At the request of one of my readers who wanted to know some basics on battlegrounds, here is the first part of what I hope to be a couple of posts on this subject. I certainly make no claims to be a battlegrounds expert by any means, but I've played quite a few and I put together a guide that I sort of wish I'd had when I was starting out.
The Basics: Capture-the-flag. Horde and Alliance each have a base, and you have to run into the enemy's base, grab their flag, and bring it back to your own (with your own flag still intact.) Capture the flag three times to win a match.
General Strategies: This varies. Different people have different ideas. Some people like to leave a couple people on defense, others like to group up and rush en masse to the other base. After you have played the game a bit, you will sort of get an idea for what types of things are common, where the typical hiding places are, that sort of thing. Stealthed classes, for example, like to hang out in your base and capture your flag when you least expect it (like five seconds after the flag has been returned to your base). Ranged classes or casters will get onto the roof and shoot you; fortunately we hunters can usually shoot back. *grin*
Your Role as a Hunter: Again, this will vary. But I think that hunters make very good members of the defensive team. You have freezing traps to lay down in front of the flag (if you're Alliance, the blue trap sort of blends in with the blue flag, so it works out awesomely), you have Track Humanoids so you can see who's coming and announce it to the team, and you have Concussive Shot and Wing Clip to slow the enemy down. You also have Hunter's Mark, which you can pop onto whoever has your flag, so your entire team can see that person on the minimap. If you are a night elf, you can hide your pet in the corner behind a wall (or have him use prowl), and then shadowmeld yourself, so you can catch any intruders by surprise.
Hunters also make good offense and are good flag-capturers, largely in part to Aspect of the Cheetah, since when you have the flag you cannot mount. Aspect of the Beast can also be useful so their own hunters (and druids) won't see you coming! Again, crowd control really shines here (it's good for essentially this whole battleground), if you're being chased just throw down a freezing or frost trap or fire off a Concussive Shot, then turn on Aspect of the Cheetah and make a break for your base. Keep Track Humanoids/Track Hidden on (pesky rogues!) so you don't inadvertently run into any members of the opposing faction on your way there.
My honest opinion is that druids often make the best flag-runners, as they can stealth in and then travel-form out. They can also heal if they have to. But really, anybody can do it, and hunters are very capable of it.
Capturing the Flag!: To capture the flag you run right up to your own flag and it "caps" automatically. Do remember that if your own flag is AWOL, you can't capture the enemy one. In that case your best bet is to find a spot to hide, hopefully with some people guarding you, while the rest of your team goes out and tries to hunt down your flag.
No matter what you are doing, as a hunter, be sure that you are aware of your surroundings and that you are able to broadcast these to the team. If you are on defense, use Flare a lot to check for rogues. If you look on your minimap and see people coming to the base, announce it: "[number of people] inc", (where "inc" stands for "incoming"), or something along those lines. If you see the flag carrier on your minimap, click on them so it will do that little circle thing that shows the other people in your party where they are.
The Basics: King of the Hill. There are five areas on the field for you to capture (they are captured by clicking on a flag, and waiting a bit for it to change colors). If you capture one, your faction starts earning resources. The more you have captured, the faster you earn resources (and if you manage to capture all five, you earn resources at a ridiculous rate and you've pretty much won.) The first faction to 2000 resources wins.
General Strategies: Again, like Warsong Gulch, there are people who like to group up and steamroll all the flags one at a time. Typically I think it's best to leave a few people at each flag for defense.
If you get into this battleground for the first or second time and don't know what's going on, defense is almost always appreciated. Plant yourself down by a flag, preferably with a teammate or two, rotate between Track Humanoids, Track Hidden, and Track Beasts (for those druids), pop a Flare every so often, and be on the lookout for the other team.
Your Role as a Hunter: As with Warsong Gulch, hunters will be good for defense for all the same reasons. Although in this battleground, I think it's less about slowing the enemy down as it is about actually fighting them and beating them. The other team will try and capture your flag that you're guarding, but because it's a static flag-- it doesn't move-- they can capture it, and then if you manage to kill them afterwards, you can recapture it very quickly. So there's not the whole run-in-run-out thing that goes on with WSG.
You will be good for offense because you can shoot people from far away. It's what we're for, afterall! =P Eagle Eye is another great tool here, if you're at some high ground and want to see if, say, there are people at Blacksmith (the middle area of the map), use Eagle Eye on it and then report to your team what you see.
General PvP: The lower level battlegrounds... the 10-19 bracket and the 20-29 bracket, in particular... will be full of twinks, or players who spend hundreds of gold to deck themselves out in the best possible gear for their bracket. If the other team has a lot of twinks and you are just wearing normal questing gear, be prepared to spend a lot of time in the graveyard, waiting to rez. I'm not saying you'll be 100% useless against a twink, but... you won't have an easy time.
A really good healer can often make or break the game. I always, always try to compliment good healers when they show up, because they seem to be rare and I want them to know that their skills are appreciated.
Stamina is good. Honestly I don't have dedicated PvP gear (not right now, anyway), but if you want to get some, be sure it has lots of stamina. You will live longer, and thus do damage for a longer amount of time.
Spec is a matter of personal preference. Marks/Surv seems to be the perennial PvP favorite, and for good reason; there are all sorts of helpful PvP talents in those trees. Furthermore, if your pet dies (this seems to happen the most often in AV) you can still do a lot of damage. But a really good BM hunter is a truly frightening and awe-inspiring sight, and as my brother is fond of saying, "There's nothing scarier in battlegrounds than a Beast Mastery hunter." I have seen BM hunters just devour the rest of the field like nobody's business. However, it's a lot harder to be BM in PvP than it is in PvE, because you have to spend a lot of time watching your pet and keeping it alive. Anyways, I think a lot of dedicated PvPers choose to spec MM/SV instead, and that can be a very deadly combo.
What you do with your pet is another matter of personal preference, personally I like to keep my pet on passive in battlegrounds (most of the time) because he has a tendency to disappear otherwise-- chasing somebody across the field.
While we're on the subject of pets-- in battlegrounds, if your pet dies and you die later, you will both be rez'd together at the graveyard, with your pet at full happiness. Use your judgment on whether you want to self-rez your pet yourself, or wait until the next time you die. I find myself self-rez'ing my pet more often in AV, which I didn't discuss in this particular post-- a lot of times your "lifespan" is a lot shorter in the other battlegrounds.
Alright, that does it for now! I have begun writing my Alterac Valley guide but as it's the "deepest" of the battlegrounds so far, it's certainly shaping up to be a very long article, so I'm going to post it separately.
These guides are not supposed to be all-inclusive but hopefully they have just provided a brief overview to BG newcomers about what to expect and what they can do to help out their team. Enjoy, and I'll see you next time for our next installment!
(On to Part 2)