Once you enter Arathi Basin through the swirling red instance portal, the Battleground will begin its countdown. Alliance players will appear in the League's camp at Trollbane Hall, located in the northwest of the Basin. Horde players will appear in the southeast of the map in the Defiler's Den.
During the two minutes or so prior to the start of the game, you should take care of the following things:
The status of nodes in Arathi Basin is indicated by a flag, which can be in one of five states (from your point of view):
Neutral flags are white and Contested flags have a grey symbol of the assaulting faction on them. Captured/Lost flags are either red (Horde) or blue (Alliance).
The process of taking a Neutral or Lost flag is called "assaulting" the flag. Assaulting a flag is a simple matter:
If a Captured flag is successfully assaulted (the enemy survives the 8-second "channeling"), the flag will change to Enemy-Contested, and one of two things can happen:
Since the 8-second assault can be interrupted by damage, you either need to destroy all defending enemies or, at least, keep them off the assaulting player for 8 seconds. In general, assaulting a flag is a balance between the need to keep all enemies off the assaulting player and the need for a quick capture to cut off reinforcements from the graveyard. Here are some strategies for assaulting a flag:
Defending a Captured node that is under assault boils down to "damage the assaulting player". Here are some strategies and tips on this tactic:
Race/Class/Profession Specific Defense Tactics:
The information in this section will be old news to seasoned battleground guild members who, with training, experience, and often Ventrilo or similar voice comm software, will have mastered similar strategies and can use them to crush any pick-up game (PUG) team. However, if you are a PUG player and you can convince your teammates to use these strategies, you might just have a fighting chance.
Zerging - the practice of descending upon the enemy en masse to overwhelm them through sheer numbers - is the most basic of Arathi Basin strategies. It is unsubtle, lacks flair or finesse, and requires almost no skill to perform. Perfect for PUGs!
To zerg, you simply gather your entire team and move from node to node, utterly destroying anything in your path. Unless the enemy is also zerging, you are almost guaranteed to capture any node your amorphous blob of players comes across. At the same time, however, the nodes you leave behind are unprotected and can be ninja'd easily.
To be fair, a reasonably well-directed zerg could be successful against another PUG team, if they are not schooled in anti-Zerg Guides. The sight of 15 frothing enemies barreling down on your position is enough to send the weak of stomach into fits of "/bg AGH!!!11 INC MY POssitION!!! HLP! HEEEELP!" If your zerg can keep the other team in disarray through sheer fear, you may have three nodes against their two nodes just long enough to earn the win.
(Note: the author of this section hasn't researched much zerg Guides; zerg experts please add your thoughts.)
Added Info: Zerging is ineffective if the group move on from a captured node without retaining any defense. A good idea is to make the person who capped the node remain behind and alert the rest of the raid of incoming enemies. Thus the "zerg" effectively becomes a large mobile defense force.
This being said, zerging against even remotely experienced played can be highly detrimental ¨C as the zerg can easily circumnavigate the map, capturing everything in its path, only to have said nodes taken back the moment they leave.
The "5-5-5" refers to the arrangement of the raid group into three groups of five players. This grouping is very common in Arathi Basin, as it makes good use of the five-player limit on groups, and provides for flexible positioning of fairly powerful groups of players.
The "4-node option" works basically as follows:
As mentioned before, SPEED and COORDINATION are keys here, as is STAYING IN YOUR ASSIGNED PLACE. For PUGs this is difficult because not everyone will have read this (or any other) basic Guides guide, and will want to go off hunting Honor Kills. Defending a captured flag can be boring, but remember that the winning team gets bonus honor, plus extra reputation that the losers don't get. Try to impress upon your group mates that staying put and keeping three (or four) nodes is more important than "Pwn1ng" someone on the other side.
Keep your chat on /party most of the time, to coordinate with your group. Use /bg to communicate to the other groups from time to time about your status, or to call for backup in case of an enemy zerg or mini-zerg. It is important have a strong PUG raid leader to help keep the troops in line.
The "3-node option" works almost the same as the 4-node option, except that it concentrates on three nodes instead of four. The Guides works like this:
This Guides treats the Farm/Stables nodes with a bit more respect, as nobody likes to find that the enemy has back-doored him. It also keeps your forces in somewhat closer proximity, which enhances flexibility since forces can be repositioned more quickly. However, the Guides only sets out to gain a 3/2 advantage, which can result in a long slog through a battle that is nearly tied much of the time. Since the rate of resource accumulation increases non-linearly as you gain nodes (see below), the 4-node option of the 5-5-5 Guides has benefits beyond "just one more node".
A possible blend of the two options could be successful. Start with the 4-node assault, hold it as long as you can to rack up resources at a 4/1 advantage, then fall back to a 3-node defense. As the enemy assaults your three nodes, the time you spend at a 2/3 disadvantage will be offset by the extra resources you gained during that initial 4/1 advantage.
This Guides is similar to the 3-node option in that it only gains three nodes initially, and it is also similar to the 4-node option in that it doesn't defend the Farm/Stables. Using this Guides, players blend in a mini-zerg element that makes it interesting.
The basic Guides:
Obviously, each group will not fit into a "party" within a raid group, so either there needs to be two raid groups set up, or a combination of parties within a raid group to make up each group of seven. The Fat Kid can be put into whatever group wants him.
The author has never participated in nor seen this Guides in action, so cannot comment much on its effectiveness. However, the benefit to the 7/7 Guides is that each group is a mini-zerg with respect to enemies using one of the 5-5-5 strategies. Your seven-player groups should be able to defeat any five-player enemy groups, and comfortably hold any node against anything short of a zerg.
The Fat Kid, after taking the Farm/Stables could be used as a lookout to direct the mini-zergs against the enemy, or he could join one of the groups.
"This is a great Guides. I have worked it into my premade raids with a twist. The raid needs to be set up into 5 raid groups. Here's the perspective from the Horde side. Group one is full, group 2 is full. group three will be 2 members, as well as group four. Group five is the fat kid defending the farm. Groups one and three go to Lumber Mill at the start, groups two and four go to Blacksmith. Groups three and four are designated for flag protection. So after Lumber Mill and Blacksmith are taken, groups one and two go to Stables as 10 members, probably outnumbering the Alliance again. The fat kid should be a warrior if you have one in your group. Reason being is since he/she is alone they can kill rats for rage. This pinches the Alliance into two places, the Mine and the starting Den. Best of luck."
This is a variant on the Seven/Seven and Fat Kid Guides. This author has definitely seen it work extremely well against "3-Zone" (or 5-5-5). Groups are broken down into a 2x6+3 formation: two groups of six zerg the nodes that are being held by the 5-man teams, and hold them. The +3 group floats around, stealth capping the weaker nodes.
This technique relies on having even more speed and coordination than the 5-5-5 does, since it is even more fluid as there are two six-man groups need to float between three nodes.
Similar to Five-Five-Five, but with more fluidity:
This technique requires some of the most precision and communication as all of them, since the two rearguard groups are constantly in motion. In this Guides, it is less necessary to hold the Blacksmith since the floating groups are sufficient to keep the enemy trapped in the Blacksmith if necessary.
The advantage of this technique is that on weaker and less coordinated enemies, it can be much faster as it affords a 5 node win.
Each group of three should contain a high armor class, a healer and a DPS class. The group of six contains any class.
The first group of three moves to the Farm/Stables, caps and defends, where they remain for the rest of the game.
Groups 2, 3 and 4 go together to capture the Blacksmith. After capture group 2 remains to defend.
Groups 3 and 4 to together to capture the Lumber Mill. After capture group 3 remains to defend.
Group 4 (with six players) becomes a roaming defense group, assisting any nodes that need defense.
The Guides has the advantage of starting out as a Zerg which becomes smaller as more nodes are captured. The roaming six-man defense has quick access to the three controlled nodes by ignoring the mine. The three man defense teams are well suited to taking on unorganized groups even if they are outnumbered.
A common misconception is that the "Take Three and Hold" Guides is a sure win. In fact, it is almost certainly a losing Guides. Holding three flags will not work well unless the opposing team is exceptionally uncoordinated. If your team is doing a "Five Five Five" (see above), you are susceptible to any of the other attack methods. The only three bases that lend themselves to this Guides are the farm, black smith, and lumber mill. Looking at the map will show that the road nexus between these three points make it very easy to move troops between them. This makes it very important for the alliance side to keep the horde from getting the blacksmith and makes it equally important for the horde side to get the farm and black smith as quickly as possible.
Take for example, you have five troops defending each of your three flag points, and you do no further assaults. The opposing team will have fifteen troops, needs no defense (as you are not assaulting), so all fifteen troops are available for offense. They can do two seven-man assaults and will hold four nodes, or they could do one zerg, and will sweep the board, taking each of your points one after another. If your teams only Guides is "take three and hold", you have no defensive Guides.
There is a way around this issue however. Using a 4,4,4,3 Guides, using three to distract the opponent by assaulting their stables/farm, you can easily gain a significant lead by holding the three (LM, GM, ST for alliance; LM, GM, Fm for horde). I find it the most effective way to win as long as the troops listen. The only issue with the above tactics is that the blacksmith is involved in most of them. It is actually a very vulnerable target, with access by water from all sides. Whilst it can give a significant offensive advantage, it is not worth battling over several times, when you could be providing more forces for other tasks. A major must-have for this Guides for alliance is the gold mine. It allows access to your stables easily, and if this falls then the Guides is routed.
Please, encourage your PUG teams to read this guide, and become familiar with a variety of the above strategies.
This Guides is based on surprising the enemy to give you the "Grind-at-Spawn"-mode on. You make 4 different groups for assaulting one base each.
Group 1: 4 dps, 1 healer. Caps Lumber Mill, leaves 2 dps behind (preferably a rogue) and attacks stables/farm.
Group 2: 3 dps, 1 healer. Caps Blacksmith, leaves 1 healer and 1 dps behind and attacks stables/farm.
Group 3: 4 dps, 1 healer. Caps Gold Mine, leaves 2 dps behind and attacks stables/farm.
Group 4: 1 Rogue, caps Farm/Stables and stealths protecting it.
It's all about making the surprise attack, when all 5 bases are taken just farm them out, don't let them leave their own base.
Resources accumulate at the rates shown in the table below.
So if your team has three nodes, their team has two nodes, and they lead 1400 to 1300, you can still win if no nodes change hands. But if your team is at 1200 you cannot win unless you gain control of four nodes.
There are a few general strategic considerations for battles in Arathi Basin which can be used to flavor your preferred overall battle Guides.
If you join a game where the players have no Guides you can and should suggest one. Having some Guides is better than every man for himself.
Not everyone has read this Guides guide, and some Guides and tactics are difficult to realize without being told. If you tell your raid "We should try to fight at the flags instead of leaving them vulnerable" you might improve your whole raid group's success rate. The same is true of warning your raid of incoming attacks or vulnerable nodes.
When you capture a node, the nearby graveyard becomes usable by your faction. Since you WILL die during the battle, having a forward graveyard to resurrect at will help immensely with flexibility of your forces. Occasionally, the node will change to contested soon after you die, and you will have to resurrect at the closest secured node.
Sitting right in the middle of the map with two bridges that may function as choke points leading away from it, the Blacksmith is an important node to capture and hold. Having a central graveyard is very useful, as is having a staging point from which you can launch sorties to the Lumber Mill and Gold Mine. In most games, the Blacksmith and its bridges tend to be the sites of the most furious battles.
There are also defensive strategies considering the bridges (when the Blacksmith is capped by your faction). Hunters should be active with laying Frost Traps on the bridges since they will slow down the enemy faction considerably due to the narrow space the enemy faction has to move over. Shamans should lay totems all around on the bridges. If a Warlock is using a Imp, it can lead the Imp to the hills besides the bridge, switch it onto 'Stay' and then setting it on 'aggressive'. This way it will be like a turret at the bridge. This doesn't work as well with the other minions since the Imp is the only long range minion the warlocks have.
Alternately, by allowing the enemy to hold the Blacksmith, it is possible to keep them penned in. One Guides involves giving up the Blacksmith to the initial zerg, capping the outer ring of nodes, then leaving a few defenders and keeping the enemy confined to the Blacksmith.
There is a limited number of people in AB at any one time, so always be aware of where the enemy is. If they zerg, say the blacksmith, with 7 or 8 people, they have only that number split between the other 4 nodes. Instead of wasting your forces fighting a superior force, consider letting them take the node and hitting elsewhere instead. Ideally everywhere else, often resulting in 4/1 flags in your favour.
Always stay for the minute until the node shifts to your side. Having a node undefended is a huge blow in a typical AB game. A stealthed character can simply tap the flag after you leave to undo all your hard work as enemies immediately start spawning there. A stealthed rogue can sap a lone defender left behind too, so don't think that just leaving one person is sufficient.
Running into a defended node alone will surely get you killed. It is much more effective to wait at a crossroad for a small group to form. Attacking as a group will greatly improve your chances of capturing a node. Tell your raid that you want to form a group near your objective and attack at the same time in order to coordinate with other players.
The flag closest to your teams starting area may seem to hold some special significance. It does not! The object of the game is to control more flags than the other team, not any particular one. If this flag is heavily defended by the other team, you are best served going elsewhere. Seeing the stable/farm as friendly territory that must be defended at the expense of all other flags is one of the surest and most common ways to lose AB. If you spawn at the top of the hill while your closest base is heavily guarded you have no choice but to escape to other areas. Try to get some of the enemy guards to chase you. Dying over and over again out of the gate is not helpful.
Warriors tend to make excellent guards at the Farm. Due to the perpetual spawning of rat critters, Warriors guarding the Farm can ensure that their Rage bar is full by whacking vermin while on guard duty.
On the horde side, the crossroads linking Farm, BS, and LM is an important staging