Thursday, March 29, 2012

1.3. My First Mistake

Elephantine opens up on Shade of Eranikus,
assisted by Hend, Chariot, Stein and Tandr.


By late August of 2005, the raiding roster still wasn't where it needed to be. I'd boosted the roster up significantly, and stuck to my guns on keeping our name, and retaining our officership. It was at this time that I was introduced to a player named Juxta. Juxta was doing the exact same thing I was: building up a raiding roster of folks to take on Molten Core, and poaching players from guilds he'd had some ties to. I wasn't clear on the history, only that he had come from Pretty Pink Pwnies, and was looking to construct a more robust raiding machine. His ace in the hole was another player named Atrocity, whom recently formed a new guild and brought Juxta in. Atrocity boasted experience in both leading and managing a raid team. I didn't foresee a merger working with them, so I tried an alternate approach: I began to quietly negotiate with Juxta behind the scenes, because although he wanted changes I was unwilling to compromise on (new guild, shared officership, etc.), I felt it necessary to try to have some kind of back-up plan in the event my guild mergers failed.

Initially, I had a lot of skepticism about dealing with Juxta. We would converse over IM during the day, determining the best course of action regarding schedule, rotations, how to issue loot out, and so on. I'd pitch my stance on DKP vs. Loot Council, he'd concur. Then, I'd find out Atrocity scrapped our mutually agreed upon ideas, in favor of his own. At times, they'd contradict one another: Juxta would track loot by hand, via a spreadsheet, then Atrocity would announce we'd use a mod to import a "DKP string" -- data generated in-game which listed out the details of our loot distribution -- into a website. I continued to negotiate with Juxta and flexed my diplomatic muscle. If I could convince Juxta to see my way on things, I reasoned, he would strong-arm Atrocity into seeing our side. 

Unfortunately, the reverse was becoming true.

As conversations continued between Juxta and I, it became clear that Atrocity was the player in control of this new grass-roots raiding guild, and that Juxta and I were being relegated to mere officership in their proposed structure. Juxta confided in me multiple times that he wished to retain the guild leader position, but it wasn't going to happen. Atrocity was playing favorites to people whom helped form the guild. Was signing a charter a reflection of management experience? Yet it appeared through our discussions that Juxta's players thought he was the Guild Leader. He even went so far as to ask for my vote in determining who the next GL would be. I played the game and assured him I'd be on his side. But his jaded views on loot continued to unnerve me. He claimed running a loot system in his manner "for four months without problems" was a clear indicator that it would succeed. 

Four months wasn't nearly enough time to see the long term negative effects of a poor loot system.

Uld captured in Blackrock Depths.
Also present: Knall, Churaliya, Gutrippa, Sassin,
Chariot, Hend, Yurimaru, and Creepindeath

Ugly Black Warhorses

Juxta claimed that he was fast approaching raid-ready, and wanted new forums setup, along with the loot rules posted for all to see. They had even decided on a name: Ugly Black Warhorses. I felt the guild name left a lot to be desired, but continued to play the role of diplomat and fed him my recommendations; I even went so far as to offer to buy the domain name and set up the website. Besides, owning the domain name was strategic; it might prove useful if I needed leverage down the road. I continued to play the game.

Then, on the evening of September 18th, Juxta dropped a bomb on me. He stated it was time to institute the merge, and we would proceed into Molten Core for our first official unified raid. I had only shared my negotiation strategy with a number of the DoD officers, so my guild was largely unaware of what was about to transpire. I issued out a quick message to those folks that were currently online, stating "not to freak out" and what was about to happen was "only temporary". And just as curious question marks began to arrive in guild chat, I /gquit Descendants of Draenor and accepted an invite to Ugly Black Warhorses, with my officers in tow.

The DoD officers and I sat in this uncomfortable, awkward guild, and a feeling of dread began to sink in. There was absolutely no organization or consistency in communication. People didn't know who was coming, going, in charge of what, or where we even planned to go. Guild chat became an unreadable mess of sentences beginning and ending with "LOL". I whispered over to my DoD officers and sized things up, "this isn't happening." Juxta ordered us up to Molten Core to begin pulling trash, but things fell apart long before we even caught a glimpse of the first boss. As I had suspected, the Ugly Black Warhorses were to become yet another failed guild merger of players unable to coordinate and tackle raid content.

The only problem was: I'd made a terrible mistake in judging how it would affect DoD.

Uld dances next to Jundar and Maergon in Scarlet Monestary.
Jundar would go on to form the guild Horderlies.

The First Exodus

When the officers and I returned to Descendants of Draenor later that night, expressing that...sure enough, it was a failed experiment, and that we were to continue on our own, we were welcomed back with disgust and disappointment. What had been the point of this experiment? Were we really intending on moving forward long-term with Ugly Black Warhorses? Why hadn't the rest of the guild been looped in? What would've happened to DoD had UBW succeeded in Molten Core that night? They were all valid questions, and my guild had every right to know those answers. I had been purposefully ambiguous because I truly didn't know how it would play out. The thought of trying to explain my strategy seemed like it would have confused people, and pissed them off even more. But, keeping silent had the same effect. They felt I betrayed them and their trust. And I had.

I was painted in a new light. The officers may have understood and felt the pain of this failed experiment, but I couldn't say the same for a handful of guildies. They began to challenge the long-term direction of the guild, where we were headed, and even if I was the right person for the job. Passive aggressiveness ensued. Biting remarks and smart-ass comments were directed at me, both in-guild and on the forums. I deserved it. But I didn't it want it to continue. I encouraged those players who truly felt our direction wasn't aligned with their own goals to re-evaluate. So, a handful of them did exactly that.

And so it was, the first exodus of Descendants of Draenor spawned a new guild on Deathwing-US, Horderlies.

I bear no ill-will toward them, because in the end, our goals were different: We wanted to focus more on raid content, they preferred to remain small and casual. But, far more important than that, I wasn't honest with them. They had every right to be looped in on sweeping guild changes, even if my changes had a hidden agenda which favored us in the long term. You reap what you sow. In my attempts to ramp up the guild to an adequate size, I was actually losing people. Things were starting to look grim.


Taylor (Hoofit) said...

I realize this is an old post, and the events are nearly 8 years old, however, This is interesting to see your perspective on the formation of Horderlies. There is nothing untrue said here, though there are some omissions and some of the events are in error chronologically which skews the how and why slightly. That was a long time ago.

Still, it is also an interesting read 8 years after the fact to finally have seen what was going on behind the curtain. Things happen and you make the best decision you can for your current situation. Sometimes it's a gut feeling, others it's based on analyzed data. No one can be faulted for doing what they think is the right thing to do at the time.

Thanks for the read :)

Shawn Holmes said...


My goal is to try to convey the story and events as accurately as possible, so don't hesitate in pinging me via email if you'd like to help paint a clearer picture.

I've had to do the same with a number of events I didn't remember with tremendous accuracy, and my readers *appear* to be drawn to the accuracy I'm shooting for.

The great thing about a Blog is you can always come back revise if necessary. :)

Viktor said...

Oh my goodness this is AMAZING. Seeing someone who was there in the gaming scene in the late 20th century, tell his tale from the beginning of WoW. This is INCREDIBLY interesting to read and is even more so well written. Thanks for writing this!

Shawn Holmes said...


Thank you *very much* for the kind words! Be sure to share it with folks you think that might also enjoy the story.

Unknown said...

Wow, man. Way to lay it out.

I do wish I'd known about this blog before out guild leader made some choices that he made - and I made some choices that I made - because he might still be with us if we'd had someone else's experiences to draw from. I'm glad you're doing this.

Anonymous said...

This is simply incredible. The detail and storytelling ability is just wonderful to read. Thank you for bringing these moments back to life for me. It's been 8 years but suddenly it feels like yesterday. I'm ALREADY disappointed that I've ONLY 45 more posts to go :-(

Shawn Holmes said...


Thanks so much for this praise, I am truly humbled by all the positive feedback.

The good news is that I have many more posts to go until the story concludes, so I guarantee you'll have no shortage of reading material ahead!

Unknown said...

I know how you felt about wanting to merge. I was faced with two requests to merge. I've always wondered what would have happened if I would have. After reading this, I am glad I trusted my gut.

Unknown said...

Here I am reading this in June 2016 coming from a kotaku post. And I love it. I'll never play wow even as a casual because my job is so time demanding, but I love the thought of it and reading this is an enticing look into what I'm missing. I started this at the beginning and we'll see how far I go. Hopefully to the end.

Anonymous said...

I happened to come from that article as well. It's interesting because all this time I was trying to figure out what MMOs were like. I used reviews, walkthroughs, streams, highlights, guides, forums, etc. But these blogs were what I wanted people interacting in a massive game. And as for why i didn't just play one I liked. Hmmm you can chalk that up to finances. But I think one day I'll try final fantasy XIV. One day...

grammartroll said...

Goddamn, I am enjoying your tale. I'm going to work my way through the whole thing.