So, I have mentioned, in this past Alternate Friday post, that I was leveling my Hunter through the Alterac Valley. It had been a long time since I ran the battleground scene continuously and so have not really seen what it has become like, that is until this last week. So, let's take a little closer look at Alterac Valley for those who may be considering leveling in this fashion!
The first thing you will want to have is a lot of patience. I cannot stress this enough. If you roll into any battleground when you are between 71 - 77, you will get a lot of grief from higher level characters. Be prepared for the fake "AFK Notification" messages and much complaining. The second thing you will need to do is keep your mouth shut. You may have a great understanding of what strategy works verses what strategy does not work, but this will not matter as you obviously are not 80 and could have no clue how to win. I realize this is not true, but no one will listen to you. So just save yourself the headache and do what you know will work best.
So let's talk some strategy. I pretty much have one simple method I follow when I play, regardless of my level. I start out and go straight for Balinda. This is especially important for those who wish to level. For every oposing boss and bunker you destroy you earn 18,0000 (low 70s) to 19,000 (high 70s) experience. Here is a piece of advice, if when you go into Balinda's bunker and you happen to see Alliance, then attack them first. At the lower range of the 70s, most of your attacks will be glancing or misses against Balinda; however, you can hit other players and therefore you will put more damage out and be more useful by attacking the opposing forces who may try to "turtle" you in that particular bunker. After Balinda goes down you collect your experience you will have two options available as to where to go next. The first option will be to move either to Icewing Bunker or Stonehearth Bunker and help defend those bunkers. Again, remember you can hurt a level 80 character. The second option would be to go and join a recap team and try to reclaim Tower Point and Ice Blood Tower. I rarely go on the recap teams simply because I feel it lessons my chances of survivial. My primary pick will be to always go to Icewing Bunker.
Here is another trick that works well for anyone who has a pet (so that means Death Knights, Hunters, and Warlocks). Once you have destroyed the bowmen, go down to the second level and position yourself right at the bottom of the stairs. Align your pet as close to the edge as possible and place them on the stay command. Also, switch them from defensive or passive to aggressive. This is your first line of defense in the bunker. Your pets will give you a heads up of when someone comes running in and slow them down tremendously, which provides you a few precious seconds.
Also for the Hunters out there, lay down traps. If you have multiple Hunters, then have one lay traps and the other one keep their flare up at all times. It is amazing how many Druids and Rogues do not understand that flare equals no stealth. Also Hunters, make sure and keep track Humans on as you can see a large group of red dots moving towards the bunker entrance and warn the other members defending. Another thing for you Hunters (and I promise I am not picking, but you are one of the best classes for defense), make sure and when you see the large amount of red coming, jump down and drop you ice trap that slows the oposing faction on the first floor as close to the door as you can. Next drop your immulation trap on the first floor steps. I say the immulation trap simply because it damages the target even when they move away from the trap and that is what we want because unlike PVE other players will not stand in the fire (unless they are really bad). Right behind your immulation trap make sure and lay down your snake trap. With the combination of multiple traps and pets, your first line of defense will provide a siginifigant amount of damage before they even have a shot at you.
Ranged DPS, you will move around continuously to lay down as much damage as you can as they come up the first set of steps. Melee DPS, you will wait and charge them if they make it to the second floor. Warriors should be using their charge ability and Rogues should be stunlocking them and slowing them down. Remembr you do not need to live just make sure and burn the tower down. You will earn your experience even if you are dead. If they make it to the third level, all hell breaks loose. Try to use distraction abilities and keep them away from your healers (if you have any) and the squishy clothies. Mages, do not forget you have sheep and the ability to freeze targets in place, feel free to use these when they hit the third floor. Any class who has a fear ability, make sure and use it. Remember, you want them away from your flag.
So, let's assume that you succeeded in burning down your assigned bunker, now what should you do? If you are in Stonehearth Bunker, then move immediately to Icewing Bunker and help beef up the defense there. If you are in Icewing, chances are that Stoneherth has already been burned down. If Stonehearth got reclaimed by the Alliance, then you will need to go join up with the forces there and retake it. These are your easy experience that you should get every game, and these are also important for winning the battle as well. If both bunkers burn successfully, then move ahead to the front and reinforce the bunkers or graveyard by Van. If you go to the front to assist on the fight with Van, please do not run in and keep starting and resetting the fight. All this does is drive the rest of the group nuts and may cause a few senseless deaths along the way, which could utlimately cause you to lose the battleground, especially if you get a healer killed in careless "fun".
In the event that you lose your bunker and have no graveyard upfront and find yourself back near your base, you will need to go on defense there. I am not much of a defender actually, as I hate turtles; however, a couple good spots are on the gate over the entrance to the main area for ranged DPS and at the top of the hill of the entrance for all DPS. Alot of folks will fight at the lower levels of the base and Frostwolf Graveyard, which there is nothing wrong with, but I have never seen a group hold that position as the enemy will use a ramp and jump your walls avoiding the main defense force. At the top there is no way around. They will have to fight straight through and that is where you group them up and pummel them with massive AoE damage. As a last resort for defense you can take around 5 to 8 really solid players and go inside of the General's room. I have stayed in there on my Paladin and watched us win because we were able to hold them off and burn down their reinforcements, this is the exception and not the rule.
At the end, it is important to listen to the battleground group and see if there is a set strategy. If the strategy sounds solid then follow it sinse a victory will yield more experience and honor. Do not just focus on taking down a couple towers and Balinda, but focus on the overall win. You receive additional experience and honor for each graveyard, mine, and tower that you hold. Roughly expect around 3-5% of a level for each battleground where you can take a couple towers and down at least Balinda. Oh and one more thing, remember to have fun at it and remember it's a game!