World versus World is an incredible amount of fun, and is absolutely the most robust, balanced and well-executed world PvP system I’ve experienced in a MMO. It can be a little daunting the first time you step into the Eternal Battlegrounds, with all of those keeps, towers and supply camps just waiting to be pillaged, it’s hard to know where to start. The goal of this article is to help you get your bearings with some basic defensive tips. Consider these the rules of engagement.
BE PREPARED. ALWAYS CARRY SUPPLY.
As I said in my article about going on the offensive in WvW, the first thing you need to do in WvW is grab supply from the nearest depot. Every fortified objective, from Stonemist Castle all the way down to your basic supply camp, will have a little stack of crates and barrels marking their supply stores. You can carry a maximum of 10 supply at a time, and you should have 10 on you whenever you are in WvW.
Supply is the fuel of combat in WvW. Without it, you are extremely limited in your effectiveness. Your general goal should be to protect your supply chain at all times while denying the enemy theirs. Even the mightiest gate can’t hold forever if it’s unable to be repaired. Likewise, your keep assaults will be long and frustrating and mostly end in failure if you don’t bring supply and the siege equipment necessary to make short work of enemy fortifications.
FIGHT SMARTER, NOT HARDER. BRING SIEGE EQUIPMENT.
So far, this has been the same exact advice I gave for going on the offensive, but it applies to defense just the same. After launch, we’ll see a much different WvW than we did in beta. It’s only a matter of time. You can have the greatest offensive strategies in the world, but if you can’t keep what you take, then it’s all for nothing. In order to mount an effective defense, you can’t simply rely on the standard defenses. You need upgrades.
Some of these upgrades can be found within the towers and keeps themselves. Cannons, Mortars and Boiling Oil are all weapons you can add without needing blueprints. (Mortar wiki link is unavailable at the time of publishing.) These are available from the same vendor you’ll find inside your fortification, along with other personnel and structural upgrades. Personnel upgrades can be just as vital to your defense, adding more guards and guard patrols to your position, but for the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on structural upgrades, and defensive siege equipment.
|Siege Equipment||Range||Supply||Cost (in silver)|
What you’ll start to see is a quick cost/benefit analysis or “bang for your buck.” You may not need blueprints for Oil, Cannons and Mortars, but their costs in both supply and coin are higher than their traditional counterparts. Oil may not have a true alternative, but a Mortar takes FIVE TIMES more supply than a Trebuchet! In light of this, what I prefer to do is take the cheaper/faster way out and use Cannons for medium range defense and build a Trebuchet inside my defensive perimeter for long range defense. This is easy to do for towers and keeps that have an elevated position available. The tower at Veloka Slope, for example, has a grass area by the Keep Lord that extends up and alongside the keep walls leading to a vista. By building a Trebuchet here, you can cover long range defense of Veloka Slope, Anvil Rock Hill and Anvil Rock Overlook all with the same piece of equipment, and at a fraction of the cost of a single mortar!
“BY OGDEN’S HAMMER! WHAT SAVINGS!”
Any siege equipment your Cannons can’t reach, your Trebuchet can. Anything that comes inside your Trebuchet’s range comes in range of your Cannons. The best thing about this if you’ve been protecting your supply chain and carrying supply yourself, you can build these sorts of defenses fairly quickly and operate them with a minimum number of people.
A FEW CAN STAND AGAINST MANY
Most defenses are really just buying you time for reinforcements to arrive. If a force is large enough and organized enough to cut off your supply chain by capturing your adjacent camps, then your dwindling amount of supply is a ticking clock. That doesn’t mean you’re helpless. If you’ve fortified your holdings and added siege equipment prior to the assault, you can use your supply reserves to repair walls, gates and equipment without having to spend time and resources building anything. Going by my previous example, if you already have a Cannon/Mortar or Cannon/Trebuchet in place, then even just a few defenders can rain down fire upon attackers and have a decent shot at breaking anything less than a determined and organized horde.
Long-range artillery strikes aside, there are other things that you can do defensively in a small group.
Back-capping supply camps is essential. Since almost no one on an attacking force wants to be left on guard duty at a captured supply camp, the only thing you’ll need to concern yourself with most of the time is NPCs. If you can manage to get a group of 3 players together, and have them each grab supply and a Ballista or Arrow Cart blueprint, then you can not only take back your supply camp, you can hold it against superior numbers. You may not be able to escort your caravan to your keep or tower, but this can serve to divide forces and weaken the main assault. The more people they send at you, the less they have attacking your fortification.
If your enemies invest in building extremely expensive siege equipment like Trebuchets, a small strike force of even 2-3 players can rapidly flank their position and build a Ballista within range of the Trebuchet. Ballista do significant damage to other siege equipment, and if you’re lucky (and sneaky), you may be able to get a few shots off before you’re even noticed.
If the worst happens and your walls crumble and gate splinters, you can still fight to the bitter end. Another of my favorite tactics involves building Arrow Carts behind the Keep Lord. In the event of a breach, you can wait till the guards and the Keep Lord are engaged and then rain arrows upon the assailants. I’ve happily solo-wiped an attacking force of upwards of 15 players using this method. Trust me, few things in this game are as satisfying as running up and finishing off a handful of downed players, and then charging out and destroying their siege equipment before they return.
Ballista are fantastic for piercing enemy forces. A single shot can maim or kill multiple opponents if you can get them to line up. If you have a Guardian who can drop a Line of Warding in front of a breach as enemies try to pour in, a well-timed Ballista shot is the perfect greeting. If you can build an Arrow Cart on an elevated position to cover both the breach and the Ballista’s location, like a Queen guarding a Bishop in chess, it can be brutally effective. The more planning you’ve done ahead of time, the fewer people are needed to pull this kind thing off.
Defense may not be as popular as offense when it comes to WvW combat, but it can be just as much fun. If you manage to crush a larger attacking force, you’re in for an epic victory that’s almost unparalleled in other MMOs.
The tactics I’ve listed here are extremely basic, and I fully expect that some of you out there may have your own ideas on how to mount an effective defense. If so, please leave comments below or stop by our official forums! We’d love to hear from you!