Warsong Gulch 101

Warsong Gulch (WSG) has always been one of my favorite battle grounds. I can’t really tell you why that is, though I’m sure it has something to do with its small size and the its simplicity, or maybe it’s because I spent many of my summers growing up playing capture the flag at Boy Scout camps. Either way, it’s time to look at the basics of our primary battleground.

Battleground: Warsong Gulch
Number of Players: 10 Alliance, 10 Horde
Time Limit: 25 minutes
Primary Objective: Capture the enemy flag three times within the time limit
Contingency B: Capture more flags than your opponent within the time limit
Contingency C: Capture an equal number of flags as your opponent, but capture it more recently
Location Buffs: 2 Speed, 2 Berserk, 2 Restoration

Acronyms & Terms
“FC” – Flag Carrier (your team)
“EFC” – Enemy Flag Carrier
“FR” – Flag Room (your flag room)
“EFR” – Enemy Flag Room
“INC” – Incomming, alerting others that opponents are on the move
“Cap” – Capturing the flag by returning the enemy flag to your base while in control of your own flag
“Recap” – Killing the EFC and recapturing your flag, returning it to your base and your team’s control
“2nd/On 2″ – The second floor of either base
“Roof” – The top floor of either base
“Mid” – Midfield, the vast open area full of large tree stumps
“Ramp” – located at stage-left of each base, leads to both the 1st and 2nd floor of the base
“GY” – Graveyard for either team, located stage-right of each base, opposite the Ramp
“Tun’ – The tunnel leading to/from both bases, located at the north and south ends of midfield
“Healing Hut” – Located in front of each graveyard, contains a spawned Restoration buff (Health & Mana)
“Zerk Hut” – Located in front of each ramp, contains a spawned Berserking buff (Increased Damage, Decreased Armor)
“Side Room” – A small room attached to the flag rooms, stage-left, at the “top” of each tunnel
“Zerg/Zergging” – A large portion of either team, moving together as a group in an attempt to overpower
“Turtle” – Pulling the majority of your team into your base to maximize defense
“Camping/GYC” – Positioning yourself near the enemy graveyard, to attack immediately after they ressurect

FC and EFC refer to players, the ones who have control of the flags. People usually use these in order to ask where a flag carrier is, or to inform others of where the flags are. Often used in conjunction with other terms and acronyms from this list. “EFC TUN” for example, means that the enemy flag carrier is in the tunnel, expressing to your team that they should move to the tunnel to intercept.

FR and EFR are locations, most often used to communicate how much defense is in the flag room, or the location of the FC or EFC.

2nd, On 2, and Roof are also locations, typically used to express the location of FC/EFC or the location of incoming assault groups. 2nd and On 2 both refer to the second, or middle level of the bases. This level has a small open portion that allows ranged advantage onto the ground floor. Roof is the third and top level of the bases which have access to both the ground floor of the flag room as well as the second floor, and the open area between the roof and tunnel that is used to reach the roof in the first place. You’ll often see these used with INC calls as well. “INC TUN” means enemies are coming to the flag room via the tunnel, “INC RAMP” means they’re coming up the ramp, and so on.

Cap is usually used to let the FC know that the EFC is either dead or about to die so that they know to begin moving to the flag spawn location in order to capture the flag before an opponent can sneak in there and run away with it again. It’s also used by impatient players a way similar to “GO GO GO!!!” which is freaking annoying and will cause me to shank you.

Recap is used to communicate that people either need to go to offense in order to recapture your flag, to let your team know that you’re about to recap the flag, or to alert others that the flag has been dropped and needs to be clicked on to recap before an opponent does.

Mid, Ramp, GY, and Tun are all used to communicate areas of the map, most often associated with the location of the EFC or the intended path of your FC, or to call out large packs of opponents. “Going GY, Move to assist” means I have picked up their flag and I’m going to bring it back by moving through the opponent’s graveyard and/or that side of the map in order to return it to our base, and that I need help bringing it back so you should start pushing to that side of the map to help me.

The other terms I think are fairly explanatory, so if you have any questions leave them in the comments and I’ll give some more details. If you see any big ones that I left out, mention those too so we can get them added.

Unwritten Rules
Despite its simplicity, there are a lot of things about WSG that players have no means of knowing without doing some kind of research or experiencing it themselves. In terms of PvP, one of Blizzards greatest failings is that they give players no information on how to play the individual battlegrounds. So here are the unwritten rules that come to mind for WSG:

  1. You cannot carry the flag while riding a mount.
  2. You cannot carry the flag while under the effects of immunity.
  3. You cannot carry the flag in Stealth.
  4. You cannot capture the flag if you do not control your own flag.
  5. Your opponent cannot capture your flag while you control their flag.

If you are carrying the flag and you summon your mount, you will drop the flag the second your mount is cast. If you pick the flag back up, it will dismount you. You cannot, under any (legit) circumstances, carry the flag in WSG while mounted. Druids and Shamans can take on forms that allow them to move faster (Travel Form and Ghost Wolf respectively) while carrying the flag, and you can use whatever speed boosts your race/class/consumables provide you, but you can’t mount as the flag carrier.

While the Gnome Clones won’t have to worry about #2, it’s something that deserves mentioning for anyone else who happens to read this and for you to be aware of in case you’re facing opponents that this may apply to. The only class that I can think of that is able to grant actual immunity is the Paladin. If a Paladin activates their bubbles that make them immune to damage, they will drop the flag and cannot pick it back up until the effect ends (or is cancelled). If you have consumables that make you immune (there was a flask in Wrath that you could get that may or may not still be around), these too will force you to drop the flag. Now, I’m not talking about bubbles here like the Priest’s Power Word: Shield spell that absorbs a certain amount of damage, I’m talking strictly literal immunity to damage. Paladins can’t force their bubble on you if you have the flag, so no need to worry about that.

Picking the flag up while you are in Stealth will bring you out of Stealth, and using Stealth while you have the flag will cause you to drop it. Again, this isn’t a worry for the Clones since we don’t have Stealth, but it’s something to be aware of. If you see an enemy Rogue carrying the flag who goes into stealth and drops it, expect that he’s going to try to either Sap you or attack you, hoping to pick the flag back up before it despawns.

You can’t capture the flag unless you control both yours and your opponents’. What this means is, if the enemy has your flag then your flag carrier (FC) needs to avoid getting caught/killed (preferably with the help of a healer or two) while the rest of your team goes after the enemy flag carrier (EFC) to get your flag back.

The last item on the list is exactly like the previous one, except that you’re looking at it from the opposite side. Your opponent can’t capture the flag if someone on your team has their flag. The default action for most people in WSG is to kill the EFC and that’s it. Sometimes it’s better for you to forget about the EFC and instead go and grab their flag as fast as possible to prevent them from capturing. If the EFC is closer to their flag than you are, then you probably want to try to kill the EFC, but if you have the means to get ahead of them and get the flag before they can capture, then you’re doing your team a huge favor by blocking the other team from capturing. This is one of many examples of actions you take in PvP that wins games and doesn’t require you to do anything at all to your opponents.

Objectives and Contingencies
The object of WSG is to capture the enemy flag three times before they do the same to you. The first to three flags wins. Flag captures are the only thing that matter in this battleground. Period.

Because of the situations that I mentioned in the previous section that prevent you from capturing the flag, not every game is going to have three captures in the 25 minute window. To address that, Blizzard put into place some contingency plans.

If the time expires and neither team has captured three flags, then the team with the most captures wins.

If time expires and there is a tie, the team who captured the last flag is declared the winner. In PuG’s you’ll often hear people ask, “who capped last?” to know who wins in the case of a tie.

If time expires and there is a tie with neither team having captured any flags at all, then it is a draw and both teams lose.

The best, most rewarding way to win WSG is to capture three flags, so you always want to strive for this. NEVER stop going after your opponent’s flag, even if you know that 9 of them are waiting in the enemy flag room to kill you and you’re going to die in 0.000014 seconds after stepping foot inside. Always try for another flag capture.

If capturing three flags isn’t going to happen, then you want to make sure you capture the last flag. Group up with your team and push for the flag with all your might. Ignore battles in midfield, even if it means letting your friends die, and push for that flag. Stay together in a group and assist each other as needed in order to get the flag and bring it back for a capture.

Similarly, if you are tied and your team was the last to capture the flag then it’s very important for you to protect your flag carrier. The biggest piece of advice I can give you for this is to not chase after opponents if they withdraw. If they pull back, let them. The second you go chasing after someone rather than staying to defend your flag carrier is the moment that their Rogues and Ferals spring a stealthed ambush on your flag carrier and save their flag.

Helpful Hints

Speed Buff: a buff located in the tunnels that grants +100% speed for 8 seconds.
This buff is great for trying to either get to and from the flag really quick or getting from the tunnel to the roof or out to mid real quick – WHEN YOU’RE ALONE.

The most frequent noob mistake I see in WSG is people using this buff just because it’s there. Don’t ever leave your healers behind by grabbing this buff and then taking off. If you do, and I’m your healer, you can die. I don’t even care. If you leave your healers behind without a good reason for doing so and you die, you deserve it. Similarly, if you’re going into the base with a group and someone’s about to grab the flag, don’t get the speed buff for no reason; move toward the end of the tunnel instead and let the flag carrier get the buff so that you’re that much closer to capturing the flag that much sooner.

If you’re in your own base then you need to consider the location of the enemy flag before deciding whether or not to take it. If your FC is on his way to return the flag, leave the buff there for them to speed up the capture. If you have the enemy flag in your base and are waiting for a recap, then always take that speed buff when you see it so that the enemy can’t use it against you.

Don’t Leave Your Healers Behind:
I mentioned this in the speed buff above, but I’m saying it again here anyway. Never leave your healers behind unless doing so is the only way to score a crucial flag capture and you’re sure that doing so will achieve that capture. If you have buffs or consumables that increase your speed, don’t use them unnecessarily if your healers can’t keep up.

There are some exceptions to this, but they’re rare. In most cases, the only time this is a good idea is if your healers are drawing all of the enemy fire and they’re willing to sacrifice themselves to give you time to get away. If there’s no way you can win a skirmish, it might be acceptable to leave your healers behind in order to try for a capture. Maybe.

Use the Stumps:
WSG’s midfield is littered with large tree stumps from trees that the Horde have cut down in Ashenvale, which is the lore behind this BG and why it exists by the way. These stumps appear as though they block Line of Sight (LoS), but they actually don’t. You can’t physically move through them, but you can cast through them as though they didn’t exist. Since the Clones are all casters, this is one of the strongest advantages you have in this battleground. Melee has to go around/over the stumps to get to you while you can keep on casting unhindered. The stumps are fantastic for killing tunnel visioned melee. Just don’t forget you aren’t the only ones that can use them like that.

This same concept applies to the large wagons on the Horde’s side too, which we’ll talk about next.

Use Your Stature:
Being a Gnome does have its occasional perks. On the WSG map on the Horde’s side of the field there are four large wagons. Most races can’t interact with these wagons beyond using them in a way similar to the tree stumps or using various jumping techniques to climb on top of them. However, Gnomes and Goblins can both run under certain parts of these wagons, particularly where the handle connects to the cart. Both of those races can run under the handle where all the others have to run around the cart. This is a great place to break away from melee opponents or to kite opponents who can’t take advantage of that terrain like you can.

Shamans in Ghost Wolf and Druids in Cat/Travel Form love to think that they can follow you through that little hole, but when you’re shapeshifted the game uses your base racial size even if you look like you’re smaller and they still can’t use it. I think some of the potions/drinks that shrink you might let you fit under there, but I never see anybody using them on any kind of frequent basis.

There are a couple of other places that Gnomes can go that others can’t, but they’re a bit harder to describe in text than they are to just show you. I’ve been planning to put together a video for a few weeks now and just haven’t gotten around to doing it, but I’ll try to get it posted soon.

War Games
I think we’re getting pretty close now to having enough clones at level 24 that we can start seriously invading PvP. I’d like to start up some War Games soon to go over the basics in person. We don’t actually need 20 people for Wargames, I think we can do it with any number actually, but we can handle up to 20 per group.

War Games allow us to challenge each other to a PvP match. There aren’t any rewards for doing it, no achievements, or anything else. War Games are meant to be used for practice, teaching, and general fun.

Once we’re inside we can walk everybody through the map to get them familiar with it, show you where the buffs are and what kind of paths you might want to take when you’re going after the flag or trying to protect one, and so on.

After we’ve gone over the training portion, we’ll have everyone return to their base and we’ll do some practice runs fighting against each other and learning how to run the flag, protect the flag carrier, and bring down the opposing flag carrier.

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23 thoughts on “Warsong Gulch 101

  1. “Shamans in Ghost Wolf and Druids in Cat/Travel Form love to think that they can follow you through that little hole, but when you’re shapeshifted the game uses your base racial size even if you look like you’re smaller and they still can’t use it.”

    This is SUCH a good point and something that many people either forget about or are completely unaware of. Thanks for reminding all of our gnome clones about it!

    • The game doesn’t do anything at all to teach you that. I never would have known myself if I hadn’t tried chasing a gnome under one of those wagons on a Resto Druid ages ago.

      Even as a kitty, I’m the size of a cow. Who knew!?

  2. And all this time I thought the point was to top the scoreboard in killing blows. >_< Just kidding.

    Good post – I also had no idea about the wagons. Can't wait to lillify WSG.

    • I think most of our Lilli’s have still done mostly PvE. I’m looking forward to getting us all grouped up in WSG/AB now that we actually have the numbers to do it with.

  3. Is it true that if you are carrying the opposing team’s flag and your own flag is returned, you need to move out/in of the spot where your flag is, or can you just stand there and it will eventually cap? If you have to move out/in, this is another unwritten rule that might be good to mention.

    • Nope, you can stand perfectly still at the flag spawn location and it will cap the flag as soon as yours is returned.

      In hectic matches where I’m being assaulted as the FC when I know we’re close to bringing down the EFC, I’ll often stand on the spawn point while casting my heals in order to ensure the quickest cap possible once the flag is returned.

      • Well, there are the rare occasions where the flag bugs out. I’ve been in a handful if matches where one side or the other was unable to cap the flag despite there being no obstacle to it.

        Sometimes the answer is as simple as dropping flag and picking it right back up or letting a teammate pick it up. Just try to be prepared for stealthers who may be hiding nearby.

  4. Excellent guide. I so wish blizz would give some sort of info pane with even basic rules for BGs and even dungeons for that matter. This is great though. Many of these things take new players, and also myself, many matches to figure out. One thing, and I could be wrong, is that I believe if you try and stealth as a rogue while carrying, it just tells you that you can’t stealth while carrying the flag. I’ll try to test it if a good time to risk dropping the flag arises. :P Also, I really gotta get off my butt and make a Lilli.

    • You must join us!

      On the stealth thing I’m going from what I’ve seen which is Rogues dropping the flag to go into stealth and either sap me or open on me for a kill. It could be that they’re just clicking off the buff or have a /cancelaura macro set up to activate stealth, I really don’t know. I think I recently deleted my last Rogue, so I can’t test it without rolling a new one.

    • There is no safety-net for stealthing. If you hit that button while carrying, you will stealth and also you will automatically drop the flag just like a Pally Bubbling. I have to be careful on my feral as I have one button will stealth me if out of combat, but while in combat will autoshift to remove roots. If I accidently get out of combat, this button drops the flag :/

    • Excellent guide. I so wish blizz would give some sort of info pane with even basic rules for BGs

      THIS. I can handle WSG because I have a RL frame of reference, Capture the Flag. As for the rest of the BGs, I totally need someone to explain it to me, because just seeing an empty map doesn’t do it. It doesn’t explain to me how to win, or even the objective of the BG. I’m looking forward to Psyn (or someone) writing a similar post on AB.

    • I don’t know that we’ll be as formal as Gevlon’s tactics, though they’re quite good (thank you for linking them!) Many of the tips in there are excellent advice for new PvPers, which a lot of Lillis are.

      I suspect more of our discussions will be about how to be totally silly in the BGs and confuse our opponents while pwning them. :)

    • I don’t see the Gnome Clones being on quite that level of detail. If we were going for a serious 24 Twink guild then we probably would, but we’d also be using a literal BiS gear list. The current focus is on having fun and not getting completely steamrolled, so we’ll stick to basics for now.

      If people decide that they want to push to that level at a later date, we can do so.

  5. What a fantastic guide. I’m +100 on the war games idea, BTW, being all but hopeless on the strategic parts of WSG, though I’m a little better at AB.

  6. I would love to take part in some war games! I feel like I’ve never had a chance to really take a look around the bgs, so I don’t know where everything is. How do I get on the roofs? How do I go out through the graveyards? Which buffs are where now? There never seems to be the time/opportunity to check those things out in live battles.

  7. The bottleneck at the bottom of the horde ramp, between the wagon & the side of the map (big tree stumps) is a great place to bottle up & freeze down anyone chasing your FC.

    You can also jump on top of those tree stumps when heading to the Horde base, giving you a melee free approach, good if mid is filled, most wont bother chasing you.

    I’ve found riding up the ramp to be the fastest approach to the EFR. If your FC enters the EFR from 2nd level and bolts straight out the door to waiting healers (who haven’t dismounted) you can be off to a good headstart before they know you have the flag.

    Something that then works for me 8-9 out of 10 times is then heading right across the top, past the horde graveyard, then over the edge past the pile of logs. Use the wagons, trees, hut and fences to keep the horde of you from mid – assuming they even see you heading that way. Got 80% of the way on the right of the fence on our ramp, then cut through the break in the fence, to 2nd level of our FR.

    If the EFC has already dropped the flag, just drop on in and CAP. If the horde still have your flag, you are in the position to take advantage of 3 hiding spots immediately, 1) stay on 2nd level pressed up against the wall, 2) drop down into the side room, 3) in the flag capping alcove. Of course you have reasonably fast access to other spots as well.

    Whatever you do, protect your heals – and if you have them, don’t lose line of sight. If they can see you, they will probably keep you alive, if they can’t – you are on your own.

    Mages can rock flag carrying past the horde’s GY, especially with a little chemical assistance such as Swiftness Potion. A blink to be pretty much out of the EFR, then a pot, then whenever blink is up pop it (unless you are about to be charged by opponents with snares – then it’s a “getaway free card”). You will get to pop the pot again… at level 85 that is at the top of the ramp, not sure at Lilli level, so probably 2/3 of the way down the map.

    Trick with this is you are relying on speed, you will probably get to the other end of the map without drawing much attention, or at least attention you couldn’t escape, but you want the EFC down ASAP so you can have a smooth glide into your FR for the cap.

    Ohh.. finally, there are some things that will stop you capping.. some “costumes” will prevent it as will Noggenfogger Elixir shrunken – once again, not an issue for the Lillis.

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