World of Warcraft PvP has taken numerous forms starting from those marathons we called Alterac Valley, in which we sat in endless queues to battle our way across the fourteen-rank PvP system of classic WoW, to the introduction of the ranked ladder system of arenas in The Burning Crusade, and finally to the emergence of the rated battlegrounds of Cataclysm. However, PvP is not limited to the confines of the ranked ladders we know today. Even something as simple as a conflict with an opponent of the enemy faction while questing (World PvP) or a friendly duel can constitute PvP. In World of Warcraft you can begin PvPing at any level to varying extents. Even at level one you can challenge somebody to a duel.
A challenge from one player to another in which you essentially battle to the death, utilizing all of the spells in your arsenal, including those with longer cooldowns such as “Lay on Hands” or “Army of the Dead” that would normally not be useable in a setting like an arena. In duels, you may also use certain items that may not be allowed in other PvP environments such as engineering boots (although technically attached to your belt now) or potions. Dueling is considered incredibly class dependent because certain classes fare better in one v. one scenarios, while others cannot overcome a “counter” that the support of teammates would offer. When you come across another player whose PvP flag has been toggled on outside of a duel, battleground, or an arena, they will be hostile to you, and you may attack them. This is called World PvP.
At one time World PvP was known only as those massive raids upon one of our major cities, or a skirmish at the Gurubashi Arena. Now, there are sanctioned zones set aside specifically for World PvP. Some of these may often be referred to as battlegrounds as well because you can queue for them like Wintergrasp or Tol Barad. Others like the battle of Halaa in Nagrand or the battle of towers in Hellfire Peninsula or the Eastern Plaguelands are ongoing events that a player can participate in for rewards that would directly benefit them with buffs/advantages specific to that zone. Almost like dueling, anything goes in World PvP; there are no rules or restrictions like you would find in a ranked game of an arena or a battleground. At level ten you are introduced to a few of the first battlegrounds you may enter via the honor tab queue system.
When you enter a battleground, you are joining a clash of horde vs. alliance in a game with different rules specific to each battleground that will allow you to compete for honor points that you can use to acquire upgrades in gear. Currently, there are eight different battlegrounds that become available as you level up; Warsong Gulch (WSG – Level 10), Arathi Basin (AB – Level 10), Eye of the Storm (EoTS – Level 35), Alterac Valley (AV – Level 45), Strand of the Ancients (SoTA – Level 65), Isle of Conquest (IoC – Level 75), Battle for Gilneas (BfG – Level 75), and Twin Peaks (TP – Level 75). The goals of each Battleground range anywhere from the classical game of capture-the-flag to a king-of-the-hill style match. Your team can consist of up to a maximum of forty players like AV or IoC, or as little as a ten-man team that you may find in a WSG, TP, or BfG. At the maximum level in World of Warcraft you are given the opportunity to truly test yourself in a PvP scenario with the Arena System.
Unlike all other PvP situations you may find yourself in WoW, there is only one simple task required to win an arena match – defeat the enemy team. You may do so with teams comprised of two, three, or five players. Similarly to a battleground, winning an arena match rewards you with conquest points that will also allow you to vastly upgrade your gear. There are five different arenas available: the Ring of Valor, the Ruins of Lordaeron, the Ring of Trials (Nagrand Arena), the Circle of Blood (Blade’s Edge Mountains Arena), and the Dalaran Sewers Arena. However, there are certain limitations and restrictions in an arena match. Players will be wiped clean of any external buffs via other players or potions/flasks upon entering the arena and may not use them in the arena. A player may not use certain engineering items, as well as any items that would grant the player a specific buff. Talents may not be changed once the arena begins, and all spells with a cooldown greater than eight minutes are prohibited. An arena match ends when all players of a team have been defeated or have left the match. The fight may also end when the forty-five minute time constraint has elapsed at which point a draw would be declared.