Friday, 21 March 2008

How do you "feel" about your guild?

That looks like a simple question doesn't it? Except I stuck those pesky "quotes" around the word feel.

If I'd asked "What do you think about your guild?" then the question becomes even easier doesn't it? But I'm not going to let you take the easy way out... no sirree!

I'm asking "How do you feel about your guild?". Why am I asking this when all you've come for is a bit of light fun?

As I said yesterday, BBB set me to thinking a lot about a number of things including guild progression and guilds. And I realised I couldn't think about two of those things in isolation. I can't separate guild progression from switching guilds because they're all fundamentally tied together in how you feel about your guild. That probably doesn't make a lot of sense right now, but bear with me while I meander my way through all of this.

Guild progression - Part 1

For the record, Renegade of Funk are:

  • 11/11 Karazhan
  • 2/2 Gruul's Lair
  • 1/4 Temple Keep (Loot Reaver ftw)
  • 6/6 Zul'Aman (As of this Wednesday huge gratz guys!)

On the normal scale of how these things are measured that's not bad; not uber-leet great, but not bad at all.

We've also been to SSC and popped in to say hello to Magtheridon, both only once or twice because... you've guessed it, we're struggling to get those 25-man raids together.

My guild history

I've been in a few guilds in my WoW history. But setting aside the early days when I didn't really know what I was doing I've only really been in three guilds (and the middle one of those was a new guild that died an early death).

My first real guild was a place I loved to be. We had a casual approach but raided regularly. We had a core of around 15-20 people who had multiple high-level alts and were on most of the time. Guild chat was lively and there was always someone asking "anybody fancy this?" and, more often than not, a number of responses of "I'm up for that".

We were OK when it came to raiding - we had a guild alliance for MC and Onyxia; we raided ZG and AQ20 as a guild - but, for example, we never downed Raggy or Hakkar and only got the first two bosses in AQ20. Our main problem was technical execution. We could do the tank and spanks, we could get by on the simpler fights but when it came to an encounter requiring co-ordination and no mistakes we suffered. And then came TBC...

I raced my priest to 70 re-specced holy and then started instancing and I started to get worried. Some of the instance encounters in TBC were just as technical (and much less forgiving) as some of the raid encounters in Azeroth... what the hell were the raid encounters going to be like for us? I stayed with the guys until we hit Moroes and it broke my heart.

This was a bunch of guys who had welcomed me into a home from home; a bunch of guys that made we want to rush home from work to logon; a bunch of guys who had helped me and who I'd helped to grow their charachters. But I stood staring at this brick wall that was Moroes almost at the start of the raiding journey and asking myself "Can I really stand 6 months of struggling through entry raid content?".

I hope I was honest and straight-forward about the way I left. The fact that I still chat with the GM and the officers and still instance with some of them occasionally says I probably did something right at least.

And that brings me to Renegade of Funk (RoF). I was looking for similar things to my old guild: a good bunch of people to relax with after work; an active community; a semi-casual approach to raiding but with no obligation to raid if you didn't want to... but the difference I was looking for... at the time I called it "progression". I'd probably use a different word now.

I'm happy to say that I've found what I was looking for. RoF is a great place to be and I'm getting the same things as I was from my old guild as well as the opportunity to raid in the new content.

Guild Progression - Part 2

Now as I mentioned earlier, we're stuck at that point that a lot of people are. We can't seem to reliably get 25-man raids together to keep going in Temple Keep or start in Serpentshrine Cavern. So am I thinking of shifting out? Big fat NO to that one!

I know that we have the ability to progress in TK/SSC. Any group of people who can deal with a 5-phase encounter like Zul'Jin has the technical ability to do so. Any group of people who have downed Gruul after 7 growths has the raw dps and after 16 growths has the tank and healing power.

And this brings me back to the heading for this post... see I told you I'd get there eventually.

I feel at home in RoF, I want to rush home after work to be in RoF, I respect and admire the guys in RoF and I am proud to say I am a RoFer.

If your guild can engender those same feelings in it's membership then, to me, that is real guild progression.

Water Shield > Lightning Shield

See... as a shammy you pick up this Water Shield spell at level 62, which Keera duly did. Had a look at it and being an enhancement shammy went "pfft! mana! I'm a damage dealer" and kept using her Lightning Shield improved with talents.

Until yesterday when she bumped into a friendly shammy in Nagrand who suggested she really ought to try using the Water Shield.

Revelation! She can now kill more than 3 mobs without having to sit down and drink and without having to economise on shocks.

Why, oh why did nobody tell her this? Why?

PS - I'm going to have to stop calling her babyshamm soon since she dinged 66 yesterday

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Guild Progression

A great post from BBB today. And I mean a GREAT post... it really got me thinking about big raids vs. small raids, what does guild progression actually mean, thinking back to the time I made the painful decision to switch guilds and about my own attitude to raiding.

BBB is firstly picking up the issue that a lot of less hardcore guilds are facing; the challenge of getting enough people to move on from 10-man to 25-man content.

Back in the day (oooh... 2 years ago now) the main raiding focus of the guild I was in at the time was Onyxia and Molten Core. Now, we weren't a small guild at around 250 members including alts, but there was no way that we could get 40 geared and attuned lvl 60s together for a raid. But we did have a guild alliance which worked suprisingly well.

Now, as BBB says, there are a whole lotta things that have to come right for a guild alliance to work. Guild drama is bad enough "in guild" but when it spreads across guilds... whooeee that can get messy. Some of the things that need to come right - and did for our alliance - are:
  • Culture
  • Loot rules
  • Clear leadership
  • Communication/Organisation

I've put these in my own order of importance and you can choose to agree or not.

Culture - Unless all the guilds are coming from the same place here then don't even start is my advice. This doesn't mean that the culture of all the guilds has to be the same; it does mean that the culture of the alliance has to fit with all the participating guilds. The culture of the alliance has to be stated clear and up-front and a requirement to raid with the alliance is that you've signed up to the culture statement. It's up to the GM (and officers) of the guilds involved to agree that culture between them based on their knowledge of their guild's membership.

I wish the website for our old guildlink was still up because I remember this was almost the first thing on the page (and so that I'd be able to shamelessly rip it off for some good examples) but I'll have to go from my hazy memory. The kind of things that comprised our culture were:

  • The reason we started the alliance was that we can't do it alone - remember this above all
  • Please have fun but please also remember that there are 39 other people on this run
  • Divas don't raid twice

We didn't really have that last statement about divas but I can't remember exactly how it was phrased. We certainly had something with the same sentiment.

Loot rules - Keep it simple and non-controversial. I'm not going to rehash the old arguments for and against DKP here I'm just going to say what we did. Every possible drop was assigned to a primary set of classes/specs and a secondary set of classes/specs. When it dropped the primaries could random roll and if no takers then the secondaries could random roll. That was it - and if you didn't like the loot rules then you didn't raid with the alliance.

Now, you may want to have different rules if you're thinking of an alliance but the one thing I would advise against is anything that allows the tiniest perception of any hint of any flavour of even a tiny soupcon of subjectivity - have I made my point here yet?

Loot councils can work in a guild where everybody knows and trusts each other and the officers. Loot councils or any subjectivity is a recipe for disaster when you have multiple guilds on a run.

Clear leadership - This doesn't just apply to the raid leadership either but to the class leadership. In fact raid leadership is probably easier because there's only one post to fill and not many candidates for the job. Class leadership assignments are both necessary and difficult to sort out.

Necessary, because you may well have 3-4 people used to doing this job and you can't afford to have the pally buffs wearing down while there's an almighty row going on in /raidhunt or /raidheal about how to handle the assignments or encounter. One leader to make the call and if you disagree, take it up after the raid.

Difficult, for the same reason. You may well have 3-4 people used to doing this job and it's easy to get drama when your pally lead doesn't get made class leader (or even second) in favour of pally from guild B. "Why is he/she better than me? Do you think I'm crap then? Why has guild C got most of the class leader roles?". I know this from personal experience. I was used to being the heal lead in our guild and had to work my way up to deputy lead in the alliance over time.

This, I think, was one of the main reasons for the "Divas don't raid twice" part of our culture. It's difficult and needs sensitive handling by the officers and GMs but, hopefully, your class leads are leads because they have a certain level of maturity.

Communication/Organisation - Although BBB picked this up as one of his main points, strangely this wasn't something we had much of a problem with; even though this was in the early days before WWS and online raid rosters made the whole thing much easier. We used GuildEventManager with an alliance channel to both post and sign up for raids. Agreeing raid channels, TS/vent servers, raid chat policy etc. is not really any different to a normal raid other than you have to agree across the guilds.

It is almost a pre-requisite that you set up a dedicated website for the alliance though.

Summing it up...

Expect drama, whatever you do. Your GMs and officers will probably need to spend as much time liaising with the other guild's people to manage the alliance drama as much as their own guild drama. But if you can make it work, there are benefits over and above the fact of seeing more content.

You will have a different atmosphere in the alliance runs to your guild runs. If you get your culture right then this won't be a bad atmosphere just a different one. This can encourage people to raid more often because it feels different; it's not the same as a guild raid.

You'll get a chance to meet a whole bunch of new people and develop the really strong ties that only come from dying together 8-) Seriously, although I haven't raided with the alliance for more than 18 months now I still have a lot of them on my friends list and still smile and have a quick chat when they log on. We all still remember those weeks wiping on Majordomo Executus and we never did get Raggy down. We all remember that pally who always used to get feared into the lava (or so she claimed!). We all still remember that wipe at Onyxia when a late joiner pulled all the respawned guards in the instance to where the raid was waiting to pull. Oh happy days!

The other thing that you will get for free is your own personal LFG channel for non-raid nights. The alliance channel gave us a way of chatting outside of raids as well as in them so we used to be signed into it permanently. Having a group of 40-50 raid quality players that you've played with before altogether in the same channel made PUGs almost a thing of the past.

Sheesh... I told you BBB's post was a good one. I've done a whole post on only the first thing that he got me thinking about. Major catnip to the furry one for the post ideas.