I’ve been asked several times for my opinion on how best to handle the influx of non-WvW Guild Wars 2 players to the game mode in the wake of the reward system update. As you’ll all know, I am not a committed WvW player and tend to play the mode only when I have a specific need to or when I’m helping out a friend, but nevertheless, I have compiled some helpful advice for those who wish to start skirmishing now. Make no mistake about it: WvW can be as entertaining as it is intimidating when you get into the groove, though to get the best out of the game mode you’ll need to pick up on WvW etiquette fairly quickly.
In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll help you navigate the rapid-fire world of WvW, giving you advice on keeping commanders happy, getting the best out of your efforts, chatting strategically, and setting your toon up for WvW success.
First things being first, you’ll need to find some people to play with if you’re to survive in WvW for any length of time. The commander tag is the beginning point of finding out where your server-mates are and what they’re doing, of course, but many commanders won’t be happy for you to simply trail along behind the crowd wordlessly while you try not to die and hope for the best. Every commander who is anyone knows that newbies will be everywhere right now, so this is the perfect time to get to know the game mode better by asking the questions that usually would elicit a “hush n00b” response at less open times. Asking questions about what communication channels are being used, what the commander’s plan is, or anything else that pops into your head is key to getting to grips with the content, but keep your wording brief and frequency low, and don’t expect long written responses in reply while playing such high-octane content. Make your intent to join in known and someone will quickly get you up to speed, but expect to think on your feet and do get familiar with the maps before joining where you can.
Bear in mind that some WvW guilds do not allow non-guildies to join their squad and prefer to blast through on their own: Of course, they cannot physically stop you from following their group, but they won’t take too kindly to this and will seldom offer you any insight into what their aims are or any sort of help should you flounder. Personally, I feel that such guilds are wasting an amazing recruitment opportunity that doesn’t come along often in such a contentious content type, but persisting could slow down your progress significantly so you’re best finding another commander to tag along with. Whatever group you end up running with, remember your manners, don’t use the tactiviators unless told to do so, stick to your commander like glue unless tasked with an alternate mission, and use supplies sensibly to aid your team efficiently.
One of the more hotly debated topics you’ll come across when looking for WvW newbie advice is whether or not joining voice chat is required to be a successful, productive squad member. For me, this greatly depends on the quality of written communication displayed by the squad in question, so pay attention to the chat pane and use that as your cue if you’re unsure. While some commanders will insist upon everyone in the squad being on TeamSpeak or Discord with them, even if they have no mic access, some others will type shorthand instructions into chat to allow for maximum information uptake.
My take on the matter is that all players should follow the commander’s directions where it is reasonable for them to do so, and that includes joining voice chat channels where directed. If you have a disability or health issue that prevents this, send the commander a short message to let them know: A good commander can account for the odd person not being able to listen to them. Try to fit in your WvW time to a time slot in your day when listening will not pose a problem to those around you; the time of day or busy nature of your home aren’t great reasons to not play by the rules. I know that sounds cruddy, but with fast-paced group content, you do need to meet your group in the middle at some point.
If you’re a commander and are seeking to increase your efficiency during the upsurge of newbies, I’d urge you to employ the latter approach: Not only will your group become more attractive to actively join, but you’ll also have more success in getting key information to stick with new players. If you get overwhelmed by typing during the action, you could try having a text file with common command phrases open on a second monitor for quick copy/paste work, or you could bring along a friend who can type shorthand commands while you convey the same information by voice.
Imagine someone joining your Tier 4 fractals run without enough agony resistance or someone turning up to raid with incorrect gear equipped: All the will and skill in the world would not make these players solid contributors to the content. The same is true for WvW, so don’t rock up in your raiding best if you wish to have the necessary survivability for WvW. You should assume your usual gear is not adequate if you’re a strict PvE player, so consult a build guide and get kitted out as soon as you can.
Remember that ill-suited gear of high quality is not better than well-suited gear of moderate quality: Gearing up in Solider’s is a good starting point if you have no wish to look at class recommendations. Likewise, you’ll want to hit up metabattle.com and click on the WvW button to see what builds would serve you best, or if you hate looking at these resources, prioritise your tankiest skills, ask a fellow WvWer for rune and consumable advice, and watch some WvW build videos instead. Making a small effort early on will ultimately save you time in the long run: Your corpse isn’t pipping and you’ll find yourself rage-quitting far more frequently if the enemy is simply bulldozing through you.
Learning the difference between team and map chat and how each is used by WvW groups will save your communication efforts from becoming white noise, which will, in turn, help you integrate into the WvW community. Major calls will be seen in Team chat since this method of communication will span across all maps for your team, whereas Map chat is used for more localised communication on your map and is where you’ll usually find any written directions given by your commander or squad. Don’t ask map- or squad-specific questions in Team chat so that white noise in the more important channel is reduced and no one misses those big calls.
Likewise, knowing common abbreviations used by the WvW commander is exceptionally useful when improving your reaction to callouts and digesting shorthand information given in the middle of the fray. Know your server’s preferred abbreviations for squad sizes (or if your server uses approximate numbers rather than terms such as zerg or roamer), keeps, camps, and towers. If you’re at all in doubt, cardinal direction labels alongside approximate numbers are the best way to go since they are generally intelligible to the uninitiated and are easily typed. You won’t have time to ask every time shorthand is used and could be expected to react very quickly to a call, so this preparatory work will pay off in saved time and more efficient play.
Over to you!
You need to learn the rules first in order to break them, folks, so while I’ve given you an idea of how best to start in WvW, if you decide to stick around for longer than it takes you to earn those sweet rewards, feel free to revisit your playstyle once you’re more comfortable. Many people have fun going off-route, taking small tactical teams with them to cap locations and support the main zerg, for instance. The game mode is player led and is ultimately only as fun as you make it, after all, so do what suits you provided it doesn’t impact on everyone else’s fun.
I’d love more input from the WvW enthusiasts among you since this isn’t my area of expertise: How would you like new WvW players to approach the content? If you’re a newbie, how do you think WvW experts could help accommodate you better? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.