Resurrection Vectors in Strand of the Ancients and the Problem of South Graveyard

Strand of the Ancients is a battleground dominated by demolishers and walls. The core object of the map is to break through a series of gates and capture the Titan Relic at the south end of the map. Each side takes turns attacking and defending, with the fastest time winning the battle. Since speed is so important, using the demolishers to take down the gates quickly is a key component of any strategy. You can take down a gate with the bombs littered around the beach (takes about 10-12 bombs), but it is much slower than taking a pack of demolishers through.

Speed and demolishers are the key to Strand, and they create a truly unique situation for the resurrection vectors in this BG – namely, that there is a graveyard objective which can considerably cripple the offense’s ability to win.

Don’t cap South GY unless you know exactly what you are doing.

Let’s take a look at the map.

The rules governing resurrection vectors are relatively straightforward; attackers will go to the highest (most southerly) graveyard they control, while defenders will fall back to the highest defensible point. Once taken by the offense, a graveyard cannot be retaken.

The above map shows the initial rez vectors with the Horde on offense. When the Horde is on the beach and has not knocked down any gates, they will continue to resurrect on the beach. Alliance defenders will resurrect back at the workshops, behind the gates, though the flags which control the graveyards are on the opposite side of the path.

Once the first set of gates is breached, the Horde should concentrate on taking the East and West Graveyards. Not only will this change their resurrection vector to the workshop level, but it will make the workshop’s demolishers available to your team. This is critically important because as the Horde moves south on offense, it will take longer and longer to drive demolishers up to the relevant gates. Having demolishers available right outside Green and Blue gates is much faster than having to run back down to the beach to get one.

Remember, speed is really important here.

As the Horde offensive progresses, Alliance casualties will be sent back to progressively higher levels – first E/W, then South, then the Courtyard. It’s possible to skip a level by dying on the beach and resurrecting in the South GY – but unlike the offense, defenders can use the teleporters by each gate to achieve the same result.  Tying up their team down on the beach is often a good tactic, but not if demolishers are rolling up to Yellow unopposed.

This brings up the problem of South Graveyard.


The South Graveyard is a trap for the offense in Strand of the Ancients. Taking it puts the offense at a disadvantage entirely because of resurrection vectors.

When South Graveyard is held by the defense, the following conditions prevail:

  1. Offense rez vectors are to the workshops, next to the demolishers.
  2. Casualties are able to grab a demolisher at the Workshop and bring it up to Yellow gate in about 25 seconds.
  3. If no demolishers are available at the Workshop, players can retrieve demolishers from the Docks for an additional 50 seconds.

Let me illustrate this scenario using our battle from above. Horde is attacking.

Leaving South GY ensures a constant stream of demolishers to replace any which are destroyed assaulting the Yellow Gate or the Titan Chamber.

If the Horde takes South GY, however, the situation changes drastically with respect to the demolishers.

By taking South GY, the Horde casualties will spawn just outside Yellow Gate. This would be great if no vehicles were involved; having a close respawn point helps turn the tide in many battles.

But vehicles are involved, and they’re now much further away in time and in distance.  25 seconds to run to the West Workshop, and about 35 seconds (best case, not counting getting slowed by the defense) to get to the East Workshop. Then it’s another 25-30 seconds to get back up the hill to Yellow. Taking South GY doubles the amount of time to bring demolishers into play.

The demolishers on the beach become effectively unreachable when South GY is taken. It’s now nearly two minutes to get one of them back to Yellow, which at the later stages of the battleground is an eternity. Taking South GY effectively halves the number of demolishers you can use.

It’s really hard to get people to not take an undefended flag. They see a flag, they cap it, normally this is laudable behavior. It’s hard to get people to see that it’s actually changing the resurrection vectors away from the demolishers and why it’s better to leave it alone.

But it is. Leave South GY alone.

The only time taking South Graveyard conveys an advantage to the offense is when all walls are down, including the final one to the Titan Relic. Only at this point in the battle do the demolishers become less important than people reinforcements. At this point you want all hands on deck up at the courtyard, and having the South GY is now advantageous.

But the scenario of breaking down the wall yet not taking it is pretty rare.

Leave South GY alone on offense.


The other curious thing about South GY is that it’s off-center. The flag has a central location, but the actual rez point is on the west side, closer to Purple than Red. This location has tactical ramifications for both sides.

In general, weak-side attacks from the East (Blue/Red Gates) will fare a little bit better than those from the West, all other things being equal. The demolishers have a clear path to the gate, their escorts can establish a buffer around them in the middle, and defensive casualties will be sent a little ways away from the action.

Strong side attacks from the West (Green/Purple) have to go through the spawn point, which can sometimes lead to rez waves appearing right on top of them:

In this example, if the Horde can get their demolishers past the South GY, Alliance casualties will get sent behind them, making it a little easier to get by. But the Alliance defense will be stronger on the West side because of the graveyard proximity and resurrection vectors.

(Don’t use this as an excuse to cap South GY. Just don’t.)

This off-center location can be used to the offense’s advantage, especially later on when Red and Purple are both down. By concentrating attacks on the strong side, the Horde can draw Alliance attention and focus to the demos on the West, while sneaking demos in from the East.

Good defenders will be aware of this trick, call out incs, and not get pulled too far down towards Purple. They’ll also hold back forces, choosing to concentrate near the front of Yellow instead of down past the trees and ridges. A spread defense is preferred to a concentrated defense here – stacking your whole team on either side is rarely a wise choice on defense.

(Letting the offense take South GY uncontested, however, is almost always a wise defensive strategy.)

Good luck!


Filed under Cynwise's Warcraft Manual, PvP Playbook

18 responses to “Resurrection Vectors in Strand of the Ancients and the Problem of South Graveyard

  1. Do you think that “traps” like this graveyard–where the “obvious” strategy is not the best strategy, or even hurt your position–are good design?

    Or would Strand of the Ancients be a better battleground if South GY did not exist?

    I’m think primarily about transient groups, where you have new players who don’t know what to do, and who can’t be controlled by other players. In Rated Battlegrounds, not taking South GY is just a tactic your group has to learn as a whole.

    • That’s a really good question. There is something to be said for a game where the optimal strategies are non-intuitive, where they require you to resist the obvious and think about the consequences of your actions. Having a twist like this makes a game more interesting than if taking the GY was always the right choice.

      But, the counter argument is that this goes against the cues and prompts offered by the game, which makes it more difficult. There’s a flag, you should capture it. There’s a graveyard, you should capture it. New players will see it and do it. Veterans (even in transient groups) will warn others away from it.

      The team which does the best job of persuading its new members to refuse the offered carrot has an advantage. I don’t think that part is good design.

      But I like that it offers something interesting, something different, something that makes you think, something that makes you adapt. So your team takes South GY, now what do you do? Do you grab bombs and run, do you send people down to the beach and workshops? How much time is left? Where are your demos now, where will they be? Taking South GY isn’t an automatic loss; it’s more like committing a 15-yard penalty when you were on the 10 yard line.

      Is it good design? Damn, that’s a good question.

      I think it’s interesting design. One of the flaws of Strand of the Ancients is that it’s actually kinda boring PvP, so adding this wrinkle adds strategic thinking to a match, and that’s good.

      But good game design?

      That I don’t know.

  2. I never really understood the purpose of the South Graveyard (and sometimes forget it’s even there, lol) and always wondered why people got berated for capping it. Of course, none of the berators never explained it, but your guide definitely cleared things up for me. Thanks for your wonderful PvP guides Cyn!

    • You’re welcome! This is one of those things that there’s not time to explain in chat, but once you have seen it in action a few dozen times it makes sense. I should make an easy link macro for people to put in /bg! 🙂

  3. aggrazel

    One thing you should mention about south graveyard is that flipping it does also give you east and west gys as well. The only reason I say this is there have been times that in order to flip those flags, if the defense is being really up on gy control, you can throw a hail Mary at it and sometimes, albeit rarely, come out ahead. I have a rogue with a really high win rate in strand because on offense you can skip the gate with shadow step and flip the grave right when the door falls, then on defense you control those flags. Most of the time it’s enough to help your team win.

    • You know, I didn’t know that, yet I actually saw it in action yesterday while fact-checking some of this post. Our demos went Green – Purple – Yellow, we had West but not East, someone capped South and East flipped at the same time. I assumed that it was someone ninjaing the workshop, but in retrospect it was probably this!

      Thanks! I learned something new about SotA today! 😀

  4. gameldar

    I’ve never really considered the positioning of south graveyard. At the start of the match you often have the ‘go green’ or ‘go blue’ calls. It would generally suggest that a go blue strategy would be superior – yet I would say I hear a go green more than blue.

    The offset is that this is more about a Zerg strategy so that if it works then the south graveyard position is irrelevant anyway.

    Does anyone else have the orientation all wrong in this bg? I always think about it being you are heading north because you are heading up hill. Maybe that is just a southern hemisphere perspective…

    • I have *so* much trouble with the orientation of this BG. I am like you, I think “up” equals “north” so even though I KNOW it’s South GY it’s still backwards.

      It doesn’t help that this is supposed to be in or near Dragonblight, so I think that any coast there should be south-facing (with the land on the north). I suppose this could be an island and we’re storming the northern beach of it, but still.

      I hear more GREEN than BLUE, but I don’t really see an advantage on the beach itself for this. Maybe there’s a trick of the terrain that causes people to favor it.

      • Here’s what I do. I get up on the boat and go as far to the front as I can. If I’m a hunter or a priest I use eagle eye/mind vision on the enemy as soon as I can. Then you call out the door where the enemy is weaker. If you see a bunch of frost dks and hunters standing on blue side and not many people on green, you call out green.

        Another advanced SotA tactic, you can run the demo under the water with no speed penalty. I often use this out the gate to keep people from destroying my demo while getting it to the other side. Enemy will often chase it into the water because “OMG WHAT IS IT DOING!?!” and then they’re stuck being slow in the water while I easily outrun them.

        My former comment didn’t make a lot of sense because I tapped it out on the phone but rogues can shadowstep to turrets to bypass doors. You can’t flip graveyard flags until the door before goes down, and the bombs won’t spawn in the courtyard until yellow gate falls, but if you grab a bomb at the docks you can run it straight up to the relic door and blast it before any other door falls. I’ve often wondered if I got enough rogues if we could get the relic door down with no other doors.

        I could write a book on tactics for this battleground. I actually really like it because it is the one BG in wow that is perfectly balanced. I know some people don’t like it because it isn’t as KB focused as some other bgs, but there’s a lot of good tactics to be learned here.

  5. I honestly think it’s some sort of bizarre right of passage for some person new to SoA to capture the South Graveyard. You want to tell people about it ahead of time because you know someone will try to do it, but that ends up not mattering in the slightest, because someone will cap the South GY anyway.

    Once that’s done, your goose is pretty much cooked on offense.

    • I agree! One of the best ways I’ve found to positively reinforce the lesson of South GY is to mock the OTHER team for doing it when you’re on defense. This sets in motion members of your own team reinforcing that it’s wrong while attributing it to a mistake “Others” make. There’s no criticism of your own team there, so people seem more receptive to the lesson.

      I actually saw someone spam strategy macros in Strand the other day. It was so refreshing.

  6. I’m horrid and brainless when it comes to PVP, but this series of guides is awesome in explaining the “whys” behind special and common tactics alike. So kudos in making at least one dense PVE-er a little more adept at BG’s. You’re a rockstar, Cyn.

  7. I think of all those times when I first started playing SotA and capped South Graveyard… and I cringe. Obviously now being older and wiser I don’t cap it and hope when I enter that BG that nobody caps it but your post highlights it nicely for everyone, great work as always Cyn.

  8. onecof5

    I wish this had been posted a month ago before I capped the South GY… amidst the howls of “who the f capped South?” “Noob!” “Don’t ever play SotA again!” If someone had bothered to explain WHY instead of just insult, it would have been ever so much helpful. Awesome series, Cyn. Very thought provoking.

  9. Stephen

    I take the final graveyard when one of the second walls is down and neither of the primary graveyards have been captured.

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