A while back, I wrote that the single most important change to World of Warcraft PvP was the introduction of Resilience. Many of you had strong feelings for or against the new mechanic, but one thing is clear: PvP has changed in the post-TBC world. Combat has become less a matter of how much hurt you can dish out but how much of it you can take. The result is -- in single combat encounters, at least -- longer battles and more creativity with the use of spells and abilities. High Resilience is a necessity in Arena combat, particularly in the current Season where Resilience gear is abundant and easily attainable with Honor. Resilience will allow combatants to survive just a little longer against focus fire. In matches that sometimes last under a minute, an extra second or two of survival can make a big difference.
It is also interesting to note that Resilience is almost exclusively an endgame item property, clearly designed for Arena combat. There are no items with Resilience usable below level 60 other than Elixir of Ironskin, which is usable at Level 55. Aside from token items from the Reinforced Fel Iron Chest in Hellfire Ramparts and uncommon quest rewards in the Outlands, most items with Resilience are usable only at Level 70 -- the level where competitive Arena play begins. The idea behind PvP in today's environment is all about damage mitigation. Last week, I discussed the key talents and a few abilities that classes have access to prior to obtaining Resilience. In the process of accumulating gear with Resilience, it helps to be familiar with the various forms of damage mitigation.
Today, however, we dive right into the juicy part. Resilience is an item property or statistic that reduces the chance you will get hit by a critical strike or spell critical strike; reduces the damage taken from critical strikes and spell critical strikes; and, as of Patch 2.2, also reduces the damage taken from Damage-over-Time effects (DoTs). Each 1% of Resilience will reduce the chance you will be crit by a spell or attack by 1%, reduce damage from crits by 2%, and reduce damage taken from DoTs by 1% (edit: It was erroneously written as 2%. Thanks to Phlipy for pointing it out!). A Resilience Rating of 39.4 grants 1% Resilience at Level 70 and -- as a bit of useless information -- a Resilience Rating of 25 grants 1% Resilience at Level 60. Because of the clear advantages it provides, any player moderately serious about PvP should accumulate Resilience gear.
How much is too much?
There is no limit to how much Resilience can reduce an opponent's chance to score a critical strike or how much periodic damage it can mitigate. However, Resilience efficacy is capped at 25% against damage dealt by critical strikes, making 12.5% Resilience or a rating of 492.5 the highest optimal number to aim for when stacking Resilience. Higher Resilience may further reduce crit chance and DoT damage, but each rating point of Resilience beyond 492.5 is only half as effective, making it something of a waste.
Resilience takes up valuable statistical item points, so stacking on Resilience comes at the price of other key stats such as raw Spell Damage or Attack Power. Furthermore, not all classes necessarily need extremely high Resilience... it depends on context. Particularly in Arenas, depending on your Battlegroup's environment per bracket, some classes need more Resilience than others. In the notorious Bloodlust Battlegroup, otherwise known as BG9, Warrior gib is a commonly used strategy in 5v5, particularly with the occasional 4 DPS team. Max Resilience certainly comes in handy in those situations but not so much in Battlegroups where Warriors are ignored in favor of focus firing on conventionally "softer" targets. It also depends on spec -- a Siphon Life / Soul Link (SL/SL) Warlock certainly needs as much Resilience (and Stamina) as he can get.
If, in your experience, you are a high priority target, stack Resilience. Otherwise, it's up to you to find that delicate balance of Resilience and offensive power by choosing your gear carefully. Even a full set of Season 3 Vengeful Gladiator's gear (5/5) will only give +195 Resilience Rating tops (the Vengeful Gladiator's Vindication), so it is necessary to obtain several pieces of PvP non-set epics and other items in order to raise your Resilience. There are also a number of enchants and gems that allow you to customize your gear towards Resilience such as Enchant Chest: Major Resilience, learned from a world drop recipe, and Fire Opals, which drop from various Heroic instances.
Depending on your server or Battlegroup, a certain level of Resilience is desirable. +300 Resilience Rating is a respectable number, although hardcore players will push for or require +400, nearing the optimal cap. While mostly useful in Arena, it's also good for old school World PvP on PvP servers where a healthy amount of Resilience softens the blow of an often unexpected first strike. Generally regarded as a PvP statistic, Resilience also works against mobs and bosses, although there are far better stats that serve this purpose. Defense, for example, works towards making tanks "un-crittable", rendering Resilience obsolete.
A critical situation
At a glance, it's easy to see that Resilience affects critical and spell critical strikes the most. The reduction to DoTs were later added when it became apparent that DoTs scaled too strongly even against high Resilience targets. Because crits are the highest sources of burst damage and were consequently what made pre-TBC PvP short and (bitter)sweet, Resilience changes the PvP landscape to, what some may argue, the disadvantage of crit-dependent class specs. This is true, to a degree. Common sense dictates that stacking on critical and spell critical rating will negate the effect of Resilience -- but only as far as chance to crit is concerned. But Resilience also affects damage taken by crits, which creates further problems.
Casters that rely on crit damage, in particular, suffer a huge blow because spell critical strikes deal 150% of normal damage by default as opposed to 200% for physical attacks. However, there are Talents -- usually high tier -- that increase damage dealt by spell critical strikes such as Elemental Fury for Shamans or Spell Power for Mages. Resilience affects crit-dependent spells and abilities on two fronts by reducing the chance it will crit and, when it does crit, by reducing the damage it deals. Even with a 25% cap on damage reduction, the effect is substantial.
One curious effect of Resilience is that it checks if a spell or attack crits before converting it into a normal strike. As noted in Patch 2.0.7, effects that benefit a character when hit by a crit will still trigger even if Resilience converted the attack from a critical strike to a normal strike. This includes abilities such as a Paladin's Eye for an Eye or a Warrior's Blood Craze. On the other hand, the reverse does not hold true. Effects that require a critical strike, such as Vengeance, will not trigger if the attack does not end as a crit.
Figures and hypothetical calculations are over at WoWwiki, should you be interested in going over the numbers. Suffice it to say that Resilience has a greater effect on the average damage dealt by a high crit opponent than one whose focus is more on pure spell damage or attack power. When building or gearing towards PvP, there is a balance to be struck between Resilience and your ability to deal damage. Having massive amounts of Resilience and Stamina is pretty much useless if you have the offensive power of a gadfly.
Some have pointed out how complications also arise with Warriors, whose ability to generate Rage relies highly on critical strikes and damage dealt, as well as damage taken. Because Warriors generate Rage in proportion to the damage they deal or take, Resilience has an adverse effect whether the opponent or the Warrior has high Resilience. When fighting high Resilience targets, Warriors generate considerably less Rage, not scaling in the same manner as a Mage's mana or a Rogue's energy.
Despite the seeming flaws that Resilience has, there is little question that the mechanic has been good for PvP overall. Lengthier battles are always a good thing, and clearly dichotomizing endgame PvP versus engame PvE is a welcome change. It is important to delineate the two because they are separate endeavors. Yes, they both require time and effort, but -- despite what anybody says -- I don't believe one is greater than the other. Welfare epics or not, I believe PvP takes as much commitment as raiding if you want to excel. Resilience is the defining stat that makes endgame PvP distinct. Endgame PvP is defined and dictated by your Resilience.
PvE to PvP
It is rather obvious where to obtain items that are heavy with Resilience. With the introduction of Arena Season 3, items with Resilience became widely available as Arena Season 1 items became available for purchase with Honor. There are PvP items with Resilience for almost every item slot that can be purchased with Honor or Arena points. With enough gear and the proper gems or enchants, it is fairly easy to stack over 300 or even 400 Resilience. Reaching the magical figure of 492.5, however, requires a serious focus, such as using Mystic Lionseye in more than a few sockets.
That said, is PvP the only way to obtain Resilience gear? Most certainly not. Blizzard has repeatedly expressed their intention to have PvP players experience PvE content, resulting in several excellent items with Resilience obtainable only through PvE. If you're not too keen on wading into the battlefields with zero Resilience, there are a few options that allow you to start accumulating Resilience gear without getting (other players') blood on your hands.
Most of the gems mentioned in the table above are drops from Heroic instances, while the Lionseye from which Mystic Lionseye is cut only drops from The Black Temple. The earliest Resilience gear available, the Mok'Nathal Clan Ring and Mok'Nathal Wildercloak are drops from Hellfire Ramparts. Spirit Shards from Auchindoun instances allow you to purchase the Exorcist items, such as the Band and Seal of the Exorcist, as well as the various helms which also have Meta sockets. Runed Fungalcap from the Slave Pens is a low-level item but gives a high amount of Resilience, just 4 rating points below the highest Resilience trinkets in the game, the Talismans of the Alliance and Horde. The Alembic of Infernal Power is another trinket with high Resilience, dropped by The Black Stalker in Heroic Underbog -- Coilfang Reservoir seems rife with Resilience gear.
Speaking of Coilfang Reservoir, Hydross the Unstable and Morogrim Tidewalker from Serpentshrine Cavern drop Band of Vile Aggression and Band of the Vigilant, respectively. Not to be outdone, even the big fish Lurker Below drops The Seal of Danzalar. Who says PvE doesn't gear you up for PvP? The timed event in Zul'Aman also awards what is currently the highest Resilience ring in the game -- the Signet of Eternal Life. While you're out accumulating Badges of Justice from Zul'Aman, you can look dreamily towards the gear G'eras is hawking, such as Dory's Embrace, which was featured in our Phat Loot Friday. The enterprising Naaru also sells cloaks for casters such as the Cloak of Subjugated Power and Kharmaa's Shroud of Hope, the latter being the only healing cloak with Resilience. If I didn't know any better, it seems like Blizzard is forcing PvP players to PvE!
There are also a number of Resilience items which can be crafted by a profession, such as the Unyielding Girdle, made by tailors; or the Helm of the Stalwart Defender, forged by blacksmiths. Granted, the helm is an odd piece of tanking gear (and consequently useless in PvP), but there are quite a few good Resilience items obtainable through crafting. Another odd item is Timelapse Shard, which required Exalted reputation with the Keepers of Time -- it has Resilience, a PvP-centric stat, but also reduces threat, a PvE mechanic. While you're grinding your reputation with the mysterious Keepers, of course, feel free to pick up Reaver of the Infinites -- arguably the best blue 2-handed weapon for PvP -- from Epoch Hunter or Tarren Mill Vitality Locket from Captain Skarloc, both in Old Hillsbrad.
As you can see, there are more than a few options available to players reluctant to PvP in order to accumulate Resilience gear. For those who wish to challenge themselves, a long quest chain that culminates in the Arcatraz rewards Resilience neckpieces. There are still more PvE-obtained items with Resilience, making it possible to start the PvP grind with a modicum of Resilience. It will be a minor amount to begin with, surely, but it should be enough to set you off in the right direction. Whatever you might think about Resilience, it is a game mechanic that is here to stay. If you're looking into engaging in endgame PvP, stacking on Resilience should be one of your primary goals. The more Resilience you have, the longer you'll be able to stick around to enjoy your PvP.
Zach Yonzon writes weekly PvP column The Art of War(craft) in between cleaning up his daughter Zoe's soiled nappies and cradling her to sleep. His Resilience works very well against damage dealt by baby poo.