Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On Guild Leading and Raiding

This is meant as an open letter to Honorshammer in response to his recent guild indecision.

Starting a guild from scratch is no small thing. Even if your aim is to do 5 and 10 mans on a casual basis, it still requires time, commitment, dedication, patience, goal-setting, calendar management, and a whole host of other issues to be considered. If you ratchet up the aim, the requirements in terms of intensity go up in orders of magnitude.

What I'm trying to say is that for any raiding guild, no matter the bond type between the members, will require huge commitment from the guild master (GM). It becomes a full time job, and may turn things once enjoyed into a chore. Unless the guild is run in a council-type fashion, everything falls to the GM for final resolution. Recruiting is a non-stop function that will initially be entirely on the GM. Raid leading (especially from a main tank spot, take note Honors and all you protection/feral/DK tanks) is stressful and requires discipline, tactical thinking, ability to recognize successful and failsauce strategy from limited data, and most of all, determination. Managing a loot system is tedious and causes friction - it is always a point of contention in any guild. A night off for the GM is almost as a rare as a night off for the main tank. Most of all, raid times for the GM get extended an hour in both directions - Auzara, Sydera/Matticus and many other guild leaders can tell you that there are always questions, concerns, and issues to be resolved/addressed before and after the raid.

The decision to start a guild from scratch should not be taken lightly. I bumbled into it myself and it burnt me out. Recruiting was a constant thorn - people are reluctant to transfer unless the guild has a proven track record, and there are a lot of people out there who plain suck at their class. There was dissention about the loot system. Members took shots at other members regarding their raiding ability. Personal complaints all came to me. Website and Ventrilo server issues were all brought to my attention. Deciding who raided and who didn't each night, whether I made the decision or not, brought the consequences to my doorstep. It was a non-stop barrage of questions, concerns, complaints, officer conferences, and the occasional compliment.

Unless you start with an infrastructure in place (designated raid leader, officers for recruitment, officer for loot tracking, website admin, etc.), the process of building that infrastructure in the course of building the guild is an even more daunting task. The identification, selection, and in some cases, coercion of appropriate people to take on these roles is an important step in building an efficient, effective guild/raid squad, and it requires time and patience for the right people to come along (or the cultivation of talent, which requires the GM to have the talent to impart the right skills/tools).

Going back to the raid leading point: guiding a raid from a melee position is incredibly more difficult than from a ranged position. Melee tend to see an up-close view of a boss's crotch/ass and do not get a good overview of the encounter. For tanks especially, there is so much attention to personal space, personal positioning, cooldowns, and upcoming boss abilities that cause peril/impending doom, that it takes an incredibly savvy tank to be able to pay close attention to all of those and what the raid as a whole is doing/should be doing. Delegating the raid leader position to someone else also colors the guild in unintended ways - the raid leader's demeanor can draw people or turn people away from your guild that may otherwise have had a different opinion, no matter what the charter says. The raid leader gives the raid and by proxy the guild a definable character.

Summing it up
Unless you feel you can handle a full-time job on top of whatever you do during the day, and have an unwavering commitment to seeing a vision through despite tons of trials and tribulations, unforseen hardships, recruiting issues, guild defections, drama, and inevitable loot system problems, guild leading is not a good thing to take on. However, it is incredibly rewarding if you can move the planets, get the stars to align, and make it work. The highs are high, but the lows can make you want to cut your losses and /gdisband. Of course, this could be me being all emo about it, but boy, I do not wish the burden of guild leadership upon my closest friends.

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
Shakespeare, "Henry IV," Act II

Aside to Honors - if you do make your own guild, buddy, don't be the raid leader and the main tank. Delegate the raid leading to a trusted individual. Believe me, doing both is folly. I can elaborate if you like.

EDIT: An addendum to the above. To all those who wish there was a guild out there that cultivates the sort of environment they are seeking - there usually is. Building a guild should be done only if your aim is to build a guild, not to be in the right sort of raid environment. There are a ton of guilds out there that have established charters, stable membership, track records, and infrastructure in place. If you aren't averse to transferring, they can be found on an assortment of WoW-related websites, notably the official forums recruiting section.

TL;DR - If you establish a guild, do it for the right reasons. Do it because you want to establish a guild and lead a group, not because you want to find that ideal environment. It's much less effort to troll the recruiting forums/sites than it is to build a guild from the ground up, and the end result is less responsibility and more fun for the rank-and-file raider in the former situation.


Anonymous said...

As a reader of both your blog and that of Honorshammer, pretty interesting response. Very, very similar to what I wrote in his comments section (before I read your response).


PS Good blog in general!

Josh said...

Just read your comments on Honors' blog, yea we seem to be on the same wavelength.

Captain The First said...

Delegation and succession are the gm's most important tasks. That's all I remember from my archmage days when I had an about 80 member strong outfit.

Get the delegation part down and the work will distribute itself.