Alterac Valley

Official Blizzard Rules / Wowikki

It is almost impossible to be a good battleground player without having the Battlefield Minimap open all the time, and without occasionally referring to the main map. These examples use maps taken from real games to illustrate how play in this battleground develops.

sense the zerg, do the zerg, be the zerg

"Zerg", a term borrowed from Blizzard's Starcraft game, means a swarming, mindless attack with overwhelming force. In Alterac Vally it means to rush your whole team to the enemy's camp and kill the boss.

In practice the pure zerg almost never happens ... because AV's bosses are too well defended for most random teams to kill them with all four towers/bunkers unburned. So, in practice a "zerg" is a full scale offensive rush that burns at least two towers on the way to a boss kill.zerg

As you can see on the map, the Alliance has executed a very nice zerg:

Graveyard management is a major problem in a zerg attack. If you look closely, you will see that the Allies have only one functional grave yard, the one in Dun Baldar. This means that every alliance player who dies will rez there.

At the same time, the Horde have no functional grave yards. This means that they will all rez in their cave. From there they will attack the front of the Allied assault ... a very dangerous situation for the zerg.

To prevent this the Allies need to leave the Horde a grave yard somewhere in the middle of the map. Snowfall gy would have been nice, but the Horde ignored it. SH gy is another good one to leave in Horde hands. A pro team would probably manage this better ... random AV teams almost always lack the control needed to leave grave yards uncapped.

But usually, it's a messcave

It is rare to find an AV in which at least one team does not try to zerg ... and usually both do. However, the zerg seldom works to perfection. I shot these images from the Horde point of view, but both teams are zergging and the Allied images would be similar.startup

start map

Most games start with the two zergs passing one another in the middle of the field. A few people will drift into the middle and duel one another, but they don't matter ... the main bodies of troops will be heading for Galv and Balinda.balinda

These two minor bosses give out periodic buffs to the troops in their factions. It is not so much that they need to be killed as that if either side's boss stays up, that side gains an advantage ... so both sides kill the opposing boss as a kind of safety play.map 2

By now the map is a bit messy. This has to do with graveyards. Graveyards are extremely important in AV because they decide where the biggest concentrations of troops will appear.

In this case, ALL the Allied troops who have died so far are rezzing at Stormpike Graveyard, at the top of the map. This happens because none of the other graveyards that they have tapped have capped yet. Similarly, ALL the Horde troops are rezzing at Frostwolf Graveyard, near the bottom of the map.choke

Because of this, fights break out at two locations. The incoming Allied troops meet the Horde rezzers at FWGY. The incoming Horde troops meet the Allied rezzers at the "choke point" ... the narrow hilltop passage on the road leading out of Dun Baldar.gy

Here you can see the Horde moving through the choke point. Since there are usually more troops incoming than defending, the defenders get pushed back ... until finally their last graveyard is taken and they begin to rez elsewhere on the map.

Once in a while, however, the defenders outnumber the attackers. In this case a situation known as a "turtle" develops. The defenders get trapped in their end of the map and a long game of attrition ensues. (It's called a "turtle" ... pulling into one's shell and only defending ... because it was a tactic in the good old days before AV's rules were changed to prevent them ... and the name stuck.)spgy

Both teams will now push forward taking the enemy graveyards one by one. At the same time, some players will occupy the towers and bunkers.

You will hear the term "back capping." Each tower or bunker controls a sub-boss who is in with the main boss. When the sub-bosses tower or bunker burns, the boss disappears. So, if your team can burn four towers or bunkers, it will have four fewer bosses to deal with. db

Most of the time, at the top level, the team that burns four structures first gains enough of an advantage to win the game. So, to prevent this, each team tries to "back cap" ... or capture back ... its own towers or bunkers.

Burning and backcapping are often the difference between winning and losing, and you will usually find the best players in the battleground engaged in these two tasks.

Once the final graveyard is capped, players will disburse to wait for the towers or bunkers to burn. Notice that the buring is that important ... even though the boss is available, his guards are too powerful to ignore.final map

Inexperience players will hang out in the boss building just waiting. Experience players will be in one of three places: guarding a bunker or hattower, backcapping their own bunkers or towers, or guarding a graveyard.

At some point, the leader will call "all in", and the boss fight will begin. (Often there is no actual leader and various leader wannabes will call "all in" at various times. When you gain experience in AV, you'll know when it's time to go ... or at least you'll develop your own opinion.)

vanndarIf you look at this final map, you'll see how to predict the outcome of an AV battle.

Horde and Allies are both in their enemy's camps. However, the Allies have burned three towers while the Horde have only burned two bunkers. Because they are one burned structure ahead, the Allies have fewer bosses to fight, and so they have a significant advantage.final score

You can tell when a team goes after the boss because the boss will begin shouting warnings to his troops.

In this battle, the Allies burned the Horde towers faster and went "all in" first. In an attempt to catch up, the Horde went before the last two bunkers had burned and "wiped" on Van.

We rezzed at SPGY (because the graveyard in Dun Baldar itself had not yet capped) and rushed back over the bridge to try again ... but it was too late.