PvP for Dummies Edit

I am a PvP Newbie, a dummy without doubt, and I confess to have only a very slim understanding of it so far. This is why I feel able to present you my experiences with it, for those among you who have no or very little experience with PvP, but still have the curiosity or the wish to play this wonderful part of Guildwars. My hope is to convince you why PvP is not difficult to do, and help you decide to take this path. 

Introduction Edit

PvP is fun! A lot of fun! The AI of the opponents in PvE is rather weak and predictable. It also often shows illogical behavior (such as a caster with backfire casting until hes dead) and godlike skill-usage (How can a NPC necro keep every minion covered with Death Nova, knowing which minion will expire? How can a NPC interupter cast his interupt in 1/100 seconds?).

Playing the PvE Campaigns and quests has its own challenges and charm, and one can sense a deep tactical aspect when fighting a mob of the environment. But this is all you get, a "sense". With the sheer unlimited possibilities of skill choices, did you not often wonder what would happen if you used another skill? If your henchmen had told you why he was doing certain things. Did you not dream about the possibilities, if you could steer a balanced team, each with its role to play, a tactical battle unfolding, with you being part of it, crowned by the sweet success of winning? In PvE your reward in this direction is too often just dull, the strategies you imagined fail to take effect, all your henchmen run the same way, and the deaths of your opponent hasnt been glorious to you at all. It feels a little like the excitement of smashing a wall repeatedly, until it crumbles apart. Hmm, that was a win?

If you watch a GvG Battle (using the observer mode, pressing B in a city or outpost), have you not thought about you being there, doing things a little different, better, and have you not been surprised of the skill selection players used, instead of your usual NPC opponents?

In PvP your opponents are humans. They bring much more skills than the NPC enemies. And often they are not sure about how or when to use them. Everybody tries things out. Humans make mistakes, act unpredicatbly. They sweat and panic when feeling pressure, or when their glorious godlike PvE skill suddenly gets interrupted or their enemies suddenly dont keep standing where they were attacked.

Your team is also humans. People you know (ideally), with which you can communicate and plan some weird deceitful strategies. People who use very different skills than the PvE skills you have seen. People who will assist you in achieving a victory over the other human team.

Most skills work differently in PvP, you certainly have seen the cha message "Skill blabla has been adapted to PvP", when you entered the guildhall. The thing is, in PvP all the hundreds of skills actually work as intended!! Guildwars is designed to be a competitive duel game. The skills and classes are wonderfully balanced, and as a general rule every skill or build can be countered.

Doing a battle against other humans, gives your playing experience a completely new, deeply tactical dimension. Finally, all those skills and their uses fall into place. Finally, the strategies you envision when reading skill descriptions, are within your reach. And the thrill and adrenaline will give you shaking hands. You bought the game for this, it's there to be used.

Confidence Level or Overcoming the BarrierEdit

Everyone in the game has the same feeling when thinking about PvP for the first time:

  • They hate the feeling of being suddenly vulnerable. Compared to PvE, where monsters attack your henchmen first, and you have "beginner-areas" with weak monsters, in PvP there is no newbie-zone, and the opponents make an effort to get to you and kill you. This is scary. What you don't realize at the beginning, is that the other players are afraid as well :) That they have the same sense of having lost situational awareness, that they panic and make plenty of mistakes. Yes, because its a quite different game than playing PvE with henchmen. You will also soon understand that every build or skill has its counterpart in the balance of GuildWars PvP. The solution to this is practice. The more you practice, the more you get acquainted with the situation, the more you understand the opponents mistakes and weaknesses, and suddenly you dont feel so vulnerable anymore.  
  • They are afraid of being weak towards the others and fear the comments. Of course, you want to do everything right, you take care to use skills you think are nice, and some 12 years old kid says "you suxx, noob!". Honestly: so what?? Shrug it off. Everyone in PvP today has started green and had to climb the learning curve. None of them has begun knowing everything. So technically, you have a right to be a newbie, and you should even be proud of it, because it gives you the liberty to experiment. Feeling inferior towards your team is a psychological glitch. By just participating and being there, you are already a *great* help. By being "less experienced" than others gives you a big advantage: you will learn much more than everybody else. And you will learn it in your way.  
  • On the first try, they are overwhelmed by the speed and the brutality of getting killed, quickly loosing the overview of what is happening. Remember that Guildwars was designed as a PvP game. And it is the best PvP environment the entertainment industry has to offer, if you compare it to PvP of other games. As such, PvP is to a certain degree another game within Guildwars. The skills and classes are intended to be balanced, there is no "best build" or "best class", since every aspect of the team give their part. Differently from PvE, PvP is quicker, more fast-paced, even if the balance brings some matches to last hours. You jump the newbie-area and find yourself in a harsh, fast environment where people try to use every trick to throw you out of the way. It takes practice again, to understand what is happening. To understand what in this new game is important: where are your teammates, where is the enemy, who is the red blop rushing towards your friends on the mini-map, what skills is the other guy using, where has the monk gone I had in my target a while ago. Etc.. there are new details to learn to pay attention to, there are new ways to learn how to switch targets, and how to understand the graphics of casting symbols. And everything happens seemingly at once. Believe me, it takes practice to get used to the new details, every match will make you understand them better and enable you to react faster and take better decision. A few times I had not noticed that everyone else was dead and I still had my res signet available. At the beginning just stand there and try things out, watch the symbols, observe red bars, check positions.. do not rush this, take your time to learn to read these details. You will learn very much with each new match.
  • They feel they lack understanding of their skills or believe they do not have enough skills to participate. You know from PvX, wiki and similar databases, that there are hundreds of thousands of builds, billions of possible combinations. No-one has a dominion of knowledge about all that. A few top 10 players of international tournaments playing exclusively PvP for years do not know all the skills. Do not worry about your arsenal of skills. It is enough to use the few skills you are familiar with, that you understand. Over time you will try new combinations on your own, and you will *understand* their new effect. From that point on, you will start creating new ideas, and testing them over and over again. If you are new to the game and have not gone very far in the campaigns, it might be a good idea to use a pure PvP character in a slot for itself. All the skills unlocked to your account are available to use, and you can purchase (for points) the rest. Same goes with equipment, armor, runes and weapons, which you can purchase (for points) and they are all perfect and max damage. If you are fairly far through the campaigns, you might not have the *perfect* equipment, but you have a very intimate knowledge of the weapons you use and their effect. It might give you a sense of pride to use skills you capped in some far away moutain, a scythe you found fom a very nasty foe somewhere in a desert. That feeling will never come to a pure PvP Character.
  • They are worried to loose. You will loose and you will die. Often. Especially at the beginning. The thing is: it doesnt matter at all. It doesnt cost anything, except a bit of pride. And a few seconds later you are trying again in another match. And every match you play, even if you loose, you will learn a little more of it. So, do not fear death or defeat, one of the teams needs to loose, its a part of PvP and it's no shame if it was your team. After a while you will score a win. Believe me, your hands will be shaking so much you wont be able to type correctly :)  You will start winning from time to time, and you will have the certainty that it was *your* contribution that helped to the victory. You will know it was your own skills that did it. Maybe you even had a weird crazy idea, and it worked!
  • On the other hand, PvP is so intricate, so deeply tactical and immensely dynamic, you could play the exact same battle ten times, against the exact same opponents, and the results will never be predictabe. In PvP it is impossible to guarantee a victory, you have to have luck and succeed in using your skills. Even then, you might loose again. Because every skill and build has a counter! People invent new builds everyday, you will see only the very few most popular ones. But maybe you invent one of your own, and because its so unusual you gain a lot of successes, until someone invents a counter to your build :)

My biggest advice in this section is: don't give up! Play not two or three, but thrity, fifty macthes, and you will see the results in yourself. But best of it: you will feel a new joy pumping inside, a new way to play Guildwars you can't believe you had missed before.

General skill considerations Edit

When you start playing PvP, use a simple skill setup. Skills that you understand. Skills that give a solid base. Remember, that you want to first learn to understand the environment and all those new details, before having to pay too much attention to your skills. Also try not to change the skillbar too much, so that you get used to it and can react our of instinct rather than having to recall the effect of a certain skill before using it. Take your time, especially at the beginning, let the others haste breathlessly around. You might have only a few minutes before your team or all your opponents are dead. I have often just stood there (from time to time moving a little, casting some whatever skill just to pretend i was there) and looked only at for example opponents skill usage, or positioning, or trying to memorize skill animations over their heads. 

Believe me, in your first twenty or so matches you won't be using consciously and on purpose more than a few of your skills. Its completely valid to just bring your main skills 1,2 and 3, one utility and your rez signet. It will help to get intimate with them much faster. Then you can expand your bar, to be able to adapt to certain situations.

There are many situations in PvP that require reaction. Hexes for example, are almost inoffensive in PvE, but in PvP they could make all the difference. If you or your team has no ways of defusing those hexes, you loose. It is a good idea to bring some form of anti-hex reaction, again the possibilities are huge. You could simply nuke the hexer to death :)

It is recommended to bring your res signet as well, unless the type of PvP game provides ressurection as part of the match (like in Alliance Battles, where you get ressurected automatically after 20 seconds - no point in wasting a skill slot with a rez).

You should bring one skill for self-defense, to survive any eventual attacks coming towards you. Do not rely completely on your monks, at least not until much later, when you have played a lot together and eaborated a common strategy among yourselves. On the same note, it is wise to have some form of self-healing, if you can spare the skill slot. It will relieve much of the pressure of your monk.  These two skill recommendations are crucial to bring in "Random Arena" type matches, because you have no control about your teammates or the choice of their classes.

Bring one "special" skill. One that will mark your specialization in the match, intended to suprise your opponent: an interupt or knock-down, a caster-blackout, or an anti-melee combo. Again this is left to your tastes. Experiment :) But do not try to take all forms of specialization, because you will not succeed against every other build. It is wiser to specialize your skills into a certain direction. If your opponent is imune to that specific combo, then it's bad luck and you can try to take another opponent. If it does work, woot :) You just earne those balthazar reward points for good.

You will soon get a feeling for a basic skillbar that suits your style, that provides some survivability and leaves room for one or two special skills for you to play around with. This is where you start to have fun with experimenting the many skills at your disposal, and you will be astounded to see that they truly affect gameplay in PvP, so differently than the habitual PvE.

Teams Edit

 Ideally you would prefer to play with your friends and guildmates, and you can have some choice over the classes that will participate in the team. In Random Arenas you could end up with four necros. But worse: they are strangers. When coosing the participants of your team, you have the biggest advantage: communication. You have the chance of adapting yourselves to each others. You have the chance to share your observations between the matches, and devise a common strategy. This will give you much greater chances of success as well as much greater pleasure in winning. This communication can be in team chat or, better because more efficient, using our Vent Server.

But playing with a team also brings a different and new aspect, which you have to learn: you are playing with other human beings, not henchmen or heroes. It is important to bring two things: patience and the wish to play as a team instead of independantly. Listen to the others, wait for them, teach them and learn from them. Again, practice makes perfection: the more matches you play together, the better you will understand how each person uses his skills, which difficulties he or she has, and how to best adapt your skills and behavior towards each other. Take the time to explain your skill usage and listen to theirs. Discuss after a match, it helps a lot.

With time, you will understand the other player, his skills, his strengths and weaknesses. You will learn to trust him in certain situations and they will learn to trust and assist you. As the cogwheels of the team performance gets better together, you will be very much more powerful and the fun of playing together is completely new! 

Where to PvP Edit

Scrimmages and GvG in the Guildhalls

Since Training and testing is important, the first spot available to PvP is your own guildhall. Whenever you are in the guildhall, you have a new button in your party-window called "Guild Battle". Clicking this, you get a menu with 3 to 4 choices:

  • The first choice is to participate with your guild in an official tournament, the Creme-de-la-Creme of Guild vs Guild Battle, and the highest tier in the art and fun of PvP.
  • The second choice is similar, only that the result wont be counted towards any official tournament. You can challenge another guild "just for fun". GvG is always 8 players on each side.
  • The third Choice is to start a Scrimmage, a Battle in a single match in your Guildhall. You can go 1 vs. 1, to test a build or discuss skills and its effects in PvP, allowing you to take your time. You can take heroes or henchmen, to test their performance, you can go as small teams of 2 vs 2 or any combination of the above up to a limit of 8 vs. 8 players.
  • A fourth choice appears if someone has starte a srimmage and is waiting for an opponent. IN that case you have the option to join that player's match.

Scrimmages in the Guildhall have no time limit, and thus offer a very good oportunity for testing and training. The Winning conditions for a scrimmage match are to kill the opposing teams guildlord or cause 60% DP on all the opposing players. The map will have two bases, where the Guildlord resides, as well as several protecting NPCs, consisting of Footmen and Archers, Knights and Bodyguards. A flag stand in the center grants a 10% morale bonus for the team and a 300% Life Bonus for the Guildlord, for the team that is able to hold the Flagstand for two minutes. You get automaticlly ressurected in your base if you die.

While in your Guildhall, Opening the map (Pressing M) shows the Battle Isles, the only thing PvP Characters can reach (except the Jade Quarry and Fort Aspenwood, explained later), where various destinations open up different styles of PvP matches. The Destinations marked red need to be unlocked first.

Random arenas (RA)

Here 4 players attempt to Kill the opposing 4 (deathmatch). The selection of team members is random, and takes 30 seconds to enter. A match mostly does not take longer than a few minutes, so Random Arenas (RA) is a perfect way to do some quick testing of a build, or to gather your valuable first impressions (see above). A ressurection Signet is very important here, unless you are a dedicated healer. The players here tend to be independant, since you cant rely very much on teamplay. Those who attempt teamplay though, often win a lot :). 

Four variations exist within RA: pure deathmatch, Flag Stand (deals lightning damage to enemies when controlled), Priest Deathmatch (dead players get ressurected by their Priest every two minutes) and Kill Count (Shrines will ressurect every 30 seconds, kill more enemies than opposing team to win, withiin three minutes)

Five consecutive wins unlocks next tier of PvP

Team Arenas (TA)

Like the above with the huge difference that you can select team members before you start the match. This is where you will train within the team. This is also where the team you had been training with in your guild hall will attempt to beat other teams. Here PvP assumes its first forms of organized PvP and allows for profound strategies and tactical decisions. The Gametypes here are the same as in RA. 

Five wins total unlocks next tier of PvP

Heroe's Ascent (HA)

Teams of 8 players compete in several arenas until they reach the Hall of Heroes, where valuable loot awaits the winner. Besides balthazar points for kills, each victory in the heroe's ascent will also award "fame".

Hero Battles (HB)

A difficult and very different form of PvP pits one player with his 3 heroes against another team of the same composition. You get awarded points from holding each of the three available shrines. The Player with most points after 10 minutes, or the first player to achieve 20 points, wins the match.

The Factions Expansion offers three new and very funforms of PvP: 

The Jade Quarry (JQ)

luxons compete vs kurzicks in 8 player teams.

Aspenwood Forest (AF)

kurzicks must defend a fortress against a luxons attack. 8 player teams on each side.

Alliance Battles (AB)

Gaining Points for a kill, and for holding one of many shrines on a large map, 12 luxons fight against 12 kurzicks, until one side wins by reaching 500 points

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