The Burning Crusade PvP Changes
The original Burning Crusade brought numerous major changes to the PvP side of World of Warcraft, ranging from the introduction of the Arena to the addition of an item stat unique to PvP. Many of those innovations have lasted to this day in the retail version of the game, or were reintroduced more recently (like the Honor Points). While the changes have been controversial, there is no shortage of players who still vouch for the expansion’s PvP as the best in the popular MMORPG’s history. That experience is once again available to players after the launch of Burning Crusade Classic, albeit with some adjustments made to improve balance and convenience.
Overview and Currencies
Open World PvP and Battlegrounds are now joined by an elite PvP activity: the Arena. Between the three of them, those parts of the game allow players to earn currencies used in the revamped PvP reward system. Rather than let you earn ranks to unlock certain items, Honor has been converted into the Honor Points currency, acquired by taking part in most PvP activities and used to buy PvP gear directly along with the Marks of Honor. Arena points are exclusive to rated Arena matches and used to acquire rewards from a separate category.
|Currency||Honor Points||Marks of Honor||Arena Points|
|How to Earn||Kill other player characters within 11 levels of your character in any PvP activity (Honorable Kills).|
Complete special objectives in Battlegrounds and Open World PvP zones.
|Complete a match on the appropriate Battleground (one Mark for a loss, two for a draw, three for a win).||Win rated Arena matches to earn a high team rating in time for the Tuesday reset. The amount of points you get depends on both your rating and the format of your team. If you are in several teams, you will get the payout for the most lucrative one.|
|Cap||75,000||100 per Battleground (was 20 in vanilla)||5,000|
|Reward Item Quality||Common to Epic||Common to Epic||Epic|
|Vendor Locations||Stromwind and Ogrimmar.|
|Stromwind and Ogrimmar.|
|Area 52 in the Netherstorm.|
Ring of Trials in Nagrand.
Circle of Blood in Blade’s Edge Mountains.
Note that the currencies do not decay over time, allowing you to store them up to a cap before you have to spend some to make room for more. Also, unlike in vanilla, killing enemy civilian NPCs is not an obstacle to gaining Honor.
Additionally, there are some minor PvP currencies that can be earned in specific zones and exchanged for special, but mostly inferior, PvP items from nearby vendors. Honorable kills in Zangarmarsh and Hellfire Peninsula will earn you Marks of Honor Hold or Thrallmar depending on your affiliation. In addition to buying item from those factions’ vendors, they can be used to help you earn reputation with them faster. Honorable kills committed near Halaa in Nagrand will earn you Halaa Battle Tokens, which may be used to buy items in that town when it is under your faction’s control.
Open World PvP Zones
There are four PvP zones in the Outland:
- The Hellfire Peninsula, where Alliance and Horde characters can both try to complete the Hellfire Fortifications quests by taking over all three strongpoints in the area. The rewards include Gold, Honor Hold or Thrallmar reputations, and previously mentioned currencies;
- Zangarmarsh, where you can take control of two beacons by getting a flag from an officer in your faction’s closest city. Once that is done, you can also seize the central tower. In addition to currency rewards, control over the tower confers a 5% damage buff to all faction members while it lasts. This buff can be used in the Coilfang Reservoir up to the Serpentshrine Cavern raid (so it would help in The Slave Pens, The Underbog, and The Steamvault);
- Terokkar Forest, where you must seize five towers. When all five are in your faction’s hands, you will gain 5% boosts to damage and XP gain, as well as the ability to collect spirit shards in the Mana-Tombs, Auchenai Crypts, Sethekk Halls, and the Shadow Labyrinth. Those shards can then be exchanged for rare and epic rewards;
- Nagrand, in which you can take over the town of Halaa, spawning allied guards that can help defend the town and vendors that can exchange your tokens for special rewards.
On top of raising the Mark of Honor cap, the expansion introduced a whole new Battleground for players at level 61 or higher. The Eye of the Storm is set on an island above the Outland which could only be accessed through dedicated Battlemasters in racial capitals. Alliance and Horde teams of 15 players each compete to reach 2,000 points first. Points can be earned by taking and holding the four towers (one is enough to gain points, but the more you have, the faster you will earn points). Additionally, you can retrieve a flag that first spawns in the middle of the map and bring it to a tower controlled by your faction, immediately earning more points. As such, it plays like a hybrid between Arathi Basin and Warsong Gulch. Whether you win or lose, your victory points will be converted into Honor Points in the end.
Enter the Arena
Arena is a smaller-scale PvP option with a ranked progression option and three formats (2v2, 3v3, 5v5). It has special restrictions such as a ban on most consumables. To play rated Arena matches, you must reach level 70 and become a member of a team, either by joining an existing one or creating one yourself. The team founder must pay from 80 to 120 Gold to create it, depending on the format. When playing in Arena, you will be affected by three ratings (or more if you are in several teams):
- A Team Rating that goes up with victories and goes down with defeats, with the size of the change determind by the difference in skill between teams. It is used to determine the size of the Arena Point reward;
- A Personal Rating within a team. It can deviate from the Team Rating if you were not around for some of that team’s matches. Together with the Team Rating, a sufficiently high rating unlocks certain high-level rewards (though you don’t have to maintain the rating there to use them after they are bought). It resets when you leave the team;
- A hidden personal matchmaking rating used to help assign your team’s opponents. It is never reset, so it can help you climb back up quickly after changing teams. It is also closer to the modern matchmaking system.
One change from the original release is that Team and Personal Ratings always start out at 0 rather than 1,500 (a change that was introduced in later updates). The intent was to encourage players to start climbing the ladder rather than worry about ruining their default rating with early defeats. This change was accompanied by a tweak to the rating formula, allowing players below 1,500 to climb the ranks much faster.
Arena operates by seasons, which last for several months each and are connected to major content releases. During a season, the highest-rated teams can place on a leaderboard, giving their members titles:
|Season Gladiator||Top 0.1%|
Those titles last as long as the season, but are reset afterwards with the exception of the Season Gladiator title, which is permanent. In another break with the original, Season 1 has received a unique Season Gladiator title of its own: Infernal Gladiator. Gladiator and Infernal Gladiator players will also receive the Swift Nether Drake, a unique flying mount with 310% movement speed – the fastest in the game. The new season will bring stronger rewards, while the concluded season’s rewards will eventually become available for purchase with Honor Points.
Items have undergone some major changes that have direct implications for PvP:
- Five possible secondary stats have been added: Expertise (negation of enemy dodge or parry), Haste (ordinary attack speed), Spell Haste (magical attack speed), Armor Penetration (ability to ignore some amount of armor), and Resilience (reduces both the likelihood and the strength of critical hits as well as damage over time and mana drain effects in PvP);
- Secondary stats have been changed from percentages to ratings that scale with character level. The rating progression has been designed to leave the items mostly unchanged at character level 60, but sap away at their power later on, creating an incentive to upgrade your arsenal;
- Certain items have been buffed or nerfed on top of that. For instance, the mana regeneration effect from the Stormrage Raiment and Vestments of Transcendance has been turned into a non-scaling bonus.
All of those changes will no doubt affect the PvP meta, but the addition of the PvP-exclusive Resilience stat is the most consequential. It makes the use of proper PvP gear, such as the full Arena PvP set, a matter of life or death. It also reinforces the need to acquire new equipment quickly, as it can only be found on post-level 60 PvP items.
Finally, PvP coaching and planning will have to account for drastic shifts in the relative power of different classes. Druids, Priests, Shamans, and Warlocks have all gone up in power across the board, including PvP. Druids in particular are the best healers, while Warlocks have become one of the strongest DPS classes in the roster. Rogues may have been weakened generally, but their control and survivability capacities make them uniquely suited for the Arena. Warriors, on the other hand, have lost much of their prior dominance, despite still having some potent debuffs.
Although the differences from the original release have disappointed some fans, the core features of Brning Crusade’s PvP have been retained. When compared to vanilla PvP, the newer system offers a greater variety of activities. Its meta is more balanced and dynamic, and the Arena in particular encourages more tactical play. Together with the recent tweaks like the near-total removal of spell batching, that adds up to a very different experience likely to appeal to those who were dissatisfied with the previous system. Now might be a good time for those people to take a break from more tedious PvE pursuits like the zone reputation grind and step into the Classic PvP scene.