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The Art of War(craft): Making the jump from PvE to PvP

Zach Yonzon

Let's face it, World of Warcraft is a PvE game. I know I once stated that PvP is inevitable and that everyone must go through it, but I've since been proven wrong by the rare breed of carebears who have never been flagged for PvP throughout their entire gaming lives. As much as I am loathe to admit it, Blizzard designed the game with PvP as a mere afterthought. I still don't think it's "the only real game" as Adam put it, but I think I'll write up a response to that another day. Despite the prevalence of Arenas and how its shaping the game today, anyone who isn't interested in PvP can very well skip it should she choose to. I said it was integral to the game, but admittedly probably only in my experience because it's my favorite thing to do.

On the other hand, with Patch 2.4, the game has never been more casual than it is now, with more rare and epic items available to more players than ever. PvP has become more casual, too, with a new bunch of PvP quests to add to the Gold-grinder's routine. For a few players, even those who aren't particularly into PvP, the Battlegrounds and World PvP objectives are more enticing, even if only once a day. The Spirits of Auchindoun quest in Terokkar Forest might be the easiest way to earn 12 Gold ever. Because of the changes, I believe that now is the best time for people to try out PvP -- from fresh 70s to longtime carebears.

Treating PvP like PvE
Some players don't like PvP because they claim it can be somewhat stressful. Although PvP will never truly be like PvE because nothing is ever scripted and so much movement is required, treating PvP like PvE is a great technique to calm the nerves. As a plus, PvP repairs are nothing like PvE repairs as players only suffer durability damage through wear and tear, and not through deaths. Treat the daily Battleground quests as simple instances where enemy players are simply elite mobs that aggro from 1,000 yards.

Because content has become more casual and easily accessible, PvP seems to have become more casual, as well. Players who normally don't PvP have included it as part of their daily routine, playing whatever daily quest Battleground until they win it for some decent Gold and bonus Honor. The more quests Blizzard cooks up involving PvP, the more players will actually play it. Some stubbornly play games on end chasing after an elusive win just to complete the daily quest, racking up decent Honor -- often more than the bonus awarded by the quest -- in the process. In fact, Call to Arms is technically the only cross-server group quest. Sure, not all realms in a Battlegroup share the same daily quest, but it's more than likely that you end up in a game where players from other servers need that win as badly as you do.

PvP gear from PvE
Prior to Patch 2.4, there were very few items that contained Resilience outside of those obtainable through PvP. For many players, this meant countless hours of slogging through Battlegrounds with little to no Resilience at the mercy of better-geared opponents. With the advent of the latest patch, it is now possible to obtain what I'd like to call a PvP starter kit, or the bare essentials with enough Resilience to survive an instagib, but not by much. The great thing about the new reputation PvP sets is that players don't even have to PvP to get them.

The new sets are identical in stats to the old rare PvP sets previously purchasable through Honor at the Hall of Legends in Orgrimmar or Champion's Hall in Stormwind. Visually, the armor sets are recolored versions of the Outlands dungeon sets. Assuming players have run more than a few instances and done a fair share of quests for The Burning Crusade factions, they should be at Honored reputation or close to it. It's a fairly low, entry-level requirement for the gear, and gives many players their first taste of Resilience.

The old High Warlord and Grand Marshal Level 70 rare sets were terribly overpriced in terms of Honor, but Blizzard scaled it properly in Patch 2.3, where Season 1 gear became available for Honor in place of the old sets. It became clear that Blizzard was making better gear available to more players, and the Outland Battlegear are one of the best moves that Blizzard has made towards preparing newer players for PvP. Personally, I never completed the Tidefury dungeon 3 set on my Shaman so I even though I now have much better items, I made it a point to do the rounds and purchase a full set of the Seer's Mail Battlegear just for the looks.

For players who have run Karazhan, Gruul's Lair, and Magtheridon's Lair so much that their eyes are bleeding out from their tokens they have more tokens than they know what to do with, Blizzard has offered an interesting token exchange over at the Isle of Quel'danas. Tier 4 tokens can now be exchanged for Season 1 Gladiator gear. If your guild now PUGs other 25-man content like Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep, you can also exchange Tier 5 tokens for Season 2 Merciless Gladiator armor pieces.

It's an excellent way to entice raiders into PvP, as well as make use of excess tokens that sometimes remain unlooted simply because nobody in the raid needs them. On a curious note, Soryn over at the Isle of Quel'danas is selling Season 2 gear in exchange for Tier 6 tokens. This is strange because Olus who's in the same building is selling the same gear for less. One can only assume that Soryn will be selling Season 3 Vengeful Gladiator gear in exchange for Tier 6 tokens once Season 4 officially kicks off.

You are not prepared
If your primary experience with the game is purely from a PvE standpoint, nothing will quite prepare you for the PvP experience. Opponents are not scripted NPCs and despite some people's insistence that there are random elements to these encounters, nothing will prepare you for the infinite possibilities that PvP offers. There is no PvE encounter in the game where the opponent deliberately causes Line-of-Sight issues to break your spell or attack cycle. No NPC will kite you. Ever. You will learn to use spells in ways they were never intended to be used in PvE, such as putting up Unending Breath or Detect Invisibilty as dispel protection.

Played right, PvP will complete your skills as a player. You will learn to understand classes more than if you were working together as a raid group fighting against a computer-controlled opponent. Making the jump from PvE to PvP isn't difficult at all, even if you play on a carebear server. Battlegrounds are a great place to start and work as a casual means to PvP with minimal time or effort. Of course, to improve, one must continually PvP, just as how raids and instances are mastered through multiple runs. Nothing will improve your skills in PvP more than continuous playing and encountering different kinds of opponents -- their gear, their spec, and their tactics.

PvP play is also rewarding, similar to PvE. Just as bosses drop gear, as you enjoy more success in the Battlegrounds and Arenas, you'll eventually earn gear that will enable you to perform even better in PvP. With the proposed changes to the PvP gear system, it is actually becoming more important to actually perform well in PvP -- particularly in Arenas. If you haven't participated in PvP, I highly recommend that you try. If you're a casual PvPer, I highly recommend that you devote a bit more of your playing time towards PvP. If you're a hardcore PvPer, I'm surprised you've actually read this far since this is some sort of PvP for dummies.

PvP is becoming more and more integrated into the game, and personally, I'm thrilled. I'm actually excited to see what Blizzard has in store for Lake Wintergrasp, the PvP zone in Northrend. With a whole new zone devoted entirely to PvP, I'm looking forward to more creative ways through which Blizzard will mesh it into the game. The Outlands daily quests were merely the tip of the iceberg. In order to prepare for Wrath of the Lich King and the more immediate (though not necessarily soon) Arena Season 4, I think it's a perfect time to learn how to PvP. After all, with all the changes happening to the World of Warcraft lately, I can't help but feel that the future has PvP written all over it.

Zach Yonzon writes the weekly PvP column The Art of War(craft) between extremely long Arena and Battleground queues. He is hell-bent on teaching his six month-old daughter Zoe the basics of kiting and abusing LOS.

Interested in PvP? WoW Insider's resident PvP nut has blabbered on about how movement is so important in PvP in a three-part series. He's also outlined the basics of the most important PvP statistic -- Resilience -- in a couple of posts. Read about anything from the Battlegrounds to simple PvP musings on The Art of War(craft).

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