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Stock up on supplies
Before entering the battleground, it's best to be prepared with all the supplies you might need in battle. Bringing your own food, water, and consumables can make a difference to your performance and help your team that much more. Potions, bandages, and food with positive effects all increase your survivability in combat.
Enter the queue
You can go to the battlemaster at the major cities to enter the Battleground queue. Once you sign onto the queue, remember that you can do whatever you want while you wait. While waiting, you could use your hearthstone to port back to town to manage your bank account, check out the auction house, or send mail. Or you could also head off into the world and work on some quests, or kill monsters for loot and reputation gain. Once the battleground is ready, you can enter it from wherever you happen to be. Keep in mind that outside of its holiday weekend, Alterac Valley will tend to have the longest average queue of the four battlegrounds.
Queuing with friends
Patch 2.4: There is now a Join as Party option.
Joining a fresh Alterac Valley game
Before the gates open and the match starts, there is a brief waiting time for the team to completely fill up and for any last-minute preparations such as casting buffs. Move up to the closed gate so you can get out and into the action as soon as possible. As soon as the match starts and the gate opens, rush through and mount up. Go go go! Follow the pack of players into enemy territory. If you're playing a defensive role, stop when you see the enemy rush and slow down their advance. If you're on offense, you will be heading for the enemy fortress, capturing and taking down some strategic objectives on the way.
Joining a game in progress
If you have joined a game that has already started, open up the map with the "m" key. Each person on your side (Alliance or Horde) is represented on the map by a dot. You can mouse over the dots to see player names too. Where the players on your team are and what objectives your side controls can give you an idea of how the battle is going. You can review the Alterac Interactive Map for more details about the various important locations on the map. Also, you can open up the score screen on your minimap to see how long the game has been going. If the match has been going on for a significant length of time, it's possible there is some sort of stalemate in progress.
Your main task is to kill the enemy general and win the battleground as fast as possible. The faster your team burns through the match, the faster you can collect your bonus honor, tokens, and advance to the next game. You should always be working toward slaying the enemy general. This is achieved by fighting your way across the map, taking over graveyards, and destroying enemy buildings.
You also want to earn as much honor as possible per game that can be redeemed for better equipment. You gain honor by destroying towers, killing enemy players, killing enemy NPCs (captain), and by defeating the enemy general. You will have more honor if you have destroyed all the towers and prevent the enemy from destroying your towers.
As soon as the game begins, players rush out of the starting gates toward the enemy graveyards. If you're not quick enough leaving the gate, you might be trapped behind a sea of enemy players rushing toward your general. It depends on your battlegroup, but often Horde players attack Stonehearth to kill Captain Balinda while Alliance players take Snowfall and kill the lieutenants near Captain Galvangar but skip the captain himself. Players rush ahead and capture graveyards working their way quickly through the towers and graveyards until they reach the enemy general.
Depending on the game, and players, sometimes the enemy team will have many players on defense - and other times there will be little to none. If you have too much defense and not enough offense your advance along the map will be slow. Games will typically go longer and there will be less honor over time for players because the game isn't ending as quickly. On the other hand, having no defense whatsoever is not advisable. Even a handful of defenders can slow the enemy, especially at chokepoints. The delay, however slight, that they give to the enemy attackers can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
Good communication is essential to teamwork. Upon joining the battle, you will automatically be in the battleground channel (/bg), where allied players can communicate. Players are also automatically joined together in a raid group. Keep each other appraised of what is going on in the battle. The offensive and defensive teams should communicate often on their status and progress throughout the match. For example, if the defensive team finds the other side pushing hard in one location, they can rally to that point. They can also let the offense know that they need to hurry to defeat the enemy general. The offense may then bypass some objectives in favor of rushing to the general's fortress. Similarly, the offense can discuss which objectives to conquer and which to bypass amongst themselves. Each side can also call for reinforcements from the other.
Try to stay together with a pack of allies, as there is strength in numbers. In Alterac Valley, some enemy NPCs (such as the two generals) are extremely tough and can only be defeated by a large group of players. The number of guards, enemy players, and sheer amount of terrain to cross lends itself to having a large group of players sticking together to accomplish the objectives of the battleground as fast as possible. If you are off on your own, you might be very susceptible to attacks by a mass of enemy players. However, it is also a viable tactic to station small teams of players or even individual players to hold and defend objectives such as graveyards and towers. On defense, having the bulk of your defense banding together to hold strategic objectives is very effective. This is particularly true at key chokepoints, where even a small defense can hold off a larger attacking force.
Rejoining the Front
If you find yourself unable to proceed in the map because you've been cut off from the main force and are surrounded by the enemy team, you need to rejoin the main pack. You can try waiting until your teammates have captured a forward graveyard, at which point you can attack the enemy, die, and be revived at that forward graveyard. You can also try sneaking around the enemy.
Controlling graveyards is very important to your team's success. Control over the graveyards assists your team's advance across the map. Once you've captured a graveyard, your allied players can now spawn there when they die. Eventually, if you capture the graveyards near the enemy town, you can use them as a base of operations to launch your final assault.
Basic Graveyard Info
- Releasing spirit will port you to the closest graveyard that your faction controls.
- If you die near your starting tunnel after the AV match has begun you will be ported to the nearest graveyard your faction controls - not resurrected in the tunnel.
- R-clicking an enemy's graveyard flag will change the flag to contested. You'll have to hold it to turn the graveyard to your side.
- R-clicking a contested flag (previously your faction's) will reclaim the graveyard for your faction.
- If a flag remains neutral for 4 minutes, control will change to the faction of the PC that turned it neutral.
- Once control changes, the Spirit Guides from the previous faction will despawn and be replaced by Spirit Guides of the controlling faction.
- Only 10 PCs may resurrect at a time (this number may change based on design decisions).
Graveyards are defended by NPC guards from the faction that controls them. To capture the graveyard, you have to click on its control flag located nearby. One player should "train" the flag's guards away from the flag while another player right-clicks it to begin the capture process. If you're attacked during this time, the process will be interrupted and you will have to start over again. Once the process is complete, the flag becomes "contested" and both sides are notified.
Once the graveyard has become contested, enemy troops can no longer spawn there. They must now travel from another graveyard further away. At this point, you need some players to defend the graveyard until it's converted to your side. This process takes about four minutes. If the enemy comes over and is able to complete the flag re-capture, the graveyard is instantly converted back to their side. They don't have to wait several minutes to get it back; they only have to complete the flag capturing action. If the other side doesn't recapture the flag in time, the graveyard will come under the control of your faction.
A common mistake players make is to leave the graveyard after it has turned to contested. The enemy then just shows up and recaptures the graveyard. Some players need to stay behind and guard the graveyard until it's converted to your side. If there aren't enough players staying, make sure you alert your team.
Towers and Graveyards in Alterac Valley are captured in 4 minutes
When you receive an alert message that the graveyard is being taken over, you need to send some team members to save it. Since the graveyard was under your control, all you need to do is go back and click on the flag and complete the channeling time to recapture it. The enemy will try to prevent you from doing this. If you don't have enough people, you might not be able to recapture the graveyard.
If the enemy has not yet contested the graveyard but is trying to, players on your side will continue to respawn at the graveyard for its defense. It's good to cast AoE spells over the graveyard so that anyone trying to steal the flag will be interrupted. Rogues often like to sneak in and try to steal it when no one is looking. If you ever see an enemy standing next to your flag, attack them to stop them from capturing the flag.
Your side's NPC captain gives everyone a powerful buff every so often. The captain also controls various guards. If your captain is slain, you will no longer receive the buff and you will have fewer allied NPCs to help your cause. For this reason, you need to protect your captain whenever he or she is under attack. Make sure you alert your team that the captain is in danger and organize a defense.
If you kill the enemy captain while your captain is alive, you will get a free captain buff.
Attacking the Fortress
Before you take out the enemy general you need to pull the warmasters and other NPCs who guard the general. It's a good idea to assign a main tank to the job of tanking these hard-hitting NPCs, with plenty of healing to back them up. If everyone does their role, the process will go much more smoothly. If a player rushes in and engages the general before the guards have been killed, they should just die in place rather than running out, as that will draw the general out as well.
When it's time to take on the general, people usually say something along the lines of "all in" which indicates everyone should rush into the general's chamber and kill him. Again, having a designated tank with plenty of healing is best. Without reliable tanking, the general bounces around between players slaying them. If a player aggros the boss by mistake by doing too much damage, or threat, they should stand their ground even if it means death, rather than train the general out. It's still possible to kill the general without a tank if you have enough players, but it's less than ideal as it is much more time consuming. Also, make sure you kill any enemy players you see in the general's room once you're fighting inside.
If you have a Battle Standard, place it in the general's room to help in the final fight. It has a long cooldown, so save it until you really need it.
Overcoming Fortress Defenders
Defenders can significantly slow down the attack on the general by attacking players, assisting NPCs, attempting to capture graveyards, or other forms of disruption. A common defensive tactic is to attack the gathered enemy force outside the fortress from the fortress entrance, and then run back into the fortress by the general and hide. This can be countered by crowd control / movement impairing abilities such as fear, entangling roots, polymorph, and stuns. In close matches, defense is key in delaying the enemy's attempt on your general while your attackers are simultaneously attacking their general.
Defenders with a Stormpike Insignia or Frostwolf Insignia can use it repeatedly to teleport just outside the fortress entrance. This can teleport you near your general to defend them.
During the holidays, Stormpike Emissaries (Alliance) and Frostwolf Emissaries (Horde) will spawn in the major cities, and players will receive extra honor for completing objectives in Alterac Valley.
A new feature for reporting players as being AFK in battlegrounds was added in patch 2.2. Right-click on their portrait, minimap dot, world map dot, or raid tab, and then select "report as AFK". When enough reports are registered, a 60 second debuff will begin to count down. It also prevents you from getting battleground marks, and completing your daily quest if it is for that battleground. To remove this, the player must enter PVP combat, as attacking the neutral mobs will not remove the debuff. You must attack something that is pvp flagged.