The anti-thesis of dungeons, Battlegrounds offer a completely different experience to players. Dungeons are completed by calculated, methodical progression; the goal being to control the game rather than letting the game control you.
PvP is quite the opposite. In PvP battlegrounds, you are not pitted against digital entities with calculated behaviors, but fellow humans with all the common sense and lack there-of that comes with being human. PvP rewards quick thinking and situational awareness: the moment you think everything is safe and good, a rogue will appear behind you and you'll have the choice of releasing your spirit now or in 6 minutes.
Warsong Gulch, or WSG, is the first Battleground that leveling characters can access. The game flow is the classic capture the flag model which grew up in real world paintballing and has made its way into many online multi player games. (e.g. Blood Gulch in Halo). As battlegrounds go, WSG is the standard fare; games tend to resolve quickly resulting in high turnaround and thus increased opportunity to gain honor.
Leadership & Play Style
The Instance Grouping Guide briefly mentions the role of the party leader; designating targets and planning the flow of the battle. The party plans a fight, executes that plan, and then advances to make the next plan. In this way, Dungeons are similar to American Football, where play action is interrupted regularly and the emphasis is on anticipating what the opponent will do in the next snap.
This is not the case in WSG. Game flow is never interrupted; if you stand still for a span of time in the middle of the battle you can expect that the opponent will either kill you or ignore you and go after the objective. Here, the leader must coach in a style more akin to basketball, where players know their roles and do them to the best of their ability according to their knowledge of the situation at the moment. A good battleground leader will remind people what their job is, and tell them information that they need to know that they might not know, such as where the flag bearer is.
The MOST important thing in WSG is positioning: being in the right place at the right time to react, particularly in the lower levels of the battleground, before people can be mounted. It takes time to move across the map, and in many cases you could follow someone for minutes and gain no ground at all if they choose their path correctly. You can't hit what you can't catch.
If you've read the Instance Grouping Guide, or have played WoW at all, you should already be aware that there are significant differences between classes. In a dungeon, warriors and healers exist to allow dps classes to do their work. This relationship is reversed in WSG.
Flagbearing: Druids, Warriors, Paladins
The flag bearer is absolutely assured to be target numero uno to the opponent. S/he can expect to take fire from any and every player who can disengage to intercept them in time. Thus, it is absolutely critical that the flag bearer be a class capable of surviving the run with the flag. Druids, with their animal forms, can be useful in this role because of their great speed or armor/stamina. Mages, with their snares and blink, and priests, with shielding and fear, can also survive in this role but not against a determined and focused opponent; once a few DoTs pile up, cloth classes tend to die quickly. Warriors and Paladins are ideal if a druid is not available.
Skirmishing: Warlocks, Hunters, Shamans
The role of the skirmisher is to harass the opponent. Classes with combat pets can present a threat to the opponent, particularly hunters with pets similar to druid animal forms. This role is less about killing the opponent, and more about stalling and forcing the opponent to become entangled in battle instead of running towards their objective. Shamans, with their combination of skills, also make excellent skirmishers. Skirmishers should concentrate on wing men going in for the flag, and the flag bearer.
Wingmen: Priests, Mages
Mages and Priests, with frost nova and fear respectively, make excellent wing men for flag bearers. Frequently they can run alongside opponent players behind the flag bearer with little risk of being attacked merely because the opponent is focused solely on recovering the flag. AOE snares can stop pursuit cold. Against a particularly disorganized opponent, wing men might also stay behind at the opponent's graveyard and snare players as they rez; a suicidal move frequently but certain to draw attention away from the rest of the fight.
Flag Guards: Mages, Hunters
Classes with the ability to detect rogues also make good guards. Hunters, with their flares and traps, can detect rogues and booby-trap the flag area. Mages, with frost nova and arcane explosion, have equally good abilities. In some cases an opponent rogue will camp the flag alcove while the flag is being carried, for a quick rebound should the team score or the flag be returned, and guards have the abilities to detect these infiltrators before they can act.
Hunter-Killers: Rogues, DPS Casters
Despite the name, this role has little to do with hunters and everything to do with killing. Hunter-Killer players roam the backfield, or sometimes camp the flag, looking for otherwise unengaged players to pick off; in practice this is similar to sniper-camping in most shooting games. If the skirmishers have picked off wing men, the HK rogue camping the flag can pick off the flag bearer before the flag can leave the base. Other DPS classes can support this role as well: night elves give the alliance an advantage in this way with their shadowmeld ability.
- You will die
- This cannot be made clear enough. Players in battlegrounds will die. Frequently. And so long as you aren't carrying the flag, protecting the flag bearer, or attacking the opponent flag bearer, it's often a good thing. Death gives you an opportunity to revise your view of the fight and see if you were contributing or not, plus refill your mana.
- Death does not cost you
- Your gear does not take damage from dying in battlegrounds; however it does take the normal wear and tear damage.
- Killing is not imperative
- It is not necessary to kill every opponent on the battlefield. Actually, if your team makes this their goal, you will likely lose because the flag bearer will avoid the tangled mess of enemies and allies. Fights that can't be resolved in a few seconds frequently aren't worth fighting, and the worst mistake a band of inexperienced players can make is sending half their team to kill one opponent, because 4 more players will run into the base behind that 5 to 1 battle. If you can 2-shot an opponent, go for it. Otherwise, don't get bogged down in battle unless they make you, and don't stop to help a 1 on 1 battle unless you can end it in a second.