Macro Primer - Alterac Pass
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Here, we'll review a new map every week, breaking down the ins and outs of rotations, mercs, and objectives. Today we're looking at Alterac Pass
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Alterac Pass is a large three-lane map, with equidistant, wide rotations between mid and top, or mid and bot. Alterac Pass has a few unique mechanics, as well as a unique terrain - mud pits, which slow movespeed up to -60% over three seconds. Immobile heroes caught in the mud pits are easy kills, and forcing retreats through these chokes can often net you enormous advantage.
Alterac also features the fastest respawning camp in the game, in the form of the Armoured Gnoll Siege Camps. These camps respawn in just a minute and thirty seconds, making them a pseudo fourth lane of exp soak. It's crucial to cap these as often as possible. Let's get into rotations!
Alterac features wide lanes, so you're unlikely to frequently swap lanes; that being said, you do want your most efficient camp takers on your Siege Camp, D, right at 1:00, and every 90 seconds after. Keep at least one hero in each lane; it's usually highest value to have your tank and support roam early, eventually relieving your camp takers as the second wave clashes. Outside of that, rotations on Alterac are sparse; you have wide movements across the map, which are generally telegraphed by waves, cleared or not - bosses and ganks are obvious a mile away, so be sure to get ahead on waves before you look to make a play!
It's worth noting that the most surefire way to beat a stall-comp on Alterac is to knock over mid fort; an easy way to achieve that is forming a 4-1 split, with an offlaner tending to either of lane A or C the best they can, while your team groups mid to knock over the wall and fountain. Accompanying a well-timed Siege Camp is the fastest way to achieve this; ensure you capture your camp second to your opponents, so that they clash under your towers; this gives your camp the highest value!
Another option is to group your team at A or C, having an offlaner double-soak to the best of their ability. While this will result in lost EXP, it's made up for in map control; the objective center of D, B, and C for example is controlled primarily through the bottom left fort and secondly through the mid fort; removing the primary retreat avenue for the left team makes the objective far easier to control. Look to rotate primarily to break enemy buildings; they're the primary method of stalling objectives!
Being as large as it is, Alterac benefits immensely from globals or pseudo-global heroes; characters like Illidan, ETC, Falstad, and Abathur benefit hugely from the wide lanes and long lanes. Whether catching EXP or creating a gank, globals are the most valuable resource you can get your hands on.
Of particular note, Ragnaros, with his Lava Wave, effectively shuts down a lane of push every objective; it's not uncommon for a Rag team to lose every objective - only to deny the pushing team from netting any structures by well placed wave clear. Similar to a soaking TLV or Falstad, Rag will ensure you get to the late-game, whether ahead or behind. In a sense, globals act as safeties - ensuring that, no matter how hard your team loses early, they will get to fight a 16v16 talent fight.
Additionally, boss clear and camp clear are particularly valuable here; Maiev, Greymane, and Valla are a few well-known camp takers that excel at boss control or boss acquisition. Supplementary damage or damage-sponges, such as Muradin or Stukov, are fantastic composition-rounders that can offer a little bit of everything. Some heroes achieve all of the above - see: Fenix!
Of course, an enormous part of Alterac is its' objective. Before we dive into detail on how to win or stall an objective, note that you have a lot of options on Alterac. You can draft to win the objective and push after; you can draft to win off a boss deathpush, or even draft solely to reach level 20 ahead of your opponent. You can draft a stall composition, that continually denies the objective, while simultaneously getting an EXP advantage. The sky's the limit as far as Alterac Drafting goes - don't feel limited by the meta. Experiment with your hero pool, and test things for yourself!
Alterac's very much an XL Tomb of the Spider Queen, with three individual Cavalry units spawning at your core to run down each lane. Unlike Tomb, you only get one unit spawned - with the caveat that it offers a 10% damage bonus and a whopping 30% movespeed increase. That's equivalent to being mounted, and makes melee heroes incredibly threatening on pushes.
Acquiring the cavalry charge requires your team to channel a point and then defend that point from being channeled by your opponents. Simple enough; the objective takes 30 seconds of guarding initially. Each time the objective is completely captured, this time increases by 10 seconds.
The objective is more powerful based on the number of minions it pushes with; a global carefully setting up waves will net enormous value on the push, forcing the enemy team to choose between one keep or another. Like Tomb, you want to time your waves such that they're even vertically across the map, and ideally with 2 or 3 waves clumped up at your opponents structures. The Cavalry act solely as meat shields; they contribute meaningful damage, but the main way they achieve damage on structures is by protecting ranged minions from tower shots. If a hero is present in the lane, the 10% damage boost and 30% movespeed boost enable them to stay safe while laying siege.
You're better off splitting for the objective, whether defending or attacking. Dealing with each threat simultaneously is the best way to generate or prevent value; look for the lanes that aren't being actively pushed or cleared, and abuse them to win.
Defending on Alterac is dependent on the exact same conditions; flip the lens, and you're looking to stagger waves across the map, such that you can clear a wave, rotate, clear the next, and rotate, all without the wave doing much to your buildings.
What does this mean for hero selection? Like Tomb, there's no such things as too much waveclear. You want to be able to fight heroes and also siege structures or waves. AoE damage is paramount, as is safe, long-range artillery.
Tangentially, that's one of the reasons why Lava Wave is so powerful on this map; it effectively neuters a lane, denying a solid third of the objective for a single R key. More than that, if your opponents don't stagger their waves correctly, you can possibly deny the entire objective with a well placed Wave + Molten Core.
Alright, that being said: what are your priorities on Alterac Pass?
As always, your biggest concern is having good scaling. The vast, vast majority of ranked games end to a 16vs16 fight; you want to get there in good shape, able to take a strong fight. To that end; prioritise heroes that scale well to the late game, or carry your team to that late fight. The aforementioned Ragnaros is King of Salvaging Shitty Starts; the same can be said for Junkrat, Jaina, or Johanna.
Secondly, prioritise heroes that compliment the map; that can be in merc capturing, point control, point stall, boss control, or siege. For example, an Alexstrasza will offer enormous advantage on both bosses and objective thanks to her dragon effectively giving her team the fight. Alternatively, a Sylvanas could find a strong early push mid by disabling the towers, while stacking her level 1 knife; if she hits ~175 stacks by 16, she's likely able to carry the teamfight through sheer damage alone.
Finally, always look for heroes that are independently powerful; that is, heroes that don't rely on their team to be effective. Alarak, Garrosh, Thrall, or Fenix are fantastic characters for that reason alone; given that none of them actually require a healer and all have high kill pressure. Stitches players will win games through picks and pressure, while Nazeebo's will borderline AFK for 20 minutes, show up to one fight stacked, and wipe the floor with the entirety of the enemy team.
Unlike other maps, Alterac's Core is particularly tanky. With three keeps up, it's invulnerable; with one down however, it drops from 'completely untouchable' to '40 freaking armour'. This effectively makes Alterac's Core the hardest to kill in the game; with the General's AoE Cleave and Charge, they're much more efficient at dealing with both waves and heroes. At minute ten, a regular core has 27000 HP; on Alterac, with two keeps up, that 40 armour makes it closer to 39000 HP
. Too, Core HP regenerates on Alterac; if you wipe and fail to finish the job, you've effectively gifted the enemy team a boatload of experience at no cost.
What this means is you must destroy at least two keeps to end the game on Alterac
, and incidental damage to core is worth absolutely nothing. Less than nothing, considering the tme and resources you waste on chipping the core. Additionally, backdoor heroes such as Illidan, Sonya, and Zagara are significantly weaker at pressuring the enemy team, since it's a lot less likely that they can end single-handedly, even with an enormous minion wave.
This is slightly offset by the unique catapult replacement on Alterac, the Reaver. Reavers lead minion waves from the front, with 50 armour versus minions and 75 versus structures, Reavers are the single tankiest units outside bosses in terms of enabling a push.
A trio of Reavers will take a mega minion wave through a fort wall, fort, keep wall, and keep, and still have HP to spare.
Thus, your checklist looks a little like this: Kill a Fort; Kill Two Keeps; get a Boss or the Objective, and then you can threaten core.
Anything less is a surefire miss. Coring on Alterac is brutally more challenging than most maps; Keeps are higher value here than anywhere else!
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