Actually, that’s a bit of a lie. There’s no real science behind it. It takes hard work and the desire from everyone to keep things going. If there’s players not interested or coasting along, then it’s highly unlikely that merges will work. Our new core of players has managed to continue raiding and stave off server transferring, for now. The updated roster managed to defeat Blackhand and put us within 5% of defeating Mythic Beastlord.
He’s so close to dropping.
Or rather, he was. Fast forward to present day and we now have half the original roster that defeated Blackhand and that worked on Beastlord. In addition, we’re also on a new server. Just how on earth did we get to that point? I’ll get there in a moment. Let’s talk guild mergers first.
I was approached a few weeks ago by another guild on server with a similar progression to ours. We were working on Blast Furnace and so were they. They opened talks with us first floating the idea of a guild merge because their guild was having difficulty attracting and retaining players (as were we all). I was certainly receptive to the idea and I hopped on to their Mumble channel to just open talks with both their guild leader and raid leader (with one of my officers also in attendance).
In discussions like this, it helps to have at least one other officer around to help cover your bases and remind you on things you might have forgotten. When it comes to merges, you’re looking at combining rosters, philosophies, personalities, and so forth. It’s going to be messy but you have to break it down point by point. This wasn’t my first guild merge and I doubt it’s going to be my last. Here’s a list of important factors to consider:
- Guild name
- Guild resources
- Roster personnel
- Roster roles
- Officer positions
- Loot systems
- Event scheduling
Our opening discussions were fruitful and we shared the same goals. Their GM suggested we take the weekend to think it through and then meet again the following week for a more in-depth discussion.
With guild names, there are three options: Your name, their name, or an entirely new name. On this, I could not compromise at all. Conquest had been around for nearly 8 years. We had the branding in place with the site and customized apparel. Plus not to mention the endless work when it comes to changing all the various recruiting threads and social media branding. Not only that, we also had a sponsorship arrangement with Enjin. This is your identity. You decide what it’s worth. If your guild is relatively new, it might be worth considering a brand change.
Resources can be thought of all assets. This doesn’t mean just gold and stuff in the guild bank. This means voice servers, websites, etc. Who provides and assumes the costs of those? Since ours were on the house, it was a no brainer there. I would’ve volunteered to assume the costs otherwise or open up donation coffers to allow anyone to pitch in. We didn’t merge banks though. I felt we had enough resources stock piled that it wasn’t entirely necessary. I suggested that whatever funds that remained could be redistributed to the rest of their guild.
This was a harder one. Combined, our roster would shoot up to 32. Who sits and who goes? We opened the door to volunteers who wanted to rest or did not need loot from certain bosses. Our mythic roster would be delayed until after we had another week or two of combined heroic clears under our belt to see how well we worked together. In most guilds, there’s players that you want to cut due to lack of performance but you can’t because of numbers reasons for Mythic. Now the flexibility is there for those kinds of decisions.
As a follow up to the previous point, now it’s time to look at player roles. Raids won’t need four tanks. They’re not going to need 13 healers. How does that get consolidated? For example, with two discipline priests in raid, it means we’d have to change things up because it wasn’t exactly ideal. We could’ve made it work but it wouldn’t be as effective as having a discipline and a holy priest. I volunteered to switch back to holy since I had the gear in place for it. It was a little rusty, but that was nice change from playing discipline for two straight expansions. The rest of the healers would be evaluated accordingly. Tanks were a little harder and I was willing to compromise on both of them and cede tank responsibilities to theirs. Our Death Knight had played DPS before and our Prot Paladin was willing to give it a go. Mind you, since I insisted heavily on retaining our name and branding, I had to be willing to give up something as a show of good faith and this was one of those.
Four tanks will need to be cut to two. 13 healers have to be reduced to 6 (or even less for mythic). Have talks with the players it will affect the most. Be prepared for players to leave or simply stop showing up the moment they realize they’re not as valuable as they were before.
This is the leadership question. We didn’t want too many cooks in the kitchen but we also wanted to ensure that there was fair representation. I discovered that we shared similar leadership structures (A GM, a raid leader, and role officers). I was not in a position where I was willing to give up executive authority as GM and this was one of the points I would not give in on. However, I was absolutely willing to switch raid leaders and change role officers. I was willing to expand it and have secondary role officers as well. I suspect that there were officers who were okay with giving up the responsibility and just being a player again without having to stress over everyone else.
If you’re tired of being a GM or a raid leader, this is your way out in a merge. If things change, you can even step back into the arena after some time away from all those responsibilities. I was prepared to float the idea of a rotating leadership during each month or each tier as another compromise.
Another sticking point is loot distribution. If one guild does EPGP and the other does loot council, then one group’s going to get fried no matter what. If it’s EPGP coming into a loot council dominated system, players are going to be pissed that their EPGP points will be wasted. Loot council players going the other way are going to start with 0. Thankfully, both raid groups utilized loot council so that was not a major sticking point. However, they did use EPGP for attendance tracking and incentive reasons.
I’m actually not sure how to reconcile guilds with completely different loot systems. Not unless the majority of the guild agrees to it. You’re going to naturally lose players in the process anyway.
If there’s any special rules, this is where it gets discussed. No stabbing on Wednesdays? Immediate benchings on players who trip a mine on Blackhand? No heavy swearing in guild chat? This is where it needs to be brought up. In my case, I said easy on the language on anything in game. I’ve had players banned before who said something they shouldn’t have in Eye of the Storm and they were struck with a 3 day ban which affected our Black Temple progression at the time. I was livid. At the same time though, if they’re in Mumble with their own group or set of friends and as long as no one’s taken exceptional offence, I don’t want to know. Any other forms of disciplinary action would be decided here.
Do the raid times line up? This is the last thing that needs to make sense for both groups. Our original hours were from 6 – 10 PM Pacific. These guys raided from 630 – 1030 Pacific. I had players on the east coast and I stood firm on the 10 PM end time. But I was willing to be flexible on the start time. To that end, we agreed to proceed to a 630 start instead. Their raid days were on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday whereas we raided our days mid-week from Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. They were more than willing to move Monday to Wednesday which is where our schedule is now.
And that’s it! If both leaderships can come to a mutual agreement on all of the points listed above, welcome to your new merged guild! The work isn’t over yet. The first week or two is going to be a feeling out period. You have to remain extra diligent to minimize perceptions of favortism especially on loot decisions. Keep an open ear to the ground. Continue to stress to new players coming in that you’re always open to strategy change and feedback (and for it to be done in between raids not during raids). We actually picked up some neat alternative strats that made life easier even. Work with players from both sides of the roster. Eventually, you have to stop referring to players coming in as “their guild” and your existing players as “your guild”.
Those guilds no longer exist. You have to drill it in player’s heads that this group is now “our guild”. Us vs them mentality, if it continues, it will gradually eat away at a guild. It’ll be subtle at first. People will blame each other for mistakes or low DPS performance. But these are aspects of the game that everyone needs to work on and it starts with stamping out “us vs them”. A unified front is much stronger than a divided one.
We worked really well together for the first few weeks. The Blast Furnace kill was repeated with the new group. Blackhand was similarly taken down. We even stepped back into Highmaul and defeated Brackenspore. For that month, it seemed like a reinvigorated roster was just what the doctor ordered. Eventually, attrition struck. Some players stopped showing up because with all the players around, they felt their presence was no longer needed or that their position was in jeopardy and didn’t want to bother competing for it. We let a few players go due to personality and motivational conflicts. Soon we reached a point where we were starting to have a hard time fielding a full group for mythic and it was time to revisit the plan to transfer servers.
Ner’zhul, my home for 8 years, was dying.
Anyway, that was a long enough read. Next time, we’ll touch upon server transfers.