The island of Ashran was once home to a mighty ogre empire, apparently ruled at some point by Kor'lok. While apparently now in ruin, the island features signs of a once great settlement, including towers, arenas and extensive mines. In the aftermath of the Second War, Deathwing built a lair on the island, but this was later razed, forcing the dragon to return to Azeroth.
Given the dominant presence of the Ashmaul ogre clan, it may be inferred that the Ashmaul were either the controlling ogre power on the island prior to its fall into dilapidation, or else have descended from that power. Alternatively the Ashmaul may have conquered the island more recently, with earlier empires having ruled before the clan's rise to power. Ashmaul culture appears to revolve around fire magic, with the clan's ranks including pyromancers, flamespeakers and magma casters, as well as the support of a host of summoned fire elementals.
The smaller Gor'vosh ogre clan, found only in the southeast of the island, appear to be the less dominant clan. Making their home in the Ashmaul Burial Grounds, these ogres practice necromanticarts, and have raised a number of undead ogres from the remains in the area, presumably belonging to ogres from the Ashmaul clan, given the area's title. The two clans appear to be locked in a bitter rivalry.
The island is of great importance to both the Alliance and the Horde due to the presence of ancient artifacts which hold great power. The fragments of artifacts found scattered across the isle are valued by both factions, as well as by the Highmaul ogre clan, while organisations such as The Reliquary keenly seek larger and more intact specimens from which to gain understanding and power, with the remarkable effects witnessed in the intact Ancient Artifacts occasionally found on the island demanding further investigation. The Alliance's investigations are headed up by Harrison Jones, while Belloc Brightblade leads the Horde's efforts.
The Alliance are seeking a specific, large artifact, theorised by Harrison Jones to have powers rivalling that of titan technology. The artifact appears to have military applications, with the possibility of using it or the knowledge gained from it against the Horde. The Horde are aware of the Alliance's search, and are attempting to find it first.Both factions claim to seek control of the artifact in order to defend themselves against the other.
The Reliquary claim to wish to study the artifacts in order to give the Horde the upper hand in the war, in which pursuit they have come into conflict with the Steamwheedle Cartel, who have taken possession of quantities of the artifacts for their own commercial interests, and have a very different idea of the true meaning of the word "priceless". Apparently the goblins have begun selling Ashran "souvenirs", stringing together and selling them as jewelry.
Since arriving on the island, each faction has established control of an entrance to the main mines beneath the island, subsequently blocking access even to revered adventurers due to "work" going on inside, and posting guards at the barricaded entrances. Harrison Jones believes the artifact sought by both factions to be located in the mines, and according to Horde spies the Alliance is currently building machinery used to drill through rocks. Not to be outdone, the blood elves had already discovered "something big" in the mines, supposedly a part of the artifact for which the Alliance have been searching.
One main artery runs through the center of the zone, and it¡¯s here that players will engage in an endless faction tug-of-war. At opposite endpoints, Horde and Alliance bases wait to be captured, and they'll be fighting for control of five additional capture points as they make their way down the lane. Capturing these points along the way will push each faction toward the enemy base. To effectively hamstring opponents and hobble their efforts for a time, players need to take down their General within their base. Doing so will not only garner bragging rights, but will also deny the opposing faction access to their General, who serves as a Conquest vendor.
At the central hub, the Ogre King stands waiting, flanked by his two bodyguards. Engaging one of the bodyguards and proving their worth in combat will win the Ogre King to the players' faction¡¯s side, and he will fight for them for a time. His endurance is limited, and the longer he goes undefeated, the more susceptible to damage he becomes.
As in many Battlegrounds, each faction will have a Resource count available to them. Once a faction¡¯s Resources drop to 100, they¡¯ll get a little extra help via a randomly spawning Captain who will begin to fight for their side. Many of these will bear familiar names such as Swifty, who will fight for the Alliance, or Talbadar, who will fight for the Horde. There¡¯s no guarantee who will ultimately come to players' aid, however. Each time a side reaches this Resource count, a new random captain will join the fray.
There¡¯s more to Ashran than the conflict in the central lane. Around Ashran there are additional points of interest (POIs) and monsters to slay. The various POIs offer a variety of random events which will allow players to win awards for the Horde or Alliance. Buffs can also be earned by killing other players or NPCs. There are currently seven POIs set around the edges of Ashran.
As players make their way around Ashran, they¡¯ll be collecting currency from other players and from monsters they¡¯ve slain. This currency can then be turned in at their base for additional bonuses for their faction, such as Mage Portals or a Warlock Gateway. Or they can choose to summon a random ¡ª and truly epic ¡ª NPC to join in the fight. One losing encounter with a player of the opposite faction can strip players of their hard-fought treasure and have it wind up in opposing pockets instead.
Players will also be able to collect zone-bound items (usable only on the island) to give themselves a little extra advantage as they take on the various challenges around Ashran.
For those looking for the next step in gear, Ashran will provide access to Conquest-quality gear that is unavailable elsewhere.