GW2: Recent PvP Resources

It seems like the updates to GW2 PvP to put in reward tracks and ranked/unranked matches has been overall quite healthy for the state of sPvP. Especially with the new dailies that tempt me to get a game in nearly every day, just playing on a super casual and carefree level.

I’m probably not the only one.

And with this influx of new blood, there seems to be a larger appreciative audience of people interested in learning more about GW2 PvP and how it all works, which encourages skilled players to share advice and teach others.

I haven’t watched all the videos yet on the QQmore.net website but they all look very helpful.

I was especially fond of the Mindset and Avoiding Frustration text guide because it touches on something I’m still trying to work out and get right, how to react better when one is frustrated.

I used to get frustrated very easily and become very avoidant of things that frustrate me as a result.

I’d have very high expectations (of myself or of the result that I desired) and when I didn’t get it, man, anger, frustration, bottled up tantrums, all the bad feelings I’d try not to spew out onto other people (cos I did that in my early years a couple of times and that’s not nice or mature to take it out on others), and hey, I didn’t want to be the sole target of those bad feelings either, so… easy solution: don’t do the things that cause the frustration, right?

Well… avoiding works if you don’t care enough about the activity or result either way to get worked up about it, which works for unimportant stuff but not for stuff you actually wanna do.

Turns out that reframing one’s perspective and looking for constructive solutions/goals and small improvements to cheer about can be another way to deal with frustration – that’s still a work in progress for me, but I seem to be getting better at it via the Marionette, Tequatl, Boss Blitz, Lion’s Arch sequence.

Dabbling around in sPvP has been another way for me to work on this. I generally care very little about sPvP, or my reputation, what other people think of me, or how I look or perform (self-image-wise), which makes it easier to distance myself from whether I win or lose a particular match.

All I really care about is whether I’m performing to the best of my ability on a particular chosen character, and if I can keep learning or improving and getting a smidgen better or more familiar or more comfortable with that class.

Which ironically does frustrate me from time to time when I’m not doing well, but the guide’s right, if something’s frustrating you, that’s probably because it’s a learning opportunity, because someone is playing much much better than you and can be learned from, if one can just take away one’s ego from the equation. (Frickin’ super-ping sword/dagger thieves that just zip around and pwn. *coughs*)

Another fun resource that I enjoyed watching was Phantaram teaching Sodapoppin GW2 sPvP:

I gather that these two are streamers of some importance or other. The S guy being some WoW hotshot and Phantaram being a really good GW2 sPvP tournament player of some kind, who also turns out to have the patience of a saint when coaching. Mad respect.

This is very much worth watching for anyone interested in GW2 PvP – it’s very introductory, goes through some of the most common builds of all the classes and what they’re liable to do, and really shows off to an inexperienced player the potential -depth- of GW2’s PvP – which at first feels like a whole bunch of explosive lights and colors and someone’s dead, wut, but that there’s really some sophisticated stuff going on under the hood to pull that kind of thing off.

Buttons to chain in sequence to set up some spike damage or a kill (often assisted with some crowd control) and how to counter or escape someone that’s setting up to do that to you, and so on.

How one class can counter another and vice versa, and more besides.

It’s very much a taster, but it’s a very tempting taste, and even I’m tempted to start watching more of Phantaram’s and other streamers’ videos now… except for the whole need-time-to-do-so thing. Gah.

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GW2: Completely Wrong Ways To Have Fun in WvW

Or allowing “baddies” their day in the sun.

I used to play the heck out of Team Fortress Classic. As a pubbie, cos I got none of that competitive dedication. My favorite class? The engineer.

Yeah, the one that let you cover up your lack of good aim (or lack of an aimbot) with an in-game auto-aiming sentry gun.

The one that let you emplace a sentry gun, yourself with a shotty, and your ammo dispenser (read: bomb. Who uses it for ammo, really…) in three different places at once to make life difficult for the medic who loved nothing better to poke his head in gingerly, back out, then rush in, grenade your sentry, concussion bomb jump (catching me in the blast in the process) and zip past up the ramp.

I imagine he must have been laughing uproariously as he sped full tilt into the little small room, suddenly banged right into a dispenser blocking the doorway, and then BOOOOOM.

*snicker* That never got old, though some guys did catch on in the end and successfully got the flag. I counted it as a moral victory if the guy had to bring a second friend though.

The point of the engineer was to outthink the other guy strategically, and come up with the best sentry gun and dispenser emplacements (and yourself – can’t count the number of times someone stopped to nade or gun down my sentry and got shotgunned plinked to death from behind, who needs aim when you got a point-blank shotgun) to really perplex your opponent and prevent them getting your team’s flag.

Sometimes you couldn’t win. They’d get your flag over your dead body. (Figuratively and literally.) But god, were they delayed. Your team could grab 1.5-2 flags in the time they got one.

And then there were the nades. The oh so fun EMP grenades. I could never play TF2 for long, even before the cash shop craziness, I missed the nades too damn much.

I was that fucking punch-drunk crazy kamikaze engineer who would run full tilt into the enemy team with an EMP nade primed and go BANZZZAAI and boom, take out 5 of them with 1 of me. Giggling hysterically. I doubt it did much for my K:D ratio. Nor was it meaningful to overall team score unless well-timed (like clearing out a bunch of defenders at a chokepoint for one’s team to rush in.) And I’m sure some would rage about no-skill kills. But it was still funny and fun to do from time to time.

Why have such things in a game?

Because it lowers the entry barrier into a game and brings more people into the game by catering for different playstyles. Because as people dip their toes in, and find something they are comfortable with, they keep playing, and one day, maybe they’ll decide they want to learn more and master something else.

Hunted maps were a bit of a pain for me at first, because, oh god, no engineer *sob*. As a sniper, I would suck. As the civilian, I would probably be brain dead and not have great timing with whatever nade jump I would be expected to do. Default option left: Soldier. Four goddamn rockets. Wtf was I supposed to do with them?

I was just one of those random useless soldiers who ran around shooting rockets into walls and windows for a while. But hey, I liked the other maps in the rotation as an engineer so I stuck with it. I read Hunted guides. I read soldier guides. I watched soldiers who seemed to know what the heck they were doing. I practiced rocket-jumping up the vent like those guys were doing.

It took me a while, but eventually I had it down to a decent enough science that I could join one of those three guys getting the civilian up the vent, shoot a useful preventative rocket into the windows snipers liked to use even as the civilian hopped onto a nade and did a graceful arcing jump across the courtyard and zipped into the exit point. Game, set, match. The snipers barely ever won.

I even downloaded maps to try out conc-jumping because I kept seeing some really good medics perform some amazing feats right in front of my eyes in the flag room. Fucking double conc jumps up into the flag room up high, bypassing all my defences except the dispenser (with which I got them with only once before they learned to take it down) and zoom, out again, before I could ever catch them.

Repeated practice and playing as an engineer eventually got me routinely up to the second highest scorer on the scoreboard, second only to the one offensive pro who was normally doing the job of capping the other team’s flag while I did my job making life hell for people poking their nose into MY goddamn flag room.

But I would never even have started down the path if the game wasn’t interesting or easy enough to give someone with initially no skill some ways to have “wins.”

So what does this longwinded story have to do with WvW?

One of the biggest factors affecting the number of people playing has to do with morale (besides the obvious ‘timezones’ factor.)

This is so important that commanders are advised to pay a good deal of attention to it. Shaky morale means people drifting off, falling behind, running away or logging out of WvW.

But why only wait for those few commanders who know how to manipulate and boost your morale?

I didn’t like the uncertain feeling I was getting when getting shaky on morale, and after some thinking, I narrowed down precisely where I personally was having issues. Losing control. Feeling like the situation is beyond your ability to affect. That other people are doing to you, and not you doing unto them.

Fleeing and logging off at this stage has never made me feel any better.

But you don’t have to fall prey to it, because there are always ways to to affect something or do something in WvW and regain a sense of control that way.

Disengaging from a fight you can’t win and going elsewhere to do something is always a valid option. It’s only running away if you never come back.

Do I have to list examples? You see it everywhere. Stop beating your head on the 3 min righteous indignation buffed supervisor if you can’t get dark fields and life stealing going (and even that’s going away next patch, I hear.) Zergs smoothly do a tactical retreat, rebuff and surge right in from another direction. Stealth classes losing battles go poof all the time and get the hell out of dodge.

Yea, though I live in the valley of the shadow of suck, I shall fear no death.

Especially for an objective.

Random funny mini-stories:

I went yak-slapping a couple days ago with my then level 79 to get the last few smidgens of xp. At that level, I’m sure the upscaled 71-74 rares were very sucky. I ran into some Kaineng mesmer at a sentry I had converted to help in my yak-nomming, and it turned into the most hilarious “fight” I have ever had in game. I couldn’t kill him, my damage sucked. I just focused on trying to stay alive with my new and unfamiliar skillset and build, just about narrowly making it, though to this hour, I still don’t know precisely how. It got to the point where I had the sentry help by stunning him and the hammer was still hitting like a wet sock. Then he figured out to kill the sentry first. Oh shit. Back to dodging and staying alive within that tiny circle. I somehow held on so long that the sentry actually respawned. Rinse and repeat.

I was wondering how the hell to get out of the situation, though I noticed in the minimap that [PiNK] was busy taking the nearby hills keep some time ago. Oh right! I am HOLDING OFF a lone Kaineng reinforcement (though I’m sure he wasn’t stupid enough to run into the zerg there anyway) from reaching the keep. The instant the keep flipped, I jumped out of the circle and ran full swiftness tilt downhill hoping to get within vicinity of friends before getting offed. He kindly didn’t chase and waved, remaining behind to take the sentry.

Got in a zerg. Zerg got very badly ran over by [RET] and the commander decided to fling the remnants off a cliff instead. Oh hey, lucky break, this place a bunch of us leapt off is still shallow enough to not die.

A couple of very dedicated-to-fighting-and-killing [RET] jumped down to finish us off and got gibbed by combined fall damage helping our ineffectual builds.

We milled around wondering how to get down past the next very steep fall while some ranged guys kept us in combat and unable to waypoint. Last order from the commander was jump the hell off the cliff, kill yourself, come back to spawn and regroup. Oh well. Geronimo!

I hit the ground with 300hp left and blinked. LOL. Still alive. I forgot to screenshot it, but I spent a couple seconds doing a celebratory Asura hop at the two [RET] guys looking down at the survivors before waypointing.

Then there was the time Mendon’s was getting ninja’ed by 5 Kaineng and a ram and I was first on scene to report numbers. Two guys caught sight of me and decided to go after me. I took off in the opposite direction with my lil legs pumping. They must have learned the value of “DON’T CHASE” that day because as they gibbed me near Speldan’s, I was watching 4 green dots on the minimap converge on their three remaining guys and a ram at the front door of Mendon’s. I respawned and got back in time to watch the remaining two get swarmed down by the now 7+ TC’ers and got my hit in. Mendon saved. Mwahaha.

Oh, and the things I do for yak noms.

deadyak

That yak had extra delicious cookies, I swear. Keep guards? I laugh in the face of keep guards, lying here under this dead yak…

This was when I was still downleveled and hitting like a wet sock. Who cares? I wanted the objective and I got it. Delicious xp to level 80. My hammer’s much better now, thank you.

Even in the worse case scenario of it being guarded and you know you’re going to die if you engage and there’s no one else around to help, there’s always roleplaying a zombie and pulling the yak down with your cold undead hands before you get stomped. And coming back. Zombies never stop coming, even if they fall apart with a sneeze. (And then randomly disengage and hit another yak after they’ve gotten used to your pattern. Very few people have the patience to walk a yak for long periods of time, most will wander off after some time.)

It’s good practice for the time when you need to rush a siege knowing you probably will die but just going all out to fuck it up before falling over.

Repairs cost next to nothing these days. The shittiest dungeon run or repeated WvW deaths will barely take off 11 silver. One sold rare on the TP makes it back with extras, even without a quick dungeon run. Death ain’t nothing to be afraid of.

Oh, and teachable moment. Met someone who asked if I wanted to come along and take a supply camp. I can’t solo a supply camp, they said. Huh? I wasn’t sure if they were pulling my leg. Hey, look, you can so solo a supply camp, I told them as I jogged along with them to the nearest camp. Let me show you.

They were disbelieving. All of them come at me and I’m berserker, they said. You’re a goddamn guardian, I think to myself. Don’t give my favorite class a bad name. A squishy thief could solo a supply camp with patience. But out loud, I say, No, no, you just have to back away far enough. And pick off the scouts first. Let me show you how to pull.

And I did.

They still rushed in while we only separated a scout and a guard (and the supervisor was starting to come towards us) so I don’t know if the lesson on pulling and backing away far enough FULLY sank in. But the principle was demonstrated, and they seemed confident they got it, so what the hey.

One more ever-so-slightly-educated person now capable of soloing a supply camp and feeling like they have the capacity to affect something on the map.

Control. Morale. Strategic thinking. Interesting new moments that make good blog stories and good memories.

Fun.

That’s what’s it’s about in WvW. For me anyhow. And the killers should be happy, because with those mini-wins, I keep coming back for them to slaughter. Take those away and I’ll take my ball and my body home with me. Enjoy post-Trammel UO.

GW2: Fun Need Not Necessarily Come From Winning

No doubt in my last post, you could tell that I was trying to shake off a significant self-inflicted “demoralized” debuff.

Most of it prompted by possibly too optimistic expectations. Guild War 2’s WvW scoreboard is extremely easy to pull up, and crystal clear on how many points exactly are being accrued by each server, and how much of a lead each one has.

When you play with a goal to try and nudge your server to the top of that lead, there’s a fairly high level strategy that has to be thought about – on how to best take points away from the other servers, how to keep your points, and how, if at all possible, to do this with the force you have available to you and can bring to bear.

When you’re playing solo, the typical state of affairs of an MMO player, sans those already with a regular play partner or group of friends, this can make you feel exceedingly helpless to affect anything on the scoreboard. Mostly you can’t, unless you’re really lucky and patiently try to wear down a supply camp that is unwatched by anybody (and how likely is that?)

When you’re playing within an aimless, unorganized pug zerg (or militia, if you’re feeling kind,) there’s the distinct sense of every man for himself, morale is shaky, and everyone is liable to either stay locked in combat (or spawn camped) for hours or wipe themselves attempting to autoattack a door down while defenders indulge in a happy shower of arrows from carts. I apparently learn faster than some other folk, because the futility of such a tactic becomes too obvious to me, and I end up hiding behind a wall sighing, wondering what now, or breaking off and ending up alone again.

When you’re running with a guild zerg, things get better, but can become just as frustrating if the communication isn’t clear, or if the strategy is poor or ill-chosen, leading to multiple wipes or failed attempts or even counter-productively affecting the scoreboard.

I bet members of raiding guilds would recognize similar problems, I’ve just never really been into the whole raiding scene.

Solutions apparently range from working patiently with the entire guild, teaching and hoping practice makes things improve, dumping them and jumping ship somewhere else, instigating conflict and drama through violent disagreement and anti-social actions, giving up and accepting that one’s guild is simply out of that league, etc.

Of course, the typical suggestion to an individual to make the effort, read guides and strategies, work on oneself, become good, get into a good well-organized guild (that somehow matches your play times exactly), get voicecomms, get a mic, etc. etc. so that one can achieve one’s goals and all that.

I had the luck to listen in on a very decisive leader running a small team out in WvW (he was bringing in pugs because he needed the numbers) and was very impressed with the organization and the plans and strategies. Not all of them worked out, but there was always a goal placed on the table and folks were doing their best to keep newbies up to speed, out of trouble, rescue men down, and basically, it was exciting and purposeful. It was fun.

If only it wasn’t an NA guild 12 hours transposed from my timezone… So attempting to join that on a permanent basis is out of the question.

Then again, I’m not sure I have or want to make that sort of commitment either. I avoided raiding because I didn’t want to be locked into a weekly schedule, and it’ll seem more than a little daft to aim for trying to be a hardcore professional on a WvW squad when it may involve much deeper commitment than I’m willing to make.

So… am I screwed? Doomed to an eternity of horribly, depressing losing and getting thrashed by people with more numbers on their side, more timezone than thou or whatever else the whiners claim?

It took some deep thinking to work through this, but a revelation eventually hit me. All I really need to do is work on reframing my perspective.

It’s useless to be upset by the actions of other people or how circumstances turn out, especially if you did your part in trying to make things better.

If you didn’t, and were casting blame elsewhere, then um, time to take a harder look at yourself and figure out what you can do.

Since I can’t affect the scoreboard very much at all by myself, I need to be more focused on the moment and improving my own play in that moment. I win when I do better than the last time, based on my own gameplay. It’s far better than trying to hang my ego on a combined score that changes like the wind beyond my control.

With this perspective, I’ve been having a much better time in WvW.

I asked myself, in the worse possible situation, what can a soloer do in WvW?

Hit and run attacks on dolyaks – better if they were due at some place where supply was needed, but even if not, it is personal practice for how quick you can kill one and be out of there. (Because the organized guilds / zergs will come to check on it eventually.)

Or assassinate a lone reinforcing straggler or two, better if in a spot where reinforcements someplace were needed, but again, practice, and some people like ganking.

Some PvE dynamic events and if you’re really lucky, a supply camp that is unwatched by anybody (barely ever happens.)

I proceeded to amuse myself for a good hour or so in a Borderlands with the Outmanned buff. It mostly consisted of farming nearby PvE mobs (with magic find gear, lol!) while waiting for a dolyak to pop and ninja offing it in between the camp and sentry, and quickly teleporting back to waypoint if things looked too scary (like a horde coming to check on the camp.) Once or twice, I even met a friend and we flipped the supply camp momentarily.

Why not? I’m not blocking anyone from queuing with my random playing around, the outmanned buff said loud and clear no one wanted in, and it was kinda thrilling. Like PvEing on an open world PvP server, where you have to constantly stay on alert. And it was useful for curing my fear and sense of demoralization, sort of like taking some power and control back.

I even made plans to get a more suitable profession, likely thief or mesmer, to do such things more easily when I feel like it. But hey, my chunky Charr Guardian with humongous spikes on his shoulders and a -flaming- sword while fighting managed well enough – talk about the epitome of unstealthy.

Now what about group fighting? Well, it is possible to focus on playing better as an individual even within one.

Yes, the strategy sucks. Yes, we are all going to die in horrible ways. Yes, some (a lot of) people won’t listen and will do stupid things and go off and rambo somewhere. Yes, the score won’t move worth a damn in the direction you really want it to move, and will probably go the other way.

But well, if you’re committed in some fashion, let’s say as part of a group action, why not work on performing your best while you’re there?

This can involve listening to orders better, doing them as quickly as possible, fighting better, dodging better, controlling better, identifying squishier targets and focusing better, not running into enemy AoE better, using friendly AoE fields better, weaving in and out of combat better, trying not to die better, and perhaps even flanking and pushing better (it’s fascinating how effective flanking can be sometimes, people tend to panic when getting hit from an unexpected direction and give ground.)

And even when you’re giving ground, there’s always choosing the next spot to retreat to better. Even as an all out rout, it can be a sort of moral victory if you pull five guys away from their main objective just to freaking hunt you down. Who knows, one day, it could be those crucial few seconds for your team hold out elsewhere because the reinforcements didn’t get where they were supposed to in time because they practiced the habit of ‘chase blindly into everything, omgz0rs, so many krait!’

There’s experimenting with different weapons or skills and learning how to use them best, and playing around with builds and traits in one’s spare time, or steadily upgrading one’s gear.

And when I think like that, I feel happier that I’m getting more personal practice in, even if it has to end up with me faceup on the ground eventually with nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.

Of course, it’ll be better once more folks get smarter, but that takes time and practice. And one can always begin with making oneself smarter through consistent play.

P.S. Karma count is now at 95k. If only that exotic armor karma vendor I’m eyeing wasn’t bugged this particular patch…