This guide is dedicated to the various strategies you can use to play Alterac Valley. Feel free to add to it.
There are two schools of thought on how to get the most out of Alterac Valley. Most Battlegroups seem to fall in one or the other, so learn which one your group likes.
This theory on how to play states that both sides should simply rush to the end and cap everything on the way and it really doesn't matter who wins or loses, since each side will end up with around 300 honor and the game will be over in less than ten minutes. For pure honor farming, this is probably the right way to play. Those who dislike this method of playing decry that it simply is not fun, as the two sides almost never even come in contact with each other in the rush to get to the other's base.
This theory on how to play states that it is more fun to try to win, even if it drags the game out longer. Battlegroups that play under this theory often have battles that last up to an hour and end up with lopsided wins for one side or the other. On average, I would say that a battle played under these circumstances usually lasts 25 minutes and ends up with one side getting around 500 honor and the other 200.
These strategies apply to both sides and work under either type of battlegroup
It is important to defend what you cap until it either changes sides or gets destroyed. When you cap a tower, you need to leave several people in there until it gets destroyed. When you cap a graveyard, you need to leave several people next to it until it changes sides. Getting tower is key to gaining honor, and getting a graveyard is key to sustaining an offense. If you leave it undefended, all it takes is a single player from the other side to cancel your cap.
Just because you see an enemy player does not mean you need to stop and try to kill him. You should always look towards your next objective, whether it is a tower or grave yard, and go straght to there before stopping and fighting. Fighting on the road in between objectives simply prolongs the battle and loses you both honor and a potential chance to win the game.
Just because this is a pick up group does not mean you abandon all raid principles. Healers need to heal. DPS needs to do damage. Tanks need to tank. Even though it looks chaotic, group play wins battles over solos. If you help the other players you will be far more likely to win the overall battle in the end.
When defending any flag, whether it be a tower or graveyard, keep a constant eye on the flag. It doesn't do you any good to be killing one of the other side while his friend goes around you amd caps the flag you were defending. Target anyone trying to cap a flag and kill him first.
If you are playing in a Battlegroup that plays for the quick win, then the strategy is pretty simple. Everyone go in offense and rush to the end as fast as possible. Cap each tower and leave at least one person on guard. Split a small group off to kill Balinda. Cap each grave yard and leave at least one person behind to guard it. It is all about speed. The alliance has a much easier path to the final boss, so all you really want to do is make sure you get your towers destroyed before they kill him to gain the maximum honor.
For those Battlegroups who prefer to play for a longer win, the key to the horde is defense. At least 15 people should start at the Ice Blood choke point, which is the area where the roads from the middle and from Galv's fort meet. At that point the strategy varies depending upon what the allies does.
If the allies all rush to kill Galv, then most of the defense should split off and try to defend him. However, some need to stay and watch the grave yard. If you lose Ice Blood, you are guaranteed to lose Galv and likely both towers as well. When defending Galv, try to figure out if anyone is tanking him and remove his aggro (how to do that varies by class). Then just do as much damage as possible before you die. If you can wipe the allies at Galv, you have a good chance of winning a decisive victory.
If the allies all rush to Ice Blood graveyard, the defense needs to defend the GY and try to kill off all the allies. Keep in mind that until Snowfall caps, every ally that dies gets sent all the way back to Storm Pike and either ends up joining their defense or is forced to run for several minutes before they can rejoin the rush. If you can keep them from capping Ice Blood on that initial rush, you stand a good chance of winning a decisive victory. Once you have finished defending the grave yard, split off defenders to recap any towers that might have been taken. Often a few allies may have even made it all the way to the base. Make sure you send enough people there to get things back, but don't abandon Ice Blood in the process.
If the allies all rush directly to the horde base, you need to first try to stop as many as you can. Freeze them, trap them and slow them down in whatever way your class is able. Use any spell or skill that causes someone to be dismounted. You won't get them all, but every one you kill gets sent back to Storm Pike and is essentially out of the initial battle. The key is to stop enough of them there that you can easily kill off the ones that get through after the initial rush. Once the battle at the choke point is over, you need to leave several people there to defend the next rush while a larger group back tracks and recaptures everything that was taken. Speed is essential here. You will have 5 minutes to make your way back to the relief hut and recap it. If they manage to keep the relief hut, the game is essentially over.
To take or not to take that is the question. People will argue passionately either way. It only really comes into question when the horde manages to wipe out the initial allied attack. The important thing is knowing what it means to take Snowfall. As long as the allies have Snowfall, everyone the defense kills stays on offense. This means there will be a continuous battle in the horde zone, and also that there will be fewer defenders for the horde offense to go through. Not taking Snow Fall usually means the game ends quicker, but also often means the allies can capture at least a few towers by the end. Taking Show Fall forces all of the allied forces back to Storm Pike and usually turns the battle into a Turtle. It lets the horde keep just a couple people back on D while everyone else goes on O. If the horde is strong enough to get through the allied turtle, they can often manage a complete victory with a totally red map. However, if they are not strong enough, the battle will often play out until one side runs out of reinforcements, which can stretch the game to more than an hour.
The initial horde rush should be able to take Stone Hearth Graveyard, Balinda and at least one tower. The most important of these is the grave yard. If the alliance is defending the gy, then taking it takes precedence over killing Balinda. Once the gy is capped a group can drop down and kill Balinda. It is crucial that several people stay to defend this grave yard until it changes sides. If your team has a strong defense, most of the allies will be resurrecting at Storm Pike and many of those will decide to retake Stone Hearth on their way back to offense. As long as your defense is winning, it is not necessary to try to kill every ally that runs by. Leave them for the defense and concentrate on defending the grave yard and the two towers until they are destroyed.
This is the point where the horde wins or loses the game. The road leading to SP is narrow and takes a strong turn just before it gets to the grave yard. It is extremely difficult to take the grave yard up this road, especially when you have a strong defense that has sent many allies back to defending this point. Unfortunately, most of the horde forces will try to do just that. Those who are more experienced will instead try one of the alternate routes. Alternate route one, and the one used most often, is the high road to the right of the main road. You can reach this by either taking the road where it forks below Icewing Bunker or by taking the path through the trees just to the right of the bunker. From here you can run around to the back of the graveyard by the mine. Alternate route two, which is the quickest and least used one, is to the left of the main road and under the bridge. This brings you to an area just below the grave yard and provides a nice area for a surprise attack. It usually takes a solid group of horde players taking one of the alternate routes to take the grave yard. Once you cap the grave yard, it is crucial that several people stay to defend it.
The strategy for taking the allied base depends mostly upon how many people are guarding it. If the defense is light, groups of 4 or 5 horde can go to cap each tower while the rest of the players kill the NPCs in the middle and attempt to take the aid station. If there is a heavy defense, then the entire horde needs to take a single tower and defend it until it is destroyed and then move to the next tower and then finally to the aid station. This is usually only necessary when there is a full turtle and the horde has not only wiped the allied offense, but taken Snow Fall Graveyard as well.
The four important graveyards are Snowfall, Iceblood, Frostwolf and the Relief Hut. The Alliance often does not defend Stonehearth and so the Alliance caps Snowfall at about the same time as the Horde caps Stonehearth. A danger of this strategy is that if the Horde assault Snowfall before the Alliance has capped it, the Alliance have only Stormpike to resurrect in. When the Horde assault Snowfall while they also hold Stonehearth the Alliance is often forced into a turtle at Stormpike.
About half of the Alliance raid will ride to Galvangar in the Iceblood Garrison while the remaining half of the group will break off and ride directly to the Relief Hut. they will then capture the Relief Hut graveyard and work on the Relief Hut towers. After Galvangar is killed, the raid continues and captures Iceblood Tower, Iceblood Graveyard and Tower Point. If the Horde are defending the choke point just before Iceblood Graveyard, the Alliance will stay mounted and ride past them to either Frostwolf Graveyard or the Relief Hut. The danger of fighting at the choke point is that the Alliance do not yet control a forward Graveyard, so if you die you will end up back at Stormpike Graveyard. A common mistake that groups will make is fighting the Horde defense at each successive Graveyard. If they are defending Iceblood and you fight them and capture the Graveyard, then the Horde defense is at Frostwolf Graveyard and you'll have to fight them again. It is important to capture the Relief Hut first to avoid having to fight a moving wave of Horde defense.
On the final assault on Frostwolf Keep, the Alliance captures the Frostwolf Relief Hut and 2 more towers. They normally wait until the Relief Hut is fully captured and the 4 towers are burned before attacking Drek'Thar. Note: Drek is worth 83 honor and each tower is worth 62 honor. But, always keep an eye on the Batttleground map and look at your Defense back up at Dun Baldar. If your defense is gone along with your towers and graveyards you can bet that the Horde are already attacking Vanndar. Waiting for towers to cap while not keeping an eye on what is going on up North will cost you a win and give you less honor.
If any mob near Drek is pulled, all mobs and Drek come along. All of the mobs in Drek's room are linked, which means if any of them are kited or feared outside then Drek will reset to 100% health. Then, Drek'Thar is finally attacked. Due to the proximity of the AV entrance cave for Horde, Iceblood graveyard and Frostwolf graveyard are both often recaptured.
An effective strategy is to send one or more Alliance directly to the Frostwolf camp, bypassing all other objectives. This advance team prepares the way for the main offensive by capturing the East and West Frostwolf Towers and the Frostwolf Relief Hut. Speed is an essential quality to a winning strategy. It takes 4 minutes to capture a Graveyard or burn a Tower, so it is best to do as many of these things in parallel as possible, but it is important to balance this with defending each of the Towers.
The Alliance can also use priests to defend the Dun Baldar Bridge, by Mind Controlling any Horde that attack and running them off the bridge.
When the Horde are playing a defensive game, it is common for Alliance players to try to rush south, but doing this often gets them killed. Instead, Alliance players should defend Stonehearth or push Iceblood Graveyard, kill the Horde healers, and try to ninja the Iceblood Graveyard flag while the Horde are fighting at the chokepoint.