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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