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#1 Sep 10 2010 at 2:53 PM Rating: Excellent
13,048 posts
Greetings, and welcome to PvP 101. I've had a suggestion that more people would enjoy PvP if they understood more about what makes a good PvPer and had some tips and tricks that the higher-end PvP crowd uses.

This is going to be very basic info for a lot of people, but I think it could be very helpful to the PvP newbies among us. I'm going to go over the absolute basics to start, then move onto UI, key binding, and movement. This information will be kept up-to-date through Cataclysm, and anything you would like to see added is welcome as well. Keep in mind that this is PvP 101, though, so it's not going to be too advanced.

The following table of contents is broken up by section; there are four total posts that the info can be found in, so click on the subject you want and scroll through that post to find the info. I've also shown where each post is divided, as a sort of visual guide.

Table of contents:


Rated BGs

PvP Gear
Key binds

Further PvP "lessons"


Any class whose primary focus and spec is on healing others and themselves over doing damage. It seems counter-intuitive, but it is a necessary role to be filled in group PvP.

Any class who deals damage from range, whether physical or magical. This could be via direct damage or dots.

The last role is that of the melee, a role that involves getting up close to the enemy to deal damage. Often this role will come with an ability to get into range with other classes in order to deal damage.


Always fills a melee role. Rogues tend to be easily killed without their cool downs available, but are highly mobile and have a great many ways to control their target. Rogues have mediocre CC.

Always fills a ranged role. Mages are very good at crowd control (one of the best classes in the game at this), have high burst damage (lots of damage in a short amount of time), but when they run out of their cooldowns, they're killed very easily.

Druids can fulfill any role, and their role will depend on what tree they choose to spec into. Resto druids are very good healers, balance druids are similar to mages but have weaker burst and weaker CC because they can also heal, and feral is similar to a rogue and warrior but is also lacking some of the rogue and warrior cooldowns and advantages because they can also heal. As a note, Cyclone can only be casted in caster form or moonkin form; tree, bear, cat, and travel forms cannot cast Cyclone.

Always fills the ranged role, though do so through physical damage instead of magic. Hunters also are a pet class, and thus have a pet that they can put on players to either cause constant damage, or put on healers to cause pushbacks in their casting. Hunters have good—though not great—CC.

Is another class that fills the ranged role, and is also the other pet class. Warlocks tend to do most of their damage through dots, though it depends on what spec the warlock is. Warlocks have strong CC and decent survivability, even without cooldowns.

Priests can either fill the healing or ranged damage roles, and sometimes both at once. Shadow priests will do ranged damage similar to a warlock (without the pet and castable fear), though they can drop shadowform and heal if needed. Non-shadow priests tend to be discipline, and heal almost solely, though there are instances where they will be asked to help out by using Smite and Shadow Word: Death to help with damage.

Death Knights are melee damage primarily, though they do have an ability or two that can be used from range. They also can have a permanent pet if they're Unholy. DKs have very weak CC, but strong survivability and damage, as they also can do damage through magic, unlike rogues and warriors, the other two primarily melee classes.

Paladin can be either a healing or melee class. Paladins have very strong defensive cooldowns and have a natural resistance to most CC (Hand of Sacrifice will pop the paladin out of most CC as soon as the person they cast it on takes damage), in addition to having an immunity to all damage for 10 secs (bubble). Ret paladins are strong melees, and do damage through a mix of physical and holy damage (which can't be resisted through armor resistances).

Warriors are a melee class who are very durable, as they wear plate and can equip shields. They also have protective cooldowns that can be used to help out healers, and truly excel when they have a healer with them. Without a healer, they tend to not do very well unless they're fighting 1v1.

Shamans are very much like Druids in that they can fill any role based on their spec; elemental will be ranged, resto will be healing, and enhancement will be melee. Shamans, like druids, do not excel in their damage roles, though the addition of healing and some spells and abilities unique to them makes them still very viable.

Edited, Nov 4th 2010 6:57pm by Theophany
#2 Sep 10 2010 at 2:54 PM Rating: Excellent
13,048 posts
Crowd control; every class has at least one CC. All CC breaks under a certain amount of damage; most breaks on even one damage, some break on more. Unless noted, assume that the CC breaks on any damage. Below outlines CC from other classes. If I'm missing something about your class, please post and I'll add it in.

Rogue: Blind, 10 sec duration, 3 min cooldown (2 min with talents); Sap (target must be out of combat and rogue must be in stealth), 10 sec duration.

Mage: Polymorph, 10 sec duration.

Druid: Cyclone, 6 sec duration.

Hunter: Freezing Trap, 10 sec duration, 30 sec cooldown; Wyvern Sting (survival talent), 10 sec duration, 2 min cooldown.

Warlock: Banish (demons/elementals only, though this includes Druid tree form), 10 secs duration; Fear (doesn't break under damage until a certain threshold), 10 secs duration; Seduction (Succubus pet only), 10 sec duration; Death Coil (horror effect), 3 sec duration (3.5 sec with glyph), 2 min cooldown.

Priest: Psychic Scream (AoE fear), 8 secs duration, 30 sec cooldown, Mind Control (Priest can't control their character while controlling another and the other character becomes friendly to anyone on the Priest's team), 10 sec duration.

DK: Chains of Ice (95% snare at the initial cast, gradually allowing the person it's casted on to run faster as it wears off), 10 sec duration.

Paladin: Repentance, 10 sec duration, 1 min cooldown.

Warrior: Intimidating Shout (AoE fear, though the target does not run), 8 sec duration, 2 min cooldown.

Shaman: Hex (person casted on turns into a frog and can still move but cannot make any actions), 10 sec duration, 45 sec cooldown.


Rogue: Cheap Shot (must be in stealth), 4 sec duration; Kidney Shot (finisher), duration depends on amount of combo points, 5 CP = 6 sec duration, 20 sec cooldown; Gouge (incapacitate, breaks on damage), 4 sec duration, can be talented to 5.5 sec, 10 sec cooldown.

Mage: Impact (fire talent), 2 sec stun, needs to proc; Deep Freeze (frost talent), 5 sec duration (only usable on frozen targets), 30 sec cooldown.

Druid: Bash (bear form), 2 sec duration, 1 min cooldown; Pounce (cat form, must be in prowl), 3 sec duration; Maim (cat form, finisher), duration depends on amount of combo points, 5 CP = 6 secs.

Hunter: Intimidation (beast mastery talent, pet must be in melee range to target), 3 sec duration, 1 min cooldown. Scatter Shot (disorient, breaks on damage), 4 sec duration, 30 sec cooldown.

Warlock: Shadowfury (destruction talent, AoE), 3 sec duration, 20 sec cooldown; Intercept (Felguard pet only, demonology talent), 3 sec duration, 30 sec cooldown.

Priest: None.

DK: Gnaw (requires Unholy talent Master of Ghouls, requires Ghoul to be in melee range), 3 sec duration, 20 sec cooldown.

Paladin: Hammer of Justice, 3 sec duration, 1 min cooldown.

Warrior: Intercept (requires Berserker stance), 3 sec duration, 30 sec cooldown; Charge (must be out of combat), 1.5 sec duration, 12 sec cooldown; Concussion Blow (Prot talent), 5 sec duration, 30 sec duration; Shockwave (front AoE cone starting in melee range, Prot talent), 4 sec duration, 20 sec cooldown.

Shaman: Bash (requires Enhancement talent Feral Spirit, wolves must be in melee range), 2 sec duration, 45 sec cooldown.


Healing is a very hard concept to get around in PvP, as it's very rare that healers are able to stand still and just cast over and over, as they can quite often in PvE. To this extent, there are four different kinds of heals that are used in PvP at different times:

Instants tend to be hots, or heals-over-time. These are best put up before the person you're healing starts taking damage, as they tend to not heal in large bursts (hence heal-OVER-TIME, right?). Instants can be cast while moving, and are some of the most cast heals in PvP.

Short casts are 1.5 sec casts or lower that heal for a small to medium amount. The reason these are used over the longer heals is simply because you want to keep moving in PvP, whether it's to move away from a melee class that's attacking you, or you want to move out of line-of-sight (LOS) from a ranged DPS.

Long casts (also called "OH sh*t" heals) are heals cast when the person you're healing is dangerously low on health and you're desperate to keep them alive. Most of the time when casting a long heal, you're going to get interrupted, stunned, or CC'd as you're not moving and have to sit for 2-5 secs to cast a heal. Often one or two short cast heals are better than one large heal, as in PvP you're not trying to be perfectly mana-efficient.

Shields are a type of heal that only a few classes and specs can use, but they're very effective in PvP as they prevent damage and allow the healer to take their focus off the person they cast it on for a short amount of time.

As I mentioned with long heals, often two short heals or two short heals and an instant work better, as you can move between them, and they're harder to interrupt.

Getting interrupted is the last thing you want, as most interrupts lock you out of that specific spell school for a small duration of time (often 5 secs). Most of the best healers will learn to "juke" interrupts by fake-casting a spell; they take a step backwards to interrupt their spell after it's been going for half a second so they can draw the person trying to interrupt into casting their interrupt, which then goes on cooldown, and the healer can then cast their spell without fear of getting interrupted. It's an advanced move in PvP, but is a good ability to have.

Here is a great thread that will give you an idea what good healers are looking at and doing in PvP.

Interrupts/Silence Effects

I am unfamiliar with all of the classes specific interrupt abilities; if I'm missing one, please let me know.

Stuns, incapacitates, CC, disorients, and knockbacks/Death Grip work to interrupt casting as well, but will not cause a spell school lockout.

Rogue: Kick, 5 sec spell school lockout, 10 sec cooldown.

Mage: Counterspell, 8 sec spell school lockout, 24 sec cooldown, silences for 4 secs with Arcane talent.

Warlock: Spell Lock (felhunter pet only), 3 sec silence, 6 sec spell school lockout if target is casting, 24 sec cooldown.

DK: Mind Freeze, 4 sec spell school lockout, 10 sec cooldown; Strangulate, 5 sec silence, 2 min cooldown.

Priest: Silence (shadow talent), 5 sec silence, 45 sec cooldown.

Hunter: Silencing Shot (marksmanship talent), 3 sec silence, 20 sec cooldown.

Warrior: Pummel (requires Berserker stance), 5 sec spell school lockout, 10 sec cooldown; Shield Bash (Prot talent, requires shield), 6 sec spell school lockout, 12 sec cooldown.

Shaman: Wind Shear, 2 sec spell school lockout, 6 sec cooldown.

Blood Elf: Arcane Torrent (racial, AoE), 2 sec silence, 30 sec cooldown.

Edited, Sep 10th 2010 1:55pm by Theophany

Edited, Jan 9th 2011 2:54pm by Theophany
#3 Sep 10 2010 at 2:54 PM Rating: Excellent
13,048 posts
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#4 Sep 10 2010 at 2:54 PM Rating: Excellent
13,048 posts
PvP Gear
Generally, in PvP you want a stat known as resilience. This is obtained through several ways: PvP gear obtained through honor or arena points (or a combination of the two), enchants, and gems.

The resilience cap is 1415. 900+ is considered a decent amount for PvP so that you don't get bursted into the ground. Less resilience can be used by certain classes, but it's generally wise to use mainly PvP gear for PvP.

User Interface
In any decent discussion about PvP, UI will always come up as it's an integral part in making information easier to process and makes timing much easier. Things like knowing when your Kidney Shot will end so you can put up a Dismantle, Evasion, or Vanish; even more obvious, knowing when a Blind, Polymorph or other CC will end so you can chain another CC onto it.

Other concerns will be timers in BGs to know how long something has before it's capped, how long before the BG is over (and who will win at that time), or how long you have left on your cooldowns are all important information.

Without going too in-depth, here's a screenshot of my UI out of combat and with my unit frame addon in configuration mode:


And in combat:


Some things you will quickly notice are:

1) My unit frames are incredibly easy to see; they don't have portraits, animations, or anything crazy. So often you'll see crazy unit frames that while they look awesome, do nothing for you because you want to stare at them the whole time. Keep your eyes off your bars 98% of the time.

2) I have a minimalist setup. This isn't because I like it (well, okay, it kind of is), but it's because the more screen I can see, the more I can see my enemies and see where they are.

3) I show a couple bars. This is because I show cooldowns on them. I could play without them, and often have in the past.

4) All of my timer information is centrally located on my screen, along with my combo points. Exceptionally important because you don't want to have to be looking all over the place trying to find information you need to know.

5) Too many addons kill you. More addons use up more of your processor and RAM, making your computer slow down, making your reaction times slower, making you dead in PvP.

See how I did that?

A couple quick notes and then this section is over: I NEVER use Curse. In fact, I hate everything to do with that company (and it still pisses me off that they bought MMO-Champion, but that's another thread).

I will use Wowinterface over them every single day of the week. If WoWI doesn't have it, it's not worth having.

Mods I actively use in PvP are: Pitbull (unit frames), Dominos (bars), OmniCC (cooldown timers), DoTimer (CC/debuff tracker), Gladius (arena frames), Capping (BG timers), and nugComboBar (combo points). That's it.

Key binds
Here's one of my biggest pet peeves and also methods of success. Efficient keybinding can shave as much as half a second off of your reaction time, which is huge in PvP at any level. Taking half a second longer to find Kick or reach for it and press it can mean missing an interrupt that will eventually cause you to die.

To that end, let me tell you how I keybind, and from there, you can figure out how to bind your own keys.

Here's what my hidden bars look like, so you can see what I'm referring to when I talk about my keybinds:


As you can see, I don't use ANY numbers over 5. That's because that's what my fingers can reach from my position on the WASD keys. I also choose not to rebind Q, E, or R, as I've been playing with those keys for more than five years now, and it would make me awkward.

So here's a run-through: I have a G5 mouse (honestly the best gaming mouse in the world), which has two buttons under the scroll wheel that can be re-bound. I bound them to Page Up/Down, which you can see as PU and PD on the screenshot.

I also unbound the scrollwheel from the zoom distance. I keep my zoom distance pretty standard (and fairly far), so I don't need to mess with it on the fly.

I've re-bound my scrollwheel to abilities. You can see it as WU/WD (wheel up/down). I also have Alt, Ctrl, and Shift bound as modifiers to the scrollwheel. If I use WD normally, it will stealth/unstealth me. If I use Alt-WD (hold all while moving my scrollwheel down), I'll use Eviscerate.

You can even add other combinations to those, to add even more buttons. As a rogue though, I only need Alt, Shift, and Ctrl.

The G5 mouse also has two buttons on the side; Buttons "4" and "5". You can see their binds as B4/B5. I've also added Alt, Shift, and Ctrl modifiers to those.

So on my mouse alone, with the three modifier keys, I have about 20 keybinds, with the potential for more. These are binds that aren't awkward to reach, I can press pretty much instantly, can comfortably spam, and don't need to move my hands at all to use.

Oh, and I can keep my character moving as normal while using them.

For the rest, I use typical letter keys and number keys. 1-5 as you can see, are CloS, Evasion, Sprint, Vanish, and Prep. I also use ` (the key next to 1) for shiv though I almost never use it anymore. F, G, V, T, Y, U, I, and O all get used for either gear sets, abilities, or engineering items.

Mounts are * and -, up at the top of my num pad. Why? Because when I'm using them, I'm never rushed. I'm always out of combat, able to move my hands, etc.

So there you have it, my keys to keybinding. Smiley: facepalm

Oh! Before I forget, put your PvP trinket somewhere that you can twitch-activate it. Mine is one of the buttons right below my scrollwheel, so I move my index finger to it and voila, I can trinket right as someone blinds/fears/cyclones me.

Movement seems pretty basic and a pretty easy concept, but it's actually very complex when you get into world PvP, BGs, and arena. Duels are generally on a flat, open surface so that classes can't LOS.

Something that needs to be understood before you can become a truly skilled PvPer is that dealing damage 100% of the time, unlike in PvE, is not the best way to PvP. I have bandages (and now, after 4.0.1, Recuperate) to self-heal, and ducking out of LOS can allow me to regain HP that I've lost. This is something that every class can take advantage of.

Also of concern when thinking about movement is your keybinds: following the keybind section, you should be familiar with what I do for keybinds, but you probably don't know or don't understand my priority for them when I go to playing a new class (I can generally PvP pretty well on a class within 15 minutes of sitting down to figure out my keybinds and how the class works). What does this have to do with movement?

When you select your keybinds, make sure instant abilities that you need to be able to use on the run and while you're moving are easy to reach while being able to move. See if you can hit Arcane Shot, or Shred, or HoJ while spinning a 360 turn while jumping in the air and continuing the direction you were going; that's my test. Fortunately for me, all rogue abilities are instants, so I don't have to worry too much about them. I do prioritize, though. You'll notice that all of my finishers are on Alt/Ctrl-WU/WD. That's because those are some of the more awkward buttons to hit with my keybinds and how I tend to move (though frankly, they're still ridiculously easy compared to 6 through =).

So that's instants. What about other abilities? I tend to put those on more awkward key presses, no matter how important they are, since I have to be standing still to use them. Essentially, I'm deciding what I use most often and put those on the easiest key presses, and deciding what I use least often, and put those on the hardest to press. Since you're moving a lot in PvP, anything with a cast time tends to get put on the hardest buttons to reach.

My mage, for example: though he's only 60, Frostbolt is on shift-button 4. Ice Lance will be on button 4 when I get it. Cone of Cold is on button 5. Blizzard is on shift-button 5. Frost Nova is my mousewheel down. On my hunter, Explosive shot (Chimera Shot when MM) is button 4. Steady Shot is shift-button 4, even if I do use it more, because I need to stand still to use it, while I can do spin-shots with Explosive/Chimera Shot.

So why talk about it here? Because it's important to how you move. You NEED to be able to use your instants while you move, and you need to be able to move exactly how you want to, without having awkward keystrokes hampering you. Every single step is important in PvP, similar to how every single DPS and second spent moving is important in PvE.

As an example: I'm a rogue fighting a mage in the Nagrand arena. The mage is sitting facing a pillar. Ideal time to open due to how his movement abilities will push him. I open with garrote, silencing him. He frost novas, rooting me when he gets out of the garrote silence. He then blinks, but is still close enough that I can vanish and shadow step to him, or if I'm mutilate, vanish and sprint to get away from AoE.

Pre-4.0.1 if he was a bad mage, I would open with cheap shot to bait him into blinking into the pillar, keeping him right in front of me and with 5 combo points, I could kidney shot him and the battle is pretty much over, since I got him to use one of his abilities without the primary benefit—gaining separation between us so he can keep me slowed/rooted and kite me. I could still do that post-4.0.1, but I have a 5 second silence in garrote (glyphed), and it's very useful.

But that instance proves why you need to think about where you are. Here's another that's happened to me personally a bunch of times:

In 2v2 arena, it's feral/rogue (me) against mage/rogue. My team kills the other rogue, but the mage finishes off my partner before he can help me. I'm stuck in the middle of Nagrand arena. I lose if I don't have vanish up, because I will not make it to a pillar. Why do I need to make it to a pillar? Simple. By moving to a LOS object, I can cut off the mage's casting, allowing me to bandage and to choose when I engage him. For rogues, this also allows a restealth. For classes like druid, paladin, priest, shaman, this can allow you to possibly attempt a rez on your partner.

With me picking when I engage the mage, I just need to make sure I don't get pulled off the pillar. I can win almost every 1v1 against a mage when I have a pillar as it allows me to keep the mage close to me, but the second I get off the pillar too far, I'm dead because I can't get close enough.

Similar concepts can be used in Wintergrasp, WSG, AB, etc. If you're about to enter the tunnel in WSG and a mage opens on you, don't bother trying to fight the mage if you're a warrior or a rogue. Get inside the tunnel and make that mage come to you, so you can force them into your melee distance. Especially for healers, you can top yourself off by getting out of LOS. Druids are infamous for doing this because of their hots, since they don't need to use direct heals most of the time.

That's about it for movement, though any questions can of course be sent to me. If you're curious about mage/rogue pillar 1v1s, I may try to make a video, but Neilyo has one of the best out there; I'd check out and see if you can find his movies.

I will be editing with more info as I type it up, and this thread will be updated throughout Cataclysm, including a section about rated BGs, if they make it to the live servers.

Edited, Oct 19th 2010 1:35am by Theophany
#5 Sep 10 2010 at 4:11 PM Rating: Good
1,463 posts
I recommend readingstart to finish even if you are a battle hardened arena player.

Lots of useful information, maybe there is something you have missed out on.
#6 Sep 10 2010 at 4:25 PM Rating: Good
2,680 posts
I hear Theo loves getting PMs about his love of Dakimakura.

Also: +1, great start daddio. Hope to add commentary when my brain isn't full of work stuff.

Edit: I think I have a half-started tactical discussion for the pre-WotLK battlegrounds somewhere. Any use?

Edited, Sep 10th 2010 3:29pm by TherionSaysWhat
#7 Oct 19 2010 at 2:46 AM Rating: Good
13,048 posts
Subsequent PvP "lessons":

  • PvP 102: Power Auras

  • As always PM me or post about any lessons you'd like me to cover. I can generally whip something up within a week or two, especially with the downtime before Cataclysm.

    Edited, Nov 4th 2010 6:56pm by Theophany
    #8 Jan 09 2011 at 4:55 PM Rating: Decent
    13,048 posts
    Updated the healer section with a link to the 7.5 Commandments of Cataclysm PvP Healing.
    #9 Feb 11 2011 at 1:52 PM Rating: Good
    428 posts
    Hey Theo, any chance we can get a couple things added in the Arena section? A quick guide to the various comps, particularly what all the naming jargon means (i.e., shadowcleave, wizardcleave, RLS, etc etc). Also, a brief mention of which Arena types currently give rating that counts for anything would help those of us that haven't messed with Arena since S2. Good stuff otherwise.
    #10 Feb 11 2011 at 3:25 PM Rating: Decent
    13,048 posts
    AynLoD wrote:
    Hey Theo, any chance we can get a couple things added in the Arena section? A quick guide to the various comps, particularly what all the naming jargon means (i.e., shadowcleave, wizardcleave, RLS, etc etc). Also, a brief mention of which Arena types currently give rating that counts for anything would help those of us that haven't messed with Arena since S2. Good stuff otherwise.

    Sure, I'll work on that this weekend.
    #11 Aug 03 2011 at 2:14 PM Rating: Default
    nice post.

    Edited, Aug 3rd 2011 7:07pm by pwntastica
    Necro Warning: This post occurred more than thirty days after the prior, and may be a necropost.
    #12 Jul 17 2014 at 3:05 AM Rating: Default
    Fantastic guide.
    Necro Warning: This post occurred more than thirty days after the prior, and may be a necropost.
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