|Mature sets his title to Twilight Vanquisher|
after completing The Twilight Zone
How do you become the "Top Guild on the Server"?
Is success measured by design of the guild's spectacular website? What if players can't be bothered with a site (or don't know how to set one up), then maybe the lack of a website is more enticing. The ability to communicate and treat others with respect and maturity could be a good measure. But, that could very well be exactly the opposite of what a player wants. Maybe they are introverted and don't want excessive communication, but prefer to be left alone, speaking only when they have a very specific question to ask. Perhaps a reflection of the guild's goals and ideals, and how they approach the discipline of raiding (or PvP) is what floats guilds to the top. Maybe the top guild on the server demonstrates fantastic maturity and discipline! But what if you don't want that? What if you thrive on trolling and griefing, and after a hard day at school or the office, the only comfort you get in life is to gank noobs as they quest in ignorant bliss? Maybe the top guild on the server is the definitive griefing guild, and you salivate just contemplating the possibility of being a part of that. Maybe I have it wrong...perhaps it is simply a measure of size -- that must be it. The top guild on the server must be the largest, no question...or...is it the smallest?
This question came up in General Chat nearly every day that I played WoW. Someone always wanted to know who the "top guild" on the server was. And you'd often see the same patterns of names fly past. During Vanilla it was "Depraved"; around The Burning Crusade, it became "Pretty Pink Pwnies". Occasionally, a troll would spam support for the Alliance, and we'd see guilds like "Inertia" or "Costa" show up. In an un-moderated, practically anonymous medium, the message delivered was very often the same thing:
Our perception of the top guild on this server is the one that's making the greatest progression in raids.
That didn't speak at all to the way in which those guilds carried themselves. Some were comprised of genuinely cool people. Others set the standard for a new level of douchebag. In many cases it was a melting pot; a guild with good intentions containing bad seeds. The reverse was very often true as well. Guilds existed with arrogant, disrespectful leadership, but that held within them pockets of greatness; tiny flames constantly being snuffed thanks to hot air blown by their oppressive officership. Many guilds added a layer of transparency to their character by being heavily active on the Deathwing-US Battle.net forums.
I knew what I was up against on a daily basis; my reminder was General Chat scrolling by. Chuck Norris jokes, insults, political arguments, profanity...all arbitrarily intermixed with raw demand. Smithies looking for work. Need help running this Heroic. Need help with this one quest, hey can anyone tell me where Mankirk's wife is? Where do I turn in these tokens for gear? How the hell do I get back to Orgrimmar from Dalaran? Hey, how do you get that bizarre mount? Hey, how do you get that title?
Hey. What's the top guild on this server? I am LFGuild, thx.
"LOL its Enigma"
"Top guild si Enigma, tlak to Fraya"
I knew what I was up against.
|Fraya stands among Kerulak, and other various players|
on Deathwing-US, after defeating Emeriss
Fraya had been on Deathwing-US since the early days of WoW. We had bumped into him several times since Vanilla, where his time was mostly spent in Admonished Prophets. My ex-Warrior officer Annihilation clocked the most time spent in Fraya's presence: a good kid, loved to PvP on his Druid, helped us out killing some world bosses back in Vanilla. By all accounts, Fraya was good people. We even tried to nab him a couple of times, but no...he respectfully declined. Said he had big plans to start a raiding guild. Wanted to make a name for himself. See how far he could push a team into progression. And not too soon after the release of Wrath, we saw what he was up to: the guild name Enigma started to spread quickly throughout the Horde community on Deathwing-US. They were going to be making a name for themselves, and I had every reason to be concerned. Depraved had poached players from me during Vanilla, and the same held true for Pretty Pink Pwnies during TBC. But then, I was in disblief, shock, disgust, surprise...how could another guild treat me like this? Weren't we all in this together?
It doesn't work like that.
In the business of building a raiding guild, you take what you want. I'm curious what the general feeling is on this topic for European guilds; my locale limits me to being exposed only to the North American servers. But here, at least as far as Deathwing-US is concerned, guilds treat each other like corporate america treats greed. There's no honor among guild leaders; I'd be surprised if any of the guild leaders on Deathwing-US even know who I am...or care!
I wanted to know them.
In the corporate world, public relations and ethics are barely enough to keep people virtuous. Now, pretend for a moment that you are completely protected by a thick shell of anonymity, and can do what you want, say what you want, and act how you want, without any fear or repercussions.
Well, now you have a general idea of what it's like to be a raiding Guild Leader.
We touted ideals and morals in DoD, and four years in, I now had a pretty good handle on setting the standard behind our walled garden. By now my guild was making a name for themselves, helping out each other without being asked. They'd go out of their way to be respectful to players in other guilds, no matter how ignorant players were in return. I particularly enjoyed killing trolls with kindness; responding to players that had gone way overboard in the what-is-appropriate department with hugs, apologies, and bubble-gum candy-cane hearts only drove them into a greater fury.
I loved that.
But behind the scenes I knew what we were up against, because I knew how the game was being played and the rules of engagement were non-existent at best. The majority of players wouldn't see my website, read my rules, get to know me or my guild, learn about our ideals and values, and how we tried every day to separate ourselves from the herd.
They'd see three things: Gear, Titles and General Chat. And, since I had already committed to keeping my opinion out of General Chat (and compelled DoD to do the same), I was down to two concrete selling points. For the masses, all I could hope to do was impress upon them our progress by what we wore, and the titles that displayed next to our name. If they happened to see us flying a coveted mount, it would be icing on the cake. Then...and only then...could I begin to demonstrate why it would be lucrative to choose Descendants of Draenor over another hardcore, further progressed guild.
|Mature chats with Beercow while Scruffiebear|
converses in guild chat
Hardcore raiding guilds were known for keeping a short leash on their raiders, and this included the raiders' individual schedules. Guilds competing for world-first and server-first titles were expected to clock long hours, and be raiding many nights per week. We couldn't compete with that. We had jobs, wives, kids, responsibilities -- all the wonderful things that like to stick a dent in a hardcore raiding schedule. We had to sell that deficiency as a perk. Rather than force you to raid inappropriate hours during the week, we'd give you the option to maintain a more flexible raiding schedule. In order to make this happen, I made it a rule to handle the rotations myself and work very closely with the players to facilitate their schedules. Various guildies were notably concerned about my heightened expectations in our updated Wrath rules, but I assured them that I would do my very best to make the schedule work.
One raider in particular, a Feral Druid named Beercow, expressed his concerns to me over IM. He desperately wanted to be a regular part of the 25-Man progression team, and earn his way up to the “Elite” rank, but felt stifled by the fact that there was no room to consistently bring him in the tank role. Beercow was an old-school veteran of DoD; he had raided with the 40-Man team on his Warlock, Kragnl. After taking time off for TBC, had returned to consume content with us in Wrath. Players that helped us get where we were today held a special place of importance in the guild, I felt. Hence, I felt it equally important to find a way to carve a spot out for him in the raid roster. Without trying to convince him to play something we needed (a habit I intended on breaking at the start of WotLK) I fished out another interest: Enhancement Shaman. I saw a need for that and told him he’d easily be able to prove he’s Elite material if he chose that spot, and stuck to it. He obliged, and Beercow -- now Bheer -- became the only regular Enhancement Shaman from week-to-week, and a core member of progression.
Another player I made allowances for was a long standing player in DoD, one who’d become a regular face in progression, and was a player we all knew by many names. He had a multitude of characters on his account, and fashioned himself a PvPer at heart; he had spent many late nights cruising through Alterac Valley, Arathi Basin and Warsong Gulch with some of our other veteran PvPers like Neps and Annihilation. He had got his foot in DoD’s door via his brother, the Warlock Ouleg (also a PvPer) who had been known to contribute to raids from time to time throughout TBC. Ouleg never demonstrated to me any real significant amount of loyalty to the raid team. I recall nights that we would wipe incessantly in Serpentshrine Cavern, only to hear that “something’s coming up, I gotta go”, and conveniently, Ouleg was gone from the raid. The sort of general douchebaggery I came to accept as par-for-the-course when the PvP-focused players helped out in raids.
So when Ouleg’s brother stepped foot in progression, I set my expectations appropriately. On occasion he would miss sign-ups completely, or he would show up late and miss the raid invite entirely, so I didn’t go out of my way to work any magic regarding his spot. But when he did bring a toon to the raid, whether it be his Boomkin Druid Scruffiebear or his Shadow Priest Aeden, that boy would unleash hell on our enemies. He was an unexpected sharpshooter, a hardcore player in every sense of the word, and yet, was simply a laid-back, fun-loving kid that liked to drink and party. He became the guild mascot, known by everyone and liked by all. Rather than call him by the many names of his toons, DoD simply referred to him by his name in real life: Ben. I did what I could to make room for Ben in the roster, as his jokes always kept the raid’s spirits up, and his damage was nothing to laugh at. But, I didn’t have high hopes that he’s ever see a rank beyond “Raider”.
While it pleased me to see returning faces, and find ways to work them into the roster, some returning faces required a bit more care and thought to consider. I'm referring, of course, to those faces who left DoD under bad conditions, with a burning of the proverbial bridge tied to their name. But were they bad people? Or just bad circumstances?
How does a Guild Leader decide when it’s OK to bring someone back across that burned bridge?