Say hello to my little friend Wednesday, Nov 11 2009 

Happy to see you...

Happy to see you...

One of my favorite things introduced into PvP by Warth of the Lich King. Cannons. Big, mother-freakin’ cannons. Above, Augustine defending the beach in the Strand of the Ancients battleground.

Boom!

I’ve been playing a lot of PvP and really enjoying it. Collecting some great gear and enjoying the randomness, choas and fun of player-versus-player. There are times when it can be frustrating, but overall great fun.

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Let slip the dogs of war: Warcraft PvP Monday, Oct 19 2009 

A traditional form of dispure resolution.

A traditional form of dispute resolution.

Five tips for budding Battleground players in Warcraft

As indicated in my previous post, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what to do with my level eighty Paladin in Warcraft. The truth is, I don’t have enough time to level all my alts. I’m cutting back on other games so I can concentrate on one at a time.

Not because I don’t enjoy them, but I’d actually like to do some other things with my spare time (next year I’m contemplating going back to do some post-graduate studies in history).  So, after much thought I’ve decided to focus on PvP and to a lesser extent end-game raiding in WoW. 
 
PvP is far more friendly to my time, as I can jump in anytime for as little as 15 minutes or for a night of player-versus-player fun. It’s gaming on my terms and in my time.
 
The open field of battle

I enjoy the PvP Battlegrounds best – everything from Warsong, Wintergrasp and Isle of Conquest. I not particularly found of Arenas. They’re far too gear focussed and “claustrophobic”. I prefer open fields of battle, with larger numbers of players fighting it out.

It feels more like a medieval battle – ramshackle, chaotic affairs with just enough strategy and luck thrown in. But it pays to do some research. So for those contemplating a career in BGs, here’s five tips for a better BG experience.

Tip one: PvP starter set, make the investment

Do not step into a BG in PvE gear. All those lovely tiered sets and epic purples you’ve collecting in your Naxx or Ulduar runs are no good for PvP. Two key attributes of PvP gear make all the difference: resilience and stamina.

Stamina gives you extra health – obviously you’ll need it in a PvP fight. Resilience will reduce the chance you’ll take a critical hit – thus reducing the damage you’ll receive. Sets will also boost your chance to “crit” (critical hit) the enemy player. In other words, you’ll hit harder more often.

As a paladin I invested in a complete set of “Savage Saraonite” gear – the best starter set for a DPS plate wearer. If you’ve got the blacksmithing skill (425 skill), you have the option to craft the complete set. If not, go the Auction Hose: good news is that individual pieces are cheap – you should no more than a couple hundred gold on a complete set.

WoW.com has a great little overview for paladins (Holy and Ret) here.

Tip two: choose a role to play in the BG

Before stepping into a Battleground, ask yourself what “role” you’ll be playing. Battlegrounds are essentially PuGs. Random strangers thrown together who are expected to somehow co-ordinate and work towards shared goals. They can also be an abusive environment, as players hurl insults at each other for not “playing” well. Avoid the abuse – and increase your fun – by deciding your role. Your choices include:

  • Flag runner (FR) or Capture  – your role is to capture enemy flags or points
  • Healing – focus on healing your team mates –
  • Damage (DPS) – Yes, I’m talking facemelting Warlocks
  • Tank – take damage on behalf the group, as long as there is a healer of course
  • Escort/interception – escort flag runners, stop enemy players with your flag
  • Gaurd – hold strategic points from the enemy.

More often than not your class will dictate the role you will play. In  Warsong Gulch, Druids and Rogues make the best FRs. They can sneak into flag rooms, pinch the flag and have speed advantages. Paladins excel as escorts for FRs, healing/debuffing them as well as stunning and interrupting enemy players trying to stop the flag capture.

Victory in Arathi Basin goes to the side that maintains control of strategic points. The best teams have players standing guard (or close by). It may seem less exciting than running around the map, but you are guaranteed to have plenty of fights on your hand if you stay at the Lumber Mill or Black Smith. You can tell the worst players in Arathi. They’re the ones constantly respawning after death and trying to capture the Farm again and again, and again…..

My advice, pick *one* role and try and do that well.

Tip three: know thy enemy

Generals from Alexander the Great onwards have sought to understand their enemy so as to defeat them. The same is true in BGs. Learn something about the other classes you’ll come up against so you know how to mitigate their strengths and exploit their weaknesses. Lets take Rogues as but one example (the bastards!).

They are particularly troubling for many players – their ability to stealth, stun and deliver a burst of DPS can be devastating. As a Paladin I know my “Everyman for themself” can get me out of a stun while my “Judgement of Righteousness” can stun them in turn.

In a pure DPS fight, the rogue has the advantage. But if I can stun them for a moment, heal myself and negate their stuns I have a better chance of surviving. Those few seconds allow other players to come to my aid burn down the rogue.  Everyone hates Rogues in BGs, seeing one in trouble is a temptation too good to miss.

The same for each other class: know their tricks, and learn to counter them.

Tip four: travel in a pack

BGs are not a place for heroes or the lone wolf (unless you’re a Rogue of course…). Attempting to solo BG objectives will result in death. No exceptions.

Look for your team mates and hook up with them. Use the map to  see where they are concentrated, and pay attention the chat so you know what’s going on. Play the part of healer, escort or DPS. And don’t be afraid to ask for help or direction. There are enough experienced players in BGs to give friendly pointers. Yes, people can play nice in a BG.

Groups of five or more are the most viable: groups smaller than that will get rolled.

Tip five: survey the battlefield

Do a bit of research before stepping into a BG. Survey the maps available online and read some of the basic strategies. Everyone appreciates the player who makes the effort and knows what to do. BGs are dependent on random strangers working together, and a BG battle flows better and is far more enjoyable if you know what goals you are working towards.

You’ll learn more about the BG from actually fighting in there, but don’t go in blind. It will be a frustrating experience for yourself and other players.

How did I go then?

Did I take my own advice? Of course! And it went well. Firstly, I achieved my “1000 honourable kills” achievement over the weekend.

Even though I went in with far lower level gear than many other players, I ranked in the top third in all the “post-match” tables: less deaths, respectable DPS and quite a few honourable kills. I also got quite a lot of honour points to start upgrading my gear.

I set objectives for myself, and achived most of them. Being less geared than most players, I think I did pretty well by concentrating on being a valuable member of the BG team.