February 1, 2010

On Alterac Valley and Zerging

Posted in PvP tagged , , at 11:12 am by Aduial of WrA

I’ve only wrote about my random thoughts, usually in response to others’, and PvE encounters so far, but I do enjoy PvP in WoW, so since this is kind of on my mind tonight I figured I’d try to bolt out a blog post on it, too.  If anyone’s ever played an AV lately (especially since the addition of experience in BGs, since it’s only made this worse), they’ve probably seen more than a few comments in /bg saying to “zerg” or “rush Vann/Drek.” They’ve also probably seen it fail miserably for one or both sides. Now, we know it’s possible–Blizzard has an achievement for it afterall, and I even have it on my warrior, though that’s back from before the change to queues and it was 40v15 or so, and we steamrolled through the Alliance through sheer force of numbers.  But what exactly is a zerg, and why does it so often fail?

From Wikipedia:

In real-time strategy (RTS) and team-based first-person shooter (FPS) computer games, a rush is a fast attack intended to overwhelm an unprepared opponent. In this context, it is also known as swarminggoblin tactics or Zerging, referring to the Zerg rush tactic from StarCraft. It is analogous to the blitzkrieg in real-world ground warfare, in which speed and surprise are used to overwhelm an enemy before they build a sizable defense. In fighting games, this style of play is called rushdown. This also has a different meaning in massively multiplayer online role-playing games(MMORPGs), where characters repeatedly throw themselves (dying and reviving) at a boss mob.

The alternatives to rushing are turtling (building strong defenses and sending out an advanced army later in the game), and rapid expansion (creating a booming economy and using it to purchase better units and technologies than the enemy) which is referred to as a, “boom” or “Steamrolling”.

Now, AV is a rather unique battleground. Even though some of the other battlegrounds share some similarities, Alterac Valley continues to have some unique features, and remains one of my favorite battlegrounds to this day. For those unfamiliar with AV, here’s a (very brief) rundown.

Each side starts out with 600 resources. Killing a member of the opposing faction takes away one of their resources. The first side to run out of resources loses.

Each side has an end-boss, the Horde has Drek’thar, the Alliance has Vanndar Stormpike. When either is killed, their respective faction immediately drops down to 0 resources, and loses.

There are several towers and bunkers for each faction; every time one of your towers is destroyed, your side loses a certain amount of resources. Every tower also has a respective mini-boss with your end-boss, providing a buff to your end-boss and making it tougher for them to be killed.

There are two mines; control of a mine funnels resources into your side.

Looting the corpse of an opposing faction member not only gives coins but also items you can turn in to different NPCs in your home base, allowing things from upgraded NPCs on the field, to flying NPCs taking out the opposing faction, even an elemental boss that can one-shot almost anyone it’s hostile to.

The two big achievements at this point are Alterac Blitz, which means you must win within 6 minutes, and Frostwolf Perfection, which means you must destroy all your opposing faction’s towers while yours remain untouched. Either one is hard to get in a random BG, and I may write on Perfection later, but Blitz is the one most people go for.

The only way to get Alterac Blitz is to zerg, which means ignoring everything else on your way to the opposing end-boss and killing them within 6 minutes.

Now, reasons why this isn’t as easy as it sounds… For starters, Alterac Valley is a 40v40 battleground. There are 40 members on either side that need to be coordinated to a common goal. Most people go in with a PUG mentality: Out for your own neck, no one else’s. They do what they want, what they think benefits them most, regardless of anyone else.

This means you usually have about 20-25 people stopping at either Bal or Galv to kill them, which is 10-15 people more than is necessary to begin with.

Tonight I was in a couple AVs that were honestly trying to get Blitz, one time that was really close. Both times, both sides were going for it. The Alliance would leave about 5 people to defend Vanndar and the rest would run straight for Drek, actually ignoring Galv and all flags/towers. We had everyone rush forward, leaving none to wipe them on Drek, 20-25 stopping at Balinda, and the tank and healers and a couple DPS standing around outside of Vanndar’s hoping the stragglers would catch up before the Alliance downed Drek. Needless to say, the Alliance won those games.

Why? Because coordinating 40 people to listen even when you bring them everything else is a lot harder than it sounds. If you haven’t done it, I’d say go into an AV and try it yourself, but I honestly wouldn’t recommend that to anyone but a masochist, if then.

Another reason we couldn’t do it is that, as stated above, they would leave about 5 people in Vanndar’s room with him. They expected a Blitz, where our side did but didn’t care enough to defend even that much. From the wikipedia article, again:

A [zerg] is a fast attack intended to overwhelm an unprepared opponent.

With the addition of experience into BGs, AV is one of the quickest ways to level for some. This is why on my alts, I will go in with my guy, usually either his warlock or his death knight, and no matter our level, we will sit in Drek’s room and wait for the Alliance’s zerg. Most games we’ve done this, we’ve won. A well-placed fear or death grip, and half the Alliance’s zerg is dead and waiting to be resurrected. The only times we lose is when they’ve capped the Frostwolf Relief Hut and don’t have far to run, which is just enough to keep their zerg going strong. The reason the Alliance lose in those cases is because we were prepared for them, which kills the effect of the zerg.

When an opponent expects your move, you will lose unless you change tactics.

The third game I played tonight, both sides attempted a Blitz again. This time, the Horde won, but not by a zerg. The Alliance left about 5 people with Vanndar again, so we didn’t have a chance there while waiting on our people to come up from Bal (because they just can’t leave her alive, for whatever reason). The difference, this time, is that we also left about 5 people with Drek to wipe the Alliance, and it worked. They didn’t capture any graveyards on the way down, while we captured the one just before their bridge. This ended up in a turtle on said bridge.

We were at a resource advantage, since we’d downed Balinda while they hadn’t downed Galvangar, and they all wiped on Drek and respawned outside of Vanndar’s room where we were waiting, and by this time the rest of our reinforcements had come up from Stonehearth to join in on the turtle. We had more AOE it seemed, while they had a crap-ton of paladins and rogues… However, AOE is useless if you’re too squishy, so they could have won if we hadn’t had the amazing healers that we did (about 3 trees and 2 paladins from what I saw personally). I was second in damage Horde-side on my hunter, right under a mage, 5th total, and had 205 honorable kills with only 2 deaths. Seriously, much love for the healers, but I digress.

As previously mentioned, I actually have Alterac Blitz on my warrior, but it was a game where we had a full 40 people, and the Alliance only had about 15. I have it on none of my other characters, and have only seen it the once on my warrior; and I tend to play a lot of AV on any character. So, in simplest terms, why does zerging never work? Because the other side expects it. Again, when an opponent expects your move, you will lose unless you change tactics. As long as your opponent expects and is prepared for a zerg, unless you get catastrophically lucky in numbers, you will lose.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] think I might’ve sorely misled some poor fellow or two when I ended up posting something directly centered around PvP a while back. It was something that was on my mind at the time that I’d wanted to sort of […]


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