How are your server’s WvW match-ups? Ours have been dramatically one-sided, with one server wiping the floor with the other two. This week, we are the victors; last week, a different server held 75% of the map consistently.
I am told that one of our competing servers had an exodus last weekend, with a major guild or seven leaving Eredon Terrace. (There are stories about what happened, but never trust Us when they tell you what is wrong with Them.) Numbers disparities are hard to overcome, and once your server is losing that badly, people stop trying. You cannot build the momentum to get past your own gates, while people flock to the winning team. The winning server has a long queue for WvW and your WvW team is half-full at best.
Bandwagons are a problem that will continue as long as free transfers are available (to more populous servers). People generally want to be on the winning team. Without server transfers, this just means that people are more likely to hit B and join WvW if they are ahead. With server transfers, people leave losing servers and join winning servers. Any swings are exaggerated by immigration.
The periodic switch of WvW trios would help reduce this without server transfers. The general scheme is solid, in that the server tiers should form themselves over time. If this week’s top three servers face each other next week, and so on for each trio, water should find its level by the end of the year. The system tends towards equilibrium. With rampant immigration, swings are exaggerated and you should expect more lurching than settling. In the long run, I would expect immigration to die down just because people establish roots on servers, with fewer people willing to join bandwagons, but I have no idea how long that run is. It certainly feels long enough for the reputation of WvW to form before WvW settles into its stable pattern.
Leaving aside immigration, I fully understand the impulse not to hit B when you are losing. If there are 50 of us, 100 of them, and they have full supply plus upgrades and siege weapons, I can do something else until WvW resets in a week or two. I have no incentive to dive under a falling axe.
The other side of that equation does a bit of self-balancing. If you are losing, only fools and the hardcore will WvW. Your average player will be better as the casuals drop out. If you are winning, casual WvWers flock. People take up WvW slots to visit the camps and work on their 100% map completion. People farm PvE and crafting materials. The queue is long and entry is random, so elite groups have more trouble forming. Your zerg is always full, but your zerg is about all you have. Serious WvW people on the winning team are likely to get bored and do something else. Given enough time, this would work to the benefit of the losing teams, but there is that WvW reset.
Numbers are hard to overcome. Returning to migrations, you should expect higher population servers to do better in WvW just because they can keep 100 bodies in each of the battlefields. Even if your average player is more casual, if you have 33% more players, the weight of bodies can crush a lot of good plans. Your group of five elite PvP players can take on five times their number, but they cannot do so all across the map with only one supply camp to draw on. You can win lots of battles, but the zerg can carry the war, especially if it can follow simple instructions from a competent commander.
People want to be on the winning server. The high population servers win more often. This creates a self-sustaining process whereby a few early winners get cemented as high population servers and the top WvW servers.
I am seeing this from a high population server. How is it going in more sparsely populated lands? I imagine that high and low population servers are seeing the biggest swings, while there is some settling in the middle. People do not flock to the #25 WvW server, even if that means they are winning the 9th bracket. On low population servers, minor swings in population numbers will probably have big effects, so standings are chaotic when adding two WvW groups lets someone sweep a side of the map. I imagine (but have no evidence) that middling servers have short WvW queues if any and that their prime times hover below full, so you see surges but they balance out unless one server sweeps the match so much that people stop hitting B.
I also imagine that occasionally a serious WvW guild will abandon a high population server, tired of queues, zergs, drama, etc. They will pick a middling-low server and utterly dominate for a month or three as it rises through the ranks, and you will start to see a bandwagon effect as more people on that server hit B and people on other servers don’t bother to fight [guild x]. If server transfers to less populous servers remain free, you might see cycles of that as WvW-focused guilds “claim” their own servers. That then becomes an interesting managerial challenge of herding cats rather than just fielding one elite WvW group. It takes a different set of skills to manage large groups than to execute excellent tactics.
I’m still looking forward to seeing how WvW sifts out over time. It is fun to be in a roughly even fight where tactics and maneuvers can matter. It is sometimes fun to be the wolves amongst sheep, but you run out of sheep because it is not fun to be one of the sheep. But the sheep refresh every couple of weeks when new trios are set and hope springs eternal that the new server is fellow sheep rather than a wolfpack.