Knifey Enters the Battlegrounds

Sapphire told me of her recent attempts to push back the Horde in Arathi Basin, picking up a tabard commemorating the Spirit of Competition for her efforts. With her being a protection-based warrior and me a blade-wielding stealthy rogue, I thought I'd be better able to do my bit against the Horde threat in battlegrounds. It has been generally accepted by myself that the Alliance is rather more pacifist than the Horde when it comes to inter-faction rivalries, which translates to losing most battleground fights. I thought I'd try all of the battlegrounds at least once to see what the current state of affairs is like. I coat my blades in poison and speak to the battlemasters.

In Warsong Gulch the aim is to capture the opponent's flag whilst protecting one's own, which generally means slaughtering anyone holding your flag. The Alliance is still lousy at this, not scoring even a single capture of the flag during any of the Horde's victories, but at least there are people putting in a good effort. Some people even have a good idea of what they are doing, which makes for a good battle, even if ultimately doomed to failure.

Moving on to Arathi Basin and I couldn't be more disappointed. Whilst the Alliance's chances of victory are as good as in Warsong Gulch the participants are depressingly fatalistic. Even though the Horde move quickly and capture efficiently, there is still a battle to be fought. Yet there were some who don't even want to put up a fight, arguing that the Horde were clearly going to win so there is no point in trying. I am even told not to try to recapture a base because it would slow down the Horde's inevitable victory and our gaining a booby prize of a single mark of honour. I don't listen, I am there for the battle, not to get something for nothing.

I could perhaps understand if it was a person's limited experience of Arathi Basin and wanted to leave without receiving any penalty, but in my experience that day of hopping around the battlegrounds the same whiny paladin was still going in to Arathi Basin hours later, still telling people to lay down arms and let the Horde walk all over us. There was no interest in the fight in this chap, and I would suggest he just wanted to lose over and over again as quickly as possible to build up his marks of 'honour' in as short a time as possible. Frankly, he is a disgrace to the Alliance and to all those who want to prove themselves in a battleground.

The situation is a little different in Alterac Valley. Apart from an attempt a long time ago, aborted after hours of waiting owing to an unfortunate disconnect right as the battle started, I had not ventured in to the valley before. I had heard the Alliance has some luck with their battles, so I was looking forward to joining the fray. When the gates open I run forwards and hop on my swift ram, following everyone else, hoping they know what they are doing.

Alterac Valley is a large zone and despite the largely north-to-south aspect it is possible to lose your way. I can't say I understand where I am going or why, and am not keen to start asking questions, so I follow and hope to pick things up as I go along. I am killed at some point and when the spirit healer raises me I find I am right back at the top of the map, where we started, so I jog down to where a battle seems to be happening and help out there. After a while, to my surprise, the Alliance is victorious! That makes a pleasant change.

Feeling flush after the victory I enter Alterac Valley again, and again I have little idea of what's going on and again we win. On the third battle I get a better idea of the Alliance team's goals, and I join in as best as I can with a little more focus. Overall, four journeys in to Alterac Valley are made, and the Alliance is victorious in them all. With my feeling useful too this looks like a good place to fight the Horde effectively.

Finally, I also try the Eye of the Storm, a battleground that is completely new to me. Both the Alliance and Horde put up a good battle, and despite superficial similarities to Arathi Basin the Horde don't dominate quite as definitively in the Eye of the Storm. The battlefield is the most open of all the battlegrounds, offering a good overview of both the objectives and the faction's progression. I initially wonder how the bases are captured, and only work out that it requires characters of the faction to be present within the base for a certain time once I drop my stealthy facade. Being under the veil of stealth not only doesn't contribute to the capture of bases but it also prevents the meter showing capture progression from showing.

The Eye of the Storm battleground provides some exciting battles, and in one of them the Alliance even manages to win! It involves an excellent display of teamwork and communication, and was a well-deserved victory. I was happy that I had Damacy, a priest friend of mine, by my side for that fight too.

I entered the battlegrounds at a mere level 61, and I heard someone complain about people entering at the minimum level requirements. It didn't seem to make too much of a difference, from my point of view. Whilst the higher-level players resisted some of my abilities a little more often, it was certainly nowhere near as tough a challenge as defeating a PvE creature of that higher level. And although I lacked a bit of damage that a higher level would bring through improved equipment I was able to contribute my class skills and enough damage to make a difference. If nothing else, I kept a more powerful character occupied in killing me whilst others achieved an objective.

Involving myself in some battleground PvP turned out to be a lot of fun, even if there were more defeats than victories and some traitors to the faction. I probably didn't gain as much honour as I would have had I been higher level, so there is a motivation to continue my questing in Outlands, and honour is still gained so I can enter the battlegrounds as an engaging diversion. On top of that, I entered in to the Spirit of Competition on its final day, earning myself a tabard simply for entering as well as a gold medal, which summons my very own spirit, for the victories I contributed to!

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