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The Nature of Guild Disagreements: the Young and the Restless

April 12, 2011

Dear Reader,

We are venturing to the end of the line, today.  The final guild conflict I’ve worked with rests below, along with the guild, which, like the first, didn’t really survive.  Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising since a good chunk of this new guild was, in fact, remnants of the first guild that had come back together, three years later, on another server, to give it another whirl.

While you, dear reader, might think that the same people would face the same problems that would cause the same collapse, very little happened the second time around that was similar to the first.  For one, the officer who tried the diplomatic approach in part 1 was now the Guild Master.  He was a much firmer hand and made decisions easily (not always rightly, but the same is true for all leaders).  Also, the guild was entirely made of top raiders who knew each other from previous raiding experience and had got on well; there was no disrespectful guild bully.  Things seemed extremely promising.

The Story:

Things turned out to have been, in fact, very promising.  The guild was full of people who liked to PvP and/or PvE.  There was a hefty amount of overlap, too, so no one would be “forced” into doing anything they didn’t like.  In our first few weeks, we leveled, geared, and downed a raid boss (it was Conclave, sure, but still…).   Simultaneously, we had the top ranked rated battleground group on our server and several of the top PvPers, too.

Things were flying high.  The GM knew he couldn’t manage everything and was wise enough to delegate.  He made officers for raiding, officers for PvP’ing, and officers for recruiting.  Each had a specific job, and the ranks meant something.

Mid-January came and college started back up, and things started to go to pot.  Several of the raiders disappeared; they had computer problems or Internet problems or simply didn’t have the time.  We started shopping around for recruits and in the meantime asked for some help from the PvP’ers.  While no one had ever been forced to PvP against their will, some of the PvE’ers had lent a hand on those hard-to-fill 15 v 15 weeks before that was phased out.  We expected some reciprocity, but found none.  Fine, though, we weren’t going to force anyone to raid against their will.  We’d just recruit.

There were no recruits.  None.  Guild experience was a terrible idea on Blizz’s part because it locks people into their guild unless they’re willing to give up all the work they’ve done to leave.  No one was.  We watched for guilds disintegrating to scoop up their leftovers, but none was doing so faster than our own.

My buddy and I knew that the “top raiders” in our guild weren’t going to sit idly by forever.  They wanted to raid.  We’d been in the three top guilds on our server for a week or two while others were still trying to down their first boss, and they wanted to stay at that level.  There were simply no recruits, and no one from the PvP side was willing to help.

People who’d been PvP’ing but cared more about PvE started getting hostile, and little spats broke out when those people started to refuse to PvP.  A lot of the officers were working hard to keep the peace as it became clear that we no longer had a PvE guild at all, but only a PvP one.

We kept recruiting.  Far beyond just the recruiting officer spammed every chat we thought we should to no avail.  Then, the first “top raider” left.  I truly didn’t blame him.  The promise that was made was that he’d be raiding with quality raiders, and he wasn’t being given that opportunity.  He, of course, began the avalanche that irreparably damaged the PvE part of the guild.  As far as I know, the PvP part still exists.

The Analysis:

A lot of people said you can’t have a PvP and a PvE guild, that you have to focus on one or the other.  I didn’t believe it then, and, honestly, I still don’t believe it now.  I assume their argument lies in the fact that there’s only so much time you can put into the game, but even as a Part-Core gamer, I found time to do both pretty dedicatedly.  Sure, if you want to be one of the top in either category, you might not be able to split your time, but to just do both well, I feel, is possible.

However, I have to acknowledge the fact they may be right; perhaps you can’t mix PvE and PvP guilds.  It certainly could be one of the reasons this guild half-failed.  I believe, though, that there were two separate errors made in this guild that, alone, wouldn’t have been a problem, but together, were.

First, the guild didn’t recruit early enough.  This guild should have been forming ranks before 4.0.1 came out; instead, they waited for Cataclysm.  They thought that the players who came back for the expansion, who’d been tired of the old material because they’d “finished” it, would be primary candidates for our guild.  Instead, those players came back before the expansion to reintroduce themselves to the game and were already nestled in guilds before the expansion came out.

I don’t blame anyone for making this “mistake;” hindsight, after all, is 20/20, and I don’t know if I would have done things any differently.  I was still in my previous guild at the time, trying to make things work, and couldn’t have effected any change anyway.

The second error that was made (and I blame Blizzard mostly for this one) was the timing of the expansion.  They released it over Christmas break to maximize play time and profits.  From a business perspective, it was a great choice, I’m sure.  From a guild perspective, it set up unrealistic expectations about people’s time.  The fact was that our raiders weren’t going to have the time we thought they’d have after about six weeks, so we lost a few raiders to that.

On top of those losses, we lost raiders to technology problems, whether they were real or imagined.  This goes back to the first error, that we needed to have done more recruiting.  If we’d had more raiders to start with, none of this would have mattered, but unfortunately, we tried to do too little, too late.

The Takeaway:

Another blogger a month or two ago (I think it was Blessing of Kings) said that you should fill raid spots before they need filling.  If we’d done that, all of this might have had a happy ending.  Instead, I found myself guildless again, frustrated with the outcome, and sickened by the dé ja vu.

So that, then, is my first piece of advice (though hardly original).  Have more raiders than you need.  The problem, of course, is how to keep them if they’re not getting to raid, but frequently alts and casual players can fill a second raid until a sweet spot with the A team opens up.

Secondly, start your schedules with realistic ideas of how much time people can give.  Even if people keep showing up when they don’t really have time, you’re going to eventually lose them from burnout.  The responsibility, here, isn’t only on Raid / Guild Leaders, though; players bear the responsibility of being honest about the time they have.  Officers, then, need to be careful not to pressure people who say no, as well.  It’s never easy to watch a potential tenth log off when he could have stayed on, but respecting his wishes and giving him time away from the game may let him raid many more times than just this one.

Lastly, it’s important to keep people all working towards a single goal.  If less animosity had brewed between the PvP’ers and the PvE’ers, it may have been possible to at least hold the guild together long enough to find one or two stray or new players to fill raid spots.  Instead, battles broke out when no officers were on that we could do nothing but clean up after the fact.  If we had somehow figured out a way to keep everyone on the same page, perhaps those battles wouldn’t have happened and less rifts would have occurred.  God knows the officers and I tried, though, so it may have been beyond our means no matter what.

At any rate, dear reader, that’s the sordid history of my wanderings.  I’ve been in four guilds long-term, 2 of them are still functioning well, 2 of them are either dead or a shadow of what they were.  I’ve switched servers three times, tried to build from scratch three times, and been disappointed just as often.  In the end, though, I’ve learned that you can always dust off an alt or reroll on another server and look for adventure there, so not to let the situation get you down.

And that’s my final advice to you.  If the game isn’t what you’re looking for right now, then try another part of the game.  It’s a varied and complex world with many experiences out there.  Heck, I just heard about someone leveling 1-85 with no kills and no quests done.  Now that’s someone who knows how to play the game they want!

The fun is still there.  If you’re having it, great!  I’m truly happy for you.  If you’re not, look elsewhere!  We don’t have to all play the same way to share the experience, which is the true fun in WoW.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (who’s ready to talk about something else but probably missed the LFD Call to Arms window)

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