So, we've dealt with the basics of how to keybind, use macros and focus targets, and heal with the above. Now it's time to get out there and put our skills into action! I've written a general guide to healing in Battlegrounds and touched on tips for novice PvPers in Battlegrounds in my response to a Breakfast Topic.
The tips in the aforementioned columns should be used throughout your PvP life, whatever it is you're doing, but now we're getting a bit more specific. We're heading out into some real, honest Battlegrounds with some tips and strategies. It should be noted that this is aimed at players in random Battlegrounds rather than rated, but these can equally apply to the latter.
Our first stop on the Battleground train is Eye of the Storm. This Burning Crusade-era Battleground addition came up in a recent podcast I did, the subject of some debate as to the best way to win it. So first and foremost, I'd say that there is no surefire way to win a Battleground. No one strategy has an absolute chance of success. There are a few exceptions to this, but just like the vast majority of PvP, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. (Name that scientist for a gold star!)
Why Eye of the Storm? Well, it's my favorite Battleground, for starters, and it's the one I was asked about by a listener from the @GGWShow I did last week.
What are we doing here?
Well, you're in a bubble on a rock. Hey, there's someone outside the bubble! How did they do that? You just have to get past the edge of the bubble before it spawns. Time is of the essence!
If you leap straight off, you'll take about half your health bar in damage, unless you're one of many classes that can mitigate falling damage. Doesn't matter, though -- you start far enough from the opposition that it'll all be fine by the time you meet them. If you are a mage or are in the BG with a mage, you're in luck. Ask them to Slow Fall you and mount up, then leap toward a base. You'll float happily almost as far as one of the bases. If you point at the middle, you may regret it!
OK, you're off the rock. So far, so good. What's the deal with this place? There are four bases, two on the Alliance start side (Mage Tower, Draenei Ruins) and two on the Horde start side (Blood Elf Tower, Fel Reaver Ruins). Somehow, I knew Fel Reavers would be allied with the Horde. Damn Fel Reavers. There's a proper bridge on either side across the chasm and a precarious rock bridge across the middle, where the flag spawns. This, essentially, is five points to control.
How do we win this thing?
First, a note on capturing bases. In other node capture Battlegrounds such as Arathi Basin or Battle for Gilneas, you have to click on a flag to capture. Tgere's a cast time of the capture, and it takes around a minute for the base to pass over to the capturing side, as long as it is not recaptured by its original owners.
This is not the case in Eye of the Storm. You cannot click the flags, but you might notice a slider appearing on your screen when you enter one of the bases. This is reading the Horde/Alliance balance within the base and moving accordingly. After there has been a sufficient bias toward one faction, the base will change hands. Hence, an empty base can be captured by a solo player but rather faster by a group. So with that in mind, it ought to go without saying that fighting in random areas outside the bases for no specific reason is a bad move. I like this capture mechanic; it prevents the opponent from just spamming AoE on a node and seems somewhat fairer!
The normal random Battleground will start with most people heading to one of the two bases on their home faction's side. In my experience, this is Mage Tower and Fel Reaver Ruins, so I tend to go to the other one, being either Draenei Ruins or Blood Elf Tower. So, we've got two bases a side. Where do we go from here? Well, there are several ways to win Eye of the Storm.
Hold two bases and capture the flag more than the opposition. One of the two safe and reliable ways to win Eye of the Storm, the best way to execute this is with two people as dedicated defense at each of your held bases and a group of dedicated flag spot fighters, preferably with a fast-moving flag carrier such as a mage or druid, engineer or worgen, etc. The size of this group needs to correspond with the size or competence of the opposite faction's group. Classes with ranged roots or stuns are great here, as are DKs who can grip enemy healers to their doom. Balance druids and elemental shaman can have a lovely time Typhooning or Thunderstorming people off the side!
If your team is doing a good job of keeping the enemy back off the flag, all the flag carrier needs to do is get the hell out of Dodge as quickly as they can; hence, the focus is on movement speed over durability, and of course, you won't be able to capture the flag if the enemy is beating you up. Warrior Intervene, shaman Grounding Totem and priest Leap of Faith can be huge helps in flag captures. The remainder of your team needs to be a roving group, heading to wherever there's trouble.
If the enemy make a strong stand at one of your held bases, you need to be flexible enough to shift quickly to a less-occupied base. Obviously, with this strategy, it is undesirable to hold two bases that are diagonally opposite. If the enemy overtakes you at the flag, that may be a strategically viable time to shift your focus to the following strategy.
Hold three bases and capture the flag occasionally. This strategy, again, requires that you maintain a firm hold on your bases. As I noted within the latter part of the last strategy, these first two are rather interchangeable. The execution is very much the same: Ensure a couple of people are at each base for defense, and have a roving group to travel at speed to any attacked base. If you have read my addons column, you'll know that BGDefender is a great way to automate the reporting of "incs" or incoming attacks.
As you will have noticed, the flag is less important than in the previous strategy, but it certainly shouldn't be considered wholly irrelevant. You may already have spotted the fourth strategy here, which, it transpires, is certainly not a mathematical impossibility. If you can capture the flag, do. Within this and the previous strategies, if you can engage sufficient numbers of the enemy in protracted battles at one base and they aren't smart enough to focus their efforts elsewhere, you might be able to control three bases and the flag.
If you can engage the majority of the enemy in protracted combat at the flag, then you might be able to shift your focus to the third strategy.
Hold four bases. This isn't a particularly reliable ambition. Your group will be spread very thin maintaining control over four bases, but if you have four bases held, the enemy will have nowhere to take the flag should they manage to capture it. Should you find yourself in this position, you can safely assume that the flag can be left unguarded. However, in my experience, this is only ever a very temporary situation, and you will likely find yourself switching between this and one of the aforementioned tactics, as the other side will work out what you're up to fairly quickly.
Of course, if you can totally dominate the Battleground, this will be the fastest way to win by far.
Hold one base and capture every available flag, at great speed. This one is a bit of a wild card, but it's definitely possible. You'll need cooperation from your team and one agreed base to fortify. Of course, if this isn't going well (and it may not), then you can quickly change your mind to the first strategy.
You'll need to be fairly expeditious in capturing the flag. Unlike the previous tactics there will be nothing to gain by holding onto the flag, waiting to capture it. Rather, you will need to capture it quickly every time and maintain a very high level of control over the flag spawn point. When the enemy sees your points racking up, they will likely want to either steal your base or take control of the flag point, so you'll need to be right on the money, since obviously the loss of either could be disastrous for this strategy.
You can see here why I like Eye of the Storm so much. It's a very flexible Battleground, requiring some quick thinking and varied strategy. I always smile when that loading screen appears!
Do you want to capture flags, invade cities, attack towers, and dominate the enemy for your faction? Do you dream of riding your War Bear with pride? We'll steer you to victory with secrets of Battlegrounds and Arena, prepping you with proven addons and keybindings that win! Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.