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.