Avoiding and escaping ganks whilst levelling on a PvP realm in WoW Classic
On a PvP realm ganking and being ganked are as predictable and constant as the rising and setting of the sun. If you have committed to playing on a PvP server for Classic then it's likely you already enjoy this aspect of World PvP immensely - relishing the ability to turn around and fight or make a smooth getaway depening on the circumstances. This is all part of the fun at the end of the day.
This guide however focuses primarily on arming you with the knowledge to escape. It makes the assumption (which people PvP players from ages gone past will support) that 90% of the times you are jumped you will be out levelled and out of options to fight back. Any smart player under these circumstances will choose instead to run and fight another day, or better still, to avoid these situations in the first place.
If you've played on private servers recently, or levelled up on a PvP realm way back in retail Vanilla, then a lot of this advice will be fairly obvious to you. For the rest of the readers today who are keen to level up efficiently and avoid unecessary time losses (through deaths that could have been avoided), I hope you find this information useful.
The greatest counter to high level gankers is levelling alongside other players. Whether it's just two of you, or a group of you, or some guildmates working together; the more of you there the more options you will have for escaping ganks.
Being in a party multiplies the amount of CC abilities and items at your disposal, and being part of a bigger network (ie a Guild) will provide you with vital intel about the zone you are in, and a means of calling for aid and setting up traps/deterring/counter-ganking people who decide to mess with you.
Sure you will take a small loss of XP per party member, but think about the XP that would otherwise be lost as a solo player - by taking ridiculously long routes to skip notorious areas or quests, being killed often by other groups, and in general moving with trepidation and fear from one objective to the next.
That small statistical loss of experience is totally outweighed, in my opinion, by the hidden time gains of levelling as a group and moving confidently through Azeroth without hindrance.
Camera movement is key
People aren't going to fight honourably for a gank - they'll come at you from behind or from the sides (or if you're really unlucky from stealth, but we'll deal with that later). Make sure your camera is configured properly to make the most use of your 360 degree field of vision:
Remove camera follow from the settings so that you can control panning and pitch separately from your character movement. Set a hotkey for Camera Flip (which turns the camera 180 when pressed) so you can easily and often look over your shoulder at what's behind you.
Communicate with the enemy
/emotes are the only way you can really communicate with the enemy faction and can be useful for defusing situations. A simple /salute or /wave is enough of a signal to the other player that 'hey, I'm just here to do this quest, not interested in a fight'.
This is useful throughout all contested zones and helps stop revenge fights or running conflicts from emerging from basic mistakes or misunderstandings between players who initially just wanted to level.
Avoid playing greedily
If you absolutely must play on your own with no support, or want to play safer as a group, you should consider taking it easy on the pulls. Some classes can grind mobs pretty efficiently if they're left alone - for example hunters fighting two mobs simultaneously (pet pulling one and hunter on the other) or mages running around with frost armour, CoC and blizzard.
These kind of strategies are awesome and efficient but remember that most gankers will wait for the mobs to get you low before pouncing, ensuring they get an easy HK. By playing greedily you're opening yourself up to not only high level ganks but also ganks from people your level or even lower than you. That's a lot of risk so only do it when you feel very safe.
Eating and drinking often between pulls is also a good way to reduce your chances of being ganked at low health whilst levelling. Also be aware however that when sitting you are more likely to be hit by a critical strike, so try and do so with your back against a wall.
Don't move into new zones at the minimum level
For example, if you're level 30 don't rush straight to Strangelthorn Vale - take your time finishing off extra quests or grinding high level mobs in your current zone. Enter STV a few levels higher - you will receive slightly less XP but will have an immediate advantage over same-level gankers and any opposing faction competition.
Monitor local and world defense channels
Use these channels frequently for purposes of both receiving information about gankers and reporting gankers. They are literally there for that purpose! You may well get a lot of interest from your own faction's high level players who will come out for the fights and deter gankers for a while. Before entering a zone just have a quick scroll and you will be better prepared.
Use the terrain to your advantage
Fighting with your back to a wall can prevent crits from behind. Sitting or /sleeping under a bush can hide both your character model and your name tag too. Stay off of busy roads and remember that staying in a town doesn't mean you are safe - low level guards especially are not difficult for a high level player to deal with.
Don't leave a trail that points to you like an arrow. Many quests begin with mobs right alongside the road. As you kill them and move further away from the road, you are leaving a corpse trail that any half brained enemy can follow. Also don't follow roads if you can afford not to.
For players at launch
If you are lucky enough to be able to play Classic consistently right after launch you may be less liable to high level ganks on your very first character. That level 60 Orc Rogue stalking Redridge Mountains won't be there on launch day, or launch week, or maybe even launch month. He or she is also just as keen to level up as you are.
If you can catch the wave, that is to say, make progress quicker than the average players on your realm, you may find yourself higher level than the majority of your peers and even reach very sparsely populated zones where if any competition exists it may be the case that they aren't bothered about you and will leave you alone, as you will them... perhaps >:)
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=2459 can be crafted by Alchemists or dropped by world mobs and elites. They're cheap, plentiful and easy to find so a really popular potion to keep in your kit for a getaway. Since this is the first potion I have mentioned remember that all potions share a cooldown so you can only choose one.
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=2820/nifty-stopwatch is a 10% smaller run-speed https://classic.wowhead.com/item=2459 in trinket form with no charges and a longer cooldown of 30 minutes. A useful pick up from quest https://classic.wowhead.com/quest=778/t ... to-be-hard in Badlands where your second trinket at this point probably isn't great anyway.
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=7189/g ... cket-boots or https://classic.wowhead.com/item=10724/ ... cket-boots are also great alternatives for a run-speed boost when you need it if you are an Engineer.
Snaring and stunning escape items
Engineering items like https://classic.wowhead.com/item=835/large-rope-net, https://classic.wowhead.com/item=4403/p ... nze-mortar, https://classic.wowhead.com/item=4394/big-iron-bomb, https://classic.wowhead.com/item=4388/d ... ulator-ray etc. all share a cooldown but can be a great go-to stun. Net is especially nice with a single-target 10 second snare (on a 1 minute cooldown!) whilst the bombs/mortars max out at 3 second stun but are also AOE.
https://www.wowhead.com/spell=12758 For engineers - the proc is amazing (30-second stun) providing the ganker has used trinkets and CC-breakers already. This will give you enough time to make a break for it. Must be equipped in anticipation of course.
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=9394/h ... ing-helmet Horde only. For non-engineering plate-wearers: same proc as the goblin rocket helmet but with a 10min longer cooldown. Also dropped by Eric the Swift in Uldaman.
Floating escape items
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=10518/parachute-cloak can be made by engineers and is equipped in back slot. Useful on high terrain where you can jump off a ridge or cliff and then float away.
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=9404 Horde only. Drops from https://classic.wowhead.com/npc=6907/eric-the-swift in Uldaman.
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=10726/ ... ontrol-cap also deserves a mention here and can be a hell of a lot of fun if it works. If you're on high terrain just walk them off of a cliff as if you were a priest and even high level gankers will die from a significant enough fall.
Water escape items
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=6372 or https://classic.wowhead.com/item=5996 can be useful if you're next to a very large body of water with which you can escape. Most people really won't be bothered to go for a swim unless they're a druid or also buffed up like you.
Invisibility escape items
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=4397/g ... ing-device is fantastic item that will provide you just enough invisibility to get out of line of sight and make a dash for it. Pretty steep cooldown.
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=9172/i ... ity-potion is also great, offering longer invisibility (18 seconds) but, unlike the cloaking device, cannot be used in combat and has charges so will eventually run out.
Mob taunting items for standing ground
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=4366 can be made by Engineers quite early on and is a useful AoE taunt in case you are ganked with multiple mobs also attacking you when you want to stay and fight. Later on you can craft improved versions https://classic.wowhead.com/item=4392 and https://classic.wowhead.com/item=16023.
Early spotting and avoidance
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=5507, crafted by Engineers but usable by all, can help scouting across open plain type zones to see trouble early.
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=18660 can be useful for long distance travelling where you don't want to be seen and don't have to attack any mobs.
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=5634 that's 30 second stun and slowing immunity . Useful if you know you're in for some long race slowing CC.
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=20008 is a similar rendition which has a lower preventative period but also frees you from current CC on you if you have no trinket up.
Other useful bits and bobs
https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=3453, https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=12609, https://classic.wowhead.com/item=10501/ ... ra-goggles and https://classic.wowhead.com/item=18645 are all profession-craftable items that can help with stealth detection if you are having a particularly hard time against persistent rogue or druid gankers in the area.
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=7969/mithril-spurs make blacksmiths a lot of money due to their popularity and for good reason providing faster mounted travel.
https://classic.wowhead.com/item=8529/n ... ger-elixir can provide either a size-reduction, underwater breathing, or reduced fall speed so I guess it's alright but you won't know what effect it has had until after you pop the elixir.
Other selectable tracking abilities like https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=1494, https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=19883, https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=19884 etc. and https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=6197 all give extra situational awareness to a Hunter paying attention to his minimap.
Kiting abilities like https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=5116, https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=2974, https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=5118 and https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=1499 all work well with run-speed items to quickly increase range and get out of sight.
Finally, a neat little trick that is hilarious - you can https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=5384/feign-death and then pop an invisibility potion or gnomish stealthing device and it looks like you have died and released spirit! Whilst they are wondering why they didn't receive an HK you can get out of there
Keep https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=17 and HP up with healing spells as you grind mobs down. https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=8122 any sudden approaches that you can decloak using https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=15430.
They also have https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=2983 which can be combined with a Gouge/Kidney Shot/Cheap Shot for a running escape.
https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=5697 allows for a good water escape combined with a speed swimming item. https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=698 can be used for revenge ganks if an enemy group sticks around for too long :)
https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=126 will allow you to scout out chokepoints and cave entrances. https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=693 can allow you to resurrect out of line of sight sometimes at which point you can use another item to get away completely.
https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=118 can waste a trinket if you have time to cast it and then https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=1953.
https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=5225 can be used to track enemy player movements on the minimap.
You can keep your HP topped up with HoTs or other healing spells inbetween pulls.
Lastly, you can https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=5215 whilst travelling and moving between mobs/quests. The high movement speed abilities, healing, tracking, and Prowl make Druids a really tough target to gank.
https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=853 is also an okay option when paired with an escape item of some sort.
Keep your HP topped up with healing spells inbetween pulls.
https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=2645 also allows for an instant run-speed bonus that can be paired with other speed increasing items.
Free https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=131 + https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=546 for water escapes, https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=6196 for scouting.
Keep your HP topped up with HoTs or other healing spells inbetween pulls.
https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20573 Orcs will passively have an additional quarter chance not to be stunned.
https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=7744/ ... e-forsaken Undead can escape from sleep charm and fear every 2 minutes, or cast it before for 5 seconds of immunity.
https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=5227 free water breathing for Undead water escapes.
https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20600 Humans can cast Perception for 20 seconds, every 3 minutes, providing great stealth detection against Rogues and Druids.
https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20580/shadowmeld Can be used out of combat to disappear (but not move) and passively makes your Stealth or Prowl even harder to detect, making for safer Rogue and Druid stealth levelling.
Great write up! A few things I’d like to add for Hunter in particular that have helped me:
-Tracks have no mana cost and don’t trigger the 5 second rule for regen. Constantly toggle your Track Humanoid once you get to the zones that have potential for opposing faction players. Movement from players are very obvious compared to mob movement, as their patrol is generally fairly small and movement speed outside of combat is very slow. Paying attention to your minimap with Track Humanoid active can completely eliminate the element of surprise for 9/10 encounters, and not letting someone get the jump on you is a great benefit when you badly out kit most classes for world pvp.
-Pet Management is a big separation of skill for world PvP. 99% of Hunter’s will be BM spec for leveling and your pet does a LOT of damage. Keybind your pet attack/return (or even bake them into a macro with Dash etc as the mobility CDs for pets are much better toggled off letting you use them when you need them) and keep your pet on passive for maximum control.
-Keeping distance. Many people don’t realize just how strong Concussive Shot (and all yours shots) on a 35 yard range and short CD with a steroid pet is. You have a 30-33% movement speed buff (depending how soon you talent Improved Aspect of the Cheetah) starting at level 20. Don’t let people near you.
-Toggling off Aspect of the Cheetah. Pay attention to what your enemy is doing. If they have a chance to hit you with anything you need have AotC off when you get hit, the Daze is far too impactful. With proper management of everything I said you can easily 1v2 2x Warriors multiple levels higher than you because they simply can’t touch you if they don’t get the jump unless you make a mistake.
There’s also a Horde item from one of the Senjin quests called https://classic.wowhead.com/item=4941/r ... ticky-glue. You get a 10 stack from an easy quest early on. Try your best to save every one of these unless you absolutely need it to save you from death. It’s ridiculously invaluable to have a 10s root on a 1m CD.
E: oh 1 more! With spell batching you can fire off a shot and still start drinking/eating before being put into combat. If you’re worried about someone jumping you when low but don’t want to stop killing things, Trap at your Feet (within shot range of mob) -> Serpent Sting -> Drink/Eat/Send Pet to take aggro. If someone jumps you in melee range they’ll likely be trapped and you can assess from there. With ranged mobs you’ll have to send your pet in early and time it well to get aggro after your shot and before the mobs hits you with a ranged attack.