Guild Wars 2 - Battle of Kyhlo loading screen
Welcome to the PvP primer, the post with a small taste of everything you didn't think you wanted to know about PvP content in Guild Wars 2. Some folks regard Guild Wars 2 as a PvP-centric game with PvE content tacked on as an occasional diversion. If that's you, this post is probably full of stuff you already know. Think of this as crib notes for the uninitiated. Are you unsure how to find your way around WvW? Are you trying to find your way into a PvP match? This primer is for you.

Last week we took a look at world vs. world (WvW), which pits three servers against each other in grand-scale, pitched battles. Now it's time to give some love to structured PvP (some folks are getting sPvP started as a term for that), which is all about quicker battles with fewer people on smaller maps.

Player vs. player

Guild Wars 2's structured PvP comes in two flavors: hotjoinable and tournament. The key difference between the two is that tournament PvP is more structured.

In tournament gameplay, two teams of five duke it out for ranking. The most basic ranking is in pickup matches, one-off, single-elimination eight-team brackets. Winning a pickup match will get you qualifier points for entry into the monthly tournament, and winning a monthly will place you in a slugfest of champions and the chance to crown your team as the best PvP team of the year. In addition to these tournament styles, player-run tournaments will also be possible.

In hotjoinable PvP, however, things are a lot more laid-back. There are any number of servers available for hotjoinable matches, and players can jump in or out any time they like (hence the term "hotjoinable"). More players are typically allowed on the map in these matches, and players are assigned to teams as they enter for optimal balancing.

Guild Wars 2: Battle of Khylo
What's the point?

There are multiple maps on which structured PvP is played. Each map (as of now) shares the same primary game type and conquest and has a unique secondary mechanic. Conquest maps have three capturable points over which teams vie for control. The secondary mechanics augment the capture points by adding other objectives for players. For example, the secondary mechanic of the Battle of Kyhlo map consists of two giant trebuchets, which can be used to damage players and landscape, while the Forest of Niflhel map houses two legendary forest-dwellers who can be slain for a temporary stat buff.

Both teams on a given PvP map are attempting to reach 500 points. The first team to reach 500 or the team with the most points when the 15-minute match ends is the winner.

Each capture point on the map grants one point every two seconds to whichever team controls it. Player kills grant give points. Interacting with the secondary map mechanics -- like destroying or repairing a trebuchet or slaying a forest-dweller -- also provides varying numbers of points.

Actions within structured PvP reward a player with Glory, a resource that can also be spent to unlock fancy-lookin' new structured PvP-only duds. Players are rewarded for a kill with 5 points of Glory. Landing a hit with a trebuchet awards 3 Glory, and it's presumed that other secondary mechanic interaction also awards points. In addition to Glory, a player's Rank is also tracked -- Rank is a reflection of a player's PvP standing.

Jumping in

From anywhere in the world, you can open up your Hero Panel (H) and click on the crossed swords icon on the left-hand side, which brings up the PvP panel. This panel gives you some different information, but for now, all we care about is the shiny button that offers to take you to the Heart of the Mists. On your first time ever visiting the Mists, there'll be a short PvP basics tutorial to go through -- you'll learn about stuff like capturing points and "finishing" enemies when they're in the downed state (hint: Press F once they've fallen to the ground), and then you're free to go on about your way. Exiting that tutorial will take you to the Hall of Memories, the PvP lobby. From there, you can take an Asura portal back to Lion's Arch or into WvW, but if it's sPvP you want, you'll be looking around for the PvP Browser NPC, who's standing on a pedestal and shouting at whoever walks by.

Guild Wars 2: PvP browser
The browser as we've seen it so far will let you know the number of the server and how many people are playing on it. In the future, more options like that shown above should be available.

In the PvP lobby, you'll be set at maximum level and given the opportunity to get max-level gear and insignias, which work only for structured PvP. You'll also have the ability to equip any skill (except your racial elites) and readjust your trait lines at will. Once you've done that, you're set to head in!

There's also an option to get automatically sorted into a PvP map (based on your Rank) from anywhere in the world, again through the PvP part of your hero panel. If you haven't been in to adjust your skills and such at some point before then, though, it might be a wee bit tricky.

Guild Wars 2: Battle of Kyhlo mapWhat to do?

Go places, do things, kill stuff! Capture points are fairly critical to match success. In your map and compass, capture points will show up as grey if they are neutral or red or blue to reflect which team controls them. Additionally, a simple UI at the top of your screen will tell you the score and the state of each capture point. If that isn't enough, there's also an awesome announcer voice stating what's going on; it'll say that a capture point has been gained, lost, or brought under attack. It shouldn't be hard to always know in at least a vague sense what's going on --and where you're likely most needed.

Don't neglect secondary mechanics. Killing one of the forest-dwellers in the Niflhel map will both gain your team 50 points and give you a nice (albeit temporary) buff, which can be a big help if things are tight.

Killing other players should be kind of a given, but be careful not to get bogged down in wasteful fights. If your team is losing and holds no capture points, it'd be silly to take a fight with no capture point in sight without a greater strategical reason than "I'm in PvP, so I ought to be PvPing."

And other stuff

Aww yeah, beta weekend event number two in just a few days! There's been a staggering number of beta key giveaways, with fan and industry sites getting 20 keys here or 500 keys there. Winners have already been decided for this particular giveaway (and in truth, most), but Kristian Nairn, the actor who plays Hodor on Game of Thrones, who has been a guest on our very own Massively Speaking, and who is an avid MMO player, totally gave away keys on Twitter. As a fan of both GW2 and GoT, I found that pretty cool. All the keys being given away plus the chance of being in the beta from the first wave of beta signups from way back when means that tons of non-prepurchasers will have time with the game, which should be very interesting.

In case you've forgotten or need to remember when to not make plans, servers will be open for business from 3:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the 8th of June until 3:00 a.m. EDT on Monday the 11th. Lay in supplies of Pop-Tarts and Mountain Dew while you still have time!

Elisabeth Cardy is a longtime Guild Wars player, a personal friend of Rytlock Brimstone, and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column updates on Tuesdays and keeps a close eye on Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. Email Elisabeth at elisabeth@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.