Hello again from Dragonbrand, and from WvW, we of little money and the non-mega servers.
This is a short guide on how to capture a tower Han-style (i.e., solo) using an alpha golem.
My first intent in writing this guide is to help players on low-tier servers and those who play during off-hours by enabling them to capture towers without outside help. While WvW is designed around large groups of players, its 24-hour persistence means that coverage gaps are unavoidable on all but the highest-tier servers. Similarly, the skewed population distribution across servers has created some cases where very few players are in WvW even during server primetime. Being able to solo a tower in a reasonable amount of time can make a big difference.
Whether you want a tower for the daily tower capture, or for a vista because of map completion, or because your server is always outmanned and there’s only two of you backcapping against a 50-man enemy zerg, I think that soloing a tower is a key skill.
My second intent is to advance WvW play by sharing knowledge. The sharing of GvG/zerg build knowledge changed zerg effectiveness by making organized and disciplined groups a potent and defining force during primetime. I believe that solo and small-group havoc knowledge–tapping keeps that have waypoints, taking camps and paper towers, damaging exposed defensive siege, etc.–is also a key part of WvW progress. I want WvW to continue to mature and develop, so I am sharing what knowledge I have, starting with this guide.
0) Buy some alpha golem blueprints.
1) Capture a camp, build an alpha golem there.
2) Get in the golem, walk to a nearby tower, and attack the gate until you break it.
3) Walk to the lord, still in the golem, and autoattack until all NPCs are dead.
4) Stand in the ring until you capture the tower. Golem optional.
Prepare by buying some alpha golems on the TP (at the time of writing, sell price is 35 silver each; also buyable for 100 badges). If you can, max out Build Mastery (to use 10 supply at a time) and Siege Golem Mastery (most important is the first rank, which gives a 15sec swiftness-type buff after a gate or wall breaks). Also make sure you have at least 1 point in Supply Master (faster supply pickup).
Ideal case is at least 1 rank Supply Master, 5 ranks Build Mastery, 5 ranks Siege Golem Mastery, 5 ranks Siege Might (more siege damage).
Note: for general WvW play, four ranks in Supply Master is critical because it can “proc” free supply after you spend all your supply. That said, you don’t really want to be going for procs while building an alpha, because the proc won’t have a chance to trigger unless you pause for a moment after hitting 0 supply, and camps are usually at 100 supply anyway.
Go to a camp near the tower you want, and capture the camp (kill all NPC guards, and stand in the circle that appears when the supervisor is dead). Usually you want to pull and kill just one or two guards first–for extra safety in case an enemy roamer comes by.
Make sure that there is at least 90 total supply available between the camp and yourself. An alpha golem requires 100 supply to build, and building it alone usually takes long enough for the camp to produce 10-20 more supply. If there are friendlies around who might take supply or upgrade the camp (first tier upgrades wipe out 100 supply), you can tell them that you are planning to build an alpha golem, and/or ask nicely for them to leave the supply alone.
Throw the alpha build site right next to the supply pile (within interaction range of the pile). Clear target and press interact to start building the golem; while you are building, target the supply pile. At 0 supply, press interact, which will auto-cancel the building action and pick up supply. Clear target and press interact again to build again. Repeat until the golem is completed.
Walk the golem to a nearby tower gate (use portals if you are a mesmer: drop entry at the golem, run forward, drop exit; port back to golem, get in golem, port golem forward). If you have Supply Master rank 3, then you should grab supply before you jump into the golem for a short burst of golem-proof swiftness (normal swiftness does not affect golems). You can also dodge forward to move faster.
Usually there will be two NPC guards at the tower, one melee and one ranged. Kill them with the golem 1 skill, using bubble (3 skill) to stop ranged shots if you like. Then attack the gate with your 1 skill. (If you control-rightclick the 1 skill, it will turn on autoattack.)
Note: skilled players can get the guards to follow them up to the gate, so that autoattack cleaves all three targets (gate plus two guards). Experienced players will ensure that the ranged NPC’s black powder PBAoE doesn’t reach them, thus avoiding the blind; they will also use the bubble to block the initial blinding projectile.
When the gate goes down, you will gain superspeed for 15 seconds if you have Golem Mastery rank 1. Use this to run to the lord’s room. Kill the NPCs while still in the golem, cleaving to maximize damage, then cap as usual. Depending on the tower, you might be able to LoS the NPCs to stack them, but it isn’t necessary. You can also use the golem 4 skill to pull ranged NPCs (other than the lord) to you.
Note for mesmers: after the veteran guards are dead and you are working on the lord, you can bubble, hop out of the golem, summon phantasms (phantasm -> swap weapons -> other phantasm), then hop back in the golem and continue autoattacking. Just wait for the lord to use their CC attack first, since the golem is immune.
“Why should I use an alpha?”
For a solo roamer, the other alternative is to use a guild catapult (costs about 1.25g on TP, or 500 influence and 24hr build time through your guild), which requires one or two trips for more supply (need 25), dies easily due to low HP, offers almost no protection should someone attack you (only have a bubble, but only if you have cata mastery), and is designed to attack walls (which get reinforced before gates). You could also build a regular ram (1.5 silver, 40 supply) or even a superior ram (~12 silver, 50 supply), but I am not a fan of running back and forth for supply.
Both the cata and ram alternatives also require you to solo the lord, which is risky, and can be quite difficult for certain builds. It also becomes nearly impossible if an enemy defender shows up. With an alpha, you can just keep punching the lord while a defender tries to slowly dps you down. Usually, you’ll be able to kill the lord, then duel it out in the circle. A duel at the top of a tower, with a tower cap on the line, is the best kind of duel.
An omega is an option, too, but at 2.3g is far too expensive. That said, it walks faster, and breaks doors faster, and kills faster, and attacks at range, and can hit walls. But it also takes extra time to build because you’ll need to wait for the camp to produce more supply. The cost-benefit just doesn’t support the price of an omega for hitting a tower. Multiple towers might be worth it, however, especially because of the faster walk speed.
Also, note that “getting a buddy to help” is a great alternative to all of this, but is outside the scope of this guide.
“Someone found me! What should I do?”
If you’re afraid that they’ll have a buddy or five, and you aren’t in combat, then you should waypoint the golem to safety. Go elsewhere with it, or just leave it at spawn for others to use.
If you think it’s just one guy, then you can get out and fight him. A golem is like death shroud with perma-stability, so hop in it when needed, and use it to bubble as needed. While an alpha golem isn’t useful when fighting a ranged enemy, simply having a golem around is a huge advantage in a 1v1 because it is a giant HP buffer that you can sit in while your skills recharge and condis tick. Just don’t get bursted down; you can’t get in a golem when downed.
If you are already in combat, or already at the gate, then you could also just keep hitting the gate while they wail on you. Gate damage is pretty valuable (the exceptions are when they are overflowing with supply or will not be under any subsequent threat). And if you have 5 ranks of golem mastery, then when the golem dies, you get stealthed and safe-launched away (safe-launch = no falling damage), which is usually enough to break combat and waypoint to safety. So you are not really at risk of giving up a stomp point to the enemy should they show up in big numbers, you’re just out 35 silver.
“I see that they have a door treb/cata, what should I do?”
You could just waypoint out. Or attack anyway and believe in your bubble and dodging skills (turn off autoattack for this; alpha aa is like ranger sword aa, it can’t be dodge-canceled). Or attack anyway and gamble that no one will come check the white swords, and thus no one uses the treb/cata. Make a decision as best you can. Just remember that cata shots interrupt golems (treb shots hurt much more, but don’t interrupt), and alphas can only damage gates.
“They have an arrow cart firing on me, should I be worried?”
Not particularly, but keep an eye on your golem health. Consider whether you’ll still be able to tank and kill the lord. If you can break the gate, though, then at least kill the ac afterward–whether or not you try to kill the lord, killing defensive siege makes your attack more effective.
Of course, as long as you get the gate down, you will still be able to grab any vista or POI inside.
“I solo’d a tower! uh… what now?”
You could go to another tower. Or suicide-attack the gate of a keep–this almost always draws defenders, taking up more of their manpower. Or waypoint home and leave the golem for others to use.
Or, if you’re the funny type, sit in the tower with the golem out of sight. When they put down rams to recap, use your golem to pummel them through the gate (both the 1 and the 2 skills are great). Similar to ac pressure, your golem doesn’t do much damage to the rams, but makes it tough to stay on them. If you down a guy, walk outside in your golem and cleave him out. It’s not usually worth the risk to attempt a stomp, but if you have stability or stealth it might be worth it for the extra stomp point.
“35 silver is a lot for just the possibility of capping a tower.”
It’s 35 silver to be badass enough to threaten a tower cap all on your own. 35 silver to become a one-man army that can barrel through a door and slay seven NPCs, including a champ lord. 35 silver to force every scout on the map to constantly check white swords on towers for the next hour, and maybe start defending camps, too.
“Can’t I go to an enemy’s borderlands, build an alpha golem every time I cap a camp, waypoint each one to spawn, and stockpile them for a golem rush?”
Yes, that’s the cheap variant of the omega stockpile. Which you could also do solo, though it requires waiting for camps to generate more supply (150 total for omega) and thus carries more risk. Both stockpile methods help get around the usual lack of supply on enemy BLs.
Also note that if you had a big group, you could all waypoint between a well-stocked home BL keep and your spawn in enemy BL, building golems at spawn. Both are great ways to crack heavily upgraded enemy BLs, and are fairly common in high tiers. In fact, I highly recommend this as a way for WvW guilds to start primetime–either have off-hours or havoc teams stockpile for you, or burn some of the overflowing home keep supply while your supply lines are still clear.
“How do I stop this?”
Scout it, call it in. Two decent players should be able to stop the attack, and five will shut it down fast.
Cannons make golems particularly unhappy. Well-placed ballistas are effective, though there never seems to be a decent spot for a defensive ballista (NE tower on BLs is the exception). Mortars do well, and experienced mortar operators with a spotter buddy are so good as to be mildly unfair. And door trebs and door catas basically shut down alphas. Lastly, strong ranged damage of any kind will eventually kill the alpha, since it can’t fight back.
That’s pretty much everything on the subject. I hope you found this guide useful, and I’ll see you in the Mists.