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The Art of War(craft): Absolute beginners' guide to Arathi Basin

Zach loves the Battlegrounds. He could probably play World of Warcraft entirely though the Battlegrounds, because he's kind of lame like that. If he could have the word 'Battlegrounds' tattooed on his rump, he totally wouldn't... because dude, that's just wrong.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote up a basic look at the Battlegrounds for all the new players who don't know anything about it. From the looks of it, Blizzard expects an influx of new players, too, so newbies will always be on the lookout for 'For Dummies'-type information. Because we're such awesome folks over here at WoW.com, we're ready to oblige. Last week we answered some basic questions about the game's first Battleground, Warsong Gulch. This week, we'll answer some beginner's questions about Arathi Basin, the next Battleground leveling players are eligible to enter. Hit the Read More button to, you know, read more.


ARATHI BASIN

What is Arathi Basin?

Arathi Basin is a resource accumulation Battleground with 15 players on each side. The goal is to gather 1600 resource points (2,000 points prior to Patch 3.2), with the first team to reach that number winning the match and ending the game. There are five resource nodeswhich can be controlled by capturing the associated, nearby flag -- an 8-second channel (formerly 10 seconds) action similar to opening a chest (you'll see a progress bar). Once a flag is tagged, teams must protect it for one minute until it comes under their control. The one minute window allows opposing teams to recapture a tagged flag.

The rate at which resources are gained depend on the number of resource nodes that a team controls -- the more nodes, the faster resources are accumulated. Capturing all five bases guarantee a rapid gain of resources and can be difficult or impossible to overcome if allowed to continue uncontested for a certain period of time. Players also gain honor and reputation according to the resources gained, so teams that win the match get the maximum bonus honor while teams that lose have varying levels of honor gain. It is virtually impossible to have a tied game of Arathi Basin.

The five nodes are the Farm, Blacksmith, Lumber Mill, Gold Mine, and Stables. The Farm is nearest to the Defiler's Den, the Southeastern part of the map where the Horde contingent spawns. The Stable is on the Northwestern part close to Trollbane Hall, where Alliance players start the game. The Lumber Mill is situated to the central West of the map, with the notable geographic feature of being atop a small cliff. It's always fun there. At the center of the map is an island where the Blacksmith is, and slightly Northeast to it would be the Gold Mine.

So, what's the deal with this place?
The physical entrances to Arathi Basin (not that you need them anymore) are located in Hammerfall and Refuge Pointe in the Arathi Highlands. In customarily nebulous fashion, Arathi Basin is supposedly such a resource-rich land that members of the League of Arathor and the unfairly villainous-sounding Defilers constantly clash over it. We can only assume that there's a lot of gold there, as well as some lumber, and a fair amount of livestock. And boy, do the Alliance and Horde forces need their livestock.

What's in it for me?

Unfortunately, none of the gold found inside the gold mine. Aside from honor, though, players get brownie points with the League of Arathor and the Defilers, Alliance players earning the Knight of Arathor and Horde players getting The Defiler Achievements. Either one grants another 10 Achievement points to brag about. Other Achievements can also be pursued if you get some more experience playing the Battleground. If you're not into those things, there's always those Arathi Basin Marks of Honor -- three for those on the winning team, one for those on the losing side -- which you'll need to purchase gear or turn-in in your quest for more honor. And everybody loves more honor.

Cool, I'm sold. What's next?

While Warsong Gulch opens up to players as early as Level 10, Arathi Basin has a slightly higher requirement. It's about perfect, too, since Level 20 is when players can get mounts. Considering players need to get from one node to another in the most expedient fashion, mounts are a good thing. The brackets for Arathi Basin are as follows:
  • 20–29
  • 30–39
  • 40–49
  • 50–59
  • 60–69
  • 70–79
  • 80
As with all Battlegrounds, players would do well to be on the higher side of the level bracket in order to better appreciate the Battleground experience. That said, even lower level characters can contribute greatly by keeping their eyes open and alerting their teams to incoming enemies. The Battleground is also bigger than Warsong Gulch, so it's quite possible to avoid too much combat, particularly by keeping guard in relatively quiet nodes.

Let me at 'em! Uh... what do I do?
Easy, fella! My first suggestion would be to get a mount. You'll need one. Fortunately, players can now get mounts at Level 20 since Patch 3.2 worked it in. In the old days, players ran on foot for about twenty levels in Arathi Basin (when Level 40 was the minimum level to obtain a mount), which made the first two brackets of the Battleground rather unpleasant. Arathi Basin is a game of responsiveness, and the team able to support attacked nodes the fastest will win.

While there are many strategies to winning Arathi Basin, one of the best pieces of advice I can give to new players is to always fight near a flag. Making sure a flag is never left alone and is always protected is highly underrated, even by experienced players. Blizzard has already added an incentive to players to protect the flag with the Honorable Defender buff. This increases the honor gained from killing enemy players by 50% as long as you're within reasonable range of the flag. The only way Blizzard could make the message any clearer would be for them to have 50-foot tall neon signs pointing at the flag saying, "Fight Here!"

This means it's always ill-advised to leave a node unguarded. Resist the urge to go where the fighting is, despite the common lull that can happen when a node isn't being attacked. Sometimes a player's worst enemy in Arathi Basin can be boredom, which can strike those who nobly stay to defend the flag. One of the absolute worst things any player can do in Arathi Basin is to needlessly fight on the roads, which doesn't quite achieve anything.

It also goes without saying that having more nodes is better. While controlling three nodes is a slow and steady way to win the game, there's always the danger of losing a node and having the tide turn. As difficult as it may be to pull off, a five-cap or control of all five nodes is the best way to ensure victory, even if maintained only long enough to gain a sizable lead. For new players, simply providing warm bodies to protect flags and call out incoming enemies is key. Don't be afraid to type in the chat channel by typing /bg and keeping your team informed. Even lowbies can help immensely in this respect.

On to Alterac Valley!

Arathi Basin is a fun, fast-paced game that, if you play it right, might even end up with very little PvP at all. It's actually kind of Zen. After we take a quick look at all the other Battlegrounds (don't hold your breath, we've got four more to go...), we'll look at specific strategies every class can employ in each one. In the meantime, don't be afraid to cause some Battleground mayhem! Next week, we'll take a beginner's look at Alterac Valley.

Zach attempts weekly to write about the Battlegrounds and world PvP in one crazy column. He's ran through a basic guide to the Isle of Conquest, and realized that, damn, there are still a lot of new players who need the absolute basics, so he started off a series of basic BG guides starting with Warsong Gulch.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Guides, The Art of War(craft) (PvP), Battlegrounds

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