I’ll admit, this topic was sparked as a result of Tam’s post, Cowslip Warren. I’m not trying to point fingers here, or assign motives, or even talk about anyone’s specific issues. I am also not trying to write this as some sort of how-to for anyone in particular. I trust that we’re all more or less big kids here. This is just something I have noticed in general over the years, mostly from my vantage point as neurotic person who checks the guild log first thing upon logging in to see what – if anything – has happened. Disclaimers out of the way, I thought this was an interesting topic and wanted to expand on it in ways that didn’t seem appropriate for Tam’s comment section.
So you’re playing WoW. You want to be part of a guild, right? Maybe. Guilds are useful in their ways for various things and there are many different sorts of guilds out there. As someone looking to find a guild to join, the first thing you need to determine is what you want in a guild.
There are a lot of factors and it’s possible that you might not be able to meet each preference in a single guild, so it’s important to prioritize and to know which factors are most meaningful to you.
Some examples of factors are:
- Raiding guild/leveling (or social) guild/PvP guild/RP guild/or multiple combinations of these
- Hard core versus casual – to be layered with the guild types above for even more combinations
- 10-man raiding versus 25-man raiding versus both
- Size of the guild – large, medium or small
- Guild ideals – this is harder to pin down than most others, but a solid guild should have some sort of mission statement or bylaws about behavior that is welcome and behavior that isn’t
- There are very likely others I am not thinking of, but you get the notion.
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to take what I want out of a guild as an example. A guild for me should be social but with a serious raiding component. There should be no tolerance for racism, sexism or any other discriminatory -ism’s out there. I prefer Alliance but would faction transfer if the right guild seemed to be Horde-side. Raiding is raiding, 10 and 25 are both viable paths although I do have a slight preference towards 10-man. Guild size doesn’t matter to me as long as there are enough dedicated players to make raiding happen on a regular basis.
Hey, what do you know? I have my dream guild in WWAB. Duh. I’ve had the opportunity to work towards those goals for several years now. There are certainly drawbacks to having this particular flavor of guild, such as having very few extra raiders for those times when part of the core team have gone on vacation. The smallness also leads to interesting intra-personal issues as something that affects one person can end up hitting everyone since we all have our various ties and relationships within the general framework of our ranking strata. This means that drama can sometimes get a bit out of hand – but at the same time, because we’re reasonably tolerant and forgiving people, sometimes drama can be avoided altogether by back-door dealings wherein I might be appraised of a situation that’s brewing and get a chance to address it before it becomes a Big Thing.
By and large, though, I have my needs met and can be flexible on several factors if they happen to change or need to change for whatever reason.
WWAB FOR LIEF!!11!
Having been in WWAB for several years now, I have also had the opportunity to meet and sort of collect like-minded people. I think most people in my officer core – and even in the core of members- would present a similar list if asked. There’s a reason we’re in WWAB and it’s not because we raid, have a ‘coll tabberd’ and bank tabs. It’s because we have all individually sought the same basic factors in a guild, whether it was done on purpose or not.
Stupid, emotional drama aside, if a person leaves WWAB it tends to be because one of those factors that are important to them just isn’t as important to the guild as a collective whole and so they move elsewhere to find a guild that does believe in running battlegrounds every weekend or who is working on 25-man ICC hardmodes. Sometimes it takes people a little trial and error to discover which factors are the most important to them, but when they do find out, they’ll naturally seek some place that will fulfill those requirements for a guild.
I believe everyone should be in a guild that fulfills their basic requirements and where they can be content most of the time. There will always be little things, but when it comes to interacting with other people, there always are and it’s a basic human need to be able to accurately judge for oneself when some little things can be overlooked and when they can’t. Ultimately, WoW is a game and I just don’t believe anyone should be miserable when playing a game. Although if your goal is to be in a guild that is getting server first kills and you want the experience to be all sunshine and roses and solicitous pats on the head every time you screw up, you might find that the two aren’t necessarily mutually compatible. At least not on my server, they’re not.
Finding a great guild is too hard – I’ll start one myself
I’ve seen this quite a bit from people who have left WWAB. They don’t like how something was handled and they decide they can do it better if they are the GM of their own guild and off they go. I have yet to see one of these experiments end well.
This is not because WWAB is perfect or I and my officers have all the answers. But I do think many people get into guild leadership being completely naive about the whole thing. The last guild started by disenchanted ex-members of WWAB was started on the basis that they hated us and they were better raiders. That’s really not much of a basis for anything other than a brief mob-like revolt. That guild lasted a short while and then many of the people quit the game altogether, found new guilds or server transferred. A very few came back to us, apologetic and shame-faced at having listened to the emotional hype. One guy in particular bounced around a bit but eventually came back to us because he found that he valued our ideals and atmosphere more than he valued being a hardcore raider.
At and I were definitely naive when he took over the GM position of WWAB with me standing behind him. Fortunately, we were far from interested in raiding. Everyone just wanted to hang out, have a good time, get to 60 70 and occasionally make some dirty jokes. In your endo.
Things were pretty chill for a long time. It wasn’t until we decided to give raiding a shot that any sort of real drama entered the picture. Suddenly it mattered the hell of a lot more that we helped people get to 70 and then they pulled their mains for greener pastures. Suddenly we were getting other players who had raided before but who were unguilded now and willing to mess around in Kara with us. Little did we know that they were unguilded for a reason – they were as dramatic as any toddler you’ve ever seen who has just been told he can’t have a cookie before dinner.
I am not going to get into excruciating details here; suffice it to say that we were baptized in fire numerous times – often over the same issues – as we trial and error-ed our way to the mostly happy medium we have today between being casual and being serious about raiding. I have no doubt that other trials await us in the future. There have been a lot of times over the years when I wanted to throw in the towel, to quit the guild and go home to play by myself without the headaches and the utter bullshit that goes along with guild leadership.
If I could turn back time
If I had the opportunity to go back and do it again, I would do a lot of things very differently.
The number one lesson I have learned is that it’s vital to have a solid framework in place before anything else happens. Even then, things won’t be seamless, but it will help to have a solid foundation. What a guild’s framework looks like is up to what sort of guild they are trying to be. For example, if you’re wanting to start a hardcore raiding guild, you’re very likely to have a lot of rules about raiding to detail what is expected of your raiders. You’re also very likely to have punishments for anyone not meeting the requirements. I have a friend who was kicked out of the server’s number one raiding guild because he went on a ski holiday and missed a few raids one week. The guild knew of the vacation but they were so relentless about their attendance rules, they kicked him anyway.
Our rules for raiding are certainly a lot more serious and with more repercussions tied into them than the rules that govern general guild behavior are. But we’re not even remotely close to being as strict as the top guild on our server. Not by miles.
And while I admit there’s a certain amount of distastefulness to imposing rules onto a game, the fact of the matter is that they do help to nip drama in the bud and people do need to know what to expect from guild leadership if X, Y or Z happens.
If your guild is set up without much of a structure and the reaction to an issue one day is wildly different than the reaction to the exact same issue on another day, you’re looking at a recipe for drama, disaster and desertion (oh, you like it when I’m alliterative, I know you do). The fact is, having a framework of rules protects both leadership and non-leadership from a lot of backlash and chaos. Leadership should know exactly how to react when something comes up and will be bound by their own rules to react the same way regardless of whether the person at the center of the issue is their friend or someone to whom they are completely apathetic.
The other thing I would do very differently if I could, would be to screen potential raiders a lot more closely. I’m not certain that I would go to an application, although I can see where those have merit. Right now, because we’re deliberately not actively recruiting, I do have the leisure to get to know people within the guild before they end up in a progression raid. This is mostly done through our weekly raiding, where it’s easy to tell if a person who wants to raid has any practical experience with raiding at all. Chances are good that if they walk into Ulduar and admit that they have no idea how to operate any of the vehicles, they’re not going to know any more about ToC, let alone ICC. Gear is another great indicator. You know those guys who are rocking five pieces of t9 on their mains and every other epic they have is BoE or badge-bought? Yeah. They don’t even have a clue about Naxx.
A lack of gear from raiding clearly doesn’t always mean that the player is going to suck hardcore at new content, but knowing that I am heading into a raid with someone who hasn’t raided yet allows me to study them a bit more closely than I otherwise might. Are they slow to pick up on what to do with the bare-bones explanations we give before fights that we know we can faceroll even with a few DPS on the floor? Are they always lagging just a bit behind everyone else in everything, from getting into Vent, buffing, saying they are ready come a ready check, or even just moving as a fight demands? Yes? Then they need some help before heading into progression raids, no matter how nice their purchased gear is.
How about the flip side of that? Forget the raiding noobs, because raiding can be learned and relatively quickly. In fact, I would rather have noobs trained in the Alas-method-of-Raid-Leading than to bring in a Kingslayer who is arrogant as fuck because they’ve seen content we’re still working towards. Even the nicest people can become assholes when they think they know something you don’t. We’ve been fortunate this expansion in not getting too much of that, but I totally gkicked a guy towards the beginning of the expansion, mostly for being an asshole in raids and partially because we were able to pin bank theft on him.
In short, I am discriminatory about who can be in the guild because I have no tolerance for crass jerks, but in raids I have learned to step that up even more to keep the raiding scene as pleasant as it can be. The last thing our guild needs is someone telling everyone they suck and need to stop being such noobs when we’re learning a fight and wiping on it. We don’t have people who respond well to blame being thrown around in an abrasive manner and I don’t believe we should be tearing each down when we’re trying to work together towards a common goal.
The wall of text! It makes my eyes bleed!
Let me bring this all back together for you. Wake up now! This is the nice summary. If you’re looking for a guild, know what is important to you. Interview any guild you’re interested in to make sure they seem to line up with your objectives. After all, you’re there to help them just as much as they are there to provide benefits to you.
If you ever do get a wild notion to start your own guild, squash that notion like a filthy, disease-ridden bug and then sit on it for a good long while. Take the time to refine your own thinking about a structure that would easily support your goals and then refine it some more. Seek out like-minded people (although poaching is generally frowned upon so I don’t recommend that) and get them involved in working towards the same goal. One of them might even be better suited to be a GM than you are. Don’t get caught up in thinking it’s glorious because it usually just sucks sweaty goat balls and you’ll often have to actively look out for the rewarding aspects of the job.
Above all else, if you do start a guild, make sure it has a totally sweet name and tabard and some bank tabs.