Tol Barad: The Tribulations of Questionable Design
Alright folks. Im about to lay down the greatest Tol Barad strategy of the day so read closely. This strategy is almost foolproof and guaranteed to keep you and your friends in Baradin Hold wiping to Argaloth to your hearts content. Win the first Tol Barad Battle on your server, then never lose it again! Unfortunately, that first battle probably happened days ago, so were going to have to get creative.
Offense vs. Defense
As I not-so-subtly implied above, the defenders in a Tol Barad battle have a monstrous advantage. If youre unfamiliar with exactly how Tol Barad works then let me make an analogy that most people should be familiar with. Think of the Eye of the Storm battleground without the flag and with only three nodes instead of four. Now imagine if all you had to do to win was prevent your opponents from capturing all three at once. Pretty easy right? Thats Tol Barad.
Tol Barad is incredibly hard to win on offense even with near-perfect play.
To make matters worse, the defenders begin in full 100% control of each of the three critical nodes and are immediately alerted the moment they lose possession making it easy for them to react to the attackers. A typical strategy for defenders will be to try to keep control of at least one node and to keep another neutral. Those disorganized people who rush off to objectives by themselves in normal BGs, the ones that everyone else despises, are actually of huge help to Tol Barad defenders! By keeping the offense honest and forcing them to defend what theyve taken the defense is also forcing the offense to attack defended positions with fewer numbers than the defenders have. This is a losing proposition.
The second major issue that exacerbates the first problem is the new population equalization built into the queue for Tol Barad and Wintergrasp. This essentially allows each faction to have the same number of players as the other team plus one admitted into the fight. On many servers with population imbalances this is leading to ridiculously small scale fights (I had one the other day that was 7v6). If it was difficult to win on offense already then the queuing system makes it virtually impossible. If a defending faction was actually organized and disciplined to the point where no one but a handful of players queued then they could control Tol Barad till the end of time.
A better solution might be for Blizzard to keep the opponents team plus one system except with the caveat that there be a minimum number of players in the BG. That way at least the game could be played in the manner in which it was intended rather than these farcical small-scale battles which solve nothing. Its also quite unfair in this writers opinion to limit queuing so harshly for players on higher population factions. If hundreds of players are queued on one side and only a handful on the other then perhaps opening up free faction transfers is a better solution than excluding upwards of 90% of the interested population from participating in PvP.
There Were Towers...?
The Tol Barad defensive towers are more or less completely irrelevant. The three minutes that they add onto the battle seem to rarely have any influence on anything other than annoying the defenders by prolonging their victory. Currently each tower adds three minutes to the duration of the battle. Theyre worth killing if you have a shot at victory, but they dont do anything to weaken the crushing built-in advantage the defense has.
Strategies for Winning
If youre trying to reclaim Tol Barad for your faction then there are a couple necessary factors that are outside of your influence. Your team will have to be more coordinated than the defense, and you will probably also have to have stronger players.
The best strategy is unpredictability and explosiveness. Painstakingly taking bases one at a time and defending them rarely seems to work. You end up spread too thin and it becomes obvious to the defense what your goal is. The best plan lies in a sort of surprise attack and is predicated on having enough people in the battle to pull it off.
As with Wintergrasp, disorganized teams tend to move as a large zerg style group. Youre going to want to engage them at a single node or ideally in the middle of the map. Send groups of 5 players to each node to capture it. A group of 5 can gain control fairly quickly (less than a minute) if theyre unopposed. The chances are that if youre fighting a disorganized group they will have nothing more than a token defense at at least one of the bases. If theres a pitiful defense at two of the bases then youre definitely in business. Once youve located the node that their zerg has decided to attack or defend your only hope is to engage them there while capturing the third base before you lose control over one of the two you hold.
Its ok, you can stop rolling your eyes. The fact that this is currently one of the most viable strategies does nothing more than illustrate that this outdoor battleground is in need of some serious retooling!