Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Arathi Basin Notes #2

I have some observations about my multiple AB runs last night. [Ed. note: although the events took place a few weeks ago, they mirror just about every series of AB runs I've been on, so applies perpetually]

On two occassions, we lost by a slim margin, due specifically to overreaching.

One of the most important things an AB leader needs is flexibility. Just having one set plan and enough players following that plan is often sufficient. However, when the plan is interrupted by an overwhelming force of opponents, the leader needs to quickly amend the plan, and bark orders accordingly.

For example, if the plan is to take the stables, mines, and mill, and hold, but the alliance mill raiding party is taken by surprise by a superior number of horde at the mill, the alliance leader should (knowing the number of those horde) order a tactical retreat, regroup, and perhaps assault another base (farm, blacksmith) based on information provided by those who can scout those areas.

Back to overreaching. Often, both forces are just about equal, and each side toggles between holding two and three bases. In many of these cases, it's vitally important to defend what bases are held. The horde holding three bases to our two is not pretty, but the horde holding three bases and assaulting one of our only two is devastating. This happened a few times last night, but not because of the horde's superior or outnumbering forces. It happened because of individual overreaching.

There are two types of overreaching. Individual and group. Group overreaching is when a leader makes the decision to attack a fourth base when possessing three. Individual overreaching is when a roving band of independents decides to attack on its own.

Group overreaching sometimes nets an extra base, but mostly results in the loss of one currently possessed. The net result is a loss. This is because the game does not rely on the number of bases you hold at any one time, but instead how long you hold onto those bases. A tradeoff (lose one base, win another) is necessarily a loss because it takes an entire minute to fully cap. During the first base's conflict time and the new base's down time, the team is not gaining any resources from either base. Whereas, if the team had merely held the base it possessed with good defense, there would be an uninterrupted flow of resources.

Obviously there are times when taking another base is strategically optimal. for instance, if it's determined that an overwhelming number of horde are desperately trying to capture an already held base, the alliance team can just shift focus, grab the most undefended horde base, and not suffer heavy losses.

The one thing I heard most in those games, and the one thing I know that killed any chances of our winning was the report that this "roving band of adventurers" (usually about 2-5 players spread all over the map) repeatedly gave. Throughout the game, they were rarely near any of our held bases. They were hopping all over the place, looking for horde weak points. This is FINE, if that's part of the plan or a decision made based on a reasonable belief that the horde had major weak spots.

But here was the report: "Blacksmith only has 5 horde guarding it!" What this means is that one of the roving band believes it's strategically sound to move our current base defenders forward to attack a currently held horde base, defended by 5 horde (that they can see). What ends up happening is that the roving band thinks it's sufficient to take the base on its own, and fails to do so in the most miserable fashion.

At the same time that that roving band is getting slaughtered, our undefended stables get taken, and the horde mount a massive assault on the mill while a few other horde pester our mill defenses.

Net result? We end up with one base. Horde ends up with 3-4.

What this roving adventurer fails to realize is that 5 horde at one horde-held base equals 10 horde somewhere else. If you don't know where those other 10 horde are, you'd be foolish to risk losing your currently possessed bases in order to try to gain a fairly well defended horde base. Just think about the roving band of HORDE adventurers: "Hey, the stables have... uh... no defenders! Let's nab it and move on.".... "Holy crud, not only did we just totally get the stables for free, but there are like only 2 guys at the mines, and one of them looks like he's running away somewhere else!" NAB. "What, they're mounting an assault on our well-defended base? Let's distract them by attacking the mill! Everyone to the mill!"

That's an awful scenario. The second time I found myself leading our raid group, we captured and held the stables, mines, and mill within moments, and were definitely pulling ahead in points. However, there was a group of 3-4 of us just randomly wandering around, giving reports like I said before, and acting totally on their own initiative, getting killed quickly by horde defense, and roaming again. At the same time, everyone I asked to stay at the stables ignored me, and ran to the mill (where there were already 5-6 of us) or to wander on their own. The mines were underdefended, and some of the stable defenders ran to the mines. Leaving... zero people at the stables! I even asked people BY NAME to stay at the stables. I indicated repeatedly that we needed at least three defenders on each base, and THEN the rest could toggle offense/defense based on the situation. No one wanted to defend the stables.

I can't count the number of times the stables got ninjad. What's that, you ask? It's when one or two players sneak up and snag the flag without any or with little opposition. It's a win/win situation for any side that can ninja a flag successfully because it interrupts resource flow, and causes the opponent unnecessarily to reinforce that base with defenders.

Sometimes a ninja can turn into a win. I ninjad the mill last night (different game) when it was totally surrounded by horde. I figured, what the heck, at least I interrupted the flow. They came runnin after me (because I was purposefully leading them away from the flag), and I died with all of them pounding on me at the bottom of the hill. This was surprisingly more successful that I had imagined because another alliance team was mounting an attack on the mill from the other side, and since the flag was in contest, the horde couldn't respawn there. By the time I rezzed and got back, we were in full possession of the mill, defending it well.

Speaking of defending. I have learned to LOVE defending. I think it may be the new offense! Hah. My favorite places to defend are the stables and mill. And I consider myself pretty good at both. By myself and sometimes with another rogue, I successfully defended the stables against about 10-15 ninja attacks, and some duo attacks. This didn't take much effort at all. I mostly just stood there, hidden in the nearby bushes, waiting. However, my abilities allowed the leader to focus other people on offensive raids. (Like I said, flexibility!)

Stables are pretty straightforward. Not much terrain to deal with. The mill is a different story, and most people defend it rather shoddily. The absolute worst thing I see people do is rush from a well-defended, terrain superior position at the top of the hill (facing the farm) down to the bottom to intercept horde raiders. This is a total waste of defense resources, for one, and it's also a great danger to the mill flag.

It prompts others who would normally have stayed at the top of the hill to go "rescue" the over-impulsive defender at the bottom, and soon few if any are left on the plateau at the top. This allows a druid or rogue to sneak up and ninja the flag. Once that flag is tapped, folks, all the defenders dying at the bottom of the hill cannot rez at the mill! It's vitally important to keep that flag from being tapped. Just as important as when you are raiding a base, and need to tap the horde flag to insure no horde can spawn there.

I use that tactic myself all the time. When a good number of people are with me on a mill raid, I stealth when I get to the top and ignore all the fighting, I'm sure much to the dismay of my teammates. But they don't realize that I'm actually increasing the chances of a victorious capture. While everyone is occupied on the ramp up to the hill, the mill horde defense rushes to the edge of the hill to attack the raiding alliance. Maybe one stays behind for a second or two to check out the flag to make sure it's not getting ninja'd (most players are so impulsive, the very moment they get to the flag, they tap it. you should wait if the situation warrants it so you don't have to fight (ask Seq about the waiting game)), then the impatient horde runs to help his teammates "defend." Only seconds have elapsed, so it's unlikely any have actually died on the ramp yet. I look, I make sure I'm free (and I use the flag itself to block the horde view of my name floating above my head), and I tag it. I rarely get interrupted, and if I do, it's usually only by one horde, and that quick skirmish usually ends up in my favor.

Once I tag that flag, the horde loses all its rez defense for the mill. That means every horde we end up killing on that ramp must rez somewhere else! I rush to the edge, and help finish off the horde, knowing the horde won't suddenly appear at my back.

This is an awesome tactic. TAG that flag, and make them work to defend it!

Back to defense. Imagine the situation is the same, but the sides are switched. You're defending the mill flag, but you don't have anyone AT the flag. It only takes 10 seconds, and BAM, you just lost it. The reason I stand at the top edge of the ramp isn't necessarily to intercept raiders. It's to determine when the mill is being raided, by how many, what levels, and what classes. I then can pick my personal target and indicate to the other defenders what that target is. By the time the raiders get to the top, we're ready for them. We can start attacking them at the top edge, but it's vitally important to slowly guide it to the area of the flag.

I've defended the farm flag against a horde raid group because every single one of them was trying to tap the flag (a good idea in general), and I kept hitting them each in succession. I don't care if all I need to kill that ONE horde is hit him three more times. If the OTHER horde tapping the flag succeeds, I've just lost all my defense on that base AND potentially interrupted resources (depending on the state of the flag). Worst case scenario is when the horde are trying to "defend" that flag because we tapped it, and all they have to do is re-tap it to get rez privileges at that base.

Now I can "sum up."


-follow the plan

-listen to the leader (even if the leader is "wrong", you'll still likely do better than roaming around)

-don't roam around unless that's your job

-defense is a good offense when you're playing the resource game

-defend your "flag", not the entire map (don't rush out of the range of your fellow defenders or they just might stand there and watch you die)

-play for the win, not for HK

-communicate what you observe so that the leader can make informed decisions (you say "5 horde attacking mill", buddy says "5 horde defending farm", guy at mines says "3 horde attacking mines" - leader knows only 2 horde at max are defending blacksmith, and it might make a decent target)

-although you can report observations, don't make your own strategic decisions, that's for the leader

-although you don't make strategic decisions, you DO make tactical decisions based on your assigned task (i.e., you don't initiate a raid on another base if your task is to defend mill, but you can make decisions about where your party should be placed at the mill, what raiders should be attacked in what order, etc.)
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