My guild is the epitome of a casual guild. We have no application to join, no spec requirements or class leaders, no raid sign-up system. We have raid nights with loosely scheduled start times, but only one 10-man and one 25-man raid per week.
Guild like this can easily get “stuck” where they are not progressing. This is often obvious, such as when the guild only runs Karazhan over and over and over and over…
We are in a more subtle kind of “stuck”. We are actually trying a variety of new content – TK, Magtheridon, ZA, SSC. Members feel generally happy about the way things are going. No one is complaining. Unfortunately, we are not making any real progress.
Why does this happen? Here are a few of problems…
Difficulty in finding 25 people. On raid night when the approximate start time comes around, we typically have about 18 raiders online. Then we have a waiting game, as we sit around hoping more will log on. As the raid slowly fills up, we get impatient and invite undergeared or underexperienced players just to get the raid filled. Now we are setting ourself up for failure, having perhaps a poor mix of classes or maybe poor performers in key roles. Yes, the raid starts, and it feels nice to see new stuff, but we have no real chance at success.
Inability or hesitance to critique performance of weak links. Every guild has some players who are not very good at the game, or not very good at their class, or unable to follow directions. Even our server’s Sunwell-clearing guild has some mediocre players in it. In a strong raiding guild these players are critiqued and guided toward improvement. If the player can’t take constructive criticism, then they leave the guild or get kicked. In our situation, we cannot afford to have people leave the guild, because we barely have enough for our 25-man raids as it is. So we tolerate the weak links and try to drop hints. Maybe they take the hint and improve. Maybe not.
Attrition of the better players. This hasn’t been too much of a problem for us lately. It happens when the guild is stuck, and a player who wants to see more content gets impatient. Rather than waiting it out, he leaves for a more progressed guild. We had one player do this – actually the main tank from our partner guild. Fortunately, his new guild doesn’t raid on the same night that we do, so he will still come tank for our raids. Still – we worry all the time that we will lose our top players to more advanced guilds. We’ve been lucky so far.
Lack of Organization. I love when guilds use raid sign-up systems like add-ons or web-based calendars. Most casual guilds can try it, but can’t really enforce it. A long time ago we tried making a rule that you wouldn’t be invited to Karazhan unless you signed up in advance. What a flop. Even with that rule in place, only a few people signed up, and then we had no choice but to invite those who hadn’t signed up. Thus, the rule failed. Without a system like that in place, we can never tell in advance who is going to raid, or even what kind of class balance we’ll have.
Loot Greed. Your typical casual guild doesn’t raid very often. As a result, the opportunities for drops are not frequent. For example, if I ever see the Dragonspine Trophy drop from Gruul (still hasn’t happened) and I don’t get it, I know it might be weeks before we get back around to Gruul’s Lair, and then its unlikely to drop a second time. Knowing this, there is a tendency to be greedy, and arguments can start over drops. We have run into this a couple of times and – so far – the matter has been settled without anyone quitting.
Altitis. One of the common qualities of casual players is that they play a lot of alts. In my guild, our players often prefer to level an alt rather than run Steamvault for the 20th time to get Cenarion rep. In doing this, they are missing an opportunity to get rep gear and improve a raiding toon. At least in my guild their alts are known. Its even worse when the players intentionally keep their alts out of the guild and don’t let on their identities. Then its like they are hiding from the guild.
Boredom. Many casual guilds don’t do a lot of runs on a nightly basis. This can lead to boring nights of sitting around in Shattrath waiting for something to happen. A person who wants to run every night would certainly be tempted to look elsewhere if they couldn’t get guild runs going.
Through all of these obstacles, my guild is still chugging along. In another post I’ll relate how I deal with all of these.