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Monday, April 27, 2009

WoW Guide: Gearing your Mage for PvP

Of all the new stuff patch 3.1 brought us, perhaps this single most significant change was the addition of dual specs. Suddenly everybody and their second cousins can tank (or think they can tank), and every Druid/Paladin/Shaman has a resto/holy spec waiting in the wings. Everybody rolls on everything in every dungeon because they're "gearing up for their second spec"...or third spec...or whatever.

Mages don't have multiple roles to fill. We can't use our second talent spec slot for a tank or healer build. Our choices are and always have been DPS or DPS, just as God intended. And so, the advent of dual specs have instead opened up a different kind of door for a lot of Mages: PvP.

For the first time, we can keep our mana-efficient, DPS-maximized raiding build, and still have a second PvP-centric build on stand-by. A lot of Mages are taking advantage of this, and many are taking their first real steps into the strange and somewhat intimidating world of player-versus-player combat. For the Mage making that first foray into PvP, the culture shock can be very real, and the gear gap can seem insurmountable.

Fear not. Arcane Brilliance is here to tell you how to quickly and easily close that gap. Click the link below, and we'll have you mounting Warlock heads on your wall in no time.

Wrath of the Lich King has made PvP accessible like never before. Gear is easier to obtain, resilience isn't the absolute necessity it once was, and the options for fighting other players have never been so numerous and varied. In Burning Crusade, if you wanted to start getting PvP gear, you had two choices. You could start grinding honor in battlegrounds--a process that quickly became so repetitive and boring that a common practice was to simply plant your character in Alterac Valley and then go eat a sandwich or something while he soaked up honor--or you could try out Arena combat, which meant getting your face pounded mercilessly ten times a week until you'd gotten enough points to buy your first piece of gear, then repeating the process. In the old system, the die-hards got ever better gear, while the more casual PvPer fell further and further behind.

Thankfully, none of that is true anymore. Getting into PvP can still be daunting, but it isn't the exercise in humility it once was. Today, we'll cover the numerous ways to quickly and easily start building your Mage's PvP arsenal.

The Currency

There are several ways to purchase PvP gear, and in some cases, you can choose which way you want to buy certain items. There are even ways to exchange one form of PvP currency for another, so in a very real sense, you can gear up in whatever way you prefer. Hate Arena, but love Wintergrasp? There are ways to get a lot of what you want without having to do the things you don't like.

  • Honor

Everytime you kill another player, you get honor (except in Arenas). Battlegrounds net you a certain amount of bonus honor for winning (and losing), and there are numerous PvP quests that will grant large amounts of honor for completing certain PvP objectives. Honor is probably the fastest currency to amass, which is why you generally need copious amounts of it to purchase things.

  • Arena Points

To get this currency, you must fight in Arenas. You must compete in at least ten matches every week, and at the end of each week, you are awarded Arena points based on your team's rating. Season 6 changed the way this system works, and in my own humble opinion, did so in a very positive way.

Every new team now starts at a rating of zero, and each win gains you rating, usually in large amounts. As you approach the old midpoint of a 1500 rating, you'll start to see smaller gains for wins and larger point-loss for defeats. The upshot of this is that it is now far less of a blow to your self-esteem to start out in Arenas. Some of those you fight will be good, but others will suck just as hard as you do, and at first, at least, you'll see your rating steadily rise.

You use this currency in conjunction with honor to buy gear, and the better gear has a minimum Arena rating requirement to purchase. In other words, you can only suck for so long before you run out of things to spend your Arena points on.

  • Marks of Honor

These are awarded for participating in battlegrounds, and Wintergrasp. You get three for winning, and one for losing. The Wintergrasp marks, in particular, are used to purchase exclusive gear and items, many of which are very nice indeed. You can trade the marks from the other battlegrounds in for honor, or use them to buy mounts or lower level PvP gear.

The Gear

You can get PvP gear very quickly in Wrath, and with a minimum of grinding. There is quite a lot of it that requires no Arena rating whatsoever. Seriously, hop in and out of Wintergrasp a few times, do a few battlegrounds in-between, and you'll be able to buy a piece or two. The idea here is to start building up a little resilience, so that you can survive long enough to kill something.

This Tailoring set is easily craftable, made cheaply, and is pretty rock solid. Patch 3.1 even upped the ante by giving it a couple of nice set-bonuses. You can pick it up rather cheaply on the auction house, or simply gather the mats yourself and have your own set made. This was designed as an entry-level PvP option for players to don before ever having to set foot in an Arena or battleground, and it fills that role quite nicely.

    With the start of Arena season 6, this set no longer has a rating requirement. The easiest way to start obtaining the major pieces (chest, legs, gloves, head, shoulder) is to jump into Arena right away. Form yourself a team, get at least one other person to play with, and do your ten matches a week, or more if you develop a taste for it. Each week or two, you should be able to buy a new piece for a small amount of Arena points and a little bit of honor.

    If you absolutely hate Arena, you can also purchase these items (as well as their non-set counterparts) with straight honor, but the required amount is much larger.

    • Deadly Gladiator Non-set pieces

    These can now be purchased at the PvP vendor in Orgrimmar straight up for honor with no rating requirements. You can fill a lot of your slots with these (neck, waist, ring, wrist, feet, cloak, trinket) with just a little work in battlegrounds or Wintergrasp.

    • Wintergrasp items

    These are purchased with Wintergrasp marks, so to buy them, you'll need to start participating in Wintergrasp as often as possible. Patch 3.1 added a bunch more of these, and they provide nice alternatives to fill in gaps in your gear when you run out of honor/Arena points. They now include options for the following slots: head, belt, chest, boots, and a number of very nice new trinkets. So before you spend your hard-earned honor or Arena points on an item for any of those slots, check your Wintergrasp marks and see if you can't fill that slot another way.

    If you've been doing a lot of raiding, and have a lot of extra Emblems of Valor/Heroism, you can use them to purchase the lower-level PvP sets if you so choose. This can be a decent enough way to fill in gaps, especially if you want to gear up for PvP quickly and have the spare emblems lying around. The nice thing about all of these Gladiator's sets is that you can mix and match from them and still retain your set bonuses. One less thing to worry about, right?

    The Deadly set was top-tier in season 5, and still isn't shabby. You can obtain the various pieces at a lower Arena rating than the new Ulduar-comparable Furious set, so as your ratings rise, you may wish to invest in a piece or two of Deadly stuff to get by on in the meantime.

    The Furious set, on the other hand, is the new hotness added with Season 6, and it is sexy. If Arena is your cup of tea, then this set is your goal. Build up your rating, save up your honor and Arena points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    You can also use the new Emblems of Conquest from Ulduar to buy the items from this set, but I'm not sure why anybody'd want to do that. If you've been tooling around Ulduar so long already that you've got Emblems to spare, you should be able to kick the crap out of enough people in PvP to obtain this gear far easier by hitting the Arena.

    • Gladiator's Weapons

    Again, these all require high Arena ratings to obtain. They should be a goal for now, but expect getting them to take a while. Initially, you'll be perfectly fine bringing in a nice PvE weapon with some good PvP stats on it (stamina, spellpower, haste, crit, intellect, etc.). Just grab your favorite staff or spellblade and take the plunge.

    • Meta Gems/Enchants

    These can actually be purchased in Wintergrasp with Stone Keeper's Shards, which if you've been playing at all since the expansion hit, should be sitting around in large piles around your house, collecting dust and making your wife angry. The metas are quite nice, and generally geared toward PvP benefits, like run speed or stun resist, and the head/shoulder enchants are good for adding a bit of resilience and spellpower.

    In the history of WoW, I can safely say there has absolutely never been a better time to jump into PvP. My personal advice is this: Wintergrasp, Wintergrasp, Wintergrasp. Go as often as you can. Do all of the daily quests there as often as you can. Do the Battleground victory daily if you have time, unless it's Alterac Valley and you're in one of the many battlegroups where that battleground is impossible to win for your faction. I swear, I had that frigging daily in my log for a month straight before I got into a match where there was something resembling an equal number of Horde to Alliance and we actually won one. I hate that place now. I hate it so much.

    In addition, form a team and get your ten Arena matches in a week. Even if you're losing all ten, and you feel terrible about yourself afterwards, the points are worth it. For pure time-spent to gear obtained, Arena and Wintergrasp are the ways to go.

    You can also get a lot of the various Gladiator's gear as drops from the Wintergrasp raid bosses, so keep an eye out for people asking for more DPS for those raids. They're short, easy (well, the first one is), and if your faction has Wintergrasp, people are always looking for more. Nothing beats winning the roll on a piece of Furious gear you don't even have the rating requirement to otherwise purchase.

    If nothing else, you should consider hopping on the PvP bandwagon for the opportunity to kill more Warlocks. As the old saying goes: "every time a Warlock dies, and angel gets its wings." I'm not sure that's exactly how it goes, but that's how I'm teaching it to my children.


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