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4 Strategies From 4 Hours of Stronghold

Jason Winter Posted:
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Stronghold is here! Was here! Will be back later! When It's Ready(TM)!

Like many of you, I got a serious dose of Guild Wars 2's new PvP mode, Stronghold, during the recent live beta test, and while I'm not a PvP pro, a few basic strategies did come to mind while I was playing. Standard disclaimers apply: It's in beta, so stuff could change, organized matches against experienced teams will probably go differently from the mostly random encounters I had, do not operate heavy trebuchets while reading, etc.

Live and die by your NPCs. Stronghold has drawn some comparison to MOBAs, which is fair. But while NPC minions tend to be just minor annoyances in League of Legends, they take on a much bigger role in Stronghold. You won't take down a gate without Doorbreakers, and Archers can be a major boon against enemy NPCs. Don't take them for granted.

And heroes are a big ol' stick of beatdown. With their defensive aura cutting your incoming damage in half, a “hero push” with three or more of your team can decimate opposing defenses. I was surprised at how often mist essences went undefended; when the signal goes off, you should try to send at least one person to each essence spot to at least contest them – or summon them yourself if the opposition is busy.

Push as a team. Even if you don't have a hero – though especially if you do – it doesn't do much good to just trickle into the enemy base, one at a time. I know, “fight together” isn't exactly earth-shattering PvP advice, but unlike in Conquest, you have limited windows when your attack potential is at its highest. Use those infrequent opportunities when you have lots of Doorbreakers, Archers, and a hero (or two!) to take control of a match; you might not get another chance.

Ignore trebuchets at your own peril. For my first few matches, that's what I and my teammates did. Then we started using them and man, were they ever effective at clearing out waves of enemy NPCs or bombarding the supply depot. Tight groups of Doorbreakers can carve through enemy fortifications like a hot Twilight through butter, and your trebuchet can be your best defense against an early rush, when people tend to summon a bunch of NPCs at once.

Different builds are fun, and maybe viable. In one game, our lord was knocked down to 9% health before being repulsed. Our opponents had a long enough delay before their next attack that I was able to heal him up a little bit more with some group regeneration, but it wasn't enough and we ultimately lost. This got me thinking if a very healing-heavy build on my elementalist could work as a defensive strategy – something you just don't see in normal PvP.

In both games I tried with it, I was able to hold my own and keep the enemy outside of our first gate until late in the match. When there was no attack, I spent some time wreaking havoc with the nearby trebuchet. We only won one of the two matches, but even in the one we lost, I was able to heal our dying lord a decent amount. Maybe with a coordinated team, “base defender/healer” could be a viable role.

In another game, my mesmer friend utilized portals to make the trip from the supply depot back to our spawn that much quicker. One of my teammates in another map – a victory – said all he did was run supply the whole time; a build maximizing swiftness uptime with plenty of evasion would be great for that. As I said at the beginning, the meta will dictate whether strategies like this are viable in the long term, but for now, it's fun to experiment with different builds and see what works.

I enjoyed my first look at Stronghold and can't wait to get my hands on it when the mode goes live! What impressions did you come away with?


Jason Winter