GW2. How to get better at PvP? Carry your Weight. Improving your win ratio in PvP can be simplified to learning when to adopt two different play styles. Guild Wars 2. 2023.
You may know how to rotate in GW2 PvP and play the role that your team needs, but do you win your fights and provide your team presence when they need it? If you haven’t already read the post on what roles and rotations are in PvP, I suggest reading the What Is Rotation and Knowing Your Role article first. However, in this article I plan to go further into detail about what players should do once they rotate to the right fights. These are the most effective tools for giving your team presence in Guild Wars 2 PvP.
Winning a Guild Wars 2 conquest PvP match is much more complex than dealing damage, standing on nodes, or healing allies. Doing damage to a tank will waste your time, staying in fights you will lose just gets you killed, and supporting fights are already won will neglect your teammates elsewhere. To provide as much presence to your team as possible, you need to be able to react to the situation. This can be simplified to two types of behaviors: Fight or Flight. If you are always playing aggressively then you are probably dying too much when the situation becomes dangerous, and if you are always playing defensively then you are letting enemies pressure your team and maintain their objectives too freely. So you should always be thinking of swapping between two playstyles of Killing and Kiting depending on the situation.
The first playstyle that everyone should get comfortable with is all about aggression. Getting kills efficiently consists of focusing a target with your team or low targets to get that kill as fast as possible. Time is extremely important in conquest, so not only is it important to win your fights but also to win them as fast as possible. Obviously this requires a bit of risk but with experience and practice, taking those risks can be done in an educated manner. The best way to do this is to find convenient keybinds for the Take Target and Call Target keybinds. Usually mouse buttons are useful for this because you can be pressing skills immediately after changing target, but if your mouse lacks excess buttons you can use shift commands.
Call Target puts a mark on an enemy which is a clear indication for your allies to focus it. Anyone who presses their take target keybind after a target has been called will now be targeting the called target. If there isn’t a target in your current fight, take the initiative to find one for your team. The sooner you find a good target to focus the sooner you get the kill. Because of how the Guild Wars 2 PvP combat system works, the team who gets the first kill has a massive advantage in that fight. Coordination is rewarded because of this.
Once you have the target, be aggressive with your positioning and pressure the target. Use your cooldowns liberally since they only cost time, but if you win the fight you will gain plenty of time back. Keep on the target especially if you see them using cooldowns, because it means they will be easier to focus afterwards. If they try to disengage it probably means they are low on cooldowns.
Counting Dodges is an effective strategy for securing kills fast. Because you know that most classes have 2 dodges, and maybe some blocks or other weapon skill evades, if you see them use one dodge then you know that they have one dodge left. If they dodge a second time within a short amount of time, meaning they wouldn’t have enough time to regenerate another dodge, then you know they are out of dodges. They may have more evades and blocks, but keeping track of dodges like this will help you to land skills more often.
If you pressure enemies with your low cooldown skills to force them to dodge, then you can time one of your bigger abilities to hit them right when their dodge animation ends. If they double dodge, then you know for sure they are an easy target for your next attack and you can be even more aggressive. At the same time, if you save your skills too long because you are trying to make sure they land, the enemy might just pressure you harder by getting more of their skills out than you do. Count dodges, but don’t be too meticulous about it.
Letting enemies disengage because they leave the objective may also be a bad idea. You waste your time invested in the kill and they can easily just return to the fight after they fully heal. However, if the target ends up being too hard to kill or having too much mobility to finish off when they disengage, call a new target and focus them with your team while you have the numbers advantage. If you end up not getting the kill fast enough and your opponent is pressuring you harder, don’t overcommit for the kill. Swap playstyles to try to survive.
Surviving and Kiting
Kiting consists of using movement and terrain to keep distance between you and enemies pursuing you. When you are outnumbered or heavily pressured, it is almost always better to live than to die. Remember that if you die your team has a big disadvantage because you are not there for them while you are on respawn. Even if you are being chased by someone away from an objective, you are providing your team some value by holding the attention of the enemy players. Dying for an objective is almost never worth it. If you die you relinquish your presence for a time which allows the enemy to gain that objective and then move on to the next. Even if you give up the objective you are fighting for, surviving to prevent the enemy from moving on to the next objective is valuable. If you do know that you can’t survive, die on a node so they are forced to finish you off to capture it. Dying off of a node can be bad, but it certainly is better than dying on a node much sooner because you refused to kite.
The main way to survive is through positioning. Standing on a node constricts your movement and makes you an easy target. Only stand on a node if no one else on your team is doing it for you and if you have enough cooldowns and sustain to do so. Remember: only one person is required to contest a node. Many area of effect skills will be used on nodes to try to capture it, so if you wish to preserve health, standing off of the node is the best way to do it. Also if you can feel that the enemy is focusing you as their main target, preemptively kite or move in a way that makes it inconvenient for them to attack you.
Using terrain is one of the best ways to kite. All maps have terrain scattered around the capture points, so getting off the node to run around terrain can drastically improve your survivability. Because Guild Wars 2 has action based combat, most skills have a very defined range that their target must be in for the skill to land. Melee attacks are specifically weak to players who utilize terrain because they require you to be horizontal to your target. If a player is within the range to hit you with a skill but they are at a different height on a slope, their attack may still miss. Going up and down the Z-Axis is very effective for dodging attacks without actually using your dodge resource or any other cooldown. Practice being able to counter pressure with versatile skills while jumping up and down terrain to get the most out of your kiting. Good kiters conserve their defensive resources with positioning so they can use their cooldowns to play more aggressively.
Now that you understand what these two playstyles consist of, you need to discern when to employ each one. If you are kiting and standing on terrain the whole match, your team is going to lose because you aren’t giving them enough presence. However, if you are never kiting and always standing on node, you will die too much and lose presence anyway. The proper way to play is to switch between these two playstyles depending on the situation. The situation can change within the blink of an eye so having a lot of experience and awareness benefits you.
While it can be very complex and reactive how to play depending on matchups and win conditions, there are some cut and dry situations where the playstyle is obvious. Here are some situations where certain playstyles are preferred.
- You are focused
- Your teammates are dead and respawning
- You are low on cooldowns
- You are outnumbered by the enemy
- The enemy owns the node you are fighting on (if they stand on it and you aren’t limited to standing on it, you have an advantage)
- You cannot play for the kill in this situation, so you should default to kiting to preserve your cooldowns
- You are outnumbering your enemies
- A high priority target has entered your fight
- Your team has scored kills around the map
- You have most of your cooldowns
- Your team is supporting you
- You know your team will arrive soon, so getting the enemy to use cooldowns early
When you can rotate to the right place and know when to survive and when to play aggressive, you will be winning many more PvP matches.
This guide was written by Vallun as exclusive content for GuildJen. For more guides, builds, and GW2 PvP topics by Vallun, visit his YouTube channel or ask questions when he is live streaming at twitch.tv/vallun