This week we had some disagreement within our guild, and as a result some people left. These things are inevitable and are not always a bad thing. The discussions that surrounded the event made me think about the way that I define my casual guild.
A lot of people define a casual guild as simply one that doesn’t raid a lot, or has priorities other than raiding. Some focus on the lack of attendance, gear, and spec requirements. Others callously define it as a guild where the noobs and bad players end up.
To me, a casual guild places fun in the game above such things as rapid progression and raid success. Its possible to have both, but where there are choices we err on the side of maximizing fun for the most people.
Here are the things that I value in my guild:
- Inclusion… no one likes to be left out. To tell someone, “you can be in the guild, but you can’t raid with us” is not what a game should be about. In our raids, anyone who is level 80 can be included. If that reduces our dps so that we can’t get Thaddius down, then that’s the breaks. We’ll do better next week when we have better gear. Thaddius will still be there. There are a few necessary exceptions to this – we can’t bring a tank in greens and quest blues to Patchwerk. However, we will make every effort to get that tank in raids where he can perform in order to get him gear.
- It should feel safe from the a$$holes that play WoW. There are WAAAAYYYY too many people in the game who have superiority complexes and feel like they can insult and belittle others at their whim. There is no place for that in a casual guild. Here’s my example from last week…. we were in 25-man Obsidian Sanctum, trying it for the first time with a drake up. Some people kept getting hit by the lava waves. One of our players (who left the next day) kept typing into chat about “this shouldn’t be so hard” and “this is raiding 101” and “why do we have people like this in the raid.” We eventually killed the drake and took down Sartharion alone. But the mood of the raid was pretty negative. A lot of people felt insulted and annoyed at that guy’s attitude. (I will also point out here that he died in a lava wave on our final attempt) A casual guild should be tolerant of people’s mistakes and work to correct them rather than belittle them.
- Fair… particularly with loot. Our EPGP system is set up so that people have a shot at loot in their first or second raid. Why would someone raid if they have no chance at any loot? We also work to make sure that loot is spread around as much as possible. Everyone should benefit from the spoils. Getting gear is a huge part of the fun of the game.
- Friendliness… I can recall people being invited into the guild, and immediately we could tell that they wouldn’t last. You can tell by their conversation in guild chat. Are they harshly critical? Sarcastic, but not in a funny way? Do they boast about their own exploits rather than the group/raid/guild accomplishments? Swear a lot for no good reason? (I know, there are a lot of guilds where swearing in guild chat is OK, but I personally find swearing in regular conversation to be a character flaw. Its one thing to swear when angry or excited, but when its in every other sentence…) If these things happen, then that person will eventually insult or annoy someone else and cause internal friction. That’s no good.
- Tolerance… we have a ret paladin in our guild who is in mostly level 80 epics and still only does about 1000 dps. We have a mage who is similar. It is important not to exclude them from runs. Ideally, the guild will have someone who can analyze their combat logs with Recount or WWS and offer advice. Underperforming players will improve in time with patience and experience.
Some people are reading and thinking that this can’t work. That the raids must be filled with terrible players and we must fail a lot. Honestly its not true. We have cleared 10-max Naxx and most of 25-man Naxx. However, when erring on the side of inclusion and friendliness there are a few things that must happen to raid succesfully…
- We need to outgear the encounters… since we inevitably have players who are undergeared in the raid, the core players have to be overgeared to carry them. That slows our progression because we have to wait for gear to build up. We wind up with a group of players who pull the rest of the guild along at times. But it allows the guild leaders to make the game more fun for those who don’t have the time to grind for gear.
- We need to have many more players than we need… since we have no attendance requirements, we always have people who don’t show up for scheduled raids. That’s rude, and we do have one-on-one talks with those people the next time they log on, but its inevitable. Thus, to run a 25-man raid we really need to have 30 or so raiders who are typically online on a raid night.
- The guild should be active in doing what activities are available… if the guild only has enough online for 5-mans then we do 5-mans. When we have enough for 10-man OS then we try to do that. A guild that does nothing but provide green chat text for a bunch of solo players won’t build any sense of teamwork.
- There should be a reward for playing… when we have too many people sign up for a 25-man raid, we still award Effort Points (in EPGP) to those who are online but were left out of the raid. Thus we reward players for showing up on raid nights even if the numbers kept then out.
One of my jobs as guild leader is to make sure that everyone is aware of the guild’s priorities. In our case, we had invited a bunch of real-life friends who all went to the same college together. They are nice guys, but not a real good fit with our philosophy. After a while of raiding with us, some of them wanted to impose gear requirements for raids and exclude certain underperforming players from raiding.
Remember that I said that I wanted to maximize the fun for the most people. While having faster progression and efficient raids would have made the game more fun for that group, it would have taken the fun away completely for others. That was not a trade I was willing to make. Thus, that group of players left to form their own guild.
Another aspect of this line of thought… to maintain a casual guild, the guild leader cannot make changes to cater to mini-groups within the guild. Set your philosophies and stick with them. A lot of casual guild leaders want to do anything they can to keep people from leaving. It usually backfires. If you change your core principles, while it will mollify some it will anger others. If people leave, its because your guild wasn’t what they were looking for. There is no personal insult inherent in that. For the people who left my guild, I hope they do well.
Every casual guild is different. I think that mine is working well. I have had numerous people tell me that my guild is the best guild they have ever been in – a mix of casual atmosphere but competent play. Sometimes its a struggle. It takes a teacher’s or mentor’s mindset – wanting to help people and provide fun for others rather than just play selfishly for yourself. Its worth it.