In the wild and wooly world of WoW PvP, there's one interesting subcategory that deserves mention -- the twinks. Defined as characters who are disproportionately powerful for their level, twinks are either loved or hated. On one hand, if you have a Level 70 character (or a few max-level friends), it's rather easy to 'twink up' another toon. On the other hand, many players who are leveling for the first time may find their Battlegrounds experience diminish when they encounter (and consequently have their faces smashed in by) ridiculously-geared and enchanted opponents on the field. In fact, twinks are a subculture of their own, with more than a few guilds set up exclusively for twink PvP.
Love them or hate them, twinks are here to stay. In fact, in response to a question at last year's Blizzcon, Blizzard responded that they were actually considering Arenas for characters Levels 19 and 29 (the common twink level limits). The problem, they said, was designing rewards for them and if there was sufficient player demand. Designing rewards for twinks seems to be a hyperbolic response considering that it's likely that the only characters that will excel in those low levels are already well-geared. That said, there is a small subculture of players who enjoy PvP at low levels to the point of wanting an experience toggle to keep their toons at a comfortably low level.
The reasons why people twink up toons varies, although most of these players have one or more Level 70 toons and want to have a little fun being overpowered in the Battlegrounds. Personally, I enjoy PvP at max level because it affords me the greatest challenge and gives me the most skills to work with. At lower levels, all classes have a limited number of skills and -- here's the important part -- not all classes will be good to PvP with because not all classes have access to key PvP skills yet. However, I'm sure a lot of people find twink PvP a lot of fun, even if they eventually plan to level past the twink stage. For purposes of this article, we'll take a look at Level 29 twinkage... it's not too low to have extremely limited skills, yet not too high so as to have too much of a skill discrepancy between classes.
First of all, if you're aiming to create a twink, you should be aware that not all classes were created equal. Although Blizzard constanly tries to balance the classes, they don't aim to do so at every level. For the most part, all classes are (supposed to be) balanced at max level. Tailor the class you choose to your playing style -- if you enjoy melee, you can consider playing a Druid, Paladin, Shaman, Rogue, or Warrior. Be aware, however, that Warriors in PvP are most powerful when they finally get Intercept and/or Mortal Strike, neither of which are available at Level 29. Paladins also have no melee strikes whatsoever, except Crusader Strike which can be obtained at Level 50. Shamans do not get the dreaded Windfury until the next level, and Stormstrike can only be obtained at Level 40. Arguably, the best choice for a Level 29 twink melee class is a Rogue, who has almost all the necessary the groundwork for PvP available at Level 29: Stealth, a stun, and a plethora of strikes. Feral Druids also have a few of the same advantages but don't have the same twink options as far as weapons go and, as I'll illustrate later, equipment goes a long way towards twinking.
On the ranged or caster side, there is the Druid and Shaman (again), Hunter, Priest, Mage, and Warlock. It is important to note that there are no Level 29 Shadow Priest twinks simply because their defining spell, Shadowform, can only be obtained at Level 40. Certainly you can perform well with Mind Blasts and Mind Flay, but for the most part, the Shadow tree doesn't peak until you get Shadowform. Mages have a good selection at Level 29 because they have the immobilizing Frost Nova, the bond-breaking Blink, and some instant as well as long-cast direct damage spells. Warlocks have the all-important Fear available since Level 8, and can spec towards Shadowburn to complement their Damage-over-Time spells. Of course, they also have a few pets to choose from, and the Succubus or Imp are both good choices for Level 29 PvP. Shamans already have access to Frost Shock, Earthbind Totem, and Lightning Bolt, the foundations of a kiting strategy. Druids have the annoyingly spammable Moonfire, as well as Entangling Roots. With limited mobility options at Level 29, that combo is sometimes enough to finish off non-twinks. Finally, there's the Hunter, which is a very good choice for twinkage because her damage scales immensely with a good weapon. She can also use Freezing Trap and Frost Trap, spec for Aimed Shot, and has a pet. Overall a highly twinkable class.
There is no plate. No classes have high mitigation through armor because most classes will be wearing leather or something squishier. Although Paladins and Warriors wear mail, they won't have their powerful spells available to them until much later in the game, making them less fearsome as twinks. There is also no resilience, so dealing as much damage as possible through crits and burst is essential since mitigation options at low levels is very limited. Get the best gear available to your class, you can go through item databases such as wowhead to find the perfect gear, but generally the best items are available through instances.
In fact, perhaps the greatest and most desirable of all twink gear can be found in Scarlet Monastery, the epic ring Deadman's Hand. Requiring Level 29 and loaded with Stamina, the most important attribute for twink PvP, the ring seems to be Blizzard's affirmation of the Level 29 twink bracket. Two Stamina-heavy rings can complement this -- Nogg's Gold Ring for the Horde and Talvash's Gold Ring for the Alliance, quest rewards obtained through a venture into Gnomeregan, where you can also get lucky with a Charged Gear from Mekgineer Thermaplugg. A comparable, easier-to-get ring would be the quest reward Jaina's Signet Ring, although the Strength is useless for casters and ranged classes. It is also the end reward of a long Alliance-only quest chain available at Level 28, so twinks must be wary of leveling when trying to obtain it. Rings are few and far between at lower levels and so command a high price on the secondary market. If you're twinking, don't hesitate to purchase good Stamina-laden rings such as the Basalt or Tundra Rings from the Auction House.
More than rings, trinket slots fill up slower than any other slot in your equipment list. In order to optimize twinkage, you have to fill both slots with a trinket. You can start by PvPing early and accumulating enough Honor points for the Insignias of the Horde or Alliance, or the trinkets from Arathi Basin or Warsong Gulch. Another, highly recommended method is to take up Engineering, which gives the earliest trinket items in the game. At level 20, characters can take up Expert Engineering, opening up the options to use wonderful trinkets such as the Gnomish Net-o-matic Projector or Gnomish Shrink Ray. Don't hesitate to swap them out for other trinkets between cooldowns.
There are many options for armor, although cloth armor at low levels generally lack the necessary Stamina so important to twink PvP. Don't hesitate to use <of the Eagle> (+Stamina and +Intellect) greens found at the Auction House. With some luck, you might find the Bind-on-Equip Beguiler Robes for a reasonable price or you could use a high level toon to farm Scarlet Monastery in the hopes of a drop. Black Velvet Robes are a world drop that have a good mix of Stamina and Intellect -- plus, it looks really cool. Hotshot Pilot's Gloves are a zone drop from Gnomeregan, but it might be too much torture for your main to farm it. Warsong Sash is easily obtained from a quest in Ashenvale, available at Level 22. The idea is to go for Stamina and Intellect, avoiding frill bonuses such as Spirit or even +spell damage.
Leather wearers gets the best selection for twink PvP, bar none. This is why Hunters and Rogues are excellent class choices for twinkage. From the cool-looking Defias Leather set farmable from the Deadmines to the disco diva-style Embrace of the Viper -- improved greatly in Patch 2.3 -- farmable from the Wailing Caverns, there's no shortage of leather gear with Stamina and the appropriate statistic. Leatherworking-crafted items such as Barbaric Bracers, Deviate Scale Belt, and Toughened Leather Gloves are staples for leather-clad twinks. Don't get blinded by blues, though. Even though the Razorfen Kraul zone drop Mantle of Thieves is very sweet (not to mention the name is cool as heck), don't hesitate to purchase Cutthroat's Mantle from the AH, specially if it has the <of the Monkey> suffix. Again, the idea is to look for loads of Stamina and a secondary stat such as Agility or Strength (e.g. - for Enhancement Shamans). The Gnomeregan quest reward Triprunner Dungarees are so loaded with Agility that it will serve players well even past the twink brackets.
Mail armor provides a decent selection at Level 29, although leather is still the best. The only rare crafted item for mail wearers is the Shining Silver Breastplate, while the uncommon items glaringly lack decent Stamina. Fortunately, Warriors get the quest to obtain either the Brutal Hauberk (Horde) or the Fire Hardened Hauberk (Alliance) which have loads of Stamina. One exception to the quest for the Stamina is the Tusken Helm from Razorfen Kraul. Even though it has no Stamina, there are loads of Strength and Agility, making it the best DPS twink helmet for Paladins or Warriors. The BoE Frostreaver Crown is a good choice for Stamina gear, however, but is probably harder to get as it is a world drop.
This is where Rogues and Hunters shine best. By equipping the best possible weapons, Rogues and Hunters (and of course Warriors, Shamans and Paladins) get the most out of their attacks. Because +spell damage on weapons isn't as common for weapons at this bracket, melee and ranged classes benefit more from weapons. And there's a variety to choose from. The best possible ranged weapon for a Level 29 twink comes from our good friend Hemet Nesingwary, Jr. and his quest in Stranglethorn Vale. Although nerfed from a top-end of 102 damage, the Master Hunter's Rifle is still the best and slowest ranged weapon in the game for Level 29 Hunters. Its bow equivalent, the Master Hunter's Bow is identical in every way. With these weapons buffed with a +7 damage scope, Hunters can deal a world of hurt in the Battlegrounds opening with a devastating Aimed Shot. Hunters should probably also go for the almost-always-drops-and-is-disenchanted Armor Piercer from Razorfen Kraul.
Rogues can visit the lonely Scarlet Monastery Graveyard in an attempt to farm Torturing Poker from Interrogator Vishas (with high level help, of course). There's no shortage of excellent daggers for Rogues, as there's also the Toxic Revenger from Gnomeregan, or the off-hand friendly Vendetta from Razorfen Kraul. Like swords? There's the Zealot Blade, a world drop that is probably the best main hand weapon thanks to its top-end damage. Ignore the Intellect and Spirit. If it drops for you in a PUG, roll Need. Level 29 twink Rogues will be devastating using this weapon for instant attacks. PvP, naturally, also gives a good selection of daggers and swords, such as the Legionnaire's Sword or the Scout's Blade.
Warriors and Paladins should look at getting the appropriately-named Corpsemaker from Razorfen Kraul. With a top-end of 132, it's considerably even better than the higher DPS Thermaplugg's Left Arm from Gnomeregan. With only a handful of weapons a top-end of over 100, both weapons are highly desirable as are the Scarlet Monastery BoE drop Cobalt Crusher or the world drop BoE Burning War Axe. Simply put, caster classes don't scale as well at lower levels with the weapons available, so take this into consideration when making a twink. That said, there are ways to make casters reign supreme in the twink bracket, which we'll discuss next week.
Next week: items upgrades and enchants as well as actual combat in the twink bracket!
Zach Yonzon writes the weekly PvP column The Art of War(craft) between sips of hot cocoa while shivering under a blanket in the mountainous city of Tagaytay.