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Officers' Quarters: Cracking the whip

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

Remember when The Burning Crusade launched and everyone was in a big hurry to ding 70? Apparently some guilds are still leveling up. This week's e-mail doesn't mention whether these are new players or rerolls, but the problem is the same: What should you do when the people you're counting on just aren't leveling up fast enough?

I am a member of a small guild on Gul'dan server. I sympathize with and thank K for sharing his guild problems. Our guild is a lot younger and most likely smaller than his is or was at one point, but as we progress to get our members leveled up and geared up for raiding I can already notice a slight discontent, similar to what K described.

We are very casual right now and our leader is letting the guild "breathe its own air", by not imposing any strict rule. This is done to allow the players to feel comfortable as they level up. The only real rule, more of a suggestion I would say, that we ask our members to follow, is to disregard any dungeon quest and just concentrate on leveling up as fast as possible, without having higher levels running you through areas.

Right now we have a nice core of 20 regulars, of which 8 are 70s and a handful more are in the high 60s. We know the time is coming to start raiding but we are holding off. Why are we holding off? We get the idea that before we can start raiding we need to have all of our positions covered, we need to make sure our members know how to play those roles and get better at them.

This is where K's story starts sounding familiar. We have members that want to raid right now, without waiting for all the roles to be covered. Yes it would be nice, but it would also be a suicide mission. Because we are being prudent, now we are losing members. At one point we started attracting other level 70s, but they shortly left when they realized that we where not ready to raid, which has dropped the morale of some of the members. Our guild leader is trying to keep them busy by setting up a website for the members and emails for the officers, but every time I log on, the guild log shows the victims of our strategy. [. . .]

--D.

My guild, being both large and casual, has never really worried about leveling. In fact, I took my time on the way to 70. I wanted to smell the roses, so to speak, and enjoy the new content without rushing through it. Of course, I was a hunter back then and far from essential to our raiding. Now I'm one of very few Holy paladins, so the situation might be a little different next time . . .

In any event, we had the luxury of letting the chips fall where they may when the level cap was raised. Whoever hit 70 first would be part of our initial Karazhan team, and we'd just keep adding to the list of available players as time went on. But for a small guild, one player hitting 70 can mean the difference between raiding every week or burning out on dailies and Heroics.

D, first allow me to make two comments on your current situation.

The first is this: Even though your guild is casual, you have policies (or "suggestions") that are only slowing down your leveling members. I can understand that you don't want people sitting in town waiting for a dungeon group to form, but it's simple to join the LFG channel while you're questing. And if you do manage to get a run going, not only do you get the XP from the dungeon mobs, but dungeon quests often give a ton of experience. Plus you're earning reputation to purchase better gear, more recipes, helm enchantments, and heroic keys.

I ran Underbog on an alt a few days ago. I did three quests in a run that took about an hour, and each quest gave me 22,000 XP. It was well worth my time. I didn't get any drops, but if I had, it would have only helped me to kill things faster.

Also, banning your 70s from helping out those who are leveling is practically cruel and unusual. Outland zones are full of quick group quests where you just have to kill one elite mob. With a 70 or two helping you, you could probably bang out all the group quests in Hellfire, Zangarmarsh, and Terokkar in about an hour. You'd rake in hundreds of thousands of XP, plus earn rare rewards to help you level. Since your 70s are impatiently waiting for these fellow members to catch up to them, this is clearly a win-win!

Now, I understand that you want people to learn their classes and not have their hands held all the way to 70. That is admirable and in most circumstances I would agree with you wholeheartedly. However, it seems that the very existence of your guild is at stake. It might be time to make some compromises.

And that leads me to my second comment: What on Earth are you waiting for? Again, it's admirable that you want to keep all your raiding within the guild. That's always preferable when you can achieve that. But clearly, at this time, you cannot. So why not bring in a few outside people to get a Kara run off the ground? Obviously running Kara with one healer or no tanks is a "suicide mission." But there have got to be people outside the guild who wouldn't mind running with you guys for the chance at epic loot.

In addition, why not take some of your ready-to-go raiders along on server PUGs? I don't know what the situation is on Gul'dan, but my server frequently has PUGs for Gruul's Lair, Magtheridon, and Serpentshrine. SSC might be beyond your gear right now, but the other raids are not.

Stop insulating yourselves from the server. Running raids with people in other guilds or unguilded characters is a great way to make friends, get your guild's name out there, and help you recruit or form alliances.

As for the people who are still leveling, you can "crack the whip" all you want, but people with other things going on in their lives can only level at a certain pace. If you won't allow higher level players to help out with quests or dungeon runs, they could at least provide enchantments, gems, potions, buffs, BOEs, and crafted gear to make things go a little quicker. Also, you never know when a little unsolicited aid can guilt someone into spending a bit more time leveling than they were planning to!

Looking forward, if I had to make a plan for leveling guild toons to 80, this is how I would handle it. First of all, I'd ask for volunteers who wanted to hit 70 as quickly as possible. It's difficult to do that now, because no one knows when we'll be heading to Northrend. But once that information goes public, then people will be able to judge whether they'll have enough free time or not. Ideally, there would be 12-15 such people who can make the big push. That's enough to start on the 10-player raiding path at least. I'd ask for a list of all their alts and levels, and which classes and specs they'd prefer to play. From that list, I'd assign a class and spec to each person, covering all possible bases.

Of course, I have the luxury of a large pool of players. What if your personnel is limited, as it is in D's situation? In this case, I'd encourage people to communicate their play schedules so they can group up whenever possible. Grouping makes the "kill-X-of-Y quests" go much quicker (and obviously helps with group quests). Healers and tanks kill things more slowly on their own than DPS classes. But a tank-healer-DPS trio can burn through normal mobs without ever stopping to take a break. They can slaughter just about any elite mob a questgiver in their level range asks them to. I'd also encourage people to run dungeons whenever they can.

If anything slows down leveling, I'd say it's your professions. First Aid is obviously easy and fast to max out. But consider how much time is spent gathering herbs, mining ore, skinning every mob possible, browsing the AH for deals on crafting materials, researching the cheapest recipes to help you level, and standing there crafting 20 items at a time. Then sometimes you have to travel to a certain area to make a particular item or learn recipes from a certain trainer. It's a real timesink.

If you really want to hit the level cap as quickly as possible, you should ignore your professions until after that final ding. There are very few BOP recipes until you're maxed out, so anything you could eventually craft for yourself you can probably buy from someone else. I'm not claiming this is a profitable way to level, just the fastest!

We were all once in D's position, and we will be again when Wrath of the Lich King goes live. How did your guild handle the pressure of leveling last time? Do you have a plan for grinding to 80?

/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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