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A vast body of cobalt water, frozen into diamond stillness by Northrend's chills. An alabaster-white keep, built to gaze over one of the most austere examples of Azeroth's natural beauty. And a promising mine, one whose plunder could power exploration of the entire cold continent.
It's no accident that Lake Wintergrasp is the seat of ceaseless battle. Every few hours on the lake brings another skirmish, the thunder of cannon fire and crunching tread of tons-weight vehicles re-powdering the snow. Every outbreak of violence is a chance for a peon or peasant to find riches in the mines, or for an adventurer to seek treasure in the unearthly vault below the keep.
Horde and Alliance fight for Wintergrasp's plunder, but not blindly. If they bolster the war machine that brings down Northrend's horrifying undead, they buy their soldiers the hope to return home.
Unlike traditional Battlegrounds, Lake Wintergrasp is an active 'outdoor' (non-instanced) zone. It can be fully explored: you are able to hunt the local fauna, harvest crafting materials, and receive PvP-related quests from NPCs near your starting area to turn in for honor and gold. However, at various points during the day (approximately every few hours), war rages through Wintergrasp as both factions struggle to control it.
This struggle for control is ongoing - the last faction to 'own' Wintergrasp must defend the keep from their enemies until time runs out (default: 30 minutes). The attackers strive to break down the doors and claim the keep. Both sides use the war machines produced by opportunistic goblin profiteers.
To reach Lake Wintergrasp, you can queue to join the battle from your PvP menu, or pursue a more scenic route, like taking a portal to the zone from the neutral city of Dalaran, flying to Wintergrasp via a flight master, or touching down on your own flying mount.
You'll be able to confirm if a struggle is in progress (or check the time to the next struggle) by viewing the Player vs Player pane in your menu.
A struggle for Lake Wintergrasp ends in one of two ways:
Offense Victory – the attackers breach the walls of the keep's relic chamber and claim the relic.
Defense Victory – the defenders prevent the attackers from claiming the relic before time expires.
Goblin workshops located at key points on the battlefield can be used by either faction to unleash mighty vehicles. Most workshops are contested, and can be captured by ensuring that your faction has more players in the vicinity of the workshop than your enemies do (you'll see a visual indication of how close the workshop is to your faction's control).
'Ranked' members of your faction may deploy goblin war machines from a captured workshop. These vehicles can be piloted by any friendly player; right-click on them to hop in, and use the abilities displayed in their menu to do horrendous things to your enemies.
Keep Wintergrasp is the primary objective of the struggle, and it must be captured to change the ownership status of the zone. Capturing the keep requires that a member of the attacking faction breach the keep doors and right-click on the relic located within. First, the outer and inner walls of the keep must be shattered - this is often accomplished with the vehicles available in goblin workshops (though some purchased or crafted bombs and charges can deal damage to walls too).
The assault on Wintergrasp is bolstered by siege towers on both sides - 3 towers belonging to the attacking faction (located near the south of the zone), and 4 defending towers bordering the keep. Each tower includes a turret which can be commandeered by players of the appropriate faction (right-click on an unoccupied turret to hop in) and used to shoot at enemy players and vehicles.
All towers can be destroyed in the same manner as keep walls: by attacking them with vehicle abilities. Each of the southern towers slightly increases the attacking faction's damage; if they're destroyed, those damage increases ('buffs') now apply to the defending faction - and, if all southern towers are destroyed, the amount of time remaining in the struggle will be notably reduced.
Destroying enemy players, guards and turrets grants you a distinct rank (unique to Lake Wintergrasp). Increasing ranks permit you to access war machines at goblin workshops and become a more significant force in the battle.
Corporal - 5 kills
First Lieutenant - 10 kills