Tag Archives: Wintergrasp

Why I Love Fishing In Wintergrasp

Big Bear Butt has a great interview with a PvP hunter in his guild who love to PvP and fish.

As someone who loves to PvP and fish, I especially enjoyed the following bit:

“What I do”, Ruuaarr said, “Is go fishing in Wintergrasp, and I’m the bait. Rogues can’t resist trying to kill someone just standing there fishing. So, they stealth in to take me down, and that’s when I destroy them.”

Great article, and one that makes me glad to be a PvP Angler.


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An Introduction To Wintergrasp

Can Catapults Get Up There?.png
I still don’t know how that catapult got up there.

I love Wintergrasp. It’s a fight over a resource-rich zone, and unlike some other zones that get called that, this is not just flavor text. The winning side gains tangible benefits both for combatants and non-combatants alike. There’s real value in victory. Stone Keeper’s Shards and Wintergrasp Marks offer attractive gear for both you and your alts at the vendors who spawn when you control Wintergrasp Fortress, the Vault of Archavon becomes available, and the Essence of Wintergrasp is applied across all of Northrend, helping your entire faction.

The goal is simple: take control of Wintergrasp Fortress, or defend it until time expires.

But Wintergrasp is big, and confusing, and how you do this simple goal is not apparent. Your first few matches are often spent with very little idea how you can contribute. There are no obvious markers to guide you, no mad scramble or charge you can join in that says this is the right thing to do.


First, let’s get familiar with the zone.

(click to embiggen)

The northern part of Wintergrasp is dominated by Wintergrasp Fortress and the Temple Workshops. This is where much of the heavy fighting will rage during a battle. There are some subtle terrain differences on each side, but you should find the Flight Points for each side (Horde is west, Alliance is east) because this is where the offenses will zone in.

The southern part is less populated during a battle, but is where you’ll find the Towers and Southern Workshops. Not everyone goes here during a battle, but it’s an important part of the defense, so we’ll talk about it more in a minute.

The quest zones to the east and west are not tactically important during a battle. You can ignore them for now.

I really recommend you ride around the zone before a battle begins to get an idea of where everything is located.


Next up are the goals in Wintergrasp.

Wintergrasp Goals
(click to enlarge)

On offense, you have one goal: get inside the inner fortress and click the Titan Relic in the center. This involves knocking down at least 3 fortress walls with vehicles: an outer wall, an inner wall, and the door to the relic chamber. Walls are knocked down by vehicles — siege engines are optimal for this task. A mass of 4-6 siege can often destroy a wall before the defense can stop them.

On defense, you have a primary and secondary goal. Your primary goal is to keep the offense away from the Titan Relic for 30 minutes. Your secondary goal is to destroy the three southern towers, which takes 10 minutes off your defensive clock. Destroying the southern towers therefore means that you only have to defend for 15 minutes. Towers are destroyed with vehicles, too, often with a combination of fast-moving catapults and slow, lumbering siege.

You no doubt noticed that each team needs vehicles to accomplish their victory goals. You can have 4 vehicles for every workshop you control, so the more workshops you control, the more vehicles you can field — and the fewer your opponent can have. So controlling the workshops is a shared goal for each side.


One of the defining features of Wintergrasp are the vehicles. Once you have reached the rank of Recruit (5 kills) you can create fast, lightweight catapults, and Lieutenant (10 kills) gives you access to antipersonnel Demolishers and heavy, slow Siege Engines. You can only create vehicles if your side has available slots — check the battle status in the upper part of your screen for this information. You can create a vehicle by going inside a workshop you control and speaking to the gnome or goblin manning the controls. They’ll give you a choice of what you can build.

Catapults are fast vehicles that are excellent for both taking down the southern towers quickly, as well as supporting larger vehicles during an assault. Catapults get a bad rap because they are easy to make, but that’s another advantage; if your side can field a lot of catapults early on, they can make a significant difference. However, cats take up slots that can also be filled by heavier vehicles, so as the battle progresses you should be swapping out catapults for siege engines.

Siege Engines are heavy, lumbering rams that are essential to both offense and defense. They have a gun turret which should be manned if at all possible. They are hard for defenders to take down quickly, so a very good strategy is to mass siege at one of the workshops and then send 4-10 of them in a single group to overwhelm the defense. Most defenders can stop 1 or 2, but a concentrated mass of siege is usually too much to stop, especially if it is protected.

Demolishers combine the good traits of both catapults and siege engines without excelling in either role. They are good support units for the southern tower offensive, as they are quick enough to move from tower to tower, but they are not as fast as a pack of catapults. They can stop other vehicles and take down walls, but don’t pack quite the punch of a siege engine. Demolishers are useful to have in your mix, but shouldn’t be your primary units.

The vehicles take some getting used to. If you’re new I wouldn’t recommend piloting one right away, but instead watch and see how they are used in different situations.

While they’re not vehicles per se, the defensive Cannons on the towers are worth a final word before moving on. The cannons are an integral part of defending any structure, be it the Fortress or the southern Towers. Cannons provide great ranged AoE DPS and having them manned in the right places is crucial to defending the walls. Conversely, knocking out any manned cannons is essential to the attackers to protect your siege. Cannons are easy to use, and for most characters, manning a cannon is a better contribution to your side than running around outside the walls.

I say most characters, because there comes a point where either your crowd control or healing abilities are more needed out in the thick of battle than any contribution you can make from a cannon. If you’re a new 80 (or sub 80), new to PvP, or a tank, though: consider manning any empty cannon you find.


Depending on which side of the Tenacity buff you’re on, Tenacity is either the best or worst thing about Wintergrasp. Tenacity is a stacking buff applied to the outnumbered side and increases both health and damage dealt. It can be very, very potent when used properly. But it’s also relatively simple to overcome, because it has no effect upon crowd control.

The best way to overcome Tenacity is strong crowd control and group tactics. Fear, stun, disarm, silence all still work, and ganging up on the opponent will usually overcome anyone with Tenacity. So the key to using it well is to play smart — don’t engage 20 opponents by yourself. Stick to the basics and let it work for you.

One last note about Tenacity: complaining about it is worthless, and usually marks you as a bad player to the other players. It is an integral part of Wintergrasp, and you must learn to deal with it. Stick together and use your crowd control.


There are many ways to win Wintergrasp. It’s not as straightforward a battleground as some of the more traditional ones – not only is each server’s composition different, but each battle has different conditions because of Tenacity. There are some general battle strategies that you will see repeatedly that are worth some discussion. Here are two of the most common.

The Quick Punch involves the offense grouping many siege engines at a nearby workshop and making a single, huge push into the Fortress. If the defense doesn’t repel this first push, the offense wins very quickly.

The terrain generally forces The Quick Punch to follow the paths outlined below:

Wintergrasp Zergs
The Quick Punch: Watch out for big arrows, they’ll hurt!

The key to making this push work is to make sure the defense is distracted and pulled away where you are actually going. Drawing the Alliance out front, or the Horde to the side, or either side to the south, will often make taking the Relic easy. Defending against the Quick Punch is simple in concept but hard in execution; everyone has to throw themselves at the mass of siege and stop them at all costs, or the rest of the battle will not happen. Calling out incomings is essential — if you don’t talk on defense, you will lose.

This is what it looks like when the Quick Punch wins:

WG Fail Train.jpg
Yes, I had red hair during this battle.  It was weird.

Sometimes, the opposing side will show up with a half-dozen Siege Engines within 30 seconds.  This is possible for at least two reasons:  Tenacity increasing the kill value of NPCs, and people logging out with the First Lieutenant rank and logging back in at the start of the value.  It doesn’t matter how it happens; just be ready for it.  QQing does nothing to help.

The Long Siege is a more traditional battle for Wintergrasp. Pressure is applied to the Fortress to keep the defenders occupied while the southern workshops are taken. The defenders, in turn, repel assaults while destroying the southern towers.

I’ll present this from the Alliance side on offense because that’s what I’m most familiar with, but the Horde strategy is very similar.

Alliance Offensive Phase 1
Phase 1: Secure the Workshops

The offense begins by capturing the nearest workshop (Sunken Temple) and moving people to the walls of the Fortress to get HKs and create siege. Staying behind the walls is actually a good idea at this point for the defenders, since it takes time off the clock while the offense racks up kills on NPCs.

The offense should also send out squads to capture other workshops to increase the vehicle slots available to their side.

Wintergrasp Alliance Phase 2
Phase 2: Taking Down the Walls

After the initial assault on the walls, the offense should look to secure the remaining southern workshops and establish a modest southern defense, while building up their forces in the north. Holding the southern workshops will become more difficult as the defense starts to send groups south to the towers, so keeping a strong threat on the walls of the keep is important.

Wintergrasp Alliance Phase 3
Phase 3: Endgame

Once enough forces have been build up in the northern workshops, waves of siege should be sent against the walls with the intent of punching through and creating multiple breaches for the defenders to have to deal with. Generally, if the offense can split the defense inside the keep, any one wave should be enough to overwhelm one wall and courtyard. But once the offense has access to the inner keep, the siege needs to pour at the Fortress door until the Relic is taken, or the wave is dead.

At the same time this is happening, the defense should be mounting a concerted effort to get the southern towers down. The offense should make sure that they have enough defenders down at the workshops to keep at least one tower up, as futile a goal as that may be. If the defense strikes strongly enough at the south, the offense should immediately abandon all but the workshops and instead focus on getting in the Fortress as fast as possible. Most offenses should assume they only have 20 minutes, not 30.


Wintergrasp is not a simple battleground to master. The epic battles make it hard to figure out what you should be doing at any moment in time. Hopefully this introduction will help you better visualize the ebb and flow of each battle and react appropriately — because of all the resource-rich zones in Azeroth, this is the one you want to control.


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The Death and Life of Wintergrasp

Wintergrasp Keep.png

So the new, instanced Wintergrasp has been here for a few weeks. Everyone should have updated their mount macros to let them fly when appropriate and not spam general chat with raid invite requests.

But how have the changes actually worked out for Wintergrasp?

I don’t know about you, but I still have terrible lag during Keep battles. There are still times I cannot cast any spell with a cast time, and we can still win or lose before the interface gives us a chance to react. What’s worse is that the lag can still hit you when you’re NOT in the Fortress. Throwing more than a hundred players together with vehicles without lag is a tough situation to solve; but instancing doesn’t seem to be the fix. Wintergrasp is still a lagfest.

Flying has been a mixed blessing. It’s wonderful for collecting resources when the battles are not going on, though aerial combat is somewhat challenging. Living on a PvE server, this is the one zone where you have to watch the skies while fishing… or just accept that you’ll get ganked occasionally. It’s the price for really great fishing.

Unlike some of the other BGs that received attention in patch 3.2, the gameplay and strategies in WG are essentially unchanged. I’m not seeing as many matches with huge population imbalances, but that hasn’t changed the strategies.

What has changed is how quiet WG has become. WG raids were large social events before the change, with people gathering, talking, joking, buffing, all to get ready to storm the walls. Trade and Dalaran general chat would get spammed; each battle for Wintergrasp was a server EVENT.

No more. While you are at least still teamed up with others from your server, the automatic queing has turned Wintergrasp into far less social affair. Organizing and participating in raids required human interaction, which in turn usually led to chatter, jokes, demands for buffs… and actual conversation. I got to know a lot of people on my server from those raids.

Now? The pre-battle buffs are gone. No more Mage tables, fish feasts, KINGS PLZ! – none of that. You go in self-buffed like any other battleground. There’s no gathering at the portal, since people queue up and go about their business waiting for it to start. The automatic queuing has really hurt Wintergrasp.

I have thought a lot about this phenomenon since 3.2 hit. At first I thought it might be due to lower participation overall, but even full raids are ghosts of the parties they used to be. Yes, players are mercenaries and go where the loot is, and the Argent Tournament offers loot that directly competes with Wintergrasp’s main draws. There are fewer incentives to Wintergrasp all the time, but that doesn’t explain why it isn’t a social event anymore.

To explain it, I turned to one of the key concepts of Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which is that urban design that brings a variety of people into physical proximity – squares, short blocks, street-level businesses – creates thriving, safe neighborhoods, while long blocks, highways, and insular housing projects do not. The portal room served as a central square which brought everyone physically together. From there you had access to the Trade and Dalaran General chat channels to organize your raid, while also having a steady stream of /says, /whispers, and /yells to draw from. You buffed people because they were right there; to not do so was to be rude, in public, and because the habitual buffers were noticed and praised. There were always people you could count on to organize a new raid when one filled up. Knowing the people around you is what a community is all about.

The steps and inner courtyard served a similar purpose as the portal room for defensive battles. People congregated there for mutual benefit, dueling, and shopping. Wintergrasp was vibrant and alive.

Now these spaces are silent, ghosts of their former raucous selves.

I’m not complaining about the changes to Wintergrasp — honestly, I’m not. I’m not asking to roll back the patch and go back to the way things were before.

I just wish that those changes had actually solved Wintergrasp’s original problems in return for giving up those things I really liked about it.


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PvP in Patch 3.2 and The Isle of Conquest

I have actually been quite pleased with what patch 3.2 has brought to PvP in Azeroth; not only is there a new battleground, there are substantial improvements to both Resilience and DoT damage, enough to make Affliction warlocks and Shadow priests alike jump back into the fray. Yes, Destro locks got a slight nerf to Fire and Brimstone, but the warlock trees remain pretty balanced. I’m pretty happy with it so far.

There are a lot of PvP changes to take in with 3.2. Here are the major ones.


If you haven’t visited The Isle of Conquest yet, you should do so immediately. Not only is it a lot of fun, but anyone who claims in /bg to have the right strategy is talking total BS. You have to play a lot of matches, with a lot of different types of opposing strategies, to really say how to win. So don’t let any natural Battleground inhibitions get in the way, because NOONE knows what they’re doing yet. It’s total chaos and total fun.

Now, while the strategies are in flux, your tactics should be the same as other battlegrounds: fight at the flag, not in the road, defend what you take, and kill the opposing healers while defending your own. But questions like, should you capture the hangar or the docks first, or how many people should defend the keep? Those strategies are still to be written. Keep an open mind and experiment!


Flying To Wintergrasp Keep.png

Wintergrasp is now an instanced battleground, so the biggest change is in numbers and lag. On Durotan, a 3:1 A:H server, the Alliance often fielded 3 full raid groups, which allowed crowd contol and gang tactics to overcome 20 stacks of Tenacity. With limits of 80 players per side, I expect to see more even matches, which lessens the impact of CC while enhancing Tenacity.

The other huge change is that the legendary Wintergrasp lag is gone. This should equalize things a bit, as during most frantic Keep combats you were limited to instant cast spells.

As opposed to the Isle of Conquest, Wintergrasp strategies are pretty well established at this point. I’m a conservative sort, though, so I’d like to see if the lack of lag and reduced numbers affects them at all.

Also: when the battle is over, you can now fly through Wintergrasp. This is awesome on many, many levels.


Resilience now affects all incoming player damage, not just crits and DoTs. This is both a survival buff for everyone (making Resilience THE stat to have in PvP, after 6% hit cap), and an indirect buff to any DoT-heavy spec, like Affliction Warlocks and Shadow Priests. It’s an indirect buff because DoTs are no longer resisted differently than direct damage, therefore relatively improving them.

I love this change. It simplifies Resilience and makes it the battleground stat to stack.

(The one modification you may need to make to your target Resilience is that it now takes about 15% more Resilience to mitigate the same amount of critical strike rating. So if your target was 800 before, you should shoot for 920.)


I haven’t played in the new Warsong Gulch, with a time limit, or the new Arathi Badsin/Eye of the Storm, with lower resource limits, yet. But I think all of those changes are good ones. Yes, spending two hours in WSG is great for the HK and damage meters, but terrible for honor/minute.

And the changes to grant honor for defending nodes? I LOVE THEM.


Experience Eliminator.jpg

I wish I had this feature when I was leveling up to 80. I spent many hours in battlegrounds that were a needed break from questing, but I hated the tradeoff. I expect to be using this a lot with some of my alts.

The side effect of earning XP in battlegrounds, of course, is that now you can turn off all experience gains for a character by visiting the stealthed twinks in the War Rooms of Orgrimmar or Stormwind, respectively. This feature has gotten a lot of attention because of the implications it has for twinks; they are now no longer city-bound, and twinks will only fight twinks in BGs. This is a great thing for both the twinks and the casual PvPers, since the presence of each was often an irritation to the other.

But I think that this will also concentrate twinks into 2, or maybe 3, brackets (19, 29, and 39). There just aren’t enough in the upper brackets to support a good community. Perhaps I’m wrong, and that everyone is off at The Isle of Conquest. But after an hour in queue last night in the 59 bracket, I am starting to think that leveling my DK through regular battlegrounds is the way to go.


Speaking of the lower battleground brackets, how cool will the 19 bracket become with Travel Form / Ghost Wolf and mounts for everyone at 29? Or the new heirloom chest pieces?

Okay. I don’t know how cool they will be for those brackets. I need to roll a twink and find out.

But I do know that 3.2 excites me in a way that 3.1 utterly failed to do, probably because I’m not a progression raider. As someone who spends a lot of time in Azeroth’s battlegrounds, I really like these changes. They are thought out well to bring people back to the battlegrounds to have fun.


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50 Stone Keeper’s Shards, the new PvE Achievement

I haven’t been in Wintergrasp that long, but I’ve been there long enough to see that [Stone Keeper’s Shards] are the currency you want to collect, if for no other reason than to get Heirloom Shoulders for your alts with their nifty +10% XP bonus.

But there’s another reason: those pesky Achievements. You know, the ones that you need for Master of Wintergrasp?

Well, if you’re like me and just started in on the Wintergrasp Dailies, you better get used to running PvE instances. Since the 3.1.1 patch shards earned by doing the PvP quests don’t count towards the achievements. Only shards that you get from bosses count, making this the first PvP achievement that requires only PvE play to achieve.

I’ll let that one sink in for a bit. Maybe it will make more sense to you than it has to me.

You know, if I hadn’t already given up on Battlemaster before now, I sure would be pissed. When you see that you’ve gotten 225 shards:

225 Stone Keeper's Shards.png

but only 7 of them have counted:

50 Stone Keeper's Shards.png

… it’s hard to not to think that this is bugged.

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Wintergrasp Keep

Wintergrasp Keep.png

Despite it’s problems, I’ve come to like Wintergrasp Keep.

The keep is divided into 4 zones, of which attackers must pass through 2 to get to the goal. That’s a minimum of 3 walls that must be destroyed by siege to come down, including the wall protecting the relic. By isolating it into 3 outer zones (east, south, west) and an inner keep, the designers have made it more difficult to defend than a ring keep would be — the sight lines are all blocked, and you can not tell at a glance where the enemy are located.

In and of itself, the layout of the keep lends itself to focused fighting in each specific area. This is good for the side which doesn’t have Tenacity, which is almost always Alliance on Durotan. But it’s not really good, because as soon as you cluster people together, the real enemy of Wintergrasp appears: lag. Lag takes the game out of your control — you get killed and don’t find out until 10 seconds later, you lose the game before you even see the engines storm the keep. (Sadly, Patch 3.1.2 didn’t do much to fix this. No surprise there.)

Since you can’t do much about the lag, you can at least do something about focusing your strength where the enemy is weak. The picture above shows how not to do this — by breaching the walls on either side of the south zone, the Horde allowed the Alliance defenders to switch back and forth between the two fronts without yielding the inner keep. The keep can, and should, be used against the defenders to split them apart and divide their forces.

I’ve noticed that the best, quickest attacks don’t divide their forces. There is a buildup of good vehicles (Demolishers, not Catapults) that attack en masse from the northern workshops, either as a single wave or two waves that meet at the middle wall and punch through. The defenders are caught without engines of their own, the southern towers are safe, and you can focus all your fire on knocking down those three walls.

I’m still gearing up, and the PvP rewards out of Wintergrasp are too good to pass up. But I find the battle for the Keep itself to be fascinating, and I’d play it even if I were maxed out. I wonder what the next one will bring?

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