In this post I’m going to go over the basics of the Alderaan warzone and list some of the strategies that I’ve found useful for victory. Since this is my first PvP post here I’ll go ahead and start off with some general PvP information to get everyone caught up with how PvP works in SWTOR, and then we’ll move on to the specifics of Alderaan.
General PvP Information
Expertise: A stat found only on PvP gear and PvP-related consumables that increases the damage and healing that you do, and reduces the amount of damage that you receive. Only works in PvP.
Valor: The PvP version of social points, this is a representation of how much PvP your character has experienced. Valor goes up very quickly when you participate in Warzones. Valor ranks are required for end game PvP gear. At this point in time there is no other use for this. You also earn titles for every 10 ranks of Valor that you achieve up to the current max of 100: Skirmisher (10), Duelist (20), Gladiator (30), Centurion (40), Champion (50), Battlemaster (60), War Hero (70), Conqueror (80), Warlord (90), and Elite Warlord (100).
Commendations: This is the PvP currency, similar to Honor or Conquest points for those of you transferring from WoW. These cap at 1,000 and build fairly quickly. These are used to purchase PvP gear, leveling gear, and PvP consumables. If you’re going to PvP frequently, be sure to spend your points before you hit the cap or else you lose any extra commendations.
MVP Votes: At the end of every match you have the chance to place a vote for the Most Valuable Player (MVP). Who you vote for is up to you and you can use whatever criteria you see fit for choosing that person. Each MVP vote rewards the recipient with 1 commendation. At this point in time, as far as we know, that’s all an MVP vote does. I’ve heard reports that during beta you got titles for having a certain number of MVP votes but nobody has seen the titles since launch so they either removed them or raised the requirements.
Badges: Badges are like milestone achievements that happen during every warzone. Each time you earn a badge you get 50 Valor and 5 Commendations.
Resolve Bar: This measures the amount of Crowd Control (CC) that a player has been hit with recently, and when it’s full the player becomes immune to all forms of CC. The Resolve bar will begin to drain once it has been filled, and the player remains immune to CC until the drain is complete and the bar has reset to 0. For a more in depth look at Resolve and how it works, I’ll direct you to [url=http://taugrim.com/2012/01/04/understanding-swtors-resolve-mechanic/Taugrim’s website[/url.
At its roots, Alderaan is your typical assault and defend resource map. There are three nodes that need to be captured and then defended until the timer runs out. Bioware has done a great job with this map though by taking that concept and turning it into something that’s much more dramatic and understandable. In relation to WoW this map is very similar to Battle for Gilneas and Arathi Basin. The biggest difference is that rather than gathering resources over time while you control nodes you’re taking capturing turrets and using them to shoot down the enemy’s ship.
Your starting point and respawn location are both in your own ship. From there you will ride speeders down to to your spawn point on the field. Each team spawns at either the north or south side of the map on a ledge that the other team cannot reach. From there you have two sections that you can drop into – Middle or Left (note, that’s Left, not East or West). From Mid you can choose to run Right, but there is a wall that separates Mid from Left on your own side (see map below).
When you start the match there are only two speeders, one mid-left and one mid-right. Both of these speeders are always available, and they both lead to the spawn point where you can choose Left or Mid. The only difference between these two is which direction you fly around the map before settling at the spawn point. Mid-left circles clockwise while mid-right circles counter-clockwise. It takes roughly 10 seconds for the speeder to land, and which of these two you choose doesn’t really matter, it just lets you get a look at one of the two flags first and the other second to help decide where you should go.
When you control the East or West node you’ll have another speeder appear inside your ship that will take you directly to that node. This speeder takes 3-5 seconds (I never remember to time it while I’m there) to reach the node, making it much easier to defend. However, the amount of time it takes to you release, resurrect, get on the speeder, ride down, and then get close enough to an opponent who is trying to capture is usually long enough that you will not interrupt a capture unless your opponents were slow to click on the node in the first place, or you applied Damage Over Time (DoT) effects to them before you died (see Strategy, below).
Alderaan Strategy: Left, Right, & Mid
There are some pretty important things to note about Alderaan. The first thing you need to understand is how the map works so that you know where to go and how to get around. The image above shows you where each team spawns and the initial directional choices that they can make (Left or Mid).
Going Mid: When you decide to drop down into Mid you have another choice to make. Do you go to the middle node, or do you turn off and head to the right? Mid also has two levels, the lower level where the node is, and the upper half-ring level. The lower level offers a couple of Line of Sight (LoS) options for those of you who like to fight dirty/defensively. The upper half-rings each contain a Expertise buff and also offers LoS and Cover options. Another benefit of the upper rings (there’s one on the West side and one on the East, but they do not connect) is that each one has a drop off that leads to the node on its side. Those drop offs also have a Expertise buff when you drop down. On the map above, the West drop off is just below the arrow near mid, and the East drop off is just above the arrow near mid.
Going mid gives you the most options for changing your direction on the fly, which is why it’s often the most contested node. However, it’s also the hardest to defend because everyone already has easy access to it and enemies can come at you from both sides at once.
Going Left: When people use Left or Right in-game, always associate them with West and East respectively. When I mentioned the spawn point and that you could choose to go either mid or left, I’m referring to your relative options of left vs. right which is differs directionally based on where your spawn location is. If you spawn south, then left = West, but if you spawn north then left = East. Confused yet?
When you decide to “go left”, that means you’re taking the drop off that does not lead directly to mid. By going this way you cut yourself off from easy access to Mid. You have easy access to both East and West, but not Mid. Let’s assume that your spawn location is in the south, making Left=West and Right=East for the ease of explanation. By going left you lose your easy access to mid. The only way to get there is to run all the way to the north end of the field so that you can loop around and enter near the opponent’s spawn location, or to run under mid, come out on the right side and then circle back around to the south to come out near your own spawn location.
When you go under mid (there is a tunnel beneath mid where the two arrows are) there is a circular pathway with a large structural piece taking up the whole center. On the left and right sides of that structural blockage you’ll find a speed buff that will help you get faster access to the opposite side.
Going Mid, then Right: This is basically the same as Going Left above, except that directions are reversed. For example, if you want to get back to Mid you have to run to your own spawn location because you’re blocked on your opponent’s side. You still have the same easy access to the left side by taking the tunnel under mid.
Alderaan Strategy: Buff Locations
Every warzone has buffs that spawn throughout the match. They can only be used by one person at a time as using them consumes them, but they respawn over time. I’ve never bothered to stand there and see how long the timer is, but it’s probably somewhere around 15-30 seconds up to a minute if I were to guess. There are three types of warzone buffs: Expertise, Speed, and Healing.
Expertise: Expertise buffs are red, and using them increases your damage and healing output and reduces the amount of damage you take. There are four expertise buffs in Alderaan, one located on each of the half-rings in the upper level of Mid, and one located at the bottom of the drops from the upper level of mid down to the left/right sides of the field.
Speed Buffs: Speed buffs are a bluish-green color, and increase your speed by *mumble,mumble* percent for *mumble,mumble* seconds (I forget the specifics, it makes you faster though). There are only two speed buffs in Alderaan, both of which are located in the tunnel beneath Mid. One person can easily grab both speed buffs at once if they want, though most of the first buff is wasted by doing so.
Healing: Healing buffs are a greenish-blue color, and restore around 70% of your total health (I really should have researched that more…). There are four healing buffs in Alderaan, one located on both the north and south walls of both the East and West sections. I probably should have put those on the map…anyway, if your’e standing at the west node, look toward either the north or south walls at about the middle point and you should see them.
Alderaan Strategy: East versus West
For the most part East and West are pretty well equal. Both nodes have the same general layout, they’re both on raised platforms that allow for LoS, and both of them have four ways to get from the ground up to the node (three sets of stairs and one broken piece of something that acts as a ramp). Technically five ways if you count moving towards the back of the node where the ground slopes up to be even with the landing and you jump up.
However, West contains some rubble and some burning debris for who knows what proving limited LoS benefit, but leaving most of the field pretty wide open to see who’s coming at you and from where. East on the other hand has several bits of machinery that provide significant LoS opportunity. In neither case is this LoS from terrain a deciding factor in the capture/defense of the node itself, but it can be used to your advantage when assaulting or defending a node in order to keep people tied up fighting in useless locations rather than focusing on the objective. Distraction is a key strategy in MMO PvP.
This section is important to have, even with such a little impact as it can have, strictly because it’s important to be aware that the West (left) node is easier to defend than the East (right) node depending on which spawn location is yours. If you spawn in the south, then East is harder to defend because those in the north can use the terrain to partially hide their approach. It’s not a significant advantage, but it is something to be aware of so that you know to be more watchful if you’re defending that side.
Alderaan Strategy: Capturing Nodes
Capturing nodes seems pretty simple, and for the most part it is. You click on the node and stand there for 8 seconds while you channel to actually capture it.
If only it were that simple.
Capturing a node has a few requirements. First, you can’t take damage while you do it or your capture gets interrupted. Second, you can’t move (or be moved) or your capture gets interrupted. Third, you can’t take any action at all, or your capture gets interrupted. Fourth, you can’t come under the effects of crowd control or your capture gets interrupted.
In the thick of battle a lot of times you can’t do anything to avoid all of those potential interruptions. Yet sometimes in the thick of battle is the perfect time to capture the node because everyone’s so caught up in fighting each other that they forget to watch it. There’s long been a saying in PvP, “Fight on the Flag”. That saying holds just as true now as it ever did before. Fighting on the flag doesn’t mean just staying close to it, it means that the flag is the primary objective and you should be watching it at all times. Whether you’re watching it to defend it, or you’re watching it for the perfect opportunity to slide in there and cap it yourself, you should always keep the flag as your focus.
The most important bit of advice I can give you in terms of capturing nodes is to always capture it on your own side. The turret nodes in Alderaan serve as LoS pillars, so the people on the other side of it cannot target you. Because of this you want to make sure that you’re always trying to capture it on the opposite side from where your enemies spawn. So if you spawn in the south, then capture from the south, and if you spawn north then cap from the north.
When you’re trying to capture the West flag, do so from the south-west side since it’s furthest away from the enemy spawn location, and similarly cap East on the south-east side (unless you spawn in the north in which case you should replace south with north in those examples).
The one exception to that is when you’re taking the East/West node away from your opponents. In those cases you want to capture it on the straight north/south side because the speeder drops off directly north or south of node, whichever side they spawn on.
Also, don’t assume that just because your opponent is standing next to the node that he’s actually paying any attention to it at all. Ninja capping is what you call capturing a node right under your opponent’s nose. Sometimes you ninja cap by sneaking up in stealth and then capturing where they can’t see you, and sometimes it’s just walking right up behind/beside someone who’s looking the other way. If you’re approaching a node and the defenders are giving no sign that they see you, go straight for the node first.
Also, it’s important to note that many Alderaan matches are decided these days based on who gets to the first node the fastest. If you have speed buffs, use them. If you both put up a solid defense on one node and spend the rest of the match fighting over the third, then whoever capped first wins. Sending your fastest people to one node or sending some to interrupt the initial caps is a great strategy for solidifying a win.
Alderaan Strategy: Defending Nodes
The simple explanation of defending would be to say “take the above section, and reverse it.” But that’s not very helpful, so I’ll spell it out a bit.
First thing’s first – FIGHT ON THE FLAGS!!!
You should never let a node be captured simply because you weren’t paying attention, or because you allowed yourself to be drawn too far away from the node and can no longer defend it. If you’re fighting someone and they start pulling back, let them go. Another kill doesn’t matter, especially not when the main reason they’re running isn’t to survive but rather to get you away from the flag so that they’re stealthed buddy can ninja your node.
Second, DoT’s aren’t as plentiful in SWTOR as they are in WoW, but they can make or break you in Alderaan. Because taking damage interrupts node captures, applying DoT’s to all of your enemies can win you the match by itself. If they can’t capture a node, they can’t win. If you know you can’t kill off everyone there, or you’re out numbered, don’t bother with trying to kill people. Instead you should apply DoT’s to as many people as you can, use your CC if you have it, pull some of them away from the node if you can, and otherwise do as much as you possibly can to interrupt their capture for as long as you live. Even if you know nobody is anywhere close to help you, put them off as long as possible.
Third is targetable AoE. As I mentioned in the previous section, the turret nodes provide LoS which can make it harder to get someone off of a node. However, you can shortcut that by using targetable AoE. If you have an AoE spell that when you cast it it pulls up an icon and makes you designate where you want to cast it, you can break LoS using it. To do this, center the AoE so that part of its effect hits the other side of the node. AoE’s hit everything in their circle, regardless of LoS, so you can use these spells to hit people behind pillars, around corners, and so forth. If you can’t reach someone, let your spells reach them for you.
And remember, the nodes are the key to victory. There will be times that you’re so caught up in combat that you loose track of the flag and it gets captured right in front of you. Just do your best to always remind yourself to look at the flag. Don’t rely on the UI to tell you, make sure you’re actively looking at it. I was in an Alderaan match just two days ago where I was defending the West node solo and it was captured right in front of my face, with me looking at it the whole time, because there was never a pillar of light (which there usually is) indicating that it was being captured, and I never saw my opponent or his nameplate on the other side of it. Right in front of my face and I didn’t even know until it was too late.
How did I not see him? First he had chosen the smallest body type, making him harder to see/target. Second, he had a short name, a short guild name, no legacy name displayed, and no title which means his nameplate too up all of about three quarters of an inch on the screen. He was a Sith Assassin so he managed to stealth up to the node without me seeing him, but it was his decisions during character creation that kept him invisible even outside of stealth.
Alderaan Strategy: Winning
So how to you win Alderaan?
First and foremost, you fight on the flag. Nodes are the only thing that matter here, so forget about topping damage/healing charts, forget about racking up the most kills. If you’re not working with your team to capture, defend, or recapture nodes then you’re doing it wrong.
As people become familiar to Alderaan and start to develop different strategies it’s becoming more and more common for this map to be decided within the first 15 seconds. If both teams are equally matched in terms of capturing and defending nodes, then the first team to capture a node wins. For this reason, sending players with speed buffs to either the East or West node, or sending smaller groups to intercept and delay the initial captures of all nodes can be a winning strategy. Capture a node as quickly as possible and defend it.
Turrets deal damage at a consistent rate, and once you reach a certain amount relative to your opponents it becomes mathematically impossible for them to win even if they get control of two of the turrets for the rest of the game. I won’t bother breaking down the math for you, this is just another example of why it’s so important to maintain a solid defense. Even if all I have to fight you is a needle and you’re dual wielding swords, if you can never manage to hold those swords long enough to attack me but I can poke you with that needle every second, you’ll be the first to die….eventually.
There are a lot of strategies still evolving for Alderaan. People like to play numbers games and say things like “3 left, 5 mid” or “4 left, 4 right”. Numbers are all fine and good, but they aren’t the deciding factor in a game where not all things are equal. The only rule that holds true is that you need to capture more nodes for a longer period of time than your opponents in that same amount of time. If you can capture two or even all three and hold them then you win. But if you can capture one and your opponent can’t capture any then you still win. That’s why it’s all about the nodes and why fighting on the flags is so important.
Right now the most common strategy is for people to send the majority of their players to mid and 1-3 off to the flag to their left. With groups made of random people it’s still pretty common to see teams where all eight go straight to mid, too. But be prepared for anything and always do your best to be aware of what your opponents are doing. If you see a lot of red nameplates rushing off to the left while you’re charging into mid, let your teammates know that you see people going left.
Communication is a big deal as well. If you have time, always try to communicate when you see people coming towards your flag. “inc left, inc mid, inc right” will suffice, though the more detail you can give the better. “INC LEFT – 3+, at least 1 stealth” tells your team that not only is there a significant threat on the way, but with at least one of them being in stealth there’s a good chance that the node will get ninja capped even while you’re defending. The more info you can give, the better, just make sure you’re using the important words rather than throwing out a full paragraph for people to read. “I think I see a couple of people coming over here, one of them looks like it has a blaster of some kind and the other I think was using two lightsabers. There may be a third too, with a dual lightsaber, but I couldn’t see for sure before he went into stealth” doesn’t work quite so well because it takes too long for someone to read that and then react to it.
Once a threat has passed, communicate that as well. “Left clear, great job defense”. If you see a chance to complement your team, do it. Positive reinforcement goes a long way to building teamwork and trust. Don’t be sarcastic when things don’t work, keep it honest. “Clutch heals, Jent. ty”