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Tol Barad: Two Zones, So Many Possibilities
After the relative success of Wintergrasp in Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard Entertainment decided to release a new world PvP zone in Cataclysm: Tol Barad. Composed of two zones (Tol Barad and Tol Barad Peninsula), this special island is home to a battle between Horde and Alliance forces every two hours.
Like Wintergrasp, Tol Barad offers a weekly quest, several daily quests in both zones, special rewards earned through commendations, and a raid zone for the victor. Benefits for all kinds of players are available, making it important for any player above level 80 to know the basics of Tol Barad.
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Tol Barad Peninsula
To enter Tol Barad without a call to battle, players must find the portal in their respective major city (Stormwind or Orgrimmar). These portals transport the player to the base camp for their faction on Tol Barad Peninsula, a separate zone from Tol Barad. The faction camp possesses both special and regular vendors and a portal back to the major city. Quest givers - both for the weekly PvP, and daily Tol Barad Peninsula quests - are also located here.
No battle takes place on Tol Barad Peninsula (other than skirmishes between flagged players). Instead, this zone is a neutral zone separated into several areas. These areas play host to the objectives of six daily quests (randomly selected each day for each faction), which can be completed without PvP or ownership of Tol Barad itself. Gathering nodes can also be found on this half of the island.
Flying mounts are disallowed from Tol Barad Peninsula, and Tol Barad, entirely. Instead, players must use ground mounts to travel across the zone, and cannot fly in from any other area.
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Commendations and Reputation
Completing quests in Tol Barad Peninsula, and in Tol Barad - as well as participating in the regular PvP battle - will earn players Tol Barad Commendations, as well as reputation with the appropriate faction (Baradin's Wardens for the Alliance, and Hellscream's Reach for the Horde).
These commendations may only be spent at the faction's base camp in Tol Barad Peninsula. Rewards on the special vendor here do not require honor points, but do require commendations and reputation with the faction in order to purchase.
Among the rewards available are:
- Friendly: PvP Bandages, Healing Potions, and Mana Potions only usable in Tol Barad; Reputation Commendations that may be used to gain 250 reputation with the appropriate Tol Barad faction.
- Honored: Tol Barad Tabard, a Mastery Trinket, a useable "Searchlight" cosmetic item, and the Rustberg Gull minipet.
- Revered: Tol Barad Standard and various weapons (iLVL 346).
- Exalted: Trinkets, the Drake of the West Wind (flying mount), and the Spectral Steed (Alliance) or Spectral Wolf (Horde).
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The Geography of Tol Barad
The battle takes place on Tol Barad itself, an island connected to the peninsula by a thin bridge that locks down fifteen minutes before the battle begins. In order to enter the island during battle, players must queue for it through the PvP Interface (H). The isle may also be entered by the owning faction only for two hours in between battles by crossing the span that connects it to the Peninsula, or if summoned in by a group at the Baradin Hold raid entrance.
The center of the zone houses Baradin Hold. This area houses the Baradin Hold raid instance, the daily quest givers for the owners of the zone, and a spawn point for the defenders of the zone during battle. It does not play a part in the actual battle.
In the middle-north, south-east, and south-west are three fortresses. These are the three major points of contention within the battle for Tol Barad. Between these points (north-east, north-west, and south-middle) are three spires or towers, which may be destroyed by the attackers to extend the length of the battle.
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Battling in Tol Barad
Joining the battle through the PvP Interface grants a player a chance (based on random draw, and not on a first-come, first-serve basis) to enter the battle when it begins. Players may not enter in any other way. This is to keep the numbers on the battlefield even (for every one attacker, there is one defender.)
Once the battle begins, the attackers have one simple goal: capture all three bases before time runs out. This goal, however, is less easy than it seems.
In order to capture a base, the attacking team must gather players at its flag and wait (in a mode similar to Eye of the Storm or Wintergrasp) until the flag turns from the defenders to the attackers. This flag status will then hold until the defenders turn the flag. At any time, the defenders can come and defend their base from being captured. Bases turn faster the more people that are present around it.
Towers may also be captured to extend the time limit of the battle. To destroy these towers, players must capture and use a siege engine, found scattered across the battlefield, and successfully drive it to one of the towers. These can then be put into a siege mode and left to attack the tower without player control.
Defenders, on the other hand, must defend bases by chasing out the attackers. Currently, the battle advantage goes to the defenders, who may simply turtle in a base until the time limit wears out, or move behind the attacking forces and retake the bases they leave behind.
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To the Victor, Go the Spoils
The first benefit that this grants is access to the Baradin Hold raid zone. Like Vault of Archavon, this zone contains multiple raid bosses (released with each PvP season) that drop both PvP gear and some Tier 11 raiding gear.
The second benefit is a selection of six additional daily quests for the faction's Tol Barad reputation. These quests include three static quests (The Leftovers, Swamp Bait, and A Huge Problem) and three quests revolving around one of three areas in Baradin's Hold (The D-Block, the Cursed Depths, and The Hole). These quests grant more experience and commendations for the victors, but can only be completed between battles.