A Brief History of Alterac Valley

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A "Brief" History of Alterac Valley
Or, "How It All Went Wrong."

TLDR (Too Long; Didn't Read): See post #6. That's as short as it gets, sorry.

TSWM (Too Short; Wanted More): See these discussion threads:

"Save Alterac Valley Letter Writing Campaign"
"A 'Brief' History of AV, Part II"

Dear Omnipotent Cobalt Masters,

Over the years, you have made a significant number of changes to Alterac Valley. Some changes appear to have been made in isolation. For example, maybe you felt that there were too many NPC's before patch 1.8, so you conjured up a mighty avalance and buried the treacherous Syndicate stronghold. Other changes, such as the introduction of reinforcements, were in response to problems caused by other additions like the Mark of Honor system.

Unfortunately, each individual change has brought about such a drastic reshaping of this battleground that its purpose is now virtually unrecognizable when compared to what the initial vision seems to have been. Even the isolated changes became catalysts for a chain reaction that has, in the opinion of a significant number of players, gutted Alterac Valley and made it totally un-fun to play in.

We have been engaged in thoughtful discussion for some time now, but I have decided to provide some additional background for players who might not know exactly what they were missing when AV was truly a legendary experience.

And thus I find myself launching into yet another tirade advocating the re-awesomification of Alterac Valley:

A Brief History of Alterac Valley

Part One: Vanilla

Patch 1.5

Way back in the time of unlinked flight paths and dishonorable kills, there came a great Patch. This Patch was known as 1.5.0, and it brought about a number of significant changes to this game we so dearly adore. Some changes, though still important, were minor:

Sitting characters will now stand up immediately after an attack, even if stunned.

Other patch notes, however, shook and shattered the very foundations of Warcraft as we knew it:

Mage Armor - Now has a new, unique icon.

Yes, it was a time of great change, and though mages everywhere wait with bated breath in the hopes that Mirror Image will one day receive such an honor as this, the—

Wait a minute. I've forgotten something.

Ah, yes:

The Warsong Gulch and Alterac Valley battlegrounds are now available.

A gigantic, snowy warzone with all the ingredients for a truly legendary experience. Upon entry to this wondrous new battleground, players were faced with a number of avenues by which to achieve victory over their mortal enemies.

How would you contribute to the battle? Would you ride out to Winterax Hold, attempting to slay the mighty Korrak the Bloodrager? What about going toe-to-toe with an enemy Captain, in the hopes of depriving your opponent of their precious perodic Warcry buff?

In a group, you might capture an enemy bunker or even hold the line as they try to do the same to one of yours. Alone, you could gather supplies for an infantry assault that would rip the enemy defenses to pieces.

The battle might last an hour. It might last two hours, five hours, a day, or even longer! In the event of such a stalemate, players could outfit elite cavalry riders, call in powerful air strikes, enlist the aid of dangerous infantry units, or even summon a powerful Elemental Lord to aid in their struggle.

There was PvP, PvE, and even a little PvPvE: Something for everyone to do, even tanks. This was the beginning of the golden age of Classic Alterac Valley...

Patch 1.6

At this time, a number of balancing changes occurred, about which I will not go into detail here. While some people might remember this time in a less than positive light, please bear in mind that classes were not nearly as well balanced for PvP back then as they are now. Many other players remember having an enormous amount of wholesome, nutritous fun in Old AV, and with no need for a daily win, most people who didn't want to play AV didn't have to.

Alas, the days of being blown apart by landmines in the Field of Strife and calling upon your allies to heal the shredder did not last forever.
Part One, Continued...

From Frostsicle:

I played back in 05 when my main was my pally.

Going into the middle to kill the troll while fending off alliance at the same time was something fun. Seeing the wind riders go off in the air was also cool, and collecting blood, ears, and other body parts/fluids... You turn them in to the druid to summon a bad !@# elemental!

Where it was really epic was when the other team had their elemental as well and they met in the middle. It was mind blowing: People dying everywhere, spells casting back and forth, and when one sides ele died, your ele was like half health and you would advance on to their base.

Patch 1.8

Each Battleground has an individual turn-in quest associated with its related victory/loss condition. Upon completion of a Battleground, the winning side will be awarded three Marks of Honor while the losing side will be awarded one Mark of Honor.

Alterac Valley Mark of Honor. In its infancy, this charming little item was totally harmless. As of patch 1.8.0, battlegrounds began to award Marks of Honor when completed. A win would bestow three of these powerful items upon a player, while losing players would walk away with but a single Mark.

The system was fine, as these Marks were simply traded in for honor.

At this time, however, the battleground had a number of elements removed. For each NPC taken away, the map was slightly reduced in size. This maintained a good "stuff-to-space" ratio, but sadly the Syndicate was no longer available to have its butt kicked:

A great avalanche has closed off both the eastern and western segments of Alterac Valley. This has displaced the Syndicate, the Wildpaw Gnolls, and many of the Winterax Trolls.

Not only were the number of NPC's reduced, but they began to be less of a challenge as well:

[quote]NPC difficulty has been scaled down. All NPCs have had their power reduced by 15-30%.

While this change may have been helpful at the time, it marks the beginning of a disturbing trend. Today's AV NPC's are less than a joke compared to the Stormpike and Frostwolf soldiers of early WoW.

Patch 1.10

Until now, Alterac Valley had been an ingenious combination of both PvP and PvE elements, and now the delicate balance between them was in jeopardy:

Korrak the Bloodrager and his band of trolls have packed up their bags and left Alterac Valley for greener pastures.

Patch 1.11

Most of the NPC guard units have been removed.

Creatures that remain in Alterac Valley have had their hit points reduced.

Blizzard continued to pull bricks from this bastion of endless fun, at the behest of players who wanted PvP gear, but not PvP combat. The delicate balance between PvP and PvE was upset, and soon the tower of awesomeness that was Classic Alterac Valley began to tilt and totter.
Part Two: Burning Crusade

Patch 2.0.1

The Dark Portal opens once again. Arenas are added to the game: Fast, small-group PvP in a highly controlled environment. With such brief skirmishes, would players begin to shy away from long, drawn-out battlegrounds such as AV?

Marks of Honor earned from battlegrounds are no longer turned in for reputation or honor. They are now used in addition to honor points in order to purchase rewards.

The Mark system now required players to participate in all battlegrounds, as PvP gear required Marks from each of Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, Eye of the Storm and Alterac Valley.

This soon began to trouble some players, who needed to spend relatively little time in each of the other battlegrounds to gather the requisite tokens, but could fight in Alterac Valley for some time without receiving a single Mark! There was no way to obtain PvP gear without spending a ridiculous amount of time in Alterac Valley.

Blizzard, understanding their legitimate frustrations, continued to take actions which reduced the overall difficulty of non-player characters in Alterac Valley.
Doing so, however, brought about a drastic change intended to bring the length of Alterac Valley in line with the other, shorter maps.

The battleground that was never intended to be the same as other battlegrounds was obliterated in what is now known as the Great Battleground Standardization of 2007.

Patch 2.3

PvP players were struck not one, but two terrible blows on November 13, 2007. Alterac Valley was gutted, and to make matters worse, Blizzard had decreed that jumping would no longer increase DPS:

Players no longer gain the moving AOE radius bonus if they are jumping.

But I digress.

The Horde and Alliance now have a limited number of reinforcements available in the battle for Alterac Valley.

This one change began the (metaphorical) avalanche that buried fun and left it to die a horrible, suffocating death at the hands of impatient PvP'ers. Rather than remove or reduce the Mark requirement for Alterac Valley, Blizzard in their infinite mystery chose instead to further mutilate this glorious work of art by adding a timer.

Now, the battle would last less than forty-five minutes. Now, players who didn't want to stay there didn't need to.

But what about the players who did?

With a shortened battle, it became unreasonable to expect players to be able to fight all the way to the enemy General through such large numbers of elite NPC's. So the following changes were enacted, in an effort to make the battle end not too long before the reinforcement timer would run dry:

Additional Warmasters no longer report for duty upon destroying an enemy tower. However, destroying an enemy tower still eliminates the associated opposing Warmaster.

All Warmasters are linked to each other and their respective Generals and can no longer be pulled individually.

All Commanders and Lieutenants have left Alterac Valley in search for other battle opportunities.

Many NPCs in Stormpike and Frostwolf holds are no longer elite

Towers and Graveyards in Alterac Valley are now captured in 4 minutes (down from 5).

No elites. No Lieutenants. Half the Warmasters.

The delicious, home-cooked gourmet meal that was Alterac Valley had become a microwaveable TV dinner: Unfulfilling, and ultimately bad for your health.

It took a while for players to change their strategy, but once the option became available they realized that by avoiding PvP combat and making a beeline for the enemy General, they could end the battle with either a swift victory or a quick defeat. Since victories no longer awarded three marks, winning became optional. Even obsolete.

And thus the Great Age of the AV Zerg began.

Patch 2.4

Players were zerging so hard that the towers and bunkers were being ignored. They would rush straight to the end and slaughter the enemy General without a second thought. In order to remedy this, Blizzard chose not to return elites to the valley, but rather to make this change instead:

Major buffs have been applied to Warmasters and Marshalls; Warmasters and Marshalls now increase each other's maximum health and maximum damage by 25%. This is a stacking buff.

Now, rather than wanting to take the towers as part of a natural progression to the enemy General, players were required to stop and burn a few bunkers along the way, or risk a wipe, or a turtle, or - Light forbid - actual PvP combat! The horror!

The legendary warzone was no more. Glorious battle went unmet, honorable victories were left unwon, and a good time was had by very few.


The Burning Legion still stood, but those of us who bore resilience gear fought a different battle: The battle for Classic Alterac Valley, waged on the PvP Forum.

Thread after thread became locked after hitting the post limit as players united in an attempt to restore the glory days of their once-beloved battleground. Through a veil of deafening silence came one tiny response: Could this be it? Would the Blues finally bring back Old AV?

There's quite a few reasons why the old AV didn't work out too well, and probably still wouldn't, but say we thought it was an awesome idea...

Development time on reimplementing everything could be better spent on new and already scheduled content, such as the new battleground/arena/etc.

Would you rather have old AV and lose a siege weapon? Lessen how robust the new battleground could be? Have one less Northrend city and associated quests/rewards? Have a new or updated holiday be scratched? That's how it works. Even with a development team as large as ours there is a finite number of resources. Adding development time on something new/else means that the scheduled content is either delayed or just won't ever make it in.

In any case, Lake Wintergrasp in Northrend is intended to be the huge, epic, never ending battle.

In hindsight, Wintergrasp lies forgotten, vehicle combat is much abhorred by many players, and the new "robust" battleground is little more than players bumping up against a wall, pressing a single button over and over.

At the time, Alterac Valley had to be short so that players could get their Alterac Valley Marks of Honor for PvP armor.

However, in light of the latest expansion and this next patch note in particular, the time has come to revisit and refurbish Alterac Valley.

Wintergrasp, the "huge, epic, never-ending battle" has come and gone, as will Tol Barad. If Alterac Valley is revamped, it will last far beyond a mere expansion. It will endure for as long as WoW itself! Is that not worth the developers' time, or would Blizzard prefer to push patch after patch of transient content, to be rendered obsolete with each new expansion?

Part Three: Wrath of the Lich King

Patch 3.2

Isle of Conquest added.

Acclaimed as an "epic struggle" by Blue and Friends, this 40vs40 battleground was surely what the players wanted. After all, they had cried out for years for Classic Alterac Valley, and this was essentially the same thing, right? Right?


Twin Peaks was based off of the highly successful Warsong Gulch, which hasn't changed much since its inception. It, too is successful and popular.

Isle of Conquest was based, not off of AV in its heyday, but off of the stripped-down, overcooked, deep-fried version known as AV Lite. There were two no-name General NPC's, a few capture points, and walls.

Walls, walls and more walls.

Classic Alterac Valley was PvPvE.
AV Lite is a PvE Race.
Isle of Conquest is PvW.

Patch 3.3.3

A glorious patch, one which should have heralded the return of the everlasting, legendary Alterac Valley:

Battlegrounds will no longer award Marks of Honor.

Finally! With Marks removed from the game, it no longer mattered that one battleground was five times longer than all the others - Players could simply choose not to play in it! With so many new battlegrounds to choose from, Alterac Valley could certainly slip out of the mix and back into legend.

We cried out as one, "Bring Back Oldschool Alterac Valley!"

But again, nothing.

TLDR folks start here:

Part Four: Cataclysm

Patch 4.X

The Cataclysm has come to Azeroth. Neltharion's coming has paved the way for all sorts of amazing shenanigans.


Blizzard has stated recently that, while they would like to add PvP content, new battlegrounds are extremely time-consuming. Many players (myself included) express concern over long queue times with an additional battleground in the mix.

Why, then, could we not revamp Alterac Valley? It would be relatively easier than creating a new map from scratch, and doesn't add another map to the queue.

Remove it from the random battleground finder and anyone who dislikes it doesn't need to do it.

It comes down to a matter of choice. Players can choose to play a short, half-hour skirmish, or... well, that's our only option right now.

All we ask is one long, truly epic battle. Just one.

In the posts below there is a list of changes that many of us, the players, have discussed at length and agreed to (for the most part). Please consider this request carefully, as there is quite a bit to consider, and at this point the full discussion is rather extensive.

Would you rather have old AV and lose a siege weapon? Lessen how robust the new battleground could be? Have one less Northrend city and associated quests/rewards? Have a new or updated holiday be scratched? That's how it works.

Today, if Blizzard asked the same question they asked four years ago, what would the players say?

I, personally, have to say this:


Overwhelmingly and emphatically, a million times, YES.

The arguments have been presented here:
And here:

To all players who don't want Classic Alterac Valley back:

Why? Is it game length? There are seven other short battlegrounds to choose from. Do you have bad memories of AV PvP at level 60? Classes are much better balanced at 85 now than they were back then. Are you certain AV was the sole cause of your discomfort? Please, share with us your reservations that we might find some way to accommodate you.

To all players who do want Classic Alterac Valley back:

Please join the discussion. If you want Blizzard to include the redevelopment of Classic Alterac Valley, now is the time to speak up. Voice your support while Catalysm is still hot!

To Blizzard: (Credit to Hezza and Khaylock)

1. Do you believe AV is working as intended?
2. Is there any incentive to change it?
3. Does it bother you that many people don't appear to play AV for fun anymore? (Instead, they play purely for high honor-per-hour or because they "got stuck" in AV using the random queue.)
4. What is your vision for AV?
5. How might you go about changing it?
6. How can we make compelling suggestions without feeling like we are just part of a tide that is too big to actually be heard in?

Please share your thoughts with us. Our side of the discussion has been constructive and thoughtful, yet you choose not to join in. We are patient, but not infinitely so.

Long, long ago an old tree named Drysc,
Asked if the players would rather risk
Delaying new holidays, BG's or content,
For Old AV; There would be so much time spent

Re-doing the place, that something must go.
To this, we the players did not say no;
We responded "Yes, yes!" to this question of Blue
In the hopes they would make Oldschool AV anew.

Alas, they did not, and our cry went unheard.
But to stop altogether would just be absurd.
Fight on, dear friends, for 'twas long, long ago
That Blizzard (whose minds may have changed now) said "No."

The 'Clysm has come! Neltharion rages!
The world torn asunder, as in distant past ages!
The reasons for Alterac Valley's demise
Are gone; Revamping it would be wise

For 'tis already done! There's much less to do,
To adjust an old map than to make one anew.
So please friends, help us to help Blizzard to see,
That we, the players, want Classic AV!

Compendium of Requested Changes to Alterac Valley

General Changes:

- Remove Alterac Valley from the random battleground queue.

Reason: Other changes suggested here would drastically lengthen AV battles, which is unfair to players who want fast honor or who do not wish to play in AV. There are still seven other battlegrounds to choose from.

- Dramatically increase the reinforcement cap to 2000+ or remove it altogether.

Reason: Games are too short to take full advantage of quests, turn-ins, and summonable NPC's. The problem reinforcements were originally intended to solve (AV Marks taking too long to acquire) no longer exists, and as such reinforcements are no longer needed.

- Allow players who have participated in the battle for 30 minutes or longer to exit the battle without penalty as long as there is a new player available in the queue.

Reason: Not everyone agrees on how long a "long" AV match should last, and real life responsibilities often require players to step away from the game for a few minutes or more.

Non-Player Characters

- Return to the battleground all or most of the NPC's that existed in its original incarnation including Lieutenants, elite bunker/tower guards, and Trolls.

Reason: These NPC's forced players to progress through the battleground more slowly, and encouraged PvP combat in a very organic way. They also make the battleground feel more immersive, like a warzone, rather than an unimportant skirmish.

- Adjust all non-elite NPC's to approach the level of difficulty of mobs in Tol Barad Peninsula. Make guards level 84 by default, levelling to 85, 86 and 87 based on turn-ins.

- Ensure tower/bunker archers are not trivial.

- Reduce the leash range of guards.

Reason: A single player should not be able to capture a graveyard. Adding tougher NPC's encourages teamwork and allows players who enjoy both PvP and PvE to experience each aspect of the game simultaneously.

- Add race and class variety to the NPC guards that spawn at graveyards and towers (for instance, a graveyard might be guarded by mage and shaman NPC's that polymorph or heal nearby players/NPC's).

Reason: This adds a small amount of difficulty and a great deal of immersion. Surely some members of the new races such as Draenei and Goblins ought to have joined the fight by now.

- Buff NPC's to match power inflation each new arena season.

Reason: Alterac Valley is the only battleground that doesn't scale when players get better gear.

- Adjust Balinda and Galvangar to be of approximately equal difficulty by granting boss-level immunity to stuns, interrupts, etc.

- Make Balinda leash sooner to prevent players from interrupting her casts by leaving her line of sight.

Reason: If both Captains are equally difficult to kill, players will be more likely to defend their boss, thus encouraging both more fairness and more PvP.

- Prevent players from trivializing Ivus/Lokholar through simple kiting.

Reason: These bosses should play a vital role in breaking a stalemate, and killing them must require a team effort.

- Increase the time required to capture towers, bunkers and graveyards to 5 minutes.

This slows the game in a way that doesn't feel forced, and gives players more time to come to the defense of a contested tower.

- Remove the Warmaster/Marshal 40% buffs to nearby NPC's and return all eight of the missing Warmasters/Marshalls to the battleground (For instance, when Tower Point is taken by the Alliance, their Tower Point Marshal will once again join the battle).

Reason: This provides an advantage/additional incentive for players to both assault and defend towers and bunkers. If a team controls most of the towers, their General will be very heavily defended.

- Allow Marshalls/Warmasters to be pulled separately from their General again.

Reason: If the Alliance has destroyed three Horde towers and holds two of their own, Vanndar would be protected by five Marshalls, three of which will not despawn and must be killed. It would be unreasonable to have to fight up to nine bosses at once.

- Change Stormpike/Frostwolf Insignia to a trinket with an interesting effect (for instance, a chance to spawn an NPC to fight for you when in AV).

Reason: The current version is outdated and awkward to use.

- Add reputation rewards such trinkets with unique abilities (or award Marks of AV for completing objectives, now that they neither use bag space nor are required for other purchases).

For example:

Stormpike Defender's Insignia
+ X Stamina
+ Y Dodge Rating
Equip: You have a 1% chance when struck in combat to summon a Stormpike Medic to aid you in battle.

Reason: Alterac Valley reputation is not useful at high levels. Additionally, if AV is treated as a somewhat unique battleground, it stands to reason that it should have unique rewards (but not so powerful that players feel forced to grind AV rep just to get gear).

- Ensure that players who spend 30 minutes in AV earn a reasonable amount of honor, but noticeably less than players who spend an equivalent amount of time in a different battleground.

Reason: Players should be rewarded for their contribution to the battle, but long AV matches must not provide better honor-per-hour than other battlegrounds, or else players will feel forced to participate.

- Add honor gains to quest turn-ins.

Reason: A player who runs mine supplies to their quartermaster for 20 minutes should gain roughly as much honor as a player who fought enemy players at a graveyard for 20 minutes. If quests offer no rewards, players may avoid them as they do in Modern Alterac Valley.

- Remove diminishing returns for honor kills only in Alterac Valley.

Reason: Rather than simple periodic honor gains, players who fight in PvP combat should continue to receive honor no matter how long they are inside the battleground.

Quality of Life Improvements:

- Add a teleport-to-base functionality to the Stormpike/Frostwolf Tabards.

- Fix all battleground quests to ensure they are in good working order.

- Add a user interface element in the Map and/or Battleground score screen that gives players important information such as General health, capture time on graveyards and towers/bunkers and status of turn-in quests.

- Move the Insignia/Tabard teleport location away from the front of each General's stronghold (teleport to a raised area behind the stronghold instead).

Reason: Enemy players gather in front of your General's stronghold before assaulting him. Attempting to zone in at that location generally results in death before your character model loads.

- Implement a few simple quests for new players to help them get acquainted with the large and complicated workings of Classic Alterac Valley. For instance, when zoning into the Valley for the first time, new players automatically receive a quest to speak to several NPC's such as their armorer, quartermaster, druids, etc. Those NPC's can then explain a little about the many ways a player can assist with the battle.

Important information that new players need to learn:

- Each tower you control adds to General's defense
- Each Captain periodically gives health and damage buffs
- Armor scraps can be turned in to buff up NPCs
- Blood/Crystals can be turned in to eventually summon a powerful Elemental Lord
- Three Wing Commanders can be rescued from opponents side of the map. If they make it back to your base you can turn in flesh/medals to initiate aerial assaults.
- Trinket (or tabard if our suggestion is taken) can be used to return to your home base for defense
- Taming wolves/rams and collecting ram/wolf hides allows players to summon a powerful cavalry charge
- Collecting mine supplies allows for a squad of elite infantry to be summoned

Reason: Alterac Valley is a big, scary place for new players. We were all lost in there once, and in order to shape the new recruits into capable soldiers of Stormpike and warriors of Frostwolf, they need to be shown the ropes.

Additional Notes:

- Do not add vehicle combat (except possibly the Shredder).

- Do not add destructible walls.

Reason: Alterac Valley is a game of Player vs Player vs Environment. It is not a game of Player vs Wall.

- Tweak minor balance issues such as the hole in the wall near West Frostwolf Tower, or adding a pair of owls beside Vanndar to match Duros and Drakan.

Reason: The AV map shouldn't be a mirror, but it ought to be fair.

- Update Drek'Thar's model to reflect the fact that he now fights from the comfort of his wheelchair.

Reason: Because it would be awesome, and because it makes sense lorewise.
This is a beautiful post. Agreed 100%.
amazing post, must have taken some time, and its full of truth.

i was privileged to experience AV in its glory, and it was the funnest thing in game, if it came to a poll, id vote yes for old AV!

please keep fighting the good fight to bring old AV back, to bring massive fun back to AV, where fun doesnt seam to exist anymore
08/03/2011 01:51 AMPosted by Foury
The system was fine, as these Marks were simply traded in for honor.

And rep. Please bring back the WSG and AB Marks.


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