Battleground Tactics – Strand of the Ancients
Color returned to the world with a rush. She was in a massive courtyard. Down the hill on the right were the remains of a shattered golden gate where a moving battle raged, inching its way up the hill. Uphill on her left, on stairs leading to another set of doors raged a smaller skirmish.
There was shouting, explosions, smoke, the thrum of magic in the air which itself had a metallic taste to it… of fear. There were shadow priests in that scuffle somewhere. But above all this was the sound of heavy machinery, the stench of burning oil… she felt the very ground shuddering with the push of the heavy siege machinery.
No longer in the void, with her senses reengaging, she tried to get her bearings and find her friends.
She had heard that the blood elves preferred to remain aloof, were rude and haughty and thought very highly of themselves. She had wondered when accepting this assignment to defend the titan facility, how she’d make friends and fit in as a young orc shaman. Gifted in her ability to speak to the elements, she still felt shy around other people. She needn’t have worried, as one they had welcomed her into their band. They had freely opened their stash of heirloom weapons and armor to her and almost forced her to choose the best. Had helped her every step of the way and they were her family now. They might not be orcs, but they were of the horde. And in some ways, that was more important than even their race. They were family.
Then she saw them… Thud further up the hill, a little further back from the battle, he was blazing like the sun with a nimbus of golden light around him, blanketing the defenders with healing. Thunder was in the battle but had his back to him, they were all like this she had noticed, always relying on and watching out for each other.
There was a break in the action, a sudden wail of fear as a group of attackers ran screaming back downhill. And where they ran from, was a flowing purple shadow. She’d seen Callendula in battle before, but it would be a long time before the sight of a shadow without a source would stop making her uneasy.
Another few minutes and the Reliquary would have what they needed and this mad battle would come to an end.
Running towards them, she saw the defenders shifting their focus towards the gates. Two large demolishers were charging up the hill. Bijli called upon the elements, put out her totems and reaching out to spirit, she asked for its favor. It was granted. The familiar roar of bloodlust rang out across their line and time seemed to slow down slightly. Focusing on the lead demolisher, she began to cast chain lightning…
After it was all done, when they were on their ship heading back across the northern sea, she asked her friends what had been on her mind.
“I felt lost in that battle. What could I have done better?”
“We protected each other and kept them from getting the relic and that is as close to success as we can get in the circumstances.” said Callendula.
“But there are other Titan facilities, what if the alliance secure it first and we’re tasked with retaking them? I feel unprepared.”
“Then we’ll follow our fearless leader’s infallible treatise on securing titan relics.” said Thud with a grin at Thunder.
“I’m not fearless, it is not a treatise and my notes are not infallible.”
“Help the kid out, she’s asking for help. That alone makes her worth teaching.”
“That is not what I meant, of course I’ll teach her…”
“There is a book?” asked Bijli excitedly.
“It is not a book.” corrected Thunder.
“Hand it over to her already!”
Strand of the Ancients is a level 65+ battleground that has one side attacking, trying to break through a series of gates to reach a Titan Relic while the defenders… defend. Each side gets a chance to attack and then to defend. The side that goes first gets 10 minutes. If they manage to reach the relic, the other side then needs to beat their time with their own attack to win.
This battleground is about driving big stonking trucks into gates and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Your healing, damage and killing blows do not matter. Your worth and success as a defender are determined by how good you are at keeping the enemy demolishers away from your gates. As an attacker, you succeed by peeling people off your demolishers so that they can get to the business of getting gates down.
Going on the Offense
When your side is on offense, you’ll start on one of two ships that are far out at sea. These ships take a good minute to reach their docks. This is when you buff up and mount up. You’re racing the clock on this map, so speed and preparation are of the essence.
Invariably, at this point some clown is going to say “Hey when did they put walls on these ships?”
You’re well advised to not attempt verification of this fictitious maritime augmentation. There are no walls and you’re going to fall off the ship.
This is especially annoying because when you fall off, you’re going to be stuck in the water and will have to swim to shore. If you’re a DK you could ride to the shore with path of frost but it will still take you out of the action for most of the key opening minutes of the battle. So, stay away from the edge and keep hands and feet that you’re attached to inside the moving vehicle at all times – this is as true on Azeroth as it is on earth.
While the ships are sailing in, people are going to decide which gate to hit – blue or green. Blue is slightly better due to the position of the South Graveyard (thanks for pointing this one out Cyn!) The most direct path from the green gate to the yellow gate is via the purple gate. In between the purple and yellow gates is the south graveyard. This means that defenders will spawn in your path which is going to make things difficult for you. Breaking through the blue and then red gates gives you a less perilous path to the yellow gate.
Driving a demo
Before you hop onto a demo, pick up a massive seaforium charge. You can only carry one at a time. Make sure you have it on your action bars as you likely won’t have the luxury of rummaging through your bags when it is time to use it.
Drive your demo to the gate, once you’re in range, keep hitting your “1” key to lob charges at the gate as you approach it. Avoid obstacles on the ground. Your mighty demo can get stuck on a plank of wood. Take note of the cannons, if only one of them is manned, you can maneuver your demo under it’s platform and it will not be able to hit you. Once at the gate, spam your 1 and 2 keys to use all your available firepower on the gate.
At his point the defense will be wailing away on your demo. If your demo gets destroyed, you’ll be automatically dismounted. What you want to do at this point is push up against the gate and plant your seaforium charge under the wreckage so it isn’t obviously visible to the defenders. Keep an aoe rotation going for the next 10 seconds so that the defenders are unable to defuse the charge.
If you die, you’ll rez at the beach. Pick up a new seaforium charge when you rez, your old one is gone even if you didn’t use it. If there are demos on the docks, grab one and get back to beating on a gate. Take a look at where the action is, you’ll do better in a group of your allies than all alone. Demolishers are effectively defenseless against enemy players. This is especially important when hitting the yellow gate and courtyard – the defenders will be concentrated at that point and you really need a group of 3 – 4 demos to go in together to be able to break through. 1 or 2 demos will be cut down very quickly.
Once you get through the blue/green gates, make a beeline for the next gate on your route to the relic chamber. Time is of the essence. Do not faff about, work on the gates! However if you see other demo(s) a short distance behind you, wait for them to catch up and go together. It is much more difficult for the defenders to deal with a group of demos as opposed to dispatching a stream of lone machines.
Pro tip for demos – demolishers run at full speed in the water. So for instance if you’re at the green gate’s docks and need to get to blue gate, the safest route is underwater. Your pursuers will be slowed by the water.
Escorting a demo
If you’re not driving a demo, your job is to escort demos and give them cover. The enemy players are not important of themselves, they are important in context to your demos. This means if you see someone attacking a demo, you go after them. If you see an enemy fighting other players on your side, you ignore them since they’re actually helping your team by not focusing on demos.
If you are a healer, focus on dispelling demos. They are faster than players unless snared. Your job is to make sure they don’t stay snared. Bonus points for snaring pursuers, but you must keep dispelling the demos.
Once you break through the green/blue gates, your focus should be to capture the east and west graveyards. You want to do this so that you spawn further south of the beach (and closer to the relic) and you get access to more demos from the workshops. So it’s extremely helpful for your offense to cap these two graveyards as soon as possible.
Pro tip for subtlety rogues – you can shadow step up to the manned gun turrets at blue and green gates. You can also break the guns by attacking them. When the gate is about to fall, stealth and make your way to the graveyard flag. You’ll be able to cap it right after the gate falls, before any defenders from the gate can reach you. Thereafter restealth and go cap the other graveyard.
Once past the green and purple gates, make your way to the yellow gate.
DO NOT CAP SOUTHERN GRAVEYARD – it will most likely cost you the game if you cap it. If you cap it, you start rezzing far away from the demos and since these battles are timed, this is a very bad thing. Another usual side effect of capping southern graveyard is civil war and a witch hunt within your own faction.
Once you’re at the yellow gate, defenders should also be falling back to this location and where you had 7 – 8 people at most to deal with, you’ll be facing 15. So your demo is going to last half or less as long. This is why you need to start coordinating and stacking demos to get through the yellow gate.
Past the yellow gate is the courtyard of the ancients. The defenders will be rezzing here in waves, every 30 seconds. This means that there won’t be much of a gap in the defense – you will need to stack demos! Interestingly, on the other side of the courtyard from the defender’s graveyard is a stack of seaforium charges. Industrious non-demo driving players can make a big dent in the doors to the chamber with each charge. I think each charge hits for about 10% of the gate’s “health” so a couple of charge runners can bring the gates down quickly too.
Once the gates to the relic chamber are down, you need to run inside and right click on the circle in the middle of the hall to end the round.
This concludes your offense. If you went first, the amount of time you took to reach the relic is what the other side will have to reach the relic in. If they beat your time, they win. If they don’t, you win.
On defense, you want an equal number of players on each side of the beach. Pop bloodlust/timewarp as soon as they ships dock. You’ll die soon anyway so 5 minutes later, you’ll usually be able to benefit from it again at the yellow gate/courtyard.
Focus fire the demos. Once the demos are taken care of, you can mop up the players. Watch out for demos sneaking past you or coming to your gate from the other docks though.
Pro tip for wasting enemy demolishers: After the initial rush, at any point if you see a lone demo parked somewhere, bring it down to low health but don’t destroy it. That way, if a player gets in it, it can easily be blown up and they’ll have to wait through the reset timer for a new demo.
If demos do manage to make it through blue or green, check to see if you have people on the flags for east and west graveyards. If there is no one defending them, make your way there immediately. Next to blowing up a demo that is actively attacking a gate, defending east/west GYs is the biggest contribution you can make to your team’s success.
Don’t defend southern graveyard though, do all you can to encourage them to cap it! ;-)
Also, keep an eye out for seaforium charges near gates. You need to disarm these ASAP.
Falling back efficiently
When the enemy manages to get through a gate, do not waste time trying to ride up all the way to the next gate. Near every gate is a teleporter. Click on it to be ported south from where you can get to the next defensible position. Using teleporters to fall back versus trying to ride and catch up with demolishers makes a HUGE difference.
Snaring demolishers and other players
Here is a list of useful snares for different classes against other players and demos:
Druids – Entangling roots, cyclone, typhoon
Hunters – Concussive shot
Mages – frost nova and slow
Paladins – Seal of Justice
Priests – Mindflay to slow demos, psychic scream / horror to get rid of players
Rogues – Fan of Knives with crippling poison to slow a whole group of stacked demos
Shaman – frost shock, earthbind, thunderpunt
Warlocks – Fear, howl of terror, curse of exhaustion (glyph it for a 70% slow, same as the rogues crippling poison*)
Warriors – Hamstring, piecing howl and for dispersing a group of players – intimidating shout
Tailors can use the tailoring nets to snare demolishers *
Engineering’s frost grenades work against demos and Saronite Bombs and Global Thermal Sapper Charges work against the gates too*
As usual, Cynwise has excellent posts that are relevant at cynwise.wordpress.com. I especially recommend reading his linked post on resurrection vectors in this battleground as they’ll help you understand the strategic import of objectives that aren’t immediately obvious.
* – thanks for the suggestions Cynwise!