With Blizzard removing the 10-day time limit on trial accounts, it has become possible to gear up characters to participate in Warcraft PvP on a free-to-play basis. The limits on these new Starter Edition accounts are severe, but overcoming limitations is part of the fun of creating a twink.
Please note: Blizzard doesn’t support Starter Edition twinks.
If you choose to make one, you’ll be exploring a lot of arbitrary limits as to what can and can’t be done. This can be a lot of fun, but be prepared for limits you encounter. The challenge of overcoming these limits is the point of this project.
WHAT IS A TWINK?
A twink is a character in a MMORPG, like World of Warcraft, which has been outfitted with the best gear possible for their level, often above and beyond that a normal character would obtain during the leveling process. Experience gain is usually turned off for twinks so as to allow them to continue acquiring gear and items without gaining levels. These characters are then used in both PvP and PvE, depending on the player’s desires.
In Warcraft, there are currently two types of twinks: XP-off and expansion twinks. XP-off twinks have turned off experience gain in-game by paying 10 gold to the Experience Eliminators in Stormwind or Orgrimmar. Expansion twinks are limited by the type of account attached to the WoW software, not anything done within the game itself. e.g. A player without the Wrath of the Lich King expansion will not be able to level characters past level 70 on that account, but will be able to gain all gear from the original and Burning Crusade expansions.
Trial account twinks are a type of expansion twink. Trial accounts are limited to level 20, so characters on these accounts can quest, run dungeons, and engage in PvP combat to improve their skills and gear without leveling further. Because of the restrictions on trial accounts, trial account twinks will have the following characteristics.
- Level 20 (so normal ground mounts are available.)
- Cannot have any primary profession over 100.
- Enchants are extremely limited.
- Gear is primarily quest rewards, PvP rewards, and dungeon drops.
- BoEs are possible but require random drops.
- Heirlooms are possible but require a lot of Honor Points.
- No buff foods.
Despite these limitations, trial account twinks can still be competitive in PvP, and can be solid explorers and dungeon runners. You can build a very good character with a trial account.
PVP BRACKETS AND TRIAL ACCOUNT TWINKS
Level 20 characters who queue up for PvP will be placed in the level xp-off 20-24 bracket. This means that trial account twinks will be facing characters who may be higher level than they are. That’s the bad news.
The worse news is that because your twink’s level is limited by your account type, you will be playing with other twinks in the XP-off bracket. The competition will therefore be harder, as you will be fighting with paid account twinks, whose access to the best gear, enchantments, and consumables in the game gives them a significant edge.
The good news is the sheer number of Starter Edition players in the 20-24 XP-off bracket ensures that games are not completely lopsided. Your skill still matters.
The availability of Heirloom gear – bind-to-account gear that scales with level, normally purchased by players once they have reached the highest levels of the game, to be passed on to other characters – means that you will often be dealing with players who are substantially better geared than your twink. If they make an effort to gear up and enchant their items, even leveling characters can and will surpass a trial account twink in ability and performance.
I’ve constructed several sample characters on Wowhead so you can see the difference between trial account twinks and other characters in the bracket.
The first two are level 20 twinks, to give you an idea how having access to BoE gear from the AH, enchants, and heirlooms influences a character. The trial account lacks those elements, but has the best quest and dungeon gear available. Both have stacked hit to address competing against level 24 characters. (I skipped the Arena Grand Master trinket, though both twinks could of course get it.)
You’ll note that the level 20 paid account twink outclasses the trial account twink by a substantial amount. It’s an interesting comparison.
The level 24 character represents a more accurate picture of what a geared PvP toon would look like in the leveling bracket, or just entering the twink bracket. It’s not fully twinked, instead using a reasonable selection of dungeon gear, heirlooms, and cheap enchants. This gear build would do very well in the bracket.
Locking your XP at earlier levels is no longer possible. You cannot use a Starter Edition to participate in the 10-14 or 15-19 XP-off brackets. [ed: Previous section on level 19 twinking removed.]
Next, let’s look at how to build a trial account twink.
BUILDING A TRIAL ACCOUNT TWINK
The fun part about making a twink is figuring out what kind of gear you can get for them. Let’s look at the limits of trial accounts again.
- Trial account twinks can’t visit the AH, so BoE gear has to be farmed by the twink, leaving the player at the mercy of very low drop rates.
- Similarly, they can’t trade with other characters, so the only crafted gear available is gear they make themselves.
- Skills are limited to 100, so most patterns are just not available.
- They can’t get mail, so sending heirlooms from a different Battle.net account is not possible.
So what is available?
In order of approximate ease of acquisition:
- Quest gear (rewarded by quest givers)
- PvP gear (purchased with Honor Points from PvP vendors)
- Dungeon drops
- Cloaks and belts from the Satchel of Helpful Goods, from running random dungeons through the Dungeon Finder
- Fishing gear
- Crafted gear made by the character (up to level 100)
- Heirloom gear (purchased with Honor Points from PvP and PvE vendors)
- BoE gear (directly looted by the character)
Quest gear is relatively straightforward – by seeking out quests which give powerful rewards, your character can get very good gear. Many quests are faction-specific, so be sure to check that that GREAT piece of gear you’ve spotted is actually available to you!
PvP rewards are purchased from vendors around battlegrounds and in your faction’s capital city. Trial account twinks should look at the necklaces, rings, weapons, and trinkets available at the Warsong Gulch vendors in Ashenvale: Illiyana Moonblaze for Alliance, Kelm Hargunth for the Horde. This gear is purchased with Honor Points, gained from participating in battlegrounds.
All twinks will want to purchase a PvP trinket from the PvP vendors in their capital city. The Insignia of the Horde / Insignia of the Alliance remove movement-imparing effects once every 5 minutes and can make the difference between victory and defeat.
Dungeon drops are another reliable source of gear for trial account twinks. Blue-quality gear drops off the bosses of the dungeons available to level 20 characters, especially from Shadowfang Keep & Gnomergan.
If you run random dungeons using the dungeon finder, the cloaks and belts from the Satchel of Helpful Goods will be some of the best gear you can get in those slots. The Tumultuous Cloak of Stamina is probably your best drop, but others may be more appropriate to your class. For some classes, there are a few belts that drop from dungeons which outclass the belts from the Satchels, but the belts are generally very good.
Fishing has a few rewards which can benefit trial account twinks. The Lucky Fishing Hat is a reward for catching a rare fish in the Strangethorn Fishing Extravaganza, and the Weather-beaten Fishing Hat is a random reward from the daily fishing quest in major cities.
Due to the limits on professions, crafted gear generally is not as good as the gear you’ll find from other places because you have to make it yourself, and leveling many of them without the Auction House is a feat in and of itself. A notable exception is the Flying Tiger Goggles from Engineering, as they are one of the few helms available to trial account twinks. But quest, pvp and dungeon gear generally is superior.
Bringing up the list of possible gear choices are BoEs (bind-on-equip) items and Heirlooms. Both of these are really hard to get, and only established twinks will likely even consider getting them. Normally, BoEs would be purchased off the Auction House, because they are rare, random drops. Since trial account twinks can’t use the AH, they will have to farm for them themselves, which is really just hoping random chance smiles on you.
Heirlooms are a little easier to get if you’re willing to put in a lot of time on your twink. These cost thousands of Honor Points to purchase – 2 to 3k each – and I’m not 100% positive that trial accounts can even purchase them. (Level 20 characters on paid accounts can.)
While PvP-oriented Heirlooms are available for direct purchase with Honor Points, you can also purchase PvE heirlooms by converting your Honor Points to Justice Points at a 3/2 rate. If you play a trial account twink long enough in the battlegrounds, this gear may be worth it for an upgrade!
HOW DO I FIND SPECIFIC GEAR?
Wowhead is a twink’s best friend for finding gear. Learn how to use their database to search for specific types of gear that you can use for your character. Use their filters to search for specific types of gear – for example, here’s a search of all Cloth armor rewarded by quests, optimized for an Affliction warlock.
I recommend creating a profile on Wowhead to store the gear you’re considering in a profile, much like I did above, so that you can create a dynamic list of gear that you think will work well for your twink.
Storage space can be a real challenge for starter edition characters. There are several sources of 16-slot bags available.
- City Faction Bags: each city’s quartermaster sells a 16-slot bag (e.g. the Stormwind Satchel) which can be unique-equipped for under 2g. Each bag requires Revered with a given city’s faction, which can be obtained either through questing or running dungeons while wearing the appropriate city’s tabard. City Quartermasters can be found near the flight points of each city.
- Stormpike Bags: Alliance Players have access to two quivers, the Harpy Hide Quiver and Gnoll Skin Bandolier, which can be purchased for 50 Honor Points each from the Stormpike Supply Officers near or in Alterac Valley. These bags will display on your Hunter character on the selection screen due to their former status as ammunition pouches. There doesn’t appear to be a Horde equivalent.
In addition to these 16-slot bags, there are 14-slot bags available from bag vendors for 9g 60s, and another 14-slot bag available as a quest reward from the Darkmoon Faire (the Darkmoon Satchel). These bags are good for filling out your trial account twink’s 3 available bank slots.
(Thanks to Goodpeeps @ Moon Guard for the tip about the AV bags.)
CONSUMABLES AND PROFESSIONS
Updated with information about secondary professions.
Primary professions like Engineering, Enchanting, and Skinning are limited to skill level 100 on a trial account. Secondary professions like Cooking, Fishing, and First Aid are not, so effort in those skills will generally repay your time investment.
Most twinks go into battle with a supply of Rumsey Rum Black Label on hand due to its excellent Stamina buff. However, it’s normally purchased in bulk from a Burning Crusade dungeon (which trial accounts can’t reach), purchased from the AH (which trial accounts can’t use), or fished up randomly from around the world (which gives you one at a time.)
So you’re probably not going to be able to have 4 stacks of rum on hand for your twink. Instead, look to Cooking to supply your food and drink needs. Cooking 100 gives you a variety of recipes which can create food which gives up to +6 Stamina, which is 60 extra health. Every little bit helps.
Another secondary profession, First Aid, can give you the ability to use Wool Bandages to heal yourself once a minute for 161 damage over 7 seconds. One of the quirks of First Aid is that you can use better bandages than you can make, so while you can use up to a Silk Bandage with First Aid 100, you can’t create it without First Aid 150. So you’re stuck with a weak bandage as a trial account twink.
While you can learn any two primary professions for your trial account twink, only a few will give any benefit.
- Skinning grants Master of Anatomy, for +3 Critical Strike rating.
- Mining grants Toughness, for +3 Stamina.
- Herbalism grants Lifeblood, for +15 Haste rating for 20 seconds, every 2 minutes.
- Enchanting allows you to enchant your gear, but with very minor enchants (about 25 health, +3 Intellect, +1 Strength/Agility.
My preference would be for Herbalism and Skinning, as they will both increase your DPS a small amount. Lifeblood is good for giving your damage a burst, useful for when you are trying to kill an opponent quickly, and the passive Critical Strike rating from Master of Anatomy is a nice bonus.
Play the class you like. If you’ve never played before, pick the one that appeals the most to you. There are classes that are more powerful than others in PvP at level 20, but any class is workable and can be fun.
This advice seems trite, but I’ve seen people take classes which were universally discounted in a bracket and use them to tear apart the place. I’ve seen folks play flavor of the month classes and fail badly at them.
Pick the one you have the most fun playing.
- Wowhead is my Warcraft database of choice. Their search filters are fantastic and can give you great gear advice. Perculia has an excellent guide to F2P accounts with very detailed gear advice.
- The Twinkinfo Forums have recently started up a Free to Play Forum exclusively for trial account twinks. Twinkinfo has a lot of good gearing advice and an active twink community.
- Psynister has a great guide to trial account professions, including a guide to leveling, and dropping, and leveling, and dropping…
A community of trial account twinks is already springing up. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the Free to Play WoW twinks in the months to come.
Good luck, and happy twinking!