PvP Server Survival Guide

By: David "Xerin" Piner

Introduction to Player vs. Player Realms

In the creation of World of Warcraft, Blizzard noted that some players were not happy just fighting computer controlled enemies until they were level sixty. They noticed that some players wanted more then the security that they could definitely take out an equal level enemy. What is more dangerous the vile enemies controlled by the computer? Well other players of course!

That’s why two different server types were created. One for those who wanted to enjoy the traditional gameplay one expects in an MMORPG and another for those who wanted a little extra excitement in their gameplay. These servers are known as Standard PvE Realms and PvP Realms (PvE meaning Player vs. Environment (or Enemy) and PvP meaning Player vs Player). Their rulesets are as follows:

Normal Realms

All out PvP is contained within the battlegrounds. Any and all World PvP is coordinated through flagging ones self as “PvP” (/pvp command), entering any of the enemy capitals, joining a battleground, attacking enemy guards, or assisting (healing, buffing, etc) anyone currently flagged as PvP. The PvP flag ends after five minutes of no activity.

Player vs. Player Realms

Any player inside of a contested zone can attack another enemy player. Non-contested zones provide safety for their own faction. Anytime a PvP flag is set (attacking an enemy, entering a battleground, or entering a contested area) it will only be cleared after 5 minutes of being inside of a non-contested area (starting zones and major cities of your own faction). The only places that are safe is the major cities, starting areas, instances, and within your faction outposts spread outside the world (where you are protected by guards).

As you can see, the two types of realms provide quite the different play experience. While normal realms provide safety, they do not provide the extra difficulty and fun that PvP realms provide.

The Enviroment and You

World of Warcraft has a very rich and robust environment. That’s to say there are a lot of neat things like lakes, trees, valleys, hills, etc. The neat thing is that all of this can be used to hide yourself or your enemy. Here is a quick story of once time I killed three Alliance party members.

Going into Ashenvale on my level 18 Rogue, I found a group of three friends leveling in the vicinity of one another not far from town. Near where they were leveling was a lake with their bake to it. Hiding in the lake I waited until one of the party members was by himself. He was level 22 and I was really scared to take him on, so I waited until he sat down (with his back to the lake). I moved in and attacked while he was sitting. By the time he stood he was at half health and the advantage was mine. He quickly died and I went into the lake to hide once more.

I went to their next friend. Same situation, he sat with his back to the lake and I moved in for the kill. When I attacked, the third person jumped from behind a tree and backed his friend up overwhelming and killing me. I wasn’t able to spot the third friend from where I attacked from and my plan was foiled.

So as you can see, the environment plays an important role. For instance in this story the lake gave me extra stealth from being under the water making it harder to see the stealth outline if anyone came near. The first enemy had his back to me and was sitting. Sitting gives any enemy that hits you an automatic critical hit. His slowness in standing up (not being alert) is what lost a battle that he should have won. Then, through their own communication they arranged a trap. When I tried the same tactic again they were aware of it and used the trees to hide their third friend.

So as you can see you can use the environment as both a defensive or offensive utility. You should consider at most any time how the environment could affect you. Can you pull that enemy into some bushes and hide yourself when near a road? (Speaking of roads, they are extremely dangerous). Can an enemy be lurking within the waters to kill you? Can you use the ruins to hide yourself and ambush an enemy and can an enemy do the same to you?

Simple awareness goes very far in keeping yourself alive. I say simple because even with the importance of the environment, you shouldn’t sweat it too much unless you are fighting near a road or other heavily travelled area (instance entrances for example).

Survival Tips

PvP combat is hard to generalize since every situation is different; although these tips will greatly help you avoid fights more often!

  • You are automatically at a disadvantage if there are more enemies then allies. In these situations there are only two options, player better then the enemy or retreat and leave them to what they are doing.
  • Outpost guards will attack any enemy, therefore stay near outposts and towns when you are able too and retreat to town if your attacked by an overwhelming enemy.
  • Avoid the road while travelling at all costs, unless the enemies in the zone pose a greater threat then players could.
  • If you must choose between a durability loss to death to an NPC or a PvP death, always choose the PvP death. While you may loose pride in not dieing to an enemies sword, you will gain that you would have spent on repairs!
  • Foliage (trees, bushes, vines) and even buildings can provide cover from enemy eyes while you concentrate killing enemies.
  • If it becomes impossible to run then stand your ground. Never give the enemy the satisfaction of killing you while your back is turned to them.
  • Do like war movies and never sit with your back to an open space. First of all Rogues will have an easy time backstabbing you and getting automatic critical strikes from you sitting, but you will also be able to watch for enemies approaching.
  • Do not fear higher level players. Most of the time they have more important matters to attend to and will simply ignore you. If they do attack, remember that PvP resistance rates are very different. For instance, at level ten on a Mage I was able to snare a level sixty Warrior with my Ice Bolt. If a higher level player attacks, attempt to snare them (or some other form of Crowd Control) while you flee.
  • Be alert! Do not go AFK (away from the keyboard) anywhere in plain sight!
  • If an enemy player is making no hostile move and you wish to avoid combat, then leave them alone! Most of the time people do not want to go through the hassle of walking back to their corpse and getting back to what they were doing, or at least risk it.
  • Research other classes! For instance, did you know Hunters eventually gain the ability to track players on their mini-map? Check out some of our class guides (for instance Rogue and Hunter are good ones to look at) and look over what other classes can do. The best way to counter the enemy is to know exactly what you need to counter!
  • An offense is your best defense. If you have a shot at destroying the enemy, go for it!
  • When you see any kind of corpse, be aware that an enemy could be lurking about. Lots of enemies are killed by both factions and corpses are a signature trademark of someone being there. Friendly or not, best to be on your guard when approaching.

Greifing and Ganking

Ganking has many definitions, but it’s generally considered the moment someone attacks you when you have a major handicap (for instance fighting an enemy). Most of the time you can’t really recover from such a situation especially if you are spent fighting the enemy. There are, however, a few things you can do to better protect yourself.

  • Always attempt to conserve any “panic” buttons you have that aren’t necessary to defeat the enemy. For instance, Frost Nova can prevent your death if a Rogue jumps you and is a lot of times not needed to safely and efficiently kill enemies.
  • Never enter combat with an NPC if your HP isn’t at or near 100%. No sense in going into battle with a handicap that may be abused by the enemy.
  • Realize that enemies can take your health down to 10% and allow the NPC to kill you, causing you durability loss. This isn’t against the Terms of Service (but is really bad etiquette) so you need to watch out for it. Always try to die to a player’s blade to prevent durability loss. For instance, instead of fighting an enemy player, simply Polymorph it and attempt to gain distance.
  • When getting ganked, never waste consumables unless they will give you a fighting chance. Turning the tide of battle is awesome and showing someone that they messed with the wrong person is even better, but at the same time there is no sense in wasting money on a battle that is already lost.
  • Fight back! Don’t bend knee to some greifer! Contain the NPC you were working on or flee away while the player keeps chase. When the NPC is no longer in battle, take on the player!

There is another issue to speak of which is greifing and corpse camping. Corpse camping is another PvP mechanic that isn’t against the rules but is very bad etiquette. Corpse camping is basically when a higher level player (or a player who has a good advantage over you) hangs around your corpse and kills you when you spawn. It can be a very frustrating experience but there are ways to beat it!

The easiest way to beat it is to resurrect far away from where the enemy is at and attempt to flee from that point. In the same light, resurrecting behind trees or anything that can cover your retreat will work as well. Getting away from your corpse and leaving the enemy in the dust is the simplest way to avoid being corpse camped.

If that’s not an option then you can attempt to gain as much distance from the enemy as possible and flee dieing in a better location (better situated to resurrect at) or give it your best shot to run away.

If none of the above work then I have a very special secret tip that a lot of people in the community do not want you know. This works 100% of the time to waste the corpse camper’s time giving you the ultimate victory. This secret is really easy, all you have to do to claim victory is log off! Give World of Warcraft a break for a bit and do something else for a little while. When you log back on the corpse camper should be gone and you’ll be more rested for your future adventures.

Making it Through Outland

Outland is a harsh and rough place. Monsters, instances, and quests are often shared by both factions and there is an never ending conflict between everyone. The zones in Outland are rather large, but the giant population that resides within a handful of zones is always moving and always ready for a fight. All of the training for the first sixty levels really pays off here, in a nearly forgotten land.

The best advice in Outland is this. No offense will be your best defense. Live and let be as the saying goes. If you see someone of the opposite faction questing or moving about, just leave them alone. Chances are they are too busy leveling up to throw the dice and see if they can take you. That isn’t to say they won’t pull out their sword and give you a try, especially if there is a good opportunity.

Never share enemies with someone from the opposite faction and expect them to leave you alone. If they don’t get angry about the spawns then they will be looking for the perfect chance to jump you. If an enemy gets you done enough you can expect them to try and finish you off. That’s why you should never share without some members of your own faction around or the understanding that an unfair fight may be lurking around the corner. If you slay the enemy, it is without doubt that he will generally try to avenge his death, spawning out of death and lunging at you when you least expect it.

Speaking of unfair fights, be on the look out for higher level players moving your way if you are under level sixty five. An example is a Mage. Say you’re a level sixty Rogue and a level seventy Mage rides up to you. Chances are he’s going to Polymorph you followed by a Pryoblast, Fire Blast, Cone of Cold, and a Frost Nova. That’s generally going to be enough to finish you off, giving the differences in level. So your best defense would be to either avoid the fight all together or try your best to use some kind of crowd control (CC) against them. Remember, you still have a good chance of applying a spell or attack skill against someone higher in level then you.

Flying mounts can be a real pain sometimes in PvP. You may find yourself leveling up when all of a sudden you have an enemy right on top of you while you’re almost dead from an enemy. There is no real defense against this as it’s a very unfair tactic that will usually end with you dead. The best thing to do is to understand you can’t win them all and try your best to survive. There is little to no way to always watch the sky and see if an enemy is coming AND even if they do, it’s hard to know how, where, or when to run when a flying mount comes your way. They may be traveling or they may be planning to jump you.

Speaking of flying mounts, you may find some players using cliffs and other environmental locales to their advantage. A mage on a piece of floating rock may begin attacking you while you have no way to attack back. This is unfair, as well, (as said, Outland is a harsh land) but is without a counter. Simply run away from where they are at. There is a range on spells and if you run out of their range then they won’t be able to attack. Not only that, but a combat timer will keep them from flying away. If they jump, they will probably take a good hit to their HP. So running is a great thing to do.

Most importantly, the best thing to do is be alert, be prepared (have plenty of potions), and above all else realize that every fight with a winner will have a loser. There is a lot you can do, using the basic strategies and a few Outland based tricks to get away and avoid conflict, but sometimes you just can’t win them all. Work at leveling up, getting stronger, and when you too are level seventy get revenge on all of those who slowed your progress.


Hopefully this guide has imparted enough wisdom for you to be the master of avoiding constant deaths at enemy hands. If you have some of your own tips feel free to email me at [email protected] with them to share them with the community!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our World of Warcraft Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.


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