PvP - an accessible guide

Posted on Illidan forums but I didn't forget about Muradin. I've had a few requests so here's my slightly updated PvP guide, reposted since Famiglia forums are down.

PvP – an accessible guide on getting serious and stepping up your game

Intro - Getting in the right mindset

Welcome to my PvP guide. This is an ongoing work in progress and is aimed at people new to serious PvP in general or looking to step up their skill to another level.
The first step to improving one's skill is to first be aware you have room for improvement. This game is quite intricate and complex, and even gladiators can play better in certain situations.
Being in the right mindset is imperative for PvP. Try to always be thinking of what you can do better personally, and to be aware of why you win or lose versus another player/team. Always be open to constructive criticism, and don't be offended when others give suggestions as it's all part of the learning process. Most importantly, make sure you're having fun while you play. Losses can be quite frustrating, especially when it seems to be a result of something out of your control. Remember that we usually learn more from losses than wins, so try to make that loss work for you later on by learning from it.
I know a very helpful video in this regard that I'll include in the links section.


The hardware you play on can have a massive effect on how well you play. While it is possible to play with high latency or low framerates, you will always be at a disadvantage to players with a good hardware setup. You should be playing on a broadband connection, ideally with a latency not over 150ms but up to 300ms or so is decently playable. If you live in an area without much bandwidth and are serious about PvP you may want to consider tunneling your game's connection though a VPN which can dramatically decrease your latency, especially as an Aussie playing on US servers, as a common example. There are many reliable and affordable VPN providers and abundant guides on their use.
As for your framerate, you should aim for 60fps constant with Vsync on but 30+ is acceptable for arenas/RBGs. If you don't have a suitable graphics card, try reducing graphics settings as needed before spending a good chunk of cash on upgrades. The only setting you shouldn't reduce all the way is view distance as you want to be able to see foes coming across the map. Closing background apps such as virus scanners can be helpful if framerate is a real issue for you.
Aside from a suitable computer the only other necessary piece of hardware is a mic or headset.
A comfortable headset is ideal, with a microphone that others can hear you clearly with. You don't need to go splurge on an expensive gaming headset, a $25 walmart headset will probably do, just make sure to test it before you toss the receipt. You'll want one with a built-in mute button.

UI and Addons

Once you're in the right mindset for PvP, your next priority should be making sure you have a proper UI set up. All the tools you need should be clearly visible and conveniently placed. Excess addons showing on screen can detract from your situational awareness, a real disadvantage in any PvP scenario.
Here I'll show you a screenshot of my UI and some of its more important elements/addons. You'll have to open link in a new tab as WoW forums don't allow direct linking.
Notice I'm using several PvP addons and UI elements to improve my situational awareness.
Among the addons I use and recommend to anyone halfway serious about PvP:
Gladius - Far superior to Blizzard arena frames, displayed above my transparent minimap during arenas. Tracks diminishing returns (DR) on Ccs, trinket CDs, many announce options.
Battleground Targets - Lets you target any enemy player in range without having to use /tar which is ineffective with special characters anyway. Absolutely essential for quick hard swapping when you may have 2 dozen nameplates on screen.
InterruptTracker - Shows the interrupt CDs of all nearby or recently nearby enemies, incredibly useful for fake casting ('juking'). No caster should be without this or a similar addon.
Quartz - Replaces default Blizzard cast bars, looks nice and has nifty features like the ability to display latency in the cast bar.

There are many other useful addons so it never hurts to look. Just make sure addons you use are unintrusive, contribute to playing better, and couldn't make you lose any games. (Oqueue for example, which can cause you to be unable to enter a rated game.)
Once you've got the essentials of your UI in place and configured, the next big thing to do is make sure your keybinds are in order.


Continued in other posts due to character limit.
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Though it is possible to play by clicking your abilities, a player using keybinds will ALWAYS react faster. The initial process of learning your keybinds is a bit time consuming but after enough practice you will be able to trigger all your abilities with binds without even thinking where it's at. (Muscle memory at work.)
Exactly where you put the bind is up to you, the key is that your most frequently used abilities are easy to reach without much stretching. Less convenient binds are acceptable for long CDs or abilities you rarely use. It's important that you bind pretty much everything you use or could conceivably need while in combat if you want to play to the best of your ability. (Including things like focus macros, @party1/party2, /cancelaura macros, etc.) Yes, I know it's a major pain in the !@# but it just takes time playing to adjust. Once accustomed the difference compared to clicking will be staggering.

Below are a few scattered examples of my priest's binds. Note that I've rebound some keys used by the default Blizzard UI such as C and V. Takes time to adjust but you'll get by just fine clicking to open bags or whatnot.
E - Mass Dispel
F – Flash Heal/Binding Heal macro (I'll discuss dual function macros later on.)
C - Psychic Scream
S – Healthstone
Shift + C - Pain Suppression
R – Divine Star/Renew
Shift + F - Mind Control/Leap of Faith
Shift + Mouse 5 – Fade
Alt+ Mouse 4/5 – Grip party1/party2 (for 2s and 3s)
Shift + 5 – Vampiric Embrace
T – focus grip
B – focus silence
Shift + X - Resurrection
F2 - Ground mount
F3 - Flying mount
F4 - Fear Ward
Alt-Q – Spectral Guise (priest stealth)
Alt + 5 – Cancel auras macro(levitate, slow fall, MC and the like)
Alt + F4 – cause loud swearing in Skype


Macros are the next tool in the PvPer's toolbox. Some macros help you perform certain actions more smoothly, some just save bar space for you, but each has its place.
Below I'll list examples of helpful macros, including some that all players should be using. I won't be covering everything because there are other guides already that do a better job.

Probably the most important one I have is a simple '/focus' macro. Many of the more complex macros rely on having a focus target set and all players can benefit from using the focus target.
With this bound to a convenient key I can set focus target instantly rather than typing it out.


Dual Function Macros
While setting up binds some classes may find it hard to bind everything. A dual function macro can put two abilities on the same button, changing depending on whether you're targeting a friend or foe. Do remember that only some spells are appropriate for such a macro, many shouldn't be attached to this sort of macro. If in doubt, think about how those spells would work in this macro type. Here's an example of one I use all the time:

/cast [harm,nodead] Smite; Flash Heal

What this does is cast Smite if I'm targeting a living enemy, Flash Heal if I'm not. This can be adapted for a variety of spells.

Cast Sequence Macros
A cast sequence casts a set series of abilities in order, resetting if you switch targets. This is quite useful for warriors for example, since some useful abilities require stance dancing. Here's one I wouldn't play without on my warrior. (Edit: this macro is now useless due to changes but still a solid example)

#showtooltip Disarm
/castsequence reset=target Defensive Stance, Disarm, Battle Stance

Using this macro switched me into defensive stance long enough to disarm, then puts me back in battle stance. Note that since 3 abilities are included in the sequence, you have to hit the macro 3 times to complete it. (More if you're smashing your buttons faster than the globals.) These can take a bit of practice to get used to.

Focus Macros
Here we get to the bread and butter of PvP macros. Focus macros save you even more time in combat by letting you CC/kick/whatever your focus target without having to retarget. Here's a good shadow spec one:

/cast [@focus] Silence

You can also edit in a modifier to put Silence and focus Silence on the same key like so.

/cast [mod:shift][@focus] Silence; Silence
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Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is another key aspect of playing well in PvP, though it's often underappreciated. Situational awareness means, quite simply, being aware of everything going on around you in game as it happens. It sounds easy enough yet requires a good deal of attention and focus. An experienced player will always be watching the health of teammates and enemies, as well as key enemy CDs such as trinkets, CCs, and interrupts.
Several of the addons I listed are used primarily to improve situational awareness because few people have the pure concentration to mentally track every enemy CD. Improving your awareness is a slow process that comes with experience but can help you every bit as much as individual player skill.
To best be aware of your situation one must remain calm and collected at all times. It may be tempting to panic when you're tanking 3 rogues but doing so will likely be your death as a panicked player can't always notice and react to enemy actions appropriately.
I won't go further in detail with this as there's a Skill Capped video I'll link later which is much more helpful in that regard.

Helpful Sites and Other Guides

This was just something thrown together in a few hours to help people new to serious PvP, here are some other resources you may find more helpful. I especially recommend the videos at skill-capped.com since they were all made by Gladiator level players for the purpose of teaching others. Even the free ones are quite good.

The forum here has many basic guides for all classes/specs covering things such as hit/pen caps, specs, and glyphs. Keep in mind this is a mainly PvE oriented site so if you're looking for real basic info make sure it's relevant to PvP. This is also a good place to go if you're interested in theorycrafting, though you don't necessarily need to nerd it up with spreadsheets and algebra to be good.

This site is extremely useful for more advanced and specific info such as specific comp strats and interactions between various spells and talents and such. The Ask a Gladiator forum can be quite helpful if your team is having a lot of trouble versus a comp that you can't figure out.

This site has tons of videos made by gladiators, all intended for teaching others. As well as general guides there are also class specific guides and 1v1 guides for many different matchups. It's a paid site (about $5/month) but there are a few good free videos. Definitely worth buying a paid month if you're serious about improving.
Here are two specific videos I found helpful for new players and those looking to step up their game:

This is a collection of guides by one of the world's best priests. It has guides for several classes as well as a VERY useful and detailed macro guide that helps you understand the syntax and commands for making an effective macro. He made a beginner's guide as well as an advanced guide that together will answer ANY question you should ever have about macros.

Well that's it for now. Sorry it's not that organized, I just threw this together over a few scattered hours. This is my no means a comprehensive guide but I'll probably add bits and pieces to it later. I hope you found it helpful, and feel free to contact me in game if you need specific advice, especially in regard to priests.

- Obscured of Illidan (formerly Brshooter of Muradin)
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