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:
- Crafted: Blue pieces (no set bonuses)
- Honor: Bloodthirsty Gladiator’s Gear
- Conquest: Vicious Gladiator’s Gear
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:
- Get the crafted pieces made as soon as you can.
- Supplement with good items gained from PvE.
- PvP in regular BGs to grind as much Honor Points as you can to get Bloodthirsty gear, focusing on offset pieces first.
- 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.
- Several weeks from now, when you’ve gotten your Conquest set, start replacing Bloodthirsty offset pieces with Vicious.
- Once you’ve upgraded your offset, upgrade your weapons to the Glorious versions.
- 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:
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.
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.
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!
December 28th: There have been several substantial changes to PvP gear in the last two weeks that bear note in this post.
- 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.)
- 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.