Updated Tue, Dec 14, 2010 by Xerin
by David "Xerin" Piner
with updates by Byron "Messiah" Mudry
Alterac Valley (or AV) is a sprawling 40 Alliance vs. 40 Horde instanced battleground for levels 51 through 60 and 61 through 70. The battleground hosts a battle between the Horde’s Frostwolf Clan and the Alliance’s Stormpike Expedition. Players fight over various graveyards, towers, and other resources while attempting to assault the enemy General, whom is deeply entrenched in the enemy keep. AV hosts a variety of PvP and PvE objectives to supply ample ways for any player to get into the fight.
AV contains multiple graveyards, towers, bunkers, and other objectives that can be held by either the Horde or Alliance. After taking these objectives, players are rewarded bonus honor and reputation along with either disabling troop spawns, gaining access to a graveyard, and reducing the number of reinforcements the opponent has. Each objective (or “node”) is guarded by upgraded troops and acts much like the objectives in Arathi Basin.
The second possible win condition is reducing your opponent to zero reinforcements. Each team starts with 600 reinforcements and then lose them in various ways. Each death of a player counts as a reinforcement lost. Each bunker or tower taken costs 75 and each captain 100. The best way to win this way is taking all the towers, killing the captains and engaging the enemy for as many PvP kills as possible.
Each side begins from a cave located in the mountains, with an equal number of forces, graveyards, and towers/bunkers on each side. A “herald” announces whenever an objective has been taken and when graveyards change hands. The various Captains also announce when they buff each side with their destructive and protective buffs. There are also friendly NPCs who provide a means to summon destructive elementals, launch an aerial assault, a ground assault, and a mounted assault.
Taking objectives and graveyards is simple. A flag is located somewhere near the objective/graveyard that shows the current owner. The flag is also well defended by four or more guards (that upgrade through the game by quests players complete). After the flag is activated (by right-clicking on it when you are in range and completing the ten second timer) the location goes neutral before it changes hands in five minutes. The defending team only has to reactivate the flag whilst it’s in it’s neutral state to retake the objective/graveyard, after the flag change hands, they have to go through the capturing process themselves. Captains are optional objectives that only require your side to kill the opposing Captain.
Honor is gained through kills, like any type of PvP, but the nature of AV makes this honor quickly come to a stop. After a player has been killed five times he becomes worth about one honor point. This tallies up rather fast considering the amount of times players respawn. Killing though, isn’t the only way to gain honor. When various objectives are taken (for the first time) you gain bonus honor. When the game ends, you will gain a large amount honor and tokens (one for losing and three for winning).
Objectives and Graveyards
Graveyards are the most important tactical point in the battleground. Every 30 seconds any player can be resurrected at a friendly graveyard with full health and mana. Warlocks and Hunters will revive with their pets, as long as they resurrect at the graveyard. This means that within 30 seconds of falling to an enemy’s blade, you can be back in the action! However, the location of where you resurrect depends on the closest captured graveyard. This means that if the battle is close by to a friendly graveyard, every 30 seconds friendly reinforcements will arrive. However, if you are fighting near an enemy graveyard, every 30 seconds all of their forces will be back to life with full HP/Mana. That’s why it’s important to work on capturing graveyards in an order that gives your team the most benefit.
There are seven graveyards total. Three alliance, three horde, and one neutral graveyard. Each graveyard (expect the neutral one, Snowfall) is guarded by a Lieutenant and Commander along with four regular troops. The Lieutenants and Commanders do not respawn. Once a graveyard flag is captured (successfully tagged by an enemy faction) it will take five minutes for it to change hands. The seven graveyards are Stormpike Aid Station (A), Stormpike Graveyard (A), Stonehearth Graveyard (A), Snowfall Graveyard (N), Iceblood Graveyard (H), Frostwolf Graveyard (H), and the Frostwolf Relief Hut (H). There are also two additional graveyards located in the entrance tunnels that cannot change hands.
Towers & Bunkers
Towers (Horde) and Bunkers (Alliance) provide tactical defensive points. The towers contain many strong NPC defenders along with very aggressive bowmen who have very good range from the top of the tower. To destroy a tower (preventing those bowmen from raining arrows on your team) simply reach the top and activate the flag. After the point has been captured you have exactly 4 minutes until the tower is set ablaze and disabled. During that time the defending team can activate the flag and reclaim the tower. Once destroyed the towers stop spawning troops and become useless. Also, each tower has a corresponding marshal with the warmaster, once the tower is destroyed that marshal de-spawns.
Captains and Outposts
There are two Captains for each side. The Alliance has Captain Balinda Stonehearth and the Horde has Captain Galvangar. The Captains will provide a buff that increases your damage, hp, and size. The Captains are defended inside of the two outposts, Stonehearth Outpost (Belinda) and Iceblood Garrison (Galvanger). Once a Captain has fallen, the buffs discontinue and it’s reported that the other side will begin receiving their buff more often.
Note for Horde players: Captain Balinda Stonehearth's spells can not be interrupted, silenced, or slowed. In addition, her water elemental cannot be banished, so be careful and ensure you send enough players to deal with her.
Warmaster / General and Marshals
The most common way to victory in Alterac Valley is by killing the enemy Warmaster or General. While you can win by running the opponent out of reinforcements, killing the warmaster is far come common.These final NPC's are found in the enemy headquarters and are guarded by several marshals. All warmasters and marshals are buffed by each other for every one that remains. The buff is a stacking increase of health and damage by 25%. This makes it very important to capture each tower to ensure the corresponding marshal de-spawns, and removes a buff from the Warmaster.
Every time you kill a player, meet a goal, or kill an NPC you will gain about 1 reputation point with either the Frostwolves or the Stormpikes. As your reputation increases you can begin gaining access to more and more powerful items along with battleground potions and “standards” (banners that provide a buff to your group).
There are multiple ways to gain reputation! The most common way is to get it through killing enemy players. Anytime you do damage or heal someone who is doing damage to an enemy then you will gain reputation when they die. It generally is one point per person, no matter how many people get it.
The other ways is to turn in tokens (you receive one token for losing and three for winning AV), winning or losing AV, killing various NPC enemies, and doing the AV quests. You also can gain faction by turning in storm crystals/soldier’s blood (for summoning the elemental lord), armor scraps (to upgrade troops), and any other quests (like rams or aerial assaults).
As with all battle grounds every time you kill a player you receive honor. This stacks and since patch 2.4 is no longer subject to diminishing returns, so can add up quite quickly. The one exception with this, is any player killed more than 50 times in a battle ground ceases to be worth honor points.
You also gain honor while in the game by destroying enemy towers or killing the captains. Each tower captured or captain slain generates 62 honor for your team. If you win the game by either slaying the general or dropping reinforcements to zero you gain an additional 83 honor.
Lastly when the game is over you gain 41 honor for each of your towers or captains left alive and not captured or tagged by the enemy. This makes defending them critical for high honor points.
Simply head to any major city and find a “Alterac Valley Battlemaster.” Talk to the Battlemaster and he’ll place you into the queue for AV. You’re free to go about your business at this point since it is most then likely going to take a while. The AV queue works by allowing an even amount of players in on both sides. If there are 30 Alliance and 25 Horde, then 5 horde will be get to join instantly while the Alliance has to wait for the Horde to join to even out the game. There has to be a minimum of 20 people on both sides, or else a match is called with no winner (everyone gets honor though, and tokens).
It's a good idea if you have a taste for PvP to queue up for all three battlegrounds. You can join AV from anywhere, including other battlegrounds. As a small note, leaving AV before the finish will leave a "deserter" debuff on you preventing you from rejoining a battleground for 15 minutes, however, leaving an existing battleground, such as Warsong Gulch, due to being invited to Alterac Valley will not activate the Deserter debuff.
Organization is Key…
No matter what your role is in the battleground, it should always be in an organized effort with your fellow faction members. While attempting to get forty people into a Ventrilo (or other voice communication method) server (and in a civilized discussion) is outside the grasp of this guide, there are several settings where you can help your team and share in the rewards.
All players are automatically added into the battle ground raid group and gain honor for battle ground objectives. In addition you will gain honor from any kills in your area if you contributed to the fight in any way.
One of the biggest things to ensure that is done in any battle ground is communication. This is often overlooked on the Alliance side, and even occasionally on the Horde side. When the battleground starts it should be decided which groups are doing what and who is in charge. As the battle rages on, everyone must call out details that effect the group as a whole. This means all tower captures or defenses, strong or weak points to attack or avoid, howe offense or defense is doing, etc. Without communication you will lose.
The best current tactic is to split into roughly 30 attackers and 10 defenders to start each game. This allows a good offensive push to start with, and as players die if no graveyards are taken yet can fall back to defense.
The defenders should form up at the graveyard by your captain and defend it and the captain for as long as possible. This will not likely be that long as you are going to be severely outnumbered. Ensure you use traps, fear, CC and any other trick you can to slow them down. Also the best players to have on defense are either hard to kill players (such at paladins, warriors and druids) or players that can do damage to multiple players at once through AOE, DoTs, or Pets (Shadow Priests, Warlocks, Mages, Hunters). Your ultimate goal is not to stop them, but to slow their progress. An excellent tactic is to keep several priests and warlocks back on defense to fear and dot the enemy while they are trying to kill your captain. If you can fear the tanks our of the captains bunker and the captain follows, they will reset and the enemy will have to start the fight again.
While on defense you also want to save your fears for any time an enemy is almost done capturing a grave yard or tower. There is noting more annoying than a steady stream of priests, warriors or warlocks riding in to a graveyard you are just about to capture and have them fear you out and have to start over. Done in rotation 4-5 fear causers can ride in, fear, die, rez and get back almost indefinitely.
Lastly on defense you will want to try and take back any tower that they take before it burns. Once they take a tower they have to control it for 4 minutes. Use this time to organize a group to get it back. Do not send in 1 or 2 players at a time. Wait and send in 5-6 minimum, take it back and then go back to general defense. If they take it again, repeat. Remember your job is not to stop them cold, but to slow them down to give your offense time.
On offense your first priority is capturing a grave yard in enemy territory. To many players rush straight to captains, towers and generals. You must tag a grave yard and then hold it until it switches factions, which takes 4 minutes. When the 30 offense take the grave yard, ensure several are left to defend it, usually 5-10, until it caps. The other offense should move on to the clearing the towers nearby. Once the graveyard caps, its time to take out the enemy captain.
If you die at any point on offense before a grave yard is taken then when you rez back in your starting area you should help out defense. If there is a large number of you, you can attempt to break past the enemy offense, however this is generally difficult and will result in another death. The best thing to do is help hold them off until an opportunity presents itself to you to make your way back onto offense.
Once the first 2 towers and captain are taken you move on to another graveyard and then the opponents home graveyard and towers. It is critical to take the home graveyard as quickly as possible so that reinforcements must make their way from their starting tunnel. Capture the two towers next and then wait for all the towers to cap so that the generals guards despawn. At this point you can engage and kill him.
Got a friend and want to take an undefended graveyard? Have your friend mount and aggro the guards, then begin running off kiting them away. Then capture the node, mount, and escape. The guards will eventually return but the graveyard will still be in the process of changing sides. This helps a great deal in either taking a graveyard away from the enemy or causing them to backtrack weakening their front line.
Have a few extra rogues? Send them ahead to take towers or graveyards ahead of the group. They may not always be able to hold them, but the speed of the attack could surprise the defenders and cause them to make mistakes. The best situation is to have all the towers cap for your team within a minute or two of each other, as it allows quick attacks on the general.
The mines take far too long to generate reinforcements and are generally skipped. It takes almost an hour to regenerate what is lost by a tower loss. No game in AV should take over an hour, so the minor gain should not matter. Grab them to start with, but don't fight for them or defend them unless the game turns into a marathon.
Sometimes the game turns into a marathon turtle event (one side has everything on defense). Now that diminishing honor returns from kills have been removed, make the best of it and start killing anything you can. Honor kills can quickly add up to 100-150 honor, or more! These games can be very entertaining, but tend to take a long time. The other option is to just throw the game and get out with the honor you already have and grab a fast token. Not very sporting though.
Everyone has different tactics for AV, and we want to hear them! If you have something to add to this guide then feel free to email Xerin at TenTonHammer.com or post in the WoW @ TenTonHammer forums!