Warsong Gulch is one of the simpler Battlegrounds in terms of raw strategy. It's essentially Capture the Flag. Each team has a base, and a flag that sits in that base. Your team's goal is to grab the enemy's flag and return it to your base without losing your own flag. Do that, and you score. Score three times and you win.
When you pick up the flag, you can't mount or use certain effects without dropping the flag. Notably, druids and shaman can engage their travel forms while carrying the flag, making them speedy options for what's known as the flag carrier. (Speedy does not imply superior; we'll get into that later.) The longer the FC holds the flag, the more damage the FC will take from player attacks. When you kill an FC, the flag will temporarily sit on the ground, waiting for someone to pick it up. If the friendly team does so, the flag returns to base. If the enemy team does so, they now have a new FC.
There you go. Those are the basics.
How to kill or protect the flag carrier
From this basic description of how to play Warsong Gulch, it sounds like the flag carrier is a fairly important role. That's because it is. Most of the effort in Warsong Gulch comes down to trying to kill or protect the flag carrier.
If you're protecting your flag carrier, you have a few guidelines to follow. If you can remove debuffs or heal the flag carrier, you want to do so. The entire enemy team is trying to kill this person; making sure the FC is healthy and hale goes a long way toward protecting him. Keep him clear of movement effects. When the enemy team swarms the FC, kill their healers if you can. If the enemy DPS is mowing your FC down too fast, you might need to use crowd control and other effects to stymie them.
If you're trying to kill the enemy flag carrier, start with movement reduction effects. Most permanent CC is broken when you do damage, and the whole point is to kill the FC. However, kill their healer first. If you don't kill the healer first, the FC will either receive heals and be nigh unkillable, or they'll plant the flag while you're trying to figure out what went wrong. Keep the movement reduction effects active on the FC so they can't get away, but do your best to kill that healer.
How to be the FC
If you are considering a career as the flag carrier in Warsong Gulch, you have a very difficult task ahead of you. Here's what you should keep in mind.
- Resilience You want as much resilience as you can get. No, tank gear doesn't count. No, being a druid doesn't automatically qualify you. If you're not sporting at least 25% damage reduction, then you don't have enough resilience. I have over 35% damage reduction, and I want more. You'll never, ever, ever have enough resilience as a flag carrier.
- Speed Speed is helpful, but it's useless if you get away from your protection. Yes, if you manage to sneak the flag all the way up the map, that's awesome. But when the enemy catches up with you, that speed is useless once they snare you. You need the protection of your team, and rocketing away from your healer is counterproductive.
- Self-reliance That being said, it's helpful if you can clear your own debuffs and keep yourself up long enough for a healer to get to you. There will be times seven enemies crawling up your healer's skirt, and nothing will save your life but getting out of town.
- Ability to kill This will sound a little crazy, but a flag carrier should be able to fight another player relatively one-on-one. If a rogue (it's always a rogue) surprises you by your lonesome, you need to be able to win that fight. If you can't, then you're better off supporting another FC. This is really just part of self-reliance, but it's important you understand that when you're FC, you're the quarterback.
- Good healing The difference between an OK flag carrier and an epic flag carrier rests solely in the hands of his healer. I run with a discipline priest whose amazing skills have carried us to many WSG victories. Work with your team quickly to find a good healer and marry them immediately; you're spending the rest of the match joined at the hip.
While every PvP match is different, here's the basic flow of what you can expect in most games.
- Gate opening When the gate opens, both teams will immediately rush en masse to the other flag. The people at the back of the zerg tend to hold back to engage the enemy team. Someone grabs the flag first, and then both zergs straightline back to their base. Conflict happens immediately.
- Sneaky flag grabbing Through the rest of the match, most flag grabs are accomplished when a small group of people (one to four, usually) sneak or slide into the flag room. You used to reliably be able to get the flag with only one person. Resilience or not, there's too much damage and CC in the game now for that to be a reality. Most flag grabbers are a pair.
- FC hiding If the flag grabbing team makes it back to their own base, they'll hide in a relatively defensible position. Most teams go to the roof (get to it through the tunnel) or the balcony overlooking the flag room. This gives you the ability to break line of sight and gives you room to get away if the enemy makes a good showing. Pets don't usually jump down from upper levels, at least not quickly.
If a game is running very close, the team in the lead often chooses to turtle up. This is a frustrating tactic, because it's really hard to grab the flag out from under a full team of players. But if they do turtle up, try to get your entire team to go into the flag room as a single zerg. It's your only hope.
In final analysis, Warsong Gulch is won or lost on the backs of the FC and the healers. Because of the small size of the groups, the importance placed on carrying the flag, and your ability to kill or defend an FC, healers can really make or break a game. In the words of the great masters, kill the healer.
Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from how to control your character and camera angles when you're just starting out, to learning how to tank, getting up to speed for heroics and even how to win Tol Barad.