WoW Wednesday: Why Warfronts?

War has touched every aspect of Azeroth’s wild and untamed horizon in the last fifteen years of its history. In Battle for Azeroth players have gotten to experience that ongoing faction war first hand in both its deep-rooted storylines and in the game’s newest instanced content: Warfronts. One of the few ulterior modes of gameplay aside from Raid Tier and Rated PvP, Warfronts offer players the chance to take the field in some of the world’s most heavily contested battlefronts. The main question I wanted to ask this week is why? Why should players invest their time in warfronts, why should Blizzard continue the trend, and why is it that these great pieces of content lose their luster so incredibly quickly?

For those not present in World of Warcraft’s current expansion, Warfronts are just that; Players parachute and storm a currently in-progress battleground between the Horde and Alliance that must be claimed. Securing a foothold for their faction, players then proceed to engage in a Player vs. Environment battle as they take territory along the battlements and advance upon the enemy’s fortress. Gathering resources heroes of the Horde and the Alliance will reinforce their own battlements while creating new weapons for their troops, creating siege weapons and eventually striking down the enemy commander.

Battle for Azeroth started the Warfront with its greatest showing so far. Taking fight to the Arathi Highlands, heavily featured in Christie Golden’s pre-expansion novel Before the Storm, this area has long since been in conflict since World of Warcraft’s inception. Originally struggled for by the Defilers and League of Arathor in Arathi Basin, the Highland’s Warfront features some of the game’s greatest legacy characters making their stands against each other. For the first time since the original Warcraft: Orcs vs. Humans, Danath Trollbane, the rightful ruler of the Kingdom of Stromgarde and the territory of Arathi returns home to claim the warfront. Famous characters of both the Horde and the Alliance take the field for the first time; both a recently returned Turalyon and an underused Muradin Bronzebeard square off against Lady Liadrin, one of Silvermoon’s greatest Blood Knights and Eitrigg, one of the Blackrock Clan’s greatest warriors.


Upon parachuting into Stromgarde, players quickly found themselves embroiled right in the thick of combat. It takes mere moments to engage the enemy and begin building your base outwards, assaulting the wilderness itself in order to gather resources and recruit forces to assist offensive players. No matter where you go in Stromgarde, battle is to be found, eventually culminating in a fight at the gates of your foe’s stronghold before the gates are blown aside by artillery. From there it is a mad rush into the jaws of the beast and the defeat of the enemy commander.

Furthermore, the unique Warfront rewards were more than just a passing fad. While sharing similar models with current season PvP gear, the Battle for Stromgarde also offered two different armor sets for the Warfront with different color variations. While the first could be gained through simply completing the Warfront, the other Elite variant required going above and beyond. Initially offered by both completing the Warfront once and again for a follow-up quest in the zone, Warfronts Equipment Caches could award multiple parts of this Elite set potentially.

This, however, was soon to become more frustrating than not in every respect. With the launch of the Battle for Darkshore and Battle for Azeroth Season 2, there has been a distinct paradigm shift in the design and reward philosophy of Warfronts.


Darkshore and Stromgarde are, in several respects, virtually identical in their construction. Both see players storming a battlefield, gathering resources, building a base, and launching assaults against an enemy commander in order to defeat them and claim victory. Darkshore, on the other hand, suffers far more from the limitations of the zone it is featured in and how the story has so far been structured about its conflict. Featuring the Night Elves, now empowered by the dark side of Elune, they try to retake their ancient lands from an encroaching Forsaken army intent on blighting the lands from shoreline to shoreline. Headed by Maiev Shadowsong, the leader of the Wardens and Sira Moonwarden, now raised into the Forsaken’s undead army, these two commanders offer little if any long-term history or development for the players unless they closely followed the goings-on of the Warden faction during Legion.

Unlike Stromgarde, players also must carve their way into their own base; while the invading faction quite literally parachutes into their fortress and can retake ground in moments, Darkshore players must now carve their path from shoreline to base before beginning the Warfront proper. This really only serves to extend the total length of the event. Both factions will take the exact same steps through the battle, from Bashal’aran north to Lor’danel Landing, effectively giving no real sense of battle-lines.

While Darkshore is almost identically laid out in terms of capturing bases and branching pathways to Stromgarde, the longer design of the zone makes the entire encounter feel much more claustrophobic. Frankly it feels more like players are skirmishing with the enemy in a hallway than spreading across a battlefield, allowing groups of players to easily intercept enemy forces and eradicate them with little effort. This problem is only compacted by the endgame where players must wait to disable sea-weaponry off the shoreline, making it unattackable. It can only be destroyed by your own siege weaponry meaning that it takes an extensive period of time before it can be obliterated and the commander unlocked. While some enemies will spawn to harry your assault, these are far reduced from their equivalents in Stromgarde, meaning most will simply /afk and twiddle their thumbs.


This narrowed focus can be seen once more in the Warfront equipment available to players. Unlike the three distinct varieties players could obtain in Season 1, this was altered to two with three different color variants (one for PvP ‘Aspirant’ gear, one for ‘Gladiator’ and one for ‘Warfront’). While the regular Warfront set can once again be acquired in a day or two of grinding, both the Darkshore and Stromgarde Elite sets have become much more difficult to achieve. With the addition of Darkshore there is now only one Warfronts Equipment Cache rewarded per week, meaning that in order to get every piece of your Elite set, you will spend at least four months per set if you are lucky. Each cache randomly generates its loot, meaning you can also acquire the same piece repeatedly if you are particularly unlucky.

Why should players invest their time in Warfronts? That answer is simple: they are quite fun, despite their issues. While I still see Stromgarde as utterly superior to Darkshore, even gallivanting through the plagued treeline is still enjoyable once or twice per week. There is an innate thrill in playing out the war between the Horde and the Alliance, even if it is essentially the same scenario each time. As we covered in a previous WoW Wednesday, both Warfronts still offer a superior method to gearing characters than Normal or Heroic dungeons as well. There is something here for every player, even if that something is gradually worn down over time.

Why should Blizzard continue with Warfronts? Despite these detractions, Warfronts are a great way to put players into the field when it comes to struggling against the enemy faction. They wonderfully illustrate current battles in the game during Battle for Azeroth and are a wonderful vehicle to convey that visceral action the expansion has lacked thus-far in its regular question content. More can be done with Warfronts, but so far they make for quick and fun action-driven segments that are far simpler (and sometimes more relaxing) than PvP content.

Why does this great piece of content lose its luster so quickly? Frankly, Warfronts have nothing to give to the experienced player. Once you hit or exceed item level 370 there is simply nothing more that Warfronts can offer you in immediate rewards and this is where they begin to greatly suffer. Whereas completing the basic set is achievable and doable, the more elite rewards seem to be purposefully time and RNG gated to forcefully lengthen the amount of time required to ‘finish’ warfronts. While there is now an Honorbound and 7th Legion currency vendor tied to War Events in Battle for Azeroth, these medals are unobtainable in Warfronts, giving players looking for greater and enhanced rewards little to no reason to continue past the basic rewards.


Warfronts are a wonderful additive piece of repeatable content in Battle for Azeroth. While they’re perhaps a slight adjustment to older instanced content formulas permeated throughout the World of Warcraft, they are still incredibly enjoyable even for just casual play. However, their lack of mindful design through zone construction means that they amplify incumbent environment issues directly onto how gameplay feels in the Warfront. Rewards are simply unrewarding to a vast majority of players, meaning that the continued play for Warfronts will only decrease as the expansion drones on, even as additional warzones open up across Azeroth.

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WoW Wednesday: The Wide World of Warfronts

The end-game has begun! With the update today finally hitting worldwide servers, Raiding, Mythic +, Warfronts and the 26th Season of Rated PvP have finally landed in Battle for Azeroth. As with our Zones of… series, we’ll be introducing you to each section week by week of the newest end-game content for World of Warcraft, this week starting with Warfronts.

One of the most anticipated parts of Battle for Azeroth, Warfronts are the latest addition to bring the feeling of war to the home-front for both the Horde and the Alliance. Warfronts, while emulating the factional aggression found in PvP combat, are entirely PvE content. These are instanced 20-man cooperative engagements which will focus on taking enemy territory and killing their leaders much akin to Alterac Valley or Isle of Conquest. In doing so you’ll create outposts, set up supply routes, secure resources and train militia members to make the final push.

Warfronts

Horde and Alliance Forces engage in the Highlands!

While more have been promised to release as the expansion develops, the first one now available worldwide is the Battle for Stromgarde, a promising point of naval control for the Alliance and a desperate last stand for occupying Horde forces. A loss here for the Horde could see the Alliance moving north and potentially threatening Quel’Thalas, while Gilnean resettlement efforts could see the nation once more in peril should the Alliance fall.

Before beginning your assault in the Battle for Stromgarde, there are seven prerequisites you must meet to engage in Warfronts. Firstly, Warfronts are end-game content and as such are restricted to those who are level 120. You must also have unlocked World Quests through either Uniting Kul Tiras or Uniting Zandalar respectively for the Alliance and the Horde. You’ll then receive a quest from a faction recruiter to travel to the Arathi Highlands and get a lay of the land before unlocking Warfront instances. While the Alliance will begin with control of the Warfront, the Horde must begin contributing resources to invade the Highlands. These contribution periods are regionally locked and progressed, meaning that your server or battlegroup must reach the contribution point collectively before the Warfront can begin.

Stromgarde Keep, the Alliance Base of Operations in Arathi.

For both factions, launching an assault on the Warfront is the same process; after the enemy faction has wrested control of the Warfront, contributions will be taken from a new War Table in Boralus Harbor for the Alliance and the Port of Zandalar for the Horde. Around these tables, NPCs will have eleven total daily quests to take contributions: 9 for all available professions, one for 100 gold and the last for 100 War Resources. These quests can only be completed once per contribution cycle, meaning your faction will need to lose control of the Warfront before they can be engaged again. Each quest, however, rewards 500 Azerite Power for your Heart of Azeroth and 150 Reputation for your respective War Campaign reputation, making these incredibly rewarding to complete.

Once your faction has finished their contribution period, you’ll be able to queue for your Warfront. These Warfronts will remain open for several days without contest and once the faction has taken control of the region after those days the opposite faction’s contribution period will begin.

Ar’gorok, the Horde Base of Operations in Arathi.

Warfronts cannot be lost by players, and much like scenarios have varying phases of completion. The first phase will see players parachuting into their own base, having been lost in the previous exchange of regional control. Therein players will battle an occupying Lieutenant to retake their keep before moving out into the Warzone, defeating further Elite creatures to capture the local Mines and Lumber Mill. From here waves of various enemy attacks will begin to advance across the battlefield. While players cannot lose and have their keep recaptured, these enemy platoons can interrupt player attacks and greatly hamper progress.

From here, Phase 2 begins which culminates in the construction of your siege engines thus allowing you to safely advance on the enemy fortress. To do so you’ll need to harvest Iron from the Mine and invading Kobolds, as well as Wood from the Lumber Mill and Angry Treants dotting the landscape. Your landmarks must be defended as the enemy attacks, lest you lose buildings in the process. You can also go on the offensive and begin taking local bases to augment your base construction. While each building has a specific purpose, such as the Barracks creating a constant stream of troops for the Alliance, the Workshop is the most important as that will enable the construction of siege engines.

Horde forces besiege Stromgarde Keep!

After siege engines have been constructed and a sizeable force has been amassed you can begin Phase 3 of the Warfront. Advancing across the battlefield, your team must take the remaining bases to allow safe passage for your siege engines. As they approach the gates of the enemy fortress, they will begin to fire on the gate and towers, damaging them in a similar manner to siege weaponry in Isle of Conquest. Players must defend their engines during this time as enemy forces will stream from their fortress to defend it.

After the gate has been destroyed, the Enemy Commander arrives for combat. Being a famous character in WoW lore for that faction, they will naturally be incredibly powerful. Killing the Commander will take the Warfront for your faction and unlock a wide series of events and rare creatures to battle.

Left: Tier 2 Warfront Exclusive Plate Armor Coloration. Right: Tier 2 Dread Gladiator PvP Plate

The first and most obvious will be the Azerite powered Siege Engine to battle in the Highlands. Each item that drops from these World Bosses are calibrated to be on the same level as Heroic Uldir and will be extremely coveted. Rares across the zone will also drop incredibly rare mounts for players to retrieve. There is also a unique coloration of Warfront Gear for players to collect, different than both the Aspirant sets that several Professions can make, and the Dread Gladiators set rewarded during Season 26. There are also hosts of pets, toys, and achievements, several of which are exclusive to your faction.

Warfronts are a much needed and welcome breath of fresh air to faction warfare in World of Warcraft. Not only a smart nod to the RTS roots of the Warcraft franchise, they also take familiar systems players have actively engaged in for the last two expansions while incorporating them in brand new manners. Playing in Warfronts themselves is incredibly fun and engaging, putting a new spin on several battleground playstyles and strategies while inspiring true faction pride.

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