Leveling via PVP
So you want to level via PVP, now that it’s available? Who could blame you? If you’re a PVP healer, then leveling the old-fashioned way is not going to help you too much when you hit 80.
Dual-speccing and questing in a damage spec is great, but learning to play as an elemental or enhancement shaman, boomkin or cat druid, shadow priest or ret pally is not going to teach you how to heal, and even if you already have a top-level healer, the differences can be enough that actual healing experience on your alt is helpful.
Healing instances is a good way to learn what your buttons do and some situational use of heals, but if you have a good tank, most of the time the damage to the rest of the party, including you, will be minimal, and most pulls will be planned and well-controlled. It’s decent practice, but just as knowing how to PVP heal does not necessarily make you a good PVE healer (instances bring the lulz when Ahami heals!), knowing how to heal in PVE does not mean you will rock PVP hardcore.
PVP has a different set of challenges. Damage is much more spread out, meaning that even if you are a single-target healer in PVE, you have to be a group or raid healer in PVP, and you must think that way. There are thinking humans (allegedly) on the other side in PVP, and they are unpredictable. You have to be able to adapt when they strategize or do something crazy. You have to have a different kind of situational awareness, because other people do things NPC adds and circles of fire and doom do not.
So if you want to heal for PVP at 80, the best way to learn now that you can gain XP in battlegrounds is to start hitting them to level.
At level 10, you can enter Warsong Gulch. You can queue up for Arathi Basin at 20, Alterac Valley at 51, Eye of the Storm at 61, and Strand of the Ancients and Isle of Conquest at 71.
The absolute fastest battleground to level in is Alterac Valley, because they got some PVE in their PVP. Balinda Stonehearth and Vanndar Stormpike, or if you’re Alliance, Galvangar and Drek’Thar, grant approximately 20,000 XP each.
Since Bal and Galv almost always go down, you’ll get 20,000 per battle, plus the minor XP — hundreds to 1,000 or so — for other kills, and another several thousand for each tower captured. On Onashne, I seem to be getting at least 60,000 XP or so even when we lose, and much more if we win.
Of course, unless you manage to get the enemy to engage, sometimes a feat of strength in and of itself, AV is not really the best practice either. The zone is basically a mix of PVE and PVP, and if everyone ignores the PVP aspect of it … you might as well be healing an instance, though AV ends much more quickly.
Second-best seems to be Isle of Conquest. Because there are a lot of objectives to capture, as well as a boss to kill — Overlord Agmar for the Horde, High Commander Halford Wyrmbane for the Alliance — wins here can also net a lot of XP. And IoC is good practice for Wintergrasp, of course.
But if you plan to be an arena junkie rather than a battleground healer, Arathi Basin is probably your best bet. Why? Nodes to capture, first off, so you will gain slightly more XP than in Warsong Gulch. With the new defender buff, if you stay on a captured flag you will earn honor faster.
But more importantly, if you defend a flag, particularly the Lumber Mill or the Blacksmith with are almost always in contention, it will most likely be you healing and a couple DPS, you will be fighting in a small, controlled area with a few obstacles such as buildings and terrain to use as line of sight, and the other team will immediately be going for you, the healer, if they have anything resembling brains. As far as I can tell, this mirrors some arena conditions pretty well.
Other positives? Before AV, Arathi Basin seems to be the best battleground for earning XP. And it’s also one of the easiest battlegrounds to practice BG strategy in; there are some set strategies that work well if your team can pull them off — the Iron Triangle, for example, of taking and holding the Farm, the Lumber Mill and the Blacksmith — but it also lends well to adaptation.
Eye of the Storm and Strand of the Ancients seem to grant XP at about the same rate as Arathi Basin. But both can be a fun change of pace if you’re tired of the other options, and the Strand, like the Isle, is good practice for Wintergrasp.
The worst for leveling seems to be Warsong Gulch. You only gain XP when flags are captured, and then the amount is fairly low.
And Wintergrasp, of course, is also great for XP, but you can no longer enter it during battle until level 75.
Ready to level via PVP? Good luck, have fun, and strength and honor!