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15 Minutes of Fame: Inside PvP twinking

15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – both the renowned and the relatively anonymous. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about at 15minutesoffame (at) wowinsider (dot) com.

Despite grumbles from some players, PvP twinking – playing at max level of a particular PvP battlegrounds bracket, with the best available gear and enchants for that level – has been legitimized by Blizzard as a valid meta-game within WoW. While most players I've spoken with don't seem to have strong feelings about twinking one way or the other, neither do they seem to understand why someone would be interested in getting into it. What's the attraction?

We at 15 Minutes of Fame have an undeniable curiosity when it comes to meta-gamers and players who've carved out their own niches in the immense world that is World of Warcraft. That's how we came across Angrenous of Shadow Council, a PvP-aholic who runs warriors in almost every PvP bracket. Here's a player with his eyes wide open to all the various restrictions and limitations of WoW's PvP experience – and having a blast careening around in it.

15 Minutes of Fame: You've got your finger all over the PvP pie -- twink brackets, leading a level-70 PvP guild, you name it. Has PvP always been an attractive gaming dynamic for you?
Angrenous: Well, as soon as I discovered it (on my lowbie warrior Suul), yes. The memory of stepping onto Warsong for the first time is a really vivid one. That "calling" of the PvP path is what my guild is all about.

How long have you been playing WoW? Did you start out with a PvE focus, or have you always known you wanted to PvP here?
I started a year after the game came out. My idea of PvP before WoW was Mortal Kombat or Quake. I didn't fully grasp that there would be a seriously fun way to PvP in the game when I made my first character. I had a feeling I'd find more mature players on an RP server, so I went to Shadow Council for that reason alone. Staying on the RP server has been a real challenge, considering the way I enjoy the game the most, but I've made so many friends it's impossible to leave. It's amusing that an RP server produces some of the best twinks in the battlegroup. And, no, we don't roleplay.

A lot of gamers would scoff at the idea of PvP and WoW, saying that WoW's PvP is watered down and that FPS is where it's at for "real" PvP. What's the attraction of WoW PvP for you?
I guess I got burnt out on the same kind of repetitive thing that is FPS, but I have a lot of respect for players who excel at it. It's absolutely clear that FPS games are where there is true balance, and I wouldn't argue with someone saying it takes more "ability" to be the best at those kinds of games. However, I really like the randomness, the chaos of WoW PvP. I especially love battlegrounds, for example, which presents a unique situation every time because of class, gear and skill diversity.

Let's go ahead and open the can of worms: Many players consider PvPing at max level in a lower-level bracket -- "twink" PvP -- to go against the game's intended dynamics and approaching (or even crossing the line outright) cheating. What would you say to those critics?
That's like a can of sandworms from Dune. There are a lot of twink-haters, and they are extremely, uh, vocal. I've never quite understood the confusion players seem to have that one way Blizzard intended the game to be played was for you to spend your "career" in a particular bracket. These veterans who carefully select their gear and enchants are hard to kill by someone passing through the brackets ... It seems logical. There are only a very few things that I would agree go too far. I guess Blizzard tried to level the playing field with leg armor, because it's clear it was intended for everyone, but if you don't have it at all you are at an extreme disadvantage right off the bat. Mongoose should probably be a level 70 enchant.

You can send money to alts, there are level reqs for enchantments and the best gear available are all what they are -- as intended. Besides, Blizzard acknowledges that one of the most enjoyable things about twinks is the process of making one. Drysc once said, "I think the biggest draw [to lower brackets] is that it's a unique challenge to build a character with a very specific constraint. You might find better balance or more simplistic enjoyment from limited abilities and talents. Finding the perfect item for a specific slot and figuring out how to get it while gaining the least amount of experience possible so as not to pass the level you're attempting to maintain."

The road to a "perfect" level 70 PvP character is veerrrry long and hard. You can complete your twink in a relatively short time, and it's a great feeling, like having a complete set of tier 0.1 gear.

Lay it out for us: What are the differences and specific challenges of playing in each level bracket? What makes playing at level 19 different from 29 ... 39 ... 69 or 70?
Well, level 19 is the most limited. I come from a semi-pro Magic: The Gathering background, where tournaments and casual play are based on certain restrictions. Level 19 is like working with the most basic abilities, and you learn to win within those constraints. I was around when the first twinks were emerging and we were still figuring out the best possible gear. These days, there are a zillion Night Elf Rogues named Legolaas with all the same gear and no skill.

Level 29 is similar to 19 in a lot of ways, but the gear selection is broader and there's less disparity between rogues and everyone else. Level 39 is when rogues come back to own you and the damage scales waaaay up, while the survivability doesn't quite so much. There are some key abilities that help make damage classes in particular shine -- oh, and there is the Pendulum of Doom (anyone have one for sale out there? :P).

I've heard 49 is when classes get their "win" buttons -- and of course, mounts, which certainly makes AB more tolerable. Level 59 is interesting because of all the easy-to-obtain BC greens. Level 60 is now a twink bracket, and it's actually pretty wild -- you don't have to worry about XP (if you don't have BC expansion), and you get your friends to run you through MC and so on to get mad epics.

I spent quite a while at 69 and loved every minute of it, mainly because not very many people even thought of the idea at first, so I felt really overpowered. I really encourage everyone to pause at the *9 brackets for a while, especially if you only have one main, because you'll only be that level once. Also, it introduces you to the concept of gear-based leveling, whereby you seek out specific items from quests and instances while you approach the next bracket. You don't have to be a complete twink to do well, with the 19 bracket being an exception.

What are your various PvP characters? Where do you spend the most time now?
All my twinks are warriors (Suul, 19; Assault, 29; and Conqur, 39), and my main is a rogue (Angrenous). The 39 brackets is my favorite right now, but I am enjoying the tournament realm as well.

What do you think about the recent tweaks in 2.4 to AV and WSG? What's still lacking in those battlegrounds?
The AV changes don't seem that significant. I am really confused why you can only join as a "party" and not as a raid. Our realm is known for premade AVs, actually, and they are a lot of fun! The Warsong changes are rough for some and there has been some significant backlash, mainly because games can get drawn out because of the opposite reason of turtles. Personally, I am happy. I can't tell you how good it feels to end the constant turtling the Alliance has always done. Bring your stupid prot Paladins; I'll still kill you through heals if you have the debuff!


What about the Arenas? What's working well right now, as designed, and what needs tweaking from Blizzard?
While I've played enough 70 arena to get gear, I've only managed to get up to 1800 once, so every chance I can, I try to get better at the highest level and I admire and learn from those with more skill than I. I've helped some 2k-rated players roll twinks, and they take a while to get any good, especially with understanding the best possible gear (it's sort of spelled out for them by Blizzard for level 70 PvPers).

There's also a lot of interest in 70 premade battlegrounds, which I wish would be implemented on a tournament level. However, on my realm it seems that the higher-rated arena players don't play in a lot of battlegrounds, except for dailies and grinding honor. What I've learned from this is logical, which is that it takes dedicated teams who want to play a lot of games a week. The reason I succeed in battlegrounds is because I have played thousands of games (well over 100k kills lifetime). If you don't have a specific set of talented players who are dedicated to arena teams, you won't get far. Likewise, a coordinated, experienced premade in any bracket can destroy similarly-geared greener opponents.

Arena play in the twink brackets is a real blast by the way, but don't head in there at 19 unless you have the Arena Grand Master. I've been in some epic matches and also discovered some of the best talent in the battlegroup through twink arena. It's a blast to fight other Horde you have gotten to know. A lot of times, people will log onto each other's Vent servers and figure out ways to coordinate. The twink battlegroup scene is a lot more developed and personal than the 70s -- just look at the forums! It's got its fair share of drama, which is pretty funny and just adds to the kind of self-mocking chest-thumping that goes on. I mean, hell, we call ourselves twinks? If you can't laugh at yourself, you aren't playing the game. :P

One piece of advice: it's a real bitch to organize twink arena tournaments. If Blizzard set up some kind of create-your-own-invitational that permitted arena play between non-70s, I'm sure a lot of veterans would get excited about playing their twinks again.

Any other comments about lower-level PvP?
The most talented twink players from both Horde and Alliance always seem to turn out to be really cool people once I meet them in Vent. Some of the most talented players from the 70 bracket aren't (although I was correct about the RP server having more mature people). I'm not sure why that is, but there's so much negativity in the game at 70 it's a big turnoff for people like me who are known for relaxing and having a good time, actually "playing" the game and trying to make friends in the virtual world. It's incredibly fun when you have a group of the best players in the battlegroup.

At one time or another, I've had the privilege of running with pretty-much-unstoppable premades in each of the 19, 29 and 39 brackets. I wouldn't trade those memories or accomplishments for anything in the game. The time spent in Vent hamming it up, the epic two-hour battles that hinged on a single play, the rivalries ... Twinks lend themselves to "play when you wanna" and "have a good time." Pretty stress-free. I've been around the 'net since it began (yeah, I'm pretty old for a twink, at 35), so I'm really used to trolls and people who think you don't have the right to have fun how you want to. Twinking is fun for me and many others and no amount of hating can change that.

I've accomplished so much on my server and have earned a lot of respect and made many friends that will last the entire time I play the game, which is all that matters. I just wish people would lighten up -- although your readers seem to trend towards the light-hearted gamer. I absolutely loathe the term "twinks." I even tried to replace it with the word "tweaks," but that failed miserably. I don't know who is responsible, but I'd do anything to meet them in Warsong and camp their face.

Peek behind the curtain with 15 Minutes of Fame, from the guy who's won the Gurubashi Arena chest booty event more than 700 times, to the creator of WoW graphic novel Gank Frank, to Noor the pacifist player (who's leveling up without killing anything). Or tip us off to a player you'd like to read more about by e-mailing us at 15minutesoffame AT wowinsider DOT com.

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