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Officers Quarters > WoWJun 1, 2016 5:00 pm CT

Officers’ Quarters: Social raiding guilds

Emerald Nightmare raid

Large social guilds often have a fraught history with raiding. Their raiders span a spectrum of experience, each with their own methods of approaching the challenge. This week, a guild leader wonders whether he should step in and change the way his guild’s raids are run.

[Anonymous] asked
I am the GM of a larger guild. I no longer feel like I am the leader of the guild, but that the guild has taken on a life of it’s own. When I took over lead, the guild was on the verge of disbanding with a handful of members. Over the course of a few years, it has grown to being near cap. I have tried my best to set things up so that there are people online at different times that can handle invites to the guild, people have ways to get in touch with me during the day when I am in work if something major comes up, I have structured most everything I can so that it is self sufficient, handling guild repair costs, allowing for people to contribute to the guilds success. My one goal was for the guild to be a place for people on our realm to have a place to call home, some place where there were always people on to do things with, and just to have fun playing a game.

I have seen over a few expansions, a similar pattern happen many times where after a certain length of time eventually there develops a gap, between those that are more focused on attaining the top level of raiding, and those that do not have the same amount of time to commit to getting to that level, or they just do not have the same ambition. And a split starts to occur. People start to get excluded from raids because they are not meeting a certain standard, or are not putting in the same amount of work required as others. Eventually the groups will fall apart because those that want to push for higher cannot find the people to sign up, because those that have been passed over go off to do their own thing. I stay out of it. Leading a raid group is, in my opinion, far more difficult than leading a guild.

But it pains me as a Guild Leader to see people get excluded from doing things with the guild, when the whole purpose of me taking control of the guild was so that people could do things together. So do I just put my foot down and say as of this point, where we are near the end, that if you cannot go as a guild group, just call it? Just go off and pug your way to what ever level of content you desire. Or do I say if you want to have a supported raid team with the guild, you have to take those that want to be there every week, as long as they are trying?

The immediate problem I see with that approach is that everyone has a different definition of “trying.” Is it trying when you show up on time and do your best to listen to the raid leader’s instructions? Or is it only trying when you study boss fight vids, optimize your spec and gear, and use consumables on every pull?

As you’ve noted, raiding in a social setting pulls people in two different directions. There will always be that widening gap, as people who really want to progress take the steps to improve their performance, and those who just want to hang out and see what the raid can accomplish do not. The latter get frustrated when progression stalls and start blaming the social raiders. The social raiders get angry because they didn’t sign up to be on a serious raid team. Mixing these two sets of players pretty much always ends up in conflict.

And then what usually happens is that the progression players realize they need a more serious raiding environment. They move on to a guild that’s solely dedicated to progression raiding. I consider it an indication of how well you run your community that these players want to stay, so at least be flattered by that!

nighthold raid concept art

Separate teams

You can’t fight the gap — it’s inevitable. That’s why it’s better to embrace it. For larger social guilds like yours, there should ideally be two teams: a more exclusive one for progression and an inclusive one that is social. (That doesn’t mean people on the progression team can’t help with the social raids if they want to.) Each team should have its own set of rules and expectations, preferably recorded somewhere so everyone can agree on exactly what those rules and expectations are.

If people are spending their time leading raids, that needs to be respected. They should be given the freedom to lead the raids in the way they think best within the existing policies of the guild. Having two teams will help them do that. Instituting new policies to try to control their teams will just make them leave the guild.

I personally think it’s okay to be somewhat exclusive when putting together a raid team because success is indelibly linked to performance, and for many players raid success is how they have fun in WoW. As long as said team is giving guild members a chance to try out — and they’re not being rude about it when they have to turn people down — it’s better to let them have fun in the way they prefer. Forcing people to work together in a raid setting never ends well.

Avoiding the pitfalls

Because the game is in a holding pattern, many guilds are struggling to field viable raid teams. It might be tempting in this scenario to smush all the raiders together and see what happens. This is a recipe for disaster. Once the teams are separate, keep the teams separate. Recruit for each if needed, or call it quits until Legion. If one can keep raiding and one can’t, so be it.

The same applies if and when the progression team advances to Mythic. Don’t promote social raiders to hit the magic number 20 just because the team needs more warm bodies. Players who aren’t ready for Mythic will be overwhelmed, possibly even embarrassed.

Another potential pitfall is that you could end up with the progression team “poaching” the best players from the social team instead of doing their own recruiting. That is something you could regulate with guild policies if you think it will avoid future drama. Players should always have the option of learning the fundamentals in the social raid and moving on to the progression raid, but it’s a different story when the progression team tells someone they have to switch to raiding with them.

Your hands-off approach has allowed the guild to thrive. I recommend continuing that. Make sure everyone can have fun by providing teams that suit their own preferences, but let the leaders of those teams lead.

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