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Blood Sport: Gearing up for arena, Cataclysm edition

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Sport for arena enthusiasts and The Art of War(craft) for fans of battlegrounds and world PvP. Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women? C. Christian Moore, multiple rank 1 Gladiator, examines the latest arena strategy, trends, compositions and more.

It's the beginning of a new arena season. Recently hitting 85 myself, I noticed a lack of information about the best ways to acquire PvP gear for my upcoming adventures in Azeroth. Well, I've put together a little guide for you that I hope will aid you in whatever your PvP goals are this season.

Conquest points are the most important type of PvP currency in Cataclysm -- and they're awesome. They're incredibly easy to get, as you only have to win four or five arena games a week to get to the starting cap of 1,343. The average piece of conquest gear is bought for 1,579.4 conquest points, so even if you never break 1,500 rating, you'll be getting a new piece of epic PvP gear almost every week.

Try to save up early for your weapon, offhand, and relic/wand. These three slots are the only pieces of gear that can only be bought with conquest points -- don't make the mistake of buying other stuff with conquest points! You can just get a slightly inferior version of the other pieces via honor, but you might have to wave around that green or blue weapon for a while if you aren't wise about what you buy!

Rated BGs

Rated battlegrounds are very fun and a great way to learn which strategies are effective and ineffective. Moreover, they're an incredible way of meeting PvPers on your server for other forms of player killing.

After you reach your conquest point cap for the week, rated battlegrounds award additional honor. They gear you up while you gain valuable information and insight! They have my mark of approval for being awesome.

Random BGs

Random battlegrounds in the Wrath of the Lich King era yielded 25 arena points as an additional incentive to participate. However, random battlegrounds in Cataclysm do not increase your conquest point cap -- they simply award 25 additional conquest points (which are easy to get).

Don't feel like you have to do the random every day, as it's not a requirement for quick gearing by any stretch of the imagination. That being said, it's still a great way to get honor if you want to chain randoms together with some friends, but rated battlegrounds are so much more fun and efficient.

Baradin Hold

Baradin Hold is the new Vault of Archavon. Bosses within it drop epic PvP gear, although the fights are arguably more difficult than the old Wintergrasp bosses. With some solid heroic gear and a decent guild, you should be able to run this each week without too much trouble. Try to reserve PvP pieces if you can!

Especially early on in the season, Baradin Hold is a fantastic way to get a leg up on the competition by getting some lucky drops. Having five of the new PvP pieces compared to your opponent's three is a slight advantage, and arena is all about slight advantages.

Heroics and raids

The PvP weapons are very accessible if you use your conquest points correctly, but heroic and raid substitutes are extremely effective and in some cases (as usual) superior to their PvP equivalent.

PvE content is also a nice way to get powerful trinkets and certain off pieces that can make a big difference in arena. It's also nice to slay dragons just to get your mind off PvP for a bit. Doing PvP nonstop is great if that's your thing, but most of us need a break to refocus our minds.

Besides the benefits of some sweet gear, raiding is a great way to meet potential PvP partners.

Arenas

Arenas currently award a ton of conquest points for a very small time investment. A win can net you upwards of over 400 conquest points -- that is reason enough to give arenas a go in Cataclysm. Getting above 1,500 rating in arena is also less time-consuming than rated battlegrounds, as battlegrounds take much longer to complete and also award less personal rating per win. Arena teams are also generally easier to find than a solid rated battlegrounds group -- giving arenas a threefold advantage over rated battlegrounds when it comes to conquest points.

If you want to max out conquest points, look at starting a solid arena team of friends or trade channel partners.

Enchants and gems

As far as I know, the only PvP-oriented enchantment out right now is +40 resilience to chest. Everything else is preference.

I'm using +40 resilience gems in every yellow slot, +20 intellect +20 resilience gems in every red slot, and +30 stamina +20 resilience gems in every blue slot. Notice a theme?

Resilience is the way to go, especially when you're just getting started. If you're a naturally survivable class, you can cheat by wearing some PvE gear or gemming differently -- but resilience will be your most effective stat by far. As a bonus of having high resilience, you'll look like you're really well-geared. As unfortunate as it may be, trade chat currently cares a lot about resilience to quantify your PvP skill.

I'm at 3,395 resilience at the time of writing this article, although I'll be well over 3,600 come Tuesday (hooray for getting both off-hand and wand). 3,000 resilience will soon be a baseline requirement for rated battleground pickup groups, so make sure you're at least around that mark. Getting that much resilience isn't difficult and takes most players under a week to get there -- don't get discouraged!

Tol Barad

Tol Barad was recently hotfixed to counter some pretty absurd win trading.

Zarhym
As you're probably aware by now, an update was applied to Tol Barad shortly before the holidays which granted the attacking side 1800 Honor Points for a victory. While the goal with that change was to provide more incentive for the attacking forces to claim victory, it ultimately led to an undermining of the spirit of competition in Tol Barad. We've just applied a hotfix which has lowered the attacking faction's gain to 360 Honor Points for a victory. The defending faction will still earn 180 Honor Points for a victory.

We appreciate all of your feedback regarding this change. We'll continue working to make Tol Barad a fun and engaging PvP environment.

Here's what I wrote before this change (I usually write Blood Sport Sunday night or Monday morning):

The bar none best way to gear up for PvP is to keep track of when your team is attacking Tol Barad. Log on each time to queue and play the battle -- or use the bridge trick to net yourself honor if you don't get in (more on that later). Attacking successfully gives 1,800 honor which is more honor than your average piece of PvP gear.

Let me say that again: Successfully attacking Tol Barad awards you a piece of PvP gear.

If you queue for Tol Barad and don't get into the main raid, you can portal to Tol Barad and straddle the line between Tol Barad Penninsula and Tol Barad. If you enter Tol Barad at the right time (when your team captures all three points), you will receive 1,800 honor, the identical amount to a person within the raid.

Get in while the getting is good. Tol Barad will likely be patched or hotfixed soon to award significantly less honor.

Blizzard worked more quickly than I had assumed. Tol Barad is now simply another way to gain a mediocre amount of honor.

Have fun!

Remember, have fun! If you're not having fun PvPing, just stop for a while. There's nothing worse than getting burned out on PvP and not wanting to do it anymore. The entire reason to PvP in the first place is to have fun!

Make a deal with your teammates that after three straight arena losses, you'll all take a short break before you come back to the game. That gives you a chance to refocus on what's going on and give your mind and fingers a breather. Taking a break also stops giant loss streaks, which is discouraging for you and your team.

Tips
  • If you don't already have one (many players have the 153 resilience level 80 version), get a PvP trinket! It has arguably always been the most important effect within any PvP scenario, and Cataclysm is no exception.
  • Get the two-piece PvP bonus with honor gear as soon as you can. 400 resilience is a giant boost to survivability. The four-piece bonus is worse but still very worthwhile. After you get your two-piece PvP bonus, focus on upgrading your worst pieces of gear with honor.
Listening Music: Simon and Garfunkel -- when music was music.


Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing Donkey Kong? We'll steer you to victory with the best arena addons and let you in on some rank 1 gladiator PvP secrets. If you're looking for the inside line on battlegrounds and world PvP, read The Art of War(craft).

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