A Sack Of Cats: A Guild Wars 2 War Story, Pt.1

By Robert Florence on September 25th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.


You are looking at my Guild Wars 2 character, a necromancer from a bloodline of great Defenders of Ascalon, lying dead under a bridge. A descendant of great heroes, lying forgotten and hopeless in the dirt like a sack of cats.

It was the first night of my World vs World experience, and I had gone in on my own. We were just about to arrange a night for our whole guild to go in together for the first time, and as leader I felt it was my responsibility to check the place out. I was going to case the joint, find out how it all works, and report back. I had visualised myself returning with lots of info, and some spectacular stories.

“Well, my friends, I feel that the key capture points must be those supply camps. And let me tell you a daring tale of how I took and held one!”

But no. No. I spent my first night being chased, hunted, killed and killed again. I died in many places. Under a bridge. In some long grass. In the snow. Inside a tower. My armour was being damaged over and over again, and the repair costs were whittling away at my silver. “Fix me up!” I’d say, and then dash off down a hill to get seriously unfixed.

When I smartened up a little bit, I looked out for other friendly players. I would then tag along with them so that we both had some company when we died together in a stream, lying face down in the water like extras from Spielberg’s War of the Worlds. I followed a massive rush of friendlies in an assault on a keep, laid down some marks nowhere near any bad guys, and then was turned into a mark on the floor by a missile from an enemy catapult.

In case you’re not aware, the World vs World PvP side of Guild Wars 2 has players from different servers battling for control of an enormous map. You can seize and hold supply camps, watchtowers and giant castle keeps. There are sieges and enormous mass battles. It’s an incredible, awesome thing. But for a wandering, confused player it’s a giant ditch that others will find your body rotting in. You can’t just take a stroll through a battlefield. You crazy?

With that in mind, I started to play more stealthily. I was just wanting to get a feel for the place, so I didn’t really have to engage in all the action. I hid in some trees to watch things unfold, to try and understand the ebb and flow of it all, and then was discovered and dumped dead in a bush. I went to a mountain peak to watch the battle below, to study its form and its flavour, and fell to my death in a panic when some wolves overwhelmed me.

It wasn’t just enemy players I had to worry about. The world was hostile too.

On its PvE side, Guild Wars 2 is a game that relaxes me. It pushes the same buttons in me that Bushido Blade pushed back in the day. It is stressful at times, sure, but always a little bit Zen. There is something about slipping into a combat style you are comfortable with, in a world you understand, that is soothing to the soul. And when you’re not in combat, it’s just a beautiful place to hang out. Remember those lovely, quiet cherry blossom groves in Bushido Blade? Guild Wars 2 is a Cherry Blossom World. Here is a screenshot that sums up the kind of things I do in PvE.


That’s me chillin’ in a boat with one of my buddies. He doesn’t talk much, but that suits me fine. I’m the type of PvE player who will sit on a mountain and watch the world go by. I like to see the sights, and I like to stop to smell the flowers.

If there are any flowers in World vs World, I haven’t noticed them yet.

These pieces I’ll be writing about Guild Wars 2 will be documenting the wartime experiences of a guild of players who are like-minded, gentle souls. Whenever I’ve played MMO games in the past, I’ve never really gone heavily into the PvP stuff. I’m just not that kind of guy. And the rest of my guild are pretty much the same. But, you know… we love this game, and we want to make our guild great. The thought of our guild flag flying over one of those giant keeps in World vs World is a dream we want to make a reality. And I think a true marker of the success of any modern MMORPG is its accessibility. In the long build-up to GW2’s release, ArenaNet has talked a lot about inclusiveness. So that should mean that this war will have a place for players like the lovely people in my guild, right?

But some of these other people in World vs World look really organised. I mean, I can’t possibly know how organised they actually are, but they look it. Big packs of people from the same guild, all doing their thing. All doing well. And all doing well for hours. It’s an intimidating sight, and you wonder if a casual guild full of lovely people can even hope to make any kind of impact, or if we’ll just be going over the top into the enemy guns again and again until our money runs out.

We’ll certainly find out, and next time I’ll tell you all about it. We’re on the Aurora Glade server should you wish to join us. Feel free to leave your character name in the comments below. But if you’re a hard-bitten veteran, or someone who fears failure, you’d be better finding another guild.

If you see us on there, we’ll be the ones trying to enjoy the spectacle while we’re fighting. We’ll be the ones looking for the flowers.

We’ll be the ones lying dead under a bridge, or in the grass, or in the snow.

And that’s fine. A war needs its dead.

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46 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    MerseyMal says:

    Pretty much sums up my RvR career in Dark Age Of Camelot a few years ago. I miss it.

    • rawrty says:

      While there is much in GW2’s WvW that also reminds me of Dark Age of Camelot, there is to this day not a single MMO that has done PVP as well as that game. I too miss those days when stealthers were stealthers and realms were worth fighting for.

  2. DSR says:

    You’ve fought a good fight.

  3. Five says:

    Love player diaries!

    Fellow Aurora Glade player here. I’ve yet to play much WvW yet although plenty of my guild are into it. Instead my girlfriend and I have been playing PvE and shes been writing a blog about our adventures.

  4. Tuor says:

    That guy in the first pic could’ve been me (except my character is *much* better looking). WvWvW is… well, not too fun if you’re the smallest server in your group. When you see 2 or 3 hordes of 40+ enemies, most of them being from the same two or three guilds, and they’re coming right at you. Well. It’s best to stay out of their way… way out of their way.

    After several a couple of hours on the new map, we ended up with nothing left. No orbs. No keeps. No towers. No camps. Nothing. One of the other servers still had 2 supply camps left, but I figured that was because the roving hordes just hadn’t gotten around to claiming them (they can only be so many places at once). All the rest was held by the same server. It was… discouraging. But, I guess that’s just the way things are, and you find away to adapt — I just hope we find a way to adapt, improvise and overcome.

    Maybe someday, we will.

  5. Hug_dealer says:

    unless you really want to be in the zerg, small group of people can roam around the RvR and cap smaller points and fight other smaller groups.

    There is absolutely room for 5 people to take objectives, sure you will get rolled by a zerg once in a while, but just means you have to know the land better and where the zerg is at the time.

    • Nesetalis says:

      the 5 man squad is my favorite way to roll.
      I’ve done the zerg thing, and though its nice to just crush through keeps, its not quite as fun as the skill involved in surviving as a 5 man running harassment along supply lines, taking down towers, and picking off stragglers from the zerg.

      The servers are a interestingly unbalanced things, they tend to pit different time zones against each other… so at the crossover point, like european evening and american evening is when the real fun happens.. the rest of the time one server tends to have a huge group while the others are mostly quiet.

      Just need to figure out when your server is rolling big, when its losing, and when its balanced. I’d say go in when its losing.. its more fun. (though can be a bit frustrating) but there is nothing more fun than completely annoying the enemy by taking out their supply camps one after another, faster than they can find you. And even more fun when you are 5-10 man holding a tower or keep, and holding it against 20-40 guys and WINNING.

      Practice with trebuchet, catapult, and mortar. Make sure they are placed BEHIND the walls (too many people put them on the walls where they just die a horrible horrible death). And make sure you have a spotter, some one to tell you how much more/less power, and whether to turn right or left.

      Also at reset its an amazingly fun experience. Find your local zerg when the servers roll over (i think around 7pm Eastern Standard Time, US). Jump in ASAP, and take one keep after another before the enemy defends… then hold those keeps for as long as possible against the innevitable zerg retaliation. :3

      Nesetalis.5293 Guild Leader of Elysium Nocturne [ElyN] on server Tarnished Coast.

      • Enkinan says:

        Yay, Tarnished Coast :)

        I’ve been having fun running 5-mans as well and then assisting the zerg when larger targets are in progress.

        Wega Wellwisher – Primeval – Tarnished Coast

  6. JustAPigeon says:

    I’m on Aurora Glade! “Just A Pigeon” is the name.

  7. Premium User Badge

    BathroomCitizen says:

    Can’t wait for the next part. Bring it on Rab!

    • Quarex says:

      Agreed. It is nice to hear discussion of a MMORPG by a fellow player who spends as much time quietly gazing at beautiful rolling hills as actually engaging with the game’s story. Though I am surprised you are even willing to PVP at all, given that I have successfully avoided PVP in every game since Ultima Online.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    A friend and I got confident after capturing the southernmost borderlands supply camp on our own and raising the guild flag above it.
    Knowing we couldn’t take the keep, we too decided that we were the first people to ever have thought of guerrilla raiding supply camps. Needless to say, our next raid resulted in me lying dead in a shallow pool of water while my friend, a confessed abject coward and therefore excellent at running away, ran away.
    After he managed to sneak back to my corpse and bring me back to life, and me returning the favour when he got chased down and slaughtered by a roving mob, we decided on easier game and helped the Quaggans. Quaggans love us apparently.

    WvWvW is a beautiful, terrifying thing. And we’re crap at it. But my friend has decided he NEEDS the WvWvW ranger hat, so we persist.

    I am Beowulf Wyrmslayer, guild leader of Natibus Ignigena on Ring of Fire and I am a Guild Wars 2 addict.

    Just wish they’d fix the 40-man-surprise bug :(

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      “I am Beowulf Wyrmslayer, guild leader of Natibus Ignigena on Ring of Fire.”

      Goodness me. You’re even cooler than the original Beowulf, who failed to slay the wyrm if I remember correctly.

      P.S: I’m not being sarcastic, I actually love the being part of a community in which proclamations like that can be true.

      • Unaco says:

        No. Beowulf killed the Dragon, but was wounded in the process, and died from the wounds.

        • Tuor says:

          Yep. And it happened later on in his life, not right after he dealt with Grendel and Grendel’s Mother.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Well shut my electronic mouth. I had it in my head that Wiglaf delivered the fatal blow, but no, you’re correct.

          Silly me. Sorry, Beowulf!

  9. Squirrelfanatic says:

    Aurora Glade? Clearly, Gunnars Hold is the better choice. Coincidentally, it is also home to Rock, Paper, Signet, the RPS Guild Wars 2 guild.

    P.S.: It’s only fair to say that we fail just as much in WvWvW though.

  10. Kondy says:

    Aurora Glade reprsent. Konrad Silverwind.

  11. applecup says:

    Aw yiss Aurora Glade

  12. Hug_dealer says:

    I am on ferguson’s crossing, but i refuse to abandon the the sinking ship like so many server hopping tools have.

    On the plus side, it does mean that RvR is not quite as zergy as the larger servers. Which is nice.

  13. Sihmm says:

    Oh hey Aurora Glade! I play there as Karris Ainos. Not sure if I’m quite ready to spend my time dining on dirt and inflating someone else’s kill count in WvWvW yet, but someday. Soon? Soon.

  14. aliksy says:

    I actually like WvW a lot, even though I typically dislike MMO PvP stuff. I think in part because they cut out a lot of the “time = power” nonsense when they scaled everyone up to 80.

    Also it’s really easy to contribute. You get xp/money every 3 minutes when defending something, one or two people can easily take down enemy supply dolaks, and a few people working together can disrupt an enemy supply camp.

  15. Ateius says:

    I am awful in PvP, but I derive great enjoyment from keep defense in WvW. Ranged weapons from atop the walls or, if so lucky, gaining control of a piece of siege weaponry is a great “holding off the hordes” feeling.

    Until they burst through the gate and mercilessly slaughter you, but there’s always another keep, and the more competent players will retake ours eventually!

  16. Herkimer says:

    I wish I could do more WvW, as it seems like a lot of fun, but unfortunately with all of those particle effects flying around, my computer gives a scared little noise and reboots.

  17. Tuckey says:

    My problem with MMO PvP is I can die, I don’t like dying, I like feeling awesome. Single player games are best for old farts like me.

  18. Unaco says:

    I don’t really care about the game… I just hope that someone has formed a Guild of Mute Assassins.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      That settles it, i’m forming it when i get home.

      im more of a gravel road guy/ghost/regulators. I love all clutch though

  19. Obc says:

    i did WvW at 2 in the morning. found a ragtag group of 8-9 people, joined them on TS and we had so much absurd fun till 7 oclock. (some other players not in my group but also on TSwere scouts and whatnot, apparently this was just a small part of a larger WvW guild). we ran around all cladded in purple and pink, talking nonsense while drinking and playing. we took over a lot of the map just with this small group (at around 7 o lock the spaniards woke up and the thrashing began as the germans were still mostly asleep….).

    some pics of that night:
    http://imgur.com/a/HOl7s

    (dont worry, normally i walk around in emerald mixed with gold and red xD)

    WvW can be a lot of fun if you are coordinating with people who know their shit and are buying siege machines and everyone is taking supply with them. you have to choose your battles wisely if you are in a small group. avoid the enemy zergball if it isnt trying to take over the supply camps near your big keeps. let the small towers be taken while taking other keeps back but still being at ready to defend the big structures.
    also try to defend your orb of power or try to take the enemies when they are not defending it very well or most of em have gone to sleep xD

    so far WvW hasnt been much PvP for me as i tend to avoid enemy players with whatever group i am roaming around. little skirmishes are ok but zerg vs. zerg is just a mess because people vanish or appear out of thin air and you die without a forseeable cause (one can only have 50 characters visible at a time).

    defending/attacking a castle is a lot of fun but its not really PvP per se.

  20. Jorum says:

    Wait, is this, is this an ARTSY guild? Am I sitting here in an arty-farty lardy-dee-dar look at the flowers artsy guild? Right, Up Eh Road!

    joking aside, casual sightseeing suits me fine given my terrible PvP skills.
    My World-v-World was most confusing hour ever.
    I went through a portal and was killed by something I think was probably a thief. Then I went through another portal and was some other PvP zone, except it wasn’t a real PvP it was some kind of training zone. Then I went back to Queensdale and watched a racoon by the river for a while.

    And due to unsocial hours I’ve never actually seen anyone else in guild logged on :(
    My interaction is turning up at 1am and dumping guild stash full of vegetables.

  21. Bobtree says:

    I like the idea of WvW, but right now it basically seems like a big mess. I don’t know how it’s supposed to be balanced (issues with server populations and participation, uneven characters, matching worlds up, timezone abuse), and there isn’t enough information in-game to make good strategic decisions. Mobs rule and chaos prevails. Structured PvP at least is fair.

    • Obc says:

      WvW isnt fair and its not supposed to be, but one thing that really irks me is this:

      the orb of power bonus is just too good right now. if your world controls two of em, they will surely get the third too and once a world has three they start steamrolling everything. now at this point the other two worlds are supposed to band together and fight the one controlling all three orbs. but this usually doesnt happen and even if it does not much happens anyway. worlds mostly lose their orbs during the night when not enough people are on and the ruling world has to decide wether keep defending their orbs or lose most of the map. only the worlds with 3-4 dedicated WvW guilds manage to survive the nights.

      btw good strategic decisions are mostly made on Teamspeck/mumble/ventrilo/whathaveyou.

      once you arrive on the map look where the orange swords are on the map and ask in teamchat where you should head to. also ask for if some guild has a public teamspeak open and join em if possible. if you see players walking around the same place, he is probably a scout for some guild. ask him if you can join their ts or if he has any advice/instruction where to head to as scouts have a good map aweness most of the time. they will tell you the ts IP and where you might be most useful and see some action (a nice scout will not expect you to do “boring” stuff).

      and speak in /s to people near you if you are not in a zerg/ragtag group. ask the few people running besides you where they are heading or tell em to come with you to someplace.

      also carry supplies ALL THE TIME.

      if it isnt really working out for on one of the four maps in WvW just head to another.

      to me WvW was quite easy after the first 30 minutes. communication and coordination is the key. WvW isnt design to be fair to those not willing to coorporate, communicate and support.

      mob mentality only affects you, if you let it effect you. if you see people attacking a wall/gate without a siege machine or not targeting oil barrels or not building siege machines out of the range of arrow carts, dont bother staying there. walk past them and hope you find people not so mindless.

      there are soo many things in WvW that you will learn naturally over time if you dont follow the big mass of zerg but tag along in smaller groups of people who know there shit.

  22. Halbarad says:

    I have possibly fought and killed you myself. Recently Aurora Glade was against my world, Whiteside Ridge and I was enjoying my WvW, killed quite a few of you Glade-ys :P

    I enjoy leading my guild on Whiteside Ridge. Using teamspeak to communicate in dungeons, WvW or just generally chatting. Always good.

  23. Phantoon says:

    First lesson of Guild Wars 2: Turn off map chat.

    Seriously. You’ll thank me for this.

    • Tridae says:

      How come? it’s the best thing to see what people are discussing. The only minor annoyance is in Blazeridge Steppes where every 30 seconds someone asks about the Dragon. The chat is generally quite civilized I’d say. I always have map chat on.

    • aliksy says:

      You kind of need Map (and Team) chat in WvW. If you turn that off you won’t hear when people need help defending X or attacking Y. If you want to do your own thing or just follow the zerg that’s a choice you can make, but I found it more enjoyable with some direction. I also report when things are being attacked or where I see the enemy zerg.

      Out in the regular PvE environments? Yeah, I don’t watch map chat. Sometimes I check it to see if a big event is going on, but mostly it’s just noise.

  24. killuminati says:

    Two night ago I was defending the main castle our server owned in the Eternal Battleground while we were pushed, at the same time from 2 different entrances to the main room by French on one side and German from the other.
    Epic defence I’d say.. didn’t know how it ended since I had to log being too late already.
    But damn, it really reminded me of DAOC days!
    And what still amazes me is how almost (ALMOST) lag free are the fights with such big numbers of players!

  25. Lok says:

    Also on Aurora Glade and interested in the guild! Add “Asher Lightburn”

  26. Xepter says:

    I’m also on Aurora’s Glade and would love to join your guild! “Zegama” is my Name :D

  27. Vox Inaudita says:

    I’d like to join up as well! My character is “Carrowbin”.