PvP Primer: Alliance Battles
12v12 combat offers unique PvP with training opportunities
Because of the varied opposition you'll face in 12v12 Alliance Battles, you have many chances to improve your PvP aptitude. For example, when facing disorganized enemies, observe their movements and note their failures. Alliance Battles repeatedly demonstrate the efficacy of split tactics. You will soon find that a team that clumps into a moving mass when traveling from one shrine to another will most likely lose. In cases where controlling multiple resources determines the outcome of the match, splitting your team usually results in a better outcome. That's why split tactics in GvG are so powerful; the important resources (enemy NPCs, friendly NPCs, and flag stand) are scattered around the map and multiple squads allow you to control or protect more than one of these resources at a time.
However, Alliance Battles combine three separate parties into one team, so battles can often feel like Random Arenas or Fort Aspenwood; that is to say, unorganized. But, you'll also find many highly organized teams amidst the chaos. These are the ones to watch. A team of four coordinated players can make a huge difference for the twelve person group as a whole, and pose a viable threat to the other side. These four person teams tend to use voice chat, regularly play in Alliance Battles, and often come from the same guild. Look for players sharing identical guild tags and watch how they move in unison. Such unity of play takes practice and communication—essential PvP skills for any arena.
How to Enter Alliance Battles
Alliance Battles take place between the Kurzick and Luxon factions. To partake in these conflicts, you must join a guild—either as member or guest—and be allied with one of the factions. Once you've done so, travel to the guild hall and talk to the representative for your alliance. This NPC is marked with an [Alliance Battles] tag after its name and will send you to the battle front. Alternatively, you can form your own guild, buy a guild hall, and ally with the faction of your choosing.
Finding a Group
In the same spirit as Fort Aspenwood, Alliance Battles offer an atmosphere of friendly competition and a steady source of combat. While Fort Aspenwood has a random system of group formation where people enter the battle by themselves, Alliance Battles require parties of four players. When enough parties have formed on each side (three parties of four making a total of 12 people to a team), the battle begins.
Even without voice chat, you shouldn't have much trouble finding a group. Use the Party Search feature, send a tell to All Chat, or simply start your own group. Many groups that form don't look for particular criteria in players; they just want four people. With a full complement of 12 players, the odds are good that your team will get a decent combination of skills with enough healing, offense, and defense, as well as and other important aspects such as speed boosts and NPC killing power. However, take the time to Ctrl-click on Skill Bars to share your equipped skill list with your compatriots while waiting for the mission to start. This will enhance your chance at victory by giving each player advance notice of what you plan to do.
Learning Maps and Positioning
Once the battle starts, you see an opening cinematic. If you don't recognize the map, you should watch the cinematic, which provides a brief overview of what to expect. It shows the layout, important topographical features, and the goal of each side in the battle.
Before an Alliance Battle begins, players often take a moment to find their positions. Commonly, the three different teams in a group of twelve each take one of the three sides of the map. With over a minute to decide who goes where, most teams can sort out the details with little communication. Stick with your team members or simply go to an open side and encourage the rest of your team to follow suit. Sometimes people type "4-4-4" into team chat, which means they suggest four people to a side.
Watch how team chat appears in the chat box. Statements made by members of your own party of four display as normal team chat. But comments made by the other eight players have a slightly darker blue text, with Ally displayed next to their names. When you type into team chat, you and your party see your comments displayed as normal team chat, but the other two parties see it with Ally next to your name. This system helps coordinate the overall twelve person team. If somebody types in "go to rez shrine" and you see Ally next to the name, chances are the message is not meant for you.
General Tips and PvP Application
When you die, you must wait 17 seconds to resurrect at a shrine. If your side controls a resurrection shrine, you may respawn at that location instead of your base. As you lay dead, you can click on different team members and observe their movements and actions. In PvP, 17 seconds seems like an eternity, so don't forget how you felt while waiting so long , and remember that a lot can happen in such a small window of time. In a GvG battle, losing a teammate for 17 seconds can mean the death of other players or a full retreat. In Alliance Battles, the impact on the final outcome is lessened except when the opposing team presses hard and doesn't afford your team a chance to capture any points.
Practice playing with the Mission Map open (available by pressing "U" or from the menu). It shows the location of various shrines and control points, as well as which team claims ownership of a particular spot. You can resize this map to preference and zoom in or out with the mouse scroll wheel. Get used to having this map open, because in GvG the Mission Map indicates which team controls the flag stand. In Alliance Battles, the Mission Map reveals the progression of the fight as points change from one color to another. If you get lost, head to a neutral shrine. Chances are you'll stumble across a battle in progress and your presence may shift the balance in your team's favor, thus netting you the territory.
You may get separated from your team members, especially if your team lacks voice chat. When this happens, just double-click on a teammate's name and your character will change course and head toward that teammate. A single click will highlight a team member's location on your Compass without engaging auto-run.
Monk - Protection Prayers - Enchantment Spell
Enchantment Spell. For 5..11 seconds, all party members within earshot have a 50% chance to block attacks.
If a teammate's name appears in gray text instead of white, it means you are outside of Compass range. Ask the player to ping the Compass, which will put a red pulsating marker near their location that you can run toward. Knowing the approximate range of teammates comes in handy for GvG battles when you have party-wide skills, such as Heal Party that affect everyone within range (all names displayed in white). If someone in the party list goes gray, your long range skills won't affect them. Other skills of this nature include Light of Deliverance, Aegis, and Order of Pain.
Similar to Fort Aspenwood, Alliance Battles don't confer any special advantage to players carrying a Resurrection Signet. Once you use a Resurrection Signet it disappears for the entire match since there are no Morale Boosts to be gained that would ordinarily recharge it. Instead of wasting a slot, equip something else. So called "hard rezzes" (anything that isn't a Resurrection Signet) have limited use because of the fast auto-resurrection, so feel free to take whatever you want in that eighth skill slot instead of a rez skill.
Any skill or spell that affects an area or multiple allies increases its efficiency dramatically in an Alliance Battle. Compared to all other forms of PvP, your odds of finding large groups of enemies and allies increases, as do the potential size of groups you encounter. Though a rare occurrence, you may even face all twelve opposing players clustered in one place. Add in a couple of NPCs and you can face a truly enormous cluster of enemies. Because of this, skills like Meteor Shower have huge popularity in Alliance Battles. This doesn't mean that everyone should come equipped with Meteor Shower, though. Most Alliance Battles shift between multiple fronts as teams split up and characters die off. The average group size often hovers from three to six players, meaning that smaller AoE abilities, like the Dervish scythe radius, work quite well. Even in larger groups, Dervishes quickly reach maximum efficiency as their scythes hit up to three opponents at a time. An alert player with a Dervish can inflict massive damage upon unwary enemies.
Elementalist - Fire Magic - Spell
Spell. Create a Meteor Shower at target foe's location. For 9 seconds, foes adjacent to that location are struck for 7..112 fire damage and knocked down every 3 seconds. This Spell causes Exhaustion.
Consider other area of effect abilities for Alliance Battles. Many teams use movement speed buffs such as "Charge!" and "Fall Back!" to dart between unoccupied points for quick capture. Mass Hexing has quite an effect as well. Water Magic snares large groups, while Curses like Suffering can apply widespread Health degeneration to clumped groups. Trapping Rangers also gain a degree of efficiency with AoE skills, as the fluid battlefield ensures that most of their Traps will be triggered. They can also set Traps away from the main battle, reducing their chance of getting interrupted.
paragon/Command - Shout
Shout. For 4..10 seconds, all allies within earshot gain 5..15 Health per second while moving and move 33% faster. "Fall Back!" ends on an ally affected by this Shout when that ally successfully hits with an attack.
Given the constant and large scale deaths, Alliance Battles foster the perfect environment for Necromancers. Soul Reaping generates perpetual Energy, fueling high-cost Necromancer builds, especially Minion Masters. Other Necros generally choose to use Soul Reaping and power expensive Hexes to punish opponents traveling together.
Defensively, Alliance Battles harbor a rich atmosphere for varied tactics. Ritualists make good use of defensive Spirits, Paragons have a high yield Energy battery when in the midst of the fray, and Elementalists have plenty of room for Wards. Monk types vary wildly, but ones that excel in self-survival often do the most for a team because they serve as targets to stall the opposition. Monks are often the first players targeted, so anyone playing a Monk should come equipped with a basic plan for self-defense.
Unique Shrine Buffs
In Alliance Battles, control of certain shrines grants buffs such as anti-melee, battlecry, elite NPC, and resurrection orb. After seizing ownership of a shrine, talk to the elite NPC to order it to follow you. This is similar to a GvG match, where you must speak to the Guild Thief so he'll follow you to the enemy base and open the gate. The anti-melee and battlecry shrines give you the bonus only when you're in range of the shrine, however. And, the resurrection orb requires someone to carry it around, so if you play a melee character, don't pick up the orb unless you plan to drop it immediately. Using the orb to revive fallen teammates can sometimes swing the balance in your favor.
As mentioned above, any skill or spell with an area of effect has its usefulness amplified in an Alliance Battle. Consider this when making a build, either for yourself or for a team of four. Even if you do not plan on using area of effect abilities, know that you'll most likely face them on the battlefield. Thus, it would help to bring counters such as interrupts or knockdowns for shutting down the enemy AoE source. In the next PvP Primer article, we'll introduce a list of Alliance Battle builds and play tips for each.