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Introduction to Squads

Published Nov 25, 2022 Updated Jan 3, 2024
Antina meta team
Stand Your Ground!

Leading a squad to success requires communication, knowledge of game mechanics, and skilful decision making. Learn how to use the commander's toolkit to help your groups to achieve their goals.

Introduction

What is a Squad

Okay, so first things first. What even is a Squad? If you ever grouped up with other players, you might be familiar with the concept of parties, small, up to 5 player groups that allow to join some instantiated content like dungeons, home instances or story instances together.

Squads are in a way improved parties, allowing for 10 or even 50 people to join a single group. This limit depends on the player who created the squad or the Commander of that squad.

Why care about squads?

Guild Wars 2 features many types of instantiated content, or in other words, activities which require a special group of 10 or 50 people to engage it. Some of the popular ones are raids and strikes. However squads are also used in open world meta events, World versus World. It's basically a way to group up to 50 people with some extra utilities provided.

Commander of the Pact Squad

Commander is the leader of a squad, sometimes referred to as a Tag. That's because of the icon/tag above their head. By default, Commander's position is also visible on the map.

Some wild commanders on the mini map

As things are implemented, Commander is an account wide game mechanic that has to be unlocked first. To be more precise, commander's toolkit can be unlocked account-wide for for 300 gold and 250 Badges of Honor by purchasing a Commander's Compendium item from a specific NPC.

Tag is not required to start leading squads, but can be useful if start enjoying commanding and want to bring it up a level. Some of the main features that are available only to a Commander include the following:

  • expand a 10-member Raid Squad into a 50-member one, perfect for some bigger events and open world metas
  • manage Squad groups (this is important for e.g. boon distribution)
  • initiate a ready check for all squad members
  • assign Squad Lieutenants
  • place various markers visible only to squad members
  • make squad private (Commander's position will invisible to players that are not in the squad)

This guide assumes that you already have a Commander status and want to put it to good use. If you don't you can always promote your group in Looking For Group (LFG) as one that needs a Commander and ask player to give you Lieutenant role if you wanna organize it. There are many lazy commander there, who'd rather join and pass the mantle than start the group on their own, so give it a go!

Commander's basics

Creating a Squad

Guild Wars 2 features a Party/Squad UI element on the left side of the screen, depending on your personal setup it might be top or bottom left corner.

Party UI when not in a group

This UI is also accessible with a hotkey, by default assigned to P. Go on, have a look at this in game. It's the same widget you might have used in the past for party management. The important part of it is the Create Squad button. By pressing it we create a new Squad and are automatically assigned the Commander role. By default this should be a 50-member squad after creation, but this can be changed with a single click to a 10-member Raid Squad, which is perfect for Raids and Strikes.

You can now right click on other players and invite them to your group by selecting Invite to Squad option from the context menu, similar to Invite to Party. You could also list your squad in Looking For Group (LFG) and let others join you this way. But first let’s learn a bit more about Squads, shall we?

Squad size

You may have noticed that after clicking creating your squad, the UI expanded a bit. It now shows an icon with number 1/50 and a few more. By default a 50-member squad is created. While this is useful for Open World events and some instances, it’s not always what we want.

Let’s focus on Strikes and Raids for a bit, those are game modes that require a team of 10 players, and so we need to change our squad to match this requirement. This can be done by the Commander only and required selecting “Raid Mode (10-Member limit)” checkbox in the squad UI.

Expanded Squad UI as seen by commander

Listing Squad in LFG

To list your Squad in the Looking For Group tool select desired category first, for example Strike Missions, Strike Missions (Experienced). On the bottom of the window you should see a button Advertise Your Group. Remember to always fill in group description to let others know what activity your group is going for and in most cases what Squad roles are needed.

You can remove your group from LFG at any moment - there will be a button Remove group from LFG. just above Advertise Your Group.

When your Squad fills all available spots it will be automatically removed from LFG.

Squad Chat Channel

Squads are unique when it comes to chat channels. We can use a /squad or /d channel to communicate with everyone in our group. We can also use party chat channel /party or /p, but this has an important limitation - it is visible only to people in our subgroup.

If you want to communicate with everyone in the squad use /squad or /d squad channel so you message can be visible to all members!

Subgroups

With parties things are easy, everyone is on equal terms in the same group, up to 5 people at once. However since squads can have 10-member (Raid Mode) or even 50-member limit. Because of that, organization becomes important. Guild Wars 2 is a game where almost all effects that can be shared with allies are limited to 5 people. Because of that in most situation we want to split our squad into smaller groups called subgroups.

The way boons and many effects work is they prioritize Party or Subgroup members, so by diving our Squad into subgroups of 5 we take control of how those effects are distributed. For example we want to provide the two key boons like Quickness and Alacrity to all of our 10 raid members. We should then split the squad into two subgroups and make sure each of them has one player providing Quickness and one Alacrity.

To create a subgroup you can simply drag-and-drop players in the UI. If you drag someone below others it usually creates a new subgroup, denoted by a number on the left side. Below all the green player nameplates you should see empty boxes with dashed border, in a way indicating that you can move your nameplate there. Try it, as you drag and drop your nameplate the subgroup number will change.

Squad with 2 memebers, a Commander and a Lieutenant both palced in subroup 1

Normally everyone can move their own nameplate to another subgroup. While this might be handy for some cases, you can lock subgroups as Commander. Simply check Lock All Subgroups option in the Squad UI. This will allow only you and Lieutenants to move other players between subgroups. Also Lieutenants cannot move you or other Lieutenants.

Ready Check

We got everyone in the squad, subgroups organized, everyone is ready to start that epic encounter... or are they? As gathering players might take a while, some might have gone AFK for a bit. As the Commander you can initiate a Ready Check for everyone in the squad. The game will always assume you as Commander are ready, but for everyone else a popup in the middle of the screen appears. Members who are ready will have a green tick on their nameplates, meanwhile everyone else will have a red cross.

Members of the squad can change their ready check status in the squad UI by opening the menu and clicking I am ready/I am not ready. You can instruct your squad members to press P to change their ready status if they didn't get the popup.

The Commander's Toolkit

Squads are so much more than just big parties. From all the features that they offer here are a few selected ones that every Commander should be aware of.

Lieutenants

Lieutenant is a role in a squad assigned by squad’s Commander. This comes with some basic privileges, the important ones being:

  • moving other squad members between subgroups (that excludes Commander and other Lieutenants)
  • placing squad markers on ground and targets
  • inviting and kicking people from the squad (again, excluding Commander and other Lieutenants)

This function is especially useful if you want to let someone help you out and place markers for others or you’re simply discussing strategy and want to present it in the game world to better communicate. Don’t be afraid to give this to people willing to help out, you will have less on your shoulders.

To assign a Lieutenants role to a squad member simply right click them and select Appoint Lieutenant from the context menu. In a similar way you can demote a Lieutenant to normal squad member role.

Current squad Lieutenants will be denoted by a double V icon before their name in the squad UI.

Commander Tags

Commander icon, also known as commander tag is a special symbol distinguishing a commander from other players. Depending on how you acquired your tag it might a classical icon or one resembling a cat (aka catmander). In both cases this icon can be changed in the Squad UI (bottom right corner) by clicking current tag and selecting a new one.

While color and shape might not matter for most, in certain encounters and situations using tag colors which easily blend with the environment is discouraged. Let’s not forget about visibility and accessibility!

For example picking an orange commander tag in strikes or raids might make it harder to see when the ground is being covered with telegraphs and raid mechanics which are usually between shades of red and orange.

Private Squad

If you don't want your Commander tag position to be broadcasted in the game world to everyone who is not in the squad you can select Private Squad option in the Squad UI.

Squad Markers

There are two types of markers: location (ground) markers and object markers. They can be placed by squad’s Commander and Lieutenants.

In case of both we have 8 different symbols to use ( ), and each of them can be placed only once. In other words, when we try to place the same marker somewhere else, the previous one will be cleared. If we place the same marker on the same spot, it will disappear and that's one way to clear a marker. The other way is using "clear all" keybind, which might not always be desirable.

All available squad markers placed on the ground

Ground markers, or as wiki calls them, location markers, are symbols which can be placed almost anywhere in the game world. You have to point on a valid ground/model in the world or hover over your map and then use the keybind for desired marker.

Object markers can be placed on other players, NPCs, and almost everything that can be targeted. This can be an intractable object, NPC or a player. The marker will stay on that target and move with them, also updating it's position on the map.

Marker symbol Default keybind for (location/ground) Default keybind for (object)
Arrow Alt + 1 Alt + Shift + 1
Circle Alt + 2 Alt + Shift + 2
Heart Alt + 3 Alt + Shift + 3
Square Alt + 4 Alt + Shift + 4
Star Alt + 5 Alt + Shift + 5
Spiral Alt + 6 Alt + Shift + 6
Triangle Alt + 7 Alt + Shift + 7
X Alt + 8 Alt + Shift + 8
Clear all ground markers Alt + 9 Alt + Shift + 9

They can be easily modified in the game settings (Control Options tab -> Squad section).

Both ground markers and object markers are also visible on the map, so you can always glimpse on the mini map to locate a marker.

Tip: Markers can be also placed using map or mini map. This can be handy in some situations where you can't directly see the position you want to mark, for example the boss platform didn't yet reveal itself.

How and when to use markers?

It is up to you, the Commander how and when to use markers. Just remember that they are free and are meant to help in achieving your goals, be it beating the raid bosses or daily infusion runs. Here are some examples how you could use them:

  • marking important positions in encounters
  • splitting squad (subgroup 1 to arrow, subgroup 2 to circle marker)
  • marking hard to see interactables like chests in open world events
  • marking out important interactables like Portable United Legions Waystation
  • marking enemy players to target by whole squad in WvW
  • someone in your squad has a special role and you want them to be easily seen by other members (e.g. tank in a raid)

Other Squads in the LFG

There is a small detail about the tag's color in the LFG listings. If it’s your own squad - it will be green, For squads of people from your friends list it will be blue. Lastly, squad icons led by Commanders from your guild will be yellow. This is visible only in the LFG listing window.

Commander's map is full!

A few patches ago we got an interesting update to the LFG tool, if Commander's map instance is full, it will display a small exclamation mark on the listing. If you mouse over it will explain itself.

Do not fret - in recent update to the game a queue system has been added, which is a similar one to WvW map queues.

Squads without a commander

Squads created without a Commander have a lot of limitations, being in practice closer to 10-member party than a squad described in this guide. That's why you generally want to have someone “tag up” just to enable squad features, even if they don’t want to lead the group. A Commander can assign Lieutenants to do handle most of the work like organizing sub-groups and placing markers.

UI when in a Squad without a Commander

When you join a squad without a Commander, but you yourself have unlocked this game mechanic, the squad UI will have a button titled Command Squad. This lets you take over the squad so you can help your fellow gamers in organizing the group or assign some Lieutenants.

Squads without a Commander will have no icon in the LFG listings and when you hover over one of those squads (in the LFG window) it will say "No commander".

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