But how much gear are we talking? What should you shoot for when gearing up for rated battlegrounds? Well, it's hard to put a precise number on it, but from my recent experience of pugging rated battlegrounds, it seems like 8,000 resilience is a good number to shoot for. Many pugging teams will look for someone with more than that number, and an item level above 476, which, funny enough, is the item level of the current honor set. So get on with grinding out that honor, and get kitted out with that before you go looking for rated battleground teams.
Now, of course, it should be clear that this isn't a requirement. You will likely find rated battleground teams when you're below that number, too, especially if you're doing so through friends. What I have in mind with that amount of resilience is the idea that you can go into a PuG RBG and not fear inspection. Ideally, you'd do well to have at least a couple of pieces of conquest point gear, too, but it's not completely necessary. Full honor gear is generally the minimum.
And make sure you're gemmed and enchanted. WoW Insider posted a guide last week to PvP gems and enchants which might just be helpful for that exercise. Make sure you're doing it right by checking class guides and the like, but mostly, just make sure you have it in place. If you're pugging rated battlegrounds, your group leaders are likely to look your character up on the armory, just to make sure you're not going to waste nine other people's time, and big red flags are things like not having gems or enchants in your gear. No, you're right, you can't tell the quality of a player from their armory entry, but if a PuG team is simply going for the cap, they're going to want to do it as quickly as possible.
Play the "right" class or spec
This section should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt. Again, WoW Insider wrote a guide a while back on picking a class for PvP, where we discussed the benefits of sticking to your preferred class through thick and thin, versus re-rolling for every new flavor of the month class that comes around. The long and short of it is that you should play what you like to play, and not switch constantly, as it'll make you a better PvPer. What's more, investing the time into gearing a class or spec is considerable, so switching all the time isn't going to help you.
Having said all that, some classes and specs are going to have an easier time pugging rated battlegrounds, or, indeed, finding permanent teams, than others. Whether you want to switch for that reason is entirely up to you, but it's worth mentioning.
So what's popular? That's another tricky question. Some rated battleground leaders will have different opinions to others, and require certain classes, but generally, people love healers. A cursory glance at World of Wargraphs will reveal, as you can see, that restoration shaman, holy paladins and restoration druids are popular choices. Priests have suffered a lot lately in the RBG healing stakes, and I'm not saying they're not good, just that they're not as highly represented as the aforementioned healing classes.
What else can we tell you? Well, historically and currently strong classes sway opinion a great deal. Holy priests? Probably not going to do very well at finding RBG teams. Similarly, if you're PvPing as a combat rogue, consider a switch to subtlety. Arcane mage? Could you go frost? Fury warrior? Maybe try Arms. These are just the popular classes, and as such, popular opinion is likely to be that you "should" play them for PvP, over their unpopular cousins. Enhancement shaman have a terrible time finding rated battleground teams at the moment. Boomkins are generally popular, it seems, although they don't rank that highly in the popularity contest! So if you're willing to be flexible for spots on a team, consider changing things up. If you don't want to change, then don't.
Other things that will improve your chances
Rating is a great thing to have under your belt before attempting to find RBGs. Arena rating is just fine, as, when you're looking for a team, you probably don't have RBG rating! Think of it like a PuG raid -- if you're looking at a player to invite to your team for the evening, you'll want to be confident that they've done some raiding before. The same applies for PvP.
Voice chat is another thing that most teams will want, if not ask for. RBGs require co-ordination to be successful, and a big part of that is communication. Many teams will want at least one of the well-known voice chat programs, so having Vent, Teamspeak, Mumble, Raidcall and Skype preloaded is a smart move, if you want to have all the options covered.
So you've got your gear, you're playing a spec which is at least fairly popular, and you've got a chunk of reasonable arena rating under your belt, but you still can't find a team? Well, don't worry, there are places you can go to sort that out.
Run by MVP and theorycrafter extraordinaire, Eldacar, Battlemasters.org runs the LFG list for both Horde and Alliance rated battlegrounds. If you are ready for a Battleground or two within the next hour, head over to the start page and choose your faction. That will take you to a page with an IRC window and an entry screen below it. Type in your realm and your character's name in the entry screen to retrieve your basic details from the Armory. You can add in notes and doublecheck that your main spec and off spec are correct. If you're looking further in advance, you can head over to the forums. This service is currently US-only.
While I've never been a fan of oQueue for its pre-mades in random battlegrounds, it is another great resource for finding rated battleground teams. oQueue works off your battletag (while battlemasters.org allows you to use an IRC name to find groups) which some players find a little intrusive, but if you're looking for cross-realm RBGs it's pretty much a necessity. Download the addon, set it running, and search for pre-mades. Like any addon that scans your character, you'll need to "show" it information like your rating (open your PvP window) and your gear (character window) if it's having trouble picking those up. You can wait-list for any qualified RBG, and it's a great way to get started, and it's fantastic for spur-of-the-moment groups.
Yes, it's principally a cross-realm raiding site, but openraid also plays host to RBGs. They're a little further in advance than either battlemasters.org or oQueue, but nonetheless, a good option to try out. Head over to either openraid.us or openraid.eu and create a free account, then have a look at the availalbe events. If you're just starting out, it might be good to avoid the hardcore option, but I do note that almost all the EU RBGs are listed as hardcore, despite only requiring moderate rating!
Do you want to capture flags, invade cities, attack towers, and dominate the enemy for your faction? Do you dream of riding your War Bear with pride? We'll steer you to victory with secrets of Battlegrounds and Arena, prepping you with proven addons and keybindings that win! Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.