I’ve always been quite terrible at PvP combat. The time-honoured practise of farming gear and developing the perfect combination of fifteen core skills has always outclassed my abilities and available time investment. I’d imagine that I’m not the only idiot to have joined a battleground, usually after a particularly long and boring session of grinding in WoW or RIFT to find myself completely useless at defending a point, let alone keeping myself alive.
So it’s been a very pleasurable experience to have dived headfirst into the bloody perpetual pool of Guild Wars 2‘s WvW, only to emerge hours later, glistening with well earned karma and experience, to continue my story.
GW2‘s World Battle system consists of four separate battlegrounds, three of which are considered a “part” of each of the servers fighting, alongside a neutral area. Each battleground is full of various types of mobs, NPCs and infrastructure that require capture and holding to generate a points tally that determines not only the server’s ranking, but how many perks and bonuses are offered to players adventuring in standard PVE.
The eternal war
The war rages 24 hours a day, seven days a week with no breaks, meaning that territory can change hands very quickly; as one country’s players sleep, another awakens, and as populations will always vary, some servers do better than others. Currently, as ArenaNet begins to determine server rankings to create more balanced play, a battle session only rages for 24 hours at a time before it’s reset. In future, this will change to a fortnight.
As a result, some of the more successful servers do not necessarily consist of large player bases, but organised ones. Various guilds, especially established ones like TOG and GoonSquad, run tight squads of players to capture and hold objectives efficiently rather than the current, more ad hoc zerging approach, where public players with no affiliations will simply follow the mob from point to point.
Both strategies can be successful, and it’s a testament to the developers that they have made it not only easy to track other players, but to quickly notice the rapidly changing situation on the ground through the map, which highlights current skirmishes, recently captured territory and where assets, like supply caravans, are currently located.
Don’t run in blind
The design of WvW has been carefully moulded to make it simple and easy for newcomers to get started, but it’s worth taking stock before you quickly run off and fight.
Firstly, if you have jumped in on your own, open up the map and take stock of the situation. Does your server currently have a strong footprint on this map? By default, most areas, like Keeps, Supply Camps and Towers, will be heavily fortified with strong mobs. Running in alone means a very quick and aggravating death, so it might be worth seeing where your team is fighting, whether defending a point or attacking one, and running there to help out.
As in PVE, everything you do as a loose group will count towards your stats; whether as influence for your guild or just experience, karma and silver for yourself.
Know your limits
Secondly, make sure you don’t take on more than you can handle. Even though everyone is bumped to level 80, their skills and gear are not, meaning that some players may be able to take a few more hits or inflict a bit more damage to you. Surveying the area from a hill or another vantage point may identify opportunities — like an undefended supply mule (very easy to take down alone), a single NPC guard or even an enemy player hopelessly holding an area on their own. Mobs of players can appear from nowhere, so it’s important to keep moving, sticking around with other players and attempting some semblance of organisation.
If you can, join WvW with some friends or better yet, guildies; having someone to watch your back makes all the difference after you’re ambushed by some randoms or the group of people who used to be fighting next to you just disappear. Plus, fighting with guildmates provides a larger amount of influence to your guild, and thus more perks and bonuses flowing into the communal coffers.
Additionally, smaller groups of six or seven people are significantly more useful than mobs of 30 or 40, since most of those extra players just become completely redundant in a single group bouncing from spot to spot, when proper targeting of objectives would be much more effective.
Don’t be a hero
Thirdly, don’t blow all of your money being a hero. Defending and attacking structures is made much easier by purchasing schematics for siege weapons, like battering rams and trebuchets, which are built with supply. Supply is generated by camps, and transported by the previous mentioned caravans, or by players themselves. You can only carry 10 supply at a time, which means that if you drop 20 silver on a flame ram and start building it during a battle, you better hope that you have easy access to a supply area or your team are resourceful enough to pick up supply for you.
Sure, you’ll feel pretty badarse being the one who puts down the heat, but if the ram is destroyed by AOE spam before anyone can build it, you’ve just blown all of your hard earned coin.
As you log more time, you will earn badges for successful conquests, which can be traded in lieu of coin for weapons and other items, so it’s worthwhile waiting until you have a few under your belt. Trust me, gold is hard enough to come by in GW2, so wasting it on an item that likely won’t gain you any more of a reward than not deploying it at all is pretty silly. In all likeliness, someone with more money or badges than yourself will do the honors, and just being part of the group will gain you the spoils.
And lastly, enjoy yourself. Don’t take anything personally; the nature of this sort of battle is notoriously mob-orientated at the moment, particularly when there isn’t any system of leadership in place and most people are generally following each other in a vain attempt to use strength in numbers.
You will probably die a lot at first, so it might be worth debating whether you can afford the repair costs, or if you should return when your skills and traits are a little higher. I’ve been surprised at how much fun I’ve had with WvW, particularly when there are cool little sub events that pop up as you play, and even skill points to collect. Even if you aren’t a fan of PvP, I highly recommend you jump on and fight for your shard. Good luck.