8 Sep 2010

Getting the Guild Appeal

I don’t know if I’ve talked much about it, but a while back I was searching for a new raiding guild. I was lucky at the time – one guild came from a recommendation and responded to me making enquiries in trade chat, while the other was a guild that I had real-life friends in. For me, they were easy choices.

This might not be relevant any more – after all many raid guilds are in a holding pattern until Cataclysm comes out. Several are taking a summer break, while others have shut down completely. Others are struggling with membership, either having to recruit to keep raiding, or in just retaining their existing members. It’s summer, there are some fantastic new games out and the choice between the same grind and the big shiny is an easy choice to make.

One thing I have noticed is that there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of new raiders out there looking for a spot. But often I hear complaints about having to gear up new recruits, or help them learn the fights, or similar. And it becomes a chore, and guild progress fades, and you’re dealing with discontented raiders. And the last thing you want is for the thing you’ve built together to implode, but you can feel it on the horizon. I don’t think it has to be that way though, although I think as raid guilds we’re our own worst enemy sometimes. Let me explain.

When you originally set up a raid guild, there’s a handful of things that are a priority: getting a structure in place, ensuring continuity and agreeing on a set of rules for rewarding your members. For the well established raid guilds these have probably gone through a fair few iterations, but chances are if you’re new in Wrath then you put something that looked right so that you could get stuck into the meat of raiding. Which is what you’re all there to do, after all.

There’s a couple of things to consider though – do those rules still make sense when you’re bringing in new recruits halfway through a raiding cycle? How about right at the end of raiding, where you need those extra people to keep progression going? Can you be sure that your set-up, your intentions and your goals will work just as well at the end of an expansion as the beginning?

If you’re now scratching your head and wondering what I’m going on about then let me give you an example. DKP has for a long time been one of the most popular ways of rewarding your members. Players earn DKP for turning up and killing bosses, and can then spend that DKP on new loot. It’s simple, everyone understands how it works and it’s transparent.

Except that it also can act against recruitment. Take now, for example. We’re three, maybe four months away from the expansion. If a new recruit joins you now, they probably have a trial period to get through. They might not earn DKP during the trial. They also have to earn enough DKP once they pass the trial to be able to place bids and gain loot. Chances are that if they’re lucky they might get to bid on maybe one or two pieces before the expansion comes. In terms of effort versus reward, you’ve just managed to put off well-geared raiders from joining your group, purely because they probably won’t be able to be rewarded for their contribution to your raid.

I’m not suggesting throwing out DKP either. In my 10-man raid guild we use a straight /roll to determine loot. But we’re also trying to recruit a new shaman. Yep, the new recruit gets easy access to gear fairly quickly, but it also doesn’t reward your existing members for consistently showing up week-in, week-out.

Yes, there are solutions to this. After firing this question out on Twitter I got a huge amount of responses back:

  • Shades of Grey uses a hard cap in her guild – once you hit 100 points you stop earning.
  • Beruthiel uses a loot council system in her guild in order to distribute loot. It’s lasted her guild for six years.
  • Stoneybaby mentions that the Big Crits guild is moving away from DKP.
  • Pewter suggests trying out a new mechanism like EP/GP in order to prevent point hoarding.

There’s also the flipside to this, with players describing how it should or shouldn’t feel:

  • Jaedia says she’s been in guilds in the past where it has taken a long time to catch up with DKP.
  • Shandreen has told her guild if they start raiding in Cata she wants to see a common sense system introduced
  • Angeyla mentioned that there were a couple of people stockpiling DKP through Naxx and passing on all upgrades just to be the first to get a weapon from Kel’Thuzzad.

I know that I’ve picked on DKP and member reward mechanisms as just one point around this, but the same thought process can (and probably should) be applied to every part of your raid guild’s workings.

At the end of the day, you want your new recruits to be integrated and working as well as regular members of your guild quickly, not continually playing catch-up because they joined late in the raiding cycle. You want to build something that stands the test of time, instead of just running the length of a single expansion. By considering the impact of your rules choices on both future recruitment as well as your existing members, you can help your guild to make it through the dry spells.

If you’re in a guild where you’re current rules aren’t working, don’t be afraid to change things. The longer you put things on hold or defer decisions, the longer you prolong the difficulties you’re going through and the closer you get to guild implosion.

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11 Responses to Getting the Guild Appeal

  1. Ceraphus says:

    I wrote an article regarding loot system using RNG or basically /roll. My guild moved to it a while back when we had to scale back to 10 man raiding a bit, but found it also worked in 25 mans too. No numbers to keep up with really, just make sure you keep track of who wins loot during the raid. Here is a link to the article on my blog: http://variantavatar.com/2010/08/rng-loot-system-with-structure/
    Ceraphus recently posted..How I WoW- User InterfaceMy Profile

    • Gazimoff says:

      Completely agree, I’m seeing a lot of 10 man guilds get a lot of success out of using the /roll setup for loot distribution. The only other thing we have is a “hot streak” protection for people with obscenely lucky dice.

      I’ve not tried scaling it up to 25-man though outside of pugs – that could be a little interesting.

      • Ceraphus says:

        basically in our system you win once, you can keep rolling but if you roll against someone else who hasn’t won something, the person who won nothing gets priority. But after that its flat /roll

        The biggest source of problems is with hybrids (whats boomkin vs resto), I count both the same unless one piece has +hit then its boomkin, but yeah it has been pretty smooth.

  2. Hexlol says:

    Keeping progression at this point is really hard. But the worst thing is having someone that applies to a hardmode progressing guild and doesn’t have the decency to read up the strategies for the fights. Feels like the good players just are burnout and the bad ones want to catch up/be carried.

    Our guild used to have Loot Council, wich seemed to work pretty well. When I first joined I thought it could be a very elitist way of loot distribution, but it turned out to be very fair. We moved then to EP/GP system, cause we wanted a more tangible way to reward attendance. It’s very interesting and it doesn’t seem to get inflated like DKP can be.

    We had some whining about the system, people claiming some players would “farm EP” to get the gear they wanted. The truth is: if you have good attendance, you’ll get loot in ANY system there is.

    If the guild you’re trying to apply has some content on farm, chances are you won’t be fighthing for gear all that much. In ours we have gotten ppl to full 277’s in a matter of weeks cause nobody really needs any loot, except from the bosses we don’t kill (Sindra+LK). So if anything, new recruits should be worried more about “how commited am I willing to be, in order to get the loot and fun I want?”.

  3. coup says:

    back when i did raid, i joined a guild with dkp but often i got gear a min dkp just because everyone was just spending dkp on offspec. since ms>os i got upgraded everything in 3-4 weeks

  4. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently since I clashed with my guild over our EPGP system to the point of me leaving somewhat because of it. Our system was that you link your current in slot piece and then use EPGP to decide who gets the loot. To be honest, I never understand how the system worked completely. During the first few raids I got a lot of gear and that continued for a week or two. Afterwords I began feeling more and more shafted by loot distribution. People who had far better gear then me were winning new pieces while I was stuck with my lower pieces. I believe my guild were a bit fickle though when it came to distribute loot and that they were probably adding other factors in that weren’t fair to the rest of us. Anyway, I’ve had a much better experience with the simple /roll runs with another guild. If the group is somewhat consistent in running raids then I know I’ll eventually get the piece I’m hoping for. I’ve never experienced DKP so I can’t comment on it. As for rewarding long time membership and attendance, I’m not sure if loot distribution should be modified to accommodate that. Members should be showing up because they want to win loot and progress, not to earn points to variable ninja a piece they want. If the guild wants to award good attendance then perhaps every one who shows up on time get’s free flasks or some bonus like ability to roll primordial saronites. Long time members can get some appreciation through free enchants or gems. I think loot should be a fair chance for everyone, and that guild rewards for service and attendance should be done outside of the raid. Just the way I see it.
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  5. Sulin says:

    I’ve been using EPGP for a while now and I have to say it’s by far the fairest and simplest method I’ve experienced. Some things that make the system especially useful:
    – Directly relates effort(ep) to gear(gp) for a meaningful ratio
    – Provides a decay option. With this tool you can basically customize the time it takes for a new player to ‘catch-up’ to everyone else, 2 weeks or 2 months for example.
    – With the EPGP mod you can view standings and loot rewards in-game.
    – With EPGP Lootmaster mod raiders get a pop-up for loot where they can choose MainSpec, OffSpec, or Pass.

  6. Anteres says:

    We’ve used a tiered loot system since Ulduar and it’s worked great. If you win a need, you get bumped down a tier. If you win a greed it bumps you down a different tier. Anyone who is on a higher tier will win over someone on a lower tier. We’ve not had a legitimate loot issue between memeber since this system went in place (and it works on 25 man pugs that we’ve lead as well).

    We’re a more casual guild though, so we’re trying to reward the people who show up that night vs any sort of DKP system that was just an administrative nightmare back in BC days.