*Updated for Legion!
Gearing For PvP In World of Warcraft
Starting PvP for the first time can be a little daunting. The system has changed so many times, and Legion brings yet another change. Currently there is no more ‘PvP gear', it's all just gear now. If you want to get any old tiers of PvP gear, you'll need to farm Battlegrounds and Arenas for something called a Mark of Honor.
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How To Get PvP Gear 1 to 89
Old PvP gear takes a special currency called a Mark of Honor to buy. Each piece costs several of these, all of varying amounts. Battlegrounds and Arena Skirmishes are the only way to to get Marks of Honor while leveling, and they award XP too. Initially you only have access to a few battlegrounds, but as you level up, you will unlock more and more. You can find the PvP gear vendors in Stormwind's Old Town district. In Orgrimmar, the PvP gear vendors are in the Hall of Legends, in the Valley of Spirits area. Some of these may make good upgrades while leveling! Honor caps out at 4000, so be sure to spend it before you reach the cap.
How To Get PvP Gear At 90
Mists of Pandaria has separate PvP vendors. Both factions vendors are on top of the Serpent's Spine Wall. The Alliance vendors are in Valley of Four Winds, and the Horde vendors are in Kun Lai Summit. The easiest way to get to them is with a flying mount. Otherwise, go to Shado-Pan Fallback (44.4, 90.6 Kun-Lai Summit). You do not need a flying mount to get to the vendors. Fly into the Shado-Pan Fallback flightpath, and be ready to ride awhile. If you did certain quests, it may be a little easier to get up onto the wall. Again, it is not necessary to get this gear unless you want to transmog it later.
How To Get PvP Gear At 100
The level 100 PvP gear vendors are in Stormshield/Warspear next to the entrance to Ashran. There are also level 100 PvP vendors in Ashran itself at your base. Generally speaking you will want to get a weapon first. It will make the biggest impact on most characters. After that, go for your set bonus. Finally, upgrade whatever is lowest.
If you are transitioning to Conquest gear, buy your weapon first. I can't emphasize enough the difference this will make. Next, rings/necklace/cape in no particular order. There are enchants available for these pieces, so buying these and enchanting them gives you a double-dose of upgrade goodness. And finally, upgrade into what you need most.
During the Warlords of Draenor expansion, you would put a Gladiator's Sanctum in your Garrison as soon as you hit 100. Ashran introduced a way to gear up through pseudo-world PvP. You get bones for each player kill in Ashran. As soon as you enter Ashran, you will join the raid group. While in a raid, you also get bones from the kills of other players in your raid. You can use these bones at the Gladiator Sanctum in your Garrison. Your Sanctum will reward you with PvP gear, Marks of Honor, and/or gold. You can also earn Strongboxes (green, blue, purple) and Conquest points from winning events in Ashran. I have won more than one box of the same type in a day, so i'm not sure exactly how or why the strongboxes are awarded. These strongboxes give you a chance at PvP gear, Marks of Honor, and/or gold as well. See the pattern yet? Ashran is still viable at the beginning of Legion, but it may be a little difficult to get into a group during off-peak hours.
Gearing for PvP at 110
Legion has implemented PvP templates for instanced PvP. This means that in Arenas and Battlegrounds, all Warriors are the same, all Druids are the same, and mages and rogues and so on. Everyone is using the same cookie-cutter template. You do get a small bonus based on your character's ilevel. For every 10 points above 800, you get a 1% boost, which caps out at 10%. Your goal should be 900 ilevel. Luckily at max level you get PvP gear any number of ways. World Quests, Dungeons, or even Battlegrounds and Arenas. It's all up to you how you want to acquire gear. The gear rewards will be based on the ilevel of your current gear, so you'll always be getting something comparable or close. Just pick what's fun to you at the moment and do it!
At max level, battlegrounds also award strongboxes whether you win or lose. The type of strongbox depends on how many points your team scores. At 500 points you get a bronze strongbox, 1000 points awards a silver strongbox, and 1500 points awards a gold strongbox. These boxes have a chance to drop PvP gear, Marks of Honor, and gold. You can get Titanforged/Warforged gear from these boxes, but it is extremely rare. Your first win of the day will always give a piece of gear. There is some RNG to it though, you may not always get an upgrade.
If you want to practice arenas, by yourself or with a friend, you can do Arena Skirmishes. These reward you a strongbox if you win, along with gold. These are similar to the other strongboxes that give you gear, Marks of Honor, gold, etc.
Max Level PvP In World of Warcraft
Step two for starting PvP: Dive right in! PvP at max level can be a little more complex than battlegrounds. Arenas are the most complicated, while Ashran is pretty straightforward. World PvP is about as simple as it gets – See Red, Make it Dead! It all comes down to what you want out of PvP. Large or small battles? Competitive or free for all? Everyone has to start somewhere, so don't worry about doing bad or messing up. You will see a drastic change between the time you start PvPing, and you get a full set of PvP gear.
Arenas are small scale, very controlled and balanced PvP. The exception is 2v2 arenas, which are not balanced, so do not expect a ‘fair' game every time. Generally people use 2v2 arenas to get points, and not worry about rating. Often they will say ‘2s for points', which means they do not care about rating. They just want to get the max rewards each week, so you should jump on that train too.
The more competitive end of PvP is 3v3 arenas. 5v5 is no longer available. You can find lots of players asking in General, Trade, and other channels for arena teams.
Ashran is part world PvP, part PvE. If you played the original version of Alterac Valley, you basically use NPCs to help you fight around the battlefield. Some open portals to move you around easier, while others help you assault the enemy base. Turn in your artifacts to the various NPCs to activate these battlefield bonuses. If you aren't sure where to turn them, use this order:
Druid Anenga – He will release Fangraal! Stormshield Calvary Valant Brightsworn – He sends a large group of knights on patrol! Harrison Jones – He'll split them up evenly amongst all the available options.
Check out my Guide On Turning In Artifact Fragments if you're new.
Exactly like regular battlegrounds, but in a ranked and competitive atmosphere. RBGs can be pretty competitive if you join a premade team, so it's common courtesy to be properly geared. It takes a lot of coordination to do this, so jump into an RBG team as soon as you can.
I like to describe world PvP as the American Wild West of PvP. You never know what's going to happen. Anything goes! You can recruit friends and try to control the battle, but you just never know how many enemies are going to show up. You can read my guide to world PvP here. Gear is especially important in world PvP, as well as having a group of friends on VOIP. At the start of Legion, tank classes and stealth classes reign supreme. There is no balance to world PvP.
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Prepare For An Epic Start To PvP
PvP is a really great feature in any game. You never know what another player is going to do. So while you're leveling, focus on getting comfortable with your class. Buy gear here and there as you level to 110. Once you're level 110, that's when the real PvP fun starts! Your PvP horizons will expand, and you'll be king of the ring (or hill!) in no time! I wish you good games, and great battles!
If you have any questions, drop 'em in the comments below.