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Finally, a leveling guild worth calling home

Running instances
Join a leveling guild? More often than not, I find myself advising players to steer clear. My Drama Mamas mailbox is overflowing with tirades from players stranded by the inevitable explosions of time-bomb guilds that've been hastily duct-taped together by random new players. Even the groups that manage to gather a congenial group of people almost unfailingly burst into flame when members reach the endgame and hit Real Issues: loot rules, raid group membership, scheduling conflicts, rules of conduct ... In these rudderless, inexperienced groups, drama is unavoidable. Most disintegrate sooner rather than later, with members moving on to guilds with more formal organization, rules, and missions.

But then we heard about a European guild that seems to have a lock on this whole leveling guild thing. Tipster Ben jumped the English language barrier to clue us in: "This guild is different. People recently start to create leveling guild mostly for the perks, and this people are here way before the perks. I believe they are around for helping and not for making gold." We investigated and found a guild that's focused not on reaching the endgame but the journey there -- special events and grouping and friendships and contests and retro raids and teamwork ... And the officers seem to enjoy organizing it all as much as the players do participating in it.

Why would an experienced WoW player keep coming back to a level 54 character to spend a massive slice of her time and energy leading a guild full of players who are toddling through content most players are more than happy to speed-jump? It's all about The Leveling Agony.

GM ColosiaMain character Colosia, level 54, guild master
Guild The Leveling Agony
Realm Xavius (EU-H)

Editor's note: Replies here from Colosia, whose native language is Bulgarian, have been only minimally edited. Many thanks to her for tackling our interview in English.

WoW Insider: Leveling guilds are pretty common, to say the least -- and they tend to break up or fall apart at the drop of a hat as their members reach endgame levels and move on to more organized guilds. Your leveling guild, though, has lasted three years and seems to be going stronger than ever. What makes The Leveling Agony different from other leveling guilds?

Colosia: I could give a thousand explanation why we are different. But I am going to say a few. First of all, three years ago, finding a leveling guild was a nightmare. Most of the people were into end gaming, and they couldn't find time to help the low levels. Back then, the system was different -- no dungeon system, no extra XP, even in most of the case no one to help you. It was an absolute agony to start on a new server, without money, without friends and etc.

What we wanted to do is creating a place where we would help anyone, without a special reason for that. I even remember we had a days of each level, boosting our members around instances. For example, Monday was for level 10 to 20 and at 20:00 realm time, we had five groups to boost people around.

Why we are different now is that I have been telling a lot of time to our officers, "We aim to help people." Most of the new leveling guilds aim is the profit from members. The only profit we get is called fun; most of us just enjoy to be helpful. Some people have no idea how great we feel seeing our members having fun or being social in the guild chat. We find it way more important than anything else.

A little helping hand
Important enough that you lead the guild with a level 54 character, eh?

My character is indeed level 54. I haven't turned off my XP and I don't level up slowly. When I started the guild, I was around level 30, and I found out that members enjoy to ask me about my level. And since than I answer, "This is The Leveling Agony, dear." So I decided I won't level up this one.

Surely there can't be that many brand new players in World of Warcraft these days ... Are most of your members experienced players who simply enjoy the leveling process, or do you actually have that many new-to-WoW players?

Its actually 50/50. We have many people that enjoy to level up just because of the process, but as well we see lots of new-to-WoW players. I personally love the new players; they have the best questions and it is always a big discussion around their questions.

Here is the time to mention that I am not the most experienced in the guild about leveling characters. I actually always been the one to go to dungeons, but we have a person in our guild, she is also an officer that loves to level up, no matter if it's a character of a profession. No doubt the new-to-WoW players always can find their answers, because whenever someone ask, I just can say, "Go and ask Emma -- she knows."

Leaders gathering in Nagrand
What percentage of your players would you say leave for raiding guilds and other, more specialized groups once they're reached max level?

To be honest, I can see most of them still around. Maybe 40% of them are leaving with their main but always put an alt in our guild. Some of the people we had in our guild leveling now are in the best guilds in the realm or even in the top guilds in the other realms. And it is a great way for us to see that we actually "grew up" people who are able to be one of the best in what they like to do.

We aren't trying to keep members in our guild -- we in fact are trying to find them the best place. We are working with both PvP and PvE guild, because we want to give even the best endgaming to our members. We have lots of people moving to endgaming guild because we helped them.

The most important lesson I learned out of this system is that no matter if people are in our guild or not, they (are) still willing to help members from our guild, meeting them in different zones. Some of the still are joining our raids and helping us as much as they can. I recently had an screenshot send from our members, having an Alliance not killing him but helping him. He went to Ally side and asked, "Why did you help me?" And the person said, "Let's say I've been at the same spot, in the same guild. I know those monsters are hard to solo." After a long talk, it turns out this is a member we had in our guild.

Friends from across faction lines
That's right, The Leveling Agony is a pretty large guild, isn't it? Do you think the large size makes it harder to give people personal attention and get to know each other?

The only problem with have due to our size is the guild cap. We are trying to meet every person in our guild. It doesn't always work, but in most of the cases, we know that at least once we helped this guy while he needed us. There are always people that never talk and people that always talk, but most of them read. I do not remember every single member we had because maybe we had over 10,000 people in our guild with the years. But people remember us, and they also remember each other.

What I think is positive in the size of the guild is that you can always find a friend sharing your interest and even someone that thinks completely different from you. Of course, people don't know each of them, but they always find the one that suits them best for talks or even having fun doing something in the game.

Raiding achievements
Does The Leveling Agony raid?

Yes, TLA always had a raiding group. Back in Wrath of the Lich King, we had one of the best raid leaders joining our guild and forming raids. Right now, TLA is raiding too when we can and when we have people, but our last raid as a whole group from TLA went perfect.

I hear the guild is renowned for its special events. Tell us a little bit about your most recent guild event.

We had one of our officers that put a lot of effort of doing some new events to the guild. Basically in Hide and Seek game, we have 10 people (or more) in two groups. One of them is hiding, the other one is seeking. We usually use big cities like Silvermoon or Orgrimmar for this kind of an event. We give five minutes to members to hide, while others stay out of city and another 10 for the seekers to find them. It is a lot of fun, as I personally joined it as a member. The officer that organize it herself even made small presents for everyone. I can say it was a lot of fun. She also was leading a game in the guild chat, giving a few hints about a NPC, and any member could guess where is the NPC and what the name of the NPC is. Some big rewards were given during all these events. People seems to love them and find it very fun. Of course, we appreciate all the effort that our officer did for making this work.

What about PvP? Your PvP leaders must be very patient, to enjoy leading players who are new to the game or their classes or the battlegrounds into PvP combat!

Yes, they are. We had a lot of people leading that kind of events. And they know it's hard, but it is always a good thing. You have to be very patient overall doing anything in our guild with new members. That is why I make a little interview with the people that are willing to lead those, as most of them cannot have the perfect expectation of how their raid or BGs are going to look. But they usually gather in our Ventrilo server and having fun, even if they are losing the game. This is what is important, after all.

The officers' corps
What advice would you give someone who wanted to create a guild for leveling players?

Nowadays, what is important to know about creating a guild is that not the gold you receive per member leveling is important, but actually make them feel like they are in a leveling guild. It has come to my attention that people create a lot of new guilds just to profit from members, while hundred of new-to-WoW players are looking for a place to stay.

Few important things you have to do :
  • Find the people to help you, those ones that really are willing to help you not because of the power officer rank they have but because they enjoy to do it. Having a good team working with you is the most important thing about having your own guild.
  • Talk with your members. They want to meet you. You and your team are the people that make your guild look like it does.
  • Go and help them. It's five minute of your time. You aren't getting a reward every time you help them, but you make someone happy, even if it's in a game.
  • Spend time to make your guild working. It won't start working by itself.
  • Make relation with other guilds, even if they are the opposite faction.
  • Enjoy what you are doing!

I want to add that the guild wouldn't do as much as it does if I was alone. A big thanks to all of our officers and guild leaders, no matter if they are still playing or not!

"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn) ... a blind ex-serviceman and the guildmates who keep him raiding as a regular ... and a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid's DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to lisa@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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