Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend as much time in SPvP during the beta as I wanted. I plan on spending a few hours doing more later today during the stress test. In the (roughly) hour-and-a-half to two hours I did spend in SPvP, I noticed one thing: people are pretty bad. There was one ranger I specifically remember for being smart, but mostly a lot of really bad people. This might be you, or it might not. Either way, here’s a few bits of advice to help you get better.
The most important part of SPvP is research. Knowing really is half the battle. Learn the maps well. You have to know the lay out, the secondary objectives, the short cuts, everything. In the downtime between betas and stress tests, read up on the other professions. Play multiple professions long enough to get the general gist. The more you know about each profession, the better suited you are to adapting to them. At the very least, give all of the skills a quick read. It takes a lot of time, but knowing more than the opponent is the most valuable advantage you can have.
SPvP is objective-based. It’s a capture point, not kill count. Keep that in mind. Don’t fight everyone you run into all over the map. If you run past someone and they start trying to attack you, do what you can to just get away from them and keep going. Don’t fight back or you’ll end up wasting a good 30 seconds with nothing to show for it at the end. Get to the objective you’re after and fight there. When you get there, unless the enemy is sitting off at a range firing at you, don’t leave the objective zone if you can avoid it. If they’re melee, they need to be either just as close as to you as you need to be to them to fight (if you’re melee) or even closer (if you’re ranged). If they’re running around outside it and you’re not, you’re claiming or holding the objective while they waste their time.
Similarly, take skills with you that let you control who is or isn’t in the objective zones. At the end of the match, it doesn’t matter if your team has two hundred kills to two kills if the other team has more points. You don’t have to be a high damage character if you can force the other players out of the objective zones and keep them out. Skills that push or create impassable barriers are worth more than skills that can do a lot of damage in many situations. If you’re a lonely guardian with a hammer defending the clock tower (see image above), you do more to smack them out of the zone and drop a ring of warding in their way back up the stairs than you do chasing them around the room trying to kill them.
He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day. Back when I used to play WoW, my favorite saying I picked up at Tankspot is “it’s easy to calculate the DPS of your corpse.” Think about it in terms of SPvP. The more time you spend hugging the floor, the less time you’re spending putting more points on the board for your team. If you’re about to go down and you don’t have your heal up, roll out and run away. Get behind cover. If you can buy yourself those few seconds before your heal is back, maybe even enough to get some auto-regeneration going on, you’ll be able to get back into the fight much faster than running back.
Very similarly, there are a lot of talents that can be taken to trigger a self-defense skill when you are downed. They’re often very useful for getting you out of harm’s way when you go down so that you can get back up and back into the fight. For example, the elementalist can automatically enter a mist form that makes it invulnerable for three seconds. The thief can automatically stealth and shadow step, even through floors and walls. These skills usually begin on cooldown, so the talents also bypass the cooldown. On my thief, I had one match where just that skill kept me from being finished for over a minute and let me even capture an objective all while downed.
Think Outside the Box
If you can see it, there’s almost always a way to get onto it. If someone is running somewhere, you can probably find a faster way to get get where they’re going. Keep an open mind to the environment. It can block you from attacks. It can keep enemies away from you. Just because there are roads and ramps build in doesn’t mean you should always use them. The ranger I mentioned earlier found a way, after the trebuchet opened the clock tower, to get up onto the broken wall. He could rain arrows down at us but could also knock us off the ramp when we tried to get to him as we rounded the corner.
Fight Smarter, Not Harder
As I said before, knowing more than your opponent gives you a huge advantage. Thinking smarter than your opponent is how you use that advantage. Doing stupid things is bad. Running head-first into a one-on-two is suicide. Leaving an objective the moment you capture it when you lost track of an enemy player is irresponsible. Learn when to hang back before fighting and when to stick around to fight a little more. On your own, you can make a huge difference in a SPvP match by out-thinking everyone else. You can’t, however, make a huge difference with a death-or-glory mentality.