Hi guys! This week’s Guild Wars 2 post is on Stronghold. It’s no secret that I got into GW2 sPvP a few months back (if you watch my stream). So I was really excited that I could finally try out Stronghold. I spent a bunch of games trying out different ways of playing the map in addition observing how others play the map as well. You can check out some of those games here if you’d like to. I’ve come up with a list of things I think you need to do fairly well in Stronghold. I also did a small summary of where I saw professions excel at.
Map Awareness Is Key
This is a big, big, BIG thing players need to have. MOBA players know exactly what I’m talking about here. Map awareness is where you frequently check your mini map in order to determine where players are (on your team and the enemy team) and where you are most needed at that moment given your position. In Conquest, map awareness is more forgivable since the capture points are quite close to each other. However, the Stronghold map, Battle at Champion’s Dusk is quite large and you really need to assess where enemies are, what NPCs are going up and down lanes. You need to do all of this in order to keep your gates and lord alive while pressuring the enemy team to do the same.
Always Have NPCs Flowing
This is something I noticed a lot in games. When there was a Hero spawn or if there was a heavy offense by the enemy team so that a lot of players had to go defend, that resulted in a lack of NPCs being channeled. This should never happen. Why? You’ll never get pressure back. Pretty much every game I played that a team had a good advantage or was pushing super hard resulted in the other team losing because they’re not getting any supply for NPCs and purely defending at some point. I believe that at every point in the game, there should be some Archers or Doorbreakers in your attacking lane.
Let’s give an example to show what I mean. Hero spawn timer just starts as you revive and the Hero spawn is near your away from your base. You notice everyone on your team and the enemy team is focused on getting the Hero (which is usually the case). You can either:
- Let some teammates contest while you run to supply camp, run back to channel a few Archers or Doorbreakers or one of each and then run to contest Hero or
- Run right away to contest with your team and no one gets any more NPCs.
Obviously this results in ultimately two situations. Your team get the Hero or the enemy team does. However, the pressure from your team can greatly be diminished or increased due to picking option 1 or 2. If you picked 1), and if you picked the NPCs accordingly, you’ll have less guards to deal with or even better a gate down or almost. Either way, the enemy team will have to go deal with it if they don’t want to lose more ground. This push gets even better if you got the Hero. If you went for 2) then you have no pressure so the enemy team has nothing to worry about so they can push harder into your base. This can be turned around if you get the Hero though. I don’t know about you, but I much prefer option 1) because you have some pressure attacking no matter what.
Take Out NPCs First & Players Second
Something I noticed with a few enemy players is that they were easily distracted by a low health thief (aka me). In fact, in one match, I kept 3 people busy trying to kill me as I popped in and out of stealth, just trying to survive the 50/50 AoE cleaves they were putting on me till I finally went down but I managed to buy my team plenty of time to get a bunch of NPCs to continue pushing in addition to letting the Doorbreakers I escorted to the inner gate do a ton of work.
You should always prioritize NPCs as the first target, whether attacking Guards or defending from Archers, Heroes or Doorbreakers. NPCs are what drive the progression your team makes. If enemy players are trying to kill you, try to kite them out as you take out the NPCs. No Doorbreakers for the enemy means less progress made on their part. No Guards in the enemy attack lane means an easier time getting your Doorbreakers through. It’s well worth it, I assure you.
Hard Crowd Control Is Essential To Have
I really didn’t think about it in my first couple of matches but I have to tell you, hard Crowd Control (or CC) is so useful in Stronghold. Stopping a person from channeling supply or a Hero is much like stopping a person from finishing a player. You need to either put them into downstate or have some hard CC. You’ll definitely need it for stopping supply runners or stopping a Hero channel. The following counts as hard CC:
- Petrify (Thief Basilisk Venom)
- Frozen (from Elementalist Frost Bow “Deep Freeze” skill)
On the flip side, stability plays a major role to block out these Hard CCs. Be sure to take off stability stacks by using conditions and the like. Now that I’ve covered some essentials, let’s talk about roles and professions.
There are many types of roles as outlined in a past ArenaNet article but I’ll generalize it into 4 main roles to make it easier:
- Attacker – This person should be an enemy team’s nightmare. This person is constantly raiding enemy defenses in order to take out guards, the enemy trebuchet, or players that try to take out friendly NPCs
- Defender – This person is vigilant in making sure enemy NPCs are taken out or that enemy players do not take out guards
- Supply Runner – This person is, in my opinion, the most valuable person. They constantly run supply for the consistent flow of NPCs for attacking the gate
- Escort – This person supports the NPCs in the attacking lane either by buffs, heals or protection from enemy players
Note that anyone can play these roles and you can easy roam and switch to another role when necessary. For example, I can be an attacker and consistently be taking out guards until 2 players finally take me out. Then when I respawn, I can become a supply runner if no one is running supply or, if a lot of NPCs are at my gate, I can transition to a defender.
Professions In Stronghold
Now, even though any profession can play the roles mentioned above, some professions excel at certain things which make them a great asset to Stronghold. Let’s go over some of them.
Guardian – Support Guardians are amazing at escorting NPCs as proven by Environment Artist Tirzah Bauer. In Stronghold dev matches, she ran a Consecration build in order to keep Doorbreakers healed and protected from damage. It was quite impressive. You can check it out the dev matches in this video.
Warrior – I have to say, warriors are definitely great attackers. With their survivability, they can easily argo guards while taking them out in addition to taking on enemy players allowing Doorbreakers to get through. Or they can go for a more damage oriented route and take out guards even more quickly.
Revenant – Not 100% sure on this but I feel that they can be great defenders, especially with the taunt chain on enemy heroes.
Engineer – Engineers provide solid defense. Place turrets at your gate, hop onto the trebuchet and clear out the waves of NPCs or stand firm alongside your turrets. You can even bunker down the supply camp and not allow any enemies in without them taking some form of damage.
Ranger – With longbow, Rangers really do excel at attacking and defending. Rangers can cover and defend a lane while staying near the supply camp to assist runners. They can also, burst enemy Guards down from a distance or agro them early to keep them off Doorbreakers.
Thief – Thieves are great at supply running. With high mobility from shortbow they can get to a supply camp and back to NPC channel doors quite quickly. Similarly with Warriors, they also make for great attackers if built for high burst and can slip away if getting attacked too much.
Elementalist – Staff support ele comes into play as a viable Escort keeping NPCs alive as they move forward is vital for winning Stronghold matches.
Mesmer – The use of Portal at the right times can really make Mesmers a valuable asset as a supply runner in addition to Blink and clones they can make to get away with supply. They can also make for great defenders slowing NPCs and barraging them with AoE conditions and burst damage. Shatter Mesmer anyone?
Necromancer – I didn’t see a lot of Necromancers but the ones I saw did well as defenders. They bring a lot of AoE slows, damage and fears in order to strive off a horde of Doorbreakers, Archers and enemy players. It’s one of the greatest assets a Necromancer (especially a Staff Necromancer) can bring to slow an assault.
I have to applaud ArenaNet on this amazing mode. Watching the 23 hour stream of streamers from both PvE and PvP background you can tell this mode is fun for players of both backgrounds. Even streamers that are coming back to Guild Wars 2 had fun with the mode. I really can’t wait till it comes back again, either in another beta or on release of Heart of Thorns. Oh and don’t worry, I did actually do some beta testing. In fact, I have a list of bugs/suggestions I have to review and articulate out before I post them on the forums.