Living World Season 5: “The Icebrood Saga” begins Sept 17th

“You do not fear death, you fear something far worse…
you fear outliving the ones you swore to protect…
You fear the day your children no longer feel the chill of the frost… or the warmth of the flame.
It is this fear that is your enemy. Not I.”

So begins the chilling speech of Jormag in the trailer for the new Living World season, as the Elder Dragon yet again has awoke from its slumber, most probably disturbed by the death of Kralkatorrik.

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Why I return to Tyria and GW2

TheValliant’s interesting article on parting ways with Guild Wars 2 for now made me consider my own choices in the past months and years. I will be the first to admit I have taken several breaks from Guild Wars 2, but to be honest I actually feel the developer themselves legitimised it in past years more or less stating the casual nature meant you were free to play as you wanted, when you wanted.

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 A Scrub’s Guide to WvW(vW) Land | Dragon Season

A Scrub’s Guide to WvW(vW) Land

This isn’t yet another WvW guide. No, really it isn’t! This is a tourist guide about a strange country you can find yourself, where you will be mugged in plain sight, murdered brutally, humiliated repeatedly and trampled over by hundreds of dusty boots. And yet, you will probably keep coming back for more! Because, if done right, it can be addictively entertaining.

Table of Contents

What is WvWvW ?

The acronym stands for ‘World versus World versus World’ and it is one of GW2’s three game modes (other two being ‘Player versus Environment’, aka PvE, and ‘structured Player versus Player’, aka sPvP). In essence it involves 4+1 maps where 3 armies (‘worlds’) battle it out. Three out of those 5 maps are ‘home borderlands’ (aka HBL), one for each combating world (i.e. server). The fourth one is called ‘Eternal Battlegrounds’ (aka EB) and it is like a no man’s land, featuring a central fortress (‘Stonemist Castle’, aka SM) and 3 Keeps –one for each battling world- arranged in a triangular layout around it; press [M] and zoom all the way out to get the big picture. The last map is called ‘Edge of the Mists’ (aka EotM) – more on its role later. There is no walking path to connect these maps and the only way to travel between them is through asura gates.

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Step back a bit. Why would I want to go there?

Well, just out of curiosity is a good motive I think. It’s a whole new world out there – three of them actually :p Also, the fact that so many players are drawn to it must be some kind of positive sign, right? I hear people asking “all my friends go/are/have been there, what’s the big deal then?” but they’re reluctant or even intimidated to take the leap of faith. So let me tell you why you should give it a try – and why you shouldn’t! Positive aspects first then:

  1. it is the only place to get involved in big scale skirmishes, ranging from 5vs5 to 100vs100 and everything in between (like 5vs50…)
  2. it is the equivalent of PvE raiding, but in an open world and against real (i.e. non-NPC) opponents, which is infinitely more challenging and fun (most days…)
  3. as a bonus you get to meet and socialize with a lot of people simultaneously, which isn’t the case typically in other game modes. For example, during a WvW raid it is less than rare to find 30-50 people chatting in one of the chat applications which are indispensably used in these situations (TeamSpeak, or TS for short, is the most commonly employed one)
  4. since reward tracks were added, it is now ever so easy to acquire any map-specific currency or item/skin through WvW(vW). As a matter of fact, it is widely considered far easier to do it this way than through PvE-ing, as the latter usually requires a lot of event farming on ‘good’ (i.e. populated and coordinated) maps, achievements accomplishment and/or collections completion
  5. you can join with your low level character, albeit it is not at all guaranteed you are going to survive your fights… However, if you wish to level up quickly and gain big chunks of karma, this is the place to be! Actually, the ‘neutral’ map EotM is the best out of the lot. This map was introduced as a place where you can spend your time doing WvW until your queue for one of the ‘proper’ WvW maps pops – as these queues tend to grow really long at times. There are no objectives of strategic importance there; players run around killing each other and capturing outposts and whatnot, doing events and overall gaining xp and karma

N.B. Leveling, in WvW, is not done in the same fashion as in PvE. Specifically, in WvW you gain World XP, which leads to both gaining WvW ranks instead of levels and progressing the selected reward track. Both processes (i.e. WvW rank-up and reward track completion) award players with Tomes of Knowledge, each of which gain 1 full level for your character.

Now for the downside, i.e. what could be off-putting:

  1. fights are never guaranteed to be balanced. This means, there is no way or mechanism in place –and quite reasonably so, imho- to ensure that your group is going to fight an equal number of enemies. This often leads to disappointing and even enraging situations, where you end up being [Outnumbered] all evening long or, worse even…
  2. …getting ‘ganked’ on your way to anywhere – be it to that Vista over there or, more often, trying to regroup with your teammates. As a matter of fact, ‘gankers’ are a scourge for this game mode and I have yet to meet a single player who hasn’t raged about them – who isn’t one themselves!
  3. related to the above two, if your ‘home world’ belongs to one of the less WvW-oriented ones and is, therefore, a low population server, chances are your overall experience from this game mode will not be a very pleasant one. ArenaNet tried to counter this by pairing two servers on each of the three combating sides – meaning that at any moment there may actually be up to 6 servers at war, instead of the seemingly 3 ones. I’ll get back to that in a bit
  4. too much drama! I realize that being dramatic is first and mostly related to one’s idiosyncrasy and to a lesser degree to situational conditions, but this game mode is rife with drama queens. Surely, sPvP rules supreme in this sad phenomenon but WvW comes a close second. I’m not going to get into the reasons for it (they are mostly related to the topics mentioned above) but I will only say that in the majority of cases they are not completely ill-founded

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Alright, I’m sold! How do I get there?

Welcome aboard Mists fighter! There are two ways to jump to the Borderlands:

a. the non-immersive way: press [B], choose the map you wish to travel to, click on travel. Note that the option to join the Edge of the Mists (EotM) map is on the right of this window. There’s also a map called ‘Obsidian Sanctum’; this is in fact a special area where people mostly go to do the similarly named jumping puzzle. For PvE scrubs, you know :p

b. the immersive way: travel to Lion’s Arch and go south, to Fort Mariner Waypoint where the Mist Portals ([&BB0EAAA=]) are. Enter through the one of your choice.

Note that if there is a queue to that map, you will be prompted to join its queue. Even after doing so you can go back to map selection and jump to another, queue-less map, without being removed from the original queue! You are only kicked from the queue when you join another queue, switch characters or log out/disconnect, of course. Traveling anywhere else will not do that – and this includes any place in Tyria (e.g. your Guild Hall) as well as the EotM.

Another thing worth mentioning is the minimum level required to gain access to WvW. For free-to-play accounts then you need to reach level 60, while regular ones level 31.

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OK, I’m here. What now?

There is no generic answer I can give. Depending on your background, I could provide a different one. Let me give it a shot then:

  1. I’m a PvE scrub : There’s nothing wrong with that and you shouldn’t feel bad about it :p (I am one too, for the record ^^). Your options here vary from exploring the map, to doing the jumping puzzles, to running solo or with a couple of other players and capturing or killing whatever you can (roamers), to joining a group of other players and fighting alongside them. You need to keep in mind two things though: (i) fully exploring the WvW maps is not needed for World Completion any longer (yay!) and (ii) you need to make sure you are allowed to fight alongside the people around you and that you’re not interfering with a ‘closed guild raid’. This last bit is of utter importance and that’s why I’ll explain it in full later. For now, what you need to keep in mind is: only follow the Blue tag commander!
  2. I’m a PvP-er : Nobody’s perfect and you’re probably in the wrong place as well but there’s stuff you can do to have fun here as well. You can make people hate you by ganking roamers and other strays, just cause PvP is what you do best. You can try, solo or in a small party, help your world by cutting down enemies who are attempting to regroup with the main force. Just don’t expect to compete in proper and regulated (i.e. balanced) PvP or even GvG ways.
  3. I’m a party animal : you should probably be out to a pub with your friends than hang out with a bunch of no-lifers, but wth lol . Since you’re here now, find a big group of brothers in arms and join them in their big fights, always adhering to the commander’s orders. Note that in most cases it is mandatory to join the pre-arranged team chat application to be accepted in the squad – there’s usually a lot of spamming on the map channel about the details (IP, password, channel etc) regarding this process.

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I see dots, dots all over the place! (I swear I didn’t smoke anything funny)

I believe you, and not just because I see them too. Orange ones indicate enemy players on the move. Yellow dots are members of the guild you are currently representing, while Blue dots are members of your party/squad – similar to the PvE interface. Green dots show other friendly players, again in the same fashion as in PvE. Note that while enemy name tags are always displayed in red lettering, there will be an inverted triangle overhead in the color of their world of origin (server). These options can be set according to your preference: press [F11] and look in the ‘Completitive’ section of the first options tab.

In case that you, like me, cannot remember which server is the blue/red/green one, just press [B] and go to the topmost tab. Alternatively, you can click on the tiny inverted triangle at the top middle of your screen to make a small ribbon pop up: hover your mouse over any box there to see the server it corresponds to.

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Errm… I also see swords

I’m guessing your question is: “do I approach or keep my distance?” Well, swords mean that there’s fighting taking place there, so it’s really up to you. The orange swords icon means a ‘zerg’ (25+) is causing mayhem – but it could very well be a ‘blob’ (40+)! Note that the tally does not take into account pets and/or summons. The white swords icon only appears on waypoints and other capture points to indicate it is ‘contested’. Simply put, this means that someone (could be any number of enemies) is damaging either a guarding NPC or part of its fortifications (e.g. a wall or a cannon).

Since whenever a minimum of 25 players attack a specific target orange swords appear on the map, you will often hear the commander order his or her squad to “not make swords” – meaning that single enemies (like NPC guards or dolyaks) need to be taken down by no more than a few fighters.

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This Bronze Soldier (who looks suspiciously like my friend) is killing me!

I’m sure this may be the case, but it’s nothing personal. Don’t hate them, they are merely doing their duty towards their home world much like you are there to do ^^

First of all, as you’ve already no doubt noticed, player names are not visible in WvW to keep things anonymous and, hence, clean of vendettas (if a vendetta is what you are after, you should be in sPvP arenas, not here ^^). Instead of their actual name then, you merely see their ‘battle tag’ – i.e. their rank title. You can see yours through the WvW window: press [B] and go to bottom tab. Second thing to note is that you may not be able to whisper someone on your friends list: you right click on their name, click whisper… and nothing happens! If this is the case, then you can immediately be sure that the following are also true:

  1. your home server and your friend’s server are enemies, at least until this Friday evening
  2. you are unable to see them on the WvW map, even if your Friends List says they are on it too
  3. as a logical result, it may indeed be your friend cutting you down (horrible, I know!)

The reason why you can’t whisper your friend or even see where they are is pretty obvious, I think: spies are spies and there is a war going on here. However, there is a workaround to the whispering barrier: you can double-click on their name in your Friends List instead of trying the right-click thing. You did not hear this from me.

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But I’m on server X, my friend is on Y and the WvW window doesn’t show us as enemies!

Well then, it seems that your friend’s server is secretly allied with one of your enemies 😉

As I mentioned before, Anet introduced server pairing at some point as a solution to problems and rightful complaints regarding low population servers and bad matchmaking. Every 2 months then, two low population servers are paired (‘linked’) to form an army strong enough to contend in the ongoing matches (weekly scoreboards). To check whether your own or your friend’s fall into this category, you need to open up the WvW window ([B]) and look for a tiny cross sign next to any of the listed servers there. If you hover your mouse over it, you will see the name of the allied (linked) server!

In the picture above, note that ‘Baruch Bay [SP]’ is not paired with any server, as it has a very high population and no need for allies. On the other hand, ‘Drakkar Lake [DE]’ and ‘Dzagonur [DE]’ are paired together. In this example then, if your home world is ‘Gandara’ and your friend’s is ‘Dzagonur [DE]’, you will not be able to (normally) whisper or see each other but you will be thoroughly able to kill each other – despite not directly showing as battling enemies in the main WvW window.

Another indication of your friend’s… misplaced allegiance can be found in the Friends List: his or her location will read ‘World versus World’ instead of displaying the actual borderland they are currently in! Same goes for the ‘Guild Panel’ ([G]), in the case where your friend is (also) a guildie.

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I decided roaming isn’t for me. I want some group action

You need to become part of the ‘zerg’ then – i.e. a squad led by a commander! Although this is no rocket science, there are however a number of rules in place to ensure smooth and fun rolling for everyone. In my experience then, here’s how you should go about it:

  1. maps featuring a queue are a good sign of big fights and possibly, a popular commander
  2. ask around in /team chat (i.e. across all maps) who’s leading where and, more importantly, whether they’re running a ‘closed raid’ or an ‘open mic’!
    i. a ‘closed raid’ is for guild members only; typically the commander’s tag is pink. In this case not only should you NOT ask to be invited in the squad, but you are also EXPECTED to NOT follow them around! This is an unbreakable rule of conduct and you must adhere to it. Consider yourself warned: there is a strict ‘gtfo etiquette’ here!
    ii. an ‘open mic’, or PUG, raid is a free-for-all one. This is the one you are looking for! Commander’s tag is, typically, blue and the only rule in place –besides following his commands to the letter and behaving yourself in general- is the use of TS or any chat application they agreed on.
  3. once you find yourself in a squad, be sure to follow the instructions and do your best to play the role you are expected to play. If you are unsure what this involves –or you are simply new to this- you should state it and ask for guidance. You will be surprised how helpful (the good) PUG commanders are! With time you will get the hang of it and you will become another gear in the engine. You might even be invited to join one of the raiding guilds!

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Can you give me an example of what these ‘roles’ are about?

The main roles are those typically found in any RPG: (a) Tanks & Melees, (b) Support & CC and (c) Ranged & DPS. Usually the first group form the ‘frontliners’, the second act as the ‘midliners’ and the third as the ‘backliners’ – although it is possible to mix and match according to the commander’s playstyle. Typically, the commander is a Guardian in a very ‘tanky’ build (Soldier’s stats) surrounded by other heavily armored players, who form the tip of the spear. The Support group (Elementalists, Guardians, Revenants) are responsible for keeping the commander and the damage dealers (Necros, Mesmers, Elementalists) alive, by healing and cleansing at his/her beckon.

The part you are going to play in all of this depends on two main factors: (a) what playstyle do you enjoy the most (support, DPS, etc) and (b) what line (front, back, middle) do you feel more comfortable at occupying. There are player-devised and community-approved meta builds for nearly every combination of these two factors, for each profession – or at least for the viable ones. More often than not, members of a dedicated (not necessarily elitist) WvW guild are expected to conform to them.

N.B. the role(s) each profession is best suited for is a perpetual subject to change. As a matter of fact, nearly every balance patch brings about changes to this! A dedicated player needs to stay informed: either ask around in your guild or consult with the meta sites.

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I have no dagger and I must stab… WTH?

Oddly enough, this command is aimed at Guardians and not Thieves. Shocking, I know :p

‘Stab’ stands for stability and is a prompt for the Guardians in each group to use their ‘Stand your Ground!’ shout so as to apply [Stability] to their allies. Typically, this is used right after ‘Empower’ and just before the zerg charges into the fray. More often than not there will be 2 ‘stabbers’ in the main strike force, named ‘stab1’ and ‘stab2’, hence you may hear the commander yell “stab1” instead of “stab”.

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I feel like I fell from the sky… What language is the commander speaking in?

I totally sympathize; I felt the exact same way during my first (50 or so) sessions! Even when you overcome the natural language barrier and the insane pace at which the commander spurts out order upon direction –particularly during intense fights!- there’s still a wall of jargon to overcome :p

At the end of this article you will find a ‘vocabulary’ of sorts, explaining the most common terms you can expect to find (read: identify) scattered inside the commanders’ blabber.

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I totally got this! Any solid tips on what I should or should not do?…

Apart from everything else mentioned above, there are a couple of things you are kinda expected to do, albeit no one will blame you or judge you if you don’t. Some of the actions listed below will give you ‘extra credit’ while others might cause a slight ‘slap on the wrist’.

  1. do not lay down siege weapons; only the commander will do this! Unless he or she EXPLICITLY asks for it, you are only expected to build them. Sometimes you may be unsure of whether you should build one or not. The rule of thumb here is: ‘basic’ ones should be ignored, superior ones are to be built
  2. only use a siege weapon if you have trained in the respective mastery; open your WvW window ([B]) and go to the 3rd tab to spend points for this purpose. Not only do trained personnel do more damage with them, they also have access to an extra skill (skill #5) which typically shields the weapon from ranged attacks. N.B. you can reset your masteries whenever you desire by speaking to the ‘World Abilitiy Master [Merchant]’; you can find one standing near the spawn point on each WvW map.
  3. refresh siege; this is one of those ‘expert actions’ you can do that demonstrate you are out of the n00b league :p . Every player-built siege machine (e.g. arrow carts, generators, etc) come with a decay timer, to aid in game performance. If you briefly man that machine, the timer resets thus saving your world from the effort and supplies it would take to rebuild it
  4. know where and when to resupply your character; you can find supply stacks inside castles, outposts & keeps and also at supply depots. Rule of thumb here –unless specifically ordered otherwise by the commander- is: you can ‘resup’ from castles and camps, but not from keeps and towers! Also, killing an enemy dolyak may give you a few supplies, in a case of an emergency
  5. you can still help your world even if you can’t follow the ‘zerg’; sometimes, for whatever reason, you are unable to run with the squad. In such situations you can contribute greatly by becoming the commander’s eyes: post yourself in an outpost and be a lookout for the enemy. Scouting is equally important as fighting by providing crucial and timely warning on enemy movement. A good commander will acknowledge this; you can ask them to mark you for participation in order to receive the deserved contribution reward
  6. learn to identify a duel and a GvG; this one is a toughie and there will be times where you will read it wrong. Sometimes players, might be friends from different servers, arrange to hold a duel – i.e. a 1vs1 fight, to see who’s the boss. Rule of thumb here is: if you happen upon two people fighting in some corner of the world, do not jump in to lend your weapons to your ally, even if he or she is losing the fight! Second scenario (GvG) is a bit easier to read, I believe: two groups, with or without a commander, where each side’s members belong to the same guild. Again, you are EXPECTED to steer clear; you are allowed to observe but never intervene

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I think I lost my keys! Why can’t I enter this (outpost, tower, wtv) now?? I swear I was (ahem, farming nodes) inside, not 10’ ago…

Every fortified position –be it a simple outpost or the Keep & Garrison themselves- has a Champion Lord protecting it, alongside their Guards (Veteran NPCs). To capture it, your squad must take down the Lord and hold the perimeter free of enemies for a brief amount of time (there’s a capture progress bar, as per everything else). Once the position is ‘capped’, all the NPCs respawn as allies and the Lord him or herself are buffed with invulnerability, for 5’ minutes. During this cooldown period the same tower etc cannot be re-capped as its Champion Lord cannot be damaged.

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So this whole WvW(vW) thing is about killing people en masse?

Hmm… not entirely, no. This isn’t to say that there aren’t commanders or even entire worlds who adopt mass MDK as their primary means of ruling in either the weekly matches or daily skirmishes (won’t give you any names, not in my ethics sorry). Frankly, this is one way to go – particularly if you got the numbers and mentality, in equal measures, to achieve that. Scoring points this way is known as Points Per Kill, aka PPK.
However, there’s another way to go about it. It is called PPT and it has as much to do with Microsoft’s PowerPoint file format as a chicken has with aviation. Acronym stands for Points Per Tick and refers to controlling as many point-awarding positions (called ‘objectives’) as possible, for as long as possible. At the end of each ‘tick’ (5 minute interval) the game tallies each server’s score, based on the objectives held under their command.

Regardless of going PPK or PPT, players are individually rewarded with ‘reward pips’, based on their rank, participation level, and other criteria.

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And what about this monkey who just flew overhead? (I swear…)

This is perfectly normal of course, no reason to be alarmed; it was simply some player  transformed into a monkey, gliding to wherever.

To save you from some embarrassment however, I should give you a quick introductory course on gliding in the war zone. First lesson of course, is to train in the use of your glider – apparently, being an expert aviator in Tyria has nothing to do with your skills in the Borderlands…

Open up your WvW window ([B]) and go to the bottom tab. Scroll at the very end to locate the ‘War Gliding Mastery’. Allot 3 points to get the ability to glide “in territories your world owns”. This last bit is your lesson number 2: learn where to fly!

In the picture above you can see that this week (current match) your world’s color is red. Also notice how this map (EB – Eternal Borderlands) is split up in ‘sectors’, each outlined by a border in the color of the world who owns it, presently. The same goes for all maps, by the way. While you are within a sector owned by your world then, you can freely glide. Once you cross over to an enemy controlled region, you will get a 5-seconds warning before you are brought down by… a flock of very angry birds!

P.S. You may also happen to see a flying llama wearing a neck bow tie and a bowler hat. Perfectly not mental either; it’s just the gliding player’s gliding mini :-p Just a heads up: most commanders will ask you to preemptively disable miniature showing, in order to help with the game’s performance – particularly during population heavy fights.

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I’m all set. I feel confident enough to receive my baptism by fire!

I believe you are too! Just before you go to war my son (or daughter – there are a lot of hardcore girls fighting valiantly out there!) heed these final words:

Don’t be a prick, don’t be a troll everybody hates; respect your fellow players, any written and unwritten code of conduct, follow the commander’s orders and if you are unsure about anything do ask around. It’s better to come out as a n00b than a troll.

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Commander’s commands (aka wtf is this language?) :
a WvW jargon quick reference sheet

There is a very informative yet incomplete list of “common terms and abbreviations” on the official wiki, so you should definitely read through it as well. In addition to its entries, I list below some which I believe are both commonly used and useful to know.

  • bombthefuckers – highly motivational; see “bomb” on the official wiki page :p
  • bubble – either instructs Spellbreakers to use their Elite skill ‘Winds of Disenchantment’ or alerts players of enemy bubble on them. Note: orange bubble is friendly; brown bubble is the mouth of torment! On a different context: players manning a siege weapon (generator shields and catapults only) must use weapon skill #5 to cast a protective bubble around it, to shield from incoming missile; some commanders may call this ‘dome’ while others will call out “bubble up”
  • cap/capped – short for capture/captured; refers to a fortified position being taken over
  • empower – Guardians need to use staff skill #4
  • inc – short for incoming; it alerts players of enemy in close proximity
  • outnumbered – refers to the [Outnumbered] buff; has its benefits
  • PPT/PPK – Points per Tick/Points Per Tick; the two scoring mechanisms in WvW
  • purge/cleanse – purging/cleansing skills must be used (e.g. Guardians’ ‘Purging Flames’)
  • resup – short for re-supply; means that players need to pick up supplies
  • siege – short for siege machines; generic term to include all deployable war engines like arrow carts (ac), ballistas (balli), trebuchets (treb), etc
  • stab – short for stability; Guardians need to use ‘Hold your Ground!’ or Firebrand’s Tome of Courage skill #5
  • swift – short for swiftness; Guardians need to use staff skill #3
  • HBL – short for Home Borderland; your world’s borderland
  • RBL/GBL/BBL – short for Red/Green/Blue Borderland; the 3 main borderlands
  • SM – Stonemist Castle; central Keep in Eternal Borderlands (EB)
  • scrub – according to urban dictionary, “a scrub is a now generalized term used as a synonym for a ‘noob’ or a ‘newb’, which is someone who is bad at a video game or activity in general”; additionally, in GW2 it seems it has a range of 100 :p

Love and appreciation to Fearan and Tara for their advice, constructive reviews, patience and pats on my back ^^


2 thoughts on “A Scrub’s Guide to WvW(vW) Land

  1. Great guide – wish I’d seen this before dying my first 12,000 times.

    One point: ‘acronym’ refers to an abbreviation that can be pronounced as a word, such as laser, scuba, or nasa. WvW and PPT are not acronyms but rather abbreviations of the type initialism.

    I know, I know, but I can’t help myself. 😉

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