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What is Twinking?
The act of twinking a character is described as "The process of artificially or excessively buffing up a character using resources from a higher level character, a higher level friend, gold bought from an RMT site, or any method other than normal play of that character. The classic example of twinking is using your own high level character to farm or buy full sets of powerful gear for a lower level character of your own."
What does that really mean in World of Warcraft? Since Blizzard allows us to have up to 10 characters per server, having alts is a common practice. What do you do, though, when you want to have a fun PvP experience but don't want to level all the way up to 80 to get the most out of it? You make a twink character!
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The Basics of Twinking
PvP in World of Warcraft is broken down into level ranges. At level 10 you can enter your first battleground, Warsong Gulch. Players level 10-19 are grouped together, 20-29, 30-39, and so on. The first step of making a twink character is getting it into the bracket you want to PvP in. If you already have the gear and items you want to use, then level the character up to the max level in the bracket, equip the items, and go! Most characters, though, need Bind on Pickup items that are only found in instances. For example, level 19 twink Rogues usually want two Cruel Barbs which only drop in Deadmines and have a very low drop rate. They may begin buying runs through the instance as low as level 10 to make sure they do not earn too much XP while trying to get them.
Besides getting the best possible gear in their level bracket, twinks also want the best enchants. Enchants that were introduced in the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions have item level requirements on them that prevent very low level twinks from getting them. However, original enchants like Crusader or +15 Agility can be used on any level item.
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Bind on Account Items
Since Wrath of the Lich King released there is now a fantastic new way to twink your characters using currency earned on a maximum level raiding character of your own! If you have a whole bunch of Emblems of Heroism or Stone Keeper's Shards laying around, you can use them to purchase a plethora of Bind on Account items that you can send to any of your characters on the same server. These items are called Heirlooms, and their stats scale with the level of the character. See the complete list. There is no limit to how many heirloom items you can equip on a character, but there isn't an item for every slot. You will still need to hunt down some other high level items as well as enchant all your gear, which can cost quite a lot of gold.
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How does Twinking Effect PvP Dynamics?
If you are a lower level character entering a battleground in "modern" WoW, it is pretty much assumed that you are twinking that character. New players trying to get a feel for the PvP offered in WoW, or players who just want to have fun with it, are often frustrated when a fully twinked Rogue spends the duration of the battleground ensuring that they never stray more than 5 yards away from the graveyard. The facts are, if you are not playing a twinked character then the whole battleground experience at low levels is nothing but frustrating and in no way fun. However, if you are playing a twinked character, then you'll have a blast.
Twinks have been around since the very beginning of WoW, and they're not going away. If anything, with the introduction of Heirloom items the developers have made it easier for anyone to have a twinked character. So, give in, and make one of your own! You won't regret it.
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The Top 10 Twink Items
#10 - Night Reaver - The Night Reaver is a two-handed axe with 20.6 DPS, and a chance to strike the target with a 60-90 damage shadowbolt upon hit. It is a decent weapon for melee classes in the 10-19 twinking bracket, particularly Paladin's who cannot dual-wield. It is a zone drop from Shadowfang Keep, which is recommended for level 20 and above. You'll probably need to get a run-through around or before level 16 so as not to surpass the bracket while you're doing it.
#9 - Twisted Chanter's Staff - The Twisted Chanter's Staff is one of the top level 19 twink caster staffs available. It's a world drop, and very rare at that. Most of the time you can find one on the auction house, but expect the price to be high!
#8 - Bow of Searing Arrows - While 39 isn't as popular of a pvp bracket as 19 and 29, there is one amazing item that any 39 twink Hunter must have - The epic Bow of Searing Arrows. It has the highest DPS as well as an "on hit" that deals extra damage. It's a rare world drop and one of the lowest level epic items, so prices are high and availability is low.
#7 - Blackend Defias Armor - One of a few highly coveted level 19 twink armor pieces, the Blackened Defias Armor also drops off of Van Cleef in the Deadmines (along with Cruel Barb). This could translate to quite a few Deadmines runs for a Rogue twink. The Blackened Defias Armor is leather, and well suited to Rogues, Feral Druids, Hunters, and Enhancement Shamans.
#6 - Feet of the Lynx - Feet of the Lynx are leather boots, extremely highly coveted by level 19 twink aspirants. They are a world drop, and extremely rare, meaning they often cost several hundred gold.
#5 - Engineering Goggles - Many twinks choose to be engineers, because the goggles that one can craft have good stats, low level requirements, and are the first head-slot items available. Not only that, but the little crafted bombs are fun too.
#4 - Thermaplugg's Left Arm - Thermaplugg's Left Arm is a 29 twinking item for Warriors or Paladins. It's a two-handed axe that a ton of Strength and very high DPS. It drops in Gnomeregan, and will likely require you to purchase several run-throughs.
#3 - Master Hunter's Rifle / Bow - The Master Hunter's Rifle and Bow are great items because, even though they are Uncommon quality, the vastly out-class all the others in the level range. The reason for this is that this item is a reward from a quest that is incredibly difficult to complete at the lower levels. You can acquire this quest at level 28, but will need the help of a higher level player to complete it.
#2 - Cruel Barb - As discussed before, the Cruel Barb is one of the best and most widely known twinking items. It drops off of Van Cleef in the Deadmines, increases attack power, and therefore is the object of most Rogue's and Warrior's undying adoration. Getting this item is incredibly difficult, because it drops very rarely and you need two of them to truly kick butt.
#1 - Deadman's Hand - Added in patch 2.3, when "old world" dungeons received a significant item overhaul, the Deadman's Hand is an epic quality ring that increases Stamina and has a chance of freezing someone in ice that strikes you in combat. It requires level 29, so is therefore one of the most amazing twinking items that ever existed.