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With the recent postings by Wubkin about various aspects of PvP, and my gratitude towards him for writing a warrior arena guide a long time ago on the old forums, I've decided to contribute some to the literature. Hopefully this will be of help to anyone looking to do RBGs.
In this chapter I will discuss the various battlegrounds that can pop up in the RBG rotation. All of the maps are a capture the flag map (CTF), a base game, or a mixture (EOTS).
Capture the Flag
The basic premise of this game is to capture the enemy flag 3 times, have more flag caps than the other team at the end of 25 minutes, or the last flag cap at the end of 25 minutes if the number of flag caps is equal. The usual strategy is as follows: 9 members, except tank, run into the middle and engage the other team. All cooldowns are used early to try to win the initial fight. Some things to watch out for is that death grip and smoke bomb should be used early to try to get a fast kill. The loss of a single person in this stage of the game could easily mean the difference between winning or losing. If the tank is unable to pick up the flag due to them being harassed by a rogue or other DPS, the holy paladin must leave to keep the tank mobile so the tank can pick up the flag.
If the initial fight is unsuccessful, your group must avoid having the res be split. If the fight looks like a loss, the team must pull back to your graveyard and group with the ressers. This will force the other team to fight your whole team and be further from their own graveyard, which would give you an advantage.
If the middle fight is somewhat inconclusive, you will enter the 'tie' phase where both teams fight a tug of war in between graveyards. Eventually the tanks will receive a stacking debuff that makes them take more damage. The stacks are going to climb high enough eventually that the tanks become unhealable. Thus it is important to be the first team to get on the enemy tank and get a kill before the enemy team. One tactic is to have your boomkin/fire mage/rogue sneak around to the back where their tank is and burst the tank down before your team wipes. Keep in mind the other team might be doing the same; so you should probably have measures set up to counter this.
After picking up the flag, the tank should try to get back to the group as soon as possible and position himself towards the back of the group. The idea is to force the enemy team to pummel through your own team in order to reach the tank, which would make the task all but impossible. A common mistake is for the tank to run directly to the flag room and wait, or worse yet, taking one or more healers with him. This is unacceptable because you are taking at least one player away from the fight, and could easily result in your team losing. The tank should only head back to the flag room when it is reasonably assured that an enemy tank kill will occur in the next 30 to 60 seconds.
The rogue in CTF maps are very important. Some teams use rogues to harass the enemy tank to stop them from getting to the flag room. This is a risky strategy because you are taking a player away from the middle fight. More conventionally, the rogue joins everyone else in the middle and helps win the initial fight. The rogue's job is extremely important; a well-timed bomb could result in an early kill, which would turn the tide of the battle. The rogue also has to try to lock down the enemy discipline priest to stop dispels. Since a rogue's damage is mediocre, outside of burst windows rogues should focus on controlling and locking down enemy players as opposed to doing damage.
A typical thing that occurs is to have a fire mage harass the enemy healers with ring of frost, dragon's breath, and impact stun. The DK and rogue should also focus on the enemy disc priest to stop as much dispels as possible. Conversely, you must shut down the enemy rogue and fire mage as much as possible to keep your disc priest able to dispel. This often wins or loses battles.
There are two key differences between WSG and TP, the two flag cap maps. WSG has only one GY for each side, while TP has two GYs per side. The existence of a middle GY for TP changes the dynamic dramatically. It allows both teams to keep the fight in the middle without pushing the other team closer to their base. The second difference is the existence of the river, which creates a natural barrier between the two halves of the map. Utilizing this properly for defence is crucial.
Edited by Elgunaz on 7/15/2012 5:28 PM PDT
I have lumped both Arathi Basin and Battle for Gilneas under 'base games'. However, the dynamics between a 3 node map and a 5 node map is actually very different and require significantly different tactics. As such, I will try to discuss them separately.
On this map your main goal is to try to capture your home node (farm or stables), blacksmith, and lumber mill. The reason for these three nodes is that your home node is the easiest to defend due to its proximity to your starting graveyard. The blacksmith is the central node, and you can easily gauge who's coming. Lumber mill has the best vantage point and you can easily reinforce blacksmith by slowfalling down. You can't do that with mine.
Typically your goal is to force blacksmith into a tie until you win lumber mill. This means that only the tank and the holy paladin should be going to the blacksmith and attempt to hold them off for as long as possible. If the enemy team sends more than their tank and holy paladin, then this is actually a significant advantage for your team since you will likely dominate at lumber mill and then easily drop down to the blacksmith and wipe them out there as well. However, it is highly likely that the enemy team will employ a mirror strategy, resulting in a tie at blacksmith. It is then up to your team to wipe the other team out at blacksmith.
The rogue's job is to go to the mine and attempt to capture it. Rogues are by far the best for the mine job because if they face any other class that's not a rogue, they can almost surely capture the base (exception is a hunter; but hunters are extremely rare in 1800+ RBGs). The rogue must be a good dueler in order to ensure victory.
After you have secured two bases, it is best to have two players at each node, 1 healer and 1 DPS/tank, while the remaining 4 float. You must be flexible. It is not acceptable to PERMANENTLY park two players at each node, because it could result in a 6 v 8 battle at one of the nodes which will likely result in a loss. Hence it is important to keep tracking the enemy stealthers. If their stealthers are engaged in combat, it is safe to call off one person from a node to join the main battle. Battleground targets is hence an extremely important add-on.
The thing about the 5-node dynamic of AB is that the 'point of no return', i.e. when you have to capture at least 4 bases to win the game, occurs much earlier. This is because a 3 to 2 advantage is relatively small, and it takes a long time to over turn even a modest lead. As such the key to AB is not to lose a base and you must play defensively.
I have observed at higher ratings that some teams abandon the mine completely and opting to send their rogue to LM, as well as only sending a warrior to BS as opposed to a warrior and a holy paladin. This is based on the assumption that the other team will only send at most a warrior and a holy paladin to BS, so it's really unnecessary to send a healer there just to heal against a prot warrior. This means you can have as many as 9 people at LM, which creates a very strong advantage if the other team sent their paladin to BS and sent their rogue to mine. However, there is some risk in that you must guarantee a quick win at LM so you can capture BS quickly. Your lone warrior cannot last forever.
Battle for Gilneas
Battle for Gilneas is a 3 node map. As such, having one node more than the other team is a huge advantage. The standard set up is to leave your protection warrior at mines, while sending the rest of your team to water works. This results in a big team dog fight similar to a capture the flag game, which you must win.
Battle for Gilneas is much less dynamic, because whichever team wins the Waterworks fight will likely be able to keep both bases easily. However, there are some things you can do to take a base. If you lost the initial dog fight, chances are you will keep losing 9 on 9 brawls. The key then is to force or trick them to split. One way is 'juking', where your entire team pretends to go to one node, forcing their defense to run to that node, then suddenly change direction and move to another node. In this case you have to be good at crowd controlling and capture the base quickly, while disposing of however many defenders there may be. This will force them to fight you with a smaller force, which hopefully you can beat.
Another method is to send your main force to attack water works, while sending your boomkin and rogue to the lighthouse/mine to capture it. Between the two of them they have enough CCs to ensure a flag cap if there is only one defender. Against two defenders however some craftiness is needed and really relies on how well they work together.
Eye of the Storm
Perhaps the least forgiving battleground is Eye of the Storm. The winner is usually decided at the initial dog fight, and usually the other team has to actively play poorly for you to recover from such a loss. Unlike in random battlegrounds you do not go for a 3-cap initially. Instead, you send all but 2 people (usually the prot warrior and rogue) to the middle and try to take the first flag. The winner of this battle not only controls the first flag which is an enormous advantage, but also allows that team to ride their initial momentum and either harass or capture a base before the other team respawns. This is usually an unrecoverable loss. The only way to recover is to attempt to steal a base from the other team, which should be impossible if the if the other team is playing properly.
Finally, an important note for all node defenders: It is extremely important that you DO NOT stand on the flag when defending a node. This is because you can save yourself from having to trinket sap from a rogue, because by standing far enough away from the flag you make it so that the rogue will take a few seconds to get to the flag and start capping, ensuring that your sap will expire before they are able to turn the flag. If you stand on top of the flag the rogue can turn the flag if you don't trinket, and if you do trinket, you will be blinded without a trinket and the rogue will cap the flag.
Edited by Elgunaz on 7/15/2012 5:21 PM PDT
In this section I will cover what will be needed to form an RBG team. With every team you would want to have:
1 flag carrier (tank spec)
In the current season (S11), there is essentially only one comp that's good, which is:
Protection warrior (flag carrier)
Here X can vary, and it depends on the preference of the group leader. X can typically be elemental shaman, shadow priest, balance druid, affliction warlock, fire mage, sub rogue, resto druid. The most common choices for X are balance druid, shadow priest, fire mage, affliction warlock, and elemental shaman.
Edited by Elgunaz on 7/15/2012 5:23 PM PDT
I will now discuss why these 9 clasess/specs are essential.
Protection warrior: Warriors are the best choice for flag carriers, due to their high in-combat mobility, good defensive CDs, and crowd control abilities. Prot warriors have two gap closers: charge and intercept, which do not share a cool down. They also have intervene, which not only allows them to charge a friendly target but also breaks all snares and roots while giving the target 30% damage reduction. The have a unique ability called heroic leap, which allows the warrior to leap out of smoke bombs. This ability can save a lot of healing cool downs and thus allows a much higher chance of surviving the second bomb. Warriors have a ranged and melee silence, on 30 and 10 sec cooldowns respectively (compared to DK's one silence with 1 minute CD, no silence from bear druids, and prot paladins single 30 second ranged silence). Warriors also have two stuns: concussion blow and shockwave. Shockwave is a cone that can hit multiple targets with 17 sec CD, and concussion blow is a 5 second stun with a 30 second CD. Warriors also have intimidating shout, which is an undispellable fear with a 2 minute cooldown. Warriors are also the best tanks to solo guard a node because of their inability to get sapped and their ability to heroic leap to a flag even if there is a smoke bomb on the flag. All of these qualities combined make warriors the best choice for flag carriers.
Subtlety rogue: Sub rogues, in the standard composition above, will be guaranteed to do the least amount of damage. However, sub rogues are one of the most important if not the single most important player in just about every RBG situation (exception might be Eye of the Storm). Rogues bring the most useful ability in PvP: smoke bomb. A well timed smoke bomb can easily lead to an early kill in a big team dog fight which would lead to an early advantage. Smoke bombs are also critical to land tank kills. On Arathi Basin the rogue is almost always sent to the mine and their dueling skills will be put to the test to see which rogue can capture the mine. On big team dog fights the rogue (and the DK) needs to lock down the enemy disc priest in order for DOTs to roll out successfully. When enemies approach the tank, the rogue needs to effectively shut down multiple enemy DPS simultaneously to ensure the tank can get away. All in all, rogues make or break many RBG games.
Frost DK: The role of DKs have been diminished since previous seasons. Before, prior to the rise of the DOT cleave, DKs were the primary source of damage. Now, DK damage is subpar compared to DOT classes. However, DKs still bring a very useful tool to RBGs which is death grip. A key tactic is for the DK to grip somebody in, the rogue drops a bomb, and kill an enemy early on in the fight which can easily turn the tide. Since frost DK surviivabiltiy is poor, the DK must be cognizant to go defensive as soon as possible.
Affliction warlock: The main reason for it to be mandatory for warlocks to spec affliction is because of unstable affliction. It is the single most important utility warlocks bring; UA provides spell protection. However, warlocks must also effectively fear and spell lock enemy healers and DPS to be effective. While not as 'make it or break it' as the rogue, warlock CC and damage is a huge factor in deciding whether a match is won or lost. Also, as a pet class, warlocks are frequently assigned to defend nodes on Arathi Basin, and as such need to have good pet control macros.
Fire mage: If warlocks provide DOT protection, then fire mages provide the big damage bursts that are needed to bring kills. This comes from the combustion ability. Fire mages also bring a highly effective CC in the form of dragon's breath. Also, mages need to effectively counter spell enemy healers and DPS to stop damage or to provide pressure. Fire mages can also drop a ring of frost, which is highly useful. Fire mages can drop a ring of frost around the enemy tank while a rogue drops a smoke bomb. This will prevent healers from running into the bomb to heal the tank. They should also use polymorph frequently, even though polymorphs are one of the least effective CCs in RBGs.
Balance druid: Balance druids are at the center of the DOT cleave in the sense that they provide constant high damage to everybody on the enemy team. Warlocks protects their DOTs and fire mages brings in the big burst to land kills, but balance druids provide the constant pressure that drives the team. Druids also bring two of the most effective CCs in RBGs: root silence and cyclones. Root silence is when you root a healer in a solar beam. Solar beams can also be used on top of a smoke bomb to prevent healers from getting in or out of the bomb. Further, solar beams can instantly lock out a cluster of casters standing near each other, forcing them to move, effectively serving as an AOE interrupt. Cyclones are extremely powerful CCs since they cannot break and cannot be dispelled. Finally, typhoon can be used to knock people over the cliff at AB (although against non-terrible teams this rarely works) or in EOTS, and can be used to interrupt groups of casters (applicable at all brackets). All in all, balance druids can be considered the bread and butter of an RBG team.
Holy paladin: Holy paladins are good healers due to their high output, hand of freedom, hand of protection, divine shield, aura mastery, and lay on hands. Aura mastery is a powerful cooldown because it makes your entire team immune to interrupt and silence effects; essentially allowing all of them to free cast. This is extraordinarily powerful when all of the primary damage dealers on your team are casters. Divine shield makes the paladin invulnerable to CC effects and allows them to free cast. They can instantly remove roots and snares from somebody with hand of freedom. Lay on hands can instantly save a tank from certain death. Finally, paladins' raw healing output is very strong.
Discipline priest: Discipline priests' main utility in an RBG situation is dispelling. This comes from both mass dispel and their usual dispel magic. Mass dispels are extremely good at removing DOTs and mitigating the damage of a DOT cleave. Inner focus can be used to negate the effects of UA silence. Also, with the glyph mass dispels also heal. Disc priests can also use psychic scream effectively to peel for flags or as a CC.
Restoration shaman: Resto shamans are brought for their high output, good dispels, spirit link totem, and their ability to give tanks extra health. Resto shaman dispels also heal. Spirit link totem is essentially a lay on hands on a shorter CD for the tank. They can also give the tank earth shield, which mitigates a lot of oncomiing damage. Resto shamans can also dispel curses. Overall, they compliment the healer team very well.
Edited by Elgunaz on 7/20/2012 1:05 PM PDT
I think it is worth mentioning too that Warlocks, if they're good will probably out damage everyone easily if they can free cast.
I've never seen a lock top the charts when all the casters have roughly equal gear (usually legendary + cunning of some sort). If skill and gear are not factors and there are no extenuating circumstances (for example, the boomkin was defending a node for unknown reasons), the boomkin is always number 1. This is based on observations at 1900+ MMR. So far I've seen 0 exceptions in over 70 games.
I don't have enough experience with melee cleaves to comment on this assertion.
Enhancement Shamans pretty much give a perma-freedom, so if you're melee heavy that can make a HUGE difference. I still want to run Turbocleave 3s ._.
I wanted to try to advocate Arms Warriors for RBGs, but as you can imagine, we're not exactly the greatest. BUT from my experience, we can do big chucks of damage in our Reckstorms, especially if we possess a Gurthalak, normal or better. Procing a million tentacles can be game breaking.
Also I was wondering if you could shed any light on the strat which I've seen a lot which is to just have your FC camp out by the Graveyard, especially in Twin Peeks. Doesn't seem to ever work, but they might've just sucked >.>
Enhancement Shamans pretty much give a perma-freedom, so if you're melee heavy that can make a HUGE difference. I still want to run Turbocleave 3s ._.
Good to know. Thunderhowl is a pretty good enhancement shaman but he plays resto for RBGs. (He's equally good as resto, he's a boss raid healer for sure).
The problem with arms warriors isn't damage output as in terms of raw damage arms warriors is actually one of the top 3 specs currently (according to raid spec score). However warrior survivability is garbage. The reason why DKs and rogues have some leeway as melee (aside from their utility) is that they have short CDs that can avoid certain death. Rogues have cloak vanish and DKs have AMS, both of which can instantly make them unviable kill targets against a DOT cleave. Warriors... just stand there and be killed.
Also, DKs are preferred to warriors due to death grip. A warrior has to charge into the enemy team to stay on target which makes them an easy kill: they charge in, you bomb, warrior's dead. A DK however can grip a target into your team, reversing the situation.
The 'meat grinder' is a viable tactic if you have the last cap and there're only a few minutes left in the game, which is to say your tank won't get too many debuffs. There are at least two variants on the meat grinder; one is to camp your GY, the other is to set up in the little house in TP. Especially the house forces the enemy team to come in one at a time, and you will have LOS of them before they do you, so you can dump damage and CC on them and wipe them out without your tank being ever in danger. GY camping also works. The reason why GY camping 'fails' is because if a team is forced to hug their GY, it means they got totally owned in the big brawl fights and are pushed into their corner; so they obviously tend to lose.
Wubkin, y u no Horde?
If I wasn't raid leading for our core 8/8H team and didn't have a secure spot, I'd consider transferring over .
Even with cunning, most other caster damage > locks. Fire mages and combustion in groups pretty much secures a node.
Also @ Elg, you forgot to mention boomkin's Typhoon. It's pretty handy for knocking people off ledges or out of smoke bombs, etc.
Thanks for pointing that out, I will edit the original post to reflect this.
Also, I guess warrior/enhance/healer is called 'turbo cleave' and not 'gluestick cleave'. I wonder what 'gluestick cleave' is now...
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