I’ve written several posts in the past about lowbie pvp and twinking and things like that. There’s been a big discussion on twitter this morning about max-level pvp, and I mentioned that none of my max-level toons have any pvp gear. This seemed a bit strange to me, considering my recent spazzmoid of lowbie pvp posts lately, so I sat for a bit and thought about *why* i didn’t get into capped pvp.
I actually tried to get into pvp on my druid back in Wrath. It was the end of the expansion, and while we were still actively raiding, we had ICC on farm and were mostly going back for achievements like Ulduar drakes and things of that nature. So, in my downtime between raids, I decided to go into BGs to see what that was like. Sure, I didn’t have any pvp gear, but i was a damn good geared tank, and I felt like I could be pretty survivable like that, meanwhile going into kitty and doing some pretty good damage (because agility conversions for ferals are win). And I did okay. I wasn’t spectacular, and I *definitely* wasn’t topping charts for KBs/HKs/Damage or anything of that nature, but I did… modestly well. I also found out that I absolutely LOVE Strand of the Ancients… but that’s beside the point.
To me, the problem with getting into max level pvp has always been the gating system. You need pvp gear to perform well in pvp. You *could* argue that the same is true for pve (whether it be heroics or raiding or whatever), and you would be right, but the gating system is a lot more severe into pvp than it is to pve. Let me put this another way. When you first ding 85 on your toon, if you want to go the PvE path, you’ve already got a bit of JP saved up (most likely) from doing 5 man randoms, and probably some halfway-decent dungeon gear. You may or may not be able to get into level 85 heroics as soon as you ding, but if you CAN’T, then it’s a pretty easy fix. Run a couple more regulars hoping for good drops, or go buy some BoEs off of the auction house. You then run heroics for Valor points and heroic drops, working your way into LFR level, which you run for LFR-raid drops, and take THOSE into normal raids (some people can bypass the LFR altogether, if their raid team isn’t overly picky. It just depends I suppose).
So that progression looks something like: Ding 85 > Normal 5-mans > Heroics 5-mans > LFR (optional) > Raiding
Now, let’s take this SAME fresh 85, and decide we want to pvp with him instead. Naturally, your first instinct is to just queue into BGs and run them until your head falls off. Or you get enough Honor/Conquest for some good gear, whichever comes first (to me, they’re almost parallel). You may be able to buy some BoEs off of the AH for some blue 372 (i think?) ilvl crafted pvp gear, and you may convert some of your saved up JP from running dungeons to honor (AT A LOSS mind you) to buy a piece or two of gear. Hell, you may even have some honor saved up from just doing BGs at the lower level queues, so you might be able to get yourself a good 3-4 pieces between honor, jp converted to honor, and boe crafted shit on the AH. So you step into your first BG with your horridly mismatched gear.
Now here’s where the roads start to pull apart, pretty heavily. See, the pve person knows what he’s getting into. He’s facing a normal/heroic 5-man boss, which is attuned to right around his gear level. The pvp person, on the other hand, has NO CLUE what he would be getting into when he steps into that bg. He may run across a couple other people who are similarly geared, but at the same time he may run into a raid-boss equivalent DK with full Cataclysmic Gladiator gear, and the top weapon from Dragon Soul raid, who will basically laugh at your attempts to stab/shoot/cast him, and blow you up like an old M-80. So your pvp toon needs to deal with all difficulties, gear levels, and all kinds of shit running the gamut from other fresh 85s to arena masters, and in doing so, scraping up enough honor for himself in between massive amounts of dying to buy himself some pvp gear and eventually stepping into arenas or rated BGs.
So the pvp progression looks something like: Ding 85 > Run BGs > Run moar BGs > Arenas = Rated BGs.
Are you starting to see the discrepancy here? Your pve 85 can’t step into Dragon Soul and expect to meaningfully contribute, but you also won’t be seeing Ultraxion when you queue up for Heroic SFK either. Conversely, your pvp 85 can’t step into any BGs and expect to meaningfully contribute, but there’s a VERY real chance that you WILL see an arena-geared individual… or several. Hell, if you’re really unlucky, you’ll step in and face a full on premade and at this point you might as well just expect to get blown up a lot and hope you can take a few of them down for some honor until they decide to win.
Blizzard has tried, and probably will continue to try, to make gating into PvP less and less painful, and to a point i’m sure they WILL succeed, but it’s always going to be the same way, because there is no logical “pre-heroic” step. The best way to get pvp gear is to just jump in and pvp, and get kicked around a lot until you can scrape together enough points to buy stuff that make you effective. It’s kind of a flawed system, and honestly I don’t have any legitimate way to fix it. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not saying that just any shmuck should be able to dive right into BGs at level cap and be able to own face the minute they hit 85, but I do feel like there should be another step *somewhere* in there, that doesn’t require saving up 4k honor, and 4k jp (to convert to MORE honor) before you ding 85. It’s a punishing system, and that’s mainly why I don’t get into pvp at max level.