Lately over on the official US WoW forums there has been an ongoing series of discussions titled the "War College". In this series, the community managers have been attempting to promote discussion about strategies and tactics used in battlegrounds. The most recent one was regarding Alterac Valley, which just so happened to coincide with the Call to Arms for Alterac Valley!
Now I love PVP and that should not be any surprise to anyone who has read this blog over the years; however, Alterac Valley is by far, my favorite battleground. I remember when I first started playing that those matches just seemed to go on forever and a day. Hell, in some cases they did go on for days on end. Sadly, those Alterac Valleys were winding down by the time I got leveled enough to participate in them, but the hours long events were still happening regularly. I remember standing in choke points and seeing two and three hundred honorable kill matches happening one right after the other. Those were some damn good times! They are definitely something that is unheard of by today's WoW player. I am always surprised to see how many people just want to get in and race to the front of the battleground to sit and do nothing except wait to collect some honor and hurl insults at the rest of their faction. Good times... not really.
So today I present to you what we in M.A.S. refer to as the "Banner Defense"! So I am going to assume that we are all familiar with the towers here in Alterac Valley?
So the very first phase is deciding on where you are going to set up the "Banner Defense". There are four towers to choose from: Iceblood (next to Galv's bunker), Tower Point (near Iceblood), and then the East and West Frostwolf towers.
The tower that we feel provides you the most preparation with highest success rate is the Tower Point location. This location provides you just enough time to arrive and get prepared for the Alliance assault. Now if prep time is the issue, then you may be wondering why you do not want to set up in the Frostwolf towers? The answer is that the Alliance will typically have a stronger team that is rushing there in order to assault Drek'thar. Just think about how many members of the Horde race to sit outside of Van's room.
Well what about Iceblood? The issue with trying to set this defense up at Iceblood is that the entire Alliance has just come out of Galv's room and are feeling pretty good about steam rolling him. The odds just are not in your favor. Also, you do not want to meddle in the Galv defensive team's business either. Tower Point is just properly placed to allow you to get in and for the Alliance to not feel the need to send in a large group of people to take the tower.
So how does the "Banner Defense" work? Teamwork is the single most important aspect of this defense. The goal is to have four to five solid geared players. In order for this defense to truly be effective you want to have one really good healer, one character with a knock back ability (Boomkin/Shaman), and at least one AoE fear. The next important thing is to make sure and have all of the banners that are available in the game. (Horde Battle Standard, Frostwolf Battle Standard, Standard of Unity, Guild Battle Standard, and Battle Standard of Coordination) Another item which can be helpful, but not necessary is something like Mumble/Vent, for communication. Then all you have to do is set up as follows!
As you can see from above, this provides a nice little line of sight issue for some players as the banners can be targeted. Now you are probably wondering exactly how this can figure into providing a solid defense? Remember the requirement of having a Druid or Shaman? What you want to do is have your Druid and/or Shaman set themselves in front of the flag behind the banners. As soon as you see enemy footsteps, you hit them with your ability and watch them go sailing off the side. You may be able to get one or two of these blasts off before they catch you on a cooldown. This is where your AoE fear is going to come into play. Hit that fear as soon as a couple of them make it in the tower. With luck at least one of them will be stuck in the hut while the others run around outside the hut. Burst that Alli to the ground!
At this point, the Alliance is probably going to come in with five or more. You are now on cooldowns for knock back abilities and fears right? Well if you assembled a solid group, then you unload on them. I typically try to drop my Horde Battle Standard when the large group of Alli attempt to rush us. 15% bonus to your health is simply amazing in this situation. With any luck, you can create a smaller choke here and either force them to go without the tower or send even more players your way.
Now if you really just want to mess with the first few Alliance players, then I suggest calling out your Guild Herald and feeding him a Papa Hummel's Old Fashioned Pet Biscuit!
The trick is to throw everything at the Alliance that forces them out of their game plan. It also can lead to some pretty funny stories. Last night, we got a random AV from the queue and we utilized the Banner Defense with a less than perfect team. The Alliance players who attacked us were confused by the banners and when they started getting burst down, one player literally ran all along the walls of the hut trying to find the exit. I guess with all of the AoE healing and damage going out he got confused and died crying in the corner of the hut.
Now the picture above is not from a "Banner Defense", but from me and some friends defending a captured Alliance bunker. I mounted my scorpion and rode to the front of the battleground once this tower had capped. Upon arriving on the bridge, I realized I was all alone and saw seven Alli come across the bridge towards me. Upon seeing my Herald, the all stopped and sat there staring at him. This allowed me to fallback to the Horde charge that was a few seconds behind me. The end result was me living and the Alliance dieing to a legion of Horde which was behind me. So what unorthodox strategy do you guys like to employ?