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Squads and Commanding

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The Open World game mode in Guild Wars 2 is by far the most obvious and easily approachable content in the game. It is the game mode people are immediately thrown into when they exit the tutorial zone and are continuously led into by the game’s storytelling.

However, you can make said content educational, effective, and energetic through a little effort, by simply joining others in larger squads or even better, as a commander!

The following guide includes some of the key principles and standards Commanders in Open World should aspire to, as well as a basic glossary of useful terms and concepts for every player joining larger groups in Open World (and other game modes).

Squads

If you are not familiar with the concept of Boons and Conditions, and 5-man limit for skills applying Boons, make sure to check out our introductory guides first:

Squads are 10 or 50-man groups designed to do Meta Events in Open World (50-man) and instanced content like Strike Missions or Raids (10-man, known as “Raid mode”).

Everyone can create a 10-man squad, and a Commander (, commonly referred to as a “Tag”) can create a 50-man version of it.

A Tag will have more options to command the squad properly, most importantly:

  • Moving players into subgroups
  • Locking groups so players can’t move themselves
  • Ability to place squad markers on targets and on the ground
  • Posting squad-wide and subgroup-wide broadcasts
  • Changing group size to 50-man
  • Start “Ready check”

You can start a squad by pressing “P” and selecting “Create Squad” from the menu that pops up, to join a squad just use /sqjoin character name, or if Commander () is on your map, right-click on them (clicking on the tag on the map or minimap also works) and select “Join Squad”.

As mentioned in the Boons section of the Game systems guide, having the ability to organize subgroups is very important!

All skills granting boons to others used by healers and supports will target 5 players prioritizing the caster’s subgroup/party, so by organizing subgroups with professions providing boons can effectively double your squad’s damage and chance for survival.

Note: Every player in squad have the ability to move themselves in proper subgroups even without Commander tag if squad is not locked by commander.

Squad UI only limited info (name, profession/specialization, health) with the addition of colored border indicators for some mechanics.

You can switch to view your subgroup like a party by pressing “P” and unchecking “View as Grid”, that’s especially useful if you are playing a healer and need to see conditions that need to be cleansed from your teammates.

Note: Due to map instancing (explained below), you can land on different instance of same map, to join your team members, right-click on person in the same map, but differnt instance, and select “Join in <Map Name>” from context menu.

Squad composition

It may seem it’s not very important for Open World squads to have ideal Boon distribution across the subgroups, and of course, it’s not important to have perfect Boons, but it’s very important to have at least decent Boons across all subgroups.

Four key boons are critical to endgame PvE damage:

  • Might: Increases outgoing damage. This caps at 25 stacks.
  • Quickness: Shortens cast times by 50%.
  • Fury: Increases critical chance by 25%. Power builds are designed to “crit cap” (to have 100% critical chance).
  • Alacrity: Increases skill recharge rate by 25%.

There are multiple approaches to organizing your squad into proper subgroups with those key boons covered in all of them, we’ll cover two of them: “guesstimation” and pre-sorting (or self-sorting).

Pre-sorting

To pre-sort a squad, you can add information in the squad message (visible to everyone joining your group, you can edit it as a Commander by pressing “P” and selecting “Edit Squad Message”), where you ask players playing Alacrity builds to move themselves to a specific group, others playing Quickness to another group, and rest stay in group 1 (default).

An example message you can post is:

If you are giving Alac, move yourself to group 2
If you are Quickness, move to group 3
DPS stay in group 1

You can move yourself by dragging your name in squad UI

Since you need 5 players per subgroup in a 50-man squad, you ultimately will be looking for 10 Quickness providers and 10 Alacrity providers. After finding them, you can sort your squad into groups of 5 players with one Alacrity and one Quickness providers.

Pre-sorting is the way you’ll end up with a very well-prepared squad but it requires some more time and coordination.

“Guesstimating”

Guesstimating” on the other hand will require you to be somewhat familiar with which specializations can potentially provide Quickness and which Alacrity. You don’t have to be nitpicky about this, some players will provide the boons you need, some won’t, but in general you should end up in decently distributed key Boons  across most subgroups.

For Alacrity you should be on the lookout for Mechanist, Druid, Untamed, Specter, Willbender, Mirage, Renegade, or Tempest.

For Quickness look for Firebrand, Herald, Scrapper, Chronomancer, core  Warrior or  Berserker, Harbinger, or Catalyst.

Might and Fury should be automatically mostly covered across all subgroups since most classes provide it.


With this simple approach, you’ll at least double the damage of your squad, and also distribute some other defensive boons to most of your squad, which otherwise would be stacked on only a handful of players closest to the ones providing those Boons.

Protection, some Regeneration (even if not from a healer), and Vigor will tremendously increase your squad’s chances of survival.

Stability, even if randomly cast, will be uncomparably more useful with proper subgroups when the boss is knocking them back or CCing in another way.

Answering questions or making observations around what classes/boons you have and/or are lacking may also help teach these concepts to new players, hopefully making instanced PvE group content more easily approachable at the same time.

Commander’s toolkit

Commanders can move players freely between subgroups, lock subgroups so players can’t move themselves, and change quad settings (10/50-man limit.

They can post squad broadcasts with shift+enter and then either use default /squad to broadcast to the whole squad or /1, /2, etc to send the broadcast to a specific subgroup. Broadcasts are visible to others in the middle of the screen.

Finally, Commander can place two types of markers, the most common objective and location markers: , and map directives: .

Markers are the main tool after the chat for a squad without voice communication to coordinate. Ground markers are placed with Alt+1 (1-8, 9 clears all the ground markers), while Alt+Shift+1 (1-8, or 9 to clear them) will place markers on the target (both enemy and friendly).

Map directives are rarely used, and can only be placed on the main map (not minimap) with Alt+Click.

Commander can appoint Lieutenants from the context menu available after right-clicking player in squad UI.

Lieutenant can do mostly the same things as Commander, with exception of changing squad options. They can place markers, kick and move between subgroups of non-lieutenant players, and broadcast messages.

There is one catch to all that. Commander tag is not free, to unlock the Tag for your account you need Commander's Compendium available for purchase from WvW vendors for 300Gold coin and 250 Badges of Honor (WvW currency).

Key Concepts

You should be aware of a few general concepts and server architecture that impact everyone’s game.

First of all, you should be aware that Guild Wars 2 maps have instances, which means if a map is getting too crowded, a new instance of it is created. This Instancing feature of the server architecture allows access to the map at all times for everyone, but during some Meta Events, it might be hard to collect the whole squad in one instance of the map.

Upon generating a new instance, the map will most likely not have many events or bounties available for around 5 minutes. Make sure to find an instance with the Meta Event you intend to do available (Meta Event progress is often visible in the upper right corner of your screen, in the Content Guide. Having most (preferably all) of your squad be able to get into the same instance of the map and participate before the final loot of the current event is paramount to them enjoying their time.

Note: You can try to “force a new instance” to generate if your squad has enough players by teleporting into the next map all at once to see if the majority of players get on one particular instance. This, however, is rarely necessary.

Another term tied to the instancing system is Bottlenecking, it happens when too many players are trying to join or have just joined an instance at the same time. The game will not let too many players into a single instance at once, most likely in order to avoid server instability and FPS loss. If your squad members claim your chosen instance is full but you don’t see too many outsiders around in the area of the event, you can fairly safely guess that the instance is just bottlenecking (especially in lower population ones).

Assuming your instance isn’t actually full, tell your squad to keep trying to join; they should make it in soon enough to still participate in the event and get most of the loot.

Upscaling is the dynamic adjustment of enemies based on players fighting them, upscaled enemies have way more health.

During some events, you might want to have fewer players participating in one event so it won’t be too hard to finish in time, especially if the same event is spawning multiple times during one Meta Event, and every squad member will get their chance for the rewards.

On another side of the spectrum, you might actually want to Upscale some Events and only then Champion enemies spawn offering profitable “champion bags” as a drop.

Taxi is a term often misunderstood by new players. If there is a full squad doing Meta Event on the map, and there is a high chance the map instance is not full, one person from outside of the squad then forms a new squad and posts it in Looking for Group as “Meta event name taxi“, so new players can try to join same instance. “Taxi” groups are never meant to be actual groups doing the Meta Event.

And lastly, Meta Train and Meta Event are the terms you should encounter in your early days of GW2, both are explained in detail in multiple guides we strongly recommend checking out:

Basic commanding principles

If you are dedicated enough to lead groups of players to success, and you want to invest in Commander’s Tag, we have a few suggestions about a proper mindset that might help you in this journey.

As grandiose as it sounds, a Commander has authority and thus also responsibility over their squad, its members, and its success. The most important things to keep in mind and try to implement are accessibility, effort, basic gameplay concepts, and a fun atmosphere!

Some things may feel too obvious to state at times, yet most likely they are not. Newer players may be able to follow Commander without any chat interaction or instructions but they may be left confused and frustrated if you do not explain the basics of the event or answer their questions.

If you’re going to be commanding a large squad of players, it is your responsibility and privilege to try to keep things running smoothly. This will require various amounts of effort depending on the length and intensity/speed of your event or chain of events. The more intense the activity, the more moment-to-moment effort it will most likely require to run. Being able to type at fast speeds is obviously very useful if you’re only commanding through the in-game text chat.

Organizing the subgroups, answering questions related to gameplay and briefly explaining objectives can also be useful in teaching new players concepts such as group composition, boons, crowd control, and more, hopefully making the systems of the game feel less arcane to those willing to read/listen.

You don’t need to write at length but try to state some keywords in an understandable format before and during events if you feel it’s needed.

This all may sound very daunting, but in reality, new and inexperienced Open World Commanders are very often met with understanding and help from the squad in form of tips on how to lead the group. If you have a Commander tag, don’t be afraid to “tag up” and form your own squad!

Directing your squad

Commander Tag is the icon that renders over your character name and can be seen on the map by any player on the same instance as you. It is your main tool to guide people and make players in your squad follow you, but also it can make players onto your map join the event, seeing a Tag suddenly appear as they were just wandering about.

In case there happen to be multiple commanders on the same map, use different Tag colors in order to be able to be differentiated by players on the map.

We did the research for you on what Tag colors are “safest” picks to be properly seen even with players affected by color blindness, check out our short news post about that:

First things first, you need to let others know about your group, not only players on the same map instance as you.

Looking for Group (LFG) is an in-game tool for advertising parties and squads, it’s found below the friend’s list menu.

LFG panel is split up into numerous categories depending on the type of content your group is doing, you obviously want to use the corresponding one, but if your squad goes through multiple maps rapidly, you may resort to just listing it below the “Central Tyria – Squads” section under a generic name (i.e. “Hardstuck Meta Train”).

In your group’s description be short, but give all extra info you feel is needed to provide.

If you are directing your squad through events for profit, remember that Champion-ranked enemies are very important to squeeze every last drop of loot out of most events where they can spawn if upscaled enough.

“Champion Bags” (a.k.a. Champ bags) they drop upon death are various types of openable containers with generic and unique loot of different rarities. They may not be too valuable individually but when piled up your profit will increase a lot by acquiring these.

Tagging champs (or events) means hitting enemies or accomplishing event-specific objectives enough times/dealing enough damage to them to acquire their respective Champ bag. In most cases, this is not a very large threshold to pass. If the current event includes tagging champions, it’s obviously a good thing to inform your squad to “tag” as many enemies as they can.

Check your key binds for the hotkey to call target (, Ctrl+T by default) on your currently targeted enemy to be able to quickly direct your squad onto specific mobs, they can press “T” to focus on the targetted monster. Keep in mind that only members of your current subgroup will see those targets.

Superspeed and Swiftness will be your biggest allies during escort events as some NPCs can be sped up with those. Instruct your squad to move away from the escort NPC and apply these effects while in close proximity of the NPC to make them dash forward to victory.

Defiance bars will be present on most enemies during many events, as a commander you should call out to “CC” (use Crowd Control skills) when the said bar is up, you can even do it via Squad Broadcast.

Ideally, you should inform everyone they need to equip more CC skills if they are needed during an Event, or simply place United Legions Waystation with Portable United Legions Waystation if you have one available, and instruct players to get Electromagical Pulse special action key from it (first option).

To use Special Action Keys offered by Waystation you need War Supplies, currency obtained in Drizzlewood Coast, one of Icebrood Sage maps.

Another part of preparation before the encounter is the Food. If you have access to Ascended Feasts, place them for your squad before the fight.

If you don’t have feasts, and nobody else placed them, make sure to ask veterans to place Feast of Delectable Birthday Cake (item awarded on the 9th character’s birthday) if you don’t have one yourself, usage is free, and it offers an increase to all stats as well as Magic Find, Karma and Experience gain like ascended feasts.

And now the only thing left is to lead your squad to victory, if you are new, learn more about Meta Events in the general guides section, or about raids and strike missions if you want to lead instanced PvE 10-man groups.


Once you are ready to lead (or just join) Meta Trains and other events, check our Events and Discord. Be sure to use the Discord and in-game LFGs in conjunction with each other, as neither is meant to replace the other.

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