If you are going to be spending a lot of time in the battlegrounds of Azeroth, you owe it to yourself to at least consider taking some talents to help you succeed. Every class, every talent tree, has something to help you do better in a PvP environment. I run into a lot of people in Wintergrasp who are incredible raiders who struggle in the battlegrounds because they are not only in PvE gear, but also using PvE talent builds. It’s using the wrong tool for the wrong job!
If you can afford it, I really recommend springing for dual-specialization, even if you’re a pure DPS class. Hybrid classes benefit the most from it, but a secondary spec allows a pure class the freedom to try out some PvP talents without sacrificing your raid setup. It also lets you try out talent trees you wouldn’t normally have considered — I know I never would have gone Destruction if I hadn’t dual-specced. The flexibility to switch back and forth and try things out is really wonderful.
Like most people, I’m most familiar with the classes I’ve played the most often. So while I can spend hours talking about Warlock talents, I can’t say much about, say, Mage talents beyond “Fire=PvE, Frost=PvP.” But looking across the classes, it really does seem like a few general guidelines apply.
When I look at talents for battlegrounds, I judge them on three conditions:
- Survival. Does this talent keep me alive, either by avoiding, mitigating, or healing damage?
- Control. Does this talent improve my ability to affect, control or interrupt other players?
- Output. Does this talent increase my damage or healing? Does it give me more burst, or longer durations? Lower casting times?
I’d like to say that the priority between these is always Survival > Control > Output, but it depends on your class and playstyle.
Let me talk a little bit more about each one of these categories in turn.
The key to good PvP survival talents is working with what your class gives you. Some are better at deflecting it, others absorbing it, and others at escaping it altogether.
For example, I wear magical cloth into battle. That’s okay — that cloth gives me a good solid pool of hit points to work with and plenty of resilience, but still… it’s cloth. If I wore plate, talents that increase my armor would be worth considering. But since I wear cloth, I should assume that I’m going to take the damage and absorb it — or let my pet absorb it via Soul Link. Mages would do best to avoid the damage entirely — any talent that improves Blink or Ice Block should at least be considered.
Many of these survival talents have little or no use in endgame raiding. A raiding DPS who spends her talent points in damage mitigation isn’t spending them increasing her own DPS. A battleground DPS who doesn’t spend some of her talents in survival talents won’t live long enough to do any DPS.
So: escape, redirect, avoid, and heal that damage!
Only slightly less important than survival is establishing control over your opponents. You must nullify their ability to affect you before they do the same to you. (I consider the extended range talents to be in this category, and practically essential for PvP.)
In some battlegrounds — Wintergrasp being the prime example — control is more important than survival, especially to the side without Tenacity. Crowd Control is the best answer to 20 stacks of Tenacity — take that warrior with 130k hp and stun, fear, root, snare, sheep them into submission.
But in general, while I think control is a useful component of survival, it doesn’t trump it. You need both to succeed.
Perhaps this goes without saying, but if you specialize in survival and control at the cost of damage or healing output, you’re not going to succeed in any battleground.
The key here is to avoid specialization. Your job is not to do as much damage or healing as mathematically possible. It is to do enough to take out an opponent or heal a party member while not getting killed by people who are intent upon doing just that. Any raid spec concentrates on filling a very specific role within a party, and counts upon other members of the group providing the other functions. A tank can’t succeed without a healer to keep them alive and DPS to kill the boss.
Tanking, as a concept, doesn’t really exist in battlegrounds. The only place for a tank is in front of Drek and Van in AV, which is the exception to prove the rule. You need a boss to have a tank, and most bosses aren’t found in battlegrounds.
Instead, a good battleground build strikes a balance between survivability and output. Yes, absolutely take those talents that make you do your thing better. But topping the DPS/HPS charts is not your goal — winning the battleground is.
Next time, I’ll go further into specific Warlock talent builds for the battleground using these guidelines.
Hey, write what you know, right?