SWTOR PvP

I’ve been playing BioWare’s SWTOR for almost two months now, and have greatly enjoyed the storylines for each class, the crafting and the space combat.   However, a few weeks ago I was bitten by the PvP (player-vs-player) bug and found something new to love about the game.

I’ve mainly played in the warzones (i.e. battlegrounds in WoW), and though the game only has three warzones so far, it’s like every battle is a unique game.  I’ve gotten to the point where the only PvE I do is my class storylines (though it shouldn’t be any wonder that doing the same quest for the third, fourth or fifth time would get a bit…old).  Which is another nice thing about PvP in SWTOR:  you can level up entirely through PvP if you want to.  Haven’t tried open world PvP yet, but I’d like to at least check out the PvP zones on Tatooine and Ilum, even though I’d probably be ganked by roaming death squads.

There were a few things that took me a while, and a bit of digging, to find out about PvP, so I thought I’d post some useful information that might help others that are new to PvP, or thinking about trying it out.

First, there are two tiers to PvP (in warzones, not open world):  level 10-49 and level 50.  If you’re under level 49, the game automatically bolsters your stats up to roughly level 49 so that you’ll have a fighting chance.  And in my experience, the system works pretty well.  A really low level character (say 10-16 or so) still has a hard time, but mainly because they don’t have most of their class abilities yet, especially the crowd-control abilities, like stuns, snares, roots and pushes/pulls.  Also, it’s very useful to have the sprint ability, which every class gets at level 14.  Additionally, this tier is not terribly gear dependent, so you don’t necessarily need to have the best-of-the-best gear to be competitive.

The level 50 tier is much more gear dependent and can be pretty brutal if you haven’t PvPed before.  At level 50 you can start getting expertise gear.  Expertise is a PvP-only stat which increases the damage you do to other players and reduces the damage you take from other players.  If you don’t have any expertise gear then you won’t do much damage to someone who has a high expertise score, and you’ll take a lot more damage from them as well.  So if you think you want to give PvP a try, probably best to do it with a character under level 50, where expertise doesn’t really come into play much.  If you really like it, you may want to start a new PvP alt from scratch.

When you participate in warzones you get four things:  Credits, Experience Points, Valor and warzone commendations.

  • Credits – Usually 1-3K credits per match, which is more than most quests pay out at low levels.
  • Experience Points – The amount you get varies depending on how well you do and whether your side wins the match, but the lowest I’ve seen is around 4K and I’ve seen up to 20K xp for a single match.
  • Valor – Valor levels is sort of a measure of your PvP awesomeness…or at least your ability to put in a lot of hours PvPing.  It does three things that I’ve seen so far:  1) It unlocks PvP titles for your character; 2) The character with the highest Valor level is usually made the Ops Leader of the match, which gives you a few perks (which I’ve rarely seen used); and (most importantly) 3) you need to be Valor level 60 to buy Battlemaster PvP gear, which is the best PvP gear you can get.  You’ll usually get at least a few hundred Valor points each match.
  • Warzone Commendations – This is basically your PvP currency, used to buy PvP related gear.  You can also convert them into Mercenary commendations at a 3-to-1 ratio (it sounds like a bad ratio, but you get so many warzone commendations it doesn’t really matter…you’ll have enough comms to buy gear for all your companions and still have some left over to burn).  I’ve gotten as low as 20 commendations in a match to more than 70, it just depends on how well you do.  You can save a maximum of 1,000 warzone commendations and 1,000 mercenary commendations.

The amount of rewards you get from warzones depends on how well you do, which in turn is measured by the number of medals you earn during a match.  Medals are awarded for achieving certain objectives in the match.  For example, killing an opponent in single combat is good for a medal, as is inflicting (or healing) a total of 75K or more damage, inflicting (or healing) 2.5K in a single hit, guarding an objective, killing 10 or more opponets, etc.  There are a lot of different objectives and you won’t get them all.  Inflicting damage seems to be the way to get the most medals, unless you’re good at diversifying, such as dealing damage and healing.  Personally I find it hard to fill two roles in a match, but others seem to manage it.

If you can get 3-5 medals in a match, you’re doing alright.  If you get more than 5 medals, you’re doing great.  The most I’ve seen in a single match is 11 medals!

Something else that helps is MVP votes.  At the end of each match, everyone gets one vote for who they feel was the MVP of the match for their side.  Each MVP vote you get nets you a few extra commendations and a little extra valor.  I usually vote for friends first, then healers and then the lowest ranking character on our side (trying to help out the newbies a little).  Lately, though, it seems like most players don’t even bother voting; they just exit the warzone as soon as they can.

You can also do daily pvp quests which reward additional XP, credits and a locker which contains a level appropriate green item (which you can sell if you don’t need it) and some warzone stims.

One thing that really confused me at first was how to get the high level PvP gear.  There’s three grades of level 50 PvP gear:  Centurion, Champion and Battlemaster (Battlemaster being the best).  The game provides pretty much 0 guidance on how you go about getting Battlemaster gear, so here’s how it works:

  • When you hit level 50, you can buy Champion Gear bags from the PvP vendor.  These cost 200 mercenary commendations and 200 warzone commendations.  If you play solely in the warzones and convert warzone comms to merc comms, that would be a total of 800 warzone commendations, or roughly a dozen matches (assuming you do well).
  • You can only have one Champion Gear bag at a time, and you have to be level 50 to open it.  This means if you’re under level 50, you can buy one and save it to open when you hit 50.
  • The Champion bag has a number of Centurion commendations in it.  You use these to buy Centurion grade PvP gear (most items take around 30-40 comms to buy).  There’s also a small chance that you’ll get a Champion item token.  You can trade this token for a single Champion grade item.   For example, I got a Champion belt token, which I traded for a Champion grade belt.
  • To get Battlemaster gear, you have to complete daily and weekly PvP missions, which consists of winning 3 daily matches and 9 weekly matches (there are also daily open world PvP missions, which I haven’t tried yet).  When you complete a daily or weekly PvP mission, you have a choice of picking a Champion bag or a Battlemaster bag (which requires Valor 60).  Obviously, if you have Valor 60, you’ll take the Battlemaster bag.  Otherwise, you have no choice but to take the Champion bag (see above).  The Battlemaster bag holds a number of Champion commendations, which can be used to purchase Champion grade gear (again, usually 30-40 commendations per item).   There’s also a chance it will contain a Battlemaster commendation.  Most Battlemaster grade gear requires 1 to 3 Battlemaster commendations to purchase (some only cost 200 merc and warzone comms, but still require Valor 60 to purchase).

And finally, a bit of advice for those with level 50 characters wanting to try PvP for the first time (from my experience):

  1. Be patient.  Progress will be slow at first, until you can pick up a few pieces of expertise gear to increase your damage output and decrease the amount of damage you take.
  2. Be prepared to die…a lot.  Really, at first you’ll go down like a sack of potatoes.
  3. Be prepared to do very little damage, until you get some expertise gear.
  4. Which means you won’t get many medals at first (hence #1, your progress will be slow).  There were some matches where I got 0 medals, which translates into only about 20 comms per match.
  5. With 2 & 3 in mind, you may want to consider respecing into healing or tanking (guarding) for a while, if you can.  Neither of these roles is dependent on expertise gear, so you should get at least a couple of medals each match (meaning 40-50 comms, a significant increase).  Once you some expertise gear, you can go back to DPS (which is more fun, imo).  Also, healers and tanks sometimes get more MVP votes, even if they don’t score a lot of medals.
  6. If all the above bothers you, but you still want to give PvP a try, then roll up a new character for a PvP alt.  Do PvE quests until you hit level 14 (when you get the Sprint ability) and then qeue up for the warzones.

I hope this information is of use to other PvP newbies like me.  Cheers.

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