Recently, reader Solarius wrote in with a question that I found so insightful and thought-provoking that I felt it deserved a whole post in response. In his own words:
I was wondering if you had any advice for players who are looking for a decent raiding guild – I’ve read your post on “How do I break into raiding?”, but there are also considerations, like how to recognize a good guild or know when its recruiting and so on. I remember back during BC when Karazhan just had i’s entrance requirements relaxed, and I had the hardest time finding even a Karazhan guild that didn’t either try to run with greens, or have an established cliquish environment.
While I admit I didn’t improve my equipment to the upmost (enchantments and non-green gems being the cardinal sins), I tried my best to be a better raider: I ran PuG Heroics for equipment upgrades, made and offered potions and elixirs, learned how to maximize my DPS rotations, and read up on instance encounters. I still never really made it past PuGing Karazhan.
Since you were writing about guild management and recruitment, I hoped you could cover the other end of the spectrum. As you’ve mentioned before, not everyone advertises on Trade (and I’ve regretted the three times I took those blind offers), the Realm forums can be sketchy, and sites like WoWJutsu are impersonal and lack contact information.
Solarius is absolutely right in that the question of finding a guild has two sides. Yes, players need to do everything that they can to “sell” themselves to the organization they would like to join. There is plenty of information available in the blogosphere, both on this site and elsewhere, about how to apply to a guild. However, how does a player find a guild worth applying to?
I’ve recently changed guilds myself, and you might say that I had an insider’s tip as to where to go, as I’m now raiding with Matticus (who, as I’ve said, is every bit as great a GM as he is a boss). However, I am confident that, if I had to find a guild with no personal connection whatsoever to me, I think I could sort the good from the bad. What would be my plan of attack, and even more importantly, what decisions would I have to make?
If you’re looking for a new guild, consider following these ten steps to virtual health, happiness, and phat loots.
1. Decide whether you want to stay on your current server.
Personal circumstances will probably decide this one for you. If there will be a lot of drama involved when you leave your current guild, a server jump can be a good way to get a fresh start. However, if you have friends and relatives on your server, and they’re not willing to move with you, you may want to stay. In many cases, this decision will be impacted by the overall health of raiding guilds on your server. If there are many active guilds that you wouldn’t mind joining, it could be a good idea to stick around the neighborhood. If your server’s too quiet, or if your faction is outnumbered or always loses battlegrounds, you may be happier with a change of scene.
2. Place advertisements.
What you’re doing is fishing for responses from guilds who are actively looking. If you’re staying on your own realm, make a post about yourself on your realm forum. Be aware that these posts can draw the trolls, but they will get your name out there. However, for a fairly troll-free place to fish, go to the Alliance or Horde Guild Recruitment Forums and place a thoughtful ad about yourself. Quality guilds will search these almost daily when they’re looking for new blood. I found Trinia, an awesome warlock and one of my favorite people in Conquest, that way. Watch to see who responds to your ad, and then research their organization before you take the next step.
3. Observe how your prospective guild behaves.
If you’re staying on your own server, do watch that Trade Chat. Sometimes really good organizations will advertise that way. Write their names down, and whisper the recruiter for more information. If you’re thinking of a guild on another server, make an alt and stand in a major city for a while. Are they an active presence on the server? If so, do they contribute in a positive or negative way? This is far easier to do on your own server, where you are in effect listening all the time to how other guilds behave. If the guild recruits in trade, ask to talk to someone. That will be your best measure of what the guild is really like. I must admit, I judge guilds by their members, particularly their public interactions with others. Just one person spamming trade with obscenities will color my opinion of the whole group.
4. When a guild interviews you, interview them right back.
If you’re invited to chat or get on vent with a guild recruiter, ask questions. It’s not just about “auditioning” for this new person and proving how great you are. This is your chance to quiz them on the issues that are important to you. How do they distribute loot? How do longtime members treat new people? Is there any longstanding guild drama? What do they do when problems arise? These are tough questions, and you’ll be listening carefully to your recruiter’s responses. If she’s being evasive, take it as a warning sign. This interview is your opportunity to find out whatever you want to know–use it wisely.
5. E-stalk your new guild.
Before you accept a g-invite, take advantage of any and all public information about them. Go to their website, and, if you can, make an account there. Read the whole thing if they will let you. If they are well-organized, the site will have at least some content. Raiding guilds tend to have fairly active websites. Watch for too much activity however. All guilds have drama, but beware all-out insult fests.
It probably already occurred to you to check a guild’s progress on Wowjutsu. However, I want you to go with a critical eye. Go through all the listings and find out what their gear distribution is like. How many players are getting geared up? Is there a lot of competition for your class and role? Do the officers seem to be getting everything? Wowjutsu doesn’t track everything, but you can pretty much count on guilds queueing up their loot from first boss kills. If the loot distribution is fair, you will see a lot of different names. In addition, Wowjutsu lets you see the grayed out names of players who have recently left the organization. A high proportion of these can indicate that your prospective guild has lost many members and is trying to rebuild.
In addition to the guild’s own website and Wowjutsu, I urge you to go to the guild’s realm forum and see how other guilds respond to them there. They probably have a recruitment thread up, and there are probably responses from players with other guild tags. If they have a good rep on the server, most of this commentary will be positive. If your prospective guild is comprised of a bunch of ninja asshats, the server forums might just clue you in.
6. Go on a trial run if you can.
A really good organization will let you try out–and even take loot. They will be proud of what they have to offer. Particularly if you’re on the same server, pug a 10-man with some of their members. If you like the personalities of the people you run with, talk to them more in-depth about the guild. Most people will be honest with you, and you’ll get to see their perspective on the good and bad features of the guild.
Remember, accepting a g-invite is not a lifetime commitment. If you’re unhappy, you owe it to yourself to seek your bliss elsewhere. Even if you server hop, you can change guilds again in a month. I am all for loyalty to an organization, but be sure it is a guild that deserves your allegiance. Be fair to your guild, and don’t expect perfection, but don’t be a martyr either. Happy hunting!