It's been a while since I first called for historians to begin writing the history of Azeroth. Since then I managed to only write the very beginning of my shaman's story. Sen'jin is somehow just not working. Perhaps I'm going about it the wrong way. I'm asking too much of my memory.
Let us instead go back to what I remember. I will try to catch the spirit of the time, what I felt. The history of Azeroth itself, I'm sure wowiki can handle.
9 shamans ended up in the same Warsong Gulch in the 20s bracket. This was a point at which we had ghost wolf and druids did not yet have travel form, and no one had mounts at all until 40. We were fast and mobile. We absolutely dominated. This was a period when shamans were considered to be overpowered at 60 (the level cap). I didn't really think so (maybe a tiny bit, but let's face it, people weren't very good at PvP back then), but in this bracket, YES. We had windfury and frost shock and ghost wolf and we would destroy you. I used to love Warsong Gulch. I did it a ton while leveling. I even got a bit of rank. Lowbie PvP was more fun back then; there seemed to be no twinks.
BG rep was serious business. AV was the one we all farmed and farmed and farmed. A short battle ended in a day. Sometimes they only 'ended' because the server went down for maintenance. Notice I said server, not servers. Back then there were no cross-realm BGs. This made it great to be Horde, since being lower population meant pretty much instant queues and we were dominant in PvP back then. Why? Some say racials (Will of the Forsaken was AMAZING; broke most C and it even used to give a period of immunity), some say experience (since we could do twice as much PvP in the same amount of time), other say we just became accepted as the PvP faction so if you were serious, you went Horde. Who knows?
But back to rep: it used to be how we got gear. There was also honor gear with rank requirements but that was mostly reserved for people with no lives and/or shared accounts. Back then honor was almost like arena rating now; so it was all relative and to be at the top meant pretty much constant play, depending on the server. For the rest of us, we got our rank trinkets, maybe some bracers, and then it was rep. Some of the stuff was impressive. Near the end of Vanilla WSG had pants added which were amazing but I never got because by then I hated WSG (rep was very slow unless you were in a dominating pre-made). AB had nice stuff, such as boots with +15% to ghost wolf speed, meaning you could almost keep up with a normal mount. AV gave The Unstoppable Force. This was about as powerful as the first 2h weapons from raiding and had a stun proc on it. It was a pig's head on a stick, with darkness glowing around it.
There was also a mount from AV, which was maybe 100 or so gold cheaper than the normal racial mounts. I bought this one because back then the 1000g for a mount was a big deal (no dailies and max-level qiests didn't give gold instead of xp). Training was cheap (well, 100g was still a big deal) but mounts were expensive. At some point they switched them, which was a great idea, but still resulted in much QQ.
There weren't DRs back then, so CC was a huge deal. Especially fear. Back then it shared no DRs with anything and seemed to take forever to break. If you look back you might be able to find some old seduce-nuke videos. This was a warlock style of PvP which revolved around seducing a target and then putting a soulfire into its face. If they weren't dead, an immolate->conflagrate would probably do the trick. Meanwhile the other enemy was running in circles feared. Then you'd kill him. I know this well, because I'd done it a few times. Warlocks were pretty squishy back then with fear and stamina-stacking as our only real defenses, though we also had neat things like curse of exhaustion which was a curse with a snare on it; tremendously useful, especially since amplify curse would increase the effect of it or agony by a big amount, enough to make it a potent long-range snare. Good warlocks were to be feared, by that I mean you were meant to be afraid of them, because they'd destroy you.
There was no resilience. PvP gear was kinda crappy, especially for hybrids. Hybrid gear meant SP and strength on the same gear along with int and spirit. Good gear came from PvE. When T3 came out, the very few players who saw old Naxx were absolutely dominant. Before them, BWL and AQ gear did a good job of making PvP painful for non-raiders. And for hybrids, since back then we mostly had healing gear since that's what we did in raids, we cried a lot that DPS got gear that was good for all aspects of the game. Then we'd get told to heal some more. And then I'd stormstrike their faces off.
BG tokens weren't for buying stuff; they were for turning in for rep or honor or something like that. I don't remember. We also didn't spend honor. We spent gold instead, which was hard to get back then. Back to AV: it was a good way to increase city rep since enemies dropped body parts which could be turned in for rep with a corresponding city. I don't remember who took night elf heads, but that was an easy city to get exalted with.
Back then we would summon cavalry, gryphon riders, even an incredibly powerful elemental or tree, depending on faction. These required tons of turn-ins, which could take hours to get enough of, but it wasn't a problem since the BG took ten times that anyway. Imagine you're pushing back your enemy and suddenly there are wolf riders beating the crap out of you. And something keeps yelling "I drink in your suffering, mortal. Let your essence congeal with Lokholar!" Meanwhile there are gryphons and bat riders raining down destruction from the skies. Zergs didn't pass each other by. They couldn't. There were tons of NPCs who would kill you if you tried to just go straight through, especially with a little bit of player support. Ironically, these PvE elements forced us to PvP. And it made us creative, leading to all sorts of tactics like a warlock (me) sneaking past enemy lines and hiding in their mine. Then summoning half the Horde practically next to the enemy base. A few good rogues could also cause some serious trouble, destroying enemy towers, killing guards, and generally wrecking havoc. It was fucking awesome.
Sadly, there was a lot of complaining about AV. It was too long, too complex, too zergy. It required mass coordination and strategy rather than just the more individual tactics that we see in the smaller BGs and arenas. It was steadily nerfed, most noticeably with the removal of the swarms of NPCs. The owls that patrol used to drop feathers which were useful for crafting but are no longer needed. There used to be fishing parties, people just hanging around fishing (back then you could fish in there). People might farm stuff, skinning or cloth from the NPCs. There was a lot of non-combat stuff going on, people running all over. I liked it a lot, it added depth to imagine that this place was more than just a box for us to fight it, in was actually part of a world. I miss old AV.
If you really want to hear nostalgia, ask someone who has been around longer about Tarren Mill and Southshore.