I clicked to join the queue, waited a few minutes, and the pic of a Frostwolf Orc and Stormpike Guard Dwarf filled my screen.
"Ah...." I sighed in content. "Alterac Valley. The best BG in the game."
Then my Lock ported into the loading tunnel and was greeted by farts, belches, nose pickings, and some guy yelling "I'm running around naaaked!!!"
I was playing Alterac Valley with 39 teenagers. Yay me.
(I mentioned this to Vidyala from Manalicious, who happened to be logged in at the time, and she said "Did you see that strip from The Oatmeal about that? Oh wait, you posted that, didn't you?" Art imitates life, I'm afraid.)
For my money, AV is a great learning Battleground, and probably the best starter BG for someone who has never tried BGs before but wanted to test them out.
Before anyone points out the value of creating an alt just to try Warsong Gulch at L10, yes, I'm aware of that as an option. That method of getting your toes wet in BGs does have advantages, namely that you start to learn the PvP capabilities of your class at the beginner level, and your skill will grow over time as you gain in abilities. However, starting at whatever level your toon is at (presumably max level or at least L45) and queuing for Alterac Valley has advantages too:
- You are one of 40 players on your side. If you screw up, odds are good that you're not going to drag down your team much at all. With WSG (and to a lesser extent Arathi Basin and Eye of the Storm), one player's mistakes are far more costly to your side. What this means is that in AV, you have a little bit of license to try things out and not worry about messing up too much.
- In a large BG such as Alterac Valley, there will always be someone more poorly geared than you are. From quest greens through the latest Ruthless Gladiator set, all types can find a home in AV.
- AV has pretty standard strategies (zerg and turtle being the most common), so you don't have to know the intricacies of the BG to contribute.
- There is always someone attempting to complete the external AV quests, particularly at the lower levels. This kind of ties into my first point in that AV is forgiving enough that one or two people will wander off and not impact their team so much. Now, I'm not talking about the in-BG quests you find to go and bring back gear to quest givers at each base --I haven't seen anyone do that in a long while-- but the "Capture a mine" and "Defend a tower" quests. While this isn't a big deal in today's WoW, back in Vanilla it was a moderately big deal to get the trinkets from the Frostwolf or Stormpike factions, and completing the quests helped get some of that rep. Besides, if you play Arathi Basin and you complete that starter quest, you're probably thinking "oh yeah, these BG quests aren't a problem." Until you head into gnoll caverns and have to fight your way through against monsters 4 levels higher than you, that is.
- When in doubt, help to capture a tower. Graveyards are a bit trickier, because there are times when it makes more sense to not capture one, but towers are always ripe for picking.
- The natural tendency of a newbie PvPer is to travel in a pack, and that is perfect for a big BG such as Alterac Valley. Stick with the pack as much as you can, and you lessen the chance of getting jumped from behind. For clothies, I can't stress this enough. Rogues and Hunters love clothies, particularly stragglers.
- If you're really lucky --or unlucky, based on how quickly you want to play the game-- you can witness the elemental summoning. I haven't seen it myself, but it does happen from time to time, and there's nothing like having a raid level boss on your side.
- Honor per game is better than almost all of the other BGs. Since there are no vehicles to worry about ala Isle of Conquest or Strand of the Ancients, Alterac Valley is a big ol' backyard brawl. The honor will add up very quickly, particularly in a series of quickly resolved zerg games. And yes, that means that even if you lose you'll get some decent honor so that you can buy PvP gear more quickly. (And yes, I meant quickly. I did say it three times, no?)
Back in AV, I ignored the excesses of the hormone driven crowd and followed along until Snowfall Graveyard, when I peeled off to cap it. A feral druid pulled in next to me and asked if I wanted to stay with him to defend it.
"No," I said. "There's no need. It's a disadvantage for the Horde to take this; we're better off going to Tower Point instead."
"Okay. You lead."
We reached TP to find that the rest of the group had pushed on ahead, so we darted up the ramp and waited. A priest arrived for support just as "the Horde have captured Snowfall Graveyard" scrolled on screen.
"They actually took the bait," I said.
"Yeah," the priest replied, "you know they're going to lose when they can't resist taking it from us."
A swarm of Hordies came charging up the ramps, and all we had to do was hold out for 20 seconds. I was spamming every fear ability I had while the priest got knocked off the ramp. The druid got two on him and I feared one away. My succubus disabled one and Howl of Terror procced again.
I got hit and stunned and quickly used my trinket in combo with Death Coil. The feral had two more on him, and a Tauren Sunwalker came barreling in.
I cast Fear. The cast bar crawled across the screen.
"Come on.... Come on...."
The Sunwalker turned to the Feral just as I feared him. He ran out the room.
The feral died.
Howl of Terror procced just as the two on the Feral turned to me. I mashed the button so hard I was sure I broke the key.
A Judgement hammer struck me and left me with around 50 health left.
Boom! Flames exploded around the tower, and I whooped as the Sunwalker finished me off.
"GJ on TP!" the designated tank hollered.
Ah, Alterac Valley. Such fun indeed.