Alterac Valley – A mishmash of thoughts

I’ve been very busy the last few days and have not had a chance to write the larger posts I want to.

That said, this weekend I have been going into AV on my level 74 elemental shaman though and I’ve had some, ahem, charged battles. I’m going to ignore the crushing defeats and instead dwell on our victories. 🙂

A very “charged” battle. Bijli is my elemental shaman. 🙂

Alterac Valley is a 40v40 battleground that in its heyday was far more expansive than it is today. Nonetheless, compared to the other battlegrounds it is huge and new players often feel lost there.

Success Criteria:

You win AV by bringing your opponent’s reinforcement count to zero. At the top of your screen you’ll see something like this:

This game is decidedly lopsided.

If you slay the enemy general, their reinforcement count immediately drops to zero and you win. Other ways of whittling away reinforcements are:

  1. Capture towers/bunkers (75 reinforcements each)
  2. Kill enemy players (1 reinforcement per honorable kill)
  3. Defeat their captains (100 reinforcements).

The two mines in the battleground provide reinforcements (1 reinforcement every 45 seconds each) and are captured by going deep into the mines and slaying their overseer. Feral druids/rogues are preferred for this role as stealth allows them to reach the target quickly with minimum fuss or delay from the other mobs inside the mines.

It is not so easy to just slay the general though, each is protected by 4 NPCs corresponding to towers (horde) or bunkers (alliance). Those bunkers need to be captured (go in and click on the flag like in Arathi Basin) . Once you do that the flag will turn grey for 4 minutes. During this time the base can be “backcapped” by the enemy so it is important to guard the flag till it burns.

Alterac Valley is a HUGE map and Cynwise has a fantastic post up on strategy for AV at and the simple guide section of the wowpedia article on Alterac Valley has useful information for people very new to AV too.

Typical Horde strategy for Alterac Valley

For Horde, what seems to happen 9 times out of 10 is that everyone will ride to Balinda, dispatch her within one minute and then ride north to Dun Baldar. There, Horde will just mill about aimlessly. A few will bleat “WTB a TANK FFS” while the tanks (if any) will bellyache about “Need a healer!”. A few industrious players will attempt to capture the North and South Dun Baldar bunkers but they’ll see something shiny outside the bunker and run off to chase it. It is not uncommon for a lone Alliance rogue to repeatedly backcap North and South Bunkers with the only peril to their health being the very real possibility of choking on their laughter. The 5 Horde players (which are likely to be the 5 healers on the Horde’s roster) not at the northern end of the battleground will try to defend the bunkers they are capturing or to backcap towers that the Alliance is capturing. They will not see much success.

Approximately 8 minutes into the game, the Alliance will have burnt 3 – 4 towers and will attack Drek’thar (the Horde general) and 9 minutes into the game, the Alliance will win.

Winning games as Horde

1. Two groups of 5 people each ride straight to Stonehearth Bunker and Icewing Bunker when the game starts and they defend the bunkers for the 4 minutes it takes them to burn. Only 10 – 15 attack Balinda.

2. One team of about 5 people, ideally including a healer, stays on backcap duty and goes to backcap the towers the Alliance is trying to burn.

3. Ten people ride straight to Dun Baldar and groups of 5 hold each bunker till it burns.


What? Never going to happen!

Those of you familiar with Alterac Valley are probably laughing at the likelihood of ALL of this happening in a single game. But that is okay because random battlegrounds are full of random elements. Not all of the Alliance will be executing flawlessly either and having a generic workable plan to adapt as the battleground dynamics change is always better than just aimlessly going to Dun Baldar and standing there doing nothing.

In a game with 40 random people, it is hard to coordinate so generally it is best to speak up and volunteer by saying something like:

  • “I am going on backcap duty, need a few more please.”
  • “I’ll be attacking Stonehearth Bunker and defending it till it burns. Need a few more to come with me.”


Lets stack the odds in our favor

The backcap team can greatly increase their mobility by using Frostwolf Insignias. The equivalent Alliance trinkets are the Stormpike Insignias.

No cooldown teleport to Frostwolf Keep? Backcaps just got a lot easier!


Maybe this is how that pesky rogue backcaps Dun Baldar bunkers all the time…

You can get the quests to get these trinkets from an NPC near the Alterac Valley quartermaster for your faction. For Horde, it is Warmaster Laggrond at 58,33 in Hillsbrad Foothills. For Alliance the quest giver is Lieutenant Haggerdin at 45,46 in Hillsbrad Foothills. The quest involves retrieving a banner from a cave inside Alterac Valley. I’ve only done the horde version, it can be done in a few minutes and the entrance to the cavern is to the left (west) of the starting den/cave. Look for a frozen waterfall, the path inside is on the right bank.

Once you turn in the quest, you’ll get the Rank 1 version of the trinket. As your reputation with the Stormpike/Frostwolves increases, you can revisit the quest giver to upgrade the trinkets. Finally at exalted, you’ll get the epic version of this trinket (Rank 6) which has no cooldown on the teleport.

Turtles can be fun

If both sides backcap and end up with 3 or more towers up, the game often turns into a turtle. At this point, holding the mines is useful. What you also need to be doing is trying to not die as each death costs one reinforcement. Typical tactics become even more important in during this “victory by attrition” phase. Try to:

  1. Hold the higher ground during a fight. This lets you take a few steps back to LOS ranged attackers to heal yourself or drop pursuers. That means you live longer.
  2. Focus the enemy healers. The faster you take them out of the equation, the faster everyone else on the other side drops. They are the most critical targets.
  3. If you’re a healer using #1 above, kudos – you can hang back on higher ground heal your side while being out of sight of the attackers.
  4. Rebuff your side often, use bloodlust/heroism/timewarp whenever the battle intensifies.
  5. Use the battle standards and banners on cooldown. Try to hide them behind trees or rocks if possible.

You can get these beauties from the Alterac Valley quartermaster for your faction for just 500 honor. Everyone should have them!

10% extra damage? HECK YEAH!

Take this out the moment you see it! 😉

These can’t be used at the same time as the Alliance/Horde Battle Standards but they do not share a cool down either.

10% extra health

Buy it from the PVP accessories vendor in Orgimmar.

Speaking from experience, bloodlust with the Frostwolf Battle Standard up is just amazing – those chain lightnings turn you into a tesla coil!


3 thoughts on “Alterac Valley – A mishmash of thoughts

  1. Erinys

    I’d add fight as close as possible to your graveyard during the turtling games. When we get stuck for example either between Frostwolf/Iceblood or Stormpike/Stonehearth graveyards, I always try and make our side stick as close as possible to our graveyard rather than chasing to theirs. This is especially true if victory is going to come down to reinforcements.

    The German EU Horde have a decent win rate with their “interesting” tactic defending Galvanger at the start with 30ish people. If they manage to wipe the attack, those 30 then fall back to defend towers relying on the few on attack to hold the bunkers one by one. It often leaves to turtle games but it’s a long more fun than the race to boss, kill him games that the Alliance seem to favour.

    I know that a quite a lot of people don’t like AV, but to me it’s what you make it. I always defend, I get lots of pvp and have lots of fun.

    Bunker/tower defence > all. I usually get a handful of rogues to help me hold Stonehearth bunker and it works a treat. I think our record so far is 2 rogues, 1 disc priest (me) and a boomkin holding off 10 or so attackers at once.

    1. Thunderspank Post author

      Excellent point about fighting close to the graveyard. Reinforcements “arrive” much more quickly and spend more time fighting and less time traveling.

      Horde in the US rarely defends Galvangar, usually it is only 5 – 7 who agree to go defend him and while it sometimes works, it is nowhere close to as effective as getting 30 to defend him would be. I’ve had a good bit of success riding straight to Frostwolf Keep and defending that. If we manage to repel the initial 10 odd alliance that show up, and with a healer, clever use of LOS and the horde infantry archers up on the towers this is not too difficult, the horde dying further north start rezzing at the Frostwolf Relief Hut and bolster defense of FW Keep. This defense has the added advantage of ensuring that the East and West Frostwolf Towers do not get capped, we collect lots of quest items to upgrade armor etc which can be turned in right there and that the Alliance never gets a clear shot at Drek as long as this defensive line holds. Sadly, many people have the attention span of a mayfly and this falls apart if people on defense leave for more action further north.

      I too enjoy Alterac Valley though as a matter of principle I always emote /cry upon zoning into it as a random BG. 🙂

      I wish the NPCs would scale with current arena seasons and PVE tiers. You should not be able to ignore guards and a blood dk or prot warrior with 3 healers should not be able to tank a general with four towers up. That is just wrong. Giving the NPCs more health and not zergable by 15 geared people would go a long way towards making people work harder on other AV objectives.

      Thank you for visiting! 🙂


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