Horde's winning defensive strategy in Wintergrasp

6th June 2009 – 2.12 pm

Wintergrasp bugs and geographical bias aside, the Horde are continuing to defeat the Alliance on a regular basis partly because they are employing strong and effective strategies as a team and partly because the Alliance are less likely to work as a cohesive unit.

Some Horde forces take advantage of the portal between Dalaran and Wintergrasp to get in to the region early, which some say is how they consistently defend successfully but overall it is not too important compared to their tactics when the battle begins. They set up a moderately sized strike group, maybe a dozen or more players, to assault one of the southern workshops, where the deaths of NPCs and any repelled defence grants them the first promoted rank, allowing them to build catapults. With the workshop under Horde control they proceed to build catapults and move on to the destruction of the southern towers.

Whilst catapults are the weakest of the vehicles they are also the fastest, allowing them to escape any melee attackers easily. As each workshop under your faction's control allows the construction of four vehicles, with the two fortress workshops and a southern workshop allowing twelve vehicles in total, not including the Broken Temple workshop that is also likely to be in Horde control that early in the battle, the Horde can deploy enough catapults to demolish a tower rapidly, with enough of a strike force left to defend against any skirmishers foolish enough to engage them.

The Horde destruction of the southern towers is almost a guarantee. It occurs so quickly and early in the battle that the fortress is hardly at risk from vehicular onslaught and if the Alliance send enough players to mount an effective defence the Horde gain the advantage from keeping all involved in a pitched battle in the south of Wintergrasp, away from the main objective of the fortress. But the strong strategy is not yet over.

With the three towers destroyed and a dozen or more catapults at their command the Horde move north to assault the remaining workshops. Even without the numbers to take control of the workshops in a ground attack the catapults can instead destroy the workshop from range, as quickly as a southern tower is destroyed, after which it defaults to the destroying faction's control. Without adequate awareness and mobility to regain already-lost workshops the Alliance can soon find themselves only being able to control a maximum of four vehicles, occasionally even none.

Vehicles are necessary to destroy infrastructure in Wintergrasp, and with no enemy vehicles deployed a successful defence is assured, making the Horde strategy already looking strong. Stronger still is the Alliance's weakness in being apparently selfish. Whilst the Horde cooperate towards a victory it seems that many of the Alliance are in Wintergrasp only for the glory.

Instead of showing battleground awareness and striving to regain workshops distant from the front line, for the greater good of an overall victory, Alliance characters are too eager to pilot a siege engine or demolisher and be the 'hero' to break down the inner doors of the fortress. Whilst there is the obvious effect of losing control of workshops denying even vehicles to the battle there is a secondary effect, where the single-minded nature of the glory-seekers take the path of least resistance.

Resurrecting at the most convenient graveyard, those out for glory drop in to the Sunken Ring workshop, make a vehicle and pilot it directly to the fortress, hoping to be the one who triumphantly breaks through. But with other players having the same instincts this weak tactic only leads to a stream of vehicles heading through the same bottleneck, where they are met by a constant barrage of AoE spells quickly demolishing all incoming traffic. With the shortest route back being the way they came, or resurrecting at the same graveyard, the same players can throw themselves on the blades of the Horde with mindless efficiency.

In one battle, so single-minded and predictable were the Alliance attackers that almost all the Horde didn't notice I had ridden across to the Broken Temple workshop, made a siege engine, and driven up to the western wall. I managed to destroy one of the fortress's towers, break down an outer-wall, destroy the western courtyard workshop and make a dent in the inner-wall before my vehicle was destroyed. If the Alliance could only split their forces more effectively, retain control of the workshops and attack on two fronts we would likely have more success. The intensity of the defence would necessarily also have to be split, probably giving vehicles more time to break down the walls.

The continued defeats in Wintergrasp have woken some of the dedicated players from their reverie in believing assaulting the fortress is almost guaranteed. There are better strike groups attempting to stop the Horde in the destruction of the towers, and calls go out to defend and secure workshops as well as not to continue building the almost-useless catapults in the late-game. What is certainly needed is for others to pay heed to the calls and for more attention to be shown to securing victory for the Alliance, not glory for the individual.

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