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Ready Up Episode 31 Summary: Your Guide to Getting Started in Stronghold

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New to Player vs. Player? To participate in the Stronghold public beta event, you’ll need to make your way to the Heart of the Mists PvP lobby. You can get there by either using the main portal in Lion’s Arch or by accessing the PvP panel marked by a crossed-swords icon at the top of your screen. Once you’re ready, queue for an Unranked Arena match. You’ll see Battle of Champion’s Dusk as the featured map; vote for it, select Accept when your queue appears, and you’re ready to go!

Stronghold is a 5 vs. 5 game mode. The objective of a Stronghold match is to push past the enemy team’s line, break into their keep, and kill their keep’s lord. You’ll have a number of resources within the map to help you, but so will the enemy team! How you use those resources and whether you can stop the enemy from implementing their own strategies will determine your tactical advantage.

First team to kill the enemy lord wins the match!BarracksGather supply in the center of the map and bring it back to your barracksSpend supply to summon allies at your barracksArchers deal low damage to doors but deal high damage to NPCsBarracksDoorbreakers deal high damage to doors but have low health; players cannot damage doorsSummon a Hero NPC for your team!

This symbol appears periodically on the mini-map. Channel the Mist Essence before the enemy team to summon a hero. Heroes do moderate damage to doors and lower the damage allies take around him. Get the hero to the enemy lord for a big Area of Effect damageSupply

At the center of the Stronghold map is a supply depot. A player spawns with one supply to spend immediately. Players can carry up to two units of supply from the supply depot and will drop one unit when defeated. The maximum supply a player can carry is normally two, but if the enemy team is making it hard to get supply from the depot, players can try to take down one of the enemy’s supply carriers and make off with their stash! This allows players to carry up to three units of supply. An icon above each player’s head indicates whether or not they’re carrying supply.


In addition to your keep lord, helpful nonplayer characters can be hired to assist you. These NPCs come in three types: archers, doorbreakers, and heroes. Archers use ranged attacks to cover you as you push toward the enemy keep. While they do small amounts of damage to doors and player characters, they are excellent at helping take down enemy NPCs. Doorbreakers, while not useful for inflicting combat damage, are extremely effective at using bombs to destroy enemy gates. This is especially important because players cannot damage gates themselves. Both doorbreakers and archers are hired with supply.

Heroes are summoned using mist essence, which appears on a three-minute cadence. They provide a powerful defensive bonus to aid your push down the enemy lane into the opposing keep, but heroes won’t fight for you until reaching their goal: the enemy lord. Once inside the enemy lord’s room, heroes will help you fight and do massive damage with an area-of-effect attack.

Like supply, mist essence can be used by either team; if you see it spawn, try to either take advantage of it or prevent the opposing team from using it. To summon an NPC, a player must briefly remain in place to channel them, and the channeling can be interrupted using stun and knockback abilities. If the opposing team summons a hero, take the hero out to make sure they don’t get the chance to confront your lord.

One very viable strategic role within Stronghold is to have a player act as a shepherd for the NPCs, accompanying them down the lane to support, cleanse, and protect them. Enemy guards pose a major threat to your NPC allies, so leaving your bomb-toting doorbreakers to their own devices is dangerous. All NPCs appear on the compass when spawned, so it’s a good place to check on the status of both your own forces and those of the enemy team.

Defenses and Strategy

To break into an enemy’s keep, you’ll need to get past their gates, their guards, and the opposing players. To win, help your team strategize to balance offense with defense and make sure your own gates don’t go unguarded. Use your team’s trebuchet to ease pressure on your forces, disrupt focused attacks on your keep, and kill enemy NPCs. Destroy the enemy’s trebuchet to make sure they can’t do the same to you!

Josh and Hugh recommend a basic strategy for beginners in which all members of the team use their starting supply to summon five doorbreakers. The team forms a 2-1-2 composition, with two players on offense to push down the lane, one player in the middle at the supply depot, and two players defending the team’s own keep and forces. It’s advisable to have one strong damage dealer on offense paired with a character who can provide some support. The team member in the middle can run supply, but the enemy will likely have a player there as well, and engaging them can be risky. Defenders should remember that discretion is the better part of valor—if you’re outnumbered and outgunned, it’s better to regroup than to bravely go down fighting!

Further Resources

For a more in-depth look at how to play Stronghold, check out John Corpening and Hugh Norfolk’s introduction to the game mode. If you’d like to see the builds other players are using in PvP, pay a visit to the fan-run site Metabattle. We’ve also published a compilation of Hugh Norfolk’s PvP 101 livestream series, and you can review today’s Ready Up livestream below!


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