One mechanic that Dark Age of Camelot worked out for Realm vs. Realm combat that Guild Wars 2 has yet to meaningfully attempt in World vs. World combat is providing a reason for the two #2 and #3 servers to both attack the winning team, rather than having the #1 and #2 servers attack the weakest team. Rarely, out-of-game efforts will lead to two Davids’ conspiring against Goliath, but this is rare because the reward structure incentivizes picking on the weak rather than challenging the strong.
The theory of having three realms is that the stronger server should not be able to fight both at once, and if it is ahead it will be defending against attacks from both. Because of the symmetry in WvW, taking a keep from the strongest opponent is worth just as much as taking it from the weakest opponent. There are no diminishing returns and no reason to fight a strong server when you can prey on a weaker server. Therefore, the reality of having three realms is frequently that the two stronger servers fight over the easy points available in the weakest server’s territory.
Being the #3 server in WvW is often like being Poland in between Germany and Russia in World War II. You do not want to be Poland in World War II.
WvW used to have Orbs of Power that were cribbed pretty directly from DAoC’s relics. You can even see where they used to be in the borderlands, and they made the borderlands more meaningful in the overall fight in a way that ruins have not. If a team was winning, it would go claim relics. That made it a target for the other realms, which wanted their relics back and wanted to get the bonus for claiming the others. If you are the #2 realm, there is profit in attacking the #1 realm but not the #3 realm, which already lost its relic. (You keep this from turning into “pile on #2″ by requiring that you reclaim your own relic before you can take another realm’s, so #3 cannot try to ninja #2′s relic.)
Guild Wars 2 found two problems with trying to copy an existing solution. First, the GW2 implementation created a “winner take all” situation where stronger servers became even stronger. Other games have solved this in a variety of ways, such as awarding the bonuses in PvE but not PvP/WvW or making the orbs valuable for points but less so as a buff. Guild Wars 2 instead just took them out, creating the similarly severe “winner take all” situation described above wherein there is no incentive to take the battle to the winning team. If the fight can move out of the #3 server’s territory, the #3 server’s incentive is still to fight the weaker opponent, thereby moving the battle into #2′s territory.
The other problem is that the orbs were magnets for hackers and cheaters. Rather than take advantage of this and/or patch the cheats, Guild Wars 2 instead surrendered, apparently not confident that they would win that fight. WvW is still subject to cheating and hacking, such as targeting siege weapons through walls or flying over keep walls, but no one seems as outraged about that as they were when speedhackers ran orbs across the map in less than a minute, so problem solved. If you cannot prevent hacking, you can help the hackers hide it so it does not drive away customers.
“Orbs or some similar mechanic may return in the future, but only if we’re confident that they won’t create similar issues.” But that has been a lower priority than adding WvW ranks and abilities, adding more abilities, revamping ranks, revamping WvW achievements, adding ruins, putting Living World events in WvW zones, adding another WvW zone, revamping the WvW menu, running a WvW season, and running a WvW tourney.