I have spent a lot of time talking to people about World vs World lately, a lot of them veteran players, but also so many people who never set a foot inside this game mode (or did, but got scared away instantly). This article/guide (whatever) is specifically aimed to those newer players, so if you are looking for an in-depth guide on how to play World vs World as a more experienced player it’s probably not what you are searching for. It covers the basics of WvW in its current state, but maybe you’ll read something you never realized before.
So what is this World vs World vs World (WvW) thing? Well it’s basically a combination of a strategic game where you need to gain control over a map (something like the board-game Risk) and large scale Player vs Player battles. When you start playing Guild Wars 2 you are required to choose this one server, with names dating back to the prequel of the game, Guild Wars. Nowadays this choice of server doesn’t really matter, except in WvW. Here you will be fighting with all those players who chose to fight for the same server as you did and your ultimate goal in the end will be victory over the two other servers after a long (and fun) week of fighting.
Those fights take place in the Mists of Tyria, that mysterious place we know from PvP, Rytlock and the lore in-game, and are fought on four different maps, Eternal Battleground and three Border maps (nowadays it’s the Alpine border again, but somewhere in the future the Desert borderland will come back as well I think). Each server will be assigned a different color, red, green and blue, and on every map they will have their own spawn point matching the assigned colors. This means that if your server is Green your Home-border (where you control the top side off the map hopefully) will be situated in the left of the four maps layout and your spawn-point will be bottom left on Eternal Battleground, Red will be the top one and Blue the right one. These colors switch after every match-up reset on Friday, (if you get confused about the color side you’re on, you might be playing again after that Friday reset and are assigned a different color). A server will win this match-up when it gets the most points at the end of the week. Some points will come from capping and holding the structures, others from opponents you will kill (this is just a brief summary and ArenaNet is working on the scoring system at this moment, so this might change in the future). But that’s basically what you need to do in WvW, cap stuff, defend it so it stays your color and kill red dots.
If you look at the different maps you will notice that three maps look exactly alike, with the only difference that your starting point is in a different area (the borders) and there is one map, Eternal Battleground that looks a bit different. Both the borders and EB share a lot of things concerning the map layout. Eternal Battleground has this massive castle in its center (Stonemist), but apart from this everything is basically the same. There will be large structures, Keeps with massive walls (two even) that are basically just smaller castles, Towers that still have a wall around it but you don’t have to breach two set of walls, camps that you can conquer to get supplies and sentries. A sentry is basically just a NPC that is guarding this spot, going to that sentry will show your dot on the map (which is a good way to scout players from the enemy team moving to another side of the map) but it’s pretty easy to kill, a camp will have more NPC’s guarding the camp and Towers and Keeps will have NPC’s hiding behind walls.
Every structure will be upgraded once enough Dollies have delivered their supply from a camp. A Dolyak (or Dolly) is basically just a walking supply cow who will need to reach the structure, so you can defend it, or kill it when it’s a red Dolly from your enemies. And those upgrades can be really important. There are three tiers of upgrades available that will deliver benefits like more guards, reinforced walls and even a waypoint at a T3 keep. That waypoint at a keep is really important because you can run across the maps more easily and it takes a lot of time before this waypoint is available. This waypoint is so important that groups from different maps will change the map to defend that structure, so if you are running around there and you read in mapchat that a T3 keep is under attack just drop what you’re doing and go help in that defense (and trust me, those fights over a T3 keep can be long and they’re basically the most fun fights you can find in WvW).
If an enemy has tried to breach one of the keeps or towers, there will be a wall or gate around that has taken damage and needs to be repaired. In order to do that, players need to carry supply to repair them and you of course are one of those. You need to make sure that you always carry supply with you which you can grab at one of the camps. Don’t take supply from a Keep or Tower, unless your commander says you can because it might be needed in case of emergency (when you know how to play you will know when you can or can’t, but just don’t do it until you get experienced enough).
Another reason to always carry supply with you is because you can use that supply to help build siege. Siege is a weapon that can be dropped and that require supply to be built (the ones you carry). Flame Rams can be used to ram down a gate, Catas can be used to damage a wall and Arrowcarts can be used to rain down tons of arrows on your enemie’s heads (and there more types of siege). Since every type of this siege requires more supply than you carry by yourself and all of them are entirely situational to use (a Trebuchet for example won’t do any damage to players around you, but is amazing if you want to breach a wall from afar), it’s a good idea to leave it’s deployment to people who know what to do with it. If you are running with a large group just let the commander drop it and if you are running with a small group just wait till someone drops it. The use of siege can be improved through mastering the siege abilities in the Rank section of the World vs World Panel, when it is maxed out you will be much more efficient when you use it, so only do it when you have that siege line maxed out. When you are more experienced you will know when and how to use siege.
One important thing about siege is that there can be lots of it abandoned around the Keeps. If siege is not used for a long time its timer will expire and the siege and supplies will be lost. If you are not sure what to do you can always run around that keep and just get on that siege and its timer will be reset (if you do this you might want to do the other ones as well, to keep people from getting confused).
Those structures are important because they deliver points every fifteen minutes and they are the most important reason why you server will win. If you can hold on to more structures than your opponents you will get more points than they do when the timer expands. This is one of the two mechanics that deliver points, the Points Per Tick or PPT. There are quite a few people who love to play for this part of the game, PPT-focused. They will want to capture structures and defend them as good as they can. Another way to get points for your server is to kill other players, the Points Per Kill or PPK, and lots of players love this part of the game, the Player vs Player stuff.
It’s one of the reasons why it’s not easy to explain how you need to play World vs World because you can choose yourself how you want to play it. There are a few basic roles you can play, but you can always switch to doing something else if you want to. These roles are Scouting, Roaming and Pugging but you can also decide to run as a guild.
If you are scouting you are basically just a scout, sometimes you will be hanging around a certain area and just keep an eye out to enemies that are coming your way. In the mean time you could build siege inside, recapture the camps in your surroundings and making sure that enemies are coming your way.
Roaming is in its essence just capping sentries and camps or sometimes you will escort a Dollyak. It is something you can do by yourself, but often enough it’s done with two people or a small group. It’s just running across the map, roaming around a bit and fighting what you want and can. Sentries and camps are easy, small groups of opponents can be a problem, but you could even try to ninja a Keep (capping without anyone noticing).
Pugging (PUG stands for Pick Up Group) is when you join a public commander (usually they have the blue tag) and follow his lead. Keep in mind that a PUG commander is usually on a vocal app like Teamspeak or Mumble and giving his commands by saying them out loud. When you run around with a PUG-commander you are running around with other players and will go for larger objectives and fights.
Another thing you will see a lot are guilds and joining one is something I can only recommend, but even with these guilds it’s not easy to explain what they do. Some guilds are focused on PPT, others on fighting. There are lots of guilds out there who wouldn’t mind at all explaining a new player how World vs World works, they will provide guides, builds, training sessions and are just a fun group to play with. There are also guilds who like to play it more competitive, they focus on the fights, improving as a guild and usually they require not only experience, but also builds, mindset and time. Often enough these guild commanders will host an open mic (their guild running but everyone is free to join on Teamspeak) or just are one of the PUG-commanders, and you can join in those for sure. If they are not doing that most of the time they won’t really like players adding in. Especially when the guilds are more hardcore they will rather just match their skill (and not yours) against their opponents, so just let them be.
Sometimes you will come across players fighting, one vs one (with maybe three people standing around), 15 vs 15 or 35 vs 20 (guilds). These players are fighting each other, searching for the challenge. You will see this often enough with guilds, two guild groups scrimming each other, just a random fight on the maps to see who is the best (don’t mix this up with a Guild vs Guild (a GVG) that is held in the Obsidian Sanctum and is arranged days before). If you think this is happening, just watch but don’t add in.
Ready to start playing (?)
Now you know all this, you’re ready to start playing, right? Well not exactly. You really need to make sure you have a few things sorted out. The first thing you need to realize is that going into WvW on your level 60 character, all greens and blues as armor will not work out really good, especially as a new player. In fact if you want to go to WvW on your Guardian with a full ascended berserker set and just jump in the fights as a front liner, chances are you will die instantly. Don’t get me wrong, you will die in this game mode, and a lot even, but that is not the issue. As a frontliner you will need to run tankier gear than a backliner, to suck up those massive damage bombs you will receive. And even backliners like necromancers or elementalists could use some extra Vitality and Toughness in addition to their DPS gear if they are just starting to learn how to play WvW. A good general rule is PVT on front liners and Berserkers for everyone else (with some PVT if needed), once you get to know the game you could switch out to more damage or maybe even completely change your gear to how you want to play yourself.
The second thing you need to make sure is that you are running a build that is working for the class and role you want to play. There are several Meta Builds to find on the internet and I recommend picking one of those until you get more experienced (and maybe get some good advice from other people). To know which build you want to use you will also need to figure out how you want to play the game. If you want to run with big groups you will need a different build than if you want to run around with a small group capping stuff and having small fights.
Now all of this is settled, you know the basics of how World vs World works, you have the right, gear and even found that amazing build on the internet, so it’s time to start playing yourself. So you go to one of the battleground and you realize you still don’t know what to do. You can’t find that blue commander tag (colors can change on servers, but most of them have a blue commander tag for a public commander), the one you needed to follow. There are commander tags, yellow, purple, but when you go there you see they are with a small group of people (these people are most likely with guilds). Sometimes, or often enough, there is just no tag at all. So what to do now?
Most of the servers (if not all of them) have formed a community over the years. They know each other, have a website, are on the same Teamspeak (or mumble, or whatever communication app they use). So, if you think you might like WvW, you should join that community. Get on the servers Teamspeak (or any other communication app) so you know where you need to go (and join the website). If you think you are not yet ready for that you still should join that communication app. There is no need to start talking, but just listening is so important for sure. The public commanders will tell what they want to do, how they want to do, when to go left, when to attack, when to regroup for a few seconds and so much more. It’s really important if you want to have a good coordinated fight and not just the fights, if you listen/talk you can hear that one guy warning that there is a group incoming from the right, that scout at a Tier 3 keep warning that a big group is almost capturing that keep and sometimes someone will join the channel and ask for help at a different map. That vocal communication means is more important than you might think and I’d recommend starting to use it as soon as you can.
Because World vs World is so much different from PvE and PvP you will need to give it some time before you feel a bit comfortable with it. It takes time to learn how to play the game mode, so don’t expect to find a guide that will literally explain how the fights work, because that would be almost as massive as the Guild Wars 2 Wiki. Just give it some time, look for different guides on the internet, some videos, talk to people and maybe join a guild that will help you with getting to know this game mode.
All the issues why World vs World is not fun (?)
There are a lot of people (not playing WvW of course) who could tell you so much negative stuff about this game mode. But so much of those things are just either wrong or just so much more nuanced than they say.
I die all the time O.O
Of course you will die, it’s Player vs Player after all. You will die all the time. You will die when you are fighting a larger group, you will die when you are fighting a more skilled group, you will die when you make a silly mistake or when your positioning is off and you will even die when you try to run back to your commander. It’s ok, dying is part of this game mode, waypointing and repairing is free, and it will just happen. It happens to everyone, everyone dies, even the best players out there die. The trick is to minimize the chances you have on dying, have the right gear (and maybe even more PVT if needed), know your skills, your place in a fight, know how to read the fights, but even if you have all of this under control you will sometimes just die.
Sometimes you will encounter an enemy who will just gank you when all you want to do is go back to the commander tag you were following. Most of these players, gankers, are searching for a 1vs1. They are looking for people who will fight back, and just fight. Often enough you will notice that they just let you be if you are downed, they will just run away so you can resurrect yourself. And sometimes you will see these five people standing around at a spot, two people fighting and the other ones just watching, they are matching themselves to their opponents, cause that’s what they like to do. Just watch those fights, learn from them and maybe even give it a shot yourself, it can be fun. But there will always be those people looking for an easy kill, a thief and mesmer trying to kill that lonesome person running back to their group. Just accept that, waypoint back and run again, it will happen for sure.
It’s part of the WvW code I guess, the way you need to behave in certain circumstances. If you see two guild groups fighting, just let them fight (especially around certain spots like the Windmill in the Alpine borderlands). They are fighting each other, to see who is better, matching their skills. Just watch and learn again, but don’t add in. If you run with a group and you see this one guy running away, just let him go, you are with more people so it’s an easy kill, but what’s the point of doing that? And of course you can group up at the enemy spawn-point, to kill everyone that runs there, but that is silly as well. First of all, you won’t give them a real chance to group up and fight you on an equal level, but you also will be fighting players that either are new to the game or are not paying attention at all. Every spawn point has multiple ways out. You will learn this code of conduct through playing, most important thing to realize is just don’t do to others what you wouldn’t like yourself.
There is nothing to do
Since you are playing with and against other people, having real lives, it will happen often enough that the maps seem to be empty. Especially when you want to play on a regular Tuesday morning or after a long evening shift late at night, chances are big that you will not see a commander tag and won’t see those massive amounts of players to fight.
There are a few things you can do though. The easiest solution is just switch to another map and see if there is a public commander there. If there isn’t you could for instance just roam around a bit (maybe even change your build to a roaming one) capping camps and sentries, join a small group that’s capping towers, and keeping an eye out on the map chat so you can help out in the defense of one of the more valuable structures (most of these are in Eternal Battleground or your home border).
It’s true though, before the server merge we had a few weeks ago, some servers had a very high and active WvW population while other servers had almost no people playing at all. With these server merges those servers with a low level of activity got paired with a server with a more active WvW player base. So if you are playing on a server where, even in prime time, wasn’t much action in WvW you can now go to the maps and actually see and experience those large scale Player vs Player fights.
The WvW community is sooooooooo toxic
The most important thing you need to realize is that you are dealing with real people and, just as in real life, you will meet a lot of different people. Some people will be nice, helping you out a bit, giving you some good advice, some will be cranky because they still have a hangover from going out the evening before and a small minority will be just plain jerks. Another thing to never forget is that usually you are communicating through map-chat, and things written down there can sound much harsher than it was meant to be, you don’t have the non-verbal communication available after all. Sometimes you can see people being so unkind to each other in map-chat, calling out names, actually having a conversation that is on a toxic level, but you can’t tell whats going on just from reading map-chat. It could easily be a joking conversation between guildies or friends and you cannot see their faces smiling behind the computer or hear the fun they are having on their teamspeak. And maybe it just is an argument, but you don’t know what the background of that discussion is, what happened between these people.
Most things said and done are actually positive. The server communities are among the best things I have seen in any game (and every server has their drama of course, but OK). You will start knowing the people and guilds you play next to, find out who your favorite commander is and witness the level of cooperation that can be in WvW as well. There are so many nice people out there, some even can become (real life) friends through playing WvW. And it’s not just the people of your server who can be nice, even your opponents can. You will notice guild groups who just run besides you, not attacking at all, someone afk-ing next to you when you’re grabbing a drink or see someone jumping past you. Sometimes you can just stumble across some red quaggans racing to see who reaches your spawn first or a procession of dollies slowly marching around. Don’t attack these people, just stand there and watch (or maybe just pop a tonic you carry yourself).
Playing WvW is totally unrewarding
It used to be like that, World vs World never has been a part of the game where you could grind gold, items or materials and some things necessary to the game mode, like food and siege, actually were expensive. I guess most of the veteran WvW players have learned to live with that, winning those difficult fights, endless three-way battles to defend Garrison or just having fun with each other on TS are the reasons why so many people kept playing. That thrill of battle was enough as a reward, but it never meant that WvW players didn’t like rewards. Some would go to PvE, do dungeons or fractals, others just accepted that they would get stuff much slower or didn’t care about rewards at all.
This all changed a few weeks ago with the introduction of Reward Tracks, they work similar to the Reward Tracks from PvP, you will slowly fill the bars depending on your activity level in WvW and at certain points will receive nice rewards like (dungeon) armor, materials, items. It’s still not a place to go to if you want to make fast gold, but you will now get some better rewards and skins, just by playing this game mode.
And, to be honest, it still is a fact that winning those fights (or trying to do so) is the thing that matters. That thrill of battle the Veterans learned how to love is the biggest reward in the end. But you can only experience that though playing it yourself and it’s worth it IMO.
I can’t play because I don’t have the best gear in game
Ascended/legendary weapons and armor are the best quality of gear you can get, but you absolutely don’t need it to be useful and have fun in World vs World. Exotic gear with your preferred stats and upgrades is all you need in this game mode, with full ascended/legendary you will just be a bit more effective and it would be a nice long-term goal if you decide you like this game mode. Even if you decide to join a World vs World focused guild most of the time it’s not necessary at all, except if you want to join one of the hardcore guilds in World vs World, doing outnumbered fights and GvG’s, where every little bit of advantage works. But let’s be honest, if you’re reading this and are new to the game mode, you first have to fall in love with it, learn how to play and read the fights, becoming a regular WvW player and after all of that you can start focusing on improving even more and becoming a Vet.
I fell in love with this game mode years ago, I’ve played casually, I’ve played hardcore, and even though I’m slacking now I still love it. The fighting mechanics and balance, my friends and guilds, the communities, they’re among the best you can find in any game. Just give it a try, it can be so much fun for sure.