WoW Correspondent - WoW Battlegrounds: Warsong Gulch
World of Warcraft Correspondent Robert Duckworth pens this article giving some details and tricks for the Warsong Gulch Battleground in WoW.
The new Sands of the Ancients battleground is fast approaching along with the rest of Wrath of the Lich King. Just because there is a new battleground does not mean that it is going to replace the old ones though. All four currently in The Burning Crusade, from Warsong Gulch to Eye of the Storm, are going to remain an integeral part of PvP life in World of Warcraft. At this point even the same tokens and the system of secondary PvP rewards through honor is planned. So while there have been no changes announced to the old battlegrounds, that does not mean they don't deserve a look. The next few articles will cover the battlegrounds in depth and discuss the important finer points of each one.
A Guide to Warsong Gulch
Lore-wise, Warsong Gulch leaves something to be desired. Night Elves clashing with Orcs over who should control Ashenvale hails directly from Warcraft 3 and is perfect. The two factions trying to capture each others flag not once, but the same one three times... not so much. Thankfully Warsong Gulch(WSG) is completely enjoyable even without any lore attached. Some would even argue that this is the best out of all of the current battlegrounds because of its straightforward and even objectives. Unlike Alterac Valley, WSG is a mirror map where both the Horde and Alliance sides are identical except for the occasional cosmetic difference.
First a rundown of the basics: Each side consists of 10 players. These 10 players then need to work together in order to steal the enemies flag while at the same time protecting their own. To capture a flag, a team must steal it and then bring it back to their base to the same place that their own flag resides. A team cannot capture a flag if their own flag is not safe inside their base. 45 seconds after a flag is picked up, its location will be displayed on the battleground map. In order to get their flag back a team must cause the enemy player who is holding it to drop it, and then click on it in order to return it to their base. Flag carriers can drop their flag in three ways: They are killed, they choose to drop it, or they activate an ability which forces them to drop it such as a rogues vanish or a paladins bubble. The game ends once one side captures three flags.
Unlike other battlegrounds where there is a time associated with ending as long as both sides are trying, WSG could effectively last forever. If neither side manages to capture their opponent's flag or to rescue their own flag after it was stolen there would just be a stalemate. In order to help alleviate this problem, Blizzard introduced a few changes. As soon as either flag is picked up from its spawn point a timer starts. This timer will count up until either one team scores, or both flags are back at their starting points at the same time. Once the timer reaches ten minutes then whoever is holding a flag will get a debuff called Focused Assult, making them take an increased 50% damage from all sources and restricting their movement to normal speed. For example, a druid's travel form will be no faster then their humanoid form anymore. Once the timer has reached fifteen minutes, a new debuff will be added called Brutal Assault which increases the damage taken up to 100% from all sources. While these changes do help, WSG still has the potential to last indefinitely.
Any class has the ability to run the flag. A druid is often considered the perfect class because of their increased movement rate and their near invulnerbility to snares, but anybody can do it. It is important that the flag runner has teammates to protect them though, no matter how good they supposedly are. Healing, DPS and crowd control on the enemy, anything to keep the flag runner alive and moving. The flag runner needs to make sure that they don't find themselves seperated from the rest of their team. A lonely flag runner is one that's not going to live very long. Also, speed is not everything. While the faster a team moves the flag across the battle field the safer it can potentially be, there is such a thing as moving too fast. Racing from one battle to the next without a real break is a drain on mana and sometimes players just need to stop and drink up somewhere safe.
Because of the nature of the game, both teams are constantly on offense and defense at the same time. Some of the team is trying to protect their flag runner while the rest is trying to kill the enemy flag runner and get their flag back. This is where communication becomes extremely important. Choosing whether to help defend your flag runner or spend your time attempting to get your own flag back can be a game altering decision. If the team is communicating properly then there should be no problems. Notifying your team mates of where the enemy is clumped, or that the base your flag runner is about to go into is filled with the enemy laying in ambush, needs to be communicated to the rest of the team.
Tips 'n Tricks
There's more to WSG than just sticking together and communicating though. There are many ways that the goal of capturing a flag can be accomplished. And unlike in many of the other battlegrounds, in WSG it really feels like every player is contributing. One tactic that can be incredibly demoralizing to your opposition is flag relaying. Nobody wants to flag relay but sometimes it's the only solution, most often when your team happens to lack any kind of healer. Basically the flag runner is going along but they are almost dead and so some of his teammates will move in and swarm around him. While those protecting the flag carrier might keep protecting him and healing him, they know that he's going to die. As soon as the flag carrier is dead, the teammates will use some form of AoE crowd control, attempting to force all enemy players away, giving them the ability to pick up the flag as soon as it has been dropped. While crowd control is not necessary, it can help guarantee the transition between dead flag runner and live one. The people trying to kill the flag runner should know this as well though, and always take steps to try and prevent it.
Another solid tactic is to attempt to isolate the runner from the rest of their teammates. As shown with flag relaying, it's bad to allow the enemy flag runner to be near his teammates. Not only for chain running, but also because the enemy flag runner will be getting non-stop heals, making him incredibly hard, if not impossible, to kill. Many flag runners will attempt to just keep pushing forward, not realizing that they are leaving the rest of their team behind. If nothing else, players should try to crowd control the enemy flag runner's healers so that they are too far away to help him.
A good portion of each game often comes down to each team having control of the other team's flag in their base. Both teams must balance defending their flag runner and sending a group of players all the way to the enemy base to get their flag back. The flag runner is effectively holed up inside their base, but there's a few popular spots for them to go. Often times a flag runner will attempt to hide somewhere around the base, keeping themselves out of view and undetectable despite the fact they appear on the map. There's a couple of spots at both bases that can be used this way, from hiding inside archways to behind trees. Otherwise many choose to just stand on top of the turn in spot so that as soon as their teams flag is taken back they can score. There's also the roof of each base, which takes the longest to get to but provides a short jump into the flag turn in location. One of the safest spots for a flag runner though is at their own graveyard. With protectors that die able to spawn sometimes instantly and get back into the fight, beating off the waves of attackers can become incredibly easy. The only problem with this tactic is that the flag runner is so far from where they turn the flag in to score, that the enemy can often just pick the flag back up again and escape, causing a repeat of the whole situation.
There are a few ways to combat a hidden enemy flag runner. First, even if you cannot see them, the map showing their location is not wrong. It may appear sometimes as if there's no way for the map to be right, but that just means that they're so well hidden you haven't found them yet. There are three floors to each base; the flag room, the second floor, and the roof. The hidden areas in each of these locations should be fully searched if that's where the map makes it look like the enemy flag runner is. Another good technique to use is the chat command "/target", also simplified to just "/tar". So typing "/tar name", makes it so that the enemy flag carrier can easily be selected. Then if you are a pet class you can take it a step further and all you have to do now is send your pet to go attack and follow it while it tracks your target.
While Warsong Gulch is a simple battleground, its simplicity is what makes it so balanced and fun. This article is not saying that Warsong Gulch is the epitomy of battleground PvP though. This article is just meant as a guide to the necessity behind communication and team work, as well as a few various methods to achieve the goals of the battleground. There are always more techniques that players can and have come up with in regards to WSG, but this is a guide to the basics.