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Officers' Quarters: A crossroads for small guilds

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

Small, casual guilds often have it the toughest of all. They don't have the numbers to run the 25-player content. They often have only a small handful of tanks and healers. With such few resources, how do you attract anyone new in order to maintain any semblance of a guild after people quit? It looks like life may become much easier for these guilds once Wrath of the Lich King launches. But that puts all the small guilds at a crossroads of sorts. What, this week's e-mail asks, should they all do in the meantime?

Hello Scott,

I am an officer of a guild on the Llane server on the alliance side. Our guild has existed for the past 2 years and have been very casual and most of us have become good friends through the course of the game. [. . .]

We were clearing kara weekly at one point and since we are a very small guild, we only had 1 set of tanks and healers. The kara farming stopped when our Main Tank got all his drops and seeing that Kara was as far as we were going at that time, just stopped tanking to level an alt. He got bored and blamed us for not gearing up any other tanks.

We were recruiting actively at that time and got a few other tanks, but we never had any set times for raids. This killed the spirit for the people who were new and they moved on to other guilds. Of course this hurt our numbers and we finally got back to doing Kara about 3 months later with the core group's alts filling in the tank and healer roles. A note about our core group . . . we gelled so well that we used to do Moroes with no crowd control and 7 out of 10 players in blues and greens. The group just worked and we made the best out of it. With alts tanking and healing, we got to clear Kara.

About a month or two of that happening, we lost a few other core players who wanted to experience more content. [N]ow what's left of our guild is about 7 active people who just log on once in a while and we cant seem to get runs going.

I realize that our guild is come to the point where we need to just call it quits or do whatever we can pugging and stuff. [. . .] My question is, should we bother waiting for Wrath to kinda revamp our guild structure and do it right this time around, or just disband and go our separate ways?[. . .]

Thanks for your help and hope to hear from ya.

Peace
--K.

K, I hope you take some comfort from the fact that your guild is specifically the type that Blizzard set out to help when they decided to allow 10-player raids to parallel the 25s throughout the expansion. This is a huge boost to all the smaller guilds like yours out there who are struggling to keep it together.

It doesn't change the fact that your guild is specifically the type that Blizzard set out to destroy with The Burning Crusade. How on Earth did the game designers expect small guilds to survive when there was absolutely nothing new you could do once Nightbane and Prince Malchezaar were dead? I guess they figured the smaller guilds would all pair up like eighth graders at a formal dance. But a lot of them just sat around the edges of the dance floor, looking sad as all their friends got to tango with Kael'thas and Illidan.

Zul'Aman was touted as a fix, but it came out 11 months after Karazhan. The damage had already been done 10 times over. And even those small guilds who made it that far faced a long uphill battle trying to clear the zone, as some of the gear checks are quite unforgiving for Tier 4 guilds (and it's tough to catch up when most bosses only drop one piece of loot each).

But that's all ancient history now. The future is promising: Theoretically you can see all (or at least most) of the game's content with just 12-15 people. It's a far cry from the days of exploring the Molten Core with 39 of your closest friends. Some people hate the idea of small raids, but I'm not among them. Everyone has a different idea of what "massive" should mean in the MMO label. Soon, Warcraft players will be able to choose for themselves what it means rather than the game deciding for them. And that is a good thing.

But the Lich King still crafts his schemes in secret, and no one knows when the expansion pack will launch. So what should guilds like K's do while they wait?

No matter what you do, K, your guild should make the decision as a group. It's small enough that every single person should have a vote. The way I see it you have three options: (1) Wait it out, (2) Disband the guild, or (3) Join another guild as a group.

If you wait it out, you run the risk of losing even more core members. There's always the chance they'll come back later, but it's no guarantee. On the plus side, you'll retain control of your own destiny and there will actually be a guild for your wayward members to come back to.

Your second option is certainly the most drastic. Your guild will be finished, yet another victim of the 10-player to 25-player transition. But it gives each of you the best chance to find a new home where you'll be comfortable.

To me the third option is better than disbanding. Your core group clearly has great chemistry, so it would be a shame to part ways. And a larger guild could benefit a great deal from that chemistry. My guild has occasionally absorbed smaller guilds like yours, and it's always a bonus when those former members are able to attend the same raid. You put them in a group and give them the same assignment, and they get the job done.

Assuming you can find a guild that will take you en masse, you'll have the benefit of staying together with the advantage of seeing all the great content that has eluded you for the past year and a half. And if you're fortunate, you might find some chemistry with your new guild, too.

There are some inherent risks to this plan, however. Each guild has its own subculture and you never know how you'll fit in until you're there. You'll have to learn a whole new set of rules about raiding, loot, and so on, and some of your current members may not be as comfortable with these rules as others. They might decide it's not for them while the other half of you are enjoying the new environment -- and then you'll face another decision.

Just remember that nothing in this game is permanent. If you change your mind later, you can always reform your old guild. You might not get everyone back, but once Wrath launches, you'll have a much easier time recruiting for any role. Just keep your Web site operational, if you have one, or exchange e-mail addresses so all your former members will be able to find out what your plan is once the expansion goes live.

I'd like to hear from some other small guilds out there. What are you planning to do?

/salute

Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at scott.andrews@weblogsinc.com. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters! For more WoW Insider gameplay columns, click here.

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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