Choose your keybinds wisely
After I choose which class I want to PvP with, I figure out a skeleton of my keybinds. Check out two articles I previously wrote on PvP keybinding, part 1 and part 2.
I fire up Microsoft Paint (a spreadsheet will fulfill the same means, but I like this way much more) and have around 20 rows with corresponding keybinds I'll use: the number keys, Tab, Q, E, R, T, F, G, H, Z, X, C, V, B, and so on. I'll copy and paste this row three more times (or write it out again with different colors) to form four columns. Now I have a template for my regular keybinds, shift-keybinds, and control-keybinds. Then, I create a level 1 character (in this case, a warrior) and write down every spell from his spellbook. I use an online talent calculator to write down those keybinds, since those talents (such as Shockwave, Bladestorm, and so on) won't show up in the spellbook.
Here's an example of what it looks like at the beginning:
Some of those talents aren't actually active abilities. That's fine. I was just writing down every 0/1 talent point I saw. So now that we have our framework up, we can begin thinking about what abilities to put on which keys. We can start with the most important abilities that we will most frequently use and move from there.
A good way to figure out what abilities you'll be using most often is to ask gladiators of that class, watch PvP videos, or check out some PvP tutorials. You're probably going to be surprised to hear that a few abilities are rarely used, while others are used much more frequently than you would have originally guessed. If you have a full list of keybinds, you can just start out by copying their list and making adjustments, although I don't recommend this way of planning, as you might find their style doesn't work for you at all. (I use a roaming index keybinding variant, which is pretty rare, so using my keybinds will probably work out poorly for you.)
Here's what I ended up with:
I've changed my keybinds a bit since I finished that particular keybinding project, but the basic skeleton remains. Notice that the 16/21/26/31-point talents in each tree occupy the same keybind; since I'll never be able to Bladestorm and Shockwave at the same time, I might as well have them both use the same button to save space. The same is true with the abilities you get upon choosing a spec (such as Mortal Strike
You don't have to stick to everything religiously; moving stuff around as you get used to it will serve you best. My Disarm
macro is a bind that I'm still trying to find where it works best, so I haven't nailed it down quite yet. Although you can't tell from the above picture, I used to have Charge
keybound to 1, but I quickly realized it was much better for me to be utilized by my index finger, so now I use R.
I use a WoW
addon called Macaroon
to bind all my abilities -- even before I get them! Most of my abilities start with /startattack so if I tab target or left-click an enemy, I'll still be auto-attacking. Instead of creating a billion macros in the Blizzard macro panel, Macaroon does this (albeit at the expense of a bit of a steep learning curve using it to begin with).Play battlegrounds as you're leveling
While it might not be the most time efficient way of leveling early on, make sure that you're enjoying PvP with the class by trying your hand at killing players. Even if you only enter one battleground every five levels, you'll see where you're headed with the class and if you need to change any keybinds. If possible, buy dual spec and have one spec as your PvE spec and the other as your PvP spec.
However, you should beware that low-level PvP is not a whole lot like level 85 arena or battlegrounds. Certain classes are affected by gear far more than others, and PvP is balanced around having full sets of PvP gear. This means if you're a warrior or hunter with a weapon or bow 20 levels lower than it should be, you're probably not going to be killing that many people. The flip side of this is also true, and if you manage to get your hands on an epic drop through your quests and dungeon finding, you might want to hop into a BG to showcase your new shiny.
While it's a temptation a lot of people have, don't spend a large amount of your gold (or really, any at all) on improving your gear for PvP as you're leveling up. You'll outlevel it pretty quickly, and it sucks putting down 100 gold on an awesome blue or epic just to have it replaced two or three levels later.
Heirlooms are amazing for leveling in PvP, and if you're blessed to have a great number of them, more power to you. One of my friends made a pact with himself that he would level from 10-85 using only battlegrounds, but only after he collected all the heirlooms. He's around level 65 right now and has had a blast the entire way up. Although I wouldn't recommend this to everyone, it's worked out well for him.
Use battlegrounds as a break from your normal routine of questing or dungeons. Battlegrounds are a very time-efficient way to level from 60 to 85, so you'll probably be playing a lot of them in those level ranges. Make sure you don't get burned out on them earlier and enjoy the new zones in Azeroth, if you haven't yet.
Listening Music: Johnny Cash with Fulsom Prison Blues
Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing
Donkey Kong? We'll steer you to victory with the best arena addons and let you in on some rank 1 gladiator PvP secrets. Be sure to check out our guide to PvP keybindings.