Do you know what the key to winning Eye of the Storm is? I'll tell you : it's The Eye of the Storm! Right in the title, crazy I know! Let me illustrate what I mean, using stick figures of meditating men so that I, too, can make Cynwise's day. Here's two storms :
In both examples there is a RAGING SPINNING TORNADO OF DEATH on the outside, and a peaceful, calm, meditation-worthy space in the center. And that's how you win EOTS -- fight at the towers, which are around the periphery, and not in the center. Unfortunately, Blizzard has decided to play a cruel joke on this strategy and put a big shiny flag in the center, which encourages people to try and grab it. I once read this referred to as a "buglight" and that's totally true : try for it and you're like to get fried. Most likely by ele shammies knockbacking you off the edge into oblivion but that's a complaint for a different post. So let's look at a couple things here :
What are my resources?
You have 15 people on your team; with this you can reasonably defend control of 3 nodes -- 5 at each makes for a solid defense. As in Arathi Basin, controlling three nodes leads to winning; also as in Arathi Basin, you frequently CAN'T control three nodes because half of your team will be fighting like idiots in the road and not actually at a node. Ahem.
What's the mechanics?
You win by gaining 1600 points. You gain points by holding towers, and capping flags. Capping flags gives you more points the more towers you have...kind of like a snowballing effect.
With one tower : You earn 1 point per second, and a flag cap is worth 75 points.
With two towers : You earn 2 points per second, and a flag cap is worth 85 points.
With three towers : You earn 5 points per second, and a flag cap is worth 100 points.
With four towers : You earn 10 points per second, and a flag cap is worth 500 points.
It's much like AB in that there's a huge gap of difference between mostly-dominating with 3 (4 in AB), and totally dominating by owning every node.
As far as honor is concerned, you gain it from your usual three suspects -- killing people, the bonus honor from doing a random, and from completing the BG objectives. The objective in EOTS is simple : points. You gain 124 honor every 267 points (on a nonholiday), ie at 267, 533, 800, 1067, 1333, 1600. You also gain 124 honor for completing the map, regardless of win or lose, and 124 honor for winning. If you win, therefore you get 8 x 124 = 992 honor from objectives.
On a holiday, you gain 124 honor every 160 points, for a total of 10 "ticks" (as opposed to the 6 on a regular, non-holiday day), ie at 160, 320, 480, 640, 800, 960, 1120, 1440, 1600. The 124 honor for clearing the map, and the 124 honor for winning, remain unchanged. A holiday win is therefore worth 12 x 124 = 1488 honor from objectives.
What are my options?
There are two accepted strategies for Eye of the Storm. One is much better than the other, and the other is the one that gets used all the time. Raise your hand if you think they're the same. If you raised your hand, go pug a few more BGs and come back when you're not so naive.
Option 1 : Capture two towers, and then run the flag
This is what usually ends up happening in pugs. It's easy to run from your start point, grab the two nodes closest to you, and then go to the flag. The problem is this results in a mirrored map -- you are forcing the other side to follow the exact same strategy, which results in both sides fighting over the same objective, the flag in the middle. You are both accruing tower points at the same rate, and so control of the midfield flag spawn will make or break the success of this plan. Here's the problem with this plan : you look at the map, and you think there are four nodes. The cleverer among you may even have said, aha no, there are 5. There are six. And successful execution of a 2+mid plan relies on you controlling four of them. Remember when I said you only really have enough people to control three nodes? That's why this is a bad plan. Another picture :
The six nodes are : Mage Tower (upper left), Draenei Ruins (upper right), Fel Reaver Ruins (lower left), Blood Elf Tower (lower right), the flag spawn (in the middle), and wherever the flag happens to be. To pursue this strategy you must hold your two towers, control the flag as it's being moved from the center to one of your towers, AND control the middle so that once the flag is capped you can pick it back up again. This is difficult to execute in practice, and tends to result in seesaw capping games where the last to cap wins. This is why you frequently hear "don't cap till we have mid" in an eots game of this type.
Option 2 : Control 3 towers
This is by far the better option. Best of all, if executed correctly you usually only have to worry about controlling TWO nodes! Here's the thing : if you control three towers, only two of them are likely to be attacked, the third being out of range of any but lonely stealth-attempts. Again :
And the thing is, as the other side attacks those two nodes, people like the sheep they are will drift to the defense of those nodes, which is exactly where they need to be. In the above picture you'll end up with the lion's share of people defending MT & BET, with a token few at DR.
You do not need to worry about the flag in this situation. Remember the math up above? With three towers you gain 5 points per second. They are gaining 1 point per second. A flag cap with one tower is worth 75 points. That means that *just to stay even with you* they have to cap a flag every 75/4 = 18.75 seconds. It's not gonna happen, trust me. The average time it takes to cap a flag is 137 seconds, from the games I've recorded. And I've never seen it faster than 90 seconds. You can completely ignore the middle if you like. Of course, if the other side is intelligent they will know this as well and be trying to grab a second tower, so they will also be ignoring the middle -- which may allow you to cushion your lead with an easy snatch-and-cap. But don't get locked into a fight over it -- if they want it, let them have it, because although they may be too stupid to realise it that flag is worthless to them. Which leads to the last point :
When should I flutter my moth wings and go towards the buglight?
There's three situations you could be in, but generally this goes back to what I said at the beginning : the center must be a place of calm and meditation. In other words, if nobody's there, feel free to grab the flag. If there's a big fight going on, then you would be better off doing something else. But specifically :
* You have one tower : You might consider making a flag grab if you can get away with it easily, but you SHOULD NOT CAP IT. Your goal here is solely to slow down their runaway win and buy your actual offense time to get a second (and hopefully third) tower back. Do not send more than a handful of people after this.
* You have two towers : If you're smart here you should be capping a third tower here. Look at it this way : capping the flag will take you two minutes, and net you 85 honor. Capping a third tower is an increase of 3 points per second. So if you can take a third tower in (137-(85/3)) less than 109 seconds, you would be better off doing that. Which sounds like a short time but your time-sense is very telescoped in BGs, that's a long time to fight over a node. If however you're fighting in a stalemate, a very well-matched game, the time it takes to cap a third tower may be outweighed by the ease of a flag cap, if you can control the mid. Just remember : that third tower will always work for you, and defenders will drift to your two vulnerable towers naturally; the flag will only work for you till you cap it, at which point you have to recalculate your odds all over again.
* You have three towers : Focus on defending your towers and you will win automatically. That said, similar to one tower, if nobody's in the middle why not make a push for it? Cuts down your win time by (100/5=) 20 seconds. Again though, don't make a serious effort at it; the flag at this point *does not matter* to either side so your primary focus should be on what is -- defending your towers.
Oh and lastly I suppose, if you have 4 towers : you outclass them so badly, why not? Just as with three towers, you really only have two vulnerable towers to defend (the two closest to the opposing side's starting spawn point) so you have a little wiggle room to grab the flag if you've got someone sitting around doing nothing. And you cut your win time by (500/10=) 50 seconds. Of course, you're already going to win in (1600/10=) 160 seconds = 2 minutes 40 seconds or less anyway, are you really that impatient? :-).
To sum up : BUGLIGHT BAD. HAPPY MEDITATING STICK FIGURE IN MID GOOD.