Commanding 101

  1. -Introduction
  2. -Chat Terminology
  3. -Map Terminology
  4. -Commanding Terminology
  5. -Engagement Terminology
  6. -Other Terminology
  7. -Lecture
  8. -Do's and Don'ts


First and foremost: commanding is not for the faint of heart.  If you don't have a backbone, you will struggle at this.  People will make snide remarks about choices you made and people will praise you.  If you can't handle that type of thing, don't command.

Great, we got that out of the way.  If you're serious about commanding, good for you.  Go get one of those commander tags and let's start going over the basics.

Old commander menu
As of 2019, there has been an additional option for commanding.  You can place yourself as commanding with a tag, but list yourself and your squad/zerg as private.  This means everyone with you in squad can see your tag, but everyone not in the group cannot.

2019 commander menu (tag options still exist)
When you pop the commander tag, these window(s) shows up. As you can see, there are tons of options on how you want to run your squad. Get familiar with the options. If you're worried about doing this while in WvW, go somewhere in PvE land or EotM.

Chat Terminology:

  • -Say chat
    • -Local chat that appears in a greenish color.  This only happens with people directly near you.
    • -Access it by /s
  • -Squad chat
    • -Chat that occurs with people in your squad.  This appears as a yellowish green color.  Only accessible by people in the squad so people outside of the squad will not see it.
    • -Access it by /d
  • -Party chat
    • -Chat from other people in your direct party.  This can happen within a squad by directly talking to those in your group.  If not in a squad, the max limit is 5 members in the party.  The color for this chat is blue.
    • -Access it by /p
  • -Map chat
    • -Borderland centered chat.  This shows up at a light red color and consists of everyone else in the current BL.  
    • -Access it by /m
  • -Team chat
    • -Across all borderlands, even OS.  This shows up as a dark red color and is typically used for callouts from other BLs.  
    • -Access it by /t
  • -Whisper
    • -Shows up as a purple color.  Only occurs between you and the other person, no one else. 
    • -Access it by /w and the person's name.  You can right click on a person and in the drop down menu, there is a whisper option (unless they are appearing offline or have you blocked).

Map Terminology:

  • -Map Queue/Map Q
    • -Generally 40+ people.  Can pop OJs.
    • -Should be engaged with caution.
  • -Zerg
    • -Generally 25+ people grouped together.  Can pop OJs
    • -Can be many guilds or one guild.
  • -Group
    • -Less than 20 people.
    • -Rarely used because calling out #s is more efficient.
  • -Roamers
    • -Generally 5 players who can flip camps and start an attack on an objective.
  • -Tappers
    • -Generally 1 person who contests an objective.
    • -If it is an enemy, finding them can be tricky.
    • -Might need more than 1 person responding to kill enemy tapper.
  • -Scouting/Scouts
    • -Players inside an objective who keeps watch for enemy movements.
    • -You don't want to be seen by scouts.
  • -Contested/Swords/OJs
    • -An indication that whatever objective is contested is being attacked.
    • -Should always have a contested objective checked on.

Commanding a Zerg Terminology:

  • -Down
    • -If foe, focus damage in that area.  You WANT the downs to be fully dead.
    • -If friendly, focus the healing in that area and try to get the ones not fully dead up.  Only focus on reviving fully dead players when the heat of the battle is over.
  • -Low
    • -If foe, focus damage and aim to kill.
    • -If friendly, get the healing going or else you will have downed or dead allies.
  • -Driver/Tag/Pin
    • -The main person leading the group.  
  • -Sup/Supply
    • -The amazing WvW currency that allows for things to be built or repaired.
  • -Stack
    • -A group of players that group up on one person.
    • -Usually used for "stacking" boons such as might.
    • -Aim damage if the enemies are stacking.
  • -Choke
    • -Generally an area that creates a tunneling aspect.  Hallways, doorways, and any other funneling-creating thing are generally seen as chokes.
    • -Make all chokes "hot" by "marking" it up.
  • -Hot
    • -Refers to an area where the enemies are focusing a lot of damage.  This can be seen by the red circles on the ground.
    • -Don't go into hot areas without a plan.
    • -Hot areas are dangerous.
  • -Marks
    • -Refers to ground targeting skills which generally produce a red circle to enemies.
    • -Can be applied in choke points or walls.  
  • -Squirrel
    • -A person or people leaving the zerg to kill something on the side.
    • -Don't be a squirrel and don't allow others to squirrel.
    • -Queue/Q
      • -Usually used when calling for help on a bl.
      • -When this exists, people are not going to be mapping in to assist.  Make due with what you have.
    • -Commands:
      • -/squadinfo
        • -provides the names of all squad members
        • -how much supply each person is carrying
        • -total number of squad members (is seen as a default in squad party)
        • -total supply number carried by squad (is seen as a default in squad party)
      • -/supplyinfo
        • -provides the names of nearby allies not in squad as well as squad members
        • -how much supply each person is carrying
        • -total number of nearby allies and squad members
        • -total supply number carried by nearby allies and squad members
      • -/# and the subgroup number to broadcast a message to them specifically
      • -/d or /squad for sending a message to the entire squad
      • -/subgroup or /sg for your own subgroup
      • -/squadjoin or /sqjoin + "name of commander or player in squad" - a great recommendation for when people have a hard time joining your squad

    Engagement Terminology:

    • -Push
      • -A group moving aggressively to engage a target.
    • -Bomb/Spike
      • -Dropping high damage skills or all skills onto an area or object.
      • -Can be used to take out siege or enemies.
    • -Blast
      • -Any skills that have the Combo Finisher: Blast attribute.
      • -Usually called for AOE heals and stacking might.
      • -Mostly associated with water and fire fields.
    • -Cleave
      • -Melee players attacking the enemies.  
      • -Generally are the frontliners doing this.
      • -Usually used on downed enemies.
    • -CC
      • -Aka Crowd Control.
      • -Can hinder or prevent the enemy from functioning.
      • -Immobilize, cripple, chill, stun, and daze classify as CC.
    • -Cleanse/Purge
      • -Anything that clears conditions.
      • -Generally want it as group cleanses.
      • -Can consist of transferring conditions.
    • -Strip
      • -Removing the boons of enemies.
      • -You don't want this to happen to your group.
    • -Leap
      • -Consists of group members advancing pretty far into the enemy group.
      • -Can be a lot of different skills that are generally in a melee class.
    • -Hold
      • -Standing in the same spot for any type of duration.
      • -Can be used for assessing a situation.
      • -Can be used to repel enemies.
    • -Kite
      • -Moving and attacking at the same time.
      • -Usually performed to avoid enemy damage.
    • -Immob
      • -Used at the beginning of a fight.
      • -Short for immobilize which makes the enemies not move.
    • -Bubble/Winds
      • -Can refer to siege such as catapult #5 or shield gen #
      • -Can refer to a spellbreaker's elite skill.
    • -Reflect
      • -Any skill that generates a reflection of incoming enemies.
    • -Stealth
      • -Renders enemies or allies invisible for a specific length of time.
      • -Can be acquired from SMC if that is available.
    • -Backpedal
      • -Walking backwards.
      • -Generally dropping a lot of damage in front of you as you move.
      • -Not recommended when an enemy force equal or more than you are pushing.

    Other Terminology:

    • -Squad
      • -Players who are joined on you.
      • -Uses the /d chat code to talk in this channel.
      • -Provides info on how much:
        • -supply
        • -players
        • -scouts
      • -Can send commands in various squad group channels.
      • -Can have lieutenants who help organize the squad.
      • -Can have scouts who receive shared participation.
      • -Can make markers for more effective communication.
    • -Pugs
      • -Pick Up Groups
      • -Generally players not in the same guild if you are running a guild group comp.
      • -Most of the time these will squirrel or leave if you get one-pushed.
    • -Tag
      • -What you are running on top of your character.
    • -Supply
      • -WvW currency that is used for building siege and repairing objectives.
    • -PPT
    • -PPK
      • -Points Per Kill
      • -Factored into overall score.
    • -KTrain
      • -Literally go around the map flipping objectives and not responding to any defense calls.
    • -Pick
      • -A group of 2 - 4 players who focus down high-priority targets.
      • -Generally designated by the commander.


    I wish I could tell you that commanding is x, y, z...but it isn't.  It varies from person to person.  There are commanders who look for fights only, the k-trainers, the PPTers, the flipping-stuff-because-why-not, and then the defenders.  The list is more extensive than this, but these are the main types.  The best advice I can give on this is to know what you want.  You want to flip stuff?  Awesome, go do that.  Defending is your forte?  Cool, get it done.  Eventually your play-style will be a known association when people log on the map and see that tag of yours.

    There are numerous ways to learning how to command.  A great way to learn commanding is to follow other commanders.  Sounds silly, I know.  There are some commanders that I'm sure you've seen in action and liked what they did.  Just follow them around for a bit, take notes (physical or mental), and when you feel ready, pop the tag.  Also, don't think you are limited to a certain style when you start out.  Test things out, see what feels right.  Eventually you'll find your groove and start doing what feels natural and fun.  Another way is to shadow a commander.  Usually this occurs inside a guild, but it has happened without that.

    What makes a good commander?  Easy.  Make sure your followers know you have your shit together.  If not, they can sense this and will not be 100% committed to your ideas.  Don't second guess yourself nor your choices.  Stick.  To.  The.  Plan.  You can have so much worriment going on in the back of your head about your choices, but don't let it show.  Avoid asking your group questions of what to do.  This is silly and it will give people a perception of you that you do not want.  You don't have to be a douchebag or be serious 100% of the time.  Crack a few jokes, engage a little with your followers.

    Commanders get this pretty cool ability for marking targets.  They can be placed on objectives, the ground, even players.  Utilizing these can help improve communication during the heat of a battle or even be used as a destination point.  These neat little marks can indicate where to watch for enemies too!

    Alt + 1 - 8 for non-players, Alt + Shift + 1 - 8 for players
    Alt + 9 or Alt + Shift + 9 clears all markers

    Alt + Mouse 1 while looking at the map via 'M' key
    Use Mouse 1 to remove them
    Can only have 1 option at 1 time
    Another tip is to find some reliable or even seasoned players that you can trust.  These guys can be used for organizing your squad by giving them lieutenant permissions.  As a lieutenant, they can help balance the smaller groups inside the squad which help with better sustainability and balance.  They can also invite people, kick people, and even use those nifty marks I mentioned earlier.  The point of having at least one lieutenant is to ensure a better balanced squad while you focus on commanding.

    If you find yourself leading a zerg and you decide you want to ram down a gate, dropping shield gens can help you out.  If you place 3 down before any rams, you can get about 4 - 5 rams before getting the "siege capped" error.  By doing this, it helps you have almost 100% bubble rotation on your rams, thus forcing the enemies to engage outside the objective with you.  Make sure you clear cannons, oil, and any other reachable siege before actually doing this.  If the enemy sees you, the siege can do some damage to your rams and shield gens, thus either wasting supply or destroying completely.  Rams also have a nifty ability for giving nearby allies Iron Hide which reduces incoming damage by 50%.  This is also why you might see people building a ram near the SMC lord.

    If you decide you want to cata some walls (don't cata gates, they do far less damage to them than rams), make sure you build them out of any enemy siege range.  Ballistas can take out a cata in about 2 or 3 hits.  An AC can do a lot of damage to the cata itself as well as the person operating it.  Not to mention that large AoE field an AC creates.  Cannons are just as bad as ACs while mortars and trebs can deal a LOT of damage from a safe distance.  Shield gens help protect your catas, but you need to make sure you build where most if not all enemy siege can hit.  This can go for trebs as well.

    Ballistas, ACs, and shield gens are great for support.  Ballis are great for taking out enemy siege (where it can reach mind you).  ACs are great for taking out enemy siege as well as providing additional AoE coverage.  Shield gens are the bubble protectors of your siege.  If you do use shield gens are limited on people to operate, placing a superior and a regular will provide a decent amount of bubble rotation for 1 person.

    Warclaws are great, but remember not everyone has one.  Keep this in mind when you pop yours and decide to run off somewhere.  You just might lose some of your following because they are slower and might squirrel off.  Gliders can also be a slight problem as well, so lead accordingly.

    Make sure you have enough supply for your future intentions.  No point in dropping siege and you have barely enough to build 1 ram.  Supply can be acquired from camps, flipping enemy towers/keeps, and even your own towers/keeps (don't drain these though to below the threshold).  You can even hop maps or even go to EotM for supply or send people/subgroups to another map to refill on supply.

    In the end, it comes down to brass tacks.  If you want to command, just do it.  If you're excuse is that "I'm not ready", then you never will be.  You just gotta do it.  It's amazing when you get a few followers.  Eventually you gain more.  Try to get some friends to follow you around, or even people from your guild(s).  A little goes a long way.  Aim for flipping objectives and having a good time.  That is probably one of the best ideas to have.  If you are not having a good time, most likely those following you are not either.  As to how you have fun, that's up to you.  There are people who do raffles, sing songs, drink, the possibilities are endless.  One last ditch effort to break that initial ice - try going to EoTM with guildies.  The maps are pretty much dead and it will give you a place to "get your feet wet".  Also, you can work on your group coordination if you want to get a more organized group comp.  If you can lead a group in EoTM and NOT lose someone, you're doing something right.

    Do's and Don'ts

    There are some do's and don'ts of commanding.  Some are more obvious than others.
    • -Don't whine and complain. That gets you nothing and a lot of people who will never follow you again. Also ruins your reputation and possibly banned if you become hostile or vitriolic enough. Those types of cases are when you start using derogatory slang or racial slurs. Just don't do it, use your head.
    • -Know when to call it.  The above points can be a result from overextending yourself or staying way past your normal operating hours.  Worried about the map and about the enemies?  Don't.  You need to keep yourself sane at the end of the day.
    • -Know when you can't fight.  If you have 15 people on you and you come across the enemy zerg of 50+, there is no way in hell you can beat that.  Don't force your followers and yourself to be a bag to the enemies.  
    • -Commit.  Those people who are following you cannot read your mind.  Communicate your intentions.  Sometimes a commander might "fake push" and that works well against disorganized/undisciplined enemy groups.  You need to state that or else you will have people running in and dying, thus dwindling your own group.  If you plan on actually committing, make sure those following you understand.  
    • -Don't push straight into a group.  That's like staring down the receiving end of a loaded gun barrel.  There are SO MANY other ways to engage enemy groups: circle around, hit from the sides, split off if more than 1 group, portal bombs, sand swells, or even pulling them.  These are just as effective if not better.  If there are a lot of enemy marks on the ground, get your revenants to leap into them, popping the marks and clearing the passage.
    • -The statement of "a good defense is a good offense" is pretty accurate.  Listen to callouts in map/team chat.  If there are enemies attacking one of your objectives, attack one of theirs.  It forces the enemies to choose whether flipping your objective or saving theirs.  This is especially true for those enemy objectives that are T3.  
    • -Find reliable scouts.  At this point of the game, trolls have come out to play.  Look for reliable intel sources and establish a good relation.  Hell, invite them to your squad and give shared participation.  Make sure you tell them that you appreciate your work.
    • -Do show appreciation.  If people are calling things out in chats, such as enemy movements or that they are flipping stuff, TELL THEM THANK YOU.  It helps everyone everywhere.  It will keep them doing whatever they're doing which is helping you and the rest of your team.
    • -BE CONFIDENT!  If you'r not confident, it shows and people won't follow you nor listen.  
    Thanks to others chipping in on this document, especially Scrubrazer.