Build Your Own Guild Part 7: Day-to-Day Management

Build Your Own Guild Part 7: Day-to-Day Management

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that you’re a new GM, and your guild is finally up and running. You have enough members to start scheduling events, and you’re running at least some raids every week. It might be logical to think that your task as GM is done–if you’ve put in good policies, the guild will run itself, right?

No, dear reader, it won’t. Think of the guild master as the helmsman of a large and unwieldy ship of state. All you can control is your pressure on the wheel–storms will rage above, and whirlpools will draw from below. Heck, in the context of WoW, it wouldn’t be at all out of place to have to deal with a nasty Kraken or two, or at least a few Bloodsail pirates.

The day-to-day business of managing a guild takes time and energy. Many prospective guild masters don’t realize quite how many of their personal resources will go into keeping their organization healthy. At this point, many GMs get frustrated and hand over the leadership. Others fade into the background, letting officers or vocal members de facto lead the guild. A good GM, however, will always be a strong presence in the daily life of the guild.

But…It doesn’t seem like GMs do much!

Most of the work of a GM or guild officer occurs behind the scenes. For many valid reasons, guild members may not be made aware of every little argument or controversy. It’s important to maintain the appearance–and by extension, the reality–of peace in the guild, so discretion is key. For example, my guild is having a bit of a difficult time right now differentiating between friends and family applications and raiding applications. It’s been a multi-hour topic of discussion in officer meetings and the subject of lively debate. We wanted to make sure that the policy we put in–which is now fairly strict–suited our overall guild ethos. However, those hours of talk led to a policy that could be expressed in 50 words or less. What our members see is those 50 words, not the work that led up to it. When I mentioned, in an offhand way, the “F&F controversy,” to a member, he was surprised to learn that officers deal with so much stuff that just doesn’t filter down to the members. This is a good thing. Members are there to play and have fun, and the officers and GM make sure that they are able to do so.

A GM’s Weekly Quests

To borrow a metaphor from the game we all love so much, think of the GM’s job as a series of repeatable quests. The following list details the essential duties that GMs or officers must perform every week, just to keep a healthy guild on an even keel. In WoW, a week is like a year of real time. Guild morale can sink fast, and virtual organizations require constant maintenance.

1. Be Present

The GM and the officers must be a part of most guild events. You should have a hand in the planning for the raid events, and you should raid very regularly. I also advice GMs to put in some face time outside of raids. If you invest your officers with enough authority, this task can be shared. In general, if a significant portion of your guild is interested in doing something, the leadership should participate. Make sure that you don’t simply disappear for several weeks if you get occupied with real life–the guild should know what’s going on. Otherwise, when you return after 6 weeks in Paris, your guild might not exist anymore.

Never underestimate, moreover, the power of just hanging out. Let your voice be heard in g-chat and vent–that way, your guild will come to know you as a person, and not just The Man or The Woman in charge. Don’t censor your personality too much. For example, I let my guild see my silly sense of humor and my love of pets, in-game and out. One guild member referred to me as our guild’s personal lolcat–and I took that as a compliment. I DO like to run around in cat form before raids asking if I can haz mage bizkits. However, don’t let things get too personal. You can share your deepest issues with good friends, but as GM, you need to maintain a degree of professionalism–which means a little distance between your guild and your personal life. If you’re having a fight with your girlfriend, you probably shouldn’t discuss it in g-chat.

2. Keep Your Ears Open

If you’re the GM, you probably don’t have to fish for members’ opinions too often. More than likely, they will share them with you unasked. However, some might not feel completely comfortable talking to The Man, so enlist your fellow officers (particularly any understanding or nurturing types) to keep their ears to the ground, so to speak. If there is a dip in morale in the guild, you should know about it. The person who does recruiting for your guild can probably help you out here. A good recruiting officer will be an advocate for applicants and initiates, and long after they become full members, they will probably feel comfortable talking to that person.

3. Respond to Member Concerns

If a major issue arises–like a serious argument over loot that plays out publicly–don’t just let it drop. Meet with your officers as quickly as possible, make a decision, and explain it to both parties. Someone will inevitably be unhappy, but you want to let your members know that you are capable of handling problems. It also might be a good idea to write a summary of any major decisions–especially if the controversy affected several players–and post it in a read-only forum in the website.

If a minor issue comes up–and they do all the time–make it a topic at the next officer meeting. Officers and GMs alike will receive many tells, emails, or website PMs per week about specific member concerns. Sometimes the member asks you to keep the complaint confidential, but more often, the member wants the leadership to know about and address the concern. Collateral Damage talks about all such requests–both legitimate issues and whiny QQ–at officer meetings. If a member sends one of us a PM, and doesn’t tell us to keep it quiet, it goes on the agenda. Sometimes the decision we make is to do nothing, and sometimes that’s the right call. However, most often something is done to resolve or clarify the issue.

It is important that your members know that their requests will be considered. Once the officers have made a decision, be sure to communicate it to the person who originally asked the question. Even if the answer is “no,” for the most part, people are glad that their ideas were considered.

4. Do Your Homework

It’s highly unlikely in an organization of, say, 50 members, that the Guild Master would happen to be the best player. That usually is not the case–statistics are against you, future GMs. You may not be able to control your natural aptitude for fast-twitch movement, but you can control the amount of information you can master. A Guild Master should do everything possible to be a better player and a better leader. Know your own weaknesses, and work to overcome them. For example, my own personal weakness is panic–sometimes I’ll do the wrong thing in a raid if I get startled. What’s the solution? Never be surprised. I read up on the fight mechanics and rehearse them to myself. I still feel the panic when I see a boss ability for the first time, but with a little coaching, I can usually control my reactions. It’s not enough to know, for example that Illidan does a Dark Barrage in Phase 2. For me to handle it adequately, I need to have linked the ability to the counter in my head, as in: “Okay, Dark Barrage–when it’s my turn in the rotation, that means I target the affected player and hit my Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch macro.” Figure out your personal kryptonite as a player and find ways to work around it. It might seem a little petty, but I have seen many players criticize their guild masters for being bad players. I know that different skills are involved in being a great raider and in being a great leader–but try not to give the QQ machine any more ammo than necessary.

It’s one thing to master your own class and spec, but as GM, your research needs to extend beyond yourself and your immediate needs. You are your guild’s visionary, and if you don’t have a sense of the future, your guild is lost. Always know what’s on the horizon, both for the game in general and for your own guild. For example, a guild master at this moment should be very informed about raiding post patch 3.0.x and in Wrath. The GM should have a sense of how things have changed with the new patch not just for her own class, but for every class. A good GM will be checking the news sites daily, and he or she will be leading the officers in discussions about how the guild will change once the expansion hits. My guild is extremely forward-looking, to the point of already having our first Naxx 25 on the raid calendar. We already have many policies in place for Wrath–with some major changes to suit the new raiding paradigm–and we are planning a mini-retreat (virtual style) in which we meet for multiple hours two days in a row and hammer out the final details. It’s entirely possible that some members will be just as interested and informed as the officers, but they certainly don’t have to be. When the game changes, you, the GM, will have to guide many of your members. The information is out there–inform yourself so that you can teach.

If you are also the raid leader for your guild, your task multiplies. You must absorb all of the information available about the bosses you will be taking down, and you should stay several bosses ahead of your guild’s raid progression. Once again, your task will be to teach others, and your ability to communicate information will help you construct your authority as leader. However, raid leading is truly difficult. The only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice. If you’re new to leading, let your guild know, and be humble about it. Usually, people will be understanding. The worst thing you can do is to get defensive. Try to master your task and keep a strong command of the situation, but if that fails, don’t be afraid to take suggestions.

5. Maintain Dialogue With Officers

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a weekly officer meeting. Do not make all decisions yourself. Even if you are the final arbiter, discussion and negotiation are helpful processes. The officers’ meeting has a very significant benefit when it comes to making new policy. Even with only three or so officers, there will be a diversity of opinion. The give-and-take from an officer’s meeting will help you workshop your ideas. By the time you present new rules to the guild, you will have already worked out many of the problem areas.

In addition, officers should participate in the little daily tasks of guild management. Make sure that members are aware of what officers do and the authority that they hold. If members don’t observe the officers making decisions, they’ll take all further concerns and QQ directly to the GM’s virtual door. Moreover, they might feel resentful toward a too-powerful GM. No one likes to feel like they belong to an organization led by a tyrant! Where the balance of the the day-to-day work in your guild falls–on the officers’ shoulders or on the GM’s–is entirely up to the individual organization. Collateral Damage is quite unique, but we’ve been extraordinarily successful without a true GM. Instead, we’ve got 8 officers fully invested with GM-level powers, and we all serve as checks and balances for each other. I can tell you, our bargaining and negotiating skills have gotten quite good over the last several months.

Conclusions

Guild management always takes more time than you expect, and it will scale with the complexity of your organization. Raiding guilds in particular are delicate to manage. If you want to maintain your own authority–and a stable guild–you have to get used to working for the good of your organization on a consistent basis. Yes, this means that the GM is held to a higher standard than the members. For you, it’s not all about fun and games–you have responsibilities too.

Build Your Own Guild Part 6: Scheduling

Build Your Own Guild Part 6: Scheduling

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.

Conclusions:

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.

Build Your Own Guild Part 5: Membership

Build Your Own Guild Part 5: Membership

Once you decide what kind of organization your guild is going to be, sketch out rules and policies, and design a leadership structure, you are ready to build up your membership. Ideally, if you have an ambition to start a brand-new guild, you already have a stalwart band of friends and associates to sign your charter. I would go so far as to say that it’s essential to start any new organization with at least a couple of members–it will be extremely hard for just one person to follow the recommendations I’m going to make in this.

1. Get the Word Out

I hate to break it to you, but a guild of one–or even ten–isn’t going to be able to accomplish much. Ideally, you need to bring in a lot of people quickly. How can you do this with a new organization? If I were starting from scratch, I would do the following four things. This set of tips assumes that you want to muster your troops right now, ahead of the expansion.

a. Go through your entire friends list and send everyone a note about your new guild.
b. Advertise on your realm forum and bump it once per day.
c. Start pugging instances obsessively and talking about your guild to everyone you meet.
d. Sponsor and lead open events, like a pug Karazhan, or for the ambitious or more experienced, ZA bear runs, Magtheridon or even Hyjal. The events you lead depend on your level of experience in the current content and the number of members you have at startup.

At this early stage, you may choose not to have an application process and may invite all who are interested. This is not a bad idea when you’re getting off the ground, but it could make raiding difficult later. It’s hard to get people to apply to an organization that doesn’t have a track record, but some people will take a chance if they’re offered a spot in a more informal manner. I advise you to find a middle way and only invite players you or another officer have had a conversation with. You want them to know ahead of time what kind of organization they are joining.

It bears mentioning, also, that prospective members will judge your guild by your behavior and the behavior of your officers. Now is the time to watch everything you say and do on your server–make sure that you reflect your guild’s values in how you treat other players. Now is NOT the time to spam trade channel.

2. Get Friendly With Other Guilds

Alliances between guilds can be formed on the basis of just a few friendly words passed back and forth. My current, very successful guild began when one of our tanks saved one of our healers from certain death in Blade’s Edge Mountains. They got to talking and found that they were both officers in Karazhan guilds with the ambition of moving on to 25-mans. At that moment, the seeds of an alliance were sown.

Alliances and cross-guild friendships have many different uses. You may want to partner up with another small guild at some point and run instances together, even if you keep your two guilds separate. Friends in other–ideally more progressed–guilds can be a source of help and information. For example, many members of Collateral Damage have friends in Cohors Praetoria, a more progressed guild on our server. The lovely people of CP have sold us Hearts of Darkness for cheap and have advised us on many boss fights as we’ve gone through T6 a few months later than they did. Some of their players have even offered to fill spaces in our runs if we need them. In return, CP has used our raid ID at least once to get an Illidan kill without farming the whole instance. These kinds of cross-guild arrangements are golden–they are mutually beneficial, and they tend to leave everyone with a good feeling about the virtual community. In addition, at times we’ve shared information about recruits, particularly about certain bad apples. Ideally, if one raiding guild on your server recruits and later /gkicks a whiny, greedy player, their recruiting officer will inform other guilds about it. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell what a player will be like from an application alone.

I urge you, as a prospective GM, to open a line of dialogue to the recruiting officers of other guilds on your sever. It’s a recruiting officer’s job to talk to people–if this person is halfway competent, he or she will be happy to have a conversation with you. Something I’ve done in the past, whether or not I knew much about the guilds in question, was to refer good applicants that were not right for my guild, either because they were not prepared for T6 or because we didn’t have space, to other guilds on the server that happened to be recruiting. I judged these guilds based on their ads and on the players that I knew, and have referred people to the ones that seem like class acts. Especially with the changes leading up to the expansion, there are enough players to go around for everyone. If you get to know some recruiting officers, they will probably be glad to help a new guild out. Established guilds can’t take anyone and everyone who comes their way. I know CD can’t even take all of the good applications. I always try to help anyone who applies to find a new guild home, when I can. If I knew of an enthusiastic new guild that was trying to build itself up, I would certainly point people that way. In turn, I know that many of Collateral Damage’s players have filled spots in other guilds’ T4 and T5 runs when particular classes are needed. If you reach out to others–particularly players that you know are classy, friendly individuals–people will most likely support you.

3. Recruit Creatively

Once you get a few members on the roster, you can fine-tune your recruiting a bit. In order to find players to fill specific roles, follow the 10-step guide I wrote on this type of recruiting. The guide assumes that you already have an existing player base, so you may have to adjust some of the advice to suit the needs of your brand-new guild.

What Do I Do if I Want to Start Once the Expansion Comes Out?

It may have occurred to you that most of the advice in this article applies to those who want to get their guild off the ground ahead of the expansion. It is true that the time is running short, and that you may prefer to start building a membership base during the leveling phase of Wrath. That approach has a set of advantages.

1. Many players may return to the game at that time, and some of those will be free agents.
2. It’s easier to leave a guild during a leveling phase than during a raiding phase, so some raiders will suddenly be free once Wrath hits.
3. Expansions in general are a time of change–some old guilds will implode when it hits, leaving their raiders homeless.
4. Some guilds will downsize to 10-man content, and some of their players will leave.

It sounds great, right? The only drawback to starting your recruiting drive when Wrath hits is that with everyone leveling at the same time, you may not be able to distinguish the kind of player that you want from the herd. If you pick up lots of players as they level, it will be hard to tell who will be able to make a commitment to raiding. This is in some sense an unavoidable problem for a new guild. My advice is to plan for continuous recruiting. Bring in more people than you think you will need, and sort out the difference between raiders and non-raiders once you actually start tackling 10 or 25 man content in the expansion. And yes, if you do general recruiting early in the expansion you may have to draw some distinctions in your guild roster between raiders and non-raiders, but that, dear readers, is a topic for a different entry in the series.

Happy recruiting!

Build Your Own Guild Part 4: Leadership

Build Your Own Guild Part 4: Leadership


If you can, dear readers, stretch your reflective faculties for a moment and recall the first article in the Build Your Own Guild series, in which I urged future GMs to start forming an officer corps. This entry will delve a little deeper into the question of leadership and show you how to construct and maintain your guild’s hierarchy. The principal lesson here is delegate, delegate, DELEGATE! This article will show you how officers and GMs work together to govern the unique virtual organizations we so casually refer to as guilds.

History Lesson: Getting Medieval

I would like to meditate for a moment on the word “guild” and its history, as I think its origins are rather instructive for MMO players. A guild, in the medieval sense of the word, is an association of tradesmen, artists, or craftsmen. Guilds oversee the production and distribution of material goods, and they regulate both practitioners of a trade and the larger market in which that type of product is bought and sold. My favorite guild example dates to cinquecento Italy. Imagine Renaissance Venice, her canals a-stink with the smells of a thriving fishing industry, her now-white palazzi ablaze with murals in every color of the rainbow. Somewhere in the Serenissima, probably next door to the leather-curers guild or the paper-makers guild, Tiziano Vecellio runs his own workshop. He sees himself as a craftsman, rather than an artist, producing goods for sale. He is the Master, and his is the signature on most of the products. His employees, however, are also craftsmen, some of them as talented as the master, and Journeyman and Apprentices work together to create great pieces of art. Sure, Tiziano himself may be the one to sketch the Madonna’s face, but what about her hands? Guess what? Renaissance art was a cooperative enterprise, and just look at the product. Pretty fantastic, eh?

Why the long excursus into metaphor, you ask? For you, the prospective GM, the setup of your guild is your masterpiece–the way you do things at the beginning will prove to all your members that you are a capable leader, someone they can trust. But like Tiziano, you can’t go it alone. You will need help, and the end “product” that you create–namely, excellence in raiding–will be a group effort.

Choosing Officers

If you’re contemplating setting up your own build, you probably have a few people in mind for officer positions. Make sure, however, that your officer corps is not composed entirely of your best friends and your significant other. For a raiding guild, you need a balance of power, and this means bringing people into leadership positions who represent different constituencies and have different perspectives. You will also need to limit the number of officers to a manageable size–too large, and every member who’s not an officer will start to feel left out. The following are my quick tips for forming a workable officer corps.

1. Size

If you plan to focus exclusively on 10-man raid progression in Wrath, your optimal number of officers (including yourself in this number) will be three. That means that there will always be a tiebreaker vote. The percentage of officers to members will still be rather high, especially if you are a niche guild and limit yourselves down to 20 or so players. I think this model will be extremely workable in Wrath. The good news is that if you form a guild of this size, your work as GM will be much less, and you will not need to define each officer’s role to the nth degree. The three of you would each probably be capable of handling any questions your members have, and all members will know the officers personally.

For the 25-man size, the task is more difficult. I suggest either three or five primary officers (including yourself of course). Three will be just fine if you plan to also have class or role leaders to do some of the work, but if you do without them, expand up to five so that you can cover all the necessary tasks. I actually recommend against having class leaders. That model worked better in Vanilla WoW, when specs were less differentiated and there were more people to manage.

2. Diversity of Talents

All of your officers should not excel at the same aspect of the game. They should not be three healers or three dps. You should include your primary Raid Leader in the officer corps, but the other members do not have to be your best players or best strategists. One of them, at least, should be computer-savvy enough to build and maintain your website, if you cannot do so yourself. Try to find people with different interests. And yes, sometimes this means looking beyond your immediate circle of friends. Caution: it may seem attractive to a new GM to appoint as an officer someone who has been a GM in the past. Be careful–this person might be so used to leading that he chafes at just being an officer and effectively undermines the officer corps’ decisions. Have a very thorough talk with any officers with GM backgrounds so that the guild hierarchy–whatever it is–is clear to them.

3. Diversity of Perspectives

Your guild is a raiding guild, so most of your officer conversations will be about raiding, and almost all of your planning will be dedicated to raid progress. You do not, however, need to find officers who agree 100% with your vision. It is best, in fact, if officers to some degree serve as checks and balances for each other. For a real life example, in my guild, raiding is important to every one of our eight officers (yes, too many!) but within that general category, our priorities fall under several subheadings. For some real-life examples, in Collateral Damage, our Raid Leader wants everything to be well-organized, transparent, and planned out ahead of time. The officer who manages our Loot system wants all policies to be fair and all goods to be distributed equally. Our personnel officer focuses on the human side of things–she wants to make sure that no one feels left out. And me? Believe it or not, I’m always the one pushing for faster progress and stricter requirements.

4. Open Positions

When you introduce your brand-new guild to the world, you probably won’t have the perfect balance of officers yet. I suggest starting out with yourself and one other person (or for the large guild model, two) and promoting the rest of your officer corps after you actually begin raiding. You need to see how people operate in their new guild context, but you can’t do all the work alone at the beginning.

Your Management Hierarchy

Let’s imagine that your guild is up and running and you’ve identified and promoted four other people to work with you. Now what do you do? I have seen guilds flounder at just this juncture. People become officers, but it’s a vanity position. There are no clear duties and no opportunity for leadership. In practice, the GM runs the guild by himself. Or worse, no one runs the guild. No events are scheduled, and people associate with each other only in guild chat. Here are 5 ways to avoid the no-leadership quagmire.

1. Weekly Officer Meetings

Schedule a meeting at a mutually convenient time, and hold a meeting every week. Believe me, you’ll have a lot to talk about–some of CD’s run upwards of three hours, and they were longest at the very beginning. You should at the very least check in with the guild’s progress, set the raid schedule for the week, and vote on any potential recruits. This is also a good time to talk through the inevitable member complaints and make plans to address them.

2. Give Each Officer a Specific Task

You chose officers with different talents for a reason. Assuming you’re a large guild with 5 officers, here’s a sample breakdown. As GM, feel free to snap up the role you like best, but if it’s your name at the bottom of the guild panel, expect a secondary job as QQ filter. Your five officers could best divide into the following roles:

a. Raid leader and strategist
b. Loot system manager (if you use Loot Council, this person tracks drops received)
c. Personnel officer (this person takes attendance and tracks raider status/performance)
d. Recruiting officer (woot! This is what I do)
e. Website manager (don’t underestimate this one–it’s a TON of work)

As GM, you need to funnel any specific questions or complaints to the officer who specializes in that area. People will want to talk to you too, but if you get a loot-specific question, pull the loot system manager into vent with you when you talk to that player. You will find that your officers will become experts in their area of expertise.

3. Strive for Consensus

When there is a decision on the horizon, particularly if it’s an important one, don’t just flex your GM muscles and make the call yourself. Discuss any decision that has far-reaching implications in the guild meeting, and let each officer present his or her opinions. Very likely, some of you will disagree on any issue that’s halfway worth talking about. As GM, you may feel tempted to go with your own opinion after nominal discussion, but I urge you to wait it out and let people make full arguments, especially when they feel passionately about something. There should be give and take. If two parties disagree, have them propose compromise solutions until each of them can live with the new policy.

4. Hold Votes on Important Issues

Your officers can only serve as checks and balances for each other if you give them power. Try for consensus first, but what you may find is that not everyone speaks up every time a new policy is on the table. If everyone cannot agree after a reasonable amount of discussion, as GM, it is your responsibility to call for a vote. Except in dire circumstances, abide by that vote. Remember: if you have power as GM, it is only because others entrust you with it. Allowing them a voice will convince your fellow officers to stick around and support you. My guild–which has no GM, only officers–has just now put in a voting policy. We felt that compromises were sometimes worked out only among the most vocal officers, and in any case sometimes we would have 12 hours of discussion over many weeks with no solution reached. We’ve decided to hold votes after 2-4 hours of discussion on a topic when we can’t come to consensus. I am in full support of this idea–even though I’m one of the loud people! If you never vote, you may create a situation in which one person can veto any idea by holding out on the compromise. That can lead to guild stagnation, particularly if it’s a regular occurrence. Sometimes your officers will have to agree to disagree.

5. Know When to Play the GM Card

If you’re going to be the first among equals, you have to know when to step in and put an end to debate. Maybe votes are inconclusive too, or your officers just can’t come up with a decision. In those cases, use your best judgment and lay down the law. Don’t do this too often though–a GM whose attitude screams: “It’s my guild and I can do what I want with it!” won’t be in power for long.

Conclusions

It’s not very fun to be the Supreme Emperor of a nation of one. If you want a happy, healthy, resilient guild, you will need a power structure that puts some of the authority in other people’s hands. Build trust with your officers, and always treat them with respect. They are both your friends and your work colleagues, and the relative unity that the officer corps presents to the guild will determine your success or failure in endgame raiding. People want to feel that their leaders are both well-organized and fair. Use the GM/officer dynamic to create that feeling, and you’re well on your way to climbing up the rankings on your server.

Build Your Own Guild Part 3: The Dreaded Loot Question

Build Your Own Guild Part 3: The Dreaded Loot Question


Congratulations, New GM! You have your Guild Charter and Rules ready, and that website is up and running. Even though you’re not raiding yet, your next step is to decide what to do with the funny purple stuff that drops when you kill things. And yes, you must make this call even before you have enough members to stare down High King Maulgar. When I interview new recruits, they almost all ask me how my guild handles loot. If you create a fair means of distributing shiny epix, and you’re well on your way to having a healthy, happy, boss-destroying raiding guild. You must pick a loot system from the beginning and stick with it—the worst thing you can do is vacillate between systems and potentially cheat your members out of their just deserts.

Loot system basics:

Almost all raiding guilds use some variation of one of two types of gear distribution systems. The first is Loot Council, in which the officers or other elected body decide who gets each piece of gear that drops based on a complex ratio of need and merit. The other system is DKP, an archaic gaming term that stands for Dragon Kill Points. DKP systems allow raiders to earn points for killing bosses (or anything else the guild leadership decides is fair) and spend them for gear. There are benefits and drawbacks to both types of systems. Not everyone agrees with me either–based on her own personal experiences, Wyn gives you almost the opposite advice that I will. Listen to both of us and draw your own conclusions.

How do I choose?

Before you pick either DKP or Loot Council, you must decide what you want your loot system to accomplish. The following is a basic guide to the implicit goals of both system types.

1. Loot Council

This type of system is designed to optimize gear drops by placing them in the hands of those who will have most use for them. This may sound like the best players receive every item, but in practice, this is not true. A well-functioning Loot Council uses gear drops both to reward players for excellent performance and to help raise players to the group standard. Sometimes–perhaps often–the Council will reward the weakest player in a class and spec. All decisions are made for the good of the group, and no good items are sharded. Each member of the Loot Council must be extremely well-informed about the loot tables themselves and about the needs, wants, and skills of the player base. If a player on the Loot Council is interested in a gear drop, he or she generally bows out of the discussion on the item in question.

2. DKP

All DKP systems invest their players with “buying power,” and players get to decide what is most important to them. In all such systems, players tend to save for the best drops for themselves, assuming that they can identify them. DKP systems award gear based on attendance–more boss kills means a larger share of the loot. In this way, they can help a guild retain players over the long haul, because they can objectively track the benefits of consistent raiding. These systems are democratic in that they do not distinguish among players based on skill. As such, however, they do not always place items with the player who will get most use out of them. In addition, middling quality items will often be sharded as players learn to prioritize.

Drawbacks: Nutshell Version

Neither of these systems is perfect. Assuming real-life implementation, with no extreme chicanery, shenanigans, or other forms of bad behavior on the part of officers or raiders, here are the typical problems each system type experiences.

Loot Council:

1. The drama llama rears its ugly head

Human nature dictates that each player will be more aware of her own skills and contributions than those of others. This kind of blindness virtually guarantees that some people will not be happy with any given loot decision.

2. Inefficient use of raid time

The Loot Council will probably discuss most items as they drop. This could cost the raid upwards of 5 minutes at the end of every boss kill, which may put the guild in a crunch for longer instances with large numbers of bosses.

3. Inaccurate tracking

Unless the guild uses a mod to track drops awarded, loot may be distributed unevenly. The memory is a notoriously inaccurate instrument. Without hard numbers for attendance or drops rewarded, the Loot Council may unintentionally give more to some and less to others.

4. Bias

Human error plays a large part in the Loot Council system. We are all biased–our thoughts and feelings affect us at every moment, even though we don’t realize it. I’m not talking about malicious prejudice–I’m talking about the little unconscious leanings that occur even when we mean no harm. It would be nigh-impossible for a Loot Council to be entirely neutral toward every raider in the guild.

5. Lack of inherent structure

If you choose Loot Council, you will have to come up with the operating rules yourself. Guilds accomplish this in highly unique ways–poke around some websites and copy good ideas. You will have to determine on what basis loot is awarded, who gets to participate in the decision, and how much time will be allowed for debate.

DKP:

1. Sometimes people don’t know what is best for them

Your players will spend dkp as they like, and some of them will use their points unwisely. You cannot force people to research your loot system and their class drops and come up with the absolute best strategy. People may hoard points, or they may spend them on the “wrong” items. Many perfectly serviceable pieces might end up being disenchanted or given away for off-spec.

2. It won’t stop the QQ

I can almost guarantee that the drama will be less than with Loot Council, but people will still be upset when they don’t get what they want. The complaints will be more intense as the item value increases. Remember that random loot is random, even though your dkp system is not.

3. Inaccurate tracking

If you’re using a pencil-paper system, errors will happen, and they may render the system meaningless. I strongly advocate tracking DKP with a mod if you can. If that is impossible, make sure you deputize one officer to update it, and beat him with your Riding Crop if he misses a day.

4. Every system can be played

Any time you put power in the players’ hands, there will be ways for an individual to work the system to his advantage. Most players won’t try–they will play because they enjoy it, and they’ll put in the exact same amount of participation no matter what loot system the guild uses. Others will find the exact right equation of play time to maximize their drops. It doesn’t mean they are bad people or bad players–sometimes it just goes right along with other types of min-maxing behaviors, which most raiding guilds encourage. For a concrete example, if your guild uses zero-sum dkp, points are only awarded when players take loot. For a certain player, this practice de-incentivizes progression nights, because they may earn nothing at all for a night full of wipes. Alternately, if your guild uses a positive sum dkp system, you might weight progression raids very heavily and in turn de-incentivize farm content.

5. You will have to choose a system flavor carefully

People have been playing MMOs for several years now, and there are many types of systems. In order to choose a specific DKP system, you will have to do a level of research that the Loot Council folks won’t even dream of.

DKP system types

If you’ve thought through your decision, and you’ve decided to go with DKP, here is a basic guide to system types. They all have the same core principles–democratic distribution and rewards that increase with attendance–but they manifest those principles in radically different ways. Each of these systems assumes that the person with most DKP will be offered first choice on items.

Zero-sum DKP

This system is for math nerds only–the basis of the system is that the raid’s total DKP always sits at 0. Points are awarded when a piece of gear is taken. For example, if I take the Thunderheart Helmet from Archimonde, its value will be subtracted from my DKP. For the sake of argument, let’s just say I lost 240 points. The other 24 people in the raid will be awarded 1/24 of the points I just spent, or 10 points each. This is one of those systems that really, really requires a mod to track, because you will have to recalculate after each piece of loot is awarded. The guild will also have to decide how many points each item is worth, because after all, not all pieces are created equal.

Positive-sum DKP: Additive

This system is similar to zero-sum dkp, but it allows the guild to add points to the system for anything and everything, including attendance and progression. As with zero-sum, each item is worth a certain number of points, and when a player receives a drop, the item’s value is subtracted from her total. Players may go below zero. These systems tend to get very, very inflated, and the gap between the bottom of the top can be just crazy.

Positive-sum DKP: Relational

The basic system of this type is Ep/Gp, which I must say is my favorite of all possible systems and the one my guild uses. A person’s DKP is a ratio calculated from her Effort Points divided by her Gear Points. Effort points are typically awarded either for boss kills, with each boss assigned a specific value, or for minutes of participation. My guild awarded points for boss kills in TBC but we’re switching over to an easier, more automatic points per minute system for Wrath. Ratios always stay above zero, and if you implement the system as intended (which I STRONGLY suggest), decay controls inflation. To decay the system, you reduce everyone’s EP and GP by a certain percentage at determined moments. The system designers mention 10% per raid as a good figure, and I tend to agree. The purpose of decay is to shrink the gaps in the list–this practice lets new players move up faster despite lower total attendance. In addition, players who have a long dry spell with no loot will remain near the top of the list even after they take their first item, making things more fair over the long haul. This process, in combination with the decay, also tends to discourage hoarding. The cherry on top of the system is the excellent mod that comes with it. The item values are built-in, and anyone with the proper clearance can update the system during the raid. I’ve been master looting for my guild using this system since January, and it works like a charm. The only caveat is that you must back up the data every week–content patches almost always wipe the system.

Suicide Kings

What would happen if you had 100% decay on Ep/Gp? You’d have Suicide Kings. This sorta-system belongs in the DKP list, but just barely. To use Suicide Kings, random roll all of your members into positions and arrange them in a list with number 1 at the top. Person #1, regardless of attendance, skill, or whatever, will have first crack at anything that drops. When he takes something, he will move to the last position. Suicide Kings is extremely easy to track, even with a pencil-paper method, but you may see extreme problems with hoarding or with raider apathy. Expect some raiders only to show up if their names are near the top.

Other rules:

Any system works better if you have some courtesy rules or guidelines in place. Heck, I’ve even seen random roll work for the top alliance guild on our server, and it’s because their guild has a culture of sharing. All guilds should encourage players to be kind to their fellows and to pass things when they can afford to. In addition, no matter what system you choose, your officers or class officers should not hesitate to give advice on gear choice. If possible, persuade people out of bad decisions. Sometimes you will have to lay down the law. For example, if a paladin wants to spend her DKP on cloth healing gloves that are also a significant upgrade for your priest, don’t let her do it. In addition, some guilds make a special exception for their main tanks and gear them up first. We have never done that, and our tanks are well-geared just because their attendance is good. If you want to move very fast, though, you may need to get that gear on the tank regardless of his DKP. Likewise, if one of your players needs to perform a special role, make sure he or she has the gear to do it. For example, my guild awarded the first Void-Star Talisman to our warlock tank for Leotheras. Every member of the guild was happy about the decision, because we all wanted to get to Leo as fast as possible.

And lastly, good luck. You’ll need it to get through the loot system minefield without life-threatening injury or, at the least, major scarring.

Build Your Own Guild Part 2: Rules of the Game

Build Your Own Guild Part 2: Rules of the Game

In this second installment of the Build your Own Guild series, I am going to teach you how to establish the rules and policies that will help your new raiding guild run itself. Well, that’s an exaggeration. However, without a clear set of rules, your guild will always be rudderless. Before one person signs that charter, you need to lay down the law in black and white. The post outlines the three types of policy that you should establish before your guild even zones into its first instance. The following tips assume that you will have a guild website (after all, we play an internet-based game, right?). These documents and policies need to be the core content of that website when it first goes up.

1. Guild Charter

In Part One, I encouraged you to meditate on your goals and desires for your new guild. Now you must put pencil to paper and share your vision with your members. In my opinion, the more the guild expects to accomplish in terms of raiding, the more important your mission statement is.

Your charter should answer the following questions:

a. What is the guild’s goal?
b. What is the guild’s attitude?
c. What is most important to us?

I’ll quote for you one of my favorite passages from my guild’s charter. It really shows who we are as an organization:

“We value kindness, fair play, and respect for others over loot or in-game success. Our policies work toward ensuring a positive environment in which everyone can enjoy the fruits of our labor.”

I welcome you all to read the entire charter and even use it as a model, but I will warn you that it’s out of date. Since the original charter creation, we’ve decided that we’re a real raiding guild after all. The long road between Gruul and Illidan changed us as an organization. I should take my own advice and adjust the language to our current practices!

You don’t have to create your charter from scratch. Many guilds make their websites accessible to all, and if a guild is recruiting, sometimes you can even create a user account and view their policies. I recommend doing a bit of snooping around–find guilds you admire and know are successful, and copy what they do. The tone of your charter should suit the mood of your guild. My own guild operates in a rather serious mode. If you prefer a raucous, no holds-barred environment, use irony and humor when you write that charter. For an excellent example in this mode, I’ll direct you towards the hilarious charter of a guild named Dread Lobster, as quoted by fellow druish blogger Runyarusco. I laughed so hard, I (almost) wanted to join.

2. Code of Conduct

Even the most laid-back guilds have certain expectations for their members’ behavior, and you ought to explain them either in the charter itself or in an appendix. Collateral Damage sets a very high standard, and unlike many guilds, we restrict profanity (well, in guild chat anyway) and chastise members severely if they disrespect one another. If you want your members to act in a certain way, let them know from the very beginning. That way, if you need to g-kick someone for a behavioral issue, you cannot be accused of unfairness. On the flip side, if you want to foster an open environment where insults and un-PC jokes fly thick and fast, let prospective members know that.

3. Conditions for Membership / Raider Status

If your guild intends to raid seriously, you need to have some means by which you determine who gets to raid and who does not. This type of policy will not seem important to a start-up guild that can barely scrape together enough tanks and healers for an introductory instance, but as you start to have success, you will have to deal with over-crowding. My guild chose not to put in a Raider Status from the beginning, and I have always regretted it. We have always walked the razor’s edge between being inclusive and optimizing rosters, and I know it’s cost our raid leader hours of frustration and worry.

Raiding guilds typically fill their scheduled weekly raids according to one of two successful models.

Model A

Everyone who is a regular member of the guild is a raider, and a Raider Rank would be redundant. The guild is small and does not recruit beyond the minimum number it needs to do the raid content.

Model B

The guild has members who raid and members who do not. These “casual” members may be friends and family of raiders, or they may be longtime members who have had a change in status. When you have two such different constituencies, it is only natural that at some point, one or more of your “casual” members will want to raid. At that point, the concept of Raider Status comes into play. Raider Status can typically be earned through attendance and performance, and it comes with the privilege of being on more raid rosters. It should also be possible to lose Raider Status through consistent poor attendance, bad behavior, or sloppy play.

Given a choice, I would go with Model B. From a management standpoint, it is more difficult to handle a larger, more complex guild roster, but you have a better chance of running all your raids. With Model A, if two of your players go on vacation, your raid is toast. Collateral Damage has a large number of members, and we have been able to run all of our scheduled raids this summer except for the one the Sunday before Labor Day. That’s a pretty awesome ratio considering the rash of expansionitis that’s been going around.

If you DO set strict conditions for membership or Raider Status, you need to define these specifically. Your attendance policy should require not only a percentage, but also tell how often that percentage will be re-calculated. For example, you might require 75% attendance over any two-month period. That allows your players to go out of town every once in a while. Moreover, never be vague about your raid preparation requirements. Instead of just saying “come prepared,” do as Catal, our raid leader does and spell it out in no uncertain terms:

What you should bring:

- A good attitude – We’re going to wipe… a lot.
- PvP trinket and PvP/Stam gear – The focus will be on survivability.
- 2 flasks of your choice.
- Lots of health/mana pots.
- Lots of reagents for buffing.
- Have decursive loaded if you will be responsible for dispelling Grip of the Legion (curse).

This set of requirements applies to our attempts on Archimonde this week. Every raid sign up comes with one of these, and you may find it useful to have a general set that would apply to every raid.

Conclusions

Phew! Now you have three basic documents that your members will be able to refer to when they have questions about how the guild is run. Believe me, they will hold you to what you say, so always keep your policies up-to-date. For Collateral Damage, things didn’t turn out according to our first design, but they worked out all right nonetheless. However, I should /pinch myself for not updating the charter. These documents are a contract between you and your members and it is in your best interest as guild leader to hold up your end.

For next time, we’ll be looking at the fourth and arguably most important policy that a new guild needs to have in place: the Loot System. You must choose a system early, because the first thing most recruits will ask is how your guild handles loot. Next Wednesday’s post will outline all the sordid details of loot distribution, and I’ll tell you some choice horror stories of loot QQ, I promise.

If you still haven’t satisfied your appetite for information on guild managment, I’ll refer you to Auzara at Chick GM, who is the guru of guild-mastery and all related issues. I always find it beneficial to take into account multiple perspectives on important topics.

Build Your Own Guild From the Ground Up: Part 1

Build Your Own Guild From the Ground Up: Part 1


With Wrath of the Lich King on the horizon, quite a few ambitious players will be looking for new and better guilds. An expansion is a logical time for a guild roster shakeup, and the enterprising raider knows that the best time to look for a new guild is right now. For an excellent guide to finding a new raiding guild, see Bellwether’s four-part series on the topic.

This series of posts has a different purpose. In this multipart series, I will show prospective Guild Masters how to build a new organization from zero. Installments in the series will come out twice every week, on Wednesdays and Fridays. Read on to find out how can you take a bunch of n00bs who don’t know jack about being in a raiding guild and turn them into a well-oiled tier gear-acquiring machine.

Wait, do I really want to be a Guild Master?

Before I tell you how to go about building the guild of your dreams, there are questions that you, the prospective GM, must ask yourself.

1. What kind of guild do I want to be in?

Now is the time for soul-searching. For me, the answer was easy. I wanted to be in a guild that was kind, respectful, helpful, and, at the same time, extremely good at raiding. My personal criteria for the perfect guild were unusual–I wanted a bona fide raiding guild, but I also wanted a supportive environment to learn in. I wasn’t good enough to join one of the top guilds on the server, so I also needed a place that would take someone whose skills hadn’t fully developed yet. The best answer, for me, was to join with others in forming a new guild.

Think about your own wants and needs. How much do you play? What kind of hours do you want to put in raiding? How much say do you want to have in guild decisions? What kind of attitude do you want your guild to have? When you’re designing from zero, you can control all of these factors.

2. How much work can I put in?

If you’re going to be a GM, or even an officer, you need to have free time that you’re willing to dedicate to the daily business of running a guild. At the ground level, you may spend 15 hours a week wearing your GM hat. Charter and rules development, recruiting, and organizing your initial raids will take more time than you think. If you don’t want to put in the time, the job of Guild Master might not be right for you.

3. Do I know people who can help me?

There may be successful guilds out there that are founded on the charisma of one strong leader, but I don’t know any. If you’re going to be a GM, you need to learn to share power. Auzara of ChickGM made a post on this very topic that gets to the very heart of the matter. If your guild is to have a chance of survival, more than one person must be involved in the decision-making. My guild doesn’t even have a true GM. We have a group of officers with equal voting power who trade off the figurehead title once a month.

Choose your officers carefully. Your best friends will not necessarily make the best officers. Find calm, rational, smart people with some free time and a lot of enthusiasm for your guild project. Meet with them weekly, and let them have a vote on guild policy issues. If you are not planning to lead raids yourself, make sure your Raid Leader is an officer. Other than the GM, this is the person with the most power in your guild. He or she will also have to deal with complaints from members on a day-to-day basis, and it is much easier to field these from a position of authority.

4. Why do I want to be a GM?

Before you rush out to buy that Guild Charter, make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. For me personally, I wanted the satisfaction of seeing my guild run the correct way. I wanted to have a measure of control over how things were run, because I thought that I could help us avoid the classic pitfalls of raiding guilds. I believed that if my fellow officers and I put in fair policies, we could see new content without being disrespectful of each other or squabbling over loot. I didn’t want anyone to have to grow a “thick skin” in order to raid with us. In short, I wanted my guild tag to be one that members would display with pride.

There are many bad reasons to want the GM position. The first of these is guilt–if you’re only picking up the GM tag because you feel that no one else will do it, you won’t be happy long term. The second of these is pride. Let’s face it, there’s a little ego in everything, and that’s all right. However, you must ask yourself if you’re really doing this for bragging rights, for loot, or for the sheer joy of having power over others. If things go wrong in your guild, being a GM won’t feel so good. In fact, you’ll start to feel like a piece of flypaper as the QQ gets stuck all over you. According to Machiavelli, it may be better to be feared than to be loved, but in the context of WoW, there’s no real reason to fear a GM. If you’re on a power trip, your members can always leave, sometimes taking the contents of the guild bank with them.

Conclusions

If you’ve gone through these questions, and you still want to run your own guild, stay tuned for the next installment in the series, in which I explain how to develop a set of essential rules and policies for your new guild.

How to Successfully Pick up a GM

How to Successfully Pick up a GM

Image courtesy of dbking

Making the first move and first impression counts when you’re looking to join a Guild. Excellent Guildmasters (I prefer General Managers) have a way of cutting through the random crap that applicants throw at them. They’re able to translate what applicants say and interpret them in a more precise way. As my Guild’s first line of defense against “R-Tards”, I’ve seen my share of bad opening introductions from players that were interested. Here’s 10:

  1. You say: “I can maintain 100% attendance.” GM thinks: “Even if he does make 100% of the raids, he’ll probably afk for a good portion of them.”
  2. You say: “I am willing to listen and pay attention all the time.” GM thinks: “Good, because my guild is full of players who do whatever the heck it is that they want at will.”
  3. You say: “I’m not quite sure what level your Guild is at in terms of progression, but… ” GM thinks: “No homework or research done and you’re applying for our Guild blindly? If you can’t research Guilds then we can’t expect you to research boss strategies.”
  4. You say: “I can lead PvP battlegrounds and form a top notch arena team within the Guild.” GM thinks: “We’re a frackin’ progression guild, not a PvP guild! Besides, this Guild can’t handle more than 1 emo BG leader.”
  5. You say: “I’d like to see end game raiding and experience it.” GM thinks: “You willing to die for it?”
  6. You say: “I don’t think my gear is good enough, however…” GM thinks: “Nope, probably not.”
  7. You say: “There’s not much time left before the expansion comes out, so…” GM thinks: “We’re not a sightseeing operation.”
  8. You say: “I’m willing to sit on the bench for a while and stay as a trial if you’re full.” GM thinks: “Great, someone whose not even going to try and compete for a raid spot.”
  9. You say: “You’ve made these mods mandatory for use in the Guild, but I don’t think I need them because…” GM thinks: “You can’t even pass a simple test of just downloading and installing mods. How will I know you will do as I instruct during a raid?”
  10. You say: “The only way for me to get better as a player is to get better gear.” GM thinks: “A million dollars to anyone who invents a device that allows for strangulation across the internet

The best opening lines to make to a GM or their representative is to say something similar to:

Hi, my name is __________, I would like to raid as a __________ spec and I have experience up to this encounter in the game.

For a much better insight into the application and mental thought processes of GMs, I strongly advise you read Chick GM’s post about the very same subject in more detail.

Post inspired by Guy Kawasaki

Resources for the New Guild Leader

I just wanted to highlight some links for any up and coming Guildmasters who aren’t sure where to start looking for the various services they will need to set up and organize their guild..

Guild Webhosting

Enjin (Affiliate link) – Free. Contains forums, item mouseovers, roster, news management, calendar, progression indicator, multiple themes available (Demos, upgradable)
Guildomatic
– Free. Contains forums, item mouseovers, roster, news management, Ad-Supported (Demo, upgradable)
Shivtr - Forums, character profiles, image gallery, events calendar, guild bank interface, polls (Free trial, $8.99 /month)
Guild Launch – Free, Forums, calendar, guild progression, RapidRaid loot management system, guild bank interface, armory interface, 10 MB file storage, Ad-Supported (demo, upgradable)
WoW Guilds – DKP system, bank management, raid progression module, WoW MP3 player, event management, over 70 templates to choose from, guild stats, armory interface (Demo – $9.88 /month)
Guild Universe – Forums, calendar, event management, guild application, roster, news management, polls (Demo, upgradable)
Guild Portal – Forums, polls, mail, content management system, raid calendar, bank management, roster management,  (Demo, equals to $5.00 /month)

Webhosting

Dreamhost (Affiliate link): Dreamhost powers World of Matticus (500 GB Disk storage, 5 TB monthly bandwidth, $5.95 /month depending on prepayment).

Forums

Yuku - Free, hundreds of skins, customizable polls, member management (premium available)
Free Forums – Free, daily backups, over 100 styles, member management, data recovery (premium available)

DKP and EPGP

DKP 4 Guilds – Inhouse DKP management, raid attendance logs, raid bank, item mouseovers.
EPGP Web – Web interface for EPGP users.

Voice Servers

Nationvoice (Affiliate link): My personal vent provider of choice. I’ve been with them for over 5 years since my early days in Counter-strike (50 users for $14.99).
Typefrag – An alternative to Nationvoice. A number of Guilds I know use them (50 users for $9.99 and they have a special where if you order for a year, you get 50% off).
MMO Mumble – Mumble hosting service. $5.63 for 25 slots.
Raidcall - Free, no dedicated servers needed.

General

Warcraft Realms – Online WoW census. Tracks a player’s guild history.
WoW Jutsu – Ranks guilds based on their progression. Filterable by battlegroup, server, and faction.
WoW Progress - Ranks guilds based on their progression. Filterable by battlegroup, server, and faction.
World of Logs – Think of it as a really indepth damage meter. Takes your combat log and outputs it into something meaningful.
WoWpedia - The encyclopedia of WoW. Useful for learning about raid instances and the trash therein as well as boss strategy.
Boss Killers – Various strategies for killing bosses.
Ask Mr Robot - Online tool for figure out what gear to get next on your character. Optimizes reforging and augments. Customizable stat weights.
Icy Veins - Class information and raid strategy

Recruiting

Elitist Jerks – One of the largest theorycrafting communities. $25 per thread.
Tankspot - Available to Tankspot donors only.
WoW Lemmings - WoW forums aggregator. Sorts the latest posts on the Guild Recruiting forums on the official WoW site by faction and class.

Poll Results: Over 50% Raid Between 5 – 15 Hours Weekly

If you’re a GM looking to get started on raiding, then these numbers might be something that you will be interested in. Almost 25% don’t seem to be at the point where they are actively raiding. Almost 20% of those polled raid over 15 hours a week.

However, the largest raiding populations raid between 5 – 15 hours per week. These are pretty standard hours for most players who have to go to work or attend school. That’s the kind of length that they’re willing to commit to in terms of purely raiding. It does not include their time spent farming, running instances, or the like.

So be sure to keep this in mind when you are planning out your raiding schedule for the week. Is it representative of the entire WoW community? Unlikely. But it’s a good start.

If you’re a casual Guild that wants to try it out, start out small and aim for about 6ish hours. If they can handle it, then go ahead and ramp it up slightly.