I have played on a PvP server for years, so I can tell you with authority that I cannot recommend choosing a PvP realm if you have limited playtime. PvE servers have it so much easier as far as questing solo in contested territories. I can only imagine how much easier it would be to quest in zones like Hillsbrad Foothills and Stranglethorn Vale without the fear of being ganked every few minutes. And as you can see above, my time in Borean Tundra hasn't been exactly gank-free.
But there are at least three reasons to join a PvP server as a casual player:
- You love PvP. Captain Obvious says that if PvP is your idea of fun, no matter how much time you have to play, then a PvP realm is for you.
- It feels more authentic. It's like you are constantly involved in the Horde vs. Alliance conflict. After all, the roots of the game are in the Warcraft series of real time strategy games where you try get your stuff done while in constant danger from your enemies. If you play on a PvP realm for a while and then go PvE, it feels a little like cheating.
- All of your friends and family are playing on a PvP server. If you have established WoW gaming friends and they all choose a PvP realm, it's hard to be the lone PvE holdout and miss out on all the camaraderie and group fun.
The Buddy System
Most PKers in quest areas go for the easy prey. If you are questing with a buddy, you are less likely to have to take time out to defend yourself and more likely to be successful if you do. Questing with a friend, family member or significant other is also a great way to mix WoW time with together time.
Keep your Defense Channels activated
The Defense Channels get really, really spammy, but the information they contain are invaluable. When you are choosing where to quest for your playsession, the World Defense Channel will tell you where not to go. When you are questing in the wild, the Local Defense Channel announces when to avoid the town. Some people will also use Local Defense to coordinate defensive efforts. (Yay! A channel that functions as originally designed!)
Call out the gankers
Using Local Defense preferably, or a combo of that channel and General, you should always notify the zone of the whereabouts of gankers. High levels often come to questing areas to eke out revenge for current or past deaths and will be happy to come to your aid. Announcing the PKers also warns fellow questers of possible attacks incoming.
Camp a high level character nearby
If you are leveling an alt and have another character that is at or near max level, then camping your high level at the local inn is great for revenge as necessary. Or you could ask a guildie with multiple uber-geared characters to park one of them nearby for protection when he or she is available. I am fortunate that The Spousal Unit enjoys taking breaks from activities when not raiding to come and thump meanies who are picking on me. Awwww. Friends and guildies who are in the middle of instances, however, cannot take vengeance breaks for you, so always check their whereabouts in your Friends and Guilds lists before asking.
Quest trouble zones at higher levels
Highly contested zones like Hillsbrad Foothills and Stranglethorn Vale are best explored when the quests and mobs are green to you. In general, this philosophy makes questing faster, but it is also helpful when you need to defend yourself with mobs around. Green mob aggro is of course not as dangerous as yellow or higher mob aggro, when in an impromptu PvP battle.
Quest trouble zones during off hours
Scheduling your playtime during quiet hours on your server is a double edged sword. On the one hand, there are fewer gankers. On the other hand, there are fewer defenders. In general, however, a highly contested zone is less gankeriffic when there are fewer players on the server overall.
Always have a backup plan
When you are planning what you are going to do in-game (which I highly recommend), make sure that you have a backup plan. When I'm following Jame's Leveling Guides, I get sent to Hillsbrad Foothills a lot. But sometimes, questing there is just not feasible. There are usually other zones with quests that are appropriate for your level. Do some research and keep backup quest hubs in mind for when your preferred zone is overrun by conflict mongers. Battlegrounds, profession leveling and Achievement hunting are all good substitute activities, as well.
Keep your alts battle-ready
Being an altaholic really comes in handy on a PvP realm. If you are finding that leveling your level 25 character is just too frustrating, you can pick up your level 35, or maybe your 45 -- you get the idea. Make sure any non-bank alts that you are remotely interested in playing are ready to go, so that you can play your second choice right away instead of having to deal with the tedium of inventory management.
There is no real death penalty in WoW
Death is kinda inconvenient and it costs a little bit of money, but it really isn't that big of a deal. Of course, I still have the scars from dying in the ancient days of EQ, so I'm a bit biased on the subject. If you are one of those people who takes each death personally, then you are going to find your fun severely diminished when playing on a PvP realm. Death is a regular occurrence over level 20 or so on a PvP realm, no matter how leet your PvP skills are and I really don't think this admirable achievement is possible on a PvP server. So just accept it and move on -- and if you can't, then transfer. It's not going to get any better.
My backup plan after a charmingly named gnome Death Knight kept teaching me a lesson in humility was to just give up and knit. I want to get my druid to max level, but sometimes I just want to relax more. WoW is only a good way to spend your hard earned leisure time if you are actually reducing stress instead of increasing it.
It's all about fun.