Updated Wed, May 26, 2010 by Cyrak
An aspect of the game that every World of Warcraft player dabbles in eventually is Player vs. Player combat. WoW has a robust PvP system that supports player fights in most world areas as well as special instanced areas where players can compete on a more organized level.
The first thing you are required to do when you log into World of Warcraft is to select a server. There are two types of servers that you need to make note of; PvP servers and PvE servers. Player vs. Player combat can and does occur on both of these server types, but it is important to understand that on PvP servers nearly every world area other than the starting zones and cities is free for PvP.
If you're the type of player that likes the additional challenge of worrying about hostile players from the opposite faction while you're leveling then PvP servers are for you. They also offer you the opportunity to have some fun of your own at the expense of some poor player of the opposite faction.
If your major concern is to level and quest and immerse yourself in the lore of WoW without having to worry about being ganked, then the PvE servers might be a better choice. PvE servers offer you the option of 'flagging' yourself for PvP which allows you to participate in combat with other players who are flagged, but is not the dog eat dog dynamic of the PvP server.
PvP or Normal; pick your poison
It's important to know that this is not a life and death decision, mostly a quality of life one for leveling up and questing. You can always server transfer from a PvE server to a PvP server and vice versa.
Your choice of server type has no impact on participation in Arenas or Battlegrounds.
The Battlegrounds will be most players’ introduction to PvP. They are a series of instances that pit the horde against the alliance in 6 different objective driven games.
Warsong Gulch (10 player) - Capture the flag, glorious simplicity. You and your team will venture into the enemy base, grab their flag, and then return it while you still have possession of your own flag. The first team to 3 captures wins the game. This Battleground becomes available at level 10.
Arathi Basin (15 player) - A war for resources; players must control five 'flags' at five separate bases. The more flags you control the more points your team gains. The first team to reach 1600 resources will be victorious. This Battleground becomes available at level 20.
Alterac Valley (40 player) - World of Warcraft's first 40 player Battleground. The objective of this BG is to kill the enemy commander located deep in their territory. However, he is heavily guarded, and players may have to destroy the enemy bunkers or towers to make him more vulnerable. This Battleground becomes available at level 51.
Eye of the Storm (15 player) - King of the Hill meets Capture the Flag. Players vie for control of four tactical locations while attempting to bring the central flag to locations under their control. The first team to reach 1500 points wins. This Battleground becomes available at level 61.
Strand of the Ancients (15 player) - Players utilize seige vehicles and bombs to destroy a series of gates leading up to a relic of the Titans. Each faction takes turns on offense and defense and the team that reaches the relic the fastest wins. This Battleground becomes available at level 71.
Isle of Conquest (40 player) - Players must commandeer seige engines, catapults, and airships to seige the enemy's keep. Only once one of the main gates of a keep has been destroyed will their commander become assailable. The Battleground is won when the enemy commander is killed. This Battleground becomes available at level 71.
When you join a BG by opening the Battleground tab (default bind to open this menu is "H") you'll be placed in a bracket that contains people in the 10 level grouping that you're currently in. For example, if you join a Warsong Gulch game at level 15 you'll be facing players between levels 10 and 19.
Each battleground's objective is unique, and some are quite complicated. If you'd like to know more about an individual Battleground, or get some strategies and tips that will aid you in victory then click the titles to be redirected to our Battleground guides.
Battlegrounds reward you with Honor Points which can be redeemed for rewards that will aid you in your PvP conquests.
The Arenas are the current high end tier of PvP and are considered such because they offer the best rewards. Unlike Battlegrounds, Arenas operate on a ladder system which means that as your rating improves so will the quality of the opponents that you face. You must be level 80 to participate in rated arenas.
Blade's Edge Arena
The Arena format allows you to form teams for 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5 combat. The more players on your team the more Arena Points you will be rewarded for a team of the same rating.
The Arenas have been disparagingly called a "duel in a box" by some because that's essentially what they are at their most basic. You and your teammates are placed in one of 5 different Arena maps. You'll begin in a staging area where you can freely cast buffs, summon pets, and create consumables like healthstones or mage food without incurring a mana cost. After 60 seconds the doors to the staging area will open and you'll be faced with the enemy team. In order to win an Arena you must annihilate the opposing team to a man. After that the game will end and you will receive a rating boost for your team that corresponds with their rating and yours.
If you want to practice your PvP skills in this format without committing to a team there is a "skirmish" format available that will allow you to queue alone or with friends against random people in unrated matches.
After each Tuesday server reset your team's Arena rating will be used to reward each of you with Arena Points that can be used to purchase the best PvP gear that WoW has to offer.
As mentioned earlier, if you participate in Battlegrounds and rated Arenas you will receive points that can be used as currency to purchase gear. Typically the gear can be divided into two categories 'set pieces' available from Arenas, and 'off-set' pieces available from Battlegrounds.
The set pieces are a 5-piece collection of battle armor that grants additional bonuses for equipping 2, and 4 pieces respectively. Also available from Arena points are weapons, and items that are equipped in the ranged slot.
The Battlegrounds off-set pieces include a cloak, ring, necklace, boots, belt, and bracers. These are easier to obtain than the Arena pieces, but are extremely potent.
Battlegrounds Honor Points are also used to purchase the almighty PvP Trinket. This trinket allows you to instantly remove all forms of crowd control currently afflicting your character. This is a must-have for any new PvPer, but isn't necessary for Human players thanks to their racial ability Every Man for Himself that has the same effect.
A little Resilience packs a big punch
In case you were wondering what the point of accumulating PvP gear is when you could just PvE instead to gear up for PvP, the reason is Resilience.
Resilience is a super-stat that was introduced to the game fairly recently in an attempt to create separate paths of gear progression between PvE and PvP. Its effects are threefold: static damage reduction, reduction of the effects of mana drains and critical strikes, and reducing your chance to be critically hit.
"Get more resil" is a common retort when players complain about the absurdly high damage that they can take when fighting other players. Sadly, it has some basis in reality. If you find yourself frustrated that you are being instantly mowed down in Player vs. Player combat then it is likely that you are fighting players with an insurmountable gear advantage.
Luckily, all PvP gear comes equipped with generous levels of resilience, and a respectable amount is easily attainable within a reasonable amount of time.
If you're new to the game, expect to be preyed on by more experienced and better geared players before you finally come into your own. For this reason, you shouldn't get discouraged if you don't succeed at first. The more you learn about your class and the other classes the better equipped you will be to defend yourself. Good luck!