

  • Leveling: Hit (until cap, 4%) > Int >  Haste > Spellpower > Stamina > Crit
  • Affliction raiding at 80: Hit (to cap, 17%) > Int >> Haste > Spellpower >> Mastery >> Crit
  • Demonology raiding at 80: Hit (to cap), Haste > Int >> Mastery = Spellpower > Crit
  • Destruction raiding at 80: Hit (to cap) >> Int >> Mastery = Haste = Spellpower >>> Crit

So take a look at your gear and consider stacking that Intellect.

Another major change is that DoTs now refresh duration instead of clipping them.  One of the major annoyances of DoTs was that you would drop your DPS if you cut them off before the final tick of damage, so you needed to let it fall off and immediately refresh.  Now, you can refresh them and just extend their duration without overwriting the last tick.  The best time to refresh a DoT is just after the second-to-last tick – this gives you the biggest time extension without reducing the overall number of DoTs. The only exception to this is Bane of Agony, which hits harder on the final ticks.

This is kinda an important change, so I’m planning a followup post to cover just how DoTs work in the new system.

You’ll notice that it’s not Curse of Agony anymore; some Curses (Agony, Doom) have been retitled Banes. Banes and Curses can both be applied to a target.  This gives you both a Bane (which causes damage) and a Curse (which applies an effect) that can be stacked onto a target, no longer forcing you to chose between damaging an opponent or cursing them.  The new names take some getting used to, but eventually they’ll stop squeaking every time we say them.

Your Infernal and Doomguard no longer displace your summoned demon, allowing you to use them as a massive DPS boost on a 10 minute cooldown. Use them every chance you can – Infernal for AoE, Doomguard for direct target.  They no longer require reagents or help in summoning.  This is a very cool change, and get used to seeing them all the time.

Soul Shatter now works. It’s now a 90% threat reduction, which is good, because aggro in the pre-Cataclysm world is a harsh mistress. Soulshatter actually working makes my head hurt to think about.  Also, your Spellstones and Firestones are gone.  Sorry about that.

So, yes. There are a lot of changes to mechanics.  But tackle them one at a time, and you’ll do fine.

LEVELING A WARLOCK

All of the advice that people had on the best spec to level a Warlock with in Wrath?  Worthless.  Throw out any guide that isn’t updated for 4.0.1, because the leveling experience is completely different.

At level 10, you get to choose your specialization: Affliction, Demonology, Destruction.  Each one of them introduces a cornerstone spell immediately at level 10, allowing you to start playing that style early on, instead of waiting for those key spells in the 40s and 50s.

This change makes each spec immediately viable for leveling.

If you’re having trouble deciding which way you want to go:

  • Affliction is the route for the slow, steady, unstoppable kills.  You gain an extra DoT spell, Unstable Affliction, which combined with your improved Corruption and Bane of Agony will be enough to kill most any mob you come across.  Drain tanking is alive and well!  You’ll want to use many of your demons with Affliction, depending on situation and playstyle.
  • Demonology is if you like having something else take the damage for you.  You get a Felguard at level 10, and he is a brute.  Use him for most pulls, switch to the Voidwalker for pulls that require AoE tanking.
  • Destruction is for those who like the quick, bursty kills.  You get Conflagrate, a instant-cast explosion, which combined with Searing Pain and Incinerate will let you kill most mobs before they ever reach you.  You’ll probably favor the Imp, but your other demons will be situationally useful.

The simplified talent trees actually make leveling advice quite easy.  Take talents that make the spells you use hit harder, cast faster, or heal you.  If your using your demon for a lot of your DPS, buff it instead.

If you don’t have a Warlock, or have one you haven’t played in a while, consider rolling one.  They are huge amounts of fun at the low levels.  They’re an absolute blast.

If you’ve already leveled one, though, the next section might interest you a bit more.

RAIDING AT LEVEL 80

Raiding at level 80, when the trees are designed for an endgame at 85, is a little strange.  But there’s still loot to be gotten and achievements to achieve, so people are figuring out how to raid at 80.

Below are some pages I’ve found extremely helpful in navigating the waters with this new raiding environment.  Especially helpful is the first link, at Elitist Jerks.  If you go no where else for raiding advice, go there.

General PVE:

Affliction:

Demonology:

Destruction

I would love to find some more articles to help with raiding, but we’re well past the expiration date of the current content, and new content – with new abilities – is going to be coming up very soon.  There will be a lot more focus on raiding articles when Cataclysm drops and folks start leveling up to 85.

PVP AT LEVEL 80

PvP is totally unbalanced right now, and I wouldn’t hold out much hope that it’s going to get radically better before Cataclysm strikes.  That means that casters are going to remain overpowered, Resilience values are going to go up and down as the developers try to introduce some kind of sanity to the battlegrounds, and you’ll get to experiment a lot with your ‘locks.

I don’t have any great links to share with you for PvP.  High-end PvP doesn’t tend to invite the kind of analysis that raiding does, and while there are some builds that are popular right now, folks are figuring out new and creative ways to kill each other and nothing’s set in stone.

As far as the specs:

  • Demonology seems to have made an incredible comeback in the battlegrounds.  The Felguard’s new abilities at level 80 are awesome, hitting very hard with a number of stuns and interrupts that can’t be beat. I am seeing a lot of Demo locks out there right now.
  • Destruction is having an excellent time out there, as well.  High burst damage is ruling the day, and the Imp has made an unlikely appearance on the battlefield as the Destro pet of choice.
  • The reports of Affliction’s death in PvP are wildly exaggerated.  While some of the Drain Tanking talents have been nerfed, Soul Swap and Empowered Seed are making up for it.  Sending an Empowered Seed of Corruption out into a surging mass of defenders in Wintergrasp means you are going to see a LOT of numbers come rolling through your combat text meters.  Petwise, the Succy is a little more useful than the Felhunter right now, but both have their place.

Much of this will change in the next six weeks.

But in the meanwhile, there’s a lot of fun to be had with your warlock.  (Or warlocks, if you’re crazy like I am.)

Now go out there and be awesome!

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Pre-Cataclysm Honor Grinding

With the changes to Honor Points and new Arena gear becoming available to unranked characters in 4.0.1, the timeless question of how to most efficiently grind Honor has come up, once again.

It’s been a while since we’ve had to address this question – the Random Battleground Finder pretty resoundingly ended that debate earlier – but there are now several new options with the new currency.  And until Ihra returns from his break to do a complete HPM (honor per minute) analysis, you’ll have to settle for my math.

So let’s take a look.

HONOR THROUGH PVP

PvP remains the best way to grind Honor Points.  You get HP by killing opponents, by capturing objectives, by defending flags (!), by winning matches.  Winning battlegrounds thoroughly is preferable to winning them quickly and skipping objectives.

Daily Random Battlegrounds remain the best way to gain honor at level 80. The first win of the day gives you an extra 90 Honor Points.  Subsequent wins give you 40 extra Honor Points.  Even if you don’t win, you’ll still get an extra 15 Honor, so running randoms gives you a consistent boost that you should not skip.  If you win 50% of the time, with 15 minutes a match, you’ll be getting an extra 250 Honor Points over the first two hours.  Call To Arms events in specific battlegrounds give the same benefits (that do not stack), so if there is a BG that you really enjoy running having a CTA weekend, run that instead.

My experience so far has been about 75 Honor Points per BG.  I’m actually losing more than I’m winning right now, but my queues are instant, so it’s working out to a decent grind.  I’ll collect more data and update this post with it.

Wintergrasp Battles give a decent amount of Honor Points by themselves; I received 40 Honor Points in a recent victory where all towers went down before time expired. This could vary widely due to your HK count and how the battle progresses; it actually doesn’t compare that favorably to regular battlegrounds, let alone random battlegrounds, but there are reasons you should do Wintergrasp anyways.  (More on that below.)

World PvP also gives Honor Points.  Unless you’re participating in mass World PvP, I don’t think you’re going to gain a tremendous amount of HP this way, but you do gain rewards this way.  If there’s active World PvP on your server, engage away!

HONOR THROUGH QUESTING

Some quests award Honor Points.  This isn’t a new concept – Wintergrasp quests have done this for a while – but since all PvP rewards have been standardized to a single scale, there are now more ways to gain Honor Points outside of the battlegrounds.

Wintergrasp Quests are still a viable Honor Point boost.  Each weekly quest rewards 16 Honor Points, and there are six of them (Victory, Kill 10 Enemy, Destroy a Tower, Destroy 3 Siege, Defend 3 Siege, Gather 10 Things), so there’s a potential of 96 Honor Points from these quests each week.  These quests may be bugged on your server so that they reset both on Tuesday & Sunday, so you may be able to do them twice.  (I’ve given up tracking them and just check back every few days.)

What’s new is that Venture Bay PvP Quests award Honor Points instead of the almost-useless Venture Coins.  There’s XP for you while leveling, gold at endgame, and a little bit of Honor for a few minutes of work each day.  The quests don’t reward as much as Wintergrasp – 3 HP each – but since they can be done every day, you could get 126 Honor Points each week from these quests.  There are six quests scattered around the bay, including the Blackriver Skirmish quest up the river.

One quest, Seeking Solvent, is a repeatable quest and could be done without flagging for PvP.  This quest involved stealing Element 115 from the ship in the harbor, and returning – slowly – to the quest giver.  This quest could yield up to 260 Honor Points an hour, though I never got quite that high personally.  (I was distracted, and still got about 120.)  This was a great way to get honor if your queues were long or you had desire to really PvP.

Unfortunately, when I went back today to check on this quest, it appears to be broken – probably deliberately.  You can’t start the quest anymore, and even getting a new Refurbished Shredder Key doesn’t help.  (I now have 2.)  I have a ticket open and will let y’all know if the GMs tell me anything substantial.

The Blue Sky Logging Camp PvP quests, interestingly, do not give Honor Points.  They just give gold and experience.  So skip them if you’re grinding honor.

HONOR THROUGH PVE DUNGEONS

What’s that you say?  Has Cyn finally gone daft?

No, I have not, or not any more than I was before.  Dungeons now give Honor Points. Specifically, Northrend dungeons when the Wintergrasp buff is active.  If your faction controls Wintergrasp, you get ~6 Honor Points per Heroic boss or Raid boss killed, in addition to the Justice Points you’re already getting.  I got 25 HP in a H-HOL run this morning, which I assume means there’s some decimal carryover from each earning and we’re just seeing the integer result.  (4 bosses x 6 HP per boss = 24, at least in my funny math world.  But I definitely got 25 from the run.)

Before, you could get certain kinds of gear through Heroics – Wintergrasp gear.  These are great offset pieces, they were relatively cheap, and differently itemized for your class and spec.  With the standardization of currency, you can now buy set pieces, Wrathful offhand pieces, whatever you like with these Honor Points.

For people who are already grinding Justice Points, this is very good news.

GEARING STRATEGY

Your strategy really depends upon your goals.

  • If you are just upgrading your PvP gear, run random battlegrounds, do the WG quests, and then run more battlegrounds.  By focusing on PvP you generate the highest amounts of Honor Points.  If your queue times are bad, fill in with the Venture Bay quests and some world PvP, but try to PvP all the time.
  • If you are gearing a new character for PvE and PvP, run Heroics and Wintergrasp. Make it your mission to hold Wintergrasp as much as possible, because the most efficient way to completely gear a toon is through dungeons. While it’s not as efficient for getting PvP gear, it gives you the most total points per minute.  Also, once you have maxed out your Justice Points, you can use those to purchase lower-grade set pieces (Relentless, Furious) to help fill in the holes in your PvP set.

What’s interesting is that once again, control of Wintergrasp is absolutely key.   If you’ve forgotten how WG works, you can revisit my Introduction to Wintergrasp for a quick refresher.  The side that holds Wintergrasp will, in general, be gearing up for PvP faster than the side that does not.  So don’t be afraid to recruit in Dalaran for each battle – it will pay you, and your side, dividends.

(On Durotan, a predominately Alliance server, the Horde has gone from winning 1/4-1/3 of the time, to 1/2, and most of the time it’s in prime-time hours.  They are taking it seriously even though they are outnumbered.  You can too.)

If you don’t care about PvP, well, you should still help out in Wintergrasp.  Why? Because some of the best weapons and shields available to players are available at a pittance of 70 Honor right now.  270 shields that make Protection Warriors and Paladins weep for joy – 70 honor.  264 guns that dwarf nearly every other gun in ICC? 2550 honor.  264 wands with wicked, wicked stats?  230 honor.

As an individual, your best strategy is to run random battlegrounds.  As a faction, your best bet is to control Wintergrasp and run randoms.

Got it?  Good.

Time to get to work.  Cataclysm is coming.

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Wrathful Gear Now Available To All

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Wrathful Gladiator’s gear – the final tier of PvP gear – is now available to be purchased without an Arena rating.  All PvPers can upgrade the majority of their gear to Wrathful using Honor Points.

The text on the gear is still red, and the rating requirement is still there, but you can buy it.  The only exceptions I’ve found so far have been the Shoulders, which require a 2000 rating.  The headpiece, which only requires a 1950, is certainly purchasable.  I am out of Honor Points to try for some weapons, but will PvP a bit this weekend and test them out.  (I was able to purchase a wand, but that’s a lower rating requirement than many of the weapons.)  I assume the tabard is also out of reach.

So… go forth!  Upgrade your gear!

I will be posting updates to the 4.0.1 PvP gear guide as I find out more.

Special thanks to Gnomeaggedon and Hints in the comments for passing this along!

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Battleground PvP Gear in 4.0.1

Looking good in the starting areas is important, people!

Patch 4.0.1 is here; the patch that starts wrapping up Wrath of the Lich King, and gets us ready for Cataclysm.  This patch brings some major changes to the abilities and talents of every class, the combat statistics on gear, and how gear is purchased.  The next two months will be filled with adapting to those changes before Cataclysm is released.  We are in for some interesting times!

The class changes are going to take some time to get our collective heads around.  Personally, I enjoy periods of experimentation, where players creatively tinker with new possibilities and challenge previous assumptions.  (From the perspective of my own main class, Warlocks using Imps in PvP seems like a terrible idea, but it’s working fantastically.)   The stat changes, too, will require some time and experimentation to understand.  Gear at all levels will change, and what was once Best-In-Slot for leveling PvPers may not be anymore.  There’s lots of work to be done there.

RESILIENCE

The biggest change to PvP gear is that Resilience will no longer reduce your chance to be Critically Hit; it just reduces damage taken from other players.  This makes Crit-heavy builds even more viable, so you may want to experiment with swapping out Haste gear for Crit gear if you’re overloaded.

ENDGAME GEAR

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 6 months since the last substantial change to endgame PvP gear.

The currency changes I noted in Preparing for Rated Battlgrounds are now in effect, which has some great implications for battleground players.  Only Honor Points are available, and since higher tier Conquest Points will only become available when Cataclysm launches, all gear that’s available in Wrath is now available for purchase through Honor Points.

Unfortunately, the top level gear still requires ratings, so you can’t get a full Wrathful set from running normal battlegrounds.  You can, however, get Relentless gear without a rating, so this still represents a step up.  I’m a little disappointed that the Wrathful set still requires a rating (since the Arena season is over), but not entirely surprised.

Update: Wrathful gear, up to rating level 2000, can now be purchased without an Arena rating. My previous information is now out of date, and you can get nearly an entire Wrathful kit, sans the shoulders, some weapons, and the tabard. I’ve updated the list below to reflect this change.

Here’s what the full PvP kit will cost you in the new system.

  • Head: Wrathful  – 1650 Honor Points
  • Neck: Wrathful – 725 Honor Points
  • Shoulder: Relentless/Titan-Forged – 695 Honor Points
  • Back: Wrathful  – 725 Honor Points
  • Chest: Wrathful – 1650 Honor Points
  • Wrist: Wrathful – 600 Honor Points
  • Hands: Wrathful  – 1040 Honor Points
  • Waist: Wrathful – 945 Honor Points
  • Legs: Wrathful – 1650 Honor Points
  • Feet: Wrathful – 945 Honor Points
  • 1st Ring: Wrathful – 725 Honor Points
  • 2nd Ring: Relentless  – 485 Honor Points
  • Trinket: Medallion of the Alliance/Horde  – 945 Honor Points
  • Trinket: Battlemaster – 725 Honor Points
  • Main-hand: None (still requires rating)
  • Off-hand: Possibly Wrathful 70-260+ Honor Points
  • Ranged: Possibly Wrathful – 260+ Honor Points

This entire kit will cost at least 14,025 Honor Points. If you’ve been working on your PvP set for some time, you’re only going to need to update a few items, so it should be pretty easy to bring yourself up to speed.

(I would also recommend that you not get the second PvP ring, and instead get the Ashen Verdict ring instead.)

PVP MOUNTS, ACCESSORIES, AND GEMS

There have been a few changes to the PvP vendors; pre-cut gems are gone, for one – but by in large all the gear you used to be able to get is still available for Honor Points.

Mounts are now 2000 Honor Points.  Depending on how much currency mount collectors carried over, this may be easier to get now than before in terms of time to acquire, but in general PvP mounts are as easy (or as difficult) to get as before.

Other accessories you might be interested in are below.

  • Battle Standard: 2550 Honor Points
  • Level 70 PvP Trinket: 140 Honor Points
  • Epic Gems: 165 Honor Points.

In general, the currency conversion is really the only thing that’s changed with PvP accessories.

 

The PvP Jewelcrafter is still in the game, so you can still PvP For Profit.  The rumors of his demise were much exaggerated.

Though, seriously – there are plenty of other ways to make money in Warcraft. Trust me.

LOW-LEVEL PVP GEAR

One of the pleasant side effects of the 3.3.3 removal of Marks of Honor was how accessible low-level PvP gear became.  At level 18, 28, 38, and 48, you can visit the Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin vendors and get awesome leveling gear for a pittance in terms of honor gained.  The prices are a little different now, and we’ll have to see how the costs scale with Honor Points gained in the leveling battlegrounds, but you should be able to get gear with the same minimum effort.

Those vendors are:

The AV gear continues to be good for the early 50s, but is quickly replaced by Outlands gear at 58.

The stat changes have some serious implications for lowbie twinks, which I’ll be covering in more detail over at Green Tinted Goggles when I have a chance to absorb all the changes.

PVP HEIRLOOM GEAR

The currency changes obviously affect how you purchase Heirloom Gear; Emblems and Stone Keeper’s Shards are out, Justice and Honor Points are in.  Champion’s Seals are still a viable currency from the Argent Tournament for the PvE gear, but the Stone Keeper’s Shards are gone as the way to get PvP heirlooms in Wintergrasp.

Interestingly, the costs of Heirlooms have been scaled up to account for the rate at which points should be earned at level 85, not at 80, so they are more expensive now than they were in 3.3.5.  So if you’re looking for PvE Heirlooms, the Champion’s Seals are probably your best bet right now.  For PvP Heirlooms, here’s what you’re looking at.

  • Shoulders, 1H DPS Weapon: 2175 Honor Points
  • 1H Caster Weapon: 2725 Honor Points
  • 2H Weapon, Ranged Weapon: 3500 Honor Points
  • Heirloom PvP Trinket: 2725 Honor Points

The stats have also changed somewhat on this gear, just like all the other gear.  Depending on your class, this is either great or terrible.

Hopefully, the Heirloom Items Scale will be updated soon to reflect all the new stats!

LEARNING TO PLAY AGAIN

One of the biggest challenges of the next two months is understanding the changes to the classes and combat systems 4.0.1 has brought us.  The currency we use to buy gear is different, and the stats on it might be altered — but the gear itself isn’t new.  That’s okay – we have enough to learn without having to worry about new types of gear.

That will all come soon enough, when Cataclysm launches.

Special thanks to @quaunaut and @zombiegopher for helping me check prices tonight, since my patch is currently stuck on the baby murloc wav files. Thanks, guys!

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