This is intended to be a complete guide to unlocking the Warclaw, aimed at people who have never played World vs World (WvW) before.
1) You must own Path of Fire.
2) Put 1 point into the Warclaw Mastery Ability.
3) Complete the Warclaw Companion meta-achievement:
4) Buy an item for 8g from the Warclaw vendor
You’ll also need another 125 ability points (from World Ranks) to unlock the Warclaw’s extra abilities, but only if you play WvW regularly as they don’t work in PvE.
Many of these steps can be combined, and I estimate it will take no more than 10 hours to complete the whole thing. The ones to focus on are capturing a camp, tower and keep because they’re not going to happen on their own, whereas everything else can be obtained while working on those three, or by following the same process.
Everything except buying items from the Warclaw vendor, capturing a camp and earning Skirmish Claim Tickets can be done in the Edge of the Mists (EOTM), which is a shared ‘borderland’ map with multiple instances and therefore no queue, so if you’re in a queue I recommend going there to make some progress while you wait.
At least some of the pieces of Warclaw body armour awarded for completing other parts of the collection give 5 Skirmish Claim Tickets each (I’m not sure about the ones from the reward track and from guards), so it’s possible to earn between 25 and 35 tickets from the collection, leaving just 15-25 to earn from skirmish chests.
The Warclaw is not needed in PvE & you cannot unlock it without actively playing WvW
Unlike the Gift of Battle there’s no work-around here, you have to play at least a bit of WvW to unlock it. But it’s a dedicated WvW mount and all its abilities are specific to WvW, so unless you want to play WvW or really like how it looks there’s no need to get it.
It doesn’t matter which world you’re on
Leaderboard position has very little impact on your individual rewards. Don’t worry about your worlds score or potential points or the difference between a match and a skirmish, certainly don’t switch worlds just to get the Warclaw.
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.)
Play at peak times if you can
There will be more people to play with, more to fight against and therefore more opportunities to capture objectives, earn skirmish tickets and progress the reward track.
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, it’s an important part of playing tactically, which gets you better rewards in the long run, and as participation (needed for skirmish tickets and reward track progress) decays slowly over time you’re not really losing anything by waiting.
Activate the Warclaw Mastery Ability
Open the WvW menu and click on the 3rd tab on the left side. This is the Rank and Abilities tab, they're in alphabetical order so in English the Warclaw is the last one in the list. Ability points are earned by gaining ranks in WvW and ranks are gained by earning XP. If you’ve never played WvW before you’ll have 1 point to spend, which is enough to unlock the Warclaw Companion Achievement (under Competative > World vs. World Warclaw). (Don’t forget to check this periodically to assign new points you’ll earn as you play, I recommend unlocking War Gliding as soon as you can.)
If you’ve played WvW before and already spent your points you can get them refunded by speaking to the World Ability Master in your home base, or you can get more by earning WXP.
For now don’t worry about the rest of the ability track – this upgrades the Warclaw in the same way masteries upgrade the other mounts, but it’s not needed to unlock the mount.
Activate the Warclaw Reward Track
Click on the 3rd tab in the WvW menu, find the Warclaw reward track in the list and click on it. This activates it so it will progress as you earn reward points. For now you can forget about it – the track will progress as you play WvW and every so often you’ll get a chest in the bottom right corner with some rewards. Eventually that will be the Warclaw Armor Box with the Helmet required for the collection.
If you have any WXP or reward track boosters use them, but for short-term ones you may want to wait until the action starts so you don’t waste it. Don’t forget to get the free one from the Guild Bartender in your guild hall if you can.
Now it’s time to start playing WvW!
It’s not really possible to put the rest of the process into order because you’ll get badges of honor from everything you do, skirmish tickets from raising your participation level by killing enemies and capturing objectives and what order you capture things in depends on what’s going on when you play, so this is general advice about playing WvW.
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. I recommend picking one with little/no queue if you can just because it’s easier to get in. (I also recommend the desert borderland, for reasons I’ll explain below.)
There’s also the Edge of the Mists, which is like a Borderlands map, but with multiple instances shared between servers (servers are grouped by colour) so there’s no queue. You can’t earn Skirmish Claim Tickets there and there are no camps, but you can do everything else to get the Warclaw so it’s a good option if all the main maps have a queue.
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 check out the map and sort your build out. WvW uses the same equipment as in PvE (unlike PvP which has a unique system) and your skills and traits will copy over but it may be worth setting up a special WvW build. If you're not sure what to use you can find lots of build guides online, but I strongly recommend using a speed boost.
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 means you have fewer objectives to take over and getting participation credit will be harder so it may actually be better to go to one where you’re losing.
Earning badges, skirmish tickets and reward track progress
Your skirmish tier, points you’ll earn at the next ‘tick’, time remaining until that tick and your reward track progress is shown in a little pop-up menu above or below the map (depending on if the map is at the top or bottom of the screen).
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. and you’ll get a reward chest each time you complete a step in the reward track or skirmish rewards.
Periodically you’ll also get WvW rank chests popping up above the map. The rank chests contain extra badges of honor and random loot, but most importantly they mean you’ve got another rank point to spend on the Ranks and Abilities tab.
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 which will progress your reward track and skirmish tier.
Keep a look out for commander tags – one could turn up at any time and pay attention to the map and team chat channels. 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. Sooner or later you will take at least 1 keep, tower and camp, and kill enough guards for the drop.
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 times playing and some memorable moments. (Also my only ascended drop.)
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.)
Danielle Aurorel, Desolation EU. Mini Collector
"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"