PvP Primer: Fort Aspenwood Cross-Training
A Factions PvP arena, Fort Aspenwood offers new players an excellent chance to break into competitive play. The Fort Aspenwood environment forgives mistakes much more readily than other arenas, and it has the same party forming mechanic as Random Arenas. When you enter battle at Fort Aspenwood, you don't have to find a group—the game automatically groups you with a team.
To find Fort Aspenwood with a PvP-only character, travel to the Great Temple of Balthazar and talk to a Kurzick or Luxon recruiter NPC. In the roleplaying Cantha map, Fort Aspenwood is an outpost near the alliance border. Once you reach the outpost, simply press "Enter Mission" when you're ready to go.
Note: You must own a copy of Guild Wars Factions to access Fort Aspenwood.
Essentially, you can take just about any single character from an eight-person build into Fort Aspenwood and have a reasonable chance of being useful to your team. As such, you can practice your character build in a PvP environment, with plenty of time to get used to your skills. Builds that don't do well in four-person arenas are perfect to practice in Fort Aspenwood instead. A Tainted Flesh Necromancer, for example, will sometimes work in Random Arenas, but will almost always help out in Fort Aspenwood. Characters without resurrection signets, such as Assassins, solo gankers, or occasional support characters, can drag a team down in Random Arenas but absolutely shine in Fort Aspenwood.
No Rez Signet Needed
Unlike most other PvP venues, you won't need a resurrection signet here. If you die in Fort Aspenwood, you have a mere six second wait before revival at a Resurrection Shrine (as opposed to GvG, where if you die you can wait up to two minutes before resurrecting at a shrine—a long period of time that can swing the balance in a close game). Plus, Fort Aspenwood lacks morale boosts (meaning no way to recharge resurrection signets). So, equipping one of these signets essentially wastes a slot on your Skill Bar. Freeing up that eighth slot offers slightly more flexibility in terms of self-healing and enhanced survivability. As mentioned above, many solo or small split squad gankers in GvG travel without resurrection signets, so Fort Aspenwood is a natural place to practice these builds.
No Death Penalty
You don't accrue death penalty from dying anywhere in Fort Aspenwood. Hence, you can take risks more freely than you might otherwise (and get back into the action a mere six seconds later). This system forgives mistakes and bad positioning, so while it cushions you from a death penalty, don't get into the habit of overextending in other PvP areas. At the very least, Fort Aspenwood can show you how quickly you can die if you're not careful, and how other players choose to counter your actions.
Solo Other Players
"You're All Alone!"
"You're All Alone!" [Elite]
Warrior - No Attribute - Shout
Shout. If target foe isn't near an ally, that foe suffers from Cripple and Weakness for 7 seconds.
Many flag runners and gank characters must be able to solo enemy players, or at least get away from them. These techniques do not come easy and take practice to do right. A hybrid runner with Air and Water Magic skills, for example, needs to know when to snare and run away and when to stop and fight. Often it comes down to getting in range of another ally and then turning on the pursuer. As opposed to flag runners, which have evolved into mostly defensive support characters, solo gankers generally have the ability to kill single enemies quickly . A sword Warrior/Assassin with "You're All Alone!" and Signet of Malice, for example, is a real threat to many standard builds.
The ability of a solo ganker to kill other players is related to the methods for killing NPCs. The NPCs guarding the mines and other points in Fort Aspenwood vary wildly from those in GvG, however, some of the same principles apply. You can create a build specifically for taking out mine guardians by yourself, but it works best to travel with other players. Nonetheless, attacking NPCs can show you what to look for when things go wrong. For example, if you see an enemy NPC inexplicably gain Health, scan the area for a Monk. To counter this, attack the NPC for a while to whittle down the Monk's Energy, and then strike the Monk directly with a sudden spike. If that doesn't work, switch back and forth between the NPC and the Monk. Eventually you'll find the right combination of attacks where the Monk won't have enough Energy to keep up and either it or the NPC will go down.
Practice healing NPCs by watching their Health Bars and clicking on them. Utilize the NPCs as if they were your own allied players. In a GvG match, you often retreat to the relative sanctity of your NPC shield. In addition, NPCs in GvG play are an irreplaceable resource, so losing them means a disadvantage. In Fort Aspenwood, most NPCs respawn. But by defending them from attackers, you actually deny the enemy an important resource: time. The longer they spend capturing a mine, the less time they have to do other things such as run amber or attack key points. On the Luxon side, defending the siege turtles helps you break down the gates faster, while the Kurzicks must defend their innermost and non-respawning NPCs: the gatekeepers and architect. Defending these NPCs moves your side one step closer to victory and familiarizes you with the practice of working with NPCs in PvP.
Flag Running (By Way of Amber)
Need some practice running flags for GvG? Make a standard flag runner and head over to Fort Aspenwood, on the Kurzick side. Grab some amber and shuttle it from the mines to the gatekeepers (if gates need repairing) or to the master architect (if the gates do not need repairs). This mimics flag running in GvG to some degree, because you move slower while holding amber and you don't get the benefit of your weapon. Unlike a flag in GvG, if you drop the amber, it disappears, so watch out for that. You can also practice supporting the rest of your team with defensive and long-range skills such as Aegis or Heal Party. You probably won't encounter body blocking, but you'll doubtless need to watch your compass carefully for nearby enemies, especially siege turtles and groups of Warrior NPCs. These often get in the way and you can practice avoiding their attacks as you race back to your base.
Chasing Flag Runners
You may see Kurzicks running amber from mines back into their base. To prepare for the possibility that you might get sent to stop a flag runner in GvG, you can waylay these amber runners and slow them down or kill them. Knock-down skills, snares, and speed boosts all come in handy when attempting to stall an enemy runner.
As a nice benefit to playing Fort Aspenwood, you earn Kurzick or Luxon faction, even if you lose. You can trade in this faction to improve your alliance's standing, or turn it into amber or jade, which you can then sell for gold. Kills also generate a small amount of Balthazar faction.
All forms of PvP have some relation to each other. Practicing throughout the different PvP arenas sharpens your overall competitive ability. You'll also gain exposure to a wider variety of builds, players, and tactical situations by trying out the different arenas. Remember that each PvP encounter you have, no matter how small or seemingly obscure, has the possibility of a broader application to other forms of PvP.