It seems obvious, right? Every guild has to have events. If you have no events scheduled, then your guild isn’t really an organization, is it? It’s more of a dis-organization, if you will.
While all guilds have events, their success with scheduling and filling these events varies widely. This post is all about organization. After all, the main reason that most of you members were looking for a guild in the first place is that they wanted other people to schedule their leisure time activities for them. You, as guild master, will be providing a useful service to members through your events calendar.
The following suggestions are some common-sense tips that will help you keep your rosters full and your guild members happy.
1. Keep A Consistent Raid Schedule
Let me give you a real-life example of the pain and suffering that can occur if weekly schedules don’t stay consistent. I live in a historic district, and I get a flyer every month telling me which days the city will pick up garbage. This month, there are two Friday pickups, a Monday pickup, and a Wednesday pickup. Now, what are the chances that I’ll put out the garbage on the wrong day at least once? I’d say close to 100%. In addition, since the Monday pickup follows a Friday pickup, I just won’t have much garbage to share with the city–but believe me, by the Wednesday after that, it will be a different story. The same thing can happen if you don’t raid on the same days every week. Your members will get too much–or too little–of the raiding goodness that they all love.
If your guild is a raiding guild, the schedule needs to show that raiding is your first priority. My guild raids Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, which seems typical of guilds that raid for a moderate number of hours. More hardcore guilds often raid Monday-Thursday and leave their weekends free, or at worst, clean up an end boss on the weekend. Remember that any guild has to give its players time off. I’ve seen guild schedules that essentially say “we expect you to be on every night, and we’ll go raid something.” With that more chaotic model, you risk either 1)raiding 6 days a week or 2) never raiding at all. Either one will lead your guild on a quick stroll down the Path of Anguish.
As for the hours you choose, Collateral Damage found it helpful to poll our members about their schedules. We have some west coast players and some east coast players with small children to put to bed, so we’ve ended up raiding more of a west coast-type schedule, with a start time at 10:30 EST. For an east coast guild, more typical hours might be 7:30-11:00 EST. Make sure you plan carefully before you slap hours up on the schedule. Everyone will have to make compromises in order to stick to the raid schedule, and the earlier you can determine it, the better you can communicate this schedule to recruits.
2. Use Your Guild Website for Scheduling
Even though WoW is about to implement an in-game calendar, I urge you to use your guild’s forums to schedule events. The reasoning is twofold. First, signing up for or reading about raid events will draw your player base to your website every week. Once they are there, it’s easy to participate in discussions or use the forums to ask questions or share ideas. You want an active website! It’s a sign that your guild is healthy. In addition, if you schedule on the website, you will have an easier time taking attendance in the long run. Even if people don’t sign up for events, you will know exactly when and where all of your events took place.
3. Make Rosters Ahead of Time
This piece of advice is fairly controversial. Most hardcore raiding guilds simply expect their members to attend every raid, and they fill the roster and bench only when people arrive for that day’s event. I advise you to plan ahead. I’ve watched many other guilds cancel events during this period of expansionitis because their members simply did not show up. If you roster ahead of time, people will also know when it is their turn to sit the bench, and you will have a written record of their presence on the pine pony. This way, if someone complains that she always sits bench, you will be able to evaluate that statement accurately by going over past rosters. If you absolutely don’t want to make rosters, I urge you to create forum topics for events anyway and have people reply ONLY IF they cannot make a raid. This practice will let you know whether you have to cancel a bit ahead of the event.
4. Let Members Schedule Fun Events
As the guild master, you cannot expect to everything yourself. Either some tasks will be done badly, or you’ll get burnt out on guild management in short order. I suggest that you and your officers take control of all progression raid scheduling, but that you allow members to schedule 5-mans, PvP, holiday events, or nostalgia runs to old content. Many players will do this very enthusiastically–encourage them, and support these events with your participation. It is helpful if the GM isn’t in control of everything. Sometimes it’s nice just to play along and let someone else be in charge.
5. Think Ahead
You will have to do some week-to-week planning based on your raid’s weekly successes and failures, but you should always have a master plan. Share your vision with your guild. Periodically, Collateral Damage’s officers throw “raid progress” on our weekly meeting agenda. We tend to sketch out 4-6 weeks at a time and try to come to some agreement as to our immediate goals. Then–and this is important–one of the officers shares this vision with the guild through a forum post. My experience is that when you put it out there in writing, it shows strength and confidence to your members. For example, our raid leader posted in May that we’d be standing on Illidan’s dead body by the end of the summer, and guess what? We did it. I’m not sure we would have without a clear sense of purpose.
6. Beware of Breaks
Burnout does happen in raiding guilds, and at some point, either you, one of your officers, or some of your members will suggest that the guild take a break from raiding. I have seen breaks backfire many times. My former guild, Random Acts, used to take breaks from Karazhan pretty regularly, and even when notices were posted on the website, people worried that a break meant that a guild meltdown was imminent. My suggestion is to have some events every week even during dry times. For example, Collateral Damage has scheduled our first Naxx 25 raid for the first week of January, but that doesn’t mean there will be no events between the Wrath release date and that time. We plan to schedule events every week on our regular raid nights. We’ll do group quests and 5 and 10 man dungeons, and maybe even go back to Sunwell if we’re feeling the itch to raid. Our players badly need a break from raiding, and most of them want a long chunk of time to enjoy leveling and spending the holidays with their families, but the guild isn’t just going to be sitting idle. For the benefit of those members who need a break while the guild is still raiding, I suggest putting in an attendance requirement that is less than 100%. That will let people safely take a day off here and there with no dire consequences, either for themselves or the guild. In turn, you should recruit until your guild can comfortably run its raids if a few players are absent.
The health of a guild can be judged by the quality of its organization. I’ve seen guilds full of great players flounder and bleed members because they just couldn’t schedule properly. My guild, on the other hand, has used its great scheduling skills to outlast many other guilds on the server. I’m sure that we’ve climbed the ranks not just because we’re good players but also because we’re consistent. That kind of stability can only come from the top down, so it’s up to you, the GM, to make sure things are done right.