Hello, and welcome to my guide on gearing up and itemization in PvP. This guide will cover everything between starting as a fresh 65 in PvP, to optimal gear setups and itemization. It'll also include updated spreadsheets on bolstered gear stats, and how they compare to Warmonger gear.
Your first priority when starting out in PvP is to fill every slot. This includes, and is especially important for essences and earrings. Those are the only slots that receive CP.
The current bolstering floor is Faceless Crusader/Dreambreaker (442 resist). Anything below this level (including blue rare and unupgraded epic purple gear from Nightmare Tide expert dungeon, and unupgraded intrepid IA gear) will be replaced with an upbolstered item. This means that no matter what the previous stats were on an item, even if it was a level 1 piece from the tutorial, it will be completely replaced. The easiest and fastest sources of gear for this purpose are the Rust Bucket 2 achievement, the Shadow from Beyond chronicle, and crafting.
The only exceptions to bolstering are your seal, synergy crystal, and trinket. Seals and trinkets can easily be crafted. Ask in crossevents or your shard's level 65 chat to find people that can craft the seal and trinkets for your calling.
This also means that it's pointless to use your void stones on open world gear, or your abyssal crusader accelerators on expert level gear. Do NOT buy those for the purpose of PvP.
Current upbolstering gear stats - essences have 9 resist to all, and are the primary source of CP
Your second priority is to place the best runes and dream orbs that you can afford on every slot. This is the area that most new PvPer will neglect. Best in slot runes and dream orbs account for more than half of your main stat, and no slot should remain touched. Detailed Runes are extremely cheap (14 Capricious Stars, 4 Attainium Crystals and 4 Dusts of the Void for the amender), and you should try to have at least this level of rune on every slot before your first warfront. For more information on what rune to use on each slot, check out this spreadsheet.
Runes for your earrings, necklace, trinket and seal require notoriety. Attempt to farm those and get at least minor runes on those slots before entering a warfront match. They are a major source of endurance and will greatly contribute to your survival and abilities.
Dream orbs are crafted by the Dreamweaver profession. Savant Dream Orbs go on the Helmet, Cape, Shoulder and Necklace slots, while Planar Crafted Dream Orbs go on the Belt, Gloves and Earring slots. Savant dream orbs give higher stats and are cheaper, and so should be prioritized. For more information on dream orb stats, check out Riftgrate.
Before entering PvP, fill every gear slot, even with trash gear. Ensure that you have a full focus. Use detailed runes on every slot and the best dream orbs that you can afford.
Obtaining PvP Gear
The next step is to replace your upbolstered gear with nonbolstered gear. There are two primary sources for this: Marauder Supply Caches and T2/T3 gear from the Rift Store.
Marauder Supply Caches are obtained from winning random warfront (which also rewards you with 400 abyssal crusader marks (ACM), 80 fragments of madness (FoM) and 50 fragments of darkness (FoD). These drop a small amount of platinum, and have a 50% chance of dropping a piece of Dreambreaker gear.
There are 9 variations of each slot for PvP gear. PvP gear can have Attack Power/Spell Power, Spell Crit/Phys Crit, or Crit Power. Furthermore, PvP gear can have high main stat, high END, or very high END and low tertiary stat. Out of those combinations, only high main stat gear is desirable.
When you win a PvP match, you have a 50% chance to get a piece of gear. You then have a 1/9 chance to get any particular stat combination, and 13 types of drops to contend with (along with 3 types of trinkets, 6 types of greater essences, and 3 types of lesser essences). Therefore, it's not advisable to open caches with the aim of getting a specific piece or to fill a specific slot. Instead, it's better to initially use what pieces that you get, and buy store pieces to compensate.
One mistake that newer players commonly make is to use Dreambreaker pieces right off the bat. Endurance heavy dreambreaker pieces are actually usually inferior to upbolstered pieces. For example, upbolstered capes have 216 main stat, 158 off stat, 184 END, and 371 PC/SC. In contrast, an END heavy Dreambreaker cape has 170 main stat, 115 off stat and 213 END and 324 PC/SC. You should only use Dreambreaker items if they're END light (their END will be lower than the primary or tertiary stat). Focus on finding CP items, as upbolstered slots except earrings and essences lack CP. After coming close to CP soft cap (3120) at around 2900, focus on the other tertiary stats. Check out your class discussion forums and guides for what stat you want to stack. Clerics tend to have low weights for SC (so stack SP), while Primalists (Maelstroms especially) appreciate larger amounts of PC.
For weapons, your primary choices are Planar Crafted weapons (expensive) or a T2 weapon (grindy) from the Rift Store. Prioritize buying a T2 1H for your mainhand slot if you're a warrior or rogue, or a 2H for the spell power if you're a mage or cleric. I don't recommend buying a T1 weapon, since you'll need a large amount of ACM to upgrade your gear, and it'll be very quickly replaced.
Accumulate dreambreaker gear, ACM, VS, and favor. Buy favor infused accelerators (10k favor), Warmonger Marks (100k favor) and recon vials (6k favor). if you come close to the favor cap of 300k. Upgrade desirable Warmonger pieces when you can.
Total cost of a set of PvP gear, including essences and weapons:
394000 ACM, 6570000 Favor, 140400 VS
While accumulating PvP gear pieces, you'll also be getting fragments of darkness and fragments of madness. Buy T2 and T3 armor pieces, prioritizing shoulders and helmet, followed by gloves and belt, and save FoM for a T2 one hand weapon. If you're a warrior or rogue, attempt to save enough FoD to buy a T3 one hand.
The downbolster and upbolster sheets were made in Live, with a Primalist for the upbolster and a Warrior for the downbolster, in conquest. I reset my PA, reset my souls and wrote down baselines for each stat. I calculated AP/PC through subtracting the contribution from main stat and secondary stat. I equipped a 259 resist essence in a 100 planarite sigil for the essence, and used unruned, unorbed pieces for the most pieces.
It's very interesting to note that dream orbs are downbolstered to T2 epic. My T3 relic shoulders, which had a 185 STR 78 AP orb, gave me the same stats as my T3 epic shoulders, which had a roll of 178 STR 75 AP. Some additional math with unorbed pieces indicated that it the shoulders had 156 STR and 66 AP from the dream orb. This means that it's not necessarily optimal to have downbolstered shoulders/helmet/cape/necklace/belt/gloves/earrings. Many people previous thought that it was best to have those slots filled with items that would be downbolstered, since the dream orbs would remain on the gear, but this is not true.
Procs play a huge role in PvP DPS, especially for ST burst.
Use the best armor pieces you have available (preferably all downbolstered). Magnificent runes and BiS dream orbs are a significant portion of your stats, so don't skimp on your enchants. Aim for a 3 piece bonus, preferably from a Warmonger ranged weapon, trinket and cape/neck. Prioritize getting the set bonus from the ranged weapon and trinket over the cape or neck, since they have procs and/or better stats than their PvE counterparts. Ensure your stats are balanced and that your CP isn't too high or low. A full set of downbolstered gear places your CP at 2946, which is slightly too low for PvP. Use a PvP CP cape, neck or trinket to help balance this. Most specs tend to have slightly lower PC/SC weights in a non-raid environment, so it may be worthwhile to stack AP/SP over PC/SC.
As you typically do not have raid buffs in warfronts, aim for 3120 CP (including greater procs) instead of 2982.
The Ice Zerker proc is the single most powerful proc in PvP. It can be obtained from Warmonger offhands and Threngar relic offhands. Weapon itemization in PvP tend to revolve around this proc.
Clerics and Mages should use their best non-downbolstered DPS weapons. Aim for a Warmonger Dagger/Mace and Totem. The procs on the 1Hs are far superior to the one on the 2H. Buy the offhand first so that you get the Ice Zerker proc. If two Warmonger weapons are prohibitively expensive and the amount of favor unattainable, buy a Drowned Prophet's Mace or Dagger, or simply use a downbolstered one hand. The proc on the main hand isn't important.
Warriors and Rogues should use their highest weapon DPS one hand weapon in their main hand slot. Weapon DPS currently does not downbolster! Common sources for this include T3 one hands from the Rift Store (15000 Fragments of Darkness) and IGP/HK relic one hands. Even non-raiders, with a few weeks of grind, can get T3 one hands!
Use the Ice Zerker Warmonger weapon OR a Threngar one hand in your offhand slot. The Ice Zerker proc deals its full tooltip damage in PvP, and has a short ICD. Use a cancelbuff Ice Zerker macro if you want to mount quickly.
Aim for the warmonger ranged weapon after you've finished upgrading your offhand. The proc isn't very strong, and it's primarily important for the set bonus.
Primalists and Warriors that don't have access to one handers should use their highest weapon DPS 2H.
Trinkets are also a significant contributor to your DPS in PvP. Unlike other pieces, trinkets stats are not bolstered. Expert level procs (which are on normal crafted, expert trinkets, and PvP trinkets) are not affected by any PvP reductions, and do their full tooltip healing/damage. T1 and T2 level procs have PvP reductions (this included planar crafted trinkets), and T3+ trinkets are not usable in Warfronts/Conquest.
Aim for, in the order of desirability:
- Warmonger Trinket
- Crafted Trinket
- T2 Trinket
- Expert Trinket
- T1 Trinket
Crafted Trinket Sources:
- DEX DPS (AP): Outfitter
- INT DPS (SP): Apothecary
- STR DPS (AP): Apothecary
- WIS DPS (SP): Weaponsmith
T2 trinkets have considerably higher stats than crafted or even Warmonger, and thus are often worth using. However, their proc deal roughly 3/4 the damage.
Essences are a component of your gear that are not BiS when downbolstered, and what's BiS for PvP vastly differs from PvE. Thus, it's generally worthwhile to build a PvP specific focus.
Your actual Sigil is not bolstered in PvP. Aim for a HM IGP relic sigil or a Focus of Destruction/Aggression. Even the tank IGP sigil is worth using over the Focus of Nightmares, as it has more endurance.
Essences with more than 210 resist will be downbolstered.
Greater essences are a significant contributor to your DPS, and what's BiS in PvP is vastly different from what's BiS in PvE. Damage from greater procs do not have any PvP reductions.
Dreamsource > Flamesource > Rotward > CP proc > AP/SP proc > PC proc
For lessers, anything better than NMV epics tend to have better stats than downbolstered essences. Use 190/190 CP lessers and 190/114 AP lessers, 210 resist event lessers and fully upgraded Warmonger lessers. Downbolstered essences do not have much tertiary stat and have not changed since Nightmare Tide release.
Procs play a huge role in PvP healing. Unlike PvE, where there's sustain healing and output is rarely an issue, PvP healing is all about burst, AOE pressure, and ST pressure. Procs tend to overheal less, and instead be valuable contribution.
Clerics and Mages should use their best non-downbolstered healing weapons. Aim for a Warmonger Dagger/Mace and Totem. The procs on the 1Hs are far superior to the one on the 2H. Buy the offhand first. If two Warmonger weapons are prohibitively expensive and the amount of favor unattainable, buy a Drowned Prophet's Mace or Dagger.
Aim for the warmonger ranged weapon only after you've finished upgrading your main hand and off hand.
Warriors and Rogues should use their highest weapon DPS one hand weapon in their main hand slot. Weapon DPS currently does not downbolster!
Use the AOE healing one hand Warmonger weapon in your offhand slot. The proc deals a considerable amount of HPS. This is especially important for warriors. Instead of a T1 proc, warriors get a T2 proc (because we don't have a T1 AOE healing proc), although both have considerable PvP reductions.
One very important thing to note is that the T3 on use offhand proc currently works in PvP (or at least the one on weapons from MoM does). This proc causes all your healing to place an absorb on your targets worth 15% of your max HP (around 2-3% in PvP) for the next 8 seconds. It has an ICD of 1 second, and can be extremely powerful. This is definitely worth using if you have it, and may be worth using over a Warmonger Totem for mages and clerics.
The BiS warrior weapon for your main hand slot is on the right side, while the healing proc mentioned above is on the right
The most important healing proc you'll have is from your trinket. Unlike other pieces, trinkets stats are not bolstered. Expert level procs (which are on normal crafted, expert trinkets, and PvP trinkets) are not affected by any PvP reductions, and do their full tooltip healing/damage. T1 and T2 level procs have PvP reductions (this included planar crafted trinkets), and T3+ trinkets are not usable in Warfronts/Conquest.
Aim for, in the order of desirability:
- Warmonger Trinket
- Crafted Trinket
- Expert Trinket
- T2 Trinket
Although many people complain about not being able to obtain a PvP trinket (I personally have never gotten a decent one), crafted trinkets have identical procs and are a great alternative. Warmonger trinkets are preferable because of their slightly higher stats and 3 piece bonus, but you can get a BiS proc for under 1000 plat with a crafted trinket.
Essences also play an important part of itemization in PvP.
For Greaters, aim for Lifewoods, which are not reduced in PvP and heal for their full 4k tooltip value, and Hailshards, which can aid both you and your allies.