- Author: Nymis
- Date: December 30, 2018
- Expansion: WoW Classic
My name is Nymis and I have been a guild master for one of the best World-PvP guilds on several private servers, with the intention of continuing to further play on Classic WoW. My goal is to try and highlight some of the interesting details about organizing and leading WPvP raids in hopes of getting more people into structured World-PvP and push the boundaries into something the game never intended for us to take so seriously.
This present guide is an introductory guide to structured World-PvP. I’ve put a lot of thought and passion into this and I hope to convince you not only to give this type of content a try, but also to encourage others to raid in a more mindful manner in order to maximize their raid’s destructive potential.
Most of these ideas are probably self-evident, especially for other players who’ve had to manage large groups at any point in their gaming career, but I hope you will still find some interest reading about them. Great wisdom often begins in the simplest of matters, and I believe it is far more important to understand why we do certain things rather than what things we should be doing at any time. This, in my opinion, is what separates a good raid leader from an average one.
What is World PvP?
Simply put, World-PvP is any form of PvP that takes place in the open world between members of the opposing faction.
Structured WPvP is when a bunch of players decide to go and engage members of the opposing faction out in the open world instead of Battlegrounds.
Why would anyone do this?
Diversity: Small BGs like AB and WSG get old pretty fast, so it’s always a good idea to spice things up with some diversity. Any contested area can become your new battleground with a bit of imagination and help from your friends.
Fun: If charging against the enemy faction in their capital city screaming “FOR TEH HORDE!!11” doesn’t sound like fun
to you, or riding along 30-40 other players killing everything in your sight, or flinging wands with your mates against other 30-40 players who are also doing the same – then I’m sorry to hear that. A lot of people think it’s fun.
Fame: There’s nothing like the kind of fame that comes when the whole server knows what you did last night in Ironforge. Even the original Vanilla devs said that faction leaders were intended to just be there for bragging rights on the server.
World bosses: You’ll have an edge over the typical PvE player attempting an outdoor boss when it comes to engaging players of the opposing faction. You could use this to leverage an alliance with other guilds on your faction and prevent the enemy faction from taking what is rightfully yours!
Why would anyone not do this?
No loot: There is little honor to gain and almost no loot involved in these types of raids. As a result, a lot of players will view this type of engagement as a waste of time.
DHKs: Players looking to rank up might find themselves burdened by the prospect of getting unwanted DHKs. Though you can take measure to prevent these from happening, there’s always a risk of accidental DHKs.
What does it take to get into structured World PvP?
A lot of people are of the opinion that this sort of content requires no skill but I beg to differ. As with any sort of content, there’s always a smart way of doing things and WPvP is no different. I believe that structured WPvP has the potential of being an excellent bridge between PvE and PvP content when done right – not just by gathering a bunch of players and sending them in the same general direction.
Much like in PvE, you need to:
- have a basic understanding of other classes’ abilities, strengths, weaknesses etc.
- deal with PvE specific mechanics, especially when dealing with faction leaders
- employ various compositions and methods to maximize the potential of your classes
And similar to PvP, you need to be able to:
- adapt your strategy depending on the enemies you are facing
- be mindful of your cooldowns (and theirs) on a general level in order to create and exploit windows of opportunity
- be crafty and improvise strategies on the fly
But unlike PvE:
- you are relying more on team spirit, cooperation and community bonding to be effective
- you have to create group compositions on the fly based off non-conventional abilities and you can’t rely on people signing up and showing up for the raid
- the PvE isn’t instanced, which means you have to keep a lookout for other players
- there are very few guides and/or information related to it, you’ll have to research and test things out yourself
And unlike in PvP:
- there is not a shred of fairness involved with numbers, you can get overrun just as easily as you can overrun others
- there are no clear objectives or victory conditions, you have to create them yourself
- individual skill doesn’t count as much as group skill
- no one will have a specific talent build for WPvP, so you’ll be forced to work with PvE builds most of the time
By no means do I wish to imply that WPvP is any better than either of those, rather than it’s a different aspect of the game which puts a lot more emphasis on cooperation and improvisation, not to mention the charisma of the leader who needs to convince 40 people to take 2-3 hours of their life to try and have fun doing something that the game never intended you to do at this scale.
Structured WPvP cannot exist without PvE and PvP for more than 1-2 patches. I have tried it and I have seen this not just with my guilds, but with others as well – everything I will be discussing here: the strategy, the strengths and weaknesses, the tactics etc., they all become redundant against players who, by virtue of their raiding or PvP gear, will have upwards of twice more damage and health than you.
The fact of the matter is that you need gear and levels one way or another, and the more you do WPvP as a guild, the less time you’ll have to level and gear up. Take everything with moderation and have fun doing it!
So now that we’ve got that out of our way, let’s talk a bit about the mindset you should be getting on.
You see, with all other types of content in World of Warcraft, there is always a clearly defined goal. Clearing a raid is almost always synonymous with killing every boss in that raid. Winning a battleground is conditioned by the specific rules and scoring method specific to it.
World-PvP is nothing like that.
There are no specific goals or victory conditions. There are no rules, no limit of players, no instanced areas, no scoring system. What you’ll have to keep in mind from all of this is that anything goes in WPvP. There is no concept of fairness involved, there is no balance, no time limit, there is no victory screen for you to relish in your achievements.
This inherent ambiguity might be a little off-putting for some, but also rather stimulating for others. In World-PvP:
- YOU define YOUR objectives
- YOU decide how much YOUR raid is committed
- YOU decide YOUR victory terms
- YOU decide YOUR means of engagement
Your goal should be proportional to the amount of effort invested. Bringing 40 max level characters to camp one specific Flight Path is a loss on your part. If the same task can be achieved with 10% of what you are investing effort-wise, you’re doing a terrible job. The moment you initiate your raid, you owe your players glory, fun and satisfaction. If you manage to convince 40 people to go somewhere with the promise of fun and satisfaction, the moment you start the raid you’ve already invested a lot of effort which you’ll have to repay with the promises you’ve made. Be realistic and don’t promise more than you can deliver.
Always be looking for new objectives to accomplish. Be flexible in your approach, but don’t overextend your capabilities. Knowing how much your raid can do is equal parts instinct, research and experience as much as it is luck. Think in terms of “let’s break into Stormwind, then let’s see if we can kill their Flight Master, after that let’s try to get into the Deeprun Tram” and less like “YEAH LET’S KILL BOLVAR!!!”. You’ll have an easier time living up to other player’s expectations by doing that.
Advantages and disadvantages
Without dwelling too deep into specific class compositions, it’s always good to keep in mind what general advantages and disadvantages you have when raiding contested territory, especially enemy travel hubs of all sizes.
- Coordination: You have the advantage of being organized. Anything from communication, faster and more elaborate orders, scouting, and so forth – should be available to you.
- Preparation: You have the advantage of taking all the time in the world to prepare for the raid. Anything from theorycrafting HP values and boss abilities to understanding terrain, finding good locations to camp, stack, escape etc.
- Numerical (early in the raid): For the first 30-60 minutes of your raid you will likely benefit from having a numerical advantage over your enemy. Unless you’re hitting another raid en route to a raid or a dungeon, you should always have this advantage early in the raid.
- Element of surprise: Provided you’ve set things up right, you should always have the element of surprise to your advantage. This usually ensures that the enemy you’ll be facing will not be expecting you, making it easy to crush through their natural defense on arrival.
- NPCs: If you’re raiding enemy travel hubs or capital cities, there will be a periodic yet constant influx of NPCs you’ll have to consider. They don’t usually hit hard (except for the elites around capital cities) but they can catch some players off-guard and kill them off if they’re separated from the group. Keep in mind that every capital city has a patrolling elite with quite a bit of stealth detection, examples include Thief Catcher Thunderbrew in Ironforge and Officer Brady in Stormwind.
- Respawn time: A lot of the graveyards available to you while you’re raiding enemy territory are going to be much further away than their graveyards. Here’s an example of what you should expect while raiding Stormwind as Horde.
- No reinforcements: Generally speaking, you will not have the luxury of calling the aid of more members of your faction. Though it might be possible with the aid of Warlocks to do so, it will be a lot more likely for them to find allies willing to join in the defense of their city than it will be for you to find allies to aid in the killing of a few NPCs in an enemy city.
- Exposure: Though taking is easy, keeping an objective is an entirely different business. When in enemy territory, you are generally exposed on all sides. The way most raids fail is that players get chipped away one by one on the sides which makes it easier for the main raid to be overrun.
Always play to your strengths against your disadvantages. Use preparation to mitigate the impact NPCs will have on your raid by informing your tanks about the possible threats. Use coordination to scout and cover any blind spots if you’re camping a certain area. Sometimes it’s worth using the element of surprise and numerical advantage to disable an enemy’s ability to call in reinforcements.
Most importantly: do not throw away your advantages. Always insist that people log on to voice channels even if they are not talking. Always go to a raiding area prepared. Always tell people to refrain from using /yell and other non-sense. There’s no honor and no point in throwing these away. A few players leaving your raid because they’re too lazy to get on voice chat is nothing compared to the burden of not being able to rely on coordinating with your raid, the potential of not having the element of surprise, and so forth.
Class-by-class strengths & weaknesses
Keep in mind that no player is limited to what a class can and cannot do. I have made most of these observations through my personal interactions with other players and mostly based on what I’ve read about the class or seen in the game. There is a lot of room for individual skill involved, and you should take my subjective assessment more as a guideline for what generally tends to happen in WPvP raids from my experience.
Also, keep in mind that what I’ve considered here is often times either the leveling or the PvE raiding build, since this is what most members of your WPvP raids are mainly going to have of at any point in the game.
“The raid is there to close the gap between the enemy and their axe.”
Tanking • 4/5
Unfortunately, taunt effects have almost no effect on enemy players (though they are able to taunt pets). Most of the damage they’ll be taking will off spells so armor won’t do much. Having a huge health pool and a few abilities to mitigate some CC makes them good meat shields.
Damage • 4/5
They are top-tier damage dealers in melee but are lacking severely in range and are susceptible to CC even with their cooldowns up.
Crowd Control • 3/5
Abilities like Intimidating Shout and Piercing Howl make for very good AoE CC, and they can easily shut down casters with Pummel and Intercept. The fact that they need to be in melee range to achieve that is their main downside.
Utility • 1/5
Nothing much can be said about this. Battle Shout is a minor buff they can provide to the party, along with their ability to taunt pets off other targets.
“There’s nothing like seeing a group of mages melting huge chunks of frozen flesh parts that used to be called players.”
Tanking • 2/5
You’d be surprised how often people fall for a well timed Blink+Ice Block combo. They’re not the worst kind of tanks simply because there is a chance that they can take a lot of damage and still make it out of alive. That’s more than I can say about most other classes.
Damage • 5/5
Top-tier ranged damage, single-target and AoE. If you want to play it safe, stick to Blizzard and Frostbolt, but if you want to live dangerously you can always do an Arcane Explosion and simply melt anyone caught in Frost Nova if the raid can keep you alive.
Utility • 3/5
Conjure Food and Conjure Water are a godsend and a staple for quick recovery during and between fights. Portals to capital cities (such as Portal: Thunder Bluff) can turn a long corpse run into a quick escape. Remove Lesser Curse is the most reliable curse removal, since druids are usually somewhat of a commodity on any server. Arcane Intellect buff is not as powerful as some of the other buffs in the raid but it’s good to have on casters nonetheless.
“I’m not going to hear it! You get right back in stealth and don’t you dare come out unless it’s behind enemy lines with both daggers in their healer’s back, you hear me?”
Tanking • 1/5
Damage • 4/5
Suffering from the same drawbacks as Warriors, except you’re likely going to be more screwed once you’re out of Stealth. However, your job will more often than not involve taking down specific targets or hitting their back-line healers while everyone else is distracted. If played well, you can rank up to be one of the best and most useful damage dealers in the raid.
Crowd Control • 2/5
You stun locking combo may or may not prove useful in your 1-on-1s, but you’ll find that 9/10 times an Ambush opener on a cloth wearer to be more devastating while you’re out there surrounded by enemy players. Sap is also situational since spells and abilities will be flying all over the place. Crippling Poison will ensure you shut down a single target, if you can survive that long.
Utility • 2/5
Rogues are somewhat good at chasing and scouting enemies due to their Stealth and can really help Warlocks do some really sneaky summons behind enemy lines. In theory, Disarm Trap could be extremely useful, except that in practice 9/10 times the enemy is either going to be using AoE spells or will be casting Flare around the same area where they’ve placed traps so you won’t actually get to do anything.
“Your purpose? You pass butter – I mean, heals. Yeah, welcome to the club, pal.”
Tanking • 2/5
You’ll be surprised to know that Priests can soak up a bit of damage themselves, with spells like Power Word: Shield, resistance to interrupts via Martyrdom, Healing Focus, Unbreakable Will and Spell Warding with spells like Inner Fire adding to your overall durability. Being able to Dispel Magic CC off you is also handy. Don’t bite more than you can chew though, you’ll still get pummeled by most classes.
Damage • 1/5
Shadow priests might be the gods of 1vs1 but you’ll find yourself out of mana soon enough in a group setting. There’s no reliable AoE, and your single target spells won’t see instant casts like a Shadow Bolt with Nightfall and won’t reliably CC like Frostbolt even with Blackout. The fact that they burn a lot of mana really quickly makes them completely useless in a setting where they get no chance to recover their mana.
Crowd Control • 2/5
Spells like Psychic Scream are very devastating if timed right. In prolonged fights, I’ve seen priests trying to use Mind Control to lure unsuspecting victims in LoS inside the main raid successfully. Both are definitely good spells, but long cooldowns coupled with LoS requirements make these unreliable in a group environment, same as Blackout.
Utility • 5/5
Two words: versatile healing – and I mean big heals, small heals, AoE heals, HoT and preventative healing. Add the ability to Resurrection on top of that and you’ve probably got one of the best support classes out there. Mind Vision is also a good scouting ability, albeit not on my top list of favorites because there’s other classes that can do that better and I often can’t afford to have priests stuck in channeling. They take the top spot also due to their ability to Dispel Magic and Abolish Disease too, not to mention easily buffing your entire raid with Power Word: Fortitude.
“A totem for any kind of weather – storming, snowing, burning, or otherwise.”
Tanking • 1/5
Nothing in your kit sustains it.
Damage • 2/5
I’ll give them a point for being able to sustain some ranged damage with Lightning Bolt as well as annoy healers with Earth Shock. I’ve heard some memes about Enchancement Shamans, never actually seen any in the outdoors and judging from the videos I’ve watched, if you need BWL gear and stars aligned so that you can do a proper 1vs1 then there’s not much place for Elemental Shamans in WPvP either.
Crowd Control • 2/5
Frost Shock will annoy the hell out of any target you’re trying to single out, Ghost Wolf can definitely allow you to catch-up to your targets and chase them down if you need to and land an Earthbind Totem, or run away from fights if things get ugly.
Utility • 5/5
Besides having a decent healing kit as well as a resurrection spell in the form of Ancestral Spirit, they have a variety of tools they can adapt to almost any situation. Tremor Totem is a good tool against abilities like Psychic Scream or Howl of Terror. Abilities such as Windwall Totem can assist the Warriors in the front line taking shots from the Hunters, Mana Tide Totem can assist your healers and Windfury Totem can ramp up the damage during a close encounter. The ability to Cure Poison and Cure Disease can also come in handy sometimes. Adding to this, they’ve got one of the best kits for scouting in the game in the form of Far Sight, especially in places with a lot of flat ground like Wetlands. Sentry Totem is a bit more tricky to use but it’s definitely worth mentioning.
“You are there to piss people off.”
Tanking • 3/5
No, I’m not talking about any Aspect of the Monkey shenanigans here, I’m talking about their pets. A lot of the adds and targets you’re going to be facing in WPvP will be NPCs, which are susceptible to Growl. A mob your pet can tank is an extra Warrior I can assign to do something else. On top of that, you’ll often be assigned to kite mobs (such as the gryffins that flight masters summon when engaged) and adds.
Damage • 3/5
You are not going to be known for your insane damaging abilities as much as the insane range at which you can deal them, and given that you’ll be assigned to other duties during the fight it’s unlikely you’re going to be ranking against other ranged characters. Your main job as a damage dealer, when you’re not setting traps or kiting enemies that is, will be to support the Mages and Warlocks with ranged fire. A well timed Viper Sting can piss off the enemy healers as well.
Crowd Control • 5/5
If there is a time and place to play a Survival hunter, this is it. Frost Trap is probably one of the best abilities you can use against large groups. Wing Clip and Concussive Shot for single target is also good. Sadly, Scatter Shot and Wyvern Sting will be of limited use in larger groups since damage is going to be flying all over the place. A special note here: even though Hunter’s Mark does absolutely nothing in terms of CC, I advise players to always be using it against other targets. That big mark on their head animation will make most people enter panic mode and think they’re getting focused. Psychological CC.
Utility • 4/5
Most hunters will not be specced into Trueshot Aura before level 60, and as damage doesn’t take priority over utility in a WPvP raid, I would advise against putting a Hunter in a group that benefits a lot from this buff (such as Rogues/Warriors etc.) over a Shaman or a Priest, unless I really had no other choice. The ability to Track Humanoids can also prove useful when camping graveyards, whereas Flare can provide a safe spot against Rogues. For scouting, they have Eyes of the Beast which is very good at scouting areas which are closed off and Eagle Eye for open spaces, similar to the Shaman’s Far Sight. Keep in mind that normally, Eagle Eye is not chainable like Far Sight. You’ll have to write a specific macro to be able to do that (/cast !Eagle Eye). With this small change, Hunters probably have the best scouting tools available in the game.
“Thrall’s sake, who dropped their Infernals in Goldshire again? Have you no soul?”
Tanking • 4/5
Yeah, you heard me right. Balls to the wall when I tell you that a Warlock can reach inhuman levels of survivability in WPvP with Healthstone, Death Coil, Sacrifice, Soulstone – and with Fel Domination you may be able to quickly Summon Voidwalker and do Sacrifice again, not to mention Drain Life and Siphon Life with Spellstone for an added magic shield. You’re still susceptible to CC however, and you should keep in you have no mobility. If you want to get a 5/5 in tanking, do a Soul Link build with Nightfall and walk slowly but steadily with someone who can dispel behind you.
Damage • 5/5
Ability to assist Mages AoE with Rain of Fire? Check. Ability to assist mages in single target with Shadow Bolt? Check. Ability to piss off every category of enemy imaginable via DoTs and Curses? Double check. Can last forever in combat provided they have a healer behind them? Sure thing. A few lucky Nightfall procs and a Shadowburn for burst and they won’t know what hit them. You’ll likely top the overall damage meters on prolonged fights.
Crowd Control • 4/5
Single target chainable Fear, close-range AoE Howl of Terror, ranged AoE stun with Inferno and maybe an unreliable Seduction although you shouldn’t be using it in a group setting. Lose points for being a more situational kit rather than a fundamental one, as with Mages and Hunters.
Utility • 5/5
The Imp’s Blood Pact ability will stack with Power Word: Fortitude. The ability to Ritual of Summoning your entire raid from point A to point B will drastically shorten the travel time of your raid and allow for some insane tactics and strategies. Healthstone are a free potion for anyone in your raid if you can be bothered to farm that many shards. Soulstone is a free ress on a crucial party member (or yourself). Eye of Kilrogg functions like Eyes of the Beast and is an amazing scouting tool overall. The ability to put on a few worthless buffs like Unending Breath and Detect Invisibility can work as protection against enemies trying to Purge buffs off your raid, though this rarely happens outside regular PvP.
“Bear with me on this.”
Tanking • 5/5
Best tanks in WPvP, period. Shapeshifting in and out of Bear Form will break movement impairing effects on them, and with their ability to maneuver around the battlefield easily and have large health pools, I prefer use them for everything that’s not an NPC in combat – which is mostly everything.
Damage • 1/5
Safe to say it’s not their strongest suit. In Feral they might be able to output something akin to a Rogue, but it’s not what I generally expect them to do.
Utility • 3/5
They can function as backup healers in case you need them, and Rebirth can save some accidental deaths.Leader of the Pack and Mark of the Wild are both mediocre buffs to have in a WPvP environment. I haven’t done any calculations but I can’t honestly say I’d take a Druid in Moonkin Form over an extra mage at face value, though I’ve never actually seen a Moonkin in Vanilla. Apart from what I’ve listed, their utility function is akin to that of a Rogue, in that they are able to scout the enemy up close, and with Track Humanoids perhaps even better.
“A talking lamppost – yeah, Ironforge is full of them.”
My only experience with Paladins is from the other side of the field. Most of them just look like yellow bubbles of scrap that come into my raid and die 10 seconds afterwards. We usually let them do their little dance and then we kill them. They don’t do a lot of damage on their own but they can heal, so I guess that works for them. If you’re going to play one, then I guess it’s worth telling you to try and use Goblin Sapper Charge if you’re trying to do a suicide run. Or don’t do a suicide run all-together. Stay in the back and heal, your friends are going to need it.
Roles and Command
When forming a WPvP raid I recommend the following simple structure when it comes to the distribution of roles and command. Keep in mind that this advice isn’t mandatory for every raid and is only a guideline for you to consider in terms of management. I highly encourage choosing a set of markers for your raids and sticking with them almost every raid. When managing multiple raids, make sure that the people in the second raids are using the same markers for the raid leader and the pivots as well. Everyone needs to be on the same page when you issue orders. Any additional raid should not use any other markers than what the original raid is using.
1x Raid Leader
You’ll be preparing the tactics, announcing, initiating and disbanning the raid, arranging the players in groups, assigning marks and handing tasks, explaining tactics, stacking the group periodically, making assessment of enemies in your area, taking decisions on group and raid level and coordinating wipe recovery. Also, you’ll be periodically reminding people of all of the above while also keeping morale up.
2x Raid Assist Officer
Assign two Officers from your core to assist in inviting new members to the party. They will also be moving people around if people start leaving and start announcing your raid in /trade or /general if you want to invite people from outside your guild. They will also be responsible for relaying messages back and forth in the chat because your eyes will have to be on the raid and the environment around you. I also advise giving them a list of simple /rw macros, something that says “FORWARD / STACK / AOE” etc. – in order to use when you issue such commands. The reason for this is that even if people are in voice channel, they’ll sometimes dose off or fade out every now and then, so there’s always a chance they’ll be left out of your instructions. Also, it is helpful to have others who can take over for you if something should happen to you, so this is also one way of getting them used to handling large raids.
It is very important that you choose at least 2 pivots for orientation in your raid. Since your raid will be constantly moving, you’ll need at least two markers (other than yourself) – one for the melee and one for the backline. I usually put it on main tank and one of the healers. This helps tremendously when telling people to either move forward (with the tank) or retreat (towards the healer). I do not recommend using all the markers available because that confuses the hell out of people. For pivots, choose the players with the best chance of staying alive and following orders.
1x Raid Assist Melee
Finally, give your main tank the ability to mark very important enemies. Assuming you are in range, it is always important to consider the possibility that you might not see an important target that’s in melee range. Save one marker for the main tank to liberally use on targets which the raid should be focusing on.
Calling out individual names is also a key aspect to your role as a raid leader. Be familiar with the players of your guild and raid. Have it in your mind to call out at least one member of every separate class from your raid in case you need anything specific, like a Hunter using Frost Trap while retreating or a Shaman using Far Sight to scout ahead. Calling out individual names makes people more alert and engaged in the raid, whereas saying “I need a shaman to do this” diffuses the responsibility among all the shamans and often times it either ends up with no shaman doing anything or most shamans doing the same thing.
Because there’s no loot involved in WPvP, you can never be too sure who is going to show up for your raids at any hour, even if it’s just members of your own guild. Your job as a raid leader is to maximize the potential of whatever dynamic raid composition you have in order to succeed in your mission. How you build your raid composition can also vary depending on what it is you are attempting to do with that raid.
Keep in mind that complexity will work against you if you push it to unreasonable lengths. Do not create roles for other people unless they are strictly needed! It is far more important for every player in your raid to understand what everyone is tasked with doing than for you to live off an RP fantasy by assigning only specific people to specific roles for very specific tasks and making everyone read through pointless walls of text.
No matter how complex the task is, if you can’t explain it in 30 seconds to someone, it’s not worth doing – and if you’re thinking about creating a special role in your guild for doing that task, please don’t. The simpler the rank structure, the better for the raid.
An example of how I would try to group up players in a typical raid would be to have:
- Main line: Warriors + Shaman(WF/WW totem) / Priest (AoE heals) / Hunter (Trueshot Aura)
- Flanking group: Mages (Frost Nova) + Warrior (Intimidating Shout) / Warlock (Howl of Terror)
- Front line: Druid + Warlock (Blood Pact+Healthstone+Soulstone) / Shaman (Tremor Totem) / Priest (PW:S)
- Healer back-line: Rogue / Hunter(to protect against other Rogues) + Shaman(Mana Tide) + any combination of healers
However, if we were to attempt a faction leader, I would adopt a more PvE oriented raid setup to try and maximize damage out over survivability. You are free to experiment with all sorts of groups and come up with ideas on how to maximize the perks of every class. The general rule of thumb here is that players and abilities will tend to be focused more on the members of their party.
It also goes without saying that you should take your time to rebuff your entire raid periodically. Using consumables for these sort of raids is normally a bit too much to ask, but there is one exception I would like to make for a little known list of +12 Stamina food buffs.
I highly recommend using the +12 Stamina food buffs (such as Monster Omelet, Tender Wolf Steak etc.) for your raid, by distributing them through mail or in person before the raid starts. It might not seem much, but taking an average health of 2500, a 12 stamina increase is around a flat 5% increase in survivability for your entire raid at almost no expense. The materials to cook this food are very common and the food buff in itself is cheap to farm. Consider asking your guild to send extra meats required to cook any of these buffs to your bank alt or create an event to farm these meats with low-levels yourself!
Morale and attitude
The importance of attitude is also another thing which should not be neglected. If your attitude is negative, it will transfer unto your raid, people will start being grumpy, frustrated, fatigued and tired. Normally, in a PvE setting, people might still put up with that for the sake of loot and progress, because the raid lead hasn’t pushed it as far as to make it worthwhile to quit everything and find something else to do. You do not have that luxury in a WPvP raid. If people aren’t enjoying what you are saying or doing, if you’re pissing them off or start talking down to them, they’ll find something else to do without a second thought.
Someone looking over raid frames and seeing over half the people either disconnected or dead is demoralizing and it makes people stop caring so much about staying alive and doing anything useful. This is why it is important to bring players of appropriate levels and not just pour in as many players as you can. Numbers don’t mean anything if you can’t play to your advantages with them.
Try to minimize the downtime of travel time. Walking alongside a group of 30-40 raid members is a fine sight for about 5 minutes, afterwards it becomes a drag on their nerves and excitement. If you can make a Warlock and two other players show up early and find a good summoning spot, then by all means do it.
Finally, keep in mind that no one enjoys wiping again and again against the same foe by trying the same things. Either try something new after every wipe or change objectives entirely.
One final important aspect I’d like to address in this section is wipe recovery. The only way to recover from a wipe is by having everyone walk back to their corpses and recover at the same time. This sort of exercise is also going to be useful for outdoor bosses like Azuregos and Taerar who have mechanics that counter people resurrecting when they’re not supposed to resurrect. Not only that, but allowing players to just walk back to their corpses and resurrect whenever they feel like it can lead to some nasty chaining of pointless deaths.
If there are only a few people here and there, either try to resurrect them or have them walk back to their corpses and wait in unison. Move your raid over to their location in order to recover them before proceeding on to your objective. Nobody likes to be left out and if they are left behind then it’s unlikely they’re going to want to join your next raid.
It will be up to you to make sure that people don’t wander off during fights and also find the best spot to resurrect and recover. Take all necessary precautions to have between 30-60 seconds to fully recover and buff up. In extreme situations, it might be worth telling players to not use certain buffs in order to speed up wipe recovery, such as Arcane Intellect or Mark of the Wild and only stick to important ones like Power Word: Fortitude.
Here I will discuss some of the most basic tactics when organizing and leading WPvP raids.
Whatever you do, do not send your raid through tight corridors against an enemy. Whenever you pass a corridor, send a rogue ahead of your group to see if there’s any surprises waiting on the other side. I mean it – 3 mages can kill your entire group in a chokehold whether you’re sending 20, 40 or 100 people.
Always tell players to refrain from using /yell or anything that could signal your arrival.
Always assess the level of the mobs around the area you want to invade, especially if not everyone is level 60 yet. Always kill the mobs whenever they’re tagging allied players, unless you’re about to hit an enemy raid or boss. Biggest threat always takes priority, but don’t expect other players to dismount and help someone who’s just been dazed off their mount – dismount yourself and do it!
Use the lowest mount speed accessible to all the group. If there are only a few players who fall outside of main group’s speed, it is acceptable to throw them a summon once you get close to the main objective. Otherwise – don’t. Group cohesion, teamwork, not being spread out etc. is far more important than you (or any other player) making it to the next checkpoint 30 seconds before the others.
Don’t overemphasize the power of stacking. There is no sure and quicker way to lose an encounter than by putting all the players in one small area for all the mages to have fun blasting you to bits.
Attrition will never work out in your favor and you should only end up in this form of encounter if your sole intention is to camp a particular spot (like the Stormwind Flight Master). Do not put yourself in a position of attrition in enemy territory because it will wear your raid down eventually.
If you are into attrition, always create a buffer zone for your healers to exit combat and resurrect others and to give casters a chance to eat and drink. If players should die, remind them to do so within the LoS of the healers if they can help it. Try to push your raid forward to disable the enemy from creating a buffer zone themselves in order to waste their mana and force them to retreat in order to regain it.
Do not call to waste any cooldowns on any random wanderers but keep your eyes focused on their main group. Likewise, try and force them to back up and use their cooldowns on a bunch of random Mages blinking in and casting Ice Block before pushing out with your main force.
If there’s only one point of entrance, constantly nuke it. It’s not just about dealing damage, it’s also about telling them that there’s a long corpse run ahead if they attempt to cross that choke. Keeping it constantly under AoE will either make them think you have a lot of Mages and Warlocks, or that they’ve run out of mana – and in either case, if you manage to pull it off, you’ll be deceiving them. Don’t forget that all warfare is based on deception.
In order to maintain pressure on a choke point, instruct your casters to use Rank 1 Blizzard and Rain of Fire and to swap them for max rank if the enemy starts pushing. You can save a lot of mana that way and the enemy won’t know the difference!
Keep an eye on the healer’s mana the same way you keep an eye on your raid’s health. They are one and the same.
Against players of higher levels, keep in mind that most spells against them will be resisted but they can still be targeted (and killed) with melee attacks.
Don’t hesitate to use images to explain your thoughts better. I usually just grab the map of an area from the Internet and I draw simple lines in Paint. It might look silly, but it gets the job done right and it doesn’t take me more than 5-10 minutes to set it up.
Since this is an introductory guide, I won’t be getting into the details of each and every single area.
Simply put, this is simplest and most accessible manner of whacking unsuspecting enemies. Simply swarming them with a bunch of players and make those unfair odds pay off. This is what most people who organize WPvP raids tend to do and this is what most WPvP raids tend to end up like when coordination is entirely absent.
How it’s done
You point in one direction, and everyone rushes there in whatever order and kills everything in sight. It is a low skill, low effort call that’s effective inversely proportional to the enemy’s level, gear, skill and coordination.
When do I use zerging?
When I just need an area cleared of all NPCs and players and we’re clearly outleveling and outnumbering them. It is far easier to just let all the raid overrun everything in front of me than start appointing groups of people to take on groups of NPCs.
This is probably the second most likely thing to do right after zerging an area. If you’re going to want to capture an objective and secure it, you have to work with your advantages against your disadvantages. Use the element of surprise to overrun their guards, players and other defenses. Use preparation to secure every point of access. Use your (temporary) numerical advantage to kill anyone attempting to gain access to your objectives. And finally, use coordination to scout in order prevent the enemy from regrouping, peeling off your group, and so forth.
How it’s done
- Step 1: Identify all possible routes of access inside your objective. Paths, boats, flight masters, anything.
- Step 2: Assign scouts on each of these points of entry.
- Step 3: Move the main raid towards the most likely pace of entry. If there are boats (Auberdine, Menethil etc.) form a raiding party to kill every person on sight on each of the boats whenever they arrive.
- Step 4 (optional): Assign a Rogue and a Hunter (for tracking) at their nearest graveyard to kill whoever is going to be taking resurrection sickness.
- Step 5 (extra caution): Dispatch a group of mounted players to patrol the entire area around your objective to look for signs of the enemy forming a group anywhere.
When do I use camping?
Whenever I need/want to secure an area, I tend to follow those five steps. Anything less than what I just wrote there and you’re exposing your raid to all kinds of nasty. Below I’ve drawn a simple example of how I do a takeover of Menethil Harbor. Since the most likely point of entry is through by flight path, I keep the main raid there. I assign one group to patrol boats every ~2 minutes or so whenever they arrive, a camping group to kill everyone at the graveyard and a roaming group to set the Wetlands on fire.
Over the past months I’ve come up with a lot more ideas than I’ve had time to test, but in order to show you the potential of structured WPvP I wanted to showcase two of my favorite strategies which I have tried and tested.
This is singularly my favorite way of breaking stalemates on large groups. It is not terribly difficult to pull off but I did put it in the advanced category because it is not something generally accessible without a bit of preparation, a lot of communication and a clear knowledge of the area in question.
For this I will refer to the setup proposed in the raid composition chapter. The flanking group is deployed out of sight by the enemy and enters the main enemy bulk. The main raid then pushes through the choke point unhindered and overruns the enemy. The dangers of this is that the flanking group may be intercepted en route to their destination, though it is rare for that to happen since most enemies will not have the kind of coordination and experience necessary to prevent that. It has only happened to me once in a raid where my flanking group was ambushed by two rogues who were trying to get to my back line in Stormwind.
In very extreme cases you can pull this off with an entire raid and result in an encirclement. Below I showcase a situation whereas we provoked a raid to move unto the bridge in Redridge only to have them encircled and killed in that small pocket within seconds.
I’ve detailed this maneuver in a different guide I had made a while ago on my guild’s old website. The idea here is to split the entire raid into groups of 5, deploy them in specific area and have them wait for the signal to initiate transit. Once all the groups are in position and the signal to start is given, all groups begin roaming in a specific direction on a predefined circuit.
What this does is it effectively shuts down an entire area of questing. Taking one questing hub often doesn’t do much to stop players from leveling in that area, since they can share quests among each other and most of the time they’ll be spending in that area will be outside of these questing hubs.
What’s even more brilliant is that this tactic aims to utilize something which is usually a downside to your advantage. If players actually went down the exact routes I’ve drawn, with the same speed and everything then a smart enemy player could take note of this and just avoid the path they take to continue questing. Instead, the bound randomness of their movement, different speeds, different paths they will take – works to your advantage in order to remain unpredictable. An enemy observer would have no idea when or where a group might be coming at any point.
How did you come up with these ideas? This sounds a lot like DaoC or GW2.
You’re right! For a few years I played on the #1 WvW European server in Guild Wars 2 (SFR). I’ve had the pleasure to learn from some of the best commanders there and I wanted to apply some of that magic in World of Warcraft as well. Combat there was a little bit more intense but it’s just as fun.
Where did you get these gifs from?
All of the gifs used in this guide are from Youtube videos with / involving my guild. I didn’t record any of them myself.
Do you get harassed or threatened for doing what you do?
Not generally, no. I think on some level even Alliance players like seeing these sorts of things, even if it’s pissing them off sometimes.
Have you thought about playing Alliance on Classic?
Yes, I have! Apart from the aesthetics and the emotional attachment, the problem I have is that there aren’t as many interesting zones to contest as Alliance the way I see it. The Barrens is not contested, Stonetalon Mountains is kind of lame and the zepellins (unlike the boats) are placed in non-contested areas. The capital cities are also a lot lamer to enter – getting into Orgrimmar or Undercity is practically a joke. I also feel like the Horde racials are a lot better for this sort of content.
Aren’t you concerned about revealing any “secrets” that could be affecting your raids in the future?
Not at all! I’ve plenty more ideas and strats than I can think of, and there’s barely anything crucial. I mean, if you want to take arms against 40+ people showing up in STV to kill everything in sight you’re still going to be facing 40+ people who are expecting a fight in STV, whether you understand we’re roaming the entire map or not.
I’m no more worried about Alliance players using this guide against me than anyone reading a guide on how to kill Azuregos to try and kill it before we do. At the end of the day, you’ll still have to scout, get 40 people summoned there and fend off anyone else trying to contest it, and that guide isn’t going to help you too much if I’m doing the same and I have more people and better gear than you.
How do you manage recruitment for this sort of content?
You’d be surprised how many people have joined my guild just for the pure fun of it! In all server launches I’ve witnessed, we could fill up 3-4 guilds worth of players with how excited people were to engage in this sort of content. Of course, those numbers would eventually tone down to the size of a guild, but if private servers were anything to go by I’d say there’s definitely a lot of potential for this type of content. Just listen to this guy talk about his experience with us.
Is there any literature on the subject of military maneuvers you might recommend?
Start with Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” and make your way up to picking your favorite generals from WW2. I wholeheartedly recommend this thesis on the operational principles of Rommel and Montgomery. There’s also plenty of Youtube channels you can explore with all sorts of interesting studies on ancient historical battles.
I don’t think more than 1% of that is applicable to WoW, but it sure is a lot of fun trying!
I’d be interested in joining your guild on Classic, is there any way I could contact you?
Certainly! Feel free to join my Discord server (HgZrsqh) or add me as a friend on Discord (Nymix#2265) if you want to hear more about it.
I’d like to thank the owner of this website for helping me a lot with formatting this guide as well as hosting it on this wonderful forum. He’s done such a good job at preserving the Vanilla aesthetics and I wouldn’t see this guide featured in any other place.
I still have a lot more to say about WPvP and a lot more to try out once Classic WoW comes out. I haven’t even touched on concerns such as intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence measures, gear and consumables I’d recommend, world bosses, the importance of diplomacy and forming coalitions with other guilds, avoiding DHKs, RP events, reputation and recruitment, roles within your guild, ganking other guilds, so on and so forth.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my thorough introductory guide to structured WPvP. If there are any major mistakes I’ve made, please don’t hesitate to contact me as I will most likely do an update every 3 months or so. I will gladly take any opportunity to advance my knowledge provided you stand with a good argument and an open mind!
There is no gear involved, no rankings, no clear goals or anything that you might traditionally expect from doing any activity in WoW – and with that in mind, the world is yours to take.