Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.
You've tried to run 10- or 25-player dungeons, but you just can't manage to find a night where enough guild members are available. Your recruiting efforts have fallen short. You've got a bunch of unhappy members burned out on Heroics and daily quests, itching to move on to new content. What do you do? You do what any corporation does when its own employees aren't quite up to the task ahead of them: You outsource. You find someone else to do half the work. You cooperate with another business. It doesn't have to be a deal with the devil. You both get something out of the arrangement, and everybody keeps their job. That's the essence of a guild alliance, and such agreements can turn into a lucrative opportunity -- or a total nightmare.
There's a bit of a stigma attached to this concept. We've all heard the worst-case-scenario stories about guilds falling apart because the other guild recruited all the talented members and skipped town. That can certainly happen. But if your back is to a wall, and you can't do the content people want to see, then you're in danger of losing all of your most talented members anyway.
However, let's not approach it from such a negative angle. There are thousands of players in smaller Warcraft guilds who could never abandon the friends they've made, but they also feel like they have to sacrifice their dreams of facing Nightbane or Gruul or Illidan in order to stay in the guild they love. If you are the GL of a guild like this, you owe it to your members to at least explore the possibility of an alliance.
If you're a regular reader of this column, you know in the past I've made comments about alliances. It's very difficult to find one that works -- some say impossible. But it's not impossible. I've seen it happen on my server, and I've been part of them. If you strike gold and find one that really works for you, it can be a huge boon to you and your members. So let's talk about how to do it the right way.
Finding a guild to raid with is a lot like finding a partner. Will your alliance be like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie or like Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock? You won't know until you give it a try. It's hard to say until you work with another guild whether you're best suited for people who are very similar in disposition or quite different. Sometimes a laid-back, relaxed guild can benefit from another guild's urgency and passion to excel, or vice versa.
You can't quantify chemistry, but you can figure out if your members have anything in common. Age is a big consideration here. If the average ages of your guilds are 20 years apart (like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), you might run into some difficulties. But the biggest factor by far is your individual goals. If one guild is content to complete their Tier 4 sets, but the other eventually wants to fight on Mount Hyjal, you need to know that up front. Along with that comes what each of you want out of the alliance. Do you see this as a long-term, committed relationship? Or is it a fling to help you both build confidence, learn encounters, and spur new recruits to join up?
(My humble apologies for the gag-inducing links.)
It's the cornerstone of any good relationship. I highly suggest setting up a separate chat channel for the officers of both guilds. Don't use raid chat or your VoIP and put sensitive topics on display for all members to see. Be discreet. I also recommend establishing a private forum on one or both of your guilds' sites where officers can post and discuss crucial information.
These two outlets can help you resolve conflicts without raising a ruckus. Also, if you have a problem with a specific member of the other guild, it's much better to approach his or her officers privately about the situation rather than whispering the person directly. Let their officers handle their members. Never attempt to discipline a member of the other guild.
If you're struggling with an encounter, talk about why the wipe happened without resorting to blanket statements like "Your guild isn't geared enough" or "Your healers suck" -- even if it's true. Pinpoint a specific issue and be respectful when describing it. At the same time, keep an open mind about the other guild's ideas and criticisms. Even if they're barking up the wrong tree with a certain strategy, it shows courtesy to at least try it their way once before declaring that it won't work.
Finally, it's never a bad thing to encourage members to socialize. Make sure your members know about the other guild's site and vice versa. You can also establish a mutual chat channel available to all members of both guilds.
The Home Front
It may be obvious, but don't forget about your own members! Feel them out for how much they like or dislike the other guild. Is everyone behind the alliance or just your own officers and class leaders? As much as communicating with the other guild is important, it is doubly so for your own people. If you find out about a problem only because no one signed up for a raid, it's too late.
That's it for this week. Stay tuned for Part 2 next Monday, when I'll discuss leadership issues, loot rules, and more!
Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at email@example.com. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!