Blood Sport: How should you prepare for season 11 PvP?

WoW Insider covers the world of player vs. player action in Blood Sport for fans of battleground, world PvP and Arena play. Steering you to victory is Olivia Grace, who spends most of her time in Azeroth as a restoration shaman turning people into frogs.

So you've had a week away from the arena. What have you been up to in that week? Playing in the autumn leaves? Finally cleaning your keyboard?

Or maybe you've been frantically gathering a transmogrification set (once you'd got over the fact that you couldn't transmogrify your paladin into a power ranger)? I know I have, and I'm now in love with Kezzik in Area 52! Perhaps you've been running the new dungeons or flirting with the new raid? ...Or ganking your GM in the Darkmoon Faire's Deathmatch Arena, like @trimbleirl.

If you are one of the people who has done enough hard work in season 10 to get a title, you should give yourself a pat on the back. Well done! You're well on your way to the upper echelons of PvP, and I hope you climb even higher this season! And if you're one of the people who has been working through Battlegrounds every day to get your conquest points, congratulations! You're going to be among the first to get your grubby mitts on the new gear.

But moving on from what you could have been doing to what you could be doing now, what are the top tips to prepare yourself for season 11?

Balancing act

Unless you're one of the few who belong to a pure PvP guild, chances are you've been involved in a fair bit of PvE this week. Even in a PvP guild, you've probably had the chance to run the new 5-man content and maybe even try out the Raid Finder or the new raid as a guild group. Now, with the new PvP season upon us, you should probably have a think about what you want to spend your in-game time doing. What do you enjoy the most? What are your goals for this patch?

If you want to engage heavily in both progression raiding and Arena or Rated Battlegrounds, chances are you're going to be starved for time. Spreading yourself too thinly will usually mean letting people down, somewhere or other, be it the other people in your raid team or the other people you PvP with. If, of course, you have all the time in the world to dedicate to gaming, this may not apply. However, everything in moderation -- and we all need a break every now and then, let alone sleep and sunlight!

So once you've established what your main priorities are, set boundaries. Maybe you will only raid two nights a week as opposed to three, or perhaps you won't raid with your guild at all in dogged pursuit of a 2,200+ rating. Or maybe you'll casually dabble in Arena while focusing on killing that dragon. You know the one. Of course, these priorities may change, but it's helpful to be clear on what you want at the start of an expansion.

Once you've decided what you're after this season from your PvP endeavors, make sure your guild, partners and team members are aware of it too. Discuss it, and try to agree on it. It's very frustrating to be the one who's really trying to push hard when your teammates have other priorities, in-game or in real life. Guilds will often prioritize raid progression over everything else, so this may be a bone of contention. Be prepared! And remember, WoW Insider is here to help.

"WLTM 3v3 team, GSOH required ..."

But what if you don't have a team at all right now? Well, get into trade, write yourself an advert, and get involved! I'll talk more about ways to do this in future columns. When you're first looking for a team, chances are you'll take anyone, and that's great -- learning by doing is really the only way. But as you become a little more accustomed to the Arena, you'll realize that certain team compositions (or comps) might work better than others or suit your style more. Do you want to play with a healer and extend the fights, or do you hope to outdo your opponents in burst damage faster than they can do the same to you?

There are various comps that are considered viable, rightly or wrongly, so look into those. They often have entertaining names like KFC (warrior/hunter/healer) or Shadowcleave (DK/warlock/shaman healer). Comps will affect tactics, and while there aren't cast-iron guaranteed ways to win in any comp, there are often certain strategies that practiced teams may rely on.

But Liv, how do I find those out? Well, some will come with practice, but watch streams, read forums, and keep coming back to Blood Sport! I will definitely be talking more about comps and general tactics in the coming weeks.

Lastly, try to Arena with people you like. It'll make it a much more pleasant experience, and I care about your well-being!

Azeroth's got talent

There have been changes for many classes in patch 4.3, and while it is mostly the calm before the storm of Mists of Pandaria, it may well have affected your PvP gameplay. Assess the changes for your class. Maybe it's time to rework your existing spec to pick up new talents, or maybe a whole new spec has become viable or interesting. Try those new talents out in Battlegrounds, in duels, and then take them to the Arena.

Other things to consider might be keybinds. Look for guides on how best to work them. While it's true that the best keybinds for you are the ones that work for you, if you decide you need to make changes to improve efficiency, now's the time, rather than at the height of the season. As with spec changes, practice makes perfect, and muscle memory is your friend in high-pressure situations. So get into those Battlegrounds and duels, and beat the living daylights out of those target dummies!

Or maybe you want to make the jump from clicking to keybinds. Clicking is generally not considered to be the best way to play in PvP, and although you'll doubtless suffer through a learning period changing over, you may eventually improve your gameplay overall. Perhaps you want to improve your strafing, or learn to jump'n'shoot as a hunter? Now is the time! Find a secluded spot -- the Exodar or Silvermoon City are often good -- and practice, practice, practice.

Top gear

No, I'm not talking about the car show. With a new season comes new gear, as previously the honor gear's item level has been upgraded for season 11. Those who read my last column will have held on to their lovingly farmed honor to buy the new shiny pieces ... or spent it on a super-awesome (if not yet completely finished) transmogrification set for their restoration shaman. Hypothetically speaking, of course. Ahem.

As with PvE gear, you'll want to be careful to ensure that the pieces you're buying give you the highest possible upgrade in your best stats. Unlike PvE gear, set bonuses will most likely carry over, but keep an eye on those when buying new gear. If you're new to the PvP game, you'll want to try to build up your resilience before attempting to push into Arena teams. Rightly or wrongly, most teams will require a certain level of resilience. Buy the latest crafted set from the Auction House, then replace PvE gear before upgrading PvP gear.

Also the points earned threshold for weapons, shields and wands and relics, and so on will have been reset, so get to farming! I'm not sure right now whether honor or conquest earned in this season-less week will count toward your season total to qualify for weapon purchases.

Mods, macros and addons

Purist folk play without these, but most of us use them. Check out the addon guide for advice on what to use, and then make sure they're updated. Make sure your macros still work, that your UI is functioning as it should in a PvP environment.

Think about new addons. With the advent of transmogrification and my assumption that it will continue to apply in the Arena and in Rated Battlegrounds, it has become suddenly harder to discern whether your opponents are decked out in top-of-the-range conquest gear or 333 blues. I'd love to hear about an addon that can tell me that and other vital addons that you use. I'll doubtless cover this in future columns.

As I mentioned in my last column, MMR has been reset, and this is going to make for some crazy matches in the early weeks of the season. Don't be disheartened. Be patient, persist -- and most importantly, have fun out there!

Do you want to capture flags, attack towers, invade cities, and dominate the Arena for your faction? Do you dream of riding your War Bear with pride? We'll steer you to victory with the secrets of PvP, including proven addons and keybindings that win!