Updated for Warlords of Draenor
See the linked pages below for builds, gems, and notes on the individual specs. This page is far from a comprehensive guide, but will point you to the appropriate pages on this site that have far more detail.
Death Knights are one of the strongest PvP classes in the game, boasting high damage both consistent and burst in addition to self heals, silences and other spell caster/healer controls, as well as a few self and team buffs.
- Blood spec PvP – Very tough
- Frost PvP – Very nice damage, not as tough as blood.
- Unholy PvP – Master of Disease with a plagueborn pet.
Druids are one of the, if not the, most veratile classes in World of Warcraft, and this carries over into the Arena and Battlegrounds making most druids capable of accomplishing a myriad of roles regardless of their talent build.
The three viable builds for a PvP druid are Balance, also known as ‘Boomkin’ after the form it uses, Feral, which makes the most use of Cat and Bear form playing while rather like a rogue/warrior hybrid, and Restoration, a stereotypical healer with an emphasis on HoT (Heal over time) spells.
It’s important to remember that whichever talent build you choose to follow a druid always has access to decent heals and at least a few other utility spells that any Druid would do well to make use of if they want to be as effective as possible. For example, part of what makes a Feral Druid a druid rather than just another melee DPS is the fact that they can quickly shift in and out of caster form to heal themselves and root enemies giving them greater control over the battlefield.
- Feral Cat PvP – teeth and claws of massive gankage. As mentioned above, Feral druids have the class defining stealth ability of a rogue in addition to the strength and durability of a warrior when in bear form.
- Balance PvP- Balance druids or Boomkins, as they’re sometimes called, are a dedicated caster class similar in some senses to a wizard or warlock. A Balance druid keeps his distance from enemies using abilities like Entangling Roots and Typhoon while blasting them with a variety of offensive spells.
- Restoration PvP- Lurk behind your damage wall and make them unkillable. Restoration druids are healers, providing their team with a wealth of HoT effects that can stack to provide a good deal of life back per second.
Hunters are a ranged DPS class with some of the best burst damage in the game, but also a relatively high level of skill demanded to properly utilize their abilities to the fullest. Hunter play is designed around avoiding close contact with the enemy at all costs and they have a good number of abilities such as traps and Disengage to help them do that.
- Marksmanship PvP – Lots of damage and good “stay away from damage” skills.
- Survival is the trap master and has a few advantages over the other Hunter specs.
- Beast Mastery Hunters have very good damage output and a respectable burst with a good number of ways of damaging an opponent both through their pet and personally.
Mages are among the best PvP classes, admittedly this is primarily as Frost, but also occasionally as Fire under the appropriate circumstances. Arcane Mages have immense burst damage, but lack survivability. Fire Mages have great AoE and mobility, but are vulnerable to dispel, and Frost Mages are simply the most effective, possessing both good damage and a wealth of survivability tools.
- Mage PvP overview
- Arcane PvP – Lots of damage, but squishy.
- Fire PvP – Fire is a fun to play build with lots of mobility and burst damage potential, excelling in Battlegrounds both random and rated.
- Frost PvP – Built for PvP. Good damage and lots of control and survivability.
- Mage PvP Gear – Just the gear, what you need for the current PvP season.
Paladins are a powerful hybrid PvP class capable of dealing effective burst damage as Retribution or acting as perhaps the number one PvP healer as Holy. Paladins are a natural addition to practically any team composition and can excel at the highest ranks of the Arena primarily as healers.
- Holy Paladins are one of the toughest, most capable PvP healers in the game.
- Holy Paladin PvP Gear – Just the gear, what you need for the current PvP season.
- Retribution Paladins boast tremendous burst damage, but outside of their burst windows are somewhat lacking in the ability to pressure an opponent.
- Protection Paladins fail to contribute much in the Arena, but can be marginally useful in the occasional Battleground as flag carriers and tanks to hold onto a flag/point such as in Arathi Basin or the Battle for Gilneas.
Priests are useful casters in PvP either as Discipline for support healing and utility, or Shadow for damage. Shadow Priests benefit from the ability to throw out a few heals if necessary, and have good DoTing ability for group fights. Discipline has a number of tools for effective PvP healing and beats out Holy under most circumstances.
- Shadow Priests are capable PvP DPS and can do fairly well in Battlegrounds, as well as be quite effective given the proper Arena compositions.
- Discipline is the go-to spec for Priest PvP healing.
- Discipline Priest PvP Gear
- Holy has some useful healing abilities, but simply can’t compare to what Discipline has to offer in survivability and utility, which is why it’s rarely chosen as a PvP spec.
Rogue is my favorite PvP class bar none. The combination of excellent control abilities such as sap, stuns, and blind along with escape tools like vanish make it one of the best all around PvPers both in teams and solo. Rogue would be the class I recommend to someone looking to PvP solo queue in random BG’s, their myriad of escape tools making them ideal for playing without support.
- Assassination when played right, can be effective in PvP, due to excellent poison usage and talents such as Vendetta.
- Combat Rogue PvP – Hard mode, but lots of consistent DPS. It the Flavor of the Month in Draenor.
- The Subtlety Rogue is generally the best Rogue PvP build simply due to the massive number of tools you obtain with Preparation, Shadow Dance, etc.
- Rogue PvP Gear – Current PvP gear for all three Rogue specs.
Shamans are a hybrid capable of effective PvP play in a number of roles depending on which specialization they take. Shaman’s provide good damage-dealing, and even when not specced, Restoration can still cast some adequate heals if necessary. Totems make for good support and allow a Shaman to be a team contributor, regardless of specialization, in addition to CC ability via Hex.
- The Restoration Shaman is immensely useful as a PvP healer due to its mastery focused on delivering immense heals to targets low on health, something that can easily take a player about to die all the way to maximum health in a spell or two.
- Elemental Shamans are Caster DPS and play as you would imagine – destroying enemies from afar with a bevy of shocks and lightning bolts.
- Enhancement is an explosive burst melee style with a combination of melee and ranged attacks to blow down enemies.
Warlocks are effective PvP casters and quite able in PvP both Arena and rated Battlegrounds. Affliction Warlocks are the most sought after and a regular part of highly ranked Arena teams due to their ability to apply debuffs that last even when an enemy is avoiding line of sight, putting constant pressure on the opposition. Destruction and Demonology are less popular but still quite capable in Battlegrounds and, to a lesser extent, the Arena.
- Destruction is an acceptable PvP build for Warlocks and has in somewhat more recent times become more viable with some buffs here and there.
- The Affliction build boasts good sustained damage along with high mobility and survivability.
- As a Demonology Warlock your pet becomes a more significant part of your damage-dealing, and you have access to a powerful cooldown in Metamorphosis.
Warriors are a class with very mixed performance, capable of devastating opposition given the right circumstances such as appropriate support. However, Warriors are also prone to failure when in solo situations as they are quite vulnerable to kiting by classes such as Mages and Hunters. Warriors are also very gear dependant and have limited build flexibility.
- Warrior PvP page – Lots of Warrior tips, macros, more.
- Arms is traditionally the go-to build for Warrior PvP due to its emphasis on burst damage, which is king in situations where you need to out-damage healers and take down enemies swiftly.
- Arms Warrior PvP gear – Current season Arms PvP gear, this page also applies to Fury Warrior PvP
- Fury Fury is a lacking PvP build for Warriors simply because it’s missing a number of the tools present in Arms (bleeds, mortal strike, etc.) and has more of an emphasis on consistent damage as opposed to the burst of Arms. Fury is doing quite well in Draenor PvP.
- Protection Warriors are tough and Warlords has introduced Gladiator Stance and a few other changes, making Protection much more PvP viable.
PvE or PvP Realm?
Assuming that you’re making a brand new character, or are thinking of transferring to a new server, there is this one question to answer.
In a PvE realm there is no Player Vs Player combat except in rare occasions. For example, if you do a battleground you will exit as “flagged for PvP.”
In a PvP realm you can be fighting other players at pretty much any time. The problem with this is that they are probably of a far higher level than you. Yes, max level characters troll lower level zones, looking for easy kills.
Way back when, when the level cap was 60 and gear was far less powerful, this wasn’t so bad. A bunch of lower levels could gang up on a max level character and kill him. No longer.
Even if the opponent is more or less the same level (rare, but it does happen) the attack will almost always be from ambush. You’ll be fighting some monster and then you’ll also be fighting an enemy player. If you have a clue and good gear than you have a shot. That’s about as fair as it gets.
Are you cool with this? If so, then a PvP server might be fun. There will be occasional same level players you can attack and there are always lower level ones you can gank in a more or less cowardly manner. (Oops, did I let an opinion slip out?) Don’t feel bad about that, though. You will also be a target of that ganking until max level, and sometimes even then.
Draneor was largely designed with PvP in mind. Plan on it.
If you’re NOT cool with this then you want a PvE server. You will be able to walk by enemy players, regardless of level, and they won’t be able to do anything to you (assuming you haven’t somehow become “flagged.”)
General PvP tips, applicable to most classes. Even in Mists of Pandaria
Glossary of PvP Terms
This glossary was swiped from WoW Insiders’s glossary post and tweaked a bit. The full glossary is still on their site.
- RMP – rogue, mage, priest
- RLS – rogue, (war)lock, shaman (restoration)
- MLS – mage, lock, shaman (restoration)
- MLP – mage, lock, priest
- WLS – warrior, lock, shaman (restoration)
- PHD or PHDK – paladin (holy), hunter, DK
- FMP – feral druid, mage, priest
- LSD – lock, elemental shaman, restoration druid
- LSD2 – lock, restoration shaman, balance druid
- RRP – retribution paladin, rogue, priest (usually healing, could equally be a paladin)
- KFC – Kung-Fu Cleave — warrior, hunter, healer
- TSG – DK, warrior, healer
General PvP terms:
- blanket/silence: A silence debuff, something that prevents an opponent from casting. “Blanketing Priest!”
- burst: High damage applied over a short period of time.
- cap: Short for capture. If your team have just killed the EFC (Enemy Flag Carrier) they may be shouting “Cap!” a lot in chat.
- chain (CC): A chain of Crowd Control (CC;) using different CC abilities to keep a player’s character out of their control for as long as possible.
- cleave team: A team with, at least, two DPSers and a healer.
- cloned: Short for Cycloned.
- comp: The class makeup or composition of an Arena team. Such as, “My comp was RMP…”
- CC: or crowd control Spells and abilities that limit an opponent’s ability to control their character.
- CS: Short for Counterspell. “I’m CS-ed.”
- deep: Short for Deep Freeze. “I’m deeped!”
- DR: Short for diminishing returns; CC is subject to diminishing returns, so as you cast it repeatedly the CC time is progressively shorter until the opponent is temporarily immune to your CC. For example, three successive Saps. After that, it is reset.
- fake casting: Stopping a spellcast before it completes to trick an opponent into wasting their interrupt.
- farming: Repeatedly beating the same team and gaining points or rating. “We farmed that RMP.”
- FC/EFC: Flag carrier or enemy flag carrier in a Battleground.
- full: Refers to CC. “I’m sheeped, full” or “Full sheep on priest” means that the sheep in question is not subject to DR and is a full-length sheep.
- ganking: Killing someone in world PvP, normally from stealth or somehow unexpectedly. Suggests an strong advantage on the attacker’s side.
- global/nuke: To kill an opponent extremely quickly.
- griefing: Using world PvP to your (usually unfair) advantage to make another player’s game time unpleasant, such as high levels ganking lowbies.
- interrupt: Any ability which forces a school lockout. Pummel, Kick, Counterspell.
- juking, juke, juked: Stopping a spellcast before it completes to trick an opponent into wasting their interrupt. “He juked my kick.”
- kick: Interrupt “Kicking shaman!” “I’m kicked!”
- kite: To limit an opponent’s damage by keeping out of his range of offensive abilities, usually employing snares, roots and slows.
- LoS, LoSing: Using line of sight to avoid damage or other abilities being used on you. “LoS that hunter, I can’t keep you up.”
- opener: The abilities or spells with which you start or open a game.
- NS: Short for Nature’s Swiftness, an ability that allows druids and shaman to cast their next cast-time cast instantly. “I’m NS-ing you.”
- peeling: Using crowd control to keep opponents from attacking your teammates or peel them off the one they are attacking. “I need a peel.”
- pillar: humping A defensive strategy that involves avoiding the opponent by moving around or behind pillars.
- reset: Trying to regain health and mana so that a game is essentially returned to how it was at the start.
- sheep Polymorph opponent to a sheep.
- switch: Change targets to take advantage of poor positioning. Usually needs to happen at great speed. “Switching shaman, hard!”
- train: All members of the same team attacking the same target.
- trinket: Use a trinket that frees your character from CC, roots, silences, etc. “I can’t believe he trinketed my Sap.” Sometimes used to refer to humand and gnome escape abilities.
- tunnel: All members of the same team attacking the same target.
- turtle: Playing defensively. Games where both teams turtle are incredibly boring!
- win trading: Two or more teams working together to gain an advantage through the Arena queue system. Win trading is against WoW’s Terms of Service.
- zerg: Playing on the extreme aggressive as a group. A tactic used necessarily by triple DPS arena comps.