You are looking at my Guild Wars 2 character, a necromancer from a bloodline of great Defenders of Ascalon, standing proudly before his guild banner. A descendant of great heroes, who once lay forgotten and hopeless in the dirt like a sack of cats - now restored to the glory that is his birthright.
But how did he arrive there? How did he achieve this?
Being a casual guild, we're not so good at making plans. So our first foray into WvWvW as a guild was a spur of the moment thing. It was a “Hey, you want to jump into thingy?” No strategy, no preparation, just a plunge straight in with both feet.
We travelled to Aurora Glade Borderlands, and I explained a little bit about what I'd learned.
- Look out for marauding packs of enemy players. They roam around the map like an aggressive hen party. Except it isn't a kiss they want.
- Be prepared to spend a lot of silver repairing your armour, or be prepared to be running around in your underwear like someone who just ran into an aggressive hen party.
- Never underestimate wolves. Don't let a “chain-howl” happen. You'll know it when you experience it. It's not a porn thing.
- Don't think you can't repeatedly die from falling off cliffs like a fucking idiot.
- If you see a big bunch of friendly players, tag along with them to try to share in some of their glory – none of them will notice that you haven't managed to land a hit on anything.
- Grab supplies whenever you can, and run around not knowing what to do with them, until you find something you can interact with that uses up the supply and then you can say “I USED SUPPLIES ON A THING!” and then go and get more supplies.
- Don't get bold and think you can do things that you can't do. Let me explain what I mean. Sometimes, in a big battle, things will be going okay. As a Necro, you might be standing back, laying down marks and curses, and helping the whole gang out. At some point, you WILL be tempted to dash forward and finish someone off with a melee attack. You will feel that urge rising within you. You have to resist that urge. Because when you dash forward into the pack like an idiot, you will die like an idiot.
Okay, so in we went.
There were three of us, and a couple of randoms tagged along with us. I hoped that they didn't think we knew what we were doing. We came across a tower, and I suggested that we try to take it and hold it, instead of just running around the map like headless chickens. We started our attack on the NPCs who were defending the tower. I was aware, if the others weren't, that we really had to take the tower fast. There was every chance a roaming pack of enemy players could find us and take us out in a heartbeat. I knew we had to get in that door and start defending the place as ours, and quickly. That gave the whole experience of battering down those guards and doors an extra edge. It was a race against time.
Into the tower we went. A couple more randoms had joined by this time, as we fought our way up the stairs. I peppered the guards with condition damage and flung my Mistfire Wolf and all its cute little ghosty puppies at them. I could feel my heart pumping in my chest.
Now, I know that taking a tower is no big deal. I know that towers are capped and capped and capped again all night long in WvWvW. I know that they're just one small part of the whole process. But this was our first. Our first possible capture. And as someone who had only ever went to WvWvW to die under bridges and over hills, this was a big moment. It was two in the morning, there were only about seven of us, all rookies, and we stood on the edge of glory.
Now, when you reach the top of the tower, you always have to face off against the Tower Lord. And believe me - when there aren't many of you storming a tower, the NPC fights can be pretty tricky. It's no cakewalk. (You'll all probably tell me that it is.) We had to fight smart to keep everybody on their feet. By “fight smart” I really mean that we had to keep hammering REVIVE. REVIVE. REVIVE. REVIVE. By this point, my fellow guildies were excitedly trying to type messages at me while we fought.
WE RE DOING THIKS!
Sure, we should use voice chat. I know, I know. And we will. But like I said – we're a casual guild, playing casually, and I love all the typos that excitement generates. And to these casual players, seeing that Tower Lord fall was a great moment. A moment that was only surpassed by claiming the tower for our Guild and seeing our banners fly.
Here you can see me looking down on the gates of our tower. Our tower. Our banners. Ours.
Ownership is an important thing in an MMO, I think. In WvWvW it is temporary, a fleeting thing, but still a wonderful feeling. If we can't have a home, then at least we can take these Towers and Keeps on these battlefields, and hold them for as long as we're able. I worry that with extended play of WvWvW the magic of capturing these places might fade. I worry that it just starts to feel like capping a flag in some FPS. I hope that I never get good enough at the game that it all becomes as routine as that.
I'd rather stay this rookie who gets lucky sometimes and steals a Tower from under the nose of better players who are busy somewhere else. I'd rather feel my heart pound in my chest and think to myself “I can't believe we're getting away with this.”
After we took the tower, we took a lot of screenshots and just enjoyed our little home. We stood up on the walls, surrounded by our own friendly NPC guards, and surveyed the battlefield. We felt really fucking good for a while.
War needs its heroes, sure. But that's not us. And war needs its dead. That's usually us, sadly. But it also needs its plucky underdogs who help turn the tide of the battle with an opportunistic victory in the dead of night.
On that night, those underdogs draped a tower with our beautiful flag.