For Isle of Janthir (NA Silver), this is one of the three weeks of Season One when we are not pitted against the Big Two of Fort Aspenwood or Stormbluff Isle. We are, however, again pitted against #3 (Yak’s Bend) and doing so with a population that has been beaten down by pre-season transfers and guaranteed losses.
All three of our relatively easy weeks pit us against North Shiverpeaks. This is potentially one of the more interesting competitions in NA Silver because we are unarguably the #8 and #9 servers in the league, but it remains an open question which is #9. North Shiverpeaks beat Isle of Janthir in Week One, and Isle of Janthir is ahead as I post this. Given that neither server has much chance to beat any other server in NA Silver, the competition for last place is best two of three, with Week Seven being that tiebreaker.
The potential interest of that competition is lowered because Yak’s Bend can pick which server loses by more. It is a given that neither server can challenge Yak’s Bend in terms of points per turn, which is to say in terms of WvW population and time zone coverage. I cannot imagine that there is a consensus on Yak’s Bend of which server to hit more, so whichever happens to garner the big server’s attention will probably have a lower score. Ironically, I expect that to be the server that tries harder in WvW. If no one shows up, you quickly sweep the map and move on. It is boring to take unmanned keeps (PvD) or to have 30 people camping a spawn versus 10 trying to get out. (Which is not to say that YB did not do that this weekend…) If there are good fights and more than token opposition, the zerg stays in that borderland or corner of the Eternal Battlegrounds, and then the less populated server quietly retakes its undefended territory. Or maybe you always go for easier prey. I could be wrong, but WvW players usually seem more interested in bags than strategy.
I was playing outside NA prime time, and Yak’s Bend was fielding a WvW population that outnumbered both servers at the same time. I could not see how it looked from North Shiverpeaks, but all four maps were heavily blue. At a rough count of the main forces, we were outnumbered two-to-one in our borderlands and three-to-one in the Eternal Battlegrounds, and that was while Yak’s Bend was still holding the other two borderlands and the formerly green corner of EB. I forget whether we had the Outnumbered buff in our borderlands, but we did in EB. (Checking last night: Outnumbered in our own borderlands.)
This presents another irony: if the other opposing server were bigger, we would be doing better. Neither North Shiverpeaks nor Isle of Janthir presents enough of a threat to create an opening for the other. Replace either with one of the more middling teams in NA Silver and Yak’s Bend does not have enough population to hold all four maps at once. They cannot spare 30 people to camp a spawn. With someone hitting them on the other side, we would have breathing room to retake a bit of territory and stay in the fight.
As it is, Season One has taught IoJ’s less-than-hardcore WvWers not to bother. We are below the critical mass necessary to do much but roam and take small, undefended objectives. (Even lightly defended objectives in enemy territory are dodgy when one scout can call in an undefeatable horde.) At that point, low population becomes a self-sustaining equilibrium: enter WvW, get rolled by at least two-to-one numbers a few times, go back to PvE. At peak times, we might field a decent number while the enemy is limited by queues, but we have no realistic chance of fighting the main enemy force with anything approaching even numbers. We do not have enough bodies to form a “blob” if we wanted to. That is the other side of the uneven matchups: were it closer, it would be easier to drum up enthusiasm and keep the match close.
Besides, the less WvW-focused players completed their Season One PvE in WvW achievements already or can wait for the easier week ahead, and the reward for last place is exactly the same as the reward for next-to-last or fifth place. You will still hear contingents saying they are there for the fights rather than the rewards, but how often do you get a good fight with large population disparities? Occasionally your group might find a fight that is not a blowout, but mostly you are fighting doors or running from a blob of two to six times your number.
This concludes the weekend coverage of WvW Season One from the bottom of NA Silver.