Dateline Azeroth: War Never Changes

Dateline AzerothThe introduction to every Fallout game wouldn’t be complete without the phrase, “War. War never changes.” Fallout is a great franchise, but those guys never locked and loaded in a World of Warcraft battleground. Last week we gave a quick overview of battleground dos and don’ts, along with a good look at the Warsong Gulch battleground. This week we’re going to take a hard look at the other battleground available to new gladiators in WoW Battlegrounds: Arathi Basin.

First, a quick review.

1. Battlegrounds are a team effort.

2. You will die.

3. Even when you lose you win.

If you’ve got these three rules for throwing down in the battlegrounds of World of Warcraft burned into your combat-ready brain, you’re ready to move on to Arathi Basin. This battleground is often referred to as Arathi or simply AB, and it becomes available for characters at level 10. AB is a 15 vs. 15 match that takes place in the Arathi Highlands. The League of Arathor for the Alliance squares off against the Forsaken Defilers on the Horde side for a unique contest that resembles ‘King-of-the-Hill’ or ‘Conquest’ modes in other multiplayer combat games.

To win Arathi Basin, your side must accumulate 1,600 resource points before the other side. These points are gained when your side captures and maintains control of five different resource nodes across the map: the Farm, the Stables (ST), the Blacksmith (BS), the Lumber Mill (LM) and the Gold Mine (GM). The exact math for the rate at which resource points are amassed is somewhat complex. In the simplest terms, the more nodes your side controls, the faster your faction acquires resource points.

Capturing a node is very simple on paper. One need only travel to the node (with a small group, if at all possible) and activate the flag located at the node. Once activated, a gauge will appear on the screen, displaying the progress of the change of possession. That gauge will continue to move in your faction’s favor as long as you or your comrades remain in the immediate area…and alive. Protecting a node capture (also referred to as a cap) is one of the most exhilarating and trying activities in battlegrounds.

Libraries of strategies have been written on winning AB, but there are really only three I see employed when capturing nodes in pick-up battleground matches:

Zerg – Ah yes, Blizzard’s superior real-time-strategy game noses into WoW once again. In a Zerg, a group of players throw themselves at a node. The strategy is a very straightforward shock-and-awe assault that, when applied by competent denizens of the battleground (or by a large group against a smaller one), can be successful. It is, however, not very elegant and relies a lot on luck, numbers and skill. It also can leave any nodes your side has captured under-defended.

Ninja / Shielded – The Ninja/Shield (N/S) method relies on either a stealth-capable character or one who can shield himself almost indefinitely. The N/S character slips in behind a group of skirmishers meant to occupy the current defenders. While the defenders are busy fighting for their lives, the N/S character makes the cap. This is surprisingly effective, and doesn’t rely as much on pure skill.

Pull and Cap – This particular strategy isn’t employed as much as others. It requires a good bit of finesse, but can be very effective. Think of Pull and Cap like fishing: too many battleground participants are just there for the honor kills, and dangling what appears to be an easy kill in front of a bored defender makes for a tasty lure. The defender leaves the node for a moment and goes for the kill. The lure flees and “pulls” the defender away while another hidden character swoops in for the capture! Executing a successful Pull-and-Cap is incredibly rewarding.

Even more so than in Warsong Gulch, communication wins or loses this particular battleground. Calling out when enemy forces are assaulting a node can make all the difference. Once a side has captured a node, it can take as long as a minute for the other side to retake it. That minute is plenty of time to holler out for help as well as inform your teammates just how many enemy forces are attacking that node. Staying in touch with your team while scouting or when attacking nodes is vital also, especially when dealing with stealth-capable opponents.

Remember that win or lose you’re bound to take home some honor and come away from the engagement a more effective battleground combatant. You’ll also collect some experience points (quite a few if you do the right quests during your battleground engagements). Good hunting, everyone.

Gol-Kosh!” (By my axe!) – Orcish oath

Dateline Azeroth updates every Tuesday. Join us next week when we pick apart exactly why everyone has played a Hunter.