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Cataclysm 101: A guide to PvP changes and challenges

Zach Yonzon

There are quite a few changes to PvP in Cataclysm. Let's have a look at how the changes in the past few patches will affect the other aspect of World of Warcraft gameplay ...

Resilience is different

Resilience no longer reduces critical strike chance but instead only reduces damage across the board. As resilience is the premier PvP stat, this impacts gameplay in a major way. First, critical strikes are back on the table. This means that talents contributing to crit are valuable in PvP again. Burst damage from crits will happen more often, and players can opt to stack crit for PvP without it being devalued ... much.

More health, more fun

On the other hand, stamina comes cheap in Cataclysm, which means everyone will have tons of health. So crit is great, but it won't win you the day. It'll be all about outlasting your opponent in a grind. It won't be like the tail end of Wrath or 4.0.1, where burst still catches people with their pants down.

The higher stamina in Cataclysm gear should translate to longer, more exciting fights. This means fights will be slower than what you're accustomed to, and it also means you'll get to play with more spells and play more strategically.

At any rate, we've come a long way from the 5-second fights of Season 5.

Fewer surprises

The new specialization rule means there will no longer be any min-maxing or double-dipping in talent trees to create unlikely and unexpected PvP monsters such as the unkillable paladin tank healer. Players and their specs will be easy to spot, and you'll have an easy time figuring out what talents they have. This makes the environment easier to predict -- something the developers are counting on to better maintain game balance. They don't want to have to nerf certain abilities midway through a PvP season just because some clever players found a loophole and combined talents that weren't designed to be OP. With tightly controlled specs, the developers have basically put the community on a rail ... there's little variation. PvP comes down to the basics, and skill will always win out.

Battlegrounds are the new hotness

Actually, battlegrounds are the old hotness but will take center stage once again while arenas take a back seat. Players will need to look at their talent trees and abilities in a different way, because spells that don't work very well in arenas just might excel in the battlegrounds. I'm willing to wager that rated battlegrounds will prove to be more popular than arenas ever were, mostly because -- and I mean this as inoffensively as possible -- they demand a lower skill threshold to be successful. Of course, the difference is performing as a team, and at some point, competition will become truly intense. Rated battlegrounds will continue to coexist with normal battlegrounds, which confer a different set of rewards.

Cataclysm will also ship with two new battlegrounds, the Battle for Gilneas and Twin Peaks, which are basically Arathi Basin and Warsong Gulch with different maps, respectively. The developers also promised to deliver more battlegrounds throughout the expansion -- likely, new maps for old mechanics -- but then again, we're still waiting for that dance studio, so I wouldn't hold my breath. Rated battlegrounds will grant access to the same rewards as arenas, which include weapons.

Honor and conquest

There are two new currencies for PvP gear: honor and conquest points. Think of honor points as the way honor used to work -- something you could accumulate easily with casual PvP. Conquest points are basically how arena points used to work, except that now you'll be able to gain them from rated battlegrounds, too. Honor points buy last season's gear or other, less powerful items, while conquest points get you the latest and greatest gear. Honor points only come from world PvP objectives and the battlegrounds, while conquest points are obtained through rated arena and battleground matches.

Old PvP titles are back

Old-school PvP titles will be returning with rated battlegrounds, so players can look forward to making High Warlord or Grand Marshal again. Just as arenas gave players titles based on their performance throughout the season, so too will battlegrounds grant titles based on the old PvP titles. For everyone's reference, the battleground PvP titles based on how well you perform are as follows:


  • Private
  • Corporal
  • Sergeant
  • Master Sergeant
  • Sergeant Major
  • Knight
  • Knight-Lieutenant
  • Knight-Captain
  • Knight-Champion
  • Lieutenant Commander
  • Commander
  • Marshal
  • Field Marshal
  • Grand Marshal
  • Scout
  • Grunt
  • Sergeant
  • Senior Sergeant
  • First Sergeant
  • Stone Guard
  • Blood Guard
  • Legionnaire
  • Centurion
  • Champion
  • Lieutenant General
  • General
  • Warlord
  • High Warlord
Tol Barad

Tol Barad is the new Wintergrasp, and it's designed not to lag out players or break the world ... The objectives are spaced far apart, and the developers have decided that Tenacity wasn't the way to address imbalances, so world PvP battlegrounds will balance opponents on a 1:1 basis (as much as possible).

Tol Barad is also the daily quest hub for Cataclysm, similar to the Isle of Quel'danas back in The Burning Crusade. It is a PvP no-fly zone when battles are in progress. Players will be automatically flagged for PvP on Tol Barad when a battle is in progress on PvE realms.

You can PvP all day, every day

With all the changes that have taken place in the past few years and now with 4.0.3 or Cataclysm, it's entirely possible to go through the expansion or leveling process entirely through PvP. Because battlegrounds now grant experience and item rewards now include weapons, it's entirely possible -- though silly -- to spend your entire Cataclysm career in the battlegrounds. While you're probably missing out on the best parts of the expansion when you do that, this only indicates that PvP with Cataclysm has come into its own as the other aspect of the game.

World of Warcraft
has a truly rich PvP experience that can be enjoyed through all levels of play. The new random battlegrounds are very similar to the random dungeons, and for the first time in a long time, PvP no longer feels "tacked on" the way it used to. Arenas created an entirely different subculture of PvP players -- they're still around and will actually bring their snootiness to rated battlegrounds -- but for the most part, arenas never felt as integrated into the game world as they should have. Rated battlegrounds changed all that. Not only do battlegrounds integrate tightly with the game world (they also have a strong story component), but they also grant rewards equal to arena play. In fact, PvP rewards match PvE rewards every step of the way in the expansion -- truly exciting.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it; nothing will be the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion (available Dec. 7, 2010), from brand new races to revamped quests and zones. Visit our Cataclysm news category for the most recent posts having to do with the Cataclysm expansion.

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