So we're getting to that time in the expansion. People are winding down a bit, relaxing their playstyles, taking a break from raiding after getting their last targets down and killing a certain dragon on whatever mode takes their fancy.
So what do you do? Why, PvP! Of course, you can take your beloved max-level main, convert all that valor you don't need after completely gearing yourself in 397s or better into conquest, and get on the PvP train. Your justice points, of course, convert to honor (not at quite such a good rate), and that legendary staff you got when Firelands was still cool will do just fine. Better than fine, in fact. (Grumble, grumble.) But my residual bitterness about PvE gear in PvP is not what we're here to talk about today, nor is max-level PvP conversion. No, my lovely reader, we're here to talk about twinking.
What on earth is twinking? Well, it's when people level a character ... then stop. They might lock their XP or just not actively level at max speed for a level or two. In PvP, twinking centers around Battleground brackets and Arena levels, and it's really good fun!
First and foremost, you need to know how to lock XP, if you want to. Simply visit Behsten for Alliance or Slahtz for Horde. Bring 10 gold with you. It should be noted that locking XP is definitely not a requirement for twinked PvP! On certain battlegroups (my main battlegroup sadly included), XP-locked Battlegrounds leave you with a wait time that is "undetermined" -- you're not getting in any time soon. Exploits that get you around it are just that -- exploits. Blizzard may well borrow Adam Holisky's Ban Hammer!
A good twinking level really depends on what you want to do. You may be aware that Battleground brackets operate in chunks of five levels -- so for example, level 15 to 19 is one bracket, level 20 to 24 is the next, followed by level 25 to 29. This pattern continues, predictably, all the way up to 84, when the next bracket is level 85!
So why am I telling you this? Well, the brackets inform fun twinking levels for Battlegrounds. When I say "fun" here, I mean that you're going to put yourself in a position where you're pretty overpowered in your bracket. Some may object to this, but if you've had a bit of a long day, pew-pewing cloth-wearers as a level 19 hunter is some pretty awesome stress relief. You'll need some more specialist knowledge to ascertain those relevant hot levels for different classes, and some may not have them at all. I'm informed that hunters are pretty great twinks all the way to level 60, so I'm going to be taking my sweet time with my little goblin.
And if you're feeling bad about making yourself deliberately overpowered, then do some Battlegrounds at levels ending in 5 and 0 as penance! And when you get your little hunter to level 19 and head into your first Battleground, you'll find out that everyone else is doing the same thing!
In an ideal world, your PvP twink would do every level that ends in 8 and 9 and every level that ends in 3 and 4 entirely by Battlegrounds, thereby amassing honor. Unless you're a human, that honor should initially be spent on a freedom trinket, which is available at all PvP levels from Sergeant Major Clate or First Sergeant Hola'Mahi -- but after that, save it.
What are you saving it for? Well, you're saving it for Arena levels! You'll see that Arena is strictly forbidden prior to level 70 -- but at 70, it's positively obligatory. It then becomes strictly forbidden again as you enter the Arena purgatory that is levels 71 to 79, but once you hit 80, it's on like Donkey Kong all the way to max level.
Now, I know that for a lot of people, leveling is a trial and winning the race to 85 is all that matters -- but it's late in the expansion, and your raid team doesn't urgently need another alt ... Take your time! Step into the Arena. I'll hold your hand.
So let's talk gear. If you're a regular reader of Blood Sport, you'll no doubt have heard me repeatedly reminding you about the requirement for resilience. Forget all that for a second.
1-to-69 Battlegrounds For your Battlegrounds, you really don't need to worry too much about resilience gear. For starters, before level 60, it pretty much doesn't exist. You might get a drop of a ring once in a blue moon, but you really shouldn't bother to farm resilience gear. What, no farming gear?! That's right!
However, that justice you have spare on your 85s? Use it to buy heirlooms. Buy carefully. Think about what you want in an alt rather than spending it all on your latest project. Are you a ranged DPS kind of guy? Or are you a a kill-you-in-the-face-with-an-axe kind of girl? A staff like the Dignified Headmaster's Charge is useful for a significantly higher number of classes than a Venerable Mass of McGowan, but if you hate ranged DPS and healing, the staff's not going to be much fun!
While we're talking heirloom gear, let's cover level 40 gear conversions for a second. If you're leveling a shaman who will wear leather until 40, then mail, you want a Mystical Vest of Elements for elemental and restoration. It will magically convert itself to leather pre-40, if your class can wear mail. If your class is a cloth- and then leather-wearer, it will stubbornly remain mail. How rude.
Another tip is to level your crafting professions. Those heirlooms? Well, at certain levels, you could enchant them, if you are or have access to an enchanter. Crafted gear from tailoring and the like can be surprisingly good to fill in the gaps around your heirlooms. You think it's not worth doing for one additional point of strength? Look at your total strength and consider it as a percentage ... better? Max out first aid as far as you can. Buy bandages you can use but not make (if any) on the Auction House.
70-to-79 Arena and Battlegrounds So you forgot about resilience temporarily? Good job! Now remember it again! If you want to hit the Arena at L70, you now have an interesting debate on your hands. Your heirloom gear is still pretty good; if you're facing up against people who aren't in heirlooms or even people who are in fewer heirlooms than you are, you've got a pretty good chance. But if you're up against people who have been this level for years and are in the full Brutal Gladiator set, you've got problems. To the best of my knowledge, there is no split between XP-locked players and non-XP-locked players in Arena, as there is in Battlegrounds. Ouch.
From personal experience, level 70 arena is really good fun. The affordability of gear means you can compete easily, and the bracket is 70-only, unlike the 80-to-84 bracket. Heirlooms are still great, so keep them as you fill in the gaps around them with honor gear. Level 70 PvP gear is cheap. A PvP chestpiece costs 175 honor. But if you haven't been very diligent leveling through Battlegrounds and are in a battlegroup where the XP-locked Battlegrounds are nonexistent, you'll struggle for honor. In slots where you have no honor gear and no heirlooms, try to have the highest stat gear you can. The earlier advice about professions and first aid still very much applies.
A brief word about the magic level 78. This is the point where Cataclysm green gear becomes available, and if you can get it, you should. This is a massive improvement in ilevel and stats, and you categorically will steamroll people who aren't wearing it. It's debatable whether heirlooms are ever better than Cataclysm greens -- do your own research there -- but I'd assume they're definitely not, with the exception of the 1-to-85 ones.
80-to-84 Arena and Battlegrounds This is where gearing gets really weird! You shouldn't be wearing your heirlooms anymore, really, except perhaps the 1-to-85 ones, as even Cataclysm greens will out-stat them. Don't make the mistake of spending your hard-earned honor on insanely expensive honor gear -- compare the best level 80 cloth chest for 1,650 honor with the level 81 mid-range crafted chest, if you don't believe me. And considering that you can Arena in the same bracket from level 80 to level 84, you're not benefitting much from that resilience gear.
However, if you're taking your twinking seriously, consider it. I know I got taken down by the occasional very practiced level 80 team that hadn't bought Cataclysm and had the full Wrathful set when I was 84 in greens and blues. Kind of embarrassing, that! But as a general rule, to have some fun, don't stress about grinding out crazy amounts of honor for casual twink Arena. Take the highest stat gear you can and have fun with it!
And then ...?
There are definitely other considerations. Tune in next time for more advice and tips ... unless I get a beta invite in the meantime!
Do you want to capture flags, invade cities, attack towers, and dominate the enemy for your faction? Do you dream of riding your War Bear with pride? We'll steer you to victory with secrets of Battlegrounds and Arena, prepping you with proven addons and keybindings that win! Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.