Stronghold: Competitive or Not?

The stronghold 24 hour open beta was a huge success in the eyes of personal play and for the community at large. I hosted a 12 hour stream (although it was cut short due to Internet issues; ending in 10.5 hours) and had the opportunity to play several dozen stronghold matches on multiple professions. Since it was a new game mode and the first time I have had the chance to play it, I had nothing but fun for the majority of it. Let’s take a look at some of the better qualities of the game mode and what took a turn for the worse.

General Thoughts

I won’t bore you with details on what the game mode is, so let’s skip that step and move right into some of the best features of this PvP mode, and more specifically, what classes were the most dominant. Right out of the game is was clear to me that a mesmer is a necessity with how the game currently stands. With the portal skill being on such short of cooldown, utilizing a mesmer for quick supply runs and portal bombs into enemy territory helps astronomically. After realizing this was in need, we quickly had someone hop onto a mesmer to make this gameplay experience a bit more enjoyable. If we get this opportunity again, grab a mesmer!

Most players would argue that a thief needs to accompany a mesmer, and while that may be true in conquest, I don’t find that to be necessary in stronghold. From my 10 and a half hours of experience, I have found the most reliable and necessary classes to be mesmer, necromancer, elementalist, and warrior. These four classes will more than likely be the meta of this game mode when the Heart of Thornes expansion launches. Looking at the necromancer, the amount of offensive pressure one is able to dish out with wells and lich form is absurd and will allow a team to take down the enemy lord within seconds, assuming the mesmer is running time warp. Time warp!? Yes, time warp will come back into play with this game mode.

Next up, the elementalist and warrior are two of the best classes to offer team support for players and NPCs. With the crazy amounts of crowd control they are able to put out with immobilization skills and pure crowd control itself, these two classes will be a high priority for many teams that choose to make stronghold their main game mode.

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The Good

This game mode offers a relaxed environment where player vs player combat takes a larger mix with the environment itself and does not necessarily always give the team with the better skilled players the upper advantage, but the team with the better strategy and will to carry it out. There were many different strategies tried by my team that I queued with for most of my time played in the game mode, but we found offensive strategies to be the most effective, allowing for us to push out massive pressure onto our enemies and force them to retreat and be on their heels for the entirety of the game.

Stronghold is kind to everyone, giving every player and profession an opportunity to show what they can accomplish with the utilities and skill sets that they bring to the table. While I may have my preference of five classes to take into a match, all classes have some sort of utility to bring into the match and prove that they are worthy as well. This game mode is the ultimate challenge of team strategy and the first few minutes of this game mode are crucial if you wish to get out ahead and win the game.

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The Bad

Stronghold provides a great, competitive-like environment… for some. This game mode allows us to better our team communications and attempt new strategies, but does not have that competitive edge like the game mode of conquest. In conquest, player versus player combat is the key component to play the mode itself and winning. In stronghold, player versus player combat is often avoided in attempt to eliminate environmental objects and NPCs. This does not create a viewer-base for tournaments and games alike.

One of the biggest issues my team personally had within our matches was the potential for punishment. No matter how close our games were, if the enemy team had the upper hand on offense and we were forced to defend and happened full wipe them at our lord, they were not punished whatsoever. They lost 25 points from our five kills, yes, but upon death, a player will respawn in 15 seconds which ultimately did not allow for us to make a push to their lord in time to catch back up and win the game. A major reason for why MOBAs like League of Legends are DOTA 2 are so exciting is to watch is due to punishment when a team wipes. In these games, if you are to turn everything around with a team wipe in the end game, the enemy team will not respawn for quite some time, generally over a minute, if not more. In stronghold, the enemy respawns in 15 seconds, which does not create an exciting end-game match if a wipe or some sort of turnaround happens to occur.

Overall, this game mode is one to play with your friends and guildmates for a relaxed time with a mix of NPC and PvP combat, but does not have the essentials for creating a competitive game mode for tournaments. Conquest will reign supreme in the competitive scene if this game mode stays similar to what it stands to be currently. I hope to see this game mode back into the Heart of the Mists once again before the Heart of Thorns expansion launches to have another stab at some more strategies and another exciting time.

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Storm 68 posts

Storm is a commentator and writer in both the Overwatch and Guild Wars 2 professional scenes.

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