Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women? Blood Sport investigates the entirety of all things arena for gladiators and challengers alike. C. Christian Moore, multiple rank 1 gladiator, examines the latest arena strategy, trends, compositions and more in WoW.com's arena column.
Listening Music: One of Sinatra's best, My Way. I was going to choose a lesser-known Sinatra piece, but figured this one would be best for people who aren't huge fans.
Last Week: We talked about why arenas might be awesome in Cataclysm. I'm stoked to see what Blizzard has for us -- and that was before the talent change got my whistle wet.
This Week: I get a lot of common questions -- one of them concerns how to gear up for arena (or gladiator, etc). Cataclysm is still a while off, and now is as good a time as any to start PvPing. If nothing else, PvP gear is some of the best leveling gear around. The mix of offensive stats plus massive resilience gives you little downtime.
Do Wintergrasp every time it's available. Wintergrasp tokens can be exchanged for honor if you aren't going to use the gear that the tokens can buy. Several quests award lots of honor, as well; make sure to do them each time they become available.
If you are on a server where your faction is severely outnumbered, take the time to craft a PvP spec that can take advantage of Tenacity. For instance, if you are a warlock, you might want to consider a spec which uses Metamorphosis. I've heard of warlocks mashing Demon Charge into Immolation Aura, killing off 20+ players of the enemy faction and making 3,000ish honor in the matter of 10 to 15 seconds. Seriously, I've seen screenshots.
Vault of Archavon
Try to run both VoA 10 and VoA 25 every week -- and make sure there aren't too many of your class inside! Also, try to purchase your legs and hands on your main set last (just in case you get a sweet pair of S7 or S8 pants/gloves). You don't want to waste honor that you spent in battlegrounds on a piece of gear you can easily get from a raid boss.
BGs are a necessary evil to the Wrath PvPer. In Cataclysm, we'll see an influx of PvPers who enjoy doing BGs -- and perhaps many of us who have grown bored with them will be interested in WoW PvP again.
Try to form premades with other top PvPers from your server whenever possible; just don't go overboard on the amount you bring. Right now, the system seems to pair you up against other premades if you bring half (or more than half) of whatever amount of players the battleground can maximally hold.
For instance, if you're entering a Warsong Gulch (10v10), be sure to only bring three other players so you don't get stuck in a long queue. As long as you only have four people in your party, you should be paired up against other non-premades, which will put you at a distinct advantage. If you can get up to seven people, try queuing for Arathi Basin, Eye of the Storm or Strand of the Ancients.
Queuing randomly will also net you lots of additional honor, and you should queue randomly whenever you don't have a premade on hand.
Alternatively, if you don't like grinding BGs but you do have a fantastic raiding guild, you might want to hit up some buddies and do chain heroics. Even if you aren't a hardcore raider, doing a few heroics can break up the monotony of battleground after battleground.
I haven't personally done the heroic grind for PvP gear, but apparently it can be fairly easy if you're with a good group. My friends have chain run every single heroic in a day by taking a ICC-25 geared tank and a lot of AoE DPS.
Raiding is most important for weapons, as good PvP weapons aren't found anywhere other than the higher tiers of arena play. Try to get a nice ICC-10 or ICC-25 weapon to hold you over until you can get an amazing PvP weapon.
The best PvP trinkets generally come from raiding as well. Try to get a variety of trinkets you might want to try out in PvP -- that is, after you get your Medallion of the Alliance/Horde.
Make sure you meet all the requirements to get points every week! Even if you only get 200 points a week, if you're gearing up for four weeks by just doing battlegrounds, heroics, raids and Wintergrasp, those 800 arena points are going to come in handy when you start ascending the ladders.
You don't have to be exceptionally successful while you're just gearing up. Just shoot for a goal, attain it, set another goal and keep moving. Set your goals low at first; it'll help your confidence when you try to attain the next goal.
Dual spec for PvP
Unless your raiding guild requires two specs from you, try to use a secondary spec as a PvP spec. It will allow you to become better with your class and will also give you more honor per hour (sometimes drastically so).
The most important aspect in all of this is to have a blast. If you're not enjoying gearing up, just take a break and go do something else. Come back to it when you want to own some enemies. Sure, getting gladiator is awesome and everything, and that might be your destination when you set out to gear up -- just make sure you enjoy the journey.
- The Medallion of the Horde/Alliance is the most important piece of PvP gear you can attain (unless you're human). Get it first; the effect is invaluable. Battlemaster trinkets are also good, but spending honor or badges on other pieces of PvP gear is considered more efficient.
- Upgrade your worst pieces of gear first. If you have all blue gear except for your green ring, shoot to replace the ring first.
- Get your legs/hands and battlemaster trinkets last, unless any one of them is an enormous upgrade compared to a measly one.
- The furious main set is usually a very good investment from triumph badges or from honor.
- The Wrathful neck, back, wrist and ring don't require personal rating. The Wrathful belt and boots only require a 1,400 rating.
- Weapons are difficult to come by. The easiest route to a good weapon is usually raiding Icecrown. Heroic weapons are also fine to use for the lower ratings, but you'll want to upgrade your weapon fairly quickly to advance to more easily advance to higher ratings.
- The Icecrown reputation ring (Ashen Verdict) is extremely good -- look into using it and a Wrathful ring instead of two PvP rings (it might save you some time grinding honor or badges).
Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing Donkey Kong? Check out WoW.com's articles on arena, successful arena PvPers, PvP, and our arena column, Blood Sport.