So Arena Season 8 is here at last, which means new fashions have pushed last season’s dowdy looks to the closeout racks. It also means that the purchasing imbalance between PvE emblems and PvP currency that existed at the beginning of 3.3 has been resolved, and it’s now safe to PvP for your gear again.
Patch 3.3.2 has introduced two new sets of gear: Wrathful Gladiator gear for Arena and new Titan-Forged offset pieces at Wintergrasp. Just like earlier seasons, the new rated Arena gear means that older seasons are now available for cheaper currencies. Since Arena points are available from the Daily Battleground quest, battleground enthusiasts can get very good gear without stepping foot in an Arena. It will just take a long while.
Here’s the breakdown of what you can buy with each currency.
- Wrathful Gladiator (ilvl 270): Arena Points + Arena Ranking
- Relentless Gladiator (ilvl 251): Arena Points + Honor Points
- Furious Gladiator (ilvl 232): Honor Points
- Titan-Forged (ilvl 245): Wintergrasp Marks
- PvP Enchants: Stone Keeper’s Shards or Honor Points
This model is consistent with the PvE vendor gear model, with three tiers of gear rewards and offset pieces available through reputation. And while we can argue about the relative difficulty of Battlegrounds vs. Arenas, it is in many ways the same argument as the difficulty between Heroics, 10-man and 25-man raids, and ultimately futile. No matter how much you like Battlegrounds, if you want the top gear you play Arena.
Let’s talk about that top gear for a minute. The Wrathful sets are the design culmination of several seasons of gear, each one building upon the elements of the one before. Looking them over, I like them a lot. I like the design idea that these are the product of our faction’s craftsmen and not looted sets from various Northrend dungeons; there’s a sense of consistency and evolution absent from the PvE Tier gear. Plus, the different seasons tend to match, unlike Tier gear.
The downside is that there isn’t that much variety between sets, unlike PvE. So if you’ve got a great look going (like Warlocks do) the look of Wrathful gear may be enough to pull you into Arenas. But if you don’t (sorry, Paladins), you’re stuck with the look you’ve got. It can be a problem.
Setting aside the look of each set, the Wrathful gear is a no-brainer upgrade from Relentless. Itemization remains the same between pieces, there’s just more of it.
The new ilevel 245 Titan-Forged gear is a welcome addition and is a good way to get high-quality gear without burning your other currencies. There are essentially three new pieces for any given spec:
- Titan-Forged Cloak (of Victory, of Ascendancy)
- Titan-Forged Pendant (of Victory, of Ascendancy)
- Titan-Forged Shoulders (cloth, leather, mail, and plate versions)
These new pieces are not sold by the mammoth vendor, but instead by Champion Ros’slai or Marshal Magruder, who are so new they’re not even on Wowhead yet. They’re right next to the mammoth vendor, like so:
So Wintergrasp returns as the best place to spend your time while grinding for gear. Do all the weekly quests for honor and shards, and win Wintergrasp for the Marks and access to VoA.
The progression of battleground gear then returns to the same form it was during 3.2, namely:
- Levels 10-59: Old-world (Marks of Honor) PvP rewards
- Levels 60-78: Level 60 and 70 (Marks of Honor) PvP sets
- Levels 70-78: Guardian (Marks of Honor) PvP sets
- Level 78: Blue (Crafted) PvP sets
- Level 80: Furious (Honor) PvP sets and offsets
- Level 80: Titan-Forged (Wintergrasp) PvP offsets
- Level 80: Relentless (Honor + Arena) PvP sets
- Level 80: Wrathful (Arena) PvP set
Keep in mind you can’t walk into the Arena in ilvl 187 crafted blue gear and expect to be competitive right away. You will need to work your way through an honor grind to get yourself into Furious/Titan-Forged gear first. The best way to do this is:
- Wintergrasp whenever possible.
- Do the Daily Battleground quest until you win.
- Alterac Valley, Strand of the Ancients, and Eye of the Storm for Honor Points.
- Round robin of the remaining battlegrounds for marks to convert into honor.
If a particular BG is having a Holiday weekend, give it a go. The important part is to win quickly, as that keeps your Honor Per Minute very high. (If you haven’t looked at Ihra’s number crunching on the HPM for holiday battlegrounds, you owe it to yourself to take a look.)
Once you have yourself into a good set of Furious/Titan-Forged gear, you’ve gone about as far as you can go in the Battlegrounds. (Update: you can still get Relentless/Wrathful offset pieces, and should. Thanks for the tip, Devv!) You may be able to afford a piece or two of Relentless with the Arena Points you’ve acquired from the daily quests, but you’re going to need an Arena rating to get the top-end gear.
Making the transition from Battlegrounds to Arena, however, is an entirely different post.