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The Art of War(craft): Twinkage part II

Zach Yonzon

Last week, we discussed the matter of twinks and PvP. In many occasions, twinks exist purely to PvP, dominating lower-bracket Battlegrounds with their über-gear. In fact, there is no shortage of twink complaint threads on the World of Warcraft forums. Whatever one might feel about twinks, it's an ongoing phenomenon that shows no signs of letting up. I'm not a big fan of twinkage myself, but it's such a distinct subset of the PvP crowd that I feel compelled to write about it. Twice. Oh, and for the record, I am quite aware that 'twink' is a homosexual slang term. I prefer to think of the Hostess snack, though.

So here we go, the second part of our look at twink PvP. Last week we discussed an overview of the potential items that twinks can obtain... I didn't make a comprehensive list since that's a considerable task. I did, however, give some pointers in the right direction. Considering that Resilience does not exist in lower level PvP, the key stat is Stamina, so get gear with loads of it. There are also ways to improve on gear, particularly using permanent item enchants. The most notorious of these is probably the Nethercleft Leg Armor, which requires Level 60 to apply, but has no item restriction. It might cost a bit of gold because it requires Primal Nether to craft, but the +40 Stamina is well worth it for twinks. Patch 2.4 also promises removing binding on nethers, which may or may not lower prices. For casters, the tailoring equivalents of Golden and Runic Spellthreads are also good investments, despite the 20 stamina hit.

For the head, an enchantment from the old world is still king. The Lesser Arcanum of Constitution is a reward from the Libram of Constitution quest in Burning Steppes. Aside from some items, it also costs 30g, which is a fair price for most twinks for a 100 health increase. It's the best head enchant for twink PvP. [EDIT: the following statement is supposedly inaccurate a head enchants will bind the item to the user. - Thanks Pudds!] That is, until Patch 2.4, which previews the first and only PvP-specific head enchant obtainable upon reaching exalted revered (thanks Mattlistener) reputation with the Shattered Sun Offensive, appropriately named Glyph of the Gladiator. The caveat with these head enchants is the inability to apply them on items bound to one of your characters, necessitating the assistance (or services) of another player.

For the chest, there's +100 to health... unfortunately, the +150 to health requires a Level 35 or higher item (actually, requires an item that requires a Level 35 character). Optionally, there's the +4 to all stats which benefits some classes more than others. Then there's Enchant Bracer - Superior Stamina which gives 90 health to bracers, and uses an affordable 15 Illusion Dust while 10 Dream Dust is needed for Enchant Boots - Greater Stamina. There's no proper twink PvP enchant for shoulder slot items (unless you can farm Sapphiron for the Fortitude of the Scourge, which is highly unlikely), so go wild with the Aldor or Scryer enchants if you want. Weapon enchants are a toss-up, and this is where twinks like to play around with their special effects, using the popular Crusader or dual-wielding Fire and Frost. Have fun.

Now, when it comes down to actual PvP with your twink, it naturally takes more than just pimped out gear. As I mentioned last week, some classes lend themselves better to twinkage than others, particularly weapon-based classes or classes whose damage scales with their weapon. Another consideration when choosing a twink class is movement. As I've tried to explain in the past, movement is key to PvP and the classes that have unrestricted movement have a distinct advantage. Particularly in the Level 29 twink bracket, enhanced movement speed is even more crucial because no classes have mounts. On a good note, most movement-related skills are learned at Level 20, such as Blink, Ghost Wolf, or Aspect of the Cheetah. This means classes like Mages, Shamans, and Hunters have a distinct advantage in Battlegrounds where the objective involves a lot of movement -- taking the flag, moving to the Farm or Blacksmith, etc. Druids don't get Travel Form until Level 30, so their reign as kings of mobility doesn't quite begin in the lower twink brackets.

are perfect twink candidates because pretty much every tool but Cloak of Shadows, Blind, and the 41- 31-point [thanks, Ikarus!] Subtlety talent Cheat Death are available to them at such low levels, making Rogue twink PvP very similar to high level Rogue PvP. At lower levels, there are few options for all classes to break free from a stun or incapacitate effect, making them arguably more powerful. With the right enchanted weapon, a Level 29 Rogue can instagib lower- or even same-level opponents with an Ambush crit. If that doesn't work the first time, Vanish and do it again. Here's a tip everyone probably already knows, but I'll say it anyway -- go for the seated clothie having a drink. Heck, anyone seated. An attack on a seated target automatically crits.

Hunters also have great tools to work with at Level 29, least of which are their pets. Although there are a number of crowd control skills available to opponents at this bracket such as a Druid's Hibernate or another Hunter's Scare Beast, another hitter always helps. Most kiting abilities are also available at Level 29, from Concussive Shot to Wing Clip to Frost Trap, so Hunters who are able to cycle through their Arcane Shots and stings while keeping opponents at bay should be in pretty good shape. Aimed Shot can also be taken as a talent at Level 20, and with the right weapon, the results can be pretty explosive.

Shamans don't peak in twinkage until they get Windfury at the next level, unfortunately, so they're not such a hot option in the Level 29 bracket, which seems to be the most popular one. Chain Lightning also kicks in at Level 32, so Shamans are probably the most fun and at their scariest (twink-wise) in the Level 39 bracket. Being a hybrid class, Shamans don't get the most out of their specs until deep into the trees, so the most a Level 29 twink Shaman can bring into the fray is the soon-to-be-improved-in-Patch-2.4 Ghost Wolf, which will give mobility options for both kiting and counter-kiting. Otherwise, one option is to go healing and stack +healing enchants alongside Stamina. Even then, there's no Chain Heal or Nature's Swiftness, so Shamans in the Level 29 bracket are mediocre at best. My advice would be to go and quest for another ten levels.

Speaking of mediocre, Priests also underperform in Level 29 twink PvP unless they go for healing. The problem with casters at lower levels is the dearth of +damage and healing items. Instead, there are loads of items with Intellect and... gasp... Spirit. Going Shadow at Level 29 is gimped because there's no access to Shadowform, Vampiric Touch, or Vampiric Embrace. While Priests may be the toughest class to kill and can deal a world of hurt at 70, they simply don't pack the same punch at lower levels.

The same penalties that apply to a Shaman apply to Druids or Paladins in the Level 29 twink bracket. Being hybrid classes, they don't get their best abilities until deep into the tree. At best, Druids in this bracket will be rooting and spamming Moonfire, hoping Starfire procs Celestial Focus so they can wash, rinse, and repeat. Druids wishing to go Feral for twinkage should probably wait til the next bracket so Travel Form becomes available. Paladins, whom I've criticized as a glorified auto-attack class, has no melee options at the Level 29 bracket, making Seal of Casino the only viable PvP DPS option. Because fights aren't prolonged by Resilience, burst is more important at lower levels. Seal of Command provides this, but it's mostly luck-based. Best advice? Gear up. Get to 70. Or heal.

Warlocks have only one Fear spell at the Level 29 bracket and their Damage-over-Time spells don't get the benefit of enough +spell damage because of the way lower level gear is itemized. On the other hand, they do have a pet -- albeit an irritable imp or a flirty, hoofed and tailed harlot (blueberries aren't used in PvP, sadly) -- and enough survivability that they're surprisingly viable at these levels. They simply won't deal as much burst damage as Rogues or Hunters, but speccing to Destruction for Shadowburn gives twink Warlocks a bit of flexibility.

Mages are neither here nor there at low levels, and it's not because of Blink, either. Again, the lack of +spell damage in items gimps their ability to deal burst damage, and their survivability is suspect because there's just not enough mitigation available at low levels, although Frost Nova comes in handy in those tight situations. Fire or Frost Mages can opt to stack uncommon (green) +Fire or +Frost damage gear at the expense of Stamina in order to deal massive amounts of burst, but in those cases, a Rogue doesn't even have to crit with an Ambush to send the Mage to an early appointment with the Spirit Healer.

Lastly, there are Warriors, who will not have gotten their terrifying Mortal Strike yet. At the Level 29 bracket, Warriors don't have the same options as Rogues, although it is at these lower levels where Retaliation -- you know, the one with the swirly sword graphics around the Warrior -- will be used the most. At higher levels, many Warriors opt to use Recklessness instead (both share the same cooldown, along with Shield Wall). That said, being a heavily gear-dependent class, with the best gear available -- particularly good, enchanted weapons -- Warriors can hold their own rather well. The various anti-melee abilities available early such as Overpower, Disarm, or even Revenge come in extremely handy in many encounters.

Whatever class you choose to play in twink PvP, be aware that things change drastically as levels progress. While Rogues and Hunters are arguably the best choices for twinkage, things even out much more in endgame PvP. Higher level PvP, particularly at 70, opens up different play styles and expands the gameplay horizon. In my opinion, the game becomes more challenging and fun. Admittedly, there's a particular charm about dominating lower level brackets owing to good gear -- and frankly, that's what twinkage is all about, gear -- there's nothing more satisfying than PvP where opponents have access to all the abilities available. Level 70 PvP is where it's most balanced (and it's not a perfect balance just yet!) and ultimately, most rewarding.

Zach Yonzon writes The Art of War(craft), a weekly PvP column, during the few waking hours between his teething daughter Zoe's mood swings and doing daily quests to gain reputation with his wife Aila.

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