Tag Archives: Twinking

Fence Jumping in WSG and Terrain Exploits

There’s a spot near the middle of the Horde fence in WSG where, if you approach it just right, you can jump onto the fence and then on to the other side. It’s over the tunnel entrance, to the left of the little juke in the fenceline, by one of the torches.

No matter the faction, pretty much every twink FC knows about this jump. Pretty much every twink knows about this jump after playing level 19 for any period of time – you see people going over the fence all the time, you better figure out how to do it quick or you’re going to be SoL. I expect that this is not as commonly known in Rated Battlegrounds, but skilled FCs know how to do it.

Seriously, this fence jump is the worst-kept secret terrain exploit in PvP. I’m a terrible jumper, and even I can do this jump.

It’s a little odd, then, that Blizzard GMs have finally come out and started saying that this jump is illegal and will get you a warning and a ban:

“Hello Dakoduh! My name is Game Master Rodoux. I’m going to need you to refrain from hopping up there on the fence in Warsong Gulch.” This was followed by a temporary ban when the request was not honoured.

In addition to the GM whispers, twinks are reporting that people are getting disconnected mid-jump. I haven’t had it happen to me yet (and I have jumped the fence in the past week, I FC at level 70 after all) but I’m sure it’s probably a matter of time.

I don’t think this situation is like the terrain exploit charges in the Walls of Wintergrasp. It’s pretty clear that there’s a glitch in the Horde fence, and that you have to hit it just right to get over. There’s no corresponding glitch in the Alliance fence, there’s nothing really ambiguous about this – this is a terrain exploit.

Yet… it’s been in there since WSG launched six years ago, and it’s something that tactics and strategies have adapted around. It’s one of the quirks of the terrain, just like the rocky patches around the zerk huts or kiting melee around the tree stumps while firing at them. Your opponents will use it against you, so you better know how to do it in response. It’s been reported many times on the forums as a bug, but has never been fixed. So folks do the jump.

My working theory is that all changes to the battlegrounds right now are due to balancing issues in Rated Battlegrounds. The developers have already stated that their focus is on level 85 PvP, as that’s where most of the player base is at. The BG graveyard changes earlier this year were aimed entirely at disrupting healer-heavy comps in rBGs, by preventing healers from getting back to the FC quickly.

And if your FC is skilled at jumping the fence in rated play, they have an advantage in getting back to their healers quickly. Graveyard blocked? Go fence. Fence blocked? Go ramp. Healers, keep moving to the left until you meet the FC. This isn’t rocket science – there’s a slight imbalance in the map due to this exploit. Even though it’s been there since the beginning, it only matters now because of rated play. This shouldn’t really be a surprise that Blizzard is treating it as an exploit.

But it is, a little bit. The timing is odd. This is one of those quirks which showed you knew what you were doing in Warsong Gulch, that you’d played the map enough to know all the tricks. It’d been there for ages. And it never got fixed.

The warnings, bans, and DCs are likely precursors to an actual fix of the fence. (I so want to see Orc Peons out there repairing the fence when this gets fixed. For real.) The GMs know it’s a problem, they’re watching out for it now, word is getting out that it’s no longer okay for this jump.

The dead-letter law of terrain exploitation may not have been enforced for 6 years with this jump, but it is now.

Part of me does get frustrated with Blizzard when they suddenly start handing out bans for behavior that’s been accepted for years. That’s the part of me that says, fix your shit, Blizzard, it’s broke, don’t blame players for this. More importantly – don’t put players into a position of choosing between using a jumping exploit or not to win in PvP, because even if some don’t, others will.

The other part of me says, yeah, but just because everyone does it doesn’t mean it’s not still a terrain exploit. It sucks, because it’s part of the charm of WSG – but it’s hopping over a fence that is obviously supposed to block movement.

Here’s to hoping that Blizzard fixes it soon so the issue is put to rest.

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Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual, Green Tinted Goggles

Rogue Twinking

Rogues are one of my favorite classes to twink. They have incredible burst, some of the more useful CC in the bracket, and their stealthy play style lends itself very well to my PvP twinking taste.

As I have laid my own twinking blog down to rest, Cynwise has graciously offered to let me wear his goggles from time to time and share my twinking experiences and information with you here. I heard a call for 19 Rogue information, and I have come here today to answer that call. Are you ready to go stab people in the face? Alright then, let’s get started.

PLAYING A ROGUE

Before we get into the gritty details, lets first talk about the different play styles and roles that a Rogue are best suited for.

Your play style is how and where you’re going to play your Rogue. First off we have the Defender, one who guards the flag and rarely leaves the flag room except to chase down an EFC. Second is the Assassin, focusing on hunting down EFC’s and recapturing your flag. Third is the Harasser, whose sole purpose is to put as many of the opposing team’s members into fits of uncontrollable rage as possible so that they play poorly out of frustration.

The Defender will spend most of the match hiding somewhere in, or near, their own flag room waiting to ambush (literally) those who come to carry it away to the enemy base. The two most effective locations for doing this are in the tunnel near the spawn point of the speed buff, and right outside the two doors associated with the Ramp and Graveyard. The most common mistake that Rogues make on defense is defending in the flag room itself. The reason why the two locations I mentioned are the best is because it gives you time to attack would-be EFC’s before they ever get to the flag so that if they manage to either kill or CC you, you still potentially have time to catch them again before they make it out to midfield. Don’t wait for them to grab the flag, kill them before they get the chance.

That being said, if you’re the sole defender, then your best location is somewhere closer to the flag room so that you can protect either entrance. My personal preference is on the second floor (not the roof, the middle where the Ramp comes in) because it offers the clearest view of all four entrances to the flag room.

The Assassin has a pretty straight forward role, but they often play the entire map. Some Rogues prefer to stay stealthed within the enemy base, some prefer to stay near the exits of their own, and others prefer playing the role of the Harasser until it’s time to be the Assassin and play the whole map based on the situation. There isn’t really a “best” location for you to play the Assassin. My personal preference is to stay near the enemy base doing a little bit of harassment when there’s no EFC.

When the enemy has your flag, and you can’t afford to let them cap it, you have two options; either you kill them, or you grab their flag. That’s why I prefer to hang out near the enemy base. If I see the EFC break away from the rest of my team and have a clear path to cap the flag then I’m not going to bother trying to kill them, I’m going to grab their flag and run to prevent them from capping. When you’re not in the twink brackets (your experience is still turned on), you can often one-shot EFC’s because they have so few hit points. In the twink brackets though, you’re not going to one-shot anyone that has a clue how to twink. You might still be able to kill them within a matter of seconds, but you won’t one-shot a twink.

The Harasser covers multiple play styles, but their purpose remains the same. Harassers are there to make people mad so that they make stupid mistakes. You can do this a few different ways. Graveyard campers are a great example of a harasser. Rogue who prey on players with small health pools are also harassers, as are those who simply Sap you, multiple durations worth, every time they see you.

By doing things like this you end up getting a lot of players upset. It’s mean and it really screws with someone else’s “fun time”, but it’s PvP and it’s all part of the game. You know you’ve succeeded in being a quality Harasser when people ignore your flag carrier strictly to have a shot at killing you. Once you have successfully made the enemy hate you, your play style switches between harassment and bait. Luring people away from your flag carrier is just as good, and sometimes even better than killing them.

Rogues are often associated with their ability to kill people, so many players just rush out there and jump into combat every chance they get. How you play is up to you, but there is so very much more to this deadly class than that.

TALENT SPECS

Once you have your play style down, it’s time to figure out which spec you’re going to take. All three specs can fill any of the roles I mentioned above, and each of these specs has their own strengths and weaknesses. My personal preference is by far Subtlety, but if you like one of the other specs then by all means run with it.

Nightstalker 2/2: Increases your speed while stealthed by 10% and reduces the cooldown of your Stealth ability by 4 seconds.

Improved Ambush 3/3: Increases the criitcal strike chance of your Ambush ability by 60% and its damage by 15%.

Waylay 1/2: Your Ambush and Backstab hits have a 50% chance to unbalance a target, increasing the time between their melee and ranged attacks by 20%, and reducing movement speed by 50% for 8 seconds.

Subtlety gets a fantastic spell called Shadowstep which allows you to teleport behind your target, that also increases your movement speed by 70% and gives you a 30% damage buff to Ambush for 3 seconds. They also get Master of Subtlety which gives you a 10% damage buff to attacks used while stealthed and for 6 seconds after breaking stealth, and Sinister Calling which grants a 30% Agility buff and a 40% damage buff to Backstab.

If you’re dead set on dealing damage above all else then you can trade Waylay for Opportunity to increase your Backstab and Ambush damage by 10%. The benefit of Waylay is that you have a chance to slow your target which is really good for hunting down EFC’s, and it also grants some amount of survivability by slowing the target’s attack speed.

Lethality 3/3: Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Sinister Strike, Backstab, and Mutilate abilities by 30%.

Deadly Momentum 2/2: After killing an opponent that yields experience or honor, the critical strike chance of your next ability within 15 seconds is increased by 40% and your Slice and Dice and Recuperate abilities are refreshed to their original duration.

Quickening 1/2: All healing effects on you are increased by 10% and your movement speed is increased by 8%. This does not stack with most other movement speed increasing effects.

Assassination gets Mutilate, an instant attack with both weapons that deals 150% damage. They also receive Improved Poisons for an extra 50% chance to proc your Instant Poison damage, and Assassin’s Resolve increasing your melee damage by 15% and increasing your maximum Energy by 20 when dual wielding daggers.

The Assassination tree has a lot of really cool abilities in the second tier, but we only have one point to spend. I prefer Quickening because being able to move faster than your opponents is one of the strongest advantage you can have in PvP. Puncturing Wounds is a decent choice for extra crit chance on Backstab and Mutilate, and Blackjack really good for taking on EFC’s or high damaging opponents by reducing the damage they deal after being Sapped by 33%.

Improved Sinister Strike 3/3: Increases the damage dealt by your Sinister Strike ability by 30% and reduces its Energy cost by 6.

Improved Recuperate 2/2: Causes your Recuperate ability to restore an additional 1% of your maximum health and reduces all damage taken by 6% while your Recuperate ability is active.

Improved Sprint 1/2: Gives a 50% chance to remove all movement-impairing effects when you activate your Sprint ability.

For choosing Combat you get access to Blade Flurry which is a buff that slows your energy regeneration but causes your attacks to hit an additional nearby opponent (making it great for assaulting healers and casters). You also get Vitality which increases your energy regeneration rate by 25% and your Attack Power by 25%, and Ambidexterity which increases the damage you deal with your off hand and thrown weapons by 75%.

An alternative to Improved Sprint would be Improved Kick which causes your Kick ability to also silence the target for 1 second which is great for bringing down enemy casters, particularly healers.

PLAYING YOUR SPEC

While each spec can fit into any of the play styles that I mentioned up above, each spec has its own style as well. For example, the Assassination Spec is good from a stealth position and then deals a lot of damage right after with good burst damage from their increased chance to proc poisons. Combat deals most of its damage outside of stealth and gains extra survivability from their talent tree to make up for that. Subtlety deals the majority of its damage from stealth and relies much more on stealth than the other two specs.

Stealth is an advantage that all Rogues have and all of them should use, but where a Sub Rogue will run away from combat after killing an enemy in order to re-enter Stealth to open on another target, a Combat Rogue would simply choose another target and stab him in the face, and Assassination loves picking off the loners one at a time. Sub Rogues need stealth, Assassin Rogues want stealth, and Combat Rogues use stealth because it’s there.

Subtlety

As I mentioned before, Sub is my preferred spec for twinking, largely due to the usefulness of Shadowstep, and also their big burst damage from Stealth. Shadowstep is often used in lower brackets for its increased damage to Ambush, but the real beauty of the spell lies in its teleport and speed increasing properties. You can use Shadowstep to leap behind targets while stealthed to then Sap them rather than using Ambush, you can use it to flee from a hard hitting opponent, or to move more quickly for either catching an EFC or capturing an enemy flag yourself.

You want to get very, very familiar with using Shadowstep, and I suggest you try some of the macros I use for it as well. Once you’re familiar with how to use it, then it’s time to start thinking about creative ways you can use it. Just because it has that damage buff to Ambush doesn’t mean you have to attack after using it, it doesn’t even mean you have to Sap them. Sometimes the best use of Shadowstep is simply taking advantage of the teleport and increased speed to get to where you’re going. I’ve used it to jump from the bottom floor of the base to the roof, I’ve used it to get from my graveyard to the ledge above it (after the recent map change in WSG), and I’ve used it to score a winning flag cap seconds before they grabbed our flag.

Being able to move more, better, or faster than your opponent is even more important that dealing more damage of having a larger health pool. Sub Rogues will use mostly daggers for the extra damage for Ambush, but when you can’t utilize stealth you generally get more benefit from swapping to swords until you can regain stealth and switch back to your Daggers.

Assassination

I like Assassination for its damage output, it seems to have more frequent burst damage to me than the other two specs even if Sub’s Ambush puts the other two to shame. Assassination is really good at bursting through a target quickly. Your talent points also include an increase to your movement speed which again proves to be a really big help in PvP.

Another benefit you get from your talent points is survivability by resetting the duration of Recuperate when you kill a target, so you’re not quite so vulnerable outside of stealth as Subtlety is, though you’re not quite so comfortable as Combat. Assassination likes to kill things and kill them quick, then get back into stealth and surprise the next person. It’s a very solid spec for 19 Twinking.

Assassination is good at dealing burst damage, especially with their signature Mutilate attack. Attacking with both weapons at once allows you to deal more damage in a shorter time not just because you hit with two weapons instead of one, but also because you have a chance to proc any on-hit effects from both weapons at the same time. So both weapons deal damage, both poisons have a chance to deal damage, and proc based enchants can fire from both weapons as well. That doesn’t mean that you have to use proc based enchants like Fiery Weapon, Crusader, or Lifestealing, but it does give you the option for more burst damage or healing that way. You definitely want to make use of your poisons, though.

The biggest drawback to Assassination is that you have to dual wield daggers or else you can’t make use of Mutilate. The benefits typically outweigh the drawbacks, but if you don’t have access to heirloom weapons then you could probably perform better as another spec.

Combat

Combat does really well outside of Stealth, and they’re the best option for facing multiple opponents at once. You don’t have any super special abilities that make stealth a requirement for you, it’s simply another tool in your belt. Stealth is how you’ll move around and open on your opponents, but it’s not key to your damage. Combat isn’t bad, but it’s not my favorite option. Its main benefit is that it has some of the only AoE in the bracket which can be an asset if you’re trying to bring down an EFC who is surrounded by defenders, forcing healers to either keep up multiple targets or allow someone to die.

Combat is also the only spec that really wants to make use of weapons other than daggers, making their average damage per hit higher in general than the other specs. You won’t deal as high burst damage, but you will have bigger hits in general.

CHOOSING YOUR GEAR

As with everything else in Azeroth, you’ve got options. There are three main methods of gearing a Rogue twink.

  • Glass Cannon – stacking Agility and Attack Power
  • Survival – stacking Stamina, Dodge, and Parry
  • Balanced – a combination of the two above

Glass Cannon Rogues typically fill the roles of Harasser or Assassin. When you’re actually twinking and in the experience-off twink bracket, being a Glass Cannon is typically a poor choice. Sure, you’ll get some kills and you can do some really great damage, but if you don’t have a healer then you’re likely going to die – a lot. Glass Cannons are all about damage output, following the belief that the best defense is a strong offense.

Survival Rogues are willing to trade damage output (some, not all) for extra survivability. Survival Rogues typically fill either Assassin or Harassment roles, and often choose to run the flag themselves as well, making use of abilities such as Sprint for faster flag captures and defensive abilities such as Evasion for extra survivability.

Balanced Rogues shoot for the common ground, looking for gear that has a combination of both Stamina (or avoidance) and Agility. Rogue twinks who only want to farm a single set of gear are suggested to go with this route as it provides the best overall set of stats for a twink, and it allows you to fulfill any of the three primary roles.

When gearing up your Rogue, start off gearing for one of the roles that you think best suits your style. If you’re not sure, go with a balanced gear set. Of course, the best twinks like to follow the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared”, collecting multiple sets of gear to adapt to any situation.

Finding Gear
If you want to know what your best options are for heirlooms, then you can see my post, 4.1 Heirloom Guide, which also includes a list of enchants for them. You can also take a look at my post on Hand-Me-Downs to see which enchants I would suggest for your other pieces of gear. You won’t use the gear I have listed there (the point of that post is enchanting white gear that doesn’t bind), but the best enchants for those are also the best enchants for twinking since they cover the same level brackets.

The best way to find gear that fits the style of gearing that you want to go with is to utilize Wowhead’s database. Rather than building a single gear list for you and telling you to go get “this gear”, I’m going to give you links to several queries in the Wowhead database, covering each slot.

Main Hand DaggersOff Hand DaggersMain Hand Non-DaggerOff Hand Non-DaggersRanged WeaponsHelmShoulderCloakChestLegsFeetWaistBracerGlovesNeckRingsTrinkets

With the exception of the Trinkets link, you won’t see heirlooms listed in those links for a bit of a glitch in Wowhead’s database that makes their minimum level 80-85 depending on which ones they are. However, for slots where heirlooms do exist you can pretty well rest assured that the heirloom is best in slot. It might not be BiS for every situation, but generally speaking it’s either the best option or so close that it doesn’t really matter unless you’re going for hardcore twinking. For the heirlooms of choice, go check out that link I have up above to my post on 4.1 Heirlooms. [Edit: The trinket link only pulls up the heirloom trinkets because they're the best of the "easy" trinkets to get and most others don't really compare to them. The one exception to that of course is the Arena Grand Master which is the twink trinket. Cyn has already covered the AGM trinket in his post, The Arena Grand Master.]

You’ll see in my 4.1 Heirlooms post that I mention Thrown weapons being a better choice for Rogues than the heirlooms because of the Rogue’s unique ability to “enchant” their ranged weapons with their poisons. In the 19 bracket the only poison you have access to is Instant which only adds extra damage and only has a 20% (base) chance to add that additional damage. If you want stats then I suggest you go with an heirloom (Bow > Gun). If you want the ability to potentially deal some solid burst damage with your ranged weapon then your best option is going to be the Venomstrike bow found in Wailing Caverns. You won’t find it in those links I posted above because it gives no attribute bonuses at all which all of those links include (which is why you really need to learn how to do your own queries on Wowhead to find exactly what you’re looking for).

You can get bows that are better, stats-wise, than the heirlooms from quests if you’re Horde, and some that can come pretty close to matching it from Alliance quests as well.

CONSUMABLES

First off, you’re going to need some level 15 food. There are plenty of options for you to choose from, just grab something simple from a vendor like Snapvine Watermelon or Dwarven Mild. Don’t bother with buff foods that you need the cooking skill for, because every twink worth his gear will be using another consumable I’ll mention in just a second that counts as your food buff.

Next up, you have your most necessary consumables:

These bandages are the bomb. Unless you’re a freak like Cyn who has a level 19 twink that’s pushing 3,000 health then this bandage is basically a full heal in a matter of seconds. A single tick from this bandage can restore enough to turn the tide of battle. Black Label is far better than any buff food for a level 19 twink. It doesn’t restore any health when you use it, but it gives you 150 more health instantly when you use it and counts as a food buff.

Instant Poison is a new addition to the 19 bracket that came with 4.0. Every extra bit of damage helps, and you definitely don’t want to pass on using poisons.

Halaani Whiskey is better than the Rumsey Rum and works the same way. The difference is that the Whiskey is BoP and can only be purchased from a vendor in Halaa while your faction controls it. So if you want to get it then you’ll have to take your twink there to purchase it and you have to control Halaa in the first place. You can use a Warlock summon or Have Group, Will Travel to get there easily, or the Recruit a Friend summon if you have an active referral link. I’ve never bothered getting this because I just don’t care enough to put that much effort/hassel into it.

Potions

Potions share a cooldown, so you’ll have to decide which of these is more important to you. If you’re carrying the flag or chasing down the EFC, then you might want to consider Swiftness unless you’re already under fire in which case the situation could demand either one. If you are in stealth then using a Swiftness Potion will pop you out, so make sure you use it prior to stealth if you’re trying to get the jump on someone.

Elixirs

Here are two options for each type of Elixir. Remember that you can only have one of each type (Battle and Guardian) active at any given time. My preference for Battle Elixir is Lesser Agility because I usually try to get enough Hit from my gear. That’s not always possible though, so keep some Minor Accuracy on hand.

For Guardian Elixirs I decide based on the enemy team. If there are a lot of casters then I use Troll’s Blood, if there are a lot of physical DPS classes then I go Defense. A lot of people don’t care for Troll’s Blood because the healing seems really weak, but over time those heals really add up, especially if you’re playing defensively and making frequent use of stealth and repositioning. Now that we have Recuperate we can do some pretty serious healing over time.

The Scrolls aren’t quite as good as the potions, but they can be pretty cheap to make and you can usually get them incredibly cheap on the AH from people who are leveling Inscription.

Explosives

Explosives are open only to those with the Engineering profession, with the exception of EZ-Thro which anybody can use. If you’re using Engineering then Big Bronze Bomb is your ranged AoE stun. It doesn’t last long, but they’re great for stopping heals or slowing a runner when you time them right. You have to remain stationary to use a bomb, moving will cancel the effect, so they can be dangerous at times as well. Heavy Dynamite on the other hand can be used while moving which is why I prefer it as my primary explosive. I use the dynamite either to break people out of stealth by anticipating their movement, revealing flag defenders who like to stealth right on top of their flag, or for dealing extra damage to an opponent that I’m kiting by throwing it ahead of me and then running into it.

Explosive Sheep are a lot of fun, but I generally don’t use them. I don’t really have a reason, they just aren’t my personal preference in most cases. If you’re not an engineer at all, then go ahead and grab the EZ-Thro anyway. It has a chance to blow you up instead of your target, but if it does then you don’t trigger the 1 minute explosives cooldown and can just throw another. I have had three of this explode on me in a row before, but it does usually work on your enemies…usually.

Situational

There are also a few other potions that you may or may not consider worth your time to carry around. I’ll go ahead and list them since I do occasionally use them if I’ve recently leveled an Alchemist and have extra mats to make these.

Holy Protection Potions are decent against Paladins, especially Holy, and pretty good against non-Shadow Priests as well. Shadow Protection Potions are fantastic against both Warlocks and Shadow Priests. Minor Magic Resistance Potions are decent against all casters in general, and it’s the only defense you’ll have against Arcane and Frost Mages which are two of your toughest opponents.

Potion of Curing is pretty situational, basically only useful against Hunters in this bracket. However, a Hunter’s Serpent Sting will keep you from getting into stealth because of it’s DoT effect, and stealth is your safe place, so if he didn’t bother to mark you then line of sight him, remove his poisons, and hope you can drop combat soon enough to re-enter stealth before you go stab him in the face. Swim Speed is only useful if you like to do Arathi Basin, which I do. I don’t have to bother crafting these anymore since you get one for basically every Fishing Daily you do. They’re good for assaulting the Blacksmith or for moving from BS to another node. Since we don’t get glyphs until 25 now we can no longer just run over the top of the water, so the next best thing is to fly right through it.

The Minor Fortitude Elixir is kinda crappy, but the mats are cheap and another 27 health never hurt anybody. I like to use these before I know for sure how good the other team is so I have a little bit of a buff and don’t mind “wasting” it if I happen to be facing opponents who are really good and constantly killing me.

The Flame Deflector and Discombobulator Ray are both Engineering items, and you have to be a Gnome to use the Ray as only their racial bonus to Engineering will allow you to use it in the 19 bracket.

MACROS

I use a lot of macros in my day to day play, and I do so on every class and spec that I play as well. It is rare for me to have a character that doesn’t have at least 15 macros by level 30, and at 85 it’s rare that there are any macro slots available at all.

#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast Sinister Strike
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

This is the most basic of macros, the one that I use for basically every attack spell that I use on any character. The /startattack line is like turning on auto-attack, it will target an enemy in front of you if you do not already have one and begin your auto-attack and if you have a hostile target already then it will keep that target but turn on auto-attack. The next of course casts your Sinister Strike, and for a 19 Rogue twink that is your spam button when in combat and out of stealth. And that final line simply clears off error message from your screen. You could turn off the sound with a macro as well so you don’t get those annoying “I can’t cast that yet” type of messages in your audio, but I find 80% of my stealthed opponents through sound so I never allow my audio to turn off for any amount of time.

#showtooltip
/cast Sinister Strike
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

This one is exactly like the one above, except that it doesn’t include the /startattack. Why? Because this is the version of that macro that I use while I’m in Stealth. I don’t want to ever accidentally trigger auto-attack in stealth or else I’ll auto-attack my way out of stealth and lose the ability to use an attack that requires it.

#showtooltip
/stopcasting
/cast Kick
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

Now, Rogues don’t really have anything that they channel which would require the use of the “/stopcasting” line, but on the off chance that you are doing something similar (like using a bandage), this will stop you from doing whatever it is that you’re doing and cast Kick on your target instead. You don’t want to miss a critical spell interrupt just because you’re in the middle of doing something else, do you?

You could also modify this to make it Kick your Focus target if you had one and all that fancy jazz, but I don’t like switching Focus mid combat and chances are if there’s a caster that I’m so worried about that I’m watching for Kicks then I’m most likely going to focus my attacks on that target as well which would make a focus macro pointless.

#showtooltip Ambush
/cast Pick Pocket
/cast Ambush
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

Pick Pocket doesn’t do anything against players, but even twinks do things outside of PvP now and then so I have it in there. Shadowstep isn’t always going to be off cooldown when you need it, nor are you always going to want to use Shadowstep right away, so this is your option for using Ambush without burning Shadowstep.

#showtooltip Sap
/cast Pick Pocket
/cast Sap
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

This one is the same as the one above, except that we’re using Sap. You don’t want to burn Shadowstep on a Sap if you don’t have to, so here’s your option for doing that.

#Showtooltip
/castsequence reset=combat/target,10 Shadowstep, Ambush
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

I’ll often tie my racial ability to this as well if it has an offensive benefit, such as Orcs and Trolls. When doing that I usually change the first line to “#showtooltip Shadowstep” just so that I know when it’s off cooldown as I’ll use this macro regardless of whether or not I have a racial and regardless of it being on or off cooldown. If you want to add your racial ability, put it in as line two, “/cast Blood Fury”.

It’s important to note that these /castsequence macros don’t just fire off all of the spells at once, the global cooldown still applies where applicable. Most racial abilities and some others (too many to list) don’t trigger the cooldown. What this means is that you’ll need to press this macro multiple times to get all of the spells cast. IN this example, racials such as Blood Fury don’t trigger the GCD so they’ll cast essentially the same time as Shadowstep. So Ambush will not be cast until it is pressed second time. Personally, I just spam the crap out of it to make sure I get the spell off. Since Shadowstep increases your speed when it’s cast as well it’s easy if you and your target are both moving for you to run past your target and if they suddenly stop or change directions it’s even more likely, so I like to spam it to increase my chance of hitting it at the right time.

#Showtooltip
/castsequence reset=combat/target,10 Shadowstep, Sap
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

This one is the same as the one above, though I wouldn’t bother attaching a racial ability to it since the spell we’re actually casting at the end of it is Sap rather than Ambush, so a racial will most likely be wasted.

#showtooltip Recuperate
/cast Lifeblood
/cast Berserking
/cast Recuperate
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

This is your emergency button. Lifeblood is an Herbalism spell, so you have to be an Herbalist to use it, but it provides both a heal and a Haste buff. Berserking is the Troll racial, so of course you have to be a troll in order to use it, but it also provides you with a Haste buff. Recuperate is a healing ability that turns your existing combo points (even on a dead target) into a heal over time effect. The haste buffs from the first two spells in the list will make your Recuperate tick faster so that you get more healing in less time.

This one is best used when you’re in stealth and needing to get away to heal for a second before going back into combat. If you don’t need to get back into combat then you’re probably better of just running/stealthing away and then either using a bandage or eating.

You could also modify this one to include “/cast Evasion” before the Recuperate line if you’re going to use it in combat. You could also do “/cast [incombat] Evasion” if you want to have that functionality but only cast it if you are in combat as the spell is useless while in stealth.

#showtooltip Heavy Runecloth Bandage
/cast Lifeblood
/cast Berserking
/use Heavy Runecloth Bandage
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

This macro works just the same as the one above, except that it uses a bandage to heal you instead of Recuperate. You want to use this macro only if you have either the troll racial or the herbalism spell as otherwise it’s a waste of a macro slot, but if you do have them then this macro is best used when you’re in a combat situation and need whatever healing you can possibly get. You could use a Healing Potion instead of the bandage if you’d like, though I would remove Berserking from the macro in that instance.

ACTION BARS
Everyone has a personal preference for the action bars, so I’m not about to tell you what to place where as it’s not my place to do so and I’m sure we have different preferences. However, I am going to make some suggestions to that effect and give you the reasoning behind it. I’m also going to give you some tips on how to use your attacks and when.

There are two action bars in particular that you need to be familiar with; the normal action bar, and the stealth action bar. I like to synchronize these bars, but that’s my personal preference. I don’t keep them so in sync that the same spells are on the same exact button (though that is the case for some of them), but I like the spells to be somewhat related. For example, I use my Shadowstep>Ambush castsequence macro on the 3 button on my stealth bar which is Eviscerate on my main bar. Why? Because I almost always follow up my Ambushes with an Eviscerate, so spamming the 3 key will Shadowstep > Ambush > Eviscerate which is the most damage I can do in the shortest amount of time.

ENERGY
Another pairing that I do is the Shadowstep>Sap macro (stealth bar) on the same button as Gouge (normal bar). The reason for this one is that both of them are crowd control (CC) effects and require specific circumstances to be used. Sap can only be used while in stealth while Gouge can only be used when your target is facing you. Again, that’s just my preference and my reasoning behind it.

What I want to talk about in relation to attacking though, is Energy. Energy is the Rogue’s resource. Where casters have Mana, Warriors have Rage and Hunters have Focus, Rogues have Energy. Most Rogue are button-spamming fiends, burning their Energy as fast as possible and spamming attacks even when they don’t have enough Energy to use it yet. When you talk to long term Rogue players who have experience in both raiding and PvP, you’ll find that they see increases in their DPS by intentionally not spamming their buttons and instead following a steady pace to always keep Energy below a certain amount while also leaving a small pool untouched.

Energy restores itself at the rate of 10 Energy per second. If you’ve ever been a musician then you can likely keep a 1 second beat going in your head or with your foot and keep up on your Energy level subconsciously. A general rule of thumb is to always stay below 80 Energy when you’re in combat, and trying to keep a reserve of about 20. What that does is it leaves you with a much better opportunity to have the energy you need when you need it to use your interrupts (Kick and Gouge) instead of being Energy starved, and you’re not accidentally missing an opportune moment to cast because your energy is too low. You can get by with spamming, but if you really want to play the Rogue well then managing your Energy is pretty key.

PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER
Alright, so I’ve thrown a lot of different topics at you here. Twinking any class and spec can be either as easy or as difficult as you want it to be. You don’t have to be super sophisticated and detail oriented to be good as a PvP twink, but like anything else you’ll typically get back what you put into it. A lot of people look at Rogues and say, “Now that’s a cheap, easy class to play that can dominate PvP.” The reality of the situation is that Rogues can be extremely tough to play and extremely complicated to master.

Outside of the twink brackets you can really see how “cheap” and “overpowered” Rogues can be, but that presents an illusion. Yes, Rogues hit hard and fast and they’re slippery little buggers that often escape your wrath only to come and gank you for an easy kill when you’re already near death from another opponent or something. That’s the way Rogues work, it’s not that the players are bad at PvP or that they don’t have the balls to stand toe to toe with you, it’s that they’ve embraced who and what their class really is and used their strengths against you.

Rogues are a force to be reckoned with in PvP from level 10 all the way through 85. When you come across a bad Rogue, you know it. When you come across a really good Rogue, you know that too. Most of the good Rogues out there are good because they’ve taken the time to learn how to utilize their abilities and maximize their performance. As I said before, you’ll get out of twinking your Rogue what you put into it. You can be the easy Rogue and gank those 400 health clothies, or you can be a friggin’ ninja and combine your damage, survival, and CC abilities to destroy healers and plate wearers pushing 3,000 health.

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The PvP Pause

One of the reasons I enjoy having a twink like Cynderblock is that, because she is not leveling, I really get a chance to understand the abilities she has, how they interact, and what their limits are. I love XP-locked twinks because I have time to figure out the intricacies of a class and I’m able to get the best gear without it changing on me. Playing with XP off lets you learn nuances to your character, like how to pull trash versus how to pull a boss, or how to quest in areas well below your level versus those well above your level. You determine the right gear and abilities to use in different situations, and then you modify your interface – on screen, macros, keybinds, mousebinds –  to reflect that knowledge.

By keeping your level (and eventually, your gear) static, you are able to deeply understand the abilities your character possesses, and play them to their full potential.

Endgame characters are similar to twinks in that you spend a lot of time learning how a class operates at the endgame, but there are some differences:

  • The gear available to you will constantly change. As time goes on, better and better gear will be released, and no matter where you are on the raiding/PvP tree, your gear will improve over the course of an expansion. This usually represents an increase in power, not playstyle, but it does require some adjustment.
  • Your class abilities will change. Nerfs and buffs happen, often. Spells and glyphs get redesigned, or removed. These changes often affect endgame play more than lower levels, because they’re designed to affect endgame balance.
  • There is more theorycrafting available for endgame characters than leveling characters, so there is less need to figure it all out on your own. You can learn to play a spec effectively by following a guide.

These differences between endgame toons and twinks are pretty small, and the first two come in intervals that leave plenty of time to learn how things work before they change again. You have time to get your UI and macros set up the way you want them, configure Power Auras and NeedToKnow to display the right information, to understand how different talents and abilities interact and work.

But if you stop playing for a while, your class can change underneath you, sometimes dramatically. I played my Death Knight only occasionally in the later days of Wrath, and I found the constant changes to be difficult to cope with. The transition to Cataclysm actually helped me a bit, because I was able to jettison my thought that I should understand the class and instead approach it fresh; but I still struggle with him. Guides have helped, but there is still a sense of discomfort whenever I leave the Frost 2H playstyle – because that’s how I learned to DK, as a level 59 PvP twink.

You also have to play relatively often to stay current on an endgame character’s gear – what is good gear for one raid tier or PvP season will be insufficient later on. Generally, once you’ve geared up for specific PvE content, you stay geared for that content, but new content will need new gear. PvP is an arms race, so if you skip a season, you will be facing better geared opponents, and suffer accordingly.

The last point I made above, that the ready availability of guidance on how to play a spec at the endgame makes you less likely to really master it, is one I wrestle with. You can excel in doing something without understanding all of it. I’ve seen this in many different aspects of my own life, in sports, in technology, in science, and even in video games – performance and understanding are related, but not dependent, variables. But I also think if you pick a spec up at the endgame,  you’re less likely to fully master it than if you leveled with it. That’s not to say you can’t excel at it, just that you’re not going to understand it as well as someone who leveled with it. There’s a knowledge base gained through learning how to do something yourself, of what works and what doesn’t work, that you can’t completely replicate with a guide or manual.

And yet… knowing how to level in a given spec doesn’t mean you’ll know how to play the spec at endgame. It doesn’t mean you’ll know how to squeeze out the last bit of DPS, tank a raid boss, or heal a heroic dungeon. Leveling is not as rigorous an activity as most endgame pursuits. Specs play differently at endgame than earlier. Knowing how to tank Ragefire Chasm like a pro doesn’t mean you’re ready to tank Cho’gall.

But it might help you be a better play of the class, overall.

WHY EXPERIENCE IN BATTLEGROUNDS IS BAD

I have a working theory about why I like playing my warlock so much.

Cynwise was one of a field of 10 characters I rolled when I first started playing. She was the one I got to 20 first, which still took a long time. She’s the one I explored with, she’s the one I learned not just the warlock class, but the game with. After a while, I deleted all those characters except ‘wise and my banker and got on with the business of leveling.

In retrospect, I was not very good at leveling. I was not a very good player, to be honest, but that was fine – I was learning how the game worked. I had sworn off PvP, because that shit is just scary, and I didn’t run dungeons, so I just quested and tried to make sense of WTF I was supposed to do. It was fun.

At level 51, and to this day I don’t know why I did it, but I queued up for a battleground. It was Alterac Valley, and it was exhilarating. We won. And I was hooked.

I eventually figured out that I would do better if I leveled up to 58 or 59, which I did relatively quickly, and then I set about playing battlegrounds full-time. This was before battlegrounds awarded experience, and only AV awarded a pittance for the deaths of NPCs, so it was pretty safe to stay in a bracket and PvP as much as you wanted.

All that background leads up to my theory. It has several parts.

  1. While PvP doesn’t teach you everything about your class, it can provide a crucible to learn how to use your abilities under pressure.
  2. PvP Battlegrounds provide short, manageable periods of time to try out different strategies and tactics, with immediate feedback about how they work. Did you win, or did you lose?
  3. When Battlegrounds awarded no XP, they served as the one place you could refine your play with a character without them changing.
  4. Therefore, XP-less Battlegrounds provided the ideal place to master a class.

I look at some of my high-level alts, compare them to Cynwise, and I wonder if I will ever come close to understanding them like I do the Warlock class. I don’t know about you, but I struggle when I know I’m not as good as I could be at something, and when there are better alternatives for me.

And I really wonder, how much of that is because it took me 6 months to get to level 80, with fully 3 of those months spent playing in the battlegrounds?

I don’t know.

Perhaps it’s a personal failing, but I know that when I get on my Druid, and I suck at PvP or PvE, it hurts to be incompetent. I hate it. I get overrun and wonder how I was supposed to escape. When a tank dies on my watch, I wonder why I’m even trying.

This is a natural response to poor performance, and I get over it, but I am really left wondering – will flailing my way to 85 make me happy? Or wouldn’t I rather go play someone who makes me feel good about myself and my abilities, even if it’s just my ability to play a video game?

I want, very much to take every alt and just PvP on them until I get it. I want to get how the class works before I move on any further.

Losing the ability to play in battlegrounds to our heart’s content at a given level has its downsides. It’s probably not enough to offset the massive benefits that XP-on BGs has brought – greatly increased popularity of BGs in general, making for more fair fights in most brackets – but it also has removed the PvP pause where we master our character before moving on to the next set of abilities and challenges.

WHO ARE YOU AGAIN?

There are no more twinks in here anymore. We’re all just ex-twinks.

- Cynwulf

The other downside of XP in battlegrounds is that you don’t have a chance to form a community in them anymore. You’d see the same faces over and over again in battlegrounds before this change happened, on both sides, and you got to know people. Not in depth, but certainly you’d know if someone was competent or not.

My Death Knight, Cynwulf, was essentially a level 59 DK twink at a time when DKs were so massively overpowered even bothering to call him a twink sounds silly. He hung around in various bars in the cities of Azeroth, drinking his Scourge-induced woes away, and PvPing. I hated Warsong Gulch on my warlock, but on Cynwulf, it was a total love affair. Howling Blast packed a huge punch (and was available at 59). The confines of the map, coupled with having the only epic mounts at that level, meant it was possible to blow off steam and just destroy a battleground.

I particularly enjoyed Alterac Valley on Cynwulf, because it was my chance to tank Galv and Drek. And people knew me as a good tank. Players in that bracket would see me speaking up and know that I was going to tank Drek, and do a good job of it. Warbringers up? Give me a few seconds, let me get D&D/HB out, then go wild. There were healers I’d know would have my back. There was a Paladin who dinged 60 one match and we all had a very fond farewell party for him in the Field of Strife.

But, eventually, XP came, and the decision had to be made between staying and going, between leveling up and continuing to PvP, or hoping for an XP-off queue to pop.

They never popped, so I leveled Cynwulf up. And the familiar battlegrounds were thriving, but thriving with strangers. The community was gone. They might realize who I was from the big numbers I was putting up, but live or die, I was probably not going to see very many of these people ever again.

My hero of the Stormpike was no more. My dear, drunk Death Knight brother was going to have to move on.

I dinged 60 with Cynwulf in Hellfire Peninsula. I knew there was no going back to the 51-60 bracket that I knew so well with him.

It was time to move on.

WHEN IT IS TIME TO MOVE ON

I enjoyed playing Cynderblock so much that I rolled another warrior, Ashwalker, with the intent to level her. Ashwalker has taken up most of my alt time these days. I’m having a blast with her, questing, tanking, PvPing, seeing all the things I want to see in Cataclysm from the ground up.

At level 20, it was strange playing Ash over ‘block, because she had… half the health of my twink? Even decently geared with full heirlooms, there was a huge gulf between the twink and the leveling toon, but the playstyle was very similar, and therefore very comfortable. I tried Arms for a while, but eventually settled back into Protection, first to help tank some instances, then because it was fun in its own right.

By the time I hit the 40s, though, I was starting to get nervous. How does this new stuff work? Where do I put things on my bars? What am I missing? What do you mean, I don’t need to stance dance to Charge? When should I use Whirlwind? Should I look at Arms again? What about Fury? What about PvP?

So I locked my XP at level 49 until I could get my mind caught up to my character.

I talked a little bit about this in the 5×2 Project, but I found this pause really helped me out. It gave me time to fiddle with macros and keybinds and screen layout. It let me figure out what abilities I really needed to hit more often, and which ones didn’t make sense to use anymore. It even gave me time to set up my dual spec correctly!

What it didn’t do was give me a chance to try things out in PvP. I did queue, but never saw a single queue pop. Not one. If I wanted to try something out, I had to try it out in a dungeon. Not that dungeons weren’t valuable, because they were!

But it taught me how to tank well at 49. Not PvP well, but tank well. That’s important, too.

I found myself tempted, while XP was locked, to go do crazy twink things. I very seriously considered getting the Argent Champion and Ambassador titles at level 49. (I have the Argent Crusade tabard as a result.) I considered trying to get her twink-level gear and solo instances at level.

The temptation was strong. I’ll admit it.

But I did the right thingt; I spent only a few days at 49 before finally admitting that I’d gotten the main benefit from the exercise and turning XP back on again. I no longer felt overwhelmed by my abilities or bars. I was back in control. I was comfortable with the talent tree I’d chosen, of my macros, and of how to play. I didn’t need to grind dungeons for titles.

No, after some reflection it was very clear that I don’t need to spend months in the battlegrounds anymore to learn how to play a character. When I did that on Cynwise and Cynwulf, it was because I was not just learning the class – I was learning the game. I was learning how to win the battlegrounds, how they worked.

I needed the six months of time to get my first character up to 80, because there was so much to learn. This included how to play a class, but it also included how to play. I don’t need to learn those lessons again – but I do need to learn how to play a warrior. While that includes leveling, it also includes the endgame, and I know I have a lot to learn there, too. I need questing. I need dungeon experience. I need balance.

Ashwalker just dinged 58, and has entered Outlands. I don’t know what I’m going to do next with her – maybe quest for some rewards, level her professions, run some dungeons, PvP up to 60 – but I still feel like I have a handle on playing a Prot Warrior.

Maybe my theory that XP-off battlegrounds are the best places to learn your class isn’t that good after all.

THE VALUE OF PVP PAUSES

I absolutely think that PvP is a great part of the leveling process. Leveling is, by its very nature, a learning process, and including PvP as part of it is really vital to understanding all of a class.

But it has to be balanced.

I have to be careful to not read too much into my own experiences. Yes, I spent nine months in ICC as a Demonology warlock, and while I understood it well enough to teach it to others, I never felt like I’d mastered it like I had Affliction and Destruction – the specs I had leveled as, the specs I PvPed with.

Yet, I raided well as Demonology. It wasn’t a mark against me that I couldn’t PvP with the spec – I didn’t need to PvP with it. I was there to raid.

It’s odd that we can play a spec, and play it well, and yet not feel like we’ve mastered it. I can look at my Warlock at 85, with her overwhelming number of buttons, and feel totally comfortable – yet my level 70 Druid makes me go AMG WHAT DOES THIS BUTTON DO.

It’s not just a question of complexity – it’s how we handle the complexity. We don’t start off with endgame characters for a simple reason – they’re too complicated to play well if you don’t spend some time leveling them.

It makes sense, though, when we look at why the leveling process exists. It exists to teach you how to play the class. Abilities are given gradually, to allow players time to absorb their use.

The PvP pause from XP-free battlegrounds was nice, and when no other options existed to lock XP, they were the best option to slow down your leveling. Now that you can lock your XP at will, the PvP pause isn’t the same, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. You can lock XP, figure things out in PvE, and then return to PvP when you’re ready to move on. It’s the reverse of how things used to work – but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.

Balanced leveling is the best leveling.

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The Arena Grand Master

The best twink trinket for low levels is the Arena Grand Master. More than any other item, the AGM marks a character as a serious twink, having put in the days, weeks, or even months to get an absurdly powerful trinket for low-level PvP. Anyone can get the Inherited Insignia of the Alliance. Only twinks consider getting the AGM.

In order to complete it, you need to loot 12 (that’s twelve) Arena Master trinkets from the Arena Treasure Chest dropped by Short John Mithril in the Gurubashi Arena in The Cape of Stranglethorn. Every three hours, this crazy goblin comes and drops a chest of loot on the floor of the arena.

So you have 8 chances each day to try to win the Arena Master trinket. That’s the good news.

The bad news is, well, pretty bad.

The first part of the bad news is that the Gurubashi Arena floor is a free-for-all area. As soon as you step foot down there anyone can, and will, attack you. This means competition between twinks can be quite fierce.

The second is that there are two achievements based on getting the Arena Grand Master, so endgame characters will be trying for it, too.

The combination of these two issues makes getting the Arena Grand Master a challenge if you don’t have a guild who can help you out. (And even if you do have a guild like that, it’s still a challenge.)

But overcoming challenges is what playing a twink is all about.

I learned a lot during my quest to get the Arena Grand Master.

  • Park your toon in the Arena, preferably by Short John Mithril. This way you don’t have to corpse-run your way back into the Arena every time you want to check.
  • Check every three hours you’re available. If level 85 characters are there, you can try to strike a deal with them – or ninja the trinket. Log out if you know it’s hopeless.
  • Even if you’re late, check to see if the chest is still there. I would often forget and check in at five or ten past the hour, and discover no one had taken the chest yet. Once, I logged in 45 minutes late and still got it!
  • Be friendly. You’ll get to know a lot of the twink players and guilds on your server when farming the AGM, and often they’ll help you out after their current project is over. You’ll also get a chance to see how they act. Smart twink guilds don’t let their players act like jerks in the Arena, because it’s prime recruiting grounds for new twinks.
  • You can ninja the trinket away from higher level characters. Wait until they are in combat with another player and see if you can get over to the chest without them stopping you. Another favorite tactic is to let yourself be killed, then resurrect right on top of the chest.
  • The Arena Master trinket is Bind on Pickup, so you have to accept the binding to loot it. Be ready for this. Have your mouse in the right spot to click “Yes,” and spam that click. Don’t be caught unprepared – autoloot should be on, and you should click that button.
  • Pick your times wisely. I found I had great success logging in right as I was logging in for work – 9AM on weekday mornings – and then again at lunchtime or mid-afternoon. Others swear by the 3 and 6 AM slots, but my sleep schedule doesn’t allow me to do those. By contrast, Friday at 9PM would be a madhouse in the Arena, and was best served by bringing lots of guildies.
I remember my very first Arena Master, and how impressed I was that I finally got something out of that chest! Then the sinking feeling hit – I was going to have to do it many, many times.

Eventually, though, you get the 12 Arena Master trinkets and can turn them in to the crazy goblin for an exceptional piece of work – 120 extra health, and a bubble that absorbs 2000 damage. It’s pretty awesome.

But then your work is only partly done, because you’ll probably want a second one. If you’re Human, you definitely the second one, and even if you’re not, you still probably still want it for when your PvP trinket is on CD. And for walking around your home city, because an extra 240 health is really cool at level 19.

Getting the AGM seems hard at first, but it’s relatively easy once you get started. It’s a big task, and it requires commitment, but it’s not difficult per se. It just requires dedication and persistence.

If you haven’t tried for the Arena Grand Master before, I recommend you try it. It’s an interesting, unique experience in WoW, and one worth having.

Good luck.

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Disposable Heroes: How To Make Reusable Level 10 PvP Toons

It has never been easier to have a blast with low level PvP in Warcraft than it is right now. Gone are the days where getting a character ready for WSG meant hours of grinding, farming, and doing impossible things just to compete with the level 19 twinks.

Not only is it easier to prepare a character for the fast paced, high burst world of level 10 Warsong Gulch, you can do so without committing to a character. You can literally try out characters and reuse all their gear if you decide you don’t like them. Not enjoying the Rogue’s playstyle? Delete them. Finding the Warlock isn’t your thing? Delete. Discover you should have been playing Priest all this time? Level them up, transfer their starter gear from a Mage. Worried about learning PvP at level 85? Give it a try at level 10, instead, and work on understanding how it all works – in a totally OP character.

Not every character has to be a digital representation of ourselves, a testament to our accomplishments in game. Sometimes we want a disposable hero, someone who can pwn faces for a while and then be deleted without regret when they aren’t any fun anymore.

Two significant changes happened to make this possible.

  • The battleground brackets were split in two, separating the level 10-14 players from the level 15-19s. This means the gear disparity is lower between the top and bottom of the bracket, while combat ratings actually favor the low end of the level range (you get more bang for your buck at level 10 than 14.)
  • More heirloom items have become available, making it easier to outfit a character with almost every slot with a blue-quality item at level 10 – when no corresponding blue items actually exist.

The same heirloom gear sets you are getting to level your alts can be repurposed into gear for low level PvP. Combine those heirlooms with Hand-Me-Downs – white, non-binding items usable by level 1s and given the best enchants you can get – and you can build a character who provides a great escape from the drudgery of the endgame.

Let’s look at how you do this.

A little Resilience goes a long way at level 10. (And yes, that's 307 AP, 50% Crit.)

RECIPE FOR A DISPOSABLE HERO

You’ll need:

  • Appropriate heirlooms for your class. That means: chest, shoulders, weapon(s), trinkets (PvP + haste, Int for casters), cloak, helm. If you can’t get heirlooms, hand-me-downs can be subbed in.
  • Enchanted level 1 white gear for the following slots: wrists, gloves, boots.
  • There aren’t really any good pant enchants, so pick up a pair of crafted green pants at level 10.
  • Useful rings are cheap and available at level 10 for casters and level 12 for everyone else. Optional.
  • You can wear a white belt and necklace if you want to. Optional.
  • 4 Traveler’s Backpacks. They’re the size of Netherweave bags, but they don’t bind on pickup.
  • A stack or three of Rumsey Rum Black Label, for +15 stamina. Drink up!

The pants and rings are the only pieces you can’t reuse from this setup, but considering their low cost, they’re easy enough to throw away.

You can learn professions if you want, especially if you think you might level this character eventually. Engineering can also give you helms if your guild isn’t level 20 yet. But they’re not needed. And if you have a surplus of cloth, you can level your First Aid to 225 and use Heavy Runecloth bandages. But again, that’s optional.

You’ll notice that this gear list really corresponds to how you’d outfit any alt of a given class, if you’re starting off and want to breeze through the first 25 levels or so. And what’s surprising is how little gear is really required!

Let’s break down the gear into class/role type.

Cloth-wearing casters (Mages, Priests, Warlocks) should go for:

Nearly every other caster class can make use of these items, so you’ve pretty much covered every Intellect-based spec here. (Holy pallys are an exception for the staves.) Wand users can pick up a quest reward for additional stats (but don’t use the wand, you don’t need it.)

Agility classes (Rogue, Druid, Shaman, Hunter) should try:

You can, of course, get the corresponding mail heirlooms for Shaman and Hunter, but they’re really not necessary. The additional armor is fine, but is hardly necessary. If you have them, great, use them! If you don’t, shoot for the leather pieces first. They’re more globally useful.

You have a lot of choices for weapons at this level, and while there are some pros and cons for each class and spec, you are really after the enchants, not the weapons themselves. If you can dual wield, do so and get +30 Agility (and +60 Attack Power) from the enchants. If you can’t, the Grand Staff of Jordan is an excellent choice even if you gain no benefit from spellpower. It has Hit, high Stamina and Resilience to help with survivability in PvP, the white DPS is equivalent to other 2H heirloom weapons, and it’s better than a 1H weapon with the +15 Agility enchant! If you can use spells, it’s an additional bonus for when you have to pull off a clutch heal or nuke. It’s more flexible than the Repurposed Lava Dredger; which can only be used by Druids and Shaman out of these classes, and lacks the versatility of the GSJ.

Yes. I’m telling you that the Grand Staff of Jordan is a hunter weapon.

Strength-based classes (Warriors, Paladins) should go for:

Holy pallys are odd ducks. You can do all sorts of crazy things with their weapons, like taking a Repurposed Lava Dredger (which has Haste) and adding an Iron Counterweight (which has an insane +20 Haste) and grab the Haste glove enchants (+10 Haste) to make really fast Holy Light casts. Or you could rock the Reforged Truesilver Champion with either a caster enchant or Crusader. But overall, you’ll find that the Devout Aurastone Hammer with any of the caster enchants (+22 Intellect, +29/+30 Spellpower) will see a lot of use if you play healers. Priests, Druids, Shamans, and Paladins can all use this mace, and while Shammys and Pallys will find it more useful at low levels (it can be paired with a level 1 enchanted shield), Priests and Druids will get by, even with their limited offhand selections at low levels.

Level 10 Mage with 1500 HKs, an Alliance Battle Standard and Knight's Colors? Sure!

THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

You can approach disposable heroes in two ways:

  • I’m going to keep them level 10 as long as I can, if they level, meh
  • I’ll level as I go, and reroll when I hit 15

Either way works.

The first way is pretty easy to accomplish – XP is only gained in WSG when your team captures a flag. So don’t be there when this happens. Make a macro with a single line:

/afk

and keep tabs on your FC at all times. AFK out before the flag caps, wait 15 minutes (go do dailies or something), and return to let off some more steam later.

This method lets you stay with someone for a long, long time. I got over 1000 HKs on my level 10 mage without really trying, just by AFKing out.

But – to be quite honest – afking out can be kinda boring.

I mean, you never get to win, to really dominate the battleground, to make it so that the other team just hates you. They hate you for about 3 minutes and then you’re gone. And that’s not that fun.

So the other option is just to level up normally through BG experience, and when you hit 15 (or 19, or 25, or whatever), just delete the character and reroll.

You heard me. Delete the toon and start over again at level 10. I wager you can get to level 10 in 45 minutes or less, just by killing everything in sight with your uber gear. Very little of it is soulbound – not even the bags! – so just delete and start over. Try a different race, a different class. Or do the exact same one if you were having fun.

These are disposable heroes, after all!

No commitment, casual PvP where you get to pwn face and blow off steam. If you don’t know how to PvP, this is a great way to start.

Plus – you’ll learn to love Warsong Gulch. No, really!

Give it a try.

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Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual, Green Tinted Goggles

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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Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual, Green Tinted Goggles