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Officers' Quarters: Never say disband

Ruin's raid team beats Blackhorn
Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available from No Starch Press.

Guilds fall apart. It happens so frequently these days that we take it as a matter of course. They can also be rebuilt, if there's a member intent on reviving them -- but is that always the wisest course of action? This week, one guild leader who refuses to disband is wondering what to do next.

Greetings, Scott!

Here's the TL;DR version: Raid Finder killed my guild. I want to resurrect it.

Here's the Paul Harvey version: A friend and I founded a guild at the outset of Burning Crusade. Our intent was to offer a place for mature people with real lives to be able to experience the raid content that at the time was mostly the domain of the hardcore players. We wanted to be serious about raiding, but more casual about attendance. ... We were never the top guild on our server, but we were fairly successful throughout Burning Crusade.

Wrath of the Lich King threw a monkey wrench into our works. It wasn't easy in BC to keep forming 25 man raids, but at least we always knew where the bar was. WotLK's split 10 and 25 man raids gave us a very tough decision to make every time we couldn't fill out a 25 man raid.

Then came Cataclysm with the new, new raiding rules. ... The guild held together barely through the first two raid tiers. The stress on the officers was immense. My co-leader and I had both already burned out by then. I turned ultra-casual altoholic. He just left the game. We turned over the guild to trusted officers.

When Raid Finder came, it provided super easy access to fairly easy versions of Dragon Soul. That was it. Every raider we had left whose interest in raiding was only "to see the content" didn't need us anymore. Attendance fell through the floor. Raids were canceled. Our more serious raiders grew frustrated and left for more hardcore guilds or gave up on organized raiding and just queued for RF. A lot of people left for SWTOR. The leadership scattered to the wind and now our guild is a ghost town. At any given time, at most you'd see one or two people online in battlegrounds or arenas, or maybe in a raid finder run.

The guild master handed the reins back to me. So now I'm guild master of a guild named "Ruin", which couldn't be more apropos. There was a guild bank full or raiding supplies and epic crafting material and gear. It felt like one of those post-apocalyptic movies where people disappeared with dinner still cooking on the stove.

I don't intend to try to revive the guild as a raiding guild. I would like to run it as an easy-going, casual guild in Mists of Pandaria. Just a fun place to hang out with mature people who have some modicum of respect for the game, the lore (we're on a RP server), and other players. The problem is I have no idea how to go about attracting members now. The Dungeon Finder and Raid Finder both are great tools, but they make meeting and interacting with people on your own server a challenge.

I'd appreciate any advice what to do now. I'll never disband the guild and my 20 characters will never leave it. It will always be my home in the game. I just want to open it to other like-minded people and bring some life and laughter back to its lonely chat channel.

I don't think of Ruin as a guild that failed. That's incorrect. We succeeded. We brought people to see raid content they would never have seen otherwise. It is a great story we told together and that we all should cherish in our memories. I'm proud to have been a part of it.

Bull, Horde - Earthen Ring - US
ruinsociety.com

Hi, Bull. The endless changes to raiding have certainly created a roller-coaster effect. Your guild is not the only victim -- the history of WoW's raiding is paved with the discarded charters of guilds that have failed to adjust. Every such change you mentioned has been a challenge, and it says a lot that your guild was able to survive so many of them intact.

You have the right attitude about it. You should look back on the success you had with pride.

I appreciate your loyalty to your guild even after a total collapse. However, ask yourself this: What are you staying loyal to? Is it loyalty to people, with so few of you left, or to a memory?

It's not your guild in and of itself that's special -- it's the people in it that make it special. When they're gone, what's left?

Letting go is healthy

I think you would be happier if you let it go. It's difficult. I know very well how difficult it is. My old guild still exists, led by an alt I never play, but I've moved on. By doing so, I've been able to keep playing with old friends, make some new ones, and create a new set of memories. It's been a very different experience, and I learned a lot from it.

Would you honestly rather start from scratch with strangers when you could find some of your former guildmates and join their guild? After my co-guild leader and I joined a new guild, we've been able to bring many of our former guildmates into it. We've created a new home for ourselves, and because the guild we chose was thriving, we were able to offer our former members a lot more than we could have if we had simply stayed put.

If you rebuild

If you're hell-bent on rebuilding, then I'll offer you some suggestions. Your first order of business should be to reach out to every former member that you can track down, explain your plan for Mists, and see if you can convince any of them to return. The players who left due to the Raid Finder seem like the best candidates.

As far as recruiting goes, casual guilds are a dime a dozen. You're going to need ways to stand out. Leverage the guild's level/perks and existing bank tabs to your advantage. These things give you a big leg up on brand new guilds.

Now is not a very good time to recruit, but in the weeks leading up to Mists, you'll find a lot of players returning to the game and looking for a new home. Mists seems very focused on providing players with a lot to do at the endgame besides raiding, so I predict an influx of players who would want to join a guild like yours.

We may also see players stepping away from raiding guilds and into a more laid-back playing style. It's how you lost players, so you might as well try to gain players the same way, now that the guild's mission has changed.

Be aggressive in the weeks before and after the expansion launches. If you see unguilded players while you're questing, chat them up. Try to put together dungeon or scenario groups from people on the server. The best way to do this is to find a tank and a healer from among the people you already know and then offer an instant queue to DPS (though scenarios seem like they will have very short queues for everyone).

Play up the mature, respectful angle toward both people and lore. Protect that aspect of the guild at all costs. That really does make a difference -- a lot of guilds claim to behave that way, but they really don't.

Whatever you decide to do, if you can't revive this guild, I'm convinced that joining another guild with people you know will make for a better long-term experience for you. Don't think of that as a failure, either, but as a fresh start.

/salute

Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to scott@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Guilds, Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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