Strategy: Strand of the Ancients – Defense and Offense (Work in Progress)

In AV, a handful out of 40 players who know a good defensive strategy can make or break a game. Strand, however, is roughly the travel size of AB (maybe even slightly bigger), with 5 less people to defend six key points, not including graveyards. With ties currently being the most common outcome, it’s important to keep in mind that a team needs everyone to work together to pull off a full victory (assuming you’re not facing a team of total morons).

Here I offer my (wordy) advice on how to achieve this.

This is a work in progress, and I’m completely open to everybody’s opinions and thoughts on the battleground as well as what I’ve written here. So please, leave a comment =D
Thanks, enjoy the read!


Defense

Keypoints in a Nutshell:
-Siege tanks are prime targets. Get them down before they’re close enough to gates to do damage. They are vulnerable from behind, dangerous from the front. Melee DPS classes are the most effecient at this.
-Ranged classes play an extremely important roll as defenders. Ranged should focus their efforts on DPSing down or CCing enemy players. Lock dots currently do not work on siege tanks.
-Gates should always have their defense cannon manned if the one before on the same side has fallen. Additionally, once an outer gate has fallen on either side, players should prepare to fall back and defend inner gates.
-Players who rez should always take a moment to patrol mid field, making sure enemy players aren’t taking graveyards or manually bombing gates.
-The inner gate cannons CAN reach graveyard flags and WILL interrupt a player trying to cap them.
-Keep checking to see which gates have fallen, and call out fall backs when necessary.
-Do not allow yourself to be distracted by big player fights unless you’re positive it’s safe to do so.
-Hand planted bombs are also easy to interrupt, but have fast charges.
-Generally keeping players / weapons as far away from gates as possible is key.

If a team follows the keypoints, they will successfully defend their base. The more in depth parts will help to gain additional achievements, IE keeping offense on the beach the entire time.

InDepth Overall Defense Strategy:

The Beach:

At the start of the game, have the entire team go down to the front lines. In a full team of 10, each outer gate should have both cannons manned (preferably by ranged / casters who can dismount and add to damage control if needed. Hunters are great here). The other six players on the beach should be ready to do as much damage to the tanks before they get within firing distance of the gates.

High single target DPS melee (rogues especially) with a dedicated healer can take care of this fairly easily, while ranged casters (mage / lock) and tanking dps (ret pallies) should help keep enemy players CC’ed and off the melee. Meeting the offense right as they land on the beach and fighting them as close to the boats as possible serves as a huge advantage. The closer to the “start” the tanks are when you attack, the more time you have to break them down before they reach gates.

Keep in mind offense will also rez closer to the gates than the boats they come off on.

If the tanks come within firing distance to gates, there’s a good chance melee players have been killed. Ranged DPS and casters at this point will want to focus fire on the tanks, trying to keep the players at bay when possible, but prioritizing DPSing the weapons down.

Offense generally does not split evenly; most times one tank per gate will be dispatched, with the majority of players rushing one side. If you’re short players, one manned cannon + ground fighters on the heavy side, and two manned cannons on the other should suffice. One extra ranged attacker on the light side can also be helpful, but only if the defense team is not outnumbered by a large margin.

Ideally tanks are destroyed before they damage gates and defense manages to keep offence on the beach.
The best defense is a good offense, in the words of the wise Woulverine.

Midfield:
It’s clear the outer gates will be taken down if the tanks are within firing or ramming range with full or high health. At this point, players should fall back in prep for defending the inner gates. Ideally two players port in before the gate is destroyed and run back to man the next set of cannons. Meanwhile, current cannon players should still be using the weapons on tanks, or using their ranged attacks on enemy players. If the D team’s “offense” players, however, are taking a beating or already dead, the current cannoneers should abandon ship and take over the inner gates.

Repeat the basic strategy of keeping enemy players busy and destroying siege tanks before they get to the gate. Added troubles include making sure they don’t cap the midfield graveyards which cannot be recapped by defense, and keeping them from getting new tanks / bombs.

Keep in mind that the cannons from the inner gates will reach the graveyard flags and can be used as interrupts to keep enemy players from capping. If there aren’t any tanks in view, this should be your focus. Bombing enemy players on foot is pretty worthless. The damage is so-so, and they will generally run out of target range before the cannon hits.

Midfield is 80% of the time where an average successful defense SHOULD end.

Deep Defense:
If offense breaks through the 2nd set of gates, everybody NEEDS to fall back into the chamber and keep tanks from getting near the final gate. Again, the key is to get tanks down ASAP, and keep bombing players from getting near the final gate.
Forcing enemy players to burn their cooldowns is always a good idea at this late in the game.

IF the teams are evenly matched, or time is on your side (less time = better for D) one or two sneakier players (droods or rogues) can lag behind and try to keep new tanks from making it into the chamber. If the midfield graveyards haven’t been taken by O, it might also be worthwhile to have these players keep them from capping as long as possible. This is helpful mostly if offense resses and attacks in small groups or individually instead of a group. Buying time is always a good thing as defense. However that late in the game, chances are eventually they will get the graveyards.
If not, they’re morons.

The Final Stand:

If offense breaks through the final gate with a tank, they win. Without a tank, and with something obscene like 10 seconds to go, it’s somewhat possible to CC them (mass fear chaining, frost nova, etc.) and hold them off. This, however, is highly situational depending on your classes, organization, and time left.

In other words, good luck with that.

Mistakes

The MOST COMMON MISTAKE D makes after the first gates are down is continuing to focus the majority of their force to one side, leaving the other completely open to attack. Offense can take easy advantage of this by having the majority of their players keep the D group busy. Meanwhile 1 or 2 players can grab a tank and completely charge the other side unnoticed. In the event they ARE noticed, with nobody manning the defense cannons, one or two D players will have a tough time taking down the tanks on their own. Even if they do, there’s a good chance whatever gate was being assaulted has been broken down already, if not destroyed. There are also manual bombs that can be placed at gates to take them down.

This is why, if you’re playing defense, it is absolutely key to pay attention to the prompts that tell you what has been attacked / destroyed. Checking your map has never been so important.

Once the two inner gates have been taken down, defending the final gate becomes key. Everybody, no matter what they’re doing or who they’re fighting, should drop what they’re doing and high tail their asses to the final gate. Hell, dying and ressing at the home base may even be considered a good idea.

Remember: Even if one side has the beach gate still up, as soon as they break through even the FIRST gate on the second side, it’s time to fall back.

80% of the defense rounds I’ve lost has been this exact situation. By the time anybody notices one side is open, they’ve got both gates on one side down and are charging the final one with two tanks.

Don’t let this happen to you.


Offense

Keypoints in a Nutshell:
-Time is against you as offense. Keep this in mind at all times when choosing your moves.
-Team should be split between those who fight off enemy players, and those who focus on taking down gates as fast as possible.
-Never send a tank in without one defensive player on foot. Keeping the tanks up as long as possible is key to victory.
-DPSing down the defense cannons, especially preemptively, can buy offense a lot of time.
-Capping the mid-field graveyards will automatically bring players waiting to res to it, even if they’re on the beach.

InDepth Overall Offense Strategy:

The Beach
For both sides, what happens in the initial clash on the beach is usually a good indicator of how the round will turn out. This is especially true for offense. Defense can somewhat easily come back from a crappy initial push, especially if they’re waiting on more players. Offense, however, is fighting the clock and being held back on the beach for extended periods of time will cost them greatly.
While tanks can hold up to 3 players, I’d recommend that only one person drives, while other players prioritize defending it. Offense is not impossible without tanks, but much more difficult. Keeping as many of them up as possible is important.

Melee DPS classes should focus on keeping enemy players away from the tanks. Ranged DPS and casters would do well to crowd control anyone coming to attack, and killing their healers, if any.

If defense cannons are manned, one or two high powered casters or ranged (mage is ideal, destro lock, hunters, or even a ShS rogue are also good choices) can rush the gate and start DPSing down the cannons. They’re fairly easy to take down with good burst damage, and getting out of LoS of their firing range isn’t too hard either. Have both players focus on one at a time. Two still working cannons at half health vs one down and another up… you can do the math.
This is an often overlooked strategy that amounts to buying way more time than people think. You’ll have to watch out for counter ranged / casters who might be stationed on the platform to take you out.

If they are unmanned, they can be ignored, especially if the tank has advanced close, but there will always be the risk someone might hop on late. It’s at the discretion of the players.

Midfield
Once offense has managed to break through the outer gates, the midfield is where they’re most likely to gain huge advantages, which is important. Here, they can get new tanks, cap graveyards, and prey on a most likely broken defense. Midfield is the make-or-break stage of the fight for D. Right after a break though, chances are they’re spread out and far from where they need to be to defend the inner gates.

The likely scenario as offense is this: the “light” side of the fight, or the outer gate least defended (usually the east / right side of the map), will have been been broken through. Your s-tank will be advancing to break the inner gate. Meanwhile the defending team will be piled on the opposite side, either still fighting the rest of offense or waiting to res.

If your siege tank doesn’t already have 2 or 3 escorts, get on that. One of these escorts should also grab the graveyard on your attacking side.
Meanwhile the rest of the team should be doing everything in their power to keep defense busy and away from defending the opposite gate. This usually means camping the graveyard, and generally is pretty easy cause of PvP mentality to kill everyone in sight.

On that note, do not cap both mid-field graveyards until you have broken through an inner gate. Otherwise, they rez right where you don’t want them: on the other side of the gates you’re trying to knock down. Good ol’ SFGY philosophy.
This is also a scenario where taking out the cannons, manned or not, could prove advantageous is you’ve got an extra body to do the job. That’s because if someone decides to hop on later, they can destroy backup tanks or interrupt a gy cap.

Eventually D will catch on. You’ll notice when they start fleeing like animals towards the gate. This is when you’re O team is gonna have to push aggressively to make sure they don’t stop your s-tank from doing its job. Hopefully, though, by “catching on” it’s when they realized the inner gate is already downed and the s-tank is advancing towards the final gate.

By now, dispatch a 2nd tank, possibly 3rd if the main one has taken a beating. The Chamber / Keep is arguably the toughest fight.

Deep Offense
Depending on how much time it took you to get there, you will either meet extreme resistance or none at all. If you find that you ARE getting a lot of defense players trying to slow you down, have someone run and cap the southern graveyard (also the defense spawn point), forcing D to rez farther away from the battle. Doing so will grant you some time, and at this point you may need it. 80% of the time D will be in a state of chaotic panic if O manages to get this far.

This is where having more than one tank will come in handy. As always, focus on keeping people off and away from them. Anybody who has any sort of CC abilities, use the hell out of it. The final push is a race against time and pretty much a battle of skill / will. Breaking through the final gate will ultimately result in a win for offense.