With the recent updates to the epic bgs being a couple months ago, the meta has had time to adjust. Player behavior has reached a comfortable normality, making most epic bgs play out the same way almost every time. In this post I'm going to describe what the meta for each epic bg is, and describe counter strategies for your team. I have led groups with these counter strategies and they have worked phenomenally well, granted the enemy follows the meta. I must remind you, the "meta" does not mean it is the best and most optimized option. It just means what players gravitate to naturally and what the most popular strategy is.
What you need to know about epic bgs:
- Players generally have a rudimentary or vague understanding of epic bgs as a whole and focus primarily on fighting in a mob.
- Players generally do not know why they must go for specific objectives or at what times to, so direction with a firm voice is required in urgent situations.
- Teams generally are not coordinated enough to come up with a contingency plan if their usual strategy doesn't work (unless it is a premade team). If one of the teams deviates from the meta, the other almost never has a response ready. If a non-premade can muster up a response, it usually isn't fast enough anyway. Deviant behavior greatly increases your likelihood of a win.
- Some of the most impactful plays in a game are done by the lone wolves that do objectives outside of the mob fighting.
The Horde stops by the Dark Woods to pick up Song Flowers and loot artifact fragments. They proceed to claim the Seat of Kor'lok and push up the main road.
The Alliance immediately takes over the Ring of Conquest. If the Ancient Artifact (which is different from artifact fragments) spawns early, that is a bonus. After RoC is cleared, run back to base and turn in fragments to summon Fangraal the ancient. Then they push the main road.
This meta favors the Alliance because Fangraal is much stronger than the ogre champion. The Horde is usually pushed up to the Alliance mage tower by the time Fangraal comes out, so the Alliance have an easy time wiping the Horde under tower and pushing them back. It is not impossible for the Horde to recover, but losing artifact fragments from the wipe sets them way back.
Simply meet the Alliance at the Ring of Conquest and take control of the area once they've begun fighting their first pack of mobs. The Alliance do not expect to fight the Horde here and are caught off guard. Once you wipe them, move immediately to the Seat of Kor'lok and claim the ogre. Return to base and turn in fragments. The Horde now has artifact fragment advantage from winning the first fight and can summon Kronus before the Alliance can summon Fangraal. They have the ogre, and potentially also have the Ancient Artifact. I have never seen the Alliance recover from this.
Because the current meta favors the Alliance, a counter strategy is not necessary. The Ring of Conquest easily has the highest artifact fragment count of all the Ashran zones. Seizing control of this area and successfully defending against a Horde ambush will secure a solid win. An early Fangraal is very hard for the Horde to recover from. However, if you must deviate from the meta, launching a counterattack into the Dark Woods is also a viable strategy. Take your team along the east side of the map through the jungle area and hop into the Dark Woods from behind the Seat of Kor'lok. You can set back the Horde's artifact fragment progress by wiping them and steal their Song Flowers in the process. An early mage kill is also possible from this position. The safer next step would be to claim Kor'lok after wiping them.
The winning formula for this Wintergrasp is to have a high vehicle cap plus having a workshop close to where you intend to attack. Possessing a workshop increases your team's vehicle cap, so never let one go if you have anything to say about it. Generally speaking, the more vehicles a team has the more likely they are to win. The bulk of both teams clash at Sunken Ring to claim it. If Offense takes it, they build vehicles and attack the eastern fortress wall. If Defense takes it, they push down the eastern bridge and attempt to claim Eastspark Workshop, spilling over onto the nearby towers. If its an absolute steamroll, the Defense will chase the Offense clockwise around the map.
The deviant behavior and key to victory for both teams lies on the western half of the map. Let the teamfights happen to the east. There's no reason to stop the mob from going to SR, nor would you be able to. They need kills to rank up and pilot vehicles. Your job is to provide them with vehicles. Remember, possessing a workshop increases your team's vehicle count by 4. This amounts to a total difference of 8 when 4 is subtracted from the enemy team's total and 4 is added to yours. This is INCREDIBLY impactful. Send about 3 players to Broken Temple Workshop at the beginning of the round to ensure you either keep it (Offense) or take it (Defense). The combat that occurs on the western side of the map resembles arena-style skirmishes with groups never really being larger than 5 in the first bit of the battleground. So just hope whoever you're sending to BT is confident in their high pressure 1v1 situations. Losing the fight at Sunken Ring but holding strong at Broken Temple can cause a pendulum swing because you saved your team's vehicle cap. Taking a lesser populated workshop feels small, but it has immense butterfly effects on the entire game thereafter.
The Horde is honestly at a geographical disadvantage on this map. Both teams arrive at Workshop and Hangar at roughly the same time, but the Alliance definitely arrives at the Docks flag before the Horde. The Horde strategy relies entirely on winning the Hangar with 100% certainty. Because of this, the Horde sends most if not all of their team to Hangar and a small fraction to Workshop. The Hangar serves as a consistent and safe amount of dps on the eastern Alliance gate. The workshop demolishers are used either to dps the gate or defend the Horde base's western wall from glaives.
The Alliance prioritizes taking the Docks and Workshop. The dps from the Dock's glaives are incredibly strong if not dealt with immediately. The Workshop's demolishers are best used to defend the glaives. All players not in a vehicle, running bombs (lol), or doing some other objective are typically defending the glaives boots-on-the-ground. Glaives. Glaives. Glaives.
A Horde victory on this map entirely depends on their ability to play defensively and dispose of the Alliance's glaives. This is because the siege damage from glaives is greater than the siege damage from the Hangar's gunship (occupying both the Refinery and Quarry boosts your team's siege dps by 30% in total, so the dps may be formidable at that point). Demolishers make defense much easier as you can damage the glaives from a distance. This also forces the boots-on-the-ground Alliance glaive defenders to leave the glaives and deal with the demolishers. The glaives are then open for an attack by Horde ground forces. If the Horde does not have the Workshop, they literally have to throw their bodies at the glaives in an attempt to stop them. This sometimes works if you have enough people suicide attacking but is usually futile. There is little deviant behavior the Horde can do as they are forced to respond to the inherent Docks disadvantage. It is recommended, please, to kill the ******* glaives.
The Horde often gives up the Docks for free because they know they'll likely lose the fight. It is possible to send a small number of players to take Docks for free and send the bulk of the team to either Workshop or Hangar. Having the Docks and either of the other two siege areas puts you at a serious advantage. This strategy is based on the assumption that the Horde does not attempt Docks.
It is theoretically possible to hold the game in a stalemate by turtling inside your boss room. In the event that your gate comes down and there is no feasible way to destroy the enemy gates and get your team there in time to win a boss rush, you can have your entire team defend your boss. Stay inside your boss's room as a whole team and wipe the invading team over and over again until the reinforcement count ticks down. This is easier for Horde because there is only one entrance to the boss room. I've seen this strategy used maybe twice and it worked both times.
There are two types of Alterac Valley games in non-premades.
- Turtle – This occurs when both teams only have graveyards on their respective sides. This means the bulk of the teams clash heads on on the main roads, trying to push through each other. It's called a turtle because it slows the game down and can make an Alterac Valley last almost an hour.
- Team Split – This occurs when a team has a graveyard behind the opposing team's bulk/frontline. The game becomes a war on two fronts where both teams have an offense and a defense. Games end faster this way but are much more volatile. It is difficult to switch from defense to offense because the Recall toy is only one-way.
Alterac Valley has many components that I won't get into. But the most important I must address. If you manipulate the graveyards, you also manipulate the flow of the players. Or more simply, if you have control over spawning, you have control over the entire game. A single Rogue can change the outcome of the game with a single graveyard cap. Defending a graveyard you already possess is much easier in Alterac Valley as they have strong NPCs guarding them. This makes defending a flag as a single player an actual viable strategy. Players have decided that they don't want to PvP anymore, so the two teams usually run right past each other during the first rush. The game quickly becomes a team split. Both teams leave behind a few strong or brave players in an attempt to slow down the enemy to gain an advantage in the boss race. Recalling is an important tool that is not used enough. There is a toy that you can buy from an NPC before the game starts. It allows you to teleport back to your team's base on a 2 minute cooldown.
At the moment, The Horde is more likely to win a turtle than a team split and should therefore attempt to force a turtle. You can force a turtle by securing every graveyard you can and defending against the first Alliance attack wave. The first 5 minutes of the game are the most crucial to defend against the initial Alliance wave. The Alliance likes to send people straight to the Frostwolf Keep in an attempt to seize early control over it. Every kill counts in these first 5 minutes. A graveyard takes 4 minutes to cap, so every kill you get sends the Alliance all the way back to Stonehearth Graveyard (or maybe even Stormpike). This rotates the person you just killed directly onto their team's defensive side. As their first attack wave dwindles, you can regain your footing and reclaim the graveyards they attacked along the way. Eventually, you will have cleaned out your entire side of the map of Alliance, forcing them all back into a turtle clash which should exist somewhere above Stonehearth Bunker. The Horde is almost certain to win if the turtle clash pushes up to Stonehearth Graveyard or further north from that point. Holding a turtle above Stonehearth Graveyard permits a kill on Balinda, and also perhaps a summon of Lokholar (yes it happens, I do it all the time).
The Alliance usually wins team splits. Dun Baldar is designed to be much more easily defendable than Frostwolf Keep. Having a squad of defenders back home while an attack wave swarms Frostwolf Keep is a very viable strategy as the attack wave can overtake Frostwolf Keep pretty consistently. The Horde usually struggles to get past even Stormpike Graveyard. The road leading up the Alliance Base is primarily a single narrow road, meaning the Alliance can back pedal all the way back to their bridge slowing the Horde's raid significantly. The Horde have no such luxury, the roads leading up to their base having open fields. The Alliance can sneak around to the enemy base easily, with the only bottlenecks being the ravine at Iceblood Graveyard and the gates at Frostwolf Keep. Your best bet to winning is securing a graveyard as far into Horde territory as possible. This means capturing it and sitting the 4 minutes it takes to complete. With a forward graveyard, your attack wave can continue their attack, spawning closer and without having to sneak around the Horde frontline.
There is a great misconception about Snowfall Graveyard that I have to dispel. For the Horde it functions as a way to respond quickly if they lose Stonehearth Graveyard and is objectively better than Iceblood Graveyard positionally. For the Alliance it can function as a forward graveyard when trying to break free from a turtle or even flank the turtle. Capturing it secures a strong grip on the Field of Strife, allowing for Ivus or Lokholar summons. It is a spawn point that is slightly out of the way which makes it more difficult to attack. It is an option that should be taken advantage of when the opportunity arises, and it just so happens that opportunity comes up a lot. Many Horde players believe that giving up Snowfall magically makes the Alliance disappear from the North and secures a win. But I have seen time and time again, the Horde giving up a southern graveyard and losing to the Alliance attack wave because Frostwolf is hard to defend. You should cap and hold Snowfall more often. It may extend the game a bit, but it can win you the game. That's what really matters, doesn't it?
Thanks for reading this far! I hope you pulled some useful information out of this. I sorta retired from Arenas and started doing epic bgs more because the PvP feels more organic and less sweaty. For me epic bgs are a ~30 minute long mental puzzle where you have to figure out where you as one person will have the most impact on an 80 person game. I hope Blizzard develops them more! I considered making a guide on how one Rogue can win games, but I figured I'd do a general analysis that's easy to read.
- How you can force Alterac Valley into a turtle:
- Freezerdono’s Alterac Valley guide for Horde.
- The population difference between alliance and horde is getting to a point where it’s game breaking.
More about World of Warcraft (WoW)Post: "Epic Battlegrounds: The Current Meta" specifically for the game World of Warcraft (WoW). Other useful information about this game:
- It’s time to look at the faction problem.
- Speculation: the Final Boss of Shadowlands is “Fate” or whatever is controlling fate.
- Lore speculation for the story of Shadowlands and how it fits into the larger cosmic war/chart
- SOULFORGE ~ Naxxramas Release
- Most interesting new questline ideas for Children’s Week from a lore perspective?
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