Sunday, October 21, 2012

World of Warcraft Newbie Guide 12: A Warmonger's Way - Leveling Through Battlegrounds

Note: I would recommend doing battlegrounds for leveling at around level 25 or higher because the lower level brackets are extremely imbalanced due to a variety of reasons (stated below). In the interest of instructing players who insist on leveling in battlegrounds, however, I am adding this section early to ensure players who battleground to level know what it's all about. I will be excluding battlegrounds at the level cap (Silvershard Mines and Temple of Kotmogu)

So perhaps you're not a fan of traveling to other zones and immersing yourself in the lore (and generic kill quests) that such places have to offer. Maybe you're a big fan of PvP (player-versus-player) action and want to dive into it as soon as possible. No matter what reason you choose to level through battlegrounds, such PvP promises variant action, resulting in Honor Points and experience, the former of which can be spent on PvP equipment later on.

Be warned, however, as the path of a PvPer at the lower levels generates immense frustration due to a lack of class balance and enormous gear discrepancies (due to heirloom items and the like, which make characters far stronger than normal). Fortunately, these issues even out after the first few brackets (more on the concept of battleground brackets shortly) so PvP leveling won't seem painful after a certain point.

In this article you will learn about each battleground and the PvP window (default hotkey to open it is "H") as well as miscellaneous facts you may need to know when using this method of leveling.

The Battlegrounds

In this section I will summarize each battleground, describing the objectives that are needed to win. However, before going into individual battlegrounds, here's some things that might be helpful to know about battlegrounds in general:
  • Death works in a different way in a battleground. When you die from participating in PvP (even in the world, unless you die from falling or monsters while PvPing in the world), you suffer no durability damage to your equipment (though it will degrade normally from fighting). In addition, when you release you are sent to a graveyard where you will be able to resurrect after a brief time of up to 30 seconds. While you could run back to your corpse as normal, you resurrect at full health if you stay at the graveyard, so it is generally recommended you resurrect at the graveyard in a battleground.
    • Some battlegrounds have multiple graveyards. You will always be sent to the closest one possible. However, if the opposing team gains control of the graveyard before you resurrect, you will be sent to the next closest graveyard.
  • In a large number of the battlegrounds, you may notice a glowing chest in certain areas. These are known as runes and buff you based on what is contained within the chests. They always spawn in a fixed area and will respawn after a short time when used.
    • A chest with a boot in it, known as a Speed Rune, will increase your movement speed by 100% (does not stack with other effects)
    • A chest with an angry red face, known as a Rune of Berserking, will increase your damage done by a large amount and your damage taken by a small amount.
    • A chest with a green glow, known as a Healing Rune, will heal your health (and mana if applicable) by large amounts over a short time unless you suffer damage (which cancels the buff).
  • Objectives are more important than going for honorable kills. You gain no experience for honorable kills and winning a battleground usually nets more honor and experience overall. If you want to farm honor from kills, feel free to do it with a good group that is already winning the battleground by a massive margin.
  • Fight logically. Unless you know what you're doing, don't charge into a large group of people alone. It is almost always better to wait for allies to come help.
  • Slain enemies can be "looted" before they resurrect for a small amount of gold. Looting the insignia of a player prevents them from using the corpse to resurrect.
  • As a general rule always try to target the enemy healers because it makes it easier to defeat other enemies afterwards (thus resulting in more honor and so on).
  • Battlegrounds have level brackets in margins of five starting from level 10. This means brackets will be like 10-14, 15-19, 20-24, 24-29, etc. The only exception is if you are level capped, in which you will only be matched with other players your level.
  • Crowd control is your best friend. Crowd controlling an enemy and capturing a point to complete a battleground objective can be incredibly effective.
With that said, scroll below to view the summary of each battleground. This section is very long, so feel free to skip to the next section if you need to know how to use the PvP menu.

Warsong Gulch (and Twin Peaks)

Warsong Gulch is a capture-the-flag match with up to 10 players per team. Warsong Gulch is available starting at level 10. Points are scored by taking the enemy flag (at the top or bottom of the map, for Horde or Alliance respectively) and returning it to their base while they have control of their flag. If a team scores three points, they win. However, after 25 minutes without either team scoring three points, the team with the most points wins. In the event of a tie, the team to last score wins.

The general strategy of the battleground is to have a beefy player, preferably in a tank role, to grab the flag (by right clicking on it). Flag carriers should be protected by the group. Once the flag carrier is safely in the base, a group of damage dealers should go take out the enemy flag carrier (assuming they also got their flag carrier to their base). You can find both flag carriers by using the map (though the enemy flag carrier will take some time to show up after initially grabbing the flag). There will be a stacking debuff that makes it easier and easier to damage the enemy flag carrier, so don't give up.

In the event an enemy flag carrier dies, you can return the flag by right clicking on it (you'll know when you see a cogwheel when mousing over). This can happen the other way as well, and you can take the enemy flag from a fallen teammate by right clicking on it. Some abilities can force you to drop the flag while others cannot be used at all (generally immunity abilities). If you drop the flag for any reason, you cannot pick it up again for a brief moment.

Note that Twin Peaks is also a capture the flag map with a different (non-mirrored) map and new rune locations, as well as two graveyard points as opposed to one.

Arathi Basin (and Battle For Gilneas)

Arathi Basin is a "control the point" match fit for up to 15 players on each team. It is available starting at level 10. Players capture points by right clicking stationary flags at five capture points points, known as the: Blacksmith, Lumber Smith, Mines, Stables, and Farm. Capturing takes eight seconds. After a minute, the point comes under your faction's support and your team starts gaining points. Your team gains an increasing amount of points for each capture point your team controls. The first team to gain 1600 points achieves victory.

Capture points can be contested by the opposing faction by capturing it. When it is captured this way, if the point is recaptured by a player of your faction before the minute is out, your team instantly regains control. This also works in reverse. Any form of direct damage will prevent players from capturing a point. Because of this, when defending, a player should try to harm the opponent as much as possible, possibly even using area-of-effect abilities that deal direct damage to keep multiple enemies off a point. This is also a good to way stop opponents from recapturing a point you have chosen to contest.

One of the strongest strategies is to capture three points and hold them with dedicated defenders. When defending, try not to leave the flag unattended because enemy players can cap it right behind you if you're not careful. To supplement this, send a few players to attack enemy points to prevent them from grouping up and sending large numbers of attackers at a single point (known as "zerging"). When attacking, try to balance capturing the point and defeating enough enemies to stop them from capturing the point. For instance, if you see someone trying to actively defend a point (by spamming area-of-effect, etc) it would be helpful to take them out first.

Battle For Gilneas is essentially a 10-man version of Arathi Basin with only three control points. Like in Arathi Basin, the general strategy is to hold a majority of the points (two in this case). One thing to be careful of is utilizing offensive and defensive zerging (to attempt to or prevent capture of a point).

Eye of the Storm

Eye of the Storm is a mix of controlling points and capturing flags to score points. It can accept up to 15 players per team and is available starting at level 35. When 1600 points are accumulated by a team, they are the winners.

This map features four capture points in the corners of the map, known as the Mage Tower, Draenei Ruins, Fel Reaver Ruins, and Blood Elf Tower. Unlike in Arathi Basin, players only need to have a majority of their team on a point to capture the point (shown by a bar with a small line that indicates the level of contesting on the point with a red Horde area on one side and a blue Alliance area on the other side). Because of this it is even more important to have a player or two defending a point at all times.

In the middle of the map is a flag that can be taken after 8 seconds (like a flag in Arathi Basin) and captured at a base under your faction's control to score points. Scoring the flag grants an amount of points based on the amount of capture points you have. When the flag is dropped (by dying), it can be picked up just like in Warsong Gulch, except by any player of either faction and scored as normal. The amount of points scored by the flag is generally minimal and should only be used to break a stalemate. Capturing points is far more important because holding 3 or more points will allow you to gain more points than having 1 point with constant flag capturing.

Alterac Valley

Alterac Valley is a 40-man battleground that involves either defeating the enemy leader or draining the enemy's 600 reinforcements, which can be reduced by defeating enemies and capturing objectives. It is available starting at level 45. While this battleground looks incredibly complex and features some unique quirks, such as special quest items from looting enemy players, it is simple enough to complete the objectives. Alterac Valley is one of the battlegrounds that does not have runes.

The general strategy is to go for the enemy leader. In order to accomplish this, your team must capture enemy towers and graveyards in order to gain control of them (causing tower destruction and giving points further up on the offensive line to resurrect to). For each tower destroyed, your team gains a bit of honor and the faction who originally owned the tower loses 75 reinforcements. In addition, the enemy leader will have one less battlemaster assisting them, making them a lot easier to defeat.

Destroying all four enemy towers and controlling all four enemy graveyards is the ideal offensive position. When going on offense like this, defending the towers and graveyards being contested is the most important part because without successful graveyard captures and tower destructions, your team's offensive may be stopped cold.

In addition to this, some players are needed on defense. This can be done by either slowing down enemy progression head on or taking back towers and graveyards from behind. For defending, there are choke points in the base (which are at the north for Alliance and south for Horde) where a small group of players can attempt to hold back the torrential force of an enormous group of players.

One important objective that should always be gotten are the commanders (Galvangar or Balinda). When defeated your team gets a substantial amount of honor and reduces the enemy's reinforcements by 100. These commanders are also ideal for an allied team to defend because they are the first objective a team usually goes for.

A minor objective worth noting are the mines (denoted by mining carts on the map). When you defeat the leader inside the mines, they come under your faction's control. Mines passively increase your reinforcement count (up to 600) and are very helpful if the fight enters a stalemate, turning into a battle of reinforcements (if this happens it is okay to start killing players to farm honor, but keep an eye on objectives, especially tower objectives).

The best advice I can offer is to look at your chat and map because they both note when objectives are being contested (on the map you will know a place is contested because the icon for that area is half gray and half blue or red, depending on the faction contesting it).

Strand of the Ancients

Strand of the Ancients is a 15-man battleground where teams are either offense or defense, switching roles after a round for a two-round battleground. As offense the objective is to pilot demolishers and use bombs to destroy gates progressively until you reach the final gate known as the relic chamber gate. Once this last gate is destroyed, a player on the offensive team can right click the relic inside to end the round (as a victory for the offensive team). As defense the objective is to prevent the offense from capturing the relic within the time limit. The time limit is ten minutes initially, but the team defending second can have a reduced time limit of defense. This is equal to the amount of time it took for that team's offense to capture the relic in the first time.

Here's some advice if you are on offense:
  • When piloting a demolisher, use 1 (the ranged attack) to fire on the gate early, then rotate between 2 (melee attack) and 1 when close to the gate to maximize siege damage. You can also use the 2 ability to knock back enemy players.
  • Demolishers can be slowed, rooted, and attacked normally (though they are immune to most other crowd control). A player in the healer role can and should dispel all magical debuffs off of a demolisher.
  • Your team starts with four demolishers (which respawn when destroyed). You can get more by capturing graveyards past the first tier gate (they spawn in the buildings right next to the graveyard).
  • On the other hand, do not cap the second tier graveyard (South Graveyard) as the respawn area is very far from the demolisher spawn points.
  • Grouping demolishers is the strongest method of sieging. When piloting one, wait for some other demolisher drivers to show up and then mount an offensive (unless you are low on time). Try to stay a little spread out so area-of-effect slows don't hit all of the demolishers. This is especially helpful on the relic chamber gate because of how defensible it is.
  • Destroy the cannons near the gates. They have a high damage output and do not respawn once destroyed.
  • If you are on offense for the second round, try to win the round because doing so wins you the match (there are no ties).
Here's some advice if you are on defense:
  • For the initial defense, have four players man the four first tier cannons.
  • The remaining players should split into two groups and immediately start damaging enemy demolishers as soon as the ships land (while also damaging and crowd controlling enemies).
  • Always keep slowing and/or rooting effects on the enemy demolishers to slow progress down.
  • There are glowing circles near each gate that allow you to teleport behind the most forward tier of gates that is not destroyed (i.e. if a tier one gate is destroyed, it teleports you to the closest tier two gate).
  • The third tier gate is a choke point because there is only one gate. Man the cannons on it and have your team fall back once it is clear a tier two gate will fall, if not a little earlier.
  • The courtyard right before the final gate defending the relic is also an excellent choke point, though you will have no cannons to help you inside the courtyard.
  • Try to defend the first tier graveyards to prevent the extra demolishers from spawning for as long as possible (the cannons can shoot the capture flags). Keep in mind if the second tier graveyard is captured, the first tier graveyards are also automatically captured, though this is more beneficial for your team.
  • If you see a stationary demolisher, damage it until it is nearly destroyed. Destroying it will just cause it to respawn.
Isle of Conquest

Isle of Conquest is a 40-man battleground where teams siege the enemy fortresses in order to reach the commanders. While killing the commanders is the main objective of victory, each team gets 300 reinforcements which, when drained, causes the opposing team to win. While this makes Isle of Conquest seem somewhat like Alterac Valley, it is more of a mix of a few of the preceding battlegrounds with some unique quirks. The Horde base is to the north and the Alliance base is to the south.

There are seven objectives on the map. These are known as the Docks, Workshop, Hangar, Refinery, and Quarry and the Keeps themselves. These objectives work like the capture points in Arathi Basin in the sense that there are flags that players must actively capture for 8 seconds to contest a point. After one minute without contesting from the other team the point comes under that faction's control. I will describe each objective below:
  • The Docks, when captured, provide long range Glaive Throwers (up to two) that can fire out of range of any ranged opposition from the fortress. However, they are fragile. In addition, several quick Catapults, which can fire players into the base (with greatly reduced falling damage). While inside the base, players can grab bombs near the fortress and set them near a gate to gradually damage it.
  • The Workshop provides Demolishers, which function in a way similar to Demolishers in Strand of the Ancients (up to four). The major difference is additional players can ride these Demolishers and even attack from them. After three minutes of controlling the Workshop (enemy captures contesting this area will reset the timer, even if it is successfully defended), a Siege Engine spawns that has enormous health, powerful melee-oriented attacks, and turrets that other players can control to shoot explosive shots or fire. There are also piles of small bombs that players can run to a gate (recommended if you don't get any vehicles).
  • The Hangar provides an airship that players can teleport to using teleporters in the Hangar area. It that has several guns that can shoot enemies. In addition, players can jump off the airship and land safely into the enemy base, using the bombs near the fortress (as if they got in through a catapult) to damage the gates.
  • The Refinery and Quarry, when captured, increase all siege damage (stacking twice). In addition, they provide passive honor and reinforcements. It is recommended your team controls at least one of these.
  • The Horde/Alliance Keep can be captured to gain control of the graveyards there. The Workshop, Docks, and Hangar also have graveyards (if you have no graveyards under control you spawn in the northeast/southwest of the map as Horde/Alliance). This can only be captured if a base gate is destroyed (which also opens the door to the commander).
The general strategy is to have a large offensive with a small defense group that helps prevent the enemy team from breaking into the base for as long as possible. As the offense, the team should try to focus the western gate (the dock side gate) to take advantage of Glaive Throwers, even if your team didn't initially capture the docks. It is best to take advantage of the Docks, Workshop, and/or Hangar to the best potential possible. Eventually the entire offensive team can group up and go after the commander after the enemy gate falls.

As the defense, the role is to destroy the major siege vehicles such as the Glaive Throwers or Demolishers. You can stop the latter, along with enemy players who get to close to the base, by using the cannons mounted on two towers to shoot cannon shots or flames on the ground. These cannons can be repaired when destroyed (right click the destroyed cannon and wait for some time - make sure you're not in combat). Defenders should also try holding major objectives, lest some random enemy come and try to capture a point without contest. It is also important for defenders to try to stop the enemy from killing the allied commander.

The PvP Menu (And More)

The PvP menu can be accessed through the game menu as shown below or by using the hotkey "H."
Upon opening the PvP menu, you should see a window like the one below, though at a lower level you will see a much smaller list of Battlegrounds.
From here you can see your honor at the top. On top of doing objectives and killing enemy players, you also earn a little honor for completing battlegrounds and can potentially gain bonus honor for doing Random Battlegrounds and Call to Arms (see below), which is shown in the lower half of the window (when selecting a battleground manually, there is a brief description of the battleground instead).

Close to the bottom of the window are the options to join battle (either by yourself or as a group if you are the leader of a group). Joining a battle puts you in a queue for the battleground that will group you with random players from all realms within your region (up to two manual battleground queues can be active at a time), which, after a time, will alert you with a message in the center of the screen and a prompt the enter the battleground or hide the alert. You can use the join battleground option if you are already in a battleground (or queuing using the Dungeon Finder). Below that are tabs that allow you to see PvP Conquest objectives, Arena (teams), and War Games (battleground and arena matches against groups of players you know).

Going back up towards the top of the menu, you may have noticed there are crossed swords and a red thumbs down next to some of the PvP objectives you can join. The former indicates notable Honor-granting objectives that are recommended, which are the Random Battlegrounds and Call to Arms. Random Battlegrounds are an option available starting at level 45 that can be queued for that puts you into any battleground you are able to enter. The benefit of doing this is you can earn bonus honor (while leveling the amount is 90 for winning the first time each day, 45 for subsequent wins in a single day, and 15 for losing), but the drawback is you cannot manually queue for a battleground (or vice versa). Regardless, it is highly recommended that this feature is used as soon as it is available.

Call to Arms is similar to Random Battlegrounds in the sense that a player using it earns bonus honor for winning or losing. However, it manually queues for a specific battleground. This is dictated by a rotation that switches the Call to Arms battleground every 3-4 days. All battlegrounds are in this rotation, so if you are not a high enough level to enter certain battlegrounds, you may not see the Call to Arms in your PvP Menu. To check when specific Call to Arms happen, you can check your calendar as shown below:
First, open your calendar as normal (by default it is at the top right of the minimap circle).
Then, use the filters at the top right and make sure "Battleground Call to Arms" is checked off. You can then see when Call to Arms Battlegrounds are available.
Finally, the aforementioned red thumbs down indicate a battleground you have chosen to exclude from the Random Battleground. You can use this blacklist feature to exclude up to two battlegrounds (but not Call to Arms ones). To enable it, just click the area to the right of the Battleground (highlight it until you see the outline of a thumbs down) to blacklist that battleground. If you change your mind later, just click off the thumbs down.

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