31 Oct 2010

The Back Seat Guild Leader

Ever get the feeling that you’re standing at a crossroads, looking down at the various prongs of a Morton’s Fork? It’s a position that an increasing number of players are finding themselves in during the run up to Cataclysm, and I don’t think I’m an exception to that. And like many people, my thoughts at the moment run to guilds, friends and forward planning.

Like all decisions of this ilk, it’s long and complicated and involved. So rather than doing my usual stint of dispensing advice, I’ve decided to post this to solicit some instead. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this conundrum – maybe you can help me work out how to tackle it or have experiences of your own that can help.

Anyhow, pull up a chair. This may take some time…

Resisting Control

All in all, Wrath has left me with mixed feelings. The content has been easy. Ridiculously easy in some cases. It’s got to the stage where we can 3-man most heroics without a problem. For me and my small group of friends we’ve managed to conquer all the content that’s been within our grasp.

And yet… I don’t feel I’ve achieved as much as I’d have liked. Back in Vanilla I was in one of those hardcore raiding guilds. You know the type – raid 6 nights a week, sometimes from 6 in the evening till one, maybe two in the morning. I learned a lot – about people, about social dynamics, about myself – which is why I eventually called it quits. My job and my life changed, and I just couldn’t commit to the game like that any more. In early Burning Crusade, just as we were learning Magtheridon, I left.

Since then I’ve really struggled to find my feet again while raiding. During the rest of TBC I floundered, joining a series of groups that didn’t really do much for me. I even moved server and joined some real-life friends. But while the friendships are great and the heroics are fine, I can’t help but feel something’s lacking.

Moving into Wrath, I’ve cleared Naxx and Trial of the Champions. But I never cleared Ulduar and now I’m wiping continually on the Lich King. I don’t feel that I’ve achieved very much from raiding this expansion. I’ve hopped around three different guilds during Wrath, all on the same server. And although each one has a great group of people, I’ve still not really found somewhere that really clicked.

The latest guild I’m in is struggling. They are some of the funniest people I’ve had the fortune to raid with and I really look forward to our raids. Only snag is… there aren’t enough of them. We’re raiding maybe 1 night a week – if we’re lucky – and struggling to recruit new players. We desperately need more ranged DPS (I’m currently the only one) and ideally a number of other people in order to get more raids more regularly.

So where does the control come into it? Glad you asked. The problem is… there’s no organisation. The guild leader’s off to University and a number of officers are experiencing change in their lives. They desperately need an officer team that can take responsibility for recruitment, raid organisation, guild bank management and so on. All these jobs have been resting on the guild leader, who just hasn’t got the time any more.

This is where the back seat guild leading comes in. I’ve been giving the guild advice on what they need to do in order to fix things and ensure they’re around long-term. Trouble is, good advice gets you noticed. A couple of people want me to become an officer, but I really don’t want the job. I have a blog, a podcast and other commitments. I’d be happier if there were people that had the time and were willing to learn, rather than asking me (who has little to learn, even less time and buckets of jaded cynicism).

Currently I’m marking time – should I stay or should I go, and if so where to? Or should I look at… Plan B?

On The Other Hand

The other option is for me to pull a switcheroo. I have two mages, one on Earthen Ring and the other on Steamwheedle Cartel. I’ve been asked by the Guild Leader of the mage on ER if I’d help bolster the ranks – it’s a gnome-only roleplay guild, currently very small and close knit. With the right group of people it could grow to becoming a guild that regularly fields 5-mans. With the increased class homogenisation, it might even be possible to field viable 10-man groups.

Why’d I do this? Well, it’s the guild I started out with back in Vanilla, before I went gallivanting off on all these adventures. I even levelled the second mage to 80 just to stay a part of the guild. They’re my roots to the game, my origins. And I kinda owe them.

The trouble is, almost all my cool stuff is on my main. All my pets, mounts, achievements, the lot. The only thing he doesn’t have are Engineering (goggles) and the chopper. So I either swap the two mages around (and pay £30 to Blizzard), or I build the newer one up from scratch, leaving the other to languish.

I’d also have to sink a lot of time into it as well in order to get it working – time that would take me away from other things. I’m also nervous about the unknown – would it work out or would it fail? Could I actually pull off creating a group from scratch and make it attractive enough for people to want to join? And would I have the determination to see it through? Currently, I’m not so sure.

The Third Way

There is, of course, a third option. Create a group of my own, from scratch, on Steamwheedle Cartel with my current main. Pull in the close friends that would join me and construct a group with solid support from an officer team. Pitch it as a “middle of the road” group – not hardcore, not super casual, but where fun and progress are on equal terms.

Again, trouble is finding the time to pull it off, or even finding the people to help me create it. And while I’d have control to lay the founding stones as I saw fit, it’s one of these things that would evolve over time. Would I end up loathing the creation I’d spawned and leaving it in disgust? Would I destroy friendships and burn bridges because of drama? I don’t know.

Over To You

In the end, I’m tired of guild hopping. Whichever way I go, it has to last for the long term. With guild reputation and guild achievements, I’m going to have to stick with my choice for some time to come.

So there you have it. Three options that I’ve outlined, plus whichever ones cropped up in your head while you were reading this. Now comes the part where you pick. Which choice would you go for, which would you discard out of hand? How would you handle things, given the options available?

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14 Responses to The Back Seat Guild Leader

  1. TheAwesomestGuyEver says:

    Hey Gaz, I personally think it would be best with Option 3. That way it’ll be easier to get things just the way you want ’em to be 🙂 I might even join you 😛

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  3. Runzwithfire says:

    You find yourself in quite the conundrum here, but it seems to me that your biggest problem appears to be the lack of available time you have to commit to any of these three options (a problem with which I fully empathise with). A quick query if I may…

    The lack of raiding in the current guild? Is this purely because of the officers’/guild leader’s time restraints or is this because there is not a call in amongst the guild for more frequent raiding? If it is due to the officers then why not opt to be a raid leader. This doesn’t mean you have to be an officer and spend time sorting out guild administration, you are purely allowing guildies who want to the option of more frequent raiding ‘in a relaxed but progressive environment’.

    Failing that, go with the second or third option but which one is down to to you. I would guess if you expect to have a lot of fun, transfer your main back to the RP guild. If you’re not sure that you’ll actually enjoy that and you’re only considering it as an option due to the tug of loyalty you feel then go with the third option. Yes it may be a very slow process building up that group, it may have some false starts but in the end it is far more likely that you will have built up a group and a timetable with which you are personally happy with and that extra investment at the start may well pay dividends in the long run over the whole of the Cata expansion.

    Good luc with your decision making dude XD

    • Gazimoff says:

      The basic problem with the guild is that it’s currently built around the idea of having a team of ten people with no substitutions or reserves. As a result, you can only run raids when everyone is available. If someone takes a break, or has tech problems, or just wants time off, it means that raids don’t happen. And that’s bad.

      They need to recruit, but they need someone to organise recruitment. Assess what classes are needed, what type of people we want, etc. It’s a job for someone who spends a fair chunk online, but currently no-one’s picked up the tab…

      And before you even do recruitment, the guild itself needs to work out what it is, what it wants to achieve and how it wants to place itself. It needs some kind of strategy, purely in order to make sure that people know what they’re signing up for. And it doesn’t have that.

      A lot of work needs to go into the guild, and I’m not seeing it happen. More than that though, I don’t have the time myself to commit to it without pilfering time from elsewhere.

      • Runzwithfire says:

        hmmmm now I’m pretty big on guild loyalty, but that’s personal circumstance with me and my guild because they do everything that I like. Normally I would say if you want change, be the catalyst for change but time is the issue. As much as you may want to help the guild because there are great guys in it etc I think you may have to ask yourself if this is really the guild for you as it currently stands. Your time is precious, those of use with jobs/children/blogs/podcasts/active social life know this, therefore the time you choose to spend online must be productive. You clearly already know this you just need the push (if I may be so bold to say) to make a change.

        If you like the guild, hang about until Cataclysm then look for a more pro-active guild, you know guild recruitment will be massive when it launches as those guilds that have suffered from burnout will seek to replenish their ranks.

        If you’re prepared to be a little more ruthless, look to switch guild to an active raiding guild now. There are still plenty of active guilds running ICC/RS these tend to be the mid-level or more casual progression guilds that didn’t finish ICC within a month for realm firsts or epeen value.

        I know neither of these options are listed in your choice of three but all three of the options you’ve listed seem to be pretty time intensive and it appears to me that it’s time you don’t have readily available. Remember this is your time and you should be having fun with it, although the social bonds we make in WoW can be strong, don’t let them stop you from having fun or progression and achieving the goals you want.

        That’s my two coppers anyway.

        • Reis just Reis says:

          I agree with Runzwithfire 100%! Well put sir. I can’t improve on it, so I will leave it at that.

  4. Razorstorm says:

    Wow dude, I am going through a very similar thing on my horde server. I actually am an officer for a small guild, and have put forth efforts to recruit, to organize stuff, And still nothing is happening.

    I’ve been debating between upping my ante and leading more things (which realistically I probably don’t have time for working full time and doing grad school) or moving to another RP/PVP guild I’ve been chatting with.

    I feel really bad about walking away, but your time, and how you spend it are precious. I’d lean toward moving to the group that has it together where you can join in. So. I guess I’m recommending option B.
    Razorstorm recently posted..A Letter GoodbyeMy Profile

  5. Suss says:

    Looks like your problem is a lack of time. Running a guild takes tons of time, especially with recruiting in addition to raiding the required hours to learn the fights. I think your best bet is to join a 10 man guild run by organized people come Cataclysm. Surely some of the 25 man groups will be breaking up, and I’d think there would be good opportunities. Good luck to ya.

  6. Genk says:

    Tough situation. Been there before, plenty of times. One thing though, is to think far ahead. Not to Cata, or the next expansion, but beyond that. I know you obviously have officer skills, but you also note you have a lot on your plate. Can you really be an officer/GM long term? Or will you maybe end up making the same mistakes other have and leave behind a crippled guild and, worst, players like yourself wondering what happened to their home?

    In all seriousness, check our guild site (earthbound.guildportal.com). Check our forum recruitment thread (http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?sid=1&topicId=27387868738&postId=272794323567#0).

    I’ve been in your situation man. I’ve been in it for most of my years of online gaming, being either the defacto officer you described yourself as or the official officer. I’ve hoped guilds and games, and to be blunt, it’s hard to find a good guild. I started my own very recently, and already, without forcing my RL friends to join (in fact, I find them more useful out of guild than in), we’re at about 10 actives on at ALL times (even 4AM PST >.<), and usually 20 people on- without spamming trade chat or general, and without raiding (for now). We started as a pvp guild and attracted raiders and raid leaders (and even a small raiding guild!) from our guild chat alone. In fact, we've got numerous transfer players who joined JUST by making an alt and chatting with us in gchat for while.

    This guild's set up as a network of players, not the usual loot machine. I'm personally doing school (grad student), and organize a weekly event, but the guild largely organizes itself. For example, we recently had a bit of drama. A player went off on the guild when officers were on. The guildies, ON THEIR OWN, handled the entire situation. They pressured the offender into quitting the guild, and when the dust settled, several people decided they cared about the guild enough to apply for full membership and/or pre-officer positions. Few guilds can say they grow from these sorts of situations.

    • Gazimoff says:

      Thanks for the offer, but alas I’m on the EU server cluster. That said, I’m finding playing on Lost Isles beta server more fun than Mekkatorque 🙂

  7. Cavis says:

    I might have a fourth option for you, although I would need to discuss it in game in more details – if you will be interested of course.

    On our server (Steamwheedle Cartel-EU) there is a community called Unity. You might not heard of us unless you’re checking raid progress topics as we rarely advertise around. We are an old (in WoW-years) community, Unity was created February 2006. We visited Zul’Gurub, Molten Core, Blackwing’s Lair and most of Ahn’Quiraj in Vanilla, we killed Kil’jaeden in TBC (after 3.0 patch) and we got all 3 Glories of the Raider in WotLK. We raid 3 times per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 20:30-24:00), altogether around 10 hours per week. And we have stable leadership with raid leader and most of officers in Unity playing since Vanilla. 100% activity rate is not required, 66% is minimum (that includes staying as backup on raids).

    Now this is a community – which has some advantages and disadvantages. You have to rate them yourself to see if this option might be an alternative you’re looking for:
    – we invite people to community, we got forum, we got bank (alt-guild) and in-game chat channels. We got event calendar, DKP system, Ventrilo, organized leadership and clear rules for bank resource access. People in community also talk/joke, run heroics together or organize 10 man runs when they are bored. We focus on 25 man raiding and will remain so in Cataclysm.
    – we don’t invite people to guild. There is no single Unity guild. Majority of players in Unity are from House of Elements and Stormwind Academy, but if you want to join any of those, you need to ask their guild leaders about it. You can also remain in your current guild or any guild you choose later.
    – We raid, we do achievements too. Guild achievements gonna be hard, but normal achievements – you can check our score-card here: http://www.guildox.com/go/g.asp?n=House+of+Elements&r=Steamwheedle+Cartel-EU

    To summarize – if you would be open to such an option, you are invited to try and join us. I can’t guarantee you spot in Unity, I still have to go through standard recruiting process (you know, the stuff the ensures some quality check on new people), but I have a feeling it’s not gonna be a problem. If you’re interested – feel free to contact me in any of the way you choose: mail, in-game chat (Cavis, Eldaren, Moras – those are my most played characters at this moment) or our forum http://unity.home.pl/forum

  8. Transient says:

    Personally, I’d stick with the funny guys who are noticing your leadership style.
    The key here is that they seem to respect you. Which means, they’re more likely to listen to you if you teach them the art of leading and give them the confidence they need to pick up individual roles where required. A lot of folks are scared of things like raid leadership or recruitment for PUGs because of the myth that it is hard. A little encouragement and supervision while trialling the role under the watchful eye of someone they know can do it right is often all the confidence-boosting they need.

    Also: Delegation. Try to spread the load out nice and thin. If they all trust each other and have authenticators, GB etc shouldn’t be much of an issue.

    Here’s the best tip: If these guys’ only problem is that there isn’t enough of them, I wouldn’t worry. Cataclysm is only a few weeks away. People will be levelling 5-mans etc. During the questing, you are all likely to encounter new people who are levelling, and during the cooperation you may well find that some of them (or even just in /1. general) fit the guild’s sense of humour and family and are a decent fit worth recruiting. You can worry about end-game later and in the meantime, keep an eye out for good people while the getting is good. You no longer have to work toward 25, because the gear will be just as good for 10.
    (I know, I know, I was pro in vanilla too and consider 40 to be the only ‘true’ raid, with 25 being soft. You gotta break that mindset that if you’re not doing 25 you’re not going hard enough.)

  9. Copey says:

    Popped over from wowinsider. Nice blog, and nice Morton’s Fork reference.

    I have people similar to you in my own guild. People who look around and ask everybody, including me, repeatedly, “Why are we not raiding?!?! I want to kill the Lich King!!!”

    Unfortunately for them, and possibly you, it’s the end of the expansion. As a guild leader and raid leader, I’ve pounded my head against Wrath content for two years now. Sometimes it was fast and easy (Naxx & ToC), sometimes it was difficult but rewarding (Icc and King Slayer titles), sometimes it was almost impossible and nearly killed our guild (Ulduar).

    Your GM and Officers may not be extremely motivated to raid right now, because if they are like me right now feels like a good time for a break before the expansion hits. Hopefully (and you may or may not know this about them) they are planning for the expansion. What raid size you guys will concentrate on, raiding schedules, when raiding is expected to start up again, and so on. Are there going to be changes in leadership? What is the plan? If you are not an officer, and have no intention of becoming one, then you may not know. BUT, good leadership should be telling you that there is in fact a plan. I know I have rewritten our guild charter, and communicated to as many people as I could that our guild will continue, when the raiding schedule will be, what the changes are, and when we will start raiding again.

    If you find out that your guild has no plan, the leadership isn’t thinking ahead toward the expansion, and nobody knows what is going to happen I see you having two choices. Either step up and get into an Officer position and help them get organized, or find another guild that is prepping for the future. Sitting back and waiting could be seen as a third choice, but that’s how I missed out on a lot of content in BC, and that’s why I jumped at the opportunity to be a leader in Wrath.

    Good luck, I hope you find a good fit for you.

  10. Mallusof says:

    Hey Gaz.

    Woah. What en eye-opener for me reading this. I’m quiet aware that the guild is having problems and I’m also aware that I’ve been putting these problems off untill after we killed Lich King and even some of them, after Cataclysm is launched.

    And I can also see the consequences this has had (especially when they are pointed out this powerfully, haha).

    I would ofcourse love for you to stay. I do not have time to answer you fully right now, but I will do so within this weekend.