There's Something About Alterac Valley

About ten days ago, Blizzard dropped the patch that introduced battlegrounds to WoW Classic, or at least the first two: Warsong Gulch and Alterac Valley. I've never been a huge fan of the former, but I did want to get in on the action in the latter. Conveniently I even dinged 60 just in time to not be completely useless.

Now, queueing for battlegrounds doesn't work the same way in Classic as it does in retail and other modern MMOs. There's no convenient button to just enter the queue from anywhere in the world. There aren't even battlemasters in the capital cities yet, though I do seem to recall those being there in late Vanilla... maybe Classic will get them in a later phase as well.

As it stands though, the only way to join a match of WSG or AV is to leg it to Ashenvale or Alterac and dutifully bump your nose up against the instance entrance for the battleground to make a queue prompt appear. And then you sit there and wait.

While queues are cross-server and I'm sure that's good for queue times overall, it also means that Horde being the smaller faction on Pyrewood Village has exactly zero effect on our queue times, as we get thrown in with all those PvP servers with a Horde majority and therefore need to wait for enough Alliance players to line up to make up the numbers just like everyone else. Initially queue times were only about eight minutes, but since then they've increased to about twenty minutes at times.

This is annoying because that's a really long time to just stand around and wait (you'll have to tap your character at least a couple of times to not get logged out for being AFK), but Classic being what it is, it's also not really enough time to go out and do some quests in the meantime. (Not to mention that you need to be back at the door anyway to queue for the next match once you're done.) Worse, sometimes the matches can be so quick that you spend way more time sitting in the queue than actually playing.

Yeah, if you thought Classic was going to be a return to those "epic" week-long AV matches that people always talk about so fondly...  prepare to be disappointed. Personally I had no expectations of that nature myself, based on my experiences with Vanilla AV on private servers, but I was still kind of stunned by how many matches were over in less than ten minutes. The very first "introduction to AV" quest you pick up near the entrance asks you to retrieve a banner from a cave near your base and I failed it several times simply because I couldn't fight my way to the back of the cave quickly enough before the match was already over again, even if I made a straight beeline for the objective the moment the gates opened.

Sadly it's simply a classic case of WoW players needing to be saved from themselves. It was interesting to watch conversations about this in guild chat, as they basically came down to everyone agreeing that five-minute rushes to the end were not fun, but a lot of people still insisting that everyone should be doing the thing that's not fun anyway to optimise their honour per hour. To me, this is the problem with WoW players in a nutshell.

Fortunately AV is too big for the fun police to enforce anything efficiently. While there may be general moaning that "people" should be doing this or that, nobody really cares about any particular individual going off to do their own thing, unless you go AFK in a blatantly obvious spot, so I've spent a lot of time simply trying to get various quests done.

I previously expressed excitement about acquiring the Ice Barbed Spear for example, but I'd forgotten that this very same quest actually also rewards a pretty sweet crossbow, so I went for that instead as it provided more of an immediate benefit. Mind you, I'd never come across a crossbow before during my entire time levelling, so my weapon skill with them was 1. I entered my next AV match without realising that you can't increase your weapon skill in battlegrounds... let's just say that next match was a bit of an oopsie.

Anyway, once I'd got that sorted out, my main motivation to keep playing was reputation, not honour (though I'm up to rank 2, "Grunt", right now - woo). Interestingly, reputation vendors in Classic don't even let you see their wares if you don't have the right reputation level, so there's no window shopping and sighing over the goodies you'll hopefully acquire soon. You've got to look up the rewards outside the game or be surprised.

One thing I had looked up were arrows, because I hadn't seen an opportunity to upgrade my arrows since I switched to jagged arrows at level 40. Research led me to Thorium Headed Arrows as the ultimate endgame ammo, but they can only be acquired by crafting Thorium Shells from a rare schematic and then trading them in at a vendor... not particularly appealing to a casual player like me.

However, you could also get arrows that are slightly worse than the Thorium ones but better than jagged by reaching honoured with your AV faction, so that's what I went for. Simply being able to buy those from a vendor was going to be much more straightforward than the whole song and dance surrounding Thorium arrows, even if they could only be purchased from the AV reputation vendor near Tarren Mill.

I did get that done eventually and was pleasantly surprised that the vendor also had upgrades for another couple of my gear slots at honoured reputation. Not pre-raid best in slot or anything like that, but better than what I had so I was happy.

We'll see whether/when I continue with my rep grind. Looking up the list of potential rewards for revered and exalted, there are a couple more items that would be nice to have as a hunter; I'm just not much of a grinder. That said, every now and then it can be fun to camp in the AV cave waiting for queue pops while doing something else on the side (such as write a blog post like this one).

I'm not the only one resisting the rush-rush meta and while I'm not sure the long wait times are ultimately worth it, my matches have been interesting more often than boring. Even my win/loss ratio hasn't been too bad considering that AV is notorious for favouring the Alliance. And it does fill a unique niche of hybrid PvE/PvP content that I don't really get anywhere else.


  1. It is both sad and funny that Alterac Valley in Classic will never be the way it was because enough of the player base prizes speed and efficiency over everything else. I remember people talking about the fun of seeing hours or days long AV battles again. We all know too much now for it to be the same as it was. Well, I guess it could be, but Blizzard would likely have to make a non-Classic version of AV in order to have it work like the AV of nostalgia.

  2. You can queue for, and enter battlegrounds from capital cities now. The battlemasters are where they always were - Kartra Bloodsnarl (AV) and Brakgul Deathbringer (WSG) are in the Valley of Honor in Orgimmar.

    1. Hm, I'll have to check that out next time I have a chance. I just saw everyone crowding the entrance in the Alterac Mountains, plus a Google search led me to speculations about when battlemasters would be added to Classic, so I assumed that they weren't there yet.

  3. At least for alliance the battle masters exist.

    > but I was still kind of stunned by how many matches were over in less than ten minutes.

    The alliance has no queue. Which means you can build premades as alliance, just queue until everyone gets into the same AV. This might not be fun for horde, because the lose in under 10 minutes.

    But it's also not fun for all the alliance that isn't part of these premades. The non-premade games lack tanks, healers and dedicated PvP players. My games, as alliance, are always 30-60 minutes and I lose about 9 out of 10. And often we even fail to kill Galv, which results in terrible reputation / hour.

    Oh, and good choice, as far as I know the "pretty sweet crossbow" is BiS until the leaf quest bow.

    1. That certainly matches my very mixed experiences with the opposition as Horde. I've seen people moan about Alliance premades and been absolutely steamrolled in minutes, but I've also been up against hesitant teams whose first offensive gets destroyed at Galv and then they never recover. So I get some variety at least!

  4. Lovely post thanks for posting