Simple Battleground Strategies

Battlegrounds are messy, chaotic affairs.

To put a Battleground into a PvE perspective, imagine that the only way to raid was to raid randomly. There is no attempt to fill roles; you may have no healers, or you may have no DPS. There is no gear check; not even an attempt to match gear levels. There are no teams, no organization, no defined leadership. The only communication you have is what you can type; there is no vent. Your raid size can vary widely; you might get a 10-man, you might get a 40-man. There’s no social cohesion, no social penalty for failure, no performance review.

And you have, at most, 2 minutes to prepare yourself and your team to fight.

Trying to get everyone on your team to follow a complicated strategy in this environment is simply not going to happen. Not only do you have no time to evaluate your team and determine who should fill which assignment, you have no way to ensure that players will do their jobs.

So any strategy you adopt must be simple, easy to communicate, and independent of the ability level or roles of the participants. Easy, right?

THE SIX SIMPLE STRATEGIES

Let’s cut to the chase.

  • Warsong Gulch: Protect the FC and kill the EFC. Midfield control is a means to one of those two ends. Stick together in groups both on offense and defense.
  • Arathi Basin: Take three bases and fight at the flag. It’s important enough to repeat again: fight at the flag! Travel in packs and don’t engage in the road. Defend your nodes.
  • Alterac Valley: Take and defend the enemy towers while recapturing your own. Trapping the enemy in a bad graveyard is part of this, but the towers are the key to AV.
  • Eye of the Storm: Control 3 bases, or 2 bases and the flag. 3 bases > flag. The flag is a buglight, it is noob bait, it is a shiny thing to distract you from three bases. But it can also help you win when you only hold 2.
  • Strand of the Ancients: Kill the Demolishers if you’re on defense, and protect them if you’re on offense. Use bombs when you can, stay away from the cannons, practice good graveyard control — but SotA is all about the Demolishers.
  • Isle of Conquest: Either take the Docks and protect the Glaives, or take the Workshop and kill the Glaives. It’s all about the Glaives and their ability to take down a wall quickly.

These strategies are simple and easy to communicate. You can type them out while buffing the raid, waiting for the gates to open, or even while riding to the first objective. They don’t depend on having specific types of players, or even roles. While experienced players understand how their class fits into these strategies, new players can focus on the main task at hand and still contribute.

Given the ways in which Battlegrounds are put together, this is actually about as good as your strategy is going to get. If your team follows them and executes them well, you’ll probably win.

And therein lies the rub.

EXECUTION > STRATEGY

If these strategies are so simple, why is it that they don’t seem to work all the time? How is it that you can shout out “fight at the flag!” in Arathi Basin and yet somehow still lose?

Because the best strategy in the world doesn’t mean a thing if the individual players can’t execute it.

Within your typical battleground raid group:

  • Your composition could be poor. This isn’t just needing a different class ability to get past a boss; this is completely lacking a vital role in your team. Luck of the draw gives you who it gives you, and if you’re without healers or ranged DPS, tough. Win anyways.
  • Your players could not know what their assignments are, misunderstand who is doing what, or go to the wrong place. Because there’s so little time to plan, there’s no real way to hand out assignments to individuals. At best you might be able to divide everyone up by raid groups, but that rarely works as well as you might think it should.
  • Your players could be outgeared by their opponents. They don’t play poorly, they just lacked the gear to do their assignments.
  • Your players could be outnumbered and overwhelmed. It’s very hard to overcome multiple enemies; if you do, it’s either because you’re really good, or they were really bad.
  • Your players could play poorly or AFK. Let’s be blunt; some players are not good at PvP, and some of those just aren’t very good at Warcraft. Perhaps they’re new and learning, or perhaps they just stumbled their way through it for years. Or maybe they’re completely AFK, leeching honor. Either way, they’re not getting their jobs done.

In many ways, it’s a wonder anyone wins any battlegrounds at all! The best strategy in the world means nothing if your teammates fail to win the fights they need to win.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to combat these problems.

  • Talk in /bg chat. Don’t just talk about the strategy — call out incomings, tell people where you’re going and where the enemy is going.
  • Identify healers early and often. Make sure everyone knows who they are so they can protect them.
  • Learn to win the 1:1 matchups. I don’t like dueling per se, but it’s great practice for you to learn what to do when the only one you can rely upon is yourself.
  • Make sure your character’s gear and skills are as good as you can make them. You don’t have to min/max, but train up your professions, come prepared with food and bandages, add some PvP gear in there to help you win.

Individual excellence matters. It’s what powers the simple strategies above – the ability to have players do their jobs.  Battlegrounds are no different from heroics or raids in this respect — you have to have people who can do their part.  And the more people who do well, the better off your strategy works.

Individual excellence matters.  Strategy matters.  But individual excellence en masse matters more.

The six simple strategies will work for you — but only if your team can execute.  You have to have a strategy to work together as a team, but your team has to do their job as individuals to make the strategy work.

Given how chaotic the battleground is, these strategies are the best you can hope for.  The rest is in your hands.

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Simple Battleground Strategies

  1. As someone said at the end of a EotS loss the other day…

    “I guess we stopped following the strat”

  2. “EXECUTION > STRATEGY”

    This statement is right on and hugely key. Almost any strat can work if it is executed right. You introductory section is a great rundown of why to keep strata simple. Simple and where possible harnasing massed moron. It can be very effective to watch what everone else is doing and adopt a strat that matches. Trying to use a strategy that is in comparable with what the bulk of your force is doing is an excercise infrustration and failure. Adding you weight to the momentum of a less effective strat that everyone else is trying can turn the tide and make that strat work. If you can harness and subtly redirect the flow, even better.

    • Thanks! It’s a good point to make that working together on a suboptimal strat is better than working on two different strategies at once. I see that happen a lot (in AV and EotS, mostly) and it never, ever ends well.

  3. Excellent post, only recently found your blog on WoW.com, and it’s been fuelling my growing PvP needs ever since 3.3.3 bought in the amazing battleground feature.
    I’m not much of a PvPer myself, so guides like this, and your “Battleground Gear in 3.3.3″ post, are a perfect primer on how to not suck in a battleground, even though i lack PvP experience.

    Thank you! If only more of the Alliance Players on my Battlegroup read this bloody guide, we might have a good deal of success!

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  5. “Learn to win the 1:1 matchups. I don’t like dueling per se, but it’s great practice for you to learn what to do when the only one you can rely upon is yourself.”

    a quick note on this, the most powerful tool at your disposal is unpredictability. Use everything your professions and class have to offer. long cooldowns, engineering/ items from BC and vanilla, nets from tailoring. All can be used to give you the upper hand and shift the tide of battle.

    • This has to be one of the best tips I’ve ever read, and I constantly bash my head on my keyboard wondering why people bother leveling professions at all.

      Tailoring, for example, might look like a useless PvP profession at first glance, but I cannot count how many times a tailoring net has fully countered a rogue’s cloak of ski… err.. shadows, and saved my cloth-wearing macarena-dancing demonic butt!

      • Some people (unmercey being a huge example) are using old items like the barov peasant caller to keep other rogues in combat during a blind, or sonydigital using the argent warhorn for the BoP so he can bandage.

    • This is a wonderful point. This could be a whole post, or series of posts. The reason my keybinds are so complicated is because I want access to a huge number of abilities, just to keep opponents off balance.

      Also, why did I not pick up Engineering on my Warlock before now? Rocket Boots + DoTs are total win.

      • exactly, one small thing can shift the tide of battle in your favor. Be it drinking a sulfuron slammer to negate a CC effect like blind, or something as simple (not in practice mind you :P) as demonic teleporting rogue openers. Hell, even when things malfunction it could help you. Rocketboots blowing you up in the air saving you from a rogue, or the mind control enchant backfiring and canceling out a bladestorm/killingspree/ the beast within

      • I like my enchanting and tailoring too much to drop it.

        My prot warrior, however, has dropped his mining for engineering.

        Charge+shield slam/rocket boots/concussion blow = pissed off mage :P

  6. One thing that really gets on my nerves is when I get attacked while travelling between nodes, defend myself, mount back up only to get fingers pointed at me for being a “noob who fights on the road”.

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  10. Ugoli

    One of the things I see time and time again is this perception that Alliance pwns Horde or vice versa. The reality is whatever bg group has a positive comment stream the more likely they will win.

    Take this as an example. How many times have you zoned in to EoS and had someone start with advice only to have some lame player say: “Well it doesn’t matter what you say…Alliance (or Horde) always lose in this Battle group” only then to see your strat go to pot? Or likewise a strong BG Leader who says in Arathi (or wherever): “Do XYZ and call out inc and numbers…”, followed by a stream of gj and nice call or other such positive comments.

    Positive comment streams and mental outlook wins BGs. Premades don’t have the negative comments as they are there for a purpose and have a plan they believe in. PuGs need to nip the negative comments in the butt or that BG is lost…

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