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Guild Wars 2 PvP Season One Finals This Weekend!

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Tune in Saturday February 20th starting at 8 a.m. Pacific on the Guild Wars 2 channel for the PvP Season One finals! matchups

The teams are:

  • Europe’s Ranked 55 Dragons – Oracle, Texbi, Levin, Zan, Mancow
  • Europe’s Vermillion – kervv, Snowball, Alkore, Argi, Trifin
  • North America’s Team PZ – javasocute, YourFriendMarvin, Zoose, Muffinzz, Kaypud
  • North America’s The Abjured – Phantaram, Magic Toker, Chaith, Nos, Wakkey

The Broadcasting Team:

  • James “Kaelaris” Carrol as Host
  • Daniel “Jebro” Littleton & Joe “Munchables” Fenny as Commentators
  • Joe “Storm” Nowasell & Chirstian “Heurix” Thomasser as Analysts

With the new balance patch shaking up the meta in a positive way and the teams practicing in the dark for a month, we should be in for a good show. Hoping for some glorious Thief action! If you’re interested in the GW2 PvP scene be sure to check out ArenaNet’s brand spanking new competitive website!

Guild Wars 2 Stronghold: Thoughts On What Players Should Keep In Mind

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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

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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

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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:

  1. 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
  2. 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

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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

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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:

  • Daze
  • Fear
  • Knockback
  • Knockdown
  • Launch
  • Pull
  • Stun
  • 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.

Stronghold Roles

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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.

Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns: Initial Thoughts On Stronghold

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By watching Guild Wars 2 Stronghold videos released on March 3rd by GW2 community members Aurora Peachy, Blu, Bog Otter, and Jebro, I’ve came up with a small summary of what I think of the mode, how the Revenant fairs in Stronghold (and in general sPvP) and strategies players used.

How The Revenent In Stronghold Fairs

So from what I’ve seen of the Revenant, it seems pretty powerful. Shinryuku, a popular GW2 streamer, played the most convincing Revenant in a Stronghold match and had some pretty good success with handling conditions as well as taunting targets in order to help NPCs get to their objectives. Revenants also have some great AoE coverage for areas of contention like the supply area or a lord room. I can’t really say that Revenants are balanced at the moment because it IS a demo after all, there’s much more work to be done on the class. I will say that they’re not underpowered and pretty tanky. For dealing with the Revenant taunts you just need to use a stun break. For the Revenant AoE you have to position accordingly; granted this may be hard at times but plently of classes have AoE that will be difficult to evade in small spaces. Overall, I think the Revenant is in a pretty good place for PvP right now.

Analysis Of Stronghold Videos

Jebro had a great video, detailing some of the basics of the map including where supply are, NPC spawns and so on. What was interesting is that Jebro noted that the gates could only be damaged by Doorbreakers. So it’s very essential that players get Doorbreakers through for gate damage. Also, guards really do one shot Doorbreakers but can be distracted by enemy players. Also, Doorbreakers take time for a player or a non-guard NPC to take out. So guards are pretty important to guard against enemies (ironic no?), pretty much like you would fight with guards in WvW if a havoc group showed up.

Blu took tactical commentary with his video discussing how teams started and what enemies were doing and his thought process on reacting. At first, it seems everyone rushes to the supply camps after spending their initial supply. Then a fight breaks out. After the initial fight, it seems a push-push as Blu put it, is made where teams are defending or attacking all the while some players are running supply. I’ll talk more about this later but I saw Doorbreakers easily walking by when guards have agro so think it’s too easy for Doorbreakers to get by.

With Aurora’s and Bog’s videos it shows the strategic routes they took in their games. Do note that they mostly play PvE so it was really cool to see them do well. Aurora ran supply a lot but she would always try to be out of vision when channeling supply during fights nearby. This may seem small but it results in a ton of Archers and Doorbreakers coming through which made Bog’s task way easier. Bog took a great approach to his first match and I was surprised no one tried to stop him. He solo ran right to the enemy gate after everyone used their initial supply on Doorbreakers and Archers. Then he proceeded to take out the guards or at least get agro while the Archers helped out and the Doorbreakers did their thing. Bog got all the way to the 2nd gate until Jesse Cox came to stop him. This was a great tactic for the first game. If everyone rushes to supply and starts fighting, no one will be paying attention to the mini map to see your gates and guards getting pummeled. However, the same trick didn’t work as well twice but Bog still got a gate and three guards down before Blu started to stop him. So it seems that rushing the gate with a few Doorbreakers and Archers with one person works pretty well, we’ll have to see in future iterations.

Tactics and Other Aspects

What I thought would be interesting would be the use of the trebuchet but no one seemed to use it in any of the videos. It makes me wonder if a majority of players will want to use the trebuchet to their advantage or will it be justa decoration for most Stronghold matches. I think around 1/3 of my matches on the Battle of Khylo map is when at least one person uses the trebuchet. I really think a majority of players don’t like using trebs too much but rather get into the fray. Still, I’d like to see how useful the trebuchet is versus a horde of Doorbreakers for example.

Seeing the tactics used in matches I think the 1-4 split was pretty effective. One would go for enemy gate and 4 would go for supply like in Bog Otter’s matches. A person from the 4-man supply would peel off to guard their gate (or use the trebuchet if necessary). Then the 3 man team would slowly dissolve into one or two people running supply and helping out as needed while a person roams in between both lanes.

Stealth will be a huge mechanic, for ninja supply runs and to get doorbreakers to gates unnoticed. I’m 100% sure you can’t channel hero or supply while stealth but there are so many uses for it that I can definetly see different specs for Mesmers and Thieves.

What I’d Like To See

For Doorbreakers, I’d like for them to not get so easily past guards. You can see in Blu’s and Bog’s video that Doorbreakers easily slipped by guards that have agro. I feel at the very least that Doorbreakers within a certain range of a guard will cause that guard to agro onto the Doorbreaker, even if engaged in combat against a player.

For the Hero spawn, I think it’d be great if there was a voice indication that a Hero is spawning like on Forest of Niflhel when Svanir or Chieftain appears instead of “It can’t be far to that Mists Essence”. It’s not intuitive what that means. The voice in this case would say something along the lines of “A Hero from the Mists will be ready to fight soon” and then the 30 second count down begins.

In Conclusion…

That’s all I have to say on Stronghold for now. It looks like a fun mode that PvP, PvE and WvW players can all enjoy. I personally can’t wait to get my hands on it! Here is Jebro’s Stronghold game guide for those who want a look:

sPvP Stronghold Mode & How It Works In Guild Wars 2

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Alright so yesterday, PvP Team Lead John Corpening and Competive Designer Hugh Norfolk made a Guild Wars 2 post about the new PvP Stronghold mode and the mechanics it contains in the first ever GW2 Stronghold map: the Battle of Champion’s Dusk. Let’s describe these mechanics real quick then go into my initial thoughts.

Supply And NPCs

So each player can carry a max of 2 supply which is obtain by supply posts (probably similar to WvW but without any NPCs guarding it). Supply is dropped on death and anyone can pick it up if found. Supply is used to hire two types of attackers: Doorbreakers, skritt NPCs who excel at and only focus on taking down gates, and archers, NPCs who excel at taking down other NPCs but attack others as well. Other NPCs are Guards which are located at a team’s gate and around the Lord which you need to down in order to win a match. Guards can one shot Doorbreakers. However, once a guard is down it stays down, Guards do not revive at a later time. There’s also a Hero NPC which a team can get by channeling the Hero point when it appears. The Hero NPC focuses on the very next objective. Hero has a super ultimate used when facing the lord but take time to channel and can be interrupted.

Trebuchet And Map Layout

There are also a trebuchet for each team to bombard objectives with. These trebuchet, much like in Battle of Kyhlo can be destroyed but instantly repairs by using supply otherwise you have to wait a few minutes for it to self repair.

The map is two lanes, one end of a lane is attack, the other end defends and vice versa for the other lane. The defense side has a gate and past that an inner sanctum where the Lord resides. There are many roles players can fill such as attackers, supply runners, NPC escort support, trebuchet shooter, gate defender, roamer etc.

My Initial Thoughts

So off the bat I have to say there are a lot of focus on channeling: for supply there’s a 2 second channel, to summon NPCs with supply you need to channel, for hero NPC you need to channel. So at least one interrupt per player will probably be vital for this PvP mode.

Depending on how strong guards are, assaulting those will be a priority in order to get Doorbreakers through. My initial thought is to use supply on Archers and do an initial assault to take out the guards guarding the gate, then summon 2 or 3 Doorbreakers and escort them to the gate to take it down, then switch back to Archers for an assault on the Lord. Defending I would have at least one person nearby in case someone tries to assault the gate in order to call for backup and trebuchet support.

Trebuchet I think should prioritize supply camp and enemy attackers, especially if it’s Doorbreakers. Next would be attacking the gate and defending the gate with the trebuchet. When the Hero point is about to pop up, all trebuchet focus should be on that.

For player roles, I wonder if there will actually be diversity in builds for once. If it’s 5v5, I currently can’t see why current PvP meta builds wouldn’t work. you could ahve a bunker for gate and trebuchet to hold out till help arrives. You could have a duelist on trebuchet. You’d have professions with high mobility roaming the map and you’d have berzerks assaulting gate. At least that’s the way I can see it right now.

I feel like this will be a fun mode, it’s like a mini WvW map but the focus is purely on assaulting and defending a keep. It has a variation of gameplay to it which I feel needs more than 5 people to get the most out of it but we’ll have to see when it comes out. We’ll get a first glance today of Stronghold on Ready Up!

Guild Wars 2 September 2014 Features Pack Coming!

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ArenaNet is going to come out with another features pack in September! Living Story will be put on hold in order to deliver this. This features pack will start off with PvP and WvW.

From ZAM, we can see at least 2 things that will be in the features pack: an improved squad party UI including changing the commander tag color and a golem mastery. This is all go0d for WvW but I hope there will be more to it than that. WvW is fun but can get a bit stagnate. I’m not saying a new map is needed but something new to mix it up would be nice.

Regarding the commander tags, according to guildnews.de a commander tag will be account bound and will be 300 gold starting September 9th. Refunds for extra purchased tags can be handled by support. Another feature is that you must buy the colors for the tag but it’s not clear if it’s a smaller fee of say 50 gold or you have to spend another 300 gold for another color which would be just ridiculous in my opinion. Hopefully it’s not the second option. If it were, there’s 4 to 5 colors to choose from so that would be a 1200-1500 gold sync if you wanted all the colors and had to buy a new tag each time. That’s basically buying a high end precursor. Maybe the majority of people with commander tags have that kind of money to spend, I really don’t know. I can’t say the same for people who play regularly but not 6 – 12 hours a day everyday. I can say this for sure though: if you want to save 200 gold and don’t care about having a blue colored tag, buy a commander tag before September 9th.

For SPvP I don’t play it as much as I would like to these days. I would imagine there will be a new map or a new mode, maybe both, and some quality of life changes. Probably even a new standings feature for better structuring their SPvP tournaments.

Right now, according to a GW2 post, we know of Standard Model feature where players have the option to make enemies appear as a human model (if the game mode supports them). This is to make knowing the skills characters use easier to read. We’ll have to see how it goes but I’m not so sure I like this too much. The very reason I’d run an Asura is to be small and harder to spot so I can kite and fight, for example on my Asuran Thief. The reason I’d run a Charr or a Norn is to be visually spot able as if to say “Hit me!” but then they get hurt by my retaliation (I run a Norn Guardian). Another PvP change we know of is PvP exclusive armor which is nice for the PvP players having some distinguishing features than PvE players.

I’m interested if there will be much for PvE. The commander icons/squad change would be beneficial for things like the Evolved Jungle Wurm or Tequatl. The post Colin put out announcing the pack did say “To kick things off, we’ll be focusing on new PvP and WvW updates“. We’ll see if there’s more in store for PvE but it seems the focus at the moment will be on PvP and WvW. Fingers crossed for precursor crafting!

The April 2014 Features pack was awesome, especially for PvE players. Hopefully the September pack benefits the PvP and WvW players a lot. I can’t wait to see what else is coming!