Today, on WvW reset, for 5-7+ hours, I think everybody won.
On the fields of the Fort Aspenwood Borderlands, the combined guilds and militia of Kaineng, Fort Aspenwood, and Tarnished Coast fought a ridiculously epic series of battles.
Kaineng was the green team, [RISE] and [CO] the apparent major anchor guilds there.
Fort Aspenwood the blue team, [RET] the major unignorable factor in play, bolstered by a framerate stopping horde of other mixed guilds and militia as one would expect on a server’s home borderlands.
Tarnished Coast the red team, with [DIS] and [CYN] as the initial designated guilds assigned to that borderland, plus other mixed guilds and militia, and a special guest appearance later at the end of the NA night, which we will get to in good time.
It’s actually amazing how much Fort Aspenwood feels like Tarnished Coast’s opposite number.
FA’s server culture seems to have been stacked with competitive WvW-PvP focused types. I think as a natural consequence of that, FA has more players with specialized builds for WvW, dedicated sportsman-like to playing and practising together. Tactically, they have the advantage.
It gets pretty obvious when our zerg runs into a guild like [RET], unless severely outnumbering or other factors like siege or terrain are in play. Sadly, the facts of the matter are that it is amazingly hard to counter a specialized force in toughness gear, running a concerted mass of hammer warriors which daze and a bunch of seemingly well-rehearsed back line of mesmers which splash feedback, time warp and whatever the hell tosses up stacks of confusion, veil and portal bomb as needed, necromancers and elementalists who pretty much paint the entire battlefield with AoE wells and fire – without a specialized force of your own.
That, however, as our guild leader was mentioning conversationally over voicechat, was not really what Tarnished Coast was about. Sure, it might be stymying and frustrating to keep running into them and wiping, and sure we would probably have a better chance if we laid down rules and started specifying specific builds and stuff we wanted people to run in WvW – but ultimately, TC values fun and freedom of individual choice alongside success or victory. To do otherwise would be draconian. I love this guild for that. It was one of the reasons why I decided to join them, no 100% representation required, no undue pressure – just contribute when and where you can. (And personal interjection here, really, if our players wanted to do that, they would likely have already joined a T1 server and a specialized WvW guild to boot to be massively hardcore about it, no?)
On the other hand, on a personal note, running headlong and splatting into a godawful mess of barely visible particle effects makes me want to learn how to play better. The thing about facing tough opponents or watching a much better organized force go at it is that they can inspire you to try and improve one’s own level of play. I greatly appreciate that there is no downward force to change my main’s build – I’m just not ready for that yet without easy dual-specs or save/load specs in place, and without actually feeling out options on another character. But that’s the idea behind my new guardian (which I have decided to go ahead and plevel to 75 after all) to see if there’s anything else that can be done to improve my level of contribution to such fights.
That, I think, is what TC is about. Slowly, steadily, improving the level of all players on their community, at a pace that they are comfortable with. And I have a huge respect for the leaders of that community for all the incredibly hard work towards that goal and not losing their patience or chasing short term gains.
TC holds its own through masterful strategy. It really knocks my socks off sometimes, how TC does its best with what they have (even if it’s not much.) I’m really happy to be on a server that keeps its eye on the PPT and how best to work towards whatever overall objective was decided. (Team Fortress or Natural Selection comparison again here, I used to be one of those players who fought for the team objective, nevermind how sucky my kill/death ratio looked, versus other players whose goal seemed to be solely maxing out their individual scores on the leaderboard and feeling good about that.)
We’re fortunate to have some fantastic generals in this community. And I use that word, rather than commanders, to highlight the strategic minds at work, and how they strive to win the hearts and minds of the people – the morale fight, the diplomacy fight is just as important to them as the actual battlefield combat.
An example from today’s battle, for those of my readers not as involved with how WvW can work in GW2:
The home server normally has a good advantage on their home borderlands – they have the garrison keep and militia naturally flock there as well as Eternal Battlegrounds. [RET] being [RET], with the rest of their militia following them, could actually gain the upper hand if Kaineng and Tarnished Coast decided to keep dickering around in the bottom half of that map.
Instead, the plan on the TC side at least was to go defensive and bunker down for a bit, before looking for opportunities. And oh, do I love how TC defends stuff. The main force grabbed the bay keep, grabbed our natural tower (redbriar) and supply camp. Said supply camp was sieged up to the gills and a defensive force left there to upgrade and run yaks into the keep, the bay keep was sieged up, the briar tower was sieged up.
At the same time, smaller disruption groups were scouting, reporting enemy movements, taking out enemy dolyaks, and hitting supply camps.
Something might have happened on the Kaineng/Fort Aspenwood side to distract both servers (a pitched battle on their parts perhaps? Unknown to me) because it turned out that we were able to capture both the south camp (champion’s demenses or whatever its name is) and the northwest camp (godslore/arah’s?) for decent amounts of time.
Said south camp was bunkered down with siege as well and a defensive team left there to hold it and keep the supply lines flowing. At the same time, our commander decided it was time to go hit Woodhaven, and a force also went up to the northmost supply camp to do nasty things to Fort Aspenwood’s supply.
Similar stuff must have been happening on the Kaineng side because FA was getting pressured and squeezed into their garrison with very little supply. Textbook strategy. Restless PUGs wanted to go hit other stuff, but I think we managed to hold back the main forces for the most part in order not to overextend oneselves.
Our hold of the supply camps was tested by both FA and Kaineng, and it seems they were fought off very successfully for the most part by a very responsive militia and our defensive teams emplaced there. That dedication brought us the second waypoint to pop up across the maps (second only to EB’s Overlook) at bay keep – something that would be key to successful defence of it later.
Our zerg meanwhile was forcing reactions from FA by poking at Woodhaven and Dawn’s Eyrie – usually getting wiped as [RET] scrambled and responded. We kept losing battles, no doubt. And I’m sure [RET] made plenty of money off our loot bags that dropped, so they won too. 🙂 But the overall objective, keeping FA back on the defensive and having to react constantly on their home territory, was achieved, buying time for other holdings’ upgrades to settle in. The hope too was that FA might have to pull players back from other maps in order to keep hold of their garrison, leaving our guys there with better overall chances.
Before long, Kaineng made their move on FA’s garrison, and TC was not far behind in banging away at other gates, repeatedly through the night. Mad props goes to the amount of FA players crammed into their garrison, holding out epically against numerous attempts.
Battle of South Camp
One notable moment in the night was the Kaineng-Tarnished Coast pitched battle across south camp.
Kaineng had previously made feeler approaches towards our briar tower, producing an immediate response in our zerg who rushed back to defend it, complete with well timed cow onto the bridge just as they were about to cross. As it exploded in a big green poison cloud on them, Kaineng immediately reversed direction and changed their minds.
However, they did have less supply than us overall since we held an upgraded south camp for the greater part of the night. As supply needs for garrison started becoming overwhelming on both sides as the battle dragged on, it ended up in a massive pitched battle across south camp with reinforcements streaming in from both sides with an equally near spawnpoint.
TC eventually won that bout, which probably eventually forced the [RISE] commander to gather up his forces in a huge mass and steamroll with speed into both our south and southwest camps overwhelming our defenders. As unpleasant as that was, we hoped the supply got put to good use on FA’s garrison in the end. (And we did make a retaliatory strike into Kaineng’s southeast camp to force a response from them as well.)
Battle of Garrison
My word, it’s probably best told from the point of view of the FA defenders. All I remember were strikes on Dawn Eyrie’s, cutting off reinforcements to garrison in the process, running through already-made holes in the walls to get up their outer keep walls, water gate attacks and one memorable moment when we got in and tried to hold out at the very top floor of their lord room. (Lemme tell you, trying to jump up there with about 1-2 FPS is NOT EASY for someone as coordination challenged as me. I fell off repeatedly and probably the only reason I survived was that everyone else was also lagged, and probably didn’t see me from the culling that must have been going on.)
I suspect there was also another TC zerg rushing in from the southwest gate of garrison at various times as we had a number of other less-known commanders trying to rally militia into taking garrison earlier on in the night.
I have to stop for a moment and give kudos to our super cool-as-ice commander Laona Ravenheart whose calm voice on our voicecomms and super strategic mind kept turning potential problems and frustrations into opportunities. It would have been easy to get frustrated at our failed attempts (but then, we were barely 20 and there must have been a good 60 FA sardined into garrison, no doubt because there was nowhere else for them to go while under constant heavy attack and trying to repair their gates and walls which must have looked like swiss cheese by the end of the night.) He was also, I think, running a headache by the end of the night, staying up till 3am.
We also had a very strange visitor to our bay keep who kept draining our supplies by singlehandedly building a shitload of golems, and not responding to any tells or stopping in any way, running what seemed like a set path for a bot. He also kept starting useless upgrades like merchants at the keep. He was eventually watched, warned and reported by our defense teams. Again, it would have been easy to lose one’s cool and start yelling, but our guys kept the golems ticked, laughed at the weirdness and said, welp, at least we didn’t have to pay for any of these, and made the best of a bad situation.
We made a hilariously laughable attempt to storm garrison with six golems, just for fun, on paper gates that weren’t reinforced and were probably not fully repaired anyway. We knew we would lose all of them as we just didn’t have the numbers to overwhelm the FA defenders inside. But hey, they were free.
Battle of Bay
Eventually, as the night started winding down and people started logging off, likely on all sides, FA managed to get out of their garrison as the pressure let up.
Sure enough, we knew they would come for us.
Supply camps were hit and changed to various multi-colors of blue, green and red as people started jostling for PPT and fueling up on supply.
We fell back defensively. Briar was hit by Kaineng and lost. The outer camps were lost and southwest camp lost and sporadically regained back as people respawned.
Last stand time.
We were down to about 10 people on the map by this point, the outmanned buff popping up. About 20-30 FA came knocking on bay’s fortunately reinforced gates, giving us time to attempt siege setups (but our supplies were drained, thanks to said bot, we had barely 150 odd left in there) and one superior arrow cart on its own was not going to hold the angry mob off.
Our lord room was fortunately sieged up and ticked faithfully through the night, but if FA got in there, it was going to be bad regardless.
Guild diplomacy saved us.
Our guild leader contacted [PiNK] who had done very well on the Kaineng Borderlands, holding hills and bay for some time and pushing Fort Aspenwood completely out of that map, though Kaineng might have started getting the upper hand there as the night wore down (I dunno precisely what was happening there, I just say this based on the amount of green creeping over the map ever so slowly.)
[PiNK] very graciously and kindly responded, rushing to the bay defence, some 20-30 odd of them, just as FA was on the verge of breaking in through those reinforced gates. 1 minute on waypoint timer.
We bunkered down in the lord room, all 6-8 odd of us or so, barely enough to get on all the siege we had emplaced and still have people holding off the incoming zerg from rushing the siege operators.
Massive fucking battle ensued, framerates churning, our siege getting rushed even as we cut down FA with them, the timer ticked and [PiNK] popped in to join the fight.
About that time, 7 hours past WvW reset, my client finally gave up the ghost and crashed with an ‘unrecoverable graphics error.’ Guess it finally exceeded 32-bit WinXP’s memory limit. (God, I need a new computer.) A couple minutes went by as I restarted the game and logged back in, naturally quite dead at spawn, but confident that FA would have been wiped.
They made one more attempt, with our siege quite completely totaled by now, and again [PiNK] popped in to save the day and wipe them, thanks to that beautiful waypoint.
That was the time our exhausted guild mostly logged off, as some other people trickled in. TC may or may not hold the keep over Oceanic/SEA time as that’s a notable and known gap in our coverage, but well, that’s WvW for you.
All in all, for that time period, a massive team effort by everyone on Tarnished Coast, working in coordination across the maps. And I am proud to have been a small part of it.