Thursday, July 24

Battlegrounds Done Medium Well

k. So. You've learned the basics of each Battleground now, right? You're focusing on the flag and not fighting in the middle in Warsong Gulch. You're fighting at the flag and focusing on nodes in Arathi Basin and Eye of the Storm. You actually understand what someone means when they yell "Don't cap FWGY yet you freakin' noob idgit!" in Alterac Valley.

So let's look at some specific strategies and tactics ya need to improve your game and enjoyment of Battlegrounds. Still very broad, but things you need to work on. I'm gonna use AB as our example, but the concepts apply to every Battlegound. It's the concepts that important here, not the specifics of the example itself.

WTF is Going On???

Pop quiz, hotshot! Let's take the following for instance:

You're playing Alli in AB and you've just rez'd out of Stables (ST). Horde has Gold Mine (GM) and Blacksmith (BS) and the lead has just called out for an assault on GM. You know what to do, because you read our Beginner's Guild. You head to the ST/GM/BS crossroads and link up with two other team members. As you wait for more, the entire freakin' Horde (okay, let's say six) comes out of BS heading right for you. Do you:

A) Rush the Hordies and (try to) kill 'em all!?!

B) Rush back to ST and defend the flag?

B is obviously the correct answer. Definitely, absolutely, without a doubt... most of the time. What? Most of the time? You mean always, right Fri? Right? Well. Sometimes. :) Think about this: If you're fighting in the road and losing, and the opposite team is fighting in the road and winning, what do you conclude? You need to fight better in the road. And if you lose, it's be cause you were out geared or your teammates suck arse or whatever QQ mood you're in that day. All wrong.

They're winning by fighting in the road because they know WHEN to fight in the road. Yes, there is a situation where it's okay to fight in the road. But honestly, most PuGs are not going to be able to pull it off. Let's add to our example to illustrate.

A quick glance at your mini-map shows at least two team members already at ST. Two more are rez'ing within 30 seconds minus the time since you rez'd. And there's a dot nearing the bridge coming from Lumber Mill and closing on ST. So in less than 30 seconds, there's gonna be at least five at the node. On a good team, you and the people with you are going to rush the Horde in the road, try to get a mounted kill, at least take one or two with you, and still rez at ST to reinforce.

This is our first lesson. It's called Situational Awareness. To fight in the road like this you must know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that your team mates are going to do the right thing. The two at ST are going stay put. The two rez'ers are going to immediately go to the flag to defend. The reinforce from LM is going to join up with the defenders.

What's probably going to happen, though? The two at the flag are going to rush out to help you. Instant flag ninja from the Rogue who's been hiding in the bushes behind them for five minutes. The two rez'ers are going to rush out and help you. When they get there, your group is already dead and they die quickly. ST is now under defended. The reinforce from LM rushes past the flag and into the oncoming Horde. Dies instantly. Again, the flag is pretty much wide open. The Horde will cap it long before you rez to reinforce.

Thus the rule: Fight at the nodes, not in the roads.

What's suppose to happen? The two rez'ers and the reinforce from LM go straight to the flag and wait. You and your two compadres rush the Horde. You focus fire on their healer or MS Warrior, crippling the Horde assault. Yes, you die, but your job is to hamper and delay. Once you've accomplished your mission, wreck as much havoc as you can and then die. You've given the defenders plenty of time to pop totems, stealth and position, etc. and set up a flag defense. The incoming Horde don't stand a chance. All your defenders have to do is keep ass punching anyone who gets near the flag. You and your guys will rez at ST and act as reinforcements and clean up.

That's how fighting in the roads is helpful. But it's nearly impossibly to pull off for a PuG. If you rush back to the flag to defend, there's less time for the defenders to get ready... but you've got superior numbers and the rez point, so there's a high degree of success. Pulling off a road fight, as above, requires everyone to be on the ball and possess a huge amount of situational awareness. No time to discuss it or plan. Everyone involved has to just do it automatically.

The benefit of fighting in the road, in this case, is the incoming attackers are going to wipe quickly when they get to the flag. The defenders then immediately mount a counter attack on BS or GM. Fast and hard. The road battle becomes a turning point. If you run right back to the flag, you'll probably take more losses because the attackers are coming in full strength. You also give them an opportunity to delay you while they bring in reinforcements. Running back to the flag is the surest bet to hold it, but it's not the best bet to win. It's just defending until the situation changes to your advantage, if it ever does. The road battle is proactive. It's creating a situation where you can take advantage strategically.

Creating Opportunity To Kick Some Ass

That's lesson two. You have to look for opportunities to create advantages, not just hang on as best you can, or throw all your firepower at a situation. This is why "3 and Hold" doesn't work. That strategy relies on two very unlikely things. First, that 15 enemy players aren't going to attack 5 defending players (5 at each node). The math is on the attacker's side. Second, that those 15 enemy players are going to 2 and hold. I'm thinking not.

Finding those opportunities, strategically, requires a solid understanding of what's going on across the entire battleground. In a PuG there's no time for detailed communication, so you have to personally know what's going and what to do depending on the situation. Some things you should know all the time:

#1 Where's the enemy? It's not enough to call out incoming. You MUST call out enemy locations constantly, but you also need to include the number, where they're coming from, and where they're going. Short hand.

"2 inc bs from farm" = Two enemy heading to Blacksmith from Farm.

"inc st lock/pally from gm" = Enemy Warlock and Paladin heading to Stables from Gold Mine. When you specify the type of incoming you're telling your team that you're not going to be able to handle them.

"rogue lm" = There's a Rogue at Lumber Mill and I need someone who can detect 'em

This gives your teammates the information they need to act accordingly. Which brings us to...

#2 Where's my team? You need to be able to track your team mates' movements on the mini-map.

If you're solo defending ST and you call out incoming, you need to figure out what the chances are that you'll be getting a response. If you call out incoming ST and there's 10 people at Farm, guess what? You're on your own. You're gonna die, but you can delay so that your team gets maximum points, and you've also let your team mates know that ST is about to be toast and they can start mentally adjusting the strategy and what to do next.

But wait! GM has incoming at the same time. There's six coming to ST, but GM only has two incoming. And there's someone moving toward GM from the opposite side as well! Yup, unass ST and go help GM. Better to lose one node than two. Good call.

You need to call these decisions and situations out in short hand.

"ST clear."
"ST gone. Going GM."

Very briefly and concisely let your team mates know what's going on. This is not Good communication. Good communication would be everybody knows the plan ahead of time and is using voice. PuGs don't have the luxury of good communication. They have to communicate information quickly and each player has to know precisely what to do with it.

#3. Where's the opportunity? You have to use the information you have to best advantage. It doesn't do any good to respond to "inc BS" if there's 8 enemy players attacking and two defenders. Even if you're right there, your job is to stay alive and go defend the enemy's next logical choice. (We'll talk about that another time.) Always be looking for opportunities. Not gimmicks like ninja'ing a flag. Sure, do that if the enemy is dumb enough to leave it open. What I'm referring to is created opportunities.

For example, in every Battleground the rez points are probably the most important strategic resource a team has. And also its biggest weakness. Very few players on your team realize or understand this. A good team holding BS has a strategic advantage because they can reinforce any node quickly. It also becomes difficult to take because the holding team rez's there for the most part, which means a constant stream of reinforcements for the defenders. How do you capitalize on this?

If you're holding BS, you need to be able to effectively funnel people to the enemy controlled nodes is a systematic manner. Allis (and sometimes Horde) get into a horrible situation constantly where they bog down fighting for Farm before properly taking LM. Why? Because the enemy is rez'ing right on top of them. They lose BS quickly. On the other hand, knowing when to strike Farm from BS is all kinds of win. If properly done, you can shove the enemy into their starter area, or force them into a side node and they'll never recover.

Using the same example, if you don't have BS, you have an opportunity as well. You know exactly where the majority of enemy forces are going to be rez'ing. And you can see them quite easily. If they suddenly spread out, with troops running off in different directions, nail BS. Be ready for it because it almost always happens once or twice, even in a pre-made. You have to see it and react to it when it happens. You have seconds to decide, you don't have time to plan it or talk about it. You can also nail their weak outlying nodes. To do so, you have to have teammates moving to those nodes constantly, testing them, and calling out positions. You can't effectively mount an offense in AB and defend every node. Figure out where the enemy is weak and you can turn the tide quickly. Knowing there they rez is a huge advantage because you know where they're NOT rez'ing.

Good or Bad?

You'll know you're in a good PuG Battleground because the communication will be minimal and everyone just appears where they're most needed. It's magic. You have, literally, a few seconds to make a decision. When your team is making those decisions without being told, it's sweet. Even if you lose, it'll feels right.

You'll know you're in a bad Battleground when it's chaos. They'll be lots of unnecessary chatter, and plenty of QQ (set the latter to ignore, they aren't gonna help anyway). People will mill about at a node, not going anywhere and hesitating. You'll have multiple people calling out objectives, adding to the confusion. You'll find yourself torn in different directions trying to figure out what to do next.

But knowing the best thing to do, as an individual participant, can help any BG. A lot of it is experience, but a big part of it is just paying attention. You DO need to follow the basic rules of a BG. Being aware of what's going on, though, you'll know when to obey the rule and when to bend it to the situation. And what's a rule if it's not a little flexible? :)


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