Over at my usual column, Spiritual Guidance, I regularly try to convince my readers to PvP. I do this because the situational awareness you learn in PvP, especially arena, is one of the biggest strengths a player can bring to a PvE environment. The best raiders I ever knew were also brilliant in the arena and frequently complained to me how boring PvE was. I sympathized, knowing that if I personally spend any increment of time PvPing before a raid, everything in the dungeon slows down to an unbearable, crawling pace. (On that thought, it makes me a little sad that Blizzard said they want to slow down PvP.)
The above said, I find it a bit ironic that I am now sitting in an almost reverse situation. I say almost, because I have no intention of encouraging you to PvE. In fact, my agenda is to do the opposite, sort of. Today I am going to be rooting for wearing PvP gear in arena.
As a PvPer, PvE content and its rewards certainly do sing an alluring siren's song. Weapon upgrades in the first wings of Icecrown Citadel, for example, are quick and easy to acquire and offer a great head start into a new arena season. With a little extra time and luck, an arena player* can find some fantastic PvE trinkets that help to round out his stats with some extra hit, regen, or whatever is needed. Reaching for the stars after that are the promises of legendary items like Shadowmourne, or Val'anyr, which share no comparable PvP counterpart. Beyond the obvious, PvE items can also offer a form of relief to certain classes, like mages, who have few stat allocation options given the single PvP gear set available to them. For a mage, the small sacrifice in stamina and resilience is made up for by their multitude of individual survival and control abilities; but that option doesn't exist for every class. (And while I know this is an arena column, not a general PvP column -- another great place for PvE gear is battlegrounds, since opponents are generally not organized enough for resilience to matter and the stats give us an ability to brute force, heal through or outlast our opponents.)
The advantages to PvE gear are all good and fine, but one must remember that every siren song isn't without its jagged rocks, though. Unfortunately, the compromises you make for wearing PvE gear are bit slow to reveal themselves and as a result, aren't always obvious to every player. In lower brackets, where you find players
like me, QQ of various skill and gear, PvE gear can actually lead to great success in addition to great failure. I've seen PvE gear give some players lacking in resilience gear or -- let's be honest here -- skill, a nice gimmick or edge to climb up the rating ladder with. I notice DPS classes are especially guilty of this, using burn down tactics instead of smart play to win matches. In my own case, playing as a disc priest, an insufficient amount of PvP gear means my life span caps at about 10 seconds.
I think these discrepancies in results is one of the big reasons PvE gear is so popular in arena. Despite any personal successes you might have had up to this point, I would encourage you to look at where you are currently in arena and where you'd like to be. You see, I am of the belief that the usage of PvE gear ultimately creates a risk of to players who want to grow and advance into higher brackets. To explain what I mean, let me use a loosely related example from when I first started learning arena in season 4. At the time, my best PvP pal was a genius mage who liked playing fire. This worked fine in brackets below 1900, but after that he hit a wall. The burst damage his spec offered couldn't stand up to the resilience gear people were wearing at higher brackets. He had to respec to keep pushing forward.
Though the variables are different, it's important to examine the situation with gear in mind. There will come a point where you are compromising more than you are gaining, and if you really want to move up, you're going to have to play the game like the people ahead of you are playing. The old PvE motto applies: "You can't DPS dead." That player might have an extra 200 haste or spellpower on you, but is he going to survive a little focus fire when his healer gets CCed? The further up you go, the less and less your gear will matter as it all becomes homogenized in an attempt to maximize survival (that is, provided, you are picking up the same resilience upgrades as everyone else.) I honestly think that's Blizzard's intention really; after a while, it should all come down to skill. That's the beautiful thing about arena, isn't it? I know I'm always looking for the right bracket where I'm playing against the person and no longer the game. Wow, that sounded a bit sappy, didn't it? I'm way too idealistic to be an arena columnist.
Anyway, so what am I saying here? If you're a culprit of sporting some PvE gear in the arena, examine where you are and then look at where you want to go. Hop onto the armory or your preferred database and start looking at the gear of players in the bracket above you. If they're still wearing a mismatch of PvE gear, then maybe it's a skill issue, but if it's not, be willing to give up some damage for survival and be willing to try out some different strats. Arena is the last place you want to cling to something that worked before, but isn't now. One of the things I try to encourage in raiding when nothing is working out, is to change things up, whether it be gear, talents, buffs and consumables, strategies, or player roles. It might be an attrocious failure, but it gets people thinking in different ways that can lead to success. That approach works in arena too.
I'm going to get out of here now. If you learned nothing, fear not, Mr. Moore will be returning next week. (I'm sure his hand has been over his face the entire time while reading this.) If you learned something, or this article at least served as a small reminder of good habits, then ... There is that idealism again. Pesky PvE'r optimism.
* I'm charging Mr. Moore, upon his return, to come up with more terms of reference to players who arena. PvPer is too broad, and arena junkie has too strong an association with Arena Junkies.
Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing Donkey Kong? Check out WoW.com's articles on arena, successful arena PvPers, PvP, and our arena column, Blood Sport.