GW2: Winning the War or the Battle

Yes, title inversion entirely intended.

In a fun case of role reversal, today’s WvW experience left me wondering if Fort Aspenwood and Tarnished Coast had switched places all of a sudden. 🙂

My morning (NA night) started with a quick guild push into the FA Borderlands following a new commander (it’s pretty great we have so many willing to lead and teach, they all have different styles to learn different things from.)

It also seemed like the majority of the WvW guilds on TC had decided to pile in to have their own fun, because there were about 4-5 tags I recognized (mostly found on other maps) moving around at one point. This naturally attracted other mixed militia used to following along their familiar commanders.

The massive horde easily triggered Siegerazer and before long, stirred up a hornet’s nest of FA defenders. And yep, [RET] and [AVTR] appeared to be on the map.

And yep, PPT was firmly in favor of FA at the time. FA scrambled to defend the tower while all around, stragglers got picked off by the crowd of TC outside and attempted pushes out were firmly forced back in.

knockknock

At one point, I believe Kaineng attempted a breakout or two of their own, which led to reports of seeing some of  FA forces surge out eastward to the other tower.

As stuff surged around to a stalemate, our guild decided that it was getting a bit close to our guild mission time to remain locked up at a zerg vs zerg tower attack/defence and broke away to do disruption as a guild group/zerg of 15-20 odd people. Having crazy fun was the major goal and putting up swords practically everywhere on the map to divert FA’s attention from that one tower the minor goal.

It was ridiculously freeing to just romp around after 7+ hours yesterday of defensively holding points and slap yaks,  grab supply camps and so on. There were a few skirmishes, some with FA and some with Kaineng as we bumped into them, but it was looser combat, not tight murderballs. It was then I realized that my Charr guardian’s build functioned pretty well in this sort of fight – mobility, damage, spirit weapon burst and interrupt – which made a kind of sense since it did organically evolve from what I was mainly doing on IoJ.

At one point, we practiced as a guild a speed cap of the northmost supply camp and dear god, the supervisor melted in seconds, the circle came up, the few contesters dispatched, and we were there and gone before any zergs could respond.

We also heard that whoever was back at the tower did grab it in the end, as it appeared other guild groups had broken away and started to push on bay and hills keeps, which would of course necessitate a zerg response there a lot more than holding one measly tower.

Some time after our guild’s PvE excursion, I hopped back in WvW by myself, because what can I say, it’s a lot more entertaining than running feed sacks to cows for xp.

I’d gotten the Asura guardian to 75, and decked him out in relatively cheapo rares from the TP (those going for the price of 1-1.5 ectos or 30 odd silver each.) The stats available weren’t the most ideal but I ended up with an interesting mix of knight’s and berserker type, with a smidgen of valkyrie trinkets for a teensy amount of vitality.

Not too much, because I traited him for the ye olde Altruistic Healing/shout build that I’ve never personally tried and apparently too much vitality ruins one’s effective hp for that, but I was a little nervous of conditions. Also, running around with 13k hp felt quite odd compared to the 16-17k the Charr wanders around with.

There wasn’t much on the agenda besides run around solo and yak slap for xp, because need to get to 80 and dress in exotics, dammit, while getting the feel of how functional the build was, what the hell I was supposed to do with my shouts and getting one’s skill timing down so that no excess healing got wasted. I wasn’t confident at all that I could kill anybody (besides a yak or a sentry) since I didn’t have as much Power as the other build, but what the hell, in the interest of science, one must test, right?

Somewhere along the way, I got distracted by a commander tag intersecting my path. Nightlight from [CERN] appeared to be leading a small guild group around, with an assortment of other guild tags like [TSL] and [PiNK] and others, and what the hell, I decided to hop onto the choo choo train. They were leading the militia around with terse text in say, but I couldn’t help but notice that there seemed to be a slightly more together core.

My suspicious mind decided to check out the Tarnished Coast Mumble. It took a little scanning of the channels, but it was pretty obvious in the end where that core group was (the one labeled CERN, perhaps?) and I popped right in onto something amazing. Really awesomely amazing.

I found some of the tactically minded killers of Tarnished Coast.

And in the few hours I ran with them, I learned a shitton about zerg vs zerg combat – against [RET] and some [AVTR] to boot.

I’m not going to go into specific tactics here, as that wouldn’t be fair to the guilds who so kindly allow other guilded people to run with them and learn how they fight, but for the sake of my readers who might not be familiar with how sophisticated WvW can get in terms of battle tactics, suffice to say in general terms that it is a beautifully elaborate dance.

It’s worth dipping a toe in, or at least watching a video or two, (preferably one with the commander’s voice included) because it is just that fascinating.

I don’t think it’s any secret that a hefty amount of group-based skills are involved, and combo fields and AoE.

A lot of clever use of skills to maximize culling and framerate lag on the enemy, and extremely rapid movement just like a dance to not be in places the enemy would expect, and to try and fool one’s opponents into spending their skills (which are probably similar) wastefully onto empty ground.

Flanking maneuvers, group splitting maneuvers, etc. One commander against another, leading his soldiers (and soldiers they are, because the better, more precisely and efficiently they follow their orders, the better the chances of success) on the field against another group.

I found to my pleasure that my guardian had the right weapons to contribute to this, which was probably the most I did, since my computer has a tendency to be one of the early victims of this assault on graphic rendering. But you know, all’s fair in love and WvW, that’s how it goes.

The role reversal, as I mentioned before, was amazing, after regularly getting wiped after colliding with [RET] elsewhere. Their bodies were laying on the ground instead.

Alas, from a more outside point of view, one is able to see the weakness of a zerg as well. It was Fort Aspenwood’s turn to rock the PPT score, because the zerg can only be in one place at one time to wipe people. (Though a skilled zerg can move -very- very fast.)

Personally, I found my focus narrowing down to a very tactical level. Perhaps this is simply because I am not practiced at this, so I cannot keep an eye on the map as I might usually do and read/predict enemy movements, and I’m sure the commander was looking and had people scouting and scanning the map for him, but for myself, following the icon pretty much took all of my concentration. Reading the chat window? Forget it.

(It got to the point where I went for a supply run once and mindlessly tried to run back through the south gate following one or two other green dots because the commander said ‘go get supply.’ And wiped on the mass of FA there. Map chat went, ‘Oi, don’t use that gate, use the other gates.’

OOPS. That’s right. Goodness knows where my mind went, I’m usually more situationally aware than that.)

The zerg is powerful because it has a hive mind. But one zerg cannot win the war by itself, though it can win battles. Ridiculously decisively.

Perhaps in a higher tier with more coverage, there is more than one intelligent zerg operating. With Tier 2’s coverage issues being what they are, there’s room for other smaller groups and individuals to play their own parts elsewhere on the map as well.

Some time late into the NA night, we lost Redvale, our supply camp as there simply weren’t enough organized militia outside of the main zerg to defend it. Folks might have wiped on the tide of FA that were swarming around the bay keep, and gotten frustrated and moved off, while the zerg force had to be there to protect the gaping hole in the wall (and also take the opportunity to mow down FA.)

Fort Aspenwood is also notoriously strong in the Oceanic time period, and it was getting closer and closer to that hour (not to mention, it was a Sunday, so Oceanics were likely already playing too) while the Tarnished Coast NA folks were dropping off.

So eventually bay was taken. Though it took the better part of 2+ hours.

I'm sure you'll find this scene in videos from both parties' viewpoints.

I’m sure you’ll find this scene in videos from both parties’ viewpoints.

Funny story behind that. Objectively, there was a stalemate going on. Previous engagements had shown that FA’s forces available-at-that-time could not match the current TC force being fielded on land. They got repeatedly ripped apart. FA ended up trying to bait our mixed group into the water by the quaggan nodes, where they had greater numbers and had no doubt previously practiced tactics as a guild before. Our commander tried once and promptly disengaged us, knowing very well that it wasn’t going to end in our favor. Which eventually led to the above scene – with both parties daring the other to come onto terrain of their choosing.

I think our final downfall was the critical flaw of a not-rehearsed group used to working together. The inner north gate was being banged on, by superior rams (thanks AVTR, I think), and there was already a hole in the wall on the south side for quite a while. The zerg went to respond to the north, and got pulled apart enough that as a whole bunch of FA came rushing through the southern hole in the wall, not enough went back in time with the commander to area deny at the chokepoint.

I was lagging enough that I got about the way to the lord room to already see the first few FA in and rushing towards us, and reeled back in time to see the characteristic feedback bubbles enveloping where I was (thanks AVTR again, no doubt) and a whole bunch of conditions popping up on my bar. Splat went my little Asura.

Sheer numbers poured into the lord room and overwhelmed the rest shortly after.

Had I been a little more experienced with what the heck my build was supposed to be doing, and/or a little less lagged, perhaps I might have cleared them in time – though that would probably have prolonged survival for just a little while more. Then again, tanky guardians are all about being annoying by prolonging survival. 🙂 Oh well, something to try for the next time. Learn something in retrospect every day.

Damn good fight though.

Oh, as an aside, I also made the personal decision to learn how to fight with autoattack off, because I am sick and tired of auto-killing myself with 8 stacks of confusion before I even realize it’s on me (not just a WvW thing – our guild mission today included Diplomat Tarban and damn did the entire guild fall over repeatedly because we got blasted with some 25 stacks of confusion before we could react.)

The whole zerg vs zerg thing today I fought with it off, and it was good practice.

There were one or two individuals on map chat that seemed a little annoyed or frustrated at the tactical focus over the strategic at that point in time, but you know, on a personal level, I’m starting to realize that it’s not just “must maximize PPT all the time” or “must pwn all players all the time” that is the entirety of the WvW experience. With that as a goal, one is bound to get frustrated at “losing” at some point.

Especially because everybody’s got to go to bed some time.

Today, I was following commanders I trusted, having seen them work for PPT strategically and pull ridiculously long hours before, and the decision today seemed to be, let’s just have fun killing, never mind the score. In the long term, it might make our players incrementally better for getting the hang of zerg vs zerg tactics, and not instantly losing morale and fleeing on seeing a zerg come at them. At any rate, I certainly got educated ever-so-slightly more.

Mad respect and props to the big zerg guilds that professionally practice these things. I just got a slight taste of it for three hours or so, and I can see the appeal.

In a way, it’s almost like raiding, perhaps. But PvP-style.

On a personal level, I’m a dabbler, and I know I’m not cut out for hardcore full-on WvW for hours on end. I’ve pulled some ridiculous shifts for two days now, and I can feel the sleep-deprivation headache beginning to build as my timezones get all twisted. (Kinda reminds me of IoJ’s one time in tier 1 where everyone went all out.)

But it makes me happy to think that as long as things don’t implode, I’ll be able to jump on and participate in whatever style of WvW I feel like for the day. Whether it’s individual roaming, small group disruption, defending or zerging, there seems to be room for a whole bunch of playstyles.

(And one other too, I hear some people love 1 on 1 dueling and some folks organize little fight clubs for it. It’s not my thing, so you won’t hear much about it here, but it’s there.)

And room for longevity because there’s always trying to improve oneself that bit better than your opponent.

Even if things do implode (because drama can happen to anyone), what isn’t lost is the knowledge and the memories of good times. That makes it all worth it in the end.

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One thought on “GW2: Winning the War or the Battle

  1. Itelev says:

    Hello!

    FA [RET] Here.

    I am just here to say I like your report, its very well written and interesting to read.

    I cannot help but notice the underwater battle you mentioned, we do have pictures of that moment in particular. It is somewhere on our community forums, and I can say TC and FA´s numbers were evenly matched.

    I look forward on reading more about you in the future and lets hope good battles as these are common in the future.

    Saludos!

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