A few weeks ago, we gave you a hint of what a Battlegrounds experience would be like, and also introduced you to some new concepts for player-versus-player combat, such as a slightly tweaked death system and capture-able graveyards. Now let's explore in greater detail how the battle for Alterac Valley can truly be won.
Alterac Valley is a zone for high-level players, which means those who are at or near the level cap. Rest assured we do not plan to restrict Battlegrounds to the highest-levels of players, so there will be more accessible Battlegrounds for lower levels. However, at least initially, only very high-level players will be able to contest the Battleground in Alterac Valley.
We definitely are aware that the experience can start to degrade if the Battleground is completely packed with several hundreds of players; the sides begin to lose cohesion, individuals feel less able to contribute to the whole cause, and the potential evolves for a lop-sided affair. So we do have a cap on the number of people on each side that can enter a Battleground. Rest assured we want the two sides to be fairly matched. However, if you have to wait for your turn to enter the Battleground, you can still adventure in the rest of the game world before you are summoned to fight. Our goal has always been to create the optimum experience, and so we will continue to tweak the numbers till we feel we've got an epic, yet manageable, conflict that is fair to both Horde and Alliance players.
The ultimate goal of a Battleground is to slay the enemy's general and destroy the enemy's main base. We've set up many different quests and mechanisms to give players several strategies for accomplishing this goal.
Ostensibly, one side could decide to simply swarm the enemy territory. This would involve first attacking the enemy's forward base camp. This will be a difficult endeavor. The forward camp is guarded by numerous NPC defenders in the mid-fifties, as well as the elite camp commander and his elite special guards. Not only are these defenders numerous, and tougher due to the elites, but there will also be a tower or two flanking the way through this forward camp.
The Horde defend their tower's flag
Towers are defensive structures garrisoned by several NPC guards. The garrison is armed with extremely long ranged bows or guns, and can snipe at enemy players from far away. These towers will send volleys of fire at onrushing attackers, softening them up before they crash into the wall of defending enemy players and NPCs. The garrison defenders will also continue their withering fire as the attackers battle it out below. The side in control of the tower maintains a significant advantage in the melee ensuing underneath its considerable shadow.
Like graveyards and mines, towers can be captured. The large flag atop a tower denotes its controller, and just as with graveyards, you can claim one for your side by tearing down the existing flag and erecting your own. At that point, your own NPC troops will spawn in and wrest control of the tower from the enemy. When control completely switches to your side, you will gain the supporting firepower of the tower, making it a key strategic point to capture on your way to your overall goal of destroying the enemy base.
If you can manage to kill the camp commander, wipe out the NPCs, and drive away enemy players, your work won't yet be completed. Taking the graveyard and towers near the forward camp and installing your own NPC troops there will ultimately place the area under your control and make it much easier for you to then mount a final push into the enemy's base.
"Our town is under attack!"
Taking the Main Base
As hard as the forward base camp will be to defeat, the main base will be significantly harder. There will be a high level elite general even stronger than the camp commander, and there will be even more elite guards and more NPC defenders in waiting. And of course, there will be yet more towers defending the area. However, if you can manage to kill this general, then the surrounding enemy base will begin to erupt into flames in sympathetic ruin. As the buildings are consumed by fire, you will finally gain control of the base, and control of the Battleground as well. At this point, your faction will have recorded a victory in the Alterac Valley Battleground, with a huge number of subsequent honor points being added to the honor pool that will then be distributed to all PvP combatants for the day.
Razing the Alliance base We don't need no water...
Battlegrounds, though, are a dynamic system, and so the conflicts therein will continue to rage back and forth even after a winner is declared. For the next few hours after your side scores a victory, the opposition will have no NPC troops to help them. That will give you greater control over the zone and the ability to fully explore Alterac Valley with confidence.
Enemy players might choose to resurrect in the tunnels leading into Alterac Valley and harass your side's players, but as the entire zone will be firmly in your control, it will be difficult for any opposing players to mount any sort of effective counterattack. Instead, they will have to wait for their base to rebuild itself.
A little while after it gets razed, the destroyed base will begin to slowly rebuild itself. Players can significantly reduce the reconstruction time, though, by capturing the nearby mine and delivering supplies between the mine and the base. Control of the Battleground will revert back to a contested status, and the battle for Alterac Valley will commence once again. However, mines, towers, and graveyards will remain under the victor's control, and will need to be retaken.
Kill 1001 trolls? My pleasure!
Assaulting and demolishing the enemy base will be prohibitively difficult if one side simply decides to storm the enemy. This is where quests come in. The PvP quests in Alterac Valley add strategy and additional avenues to assist in the overall goal of conquering the Battleground.
The initial and repeatable quest you can acquire is to gain improved reputation with the main base fighting for your side. Horde players will be told to kill Alliance players, and vice versa. After you collect the insignias of your fallen foes, you can bring them back to your base to increase your standing with your side; on the Horde side, you would be improving your relationship with the Frostwolf clan, while on the Alliance side, it would be with the Stormpike dwarves. As you improve your reputation, you'll gain a special trinket, which gets replaced by a more powerful version each time your reputation rank jumps up a category, such as from honored to revered. Reputation can also be improved through questing, of course. Improving your reputation will be very important because many of the best abilities for use in Battlegrounds, such as calling cavalry charges and air strikes, can only be done by players with very high reputation.
Miners duking it out
One of the first quests you can undertake is to take control of the mine near your faction's camp. The Alliance's mine is initially under the control of troggs, while the Horde's mine is held by kobolds. You can capture a mine, but unlike with graveyards and towers, you don't do so by planting a flag. Instead, after you kill the mine's kobold or trogg leader, a lieutenant from your side will spawn in with defenders to take control of it.
Deep within each mine are supplies. The quest here involves gathering a certain number of supplies and brining them back to your side's quartermaster. When you complete this quest, all your side's NPC troops automatically get an instant upgrade in weapon and armor effectiveness, and an increase in their level. There are several additional quests beyond this initial one to acquire more supplies, and each time you complete these successive quests, your side's NPCs get further upgraded in weapons, armor, and level. However, over time (usually about an hour), these upgrades begin to degrade. If you want to keep your troops in top fighting condition, you'll also need to keep the supplies flowing in as well.
Get some booty
Another quest is related to this, and it involves storming the enemy's mine and stealing their supplies to upgrade your troops. This is an additional quest, and not only do these supplies benefit your troops, but by stealing them away from the enemy, you also deprive the other side of upgrade supplies as well, since the supply crates within each mine are limited and spawn slowly.
Two other quests can also be accomplished by players, and their rewards have enormous influence on the outcome of a hotly-contested Battleground. One quest enables you to summon aerial units to bombard the enemy. To complete it, you must break into the enemy's camp and free the three wing commanders held prisoner deep within the opposition's base. If you can escort them out of the base and into safety, you will get a whistle as a quest reward that thereafter lets you call in air strikes from the wing commanders. On the Alliance, blowing the whistle will call a griffon to your aid, while on the Horde side, blowing the whistle calls a wyvern. As there are only three wing commanders to rescue, your side will only be able to call down a maximum of three air strikes at a time.
Wing Commander Guse
The quest with the most powerful reward, though, requires you to gather the blood of fallen enemy players for your side's chief spellcaster. On the Horde side, as revealed a few weeks ago, the ranking shaman asks you to bring back the blood of Alliance players. The quest actually needs to be performed by dozens of players, as the shaman requires hundreds of blood samples to be brought before him. When enough is returned to him, he summons an Ice Lord Elemental, which then begins a rampage of the enemy base. On the Alliance side, the leader of the druidic enclave asks you to acquire the essence of Horde players, which is essentially their spirit made manifest in an item you can loot off their body. In both cases, the blood and essence is something in addition to the insignia that you can loot off a fallen player as a trophy of your kill. Once you return the requisite number of essences, the druid will summon a mighty Ancient of War, who will make his way toward the Horde base, dispensing destruction to all Horde players in his path. Both the Ice Lord and Ancient of War will be enormously powerful creatures, easily the equivalent of a raid boss, and will give their side a decided advantage in the battle to seize Alterac Valley.
There are also some neutral quests in Alterac Valley with significant rewards for whichever side can complete them first. At a Syndicate hideout in the Valley, you can meet a neutral Syndicate NPC, who will give you a quest to recover a Syndicate artifact called the All-Seeing Eye. It's been stolen by the elite trolls in the ice cave, and if you recover it for him, he will let you use it, and pledge his Syndicate bandits to your side. The twist with this quest is that once you get the Eye from the cave, you must bring it back to the Syndicate leader. But while en route, you'll be tagged with a glowing aura. If the enemy faction manages to kill you before you return the Eye, they can loot it off your body and finish the quest for you, thereby stealing the Eye and the Syndicate for their use.
Another neutral NPC, an esteemed goblin engineer, is held prisoner in the ice troll cave. If you acquire the quest to free him and escort him safely out of the cave and back to your base, he will join your side. At that point, he will give another quest, this time to create a special war machine, the Portable Shredder Unit, for your use in helping your faction in the war.
These aren't the only quests available in Alterac Valley. Several others also exist to strengthen your chances for victory. Through them, you can spawn in waves of reinforcements to assault the enemy base, and accomplish other benefits for your side.
A Final Preview
So there you have it: the conditions whereby you can gain victory in Alterac Valley and the means by which you can expedite your mission. In several weeks time, we'll turn our gaze away from Battlegrounds and focus more on the new PvP Honor System, gaining ranks, and the bevy of rewards that awaits for those who engage in the honorable defense of their lifestyle against the encroachment of the enemy faction.