Note: There's a tl;dr version at the bottom, originally provided by @Illconceived Was Na.9781
This was originally posted on the old forum when the Catmanders were added. One requires the Gift of Battle to attract it to your home instance, so I set out to get it. I was recently asked to re-post it on the new forum as it might be helpful for some people.
For someone who hadn’t played WvW in years (and never played it much at all) obtaining the Gift of Battle and 200 Skirmish Claim Tickets for the minis seemed like a daunting task. Then I got started and found I’d completed most of it in 3 evenings, or approximately 6 hours total. (I was just short 100 Claim Tickets.)
So if anyone’s interested here’s my guide to getting the Gift of Battle (and the other stuff along the way) for WvW newbies.
It doesn’t matter which world you’re on
Leaderboard position has very little to do with your individual rewards so there’s no need to change servers. (I did all of this on Desolation, which is about ½ way up the leaderboard and was often in 3rd place in the skirmish.)
On a related note don’t worry about your worlds score, or potential points, or the difference between a match and a skirmish. The score does have a slight effect on how quickly you gain Claim tickets, but not enough to worry about it.
You will die, and die often
But waypoints and repairs are free so the only problem is having to run back. Do not wait around for people to revive you, there isn’t time. (Unless they’re right next to you and there’s no enemies nearby.)
It’s best to play at peak time & for a few hours at a time
Progress in WvW reward tracks is like HoT meta events – you build it up by doing stuff and then it decays gradually when you’re inactive and resets if you leave the map (this was changed in a later update), so it’s better to play for as long as you can at once than to do a little bit at a time. Peak time is best simply because there will be more people online and so more activity.
WvW often involves waiting, but that’s ok
You’ll wait for a group to form, wait for the group to move off, wait for siege to be built, wait for siege to destroy walls, wait while you claim points, wait for the enemy to arrive, wait for the enemy to leave, wait for people to clear their bags/go to the toilet/get on the same group chat…and sometimes (at least if you’re not on the group chat) it won’t be clear why you’re waiting.
Sometimes you’ll also spend what seems like ages heading towards an objective only to abandon it and go somewhere else because plans have changed.
But that’s ok. As I said WvW participation for the reward track builds up and decays slowly over time, so you’re not really losing anything by waiting and it’s an important part of playing tactically, which will allow you to achieve more in the long-run.
WvW uses the same equipment as PvE, but you can set different traits and skills. I won’t suggest builds because I haven’t got a clue what to recommend, but the option to have a unique WvW setup is there if you want it.
I strongly recommend some type of speedboost (mounts aren't available...yet) however as it makes it much easier to keep up with a commander. (I find Signet of the Hunts passive 25% boost is fine.)
I also recommend unlocking WvW gliding as soon as possible (requires HoT). To do this open the WvW menu and select the last tab – Ranks and Abilities and scroll all the way down to the bottom. You need 3 World Ability Points to unlock gliding and you get those from gaining XP in WvW so you may need to play a bit before you get it, but it’s worth getting as soon as you can.
Also don’t forget to select the Gift of Battle reward track (3rd tab down). There’s no point working towards a reward you don’t even want.
When you open the WvW menu you have 5 maps to choose from – Eternal Battlegrounds, 1 Desert Borderlands, 2 Alpine Borderlands and Obsidian Sanctum. Ignore that last one – it’s a jumping puzzle. But you can choose any of the others. Lots of people prefer certain ones, but any is fine. I recommend picking one without a queue if you can just because it’s easier to get in. (I also recommend the desert borderland, for reasons I’ll explain below.)
You’ll start off in your team’s home base, which is completely safe from enemies and has a bunch of NPCs offering different services. This is a good time to sort your build out, and check out the map.
The WvW map
At first it’s really confusing, there’s loads of coloured lines and symbols, some of them are moving, and it will probably just look like a mess. Basically symbols are control points and the colour shows who controls them. The lines show the area controlled by that point – important because you can only glide in areas your team controls.
There are 4 main kinds of control points: Keeps, Towers, Camps and Ruins.
The Match Overview tab on the WvW menu will show you what each team controls on each map. It may seem like a map where your team is winning is best, but that just means you have fewer objectives to take over and getting participation credit will be harder. I find maps where you’re losing are often best for gaining reward track progress.
The Reward Track
If like me you don’t play WvW or PvP (last time I played it reward tracks didn’t exist) the track itself will be confusing. But it’s actually pretty straight-forward. Each track shows 7 small rewards and then the main one. But that first one is not the first thing you’ll get. Each of the 8 sections is divided into 5 sub-sections (you can see these by hovering the mouse over it).
For example the Gift of Battle track will give you 2 Disciple of Balthazar Loot Boxes, 5 Memories of Battle, 2 Acolyte of Balthazar Loot Boxes, a Tome of Knowledge and then the first ‘minor’ reward – 4 Obsidian Shards.
Your progress towards the next reward is shown in a little pop-up menu above the map. The timer counts down to the next time rewards are granted and the number next to it is how many points you earn.
You’ll earn more points for higher tier participation (Tier 6 is the maximum) and you raise your participation level by…well, participating. Killing enemies, claiming things, completing events, defending objectives etc.
Periodically you’ll also get WvW rank chests and Skirmish chests popping up above the map. The rank chests contain random loot, but most importantly they mean you’ve got another rank point to spend on the Ranks and Abilities tab. Skirmish chests are shown on the Match Overview page and contain some nice stuff, in particular this is how you get Skirmish Claim Tickets.
Basically anything you do to progress the Reward Track will also progress these two, so you don’t need to worry about them too much.
Look for a commander tag – if there is one go join them. Follow them, attack what they attack, build siege when they place it, claim control points when you get to them. Try to actually pay attention to what’s going on rather than blindly following because you’ll learn more that way, but the important thing is to stick with the group and do what they do.
If there isn’t a commander tag
Maybe switch maps (if there are others without a queue) to see if you can find one. But if not don’t give up. The best thing to do now is explore the map – even just roaming around aimlessly will help you learn your way around, which will come in useful later on.
But there’s also likely to be stuff you can achieve on your own – claiming camps is best but you can also claim sentry points and shrines (this is why I recommend the Desert borderlands, it has more of this stuff) and ruins.
Keep a look out for commander tags – one could turn up at any time. Or you might find a group of players running without a commander– they’re harder to spot (and sometimes don’t want randoms, they’ll let you know if that’s the case) but they can achieve just as much as a group with a commander – it’s just harder to attract new people without the tag.
If there’s more than 1 commander tag
Ask in map chat which one to join, or see which one/s have their squad open so you can just right click and join. It’s likely one is the ‘main’ squad and one or more is a specialist one – a guild doing their own thing or a 2nd group sneaking into objectives – they’re less likely to want extra people. But it may just be that there’s enough people for multiple squads and you can join whichever.
Keeps going. Keep running with squads, claiming objectives, or exploring solo and claiming what you can until you’ve achieved your objectives.
For the specific items I mentioned in the introduction:
Carry supply whenever you can
But do not take it from Keeps or Towers. Camps are the best place to get it. It’s used to build siege and repair walls, so it’s useful to have and by carrying it (and being willing to spend it) you’re helping your team out.
Don’t attack walls or gates unless the commander says it’s ok
This will alert the enemy to the fact that you’re attacking (which using siege weapons doesn’t) which gives them time to come and stop you. Sometimes that’s ok because they’re busy elsewhere or there’s too few of them or whatever, sometimes it could ruin the whole attack.
Try to have fun
You may go in expecting to hate WvW, or at least thinking it’s not for you. But give it a go and you may find yourself enjoying it. I doubt I’m ever going to be a dedicated WvW player but I’ve had some great moments. The other day we were claiming a keep when a massive wave of enemies attacked us – I was downed twice but somehow got back up and out the way, we actually managed to defeat them and finished claiming the keep and it was a great feeling.
And if you really do hate it? Well, you don’t need to go back again (at least not until you want another unique reward.)
And if you really don't want to do any of that there's a list of WvW dailies that don't require fighting, or which only require fighting NPCs 2 posts down.
"You can run like a river, Till you end up in the sea,
And you run till night is black, And keep on going in your dreams,
And you know all the long while, It's the journey that you seek,
It's the miles of moving forward, With the wind beneath your wings."