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[Forgotten maps] The PvP Game Browser and Team Deathmatch need a bit of love


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When you talk about PvP in GW2, most people talk about 5v5 Conquest. However, there are three other game modes, which barely get any attention at all. These game modes have maps that are not widely available, and some of them can't even be played at all unless some player decides to host them on a paid private server.

The goal of this post is to analyze these forgotten PvP maps, and find ways to make them more accessible.

First of all, let's start by describing the current situation in detail, since I'd wager most people aren't even aware of it.

There are two main game modes, with four submodes:

  • Standard Mode: Victory is achieved by score. The team who reaches the score limit first (usually 500 points) wins the match. Standard Mode is divided in three submodes: Conquest, Murderball, and Stronghold.
  • Arena Mode: The match is divided in various rounds. Whoever wins more rounds wins the match. Arena Mode only has one submode, Team Deathmatch.

There are four ways to experience PvP freely:

  • Public Arena: There are 100 public servers, following a numeral name convention, from Server 001 to Server 100. All of these servers host the same setup of maps, which include all Standard Mode maps except Courtyard (Murderball) and Djinn's Dominion (Conquest). All servers are 5v5 (they were 8v8 years ago) and there are no public servers for any Arena Mode maps. Players can either play or spectate.
  • Custom Arena: These are player-owned public/private servers. Starting one costs 200g and includes 30 days of playtime. Each additional day costs 2g. If you run out of playtime you lose the custom arena and need to pay 200g to start over again. The owner can host any of the 15 available maps, with any number of players and rounds, enabling or disabling spectators freely as well.
  • Unranked Arena: Instead of joining a server with variable population, you queue for a single automated 5v5 match. Maps are voted by the players, and include all Standard Mode maps except Courtyard. Players also have an option to restrict their queue to Conquest or Stronghold maps only.
  • Ranked Arena: Same as Unranked Arena (excluding Spirit's Watch and Stronghold), except your performance affects your Skill Rating, determining your position on the ladder. If a season is active, you also gain progress in the PvP League Reward Track. If the season is classified as a mini-season, the Standard Mode maps will be replaced by the Arena Mode maps (except Courtyard).

An image to display the above data more efficiently:


The first problem is that public servers have a far too limited selection. If you aren't lucky enough to find a custom arena with the maps you want, you won't be able to play them altogether. The situation is specially bad for Murderball and Team Deathmatch.

So, why don't we redistribute those 100 public servers between the existing game modes? Maybe go even further, and give each map its dedicated group of servers. Something like this:

  • 20 public servers for all Standard Mode (Conquest, Murderball, and Stronghold) maps on rotation.
  • 20 public servers for all Arena Mode (Team Deathmatch) maps on rotation.
  • 3 public servers for each map of the above modes, for a total of 3 x 16 = 48 servers. Note that Courtyard has two versions, each for a different submode (Murderball and Team Deathmatch).

This gives us a total of 88 servers, with 12 free, which could be removed altogether. Most public servers are empty all the time anyway, so nothing of value would be lost.

The second problem is that there's no off-season queued option for neither Murderball nor Team Deathmatch. Meanwhile, Unranked and Ranked are virtually the same, except for Skill Rating progression.

So, what if we remove Unranked, and replace it with a new Ranked category for Arena Mode maps? Skill Rating progression would always be active, so those wanting to play without risking their personal score would have to move to public arenas instead. This might seem like a bit punishing at first, but considering the low numbers Ranked sometimes has, it would help merging it with Unranked to keep the population healthier, specially in the lower spectrum.

The end result would be two new buttons, replacing Unranked Arena and Ranked Arena:

  • 3v3: Covering Team Deathmatch maps.
  • 5v5: Covering Conquest, Murderball, and Stronghold maps. Filters available to queue for only one of the submodes or the three at once.

During an active season, the map pool would be restricted to league maps only, meaning only Conquest maps would be available during the 5v5 season (no Murderball and no Stronghold).

The third and final problem, somewhat unrelated but not, are activities. They use the PvP instance system, but are isolated from the PvP Game Browser, and unavailable for Custom Arenas. For those who don't know, there are four non-seasonal activities, which follow a daily rotation:

  • Crab Toss
  • Sanctum Sprint
  • Southsun Survival
  • Keg Brawl

So, how about including them as a third category, besides Standard and Arena, with their own public servers? It would make playing with friends easier, and allow custom arenas to host their own activity tournaments as well. Following the same model as before:

  • 10 public servers for each Activity Mode map on rotation, for a total of 10 x 4 = 40 servers.

Which would give us a total of 88 + 40 = 128 servers. No idea what's behind the server structure for activities, but it seems to create instances on demand. Said system would be replaced by the fixed server system of Public Arenas.

And that would be it. Somewhat simple changes that would make PvP a far better experience than it is now, specially for new players and organized groups.

PS: As a final note, the filter section of the PvP Game Browser hasn't been updated since 2015, which means it's missing half the maps. Would be nice if it was updated.

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