Last weekend it was the bonus honor weekend for Alterac Valley, everyone's favorite fast honor battleground. If you need lots of honor quickly, Alterac Valley is your destination of choice. However, what happens when you get stuck with either players that are not geared for PvP, don't know the strategies or just plain suck? What usually happens is a dreaded "Turtle" game.

With recent changes to Alterac Valley turtles have become more common in my battle group. Should they be dreaded as much as they are? Should you try to create or stop one from happening? Why do they get started? How do you stop one once it has gotten going?

All these questions and more are looked at in this week's editorial: The Dreaded Alterac Valley Turtle.

What Is a Turtle

A turtle is by definition a long defensive game. Players call the game a turtle game when most of the opponents go on defense and form a hard layer that you can not get past instead. By doing this the group is essentially focusing on stopping you from winning instead of trying to win themselves.

Why They Happen

There are a few simple things that can start a turtle in Alterac Valley. What it comes down to is basically 3 simple rules to follow.

  1. Each faction needs to take a forward graveyard as quickly as they can to prevent a turtle. For the Alliance this can be either Snowfall or Iceblood, While the Horde needs to take the Stonehearth graveyard.
  2. Each faction needs to ignore the fact that the enemy is going to take the above graveyards, even though they are theirs to defend.
  3. Keep a balanced Offense and Defense. Ideally this is about 30 on offense and 10 on defense. Your goal on defense is not to win the game, but to slow the enemy down just enough for your offense to win it for you.

If any of the three basic rules are broken, the game will become a turtle as more and more defenders will be created when they die on offense and get moved to defense when the resurrect at the graveyards.

Why People Create Them

Lately with the removal of diminishing returns there have been many players trying to create a turtle game. The thought is that the more you get to kill players, the more honor you get. There is some validity in this however, I am not sure the players have done their homework (or even know how to do math).

The math works out something like this:

Normal Game:

  • By taking towers, killing captains and the general you earn honor quickly. While doing so you also kill the odd enemy and earn some honor. Total a win is usually worth around 500 honor and about 300 for a loss.
  • A normally played Alterac Valley battle takes a little less than 20 minutes, meaning that you should be able to get in roughly 3 in an hour.
  • This means you should be able to earn between 900 and 1500 honor in an hour.

Turtle Game:

  • Towers are usually ignored other than one or two per side, and captains are not usually killed. Therefore you do not earn the bonus honor for destroying or killing them. You get many more honorable kills though so much higher honor from that. A win can generate up to 800 honor while a lost up to 600.
  • A turtle game takes roughly an hour to play out
  • This means that you only get a single turtle game in every hour, so you honor per hour is only 600 to 800 or about 1/2 a normal games honor.

How Can You Break Them

Once a turtle has started it is very difficult to stop them. The best bet is to try to mount up as a group and ride through or around the turtle to get to the next graveyard and hold it until you capture it. This is very difficult to do though, as if your opponents want to hold you in a turtle for some reason, they just need to follow, kill you before you can capture it and then return to the turtle game.

Messiah's Take on It

Generally I am in a battleground for three things, honor, rewards and fun. A turtle does not really help on any of those fronts, so I am usually against them. They slow down the game for no real gain. Most people are in a battleground for the game and the gear. The gear comes regardless over time, while as with any game I believe it is best to play to win. Would you really want to play a board game or card game with someone if they were not doing their best to win? The fun in most games is the challenge. In a turtle the game essentially becomes a survival game rather than an objectives game, which to me is missing the point.

Don't get me wrong, once in a while they can be fun as there is a sense of grand battle when you are trying to stay alive in a swirling melee. You also get to know your opponents a bit more in a turtle game, you see who has what, how they play, etc. Grudges even develop, where players specifically go looking for the enemy that just killed them. This can all be fun in moderation, but just not every game.

When forced into a turtle there is usually a strong sense of resentment. Players view it as a waste of their time. While I am not convinced it is a complete waste, as you are playing the game to have fun, not just for rewards, it is frustrating that the opponent is not playing to win. They are in a sense stealing your fun time from you.

Please remember all these things the next time you are in an Alterac Valley battle and about to start a turtle. There are people on the other side of your internet connect, just because they are not right there beside you, is it suddenly ok to frustrate them?


The Messiah has had his say, what’s yours?  Do turtles frustrate you as much as most players? Can any good come about from a turtle? Do you know ways around or out of turtles? I want to hear your comments and explanations.

Email me at: Byron Mudry - ([email protected]) or post in our forums thread!


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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.

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