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Filed under: Guilds

Warlords of Draenor: Guild leveling and guild perk changes

Players on the Warlords of Draenor beta have noticed something a little different about guild perks in the new expansion -- a large portion of them have simply been removed entirely, including both the Fast Track and Cash Flow perks. While some assumed this was likely a bug, it turns out this is part of change that has been planned for guild leveling. Namely, guild leveling is being by and large removed from the game. Or, if you want to think of it in a slightly different fashion, all guilds will automatically be what level 25 once was.

Why the changes? Watcher hit the forums to explain, and to point out that the perks people normally associate with guilds aren't really going away entirely. Some of them, like Ride Like the Wind or Honorable Mention will just be rolled into the game as default behavior, rather than offered as a perk of any kind. So yes, while the perk is getting removed, we won't really see a change -- flight paths will simply go 25% faster by default. The Cash Flow perk, however, is being flat out removed, and Watcher had some really good points as to why this is being changed.

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Filed under: Guilds, Warlords of Draenor

The nature of unique mechanics and raid difficulty

One of the ideas that I always find interesting is that, as raid difficulty increases, it becomes more reasonable to expect certain abilities to be available. Like in this tweet from Nathaniel Chapman, an encounter designer for WoW, which talks about the Hand of Protection ability. (As an aside, I very much recommend his personal blog.) The basic idea is simple, and can be extrapolated to other abilities - it's reasonable to expect a Mythic raid to have access to abilities such as Hand of Protection or other class specific abilities that can alter a fight's parameters.

It's this idea of raid difficulty making specific design choices acceptable that I find interesting, at least in the context of class abilities that might otherwise be seen as unbalancing. One specific mention was how Paladins could cheese tank swap mechanics, something that made them invaluable on fights like Heroic Horridon. Imagine that, in a hypothetical Mythic Horridon, the fight was designed for you to cheese tank swap mechanics, or the boss came with a huge AoE damage spell that was spell reflectable, justifying the inclusion of a warrior tank or a DPS warrior with Mass Spell Reflect. The cast could also be spellstolen, so mages would be a valuable addition.

These kinds of mechanics are seen (and rightfully so, in my opinion) as punitive to struggling small raid groups who only have so many combinations of classes and specs. If your raid doesn't have a mage or warrior, for example, then dealing with that hypothetical huge AoE damage attack becomes harder. But for Mythic difficulty, with its iron-clad 20 player limit, you can expect more diversity in raid makeup, and thus can design for it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Raiding, Warlords of Draenor

Keeping your guild active during the down time


Guild leaders have been sending us a lot of questions in the Queue and elsewhere about how to keep their guild active during the down time between expansions. At this point many guilds have already cleared Orgrimmar and are either slowly working on heroic modes or stalled out entirely. It's not that anyone is doing anything wrong -- they're not -- it's just the nature of players. After things have been accomplished, why bother continuing on? This is totally a normal behavior and shouldn't be taken as anyone abandoning the guild or anything silly like that.*

So, life is slow on the forefront of raiding. What can you do? Change your game. Make the game not about killing pixels from this expansion, but about experiencing everything in a social atmosphere. I've had to make this transition a lot, and I've always found it works.

End current content raiding
Make an official end to the current tier of raiding and move to other activities. Allow for a small group to form that wants to keep pushing into harder heroics and what not, but don't make anyone feel like they have to go. And don't feel obligated yourself too -- it's okay in a guild leadership position to sit out and just facilitate.

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Filed under: Guilds

Major raid changes coming in Warlords of Draenor

During the World of Warcraft - What's Next? panel, Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas unveiled the way raiding will be unveiled going forward. As you can see above, the term flexible raid is no longer used to describe a difficulty setting, and the flexible raid scaling system has been more widely implemented. Here's how it will basically work:
  • First up, the raid finder (LFR) will still aim for a fixed group size of 25 players. However, if you're in an LFR group and players drop before the next boss, that boss will scale to the size of the current group - as an example, if a raid of 25 players is fighting Paragons, then four players drop on the way to Garrosh, Mr. Hellscream (if you're nasty) will scale down to a 21 player size.
  • What we now call the Flexible difficulty will become Normal in patch 6.0 - it will scale just as it does now.
  • What we now call Normal difficulty (10 and 25 man) will scale flexibly and will be called Heroic difficulty. It will scale just as normal does.
  • Finally, Ion pointed out that scaling the most challenging encounters in terms of design requires a fixed raid size, and so, they've chosen that size to be 20 players. This difficulty, analogous to what we now call Heroic will be called Mythic difficulty.
I find it interesting that they chose to lock the most difficult raiding at a 20 player cap - I've always felt that we should have gone 10/20 at Burning Crusade's launch instead of 10/25, but I wonder why they didn't do a 10/20 split on Mythic for the dedicated 10 man guilds. I didn't expect that, but otherwise, I totally called it and I'm definitely excited. (I know for my guild, 20 man Mythic will be a lot easier to adjust to, but for dedicated 10's it won't be as easy a transition.)

Also, please forgive me a moment of smuggery, but I called it.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Blizzard, Raiding, BlizzCon

Is your guild bank going dry?

Is your guild bank going dry
I raid with an extremely generous 25-man raiding guild that is chugging along quite nicely through the Siege of Orgrimmar. They are kind enough to provide not only guild repairs, but potions, flasks, and feasts -- now noodle carts -- as well. The guild is pretty good about keeping everything managed, and raiders do a pretty good job about keeping the guild bank filled with materials for all the stuff that the guild supplies on a typical guild run.

But we've had a problem recently that picked up in patch 5.4. Someone mentioned that the guild bank wasn't making quite as much gold as it used to, and player repairs are bleeding the guild bank of gold almost faster than it can be put in. This seemed odd to me at the time, but I re-doubled my efforts to continue sticking herbs, gems, and whatever other useful items I came across into the guild bank, figuring it would all balance itself out. It turns out, however, that we aren't alone with our weird little problem.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Economy

WowStead Guild Hosting services to close down

WoWStead Guild Hosting services to close down
Guild Hosting service WowStead is closing its doors, in order to change members over to a system that provides a better service. WowStead sent out an email to users this morning informing them of such, and giving them time to transfer over to the GuildLaunch service.

Without having access to any more information it is difficult indeed to postulate about the reasons behind the shift, but nonetheless, if your guild is hosted with WowStead, you will need to think about a new solution. The GuildLaunch transfer site asserts that it will make the move as easy as possible, and honor any payments made, but there are always other options, and maybe this is the time to consider them. There are a huge number of services out there, as a cursory google search will reveal, so choose wisely, or take the transfer option, but whatever you decide, enjoy your new home!

If you're in need of guild advice, do check out Officers' Quarters, and you'll find the full letter from WowStead after the break.

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Filed under: Guilds

Breakfast Topic: How did you choose your guild?


The people you play with make up the heart and soul of your World of Warcraft experience. They'll make the game a delight you keep coming back to or a misery you can't escape soon enough. What this comes down to is that who you're guilded with makes or breaks your game experience. A bad guild or, worse, a good guild that's falling apart will make you rush offline to a good book or a favorite TV show rather than spending your idle time in Azeroth. Of course, it's not always straightforward to find the right guild for you -- it's all too easy to have mismatched goals or schedules that turn what may have seemed to be a great group of players into a guild nightmare.

When I'm in need of a guild, I tend to follow my friends around, which always seems like a good formula but doesn't always work out. But it's hardly the only way: all you have to do is be unguilded to get numerous (unsolicited) guild invitations and the guild recruitment forum is always brimming with new guilds LFM. So, just how do you go about picking that perfect guild?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Breakfast Topics

Patch 5.4 PTR: Virtual Realms announced

What, you may ask, are virtual realms? Well, they're a very interesting new feature (and if you choose, you can pretend they're the new feature Ghostcrawler mentioned for 5.4) that will have quite an impact on how we play the game. To quote the patch notes:

Rygarius - Patch 5.4 Coming Soon!
Virtual Realms are sets of realms that are fused together, and will behave exactly as if they were one cohesive realm. Players on the same Virtual Realm will be able to join guilds, access a single Auction House, join arena teams and raids, as well run dungeons or group up to complete quests.

This is basically the first step in the creation of a unified, single realm across whole regions of World of Warcraft. Similar in concept to a PvP Battlegroup, this basically allows you to treat players from other realms in the shared virtual realm as if they were on your selfsame realm, including all the benefits of guilding, grouping and raiding.; This is an enormous game changer, and I admit, I don't think I ever expected to see it happen. For guilds on low pop servers, this drastically increases the potential player base that you can recruit, for just one potential benefit.

Do remember, however, that this is the PTR. As Ghostcrawler says:

Stay tuned for more news -- this is definitely an exciting change.

Filed under: Guilds, Blizzard, News items, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

Breakfast Topic: Why join a guild?

Breakfast Topic Why join a guild
There are lots of reasons to join a guild: it makes it easy to find groups and raids, you have guaranteed company while you're playing, and most importantly, guild perks. In case you've been living under a rock, guild perks give you great bonuses for guild membership based on your guild's level. Perks can boost the amount of experience, reputation, and honor you gain, make your hearthstone cooldown shorter, and even make flight paths go faster. So, really, the question seems to be why not join a guild?

The question's been asked on Reddit and it got me wondering why my own alt of choice (for the moment) is currently unguilded. It couldn't take much more than a polite request to jump on the guild bandwagon and get my hands on those yummy, yummy perks. It would stop the regular requests I get to join guilds (even if you've turned off guild requests, you do frequently get whispers) and it's not as though I'm in a demanding guild at the moment. And yet when I don't feel like doing much (or dealing with others), I hop on to my alt to solo for a while.

And what about you, fellow players? Are you guilded or unguilded?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Breakfast Topics

Poll: Do you use the in-game Guild Finder?

Poll Do you use the ingame LFGuild

Joining a guild has always been a core aspect of World of Warcraft. How to choose the right style of guild can be an especially large hurdle to overcome for new players, but it's something we learn along the way. Players currently have a few resources at their disposal, whether it be the Blizzard Guild Recruitment forums, GuildOx, WoWProgress, or other tools. But there's an oft-forgotten in-game tool that was released back in patch 4.1. What about the in-game Guild Finder?

The options are a bit limited, and the listings depend on the effort put in by guild masters. Let's just say it's a neglected feature on a few fronts. I've used the Guild Finder before, when searching for a casual leveling guild on a new server. Outside of that, I stick to other tools when recruiting or looking for a new guild.

What about you -- do you ever use the in-game Guild Finder? What's your preferred resource for guild recruitment and discovery?

Do you use the in-game Guild Finder?
Yes990 (17.3%)
No3244 (56.7%)
I just want to see the votes1485 (26.0%)

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds

Guild leadership and guild leveling

First off, this isn't one of those posts where I'm a detached observer with no first person experience with the problems of guild leadership. I'm an officer in a raiding 25 man guild, and recently I was the victim of a shakeup. Our Anne Stickney wrote about it for the site, so I won't dredge up the same material. Instead, what I will do is talk about what someone else experienced tonight, and what it has me thinking about: namely, that perhaps it's time that alternatives to the classic GM/officers style of guild leadership were made part of the game's set up. Sure, you can run your guild like a council, or even an anarcho-syndicalist commune if you would like, but said commune would still be a monarchy by the way Blizzard has designed the guild formation process.

The reason I bring this up is because of a tweet from Emberdione, who comments here frequently as well as writes on her own blog. It was a very familiar story - her GM had decided he was tired of WoW, and so instead of handing the guild over like a sane person he kicked everyone out. Since it was so familiar to my own recent story, it got me thinking. Why do we still have this one person at the top pyramid structure as the only option for guilds?

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Filed under: Guilds, Mists of Pandaria

What to do when your guild falls to pieces

What to do when your guild falls to pieces
Yesterday, my guild fell apart.

I logged into the game as usual, with the intent of clearing the holiday boss and then doing our usual Sunday raid. Instead, I was greeted by a whisper from my cohort in crime, the other rogue in my guild, who told me to join a random channel. Bewildered, I did so, only to find the rest of my guild in said channel. "Why did we make a channel?" I asked. "Because we don't have a guild anymore," she replied -- which was when I realized I was, in fact, completely guildless for the first time since somewhere in the middle of Burning Crusade. Our guild leader systematically kicked everyone out of the guild, shut the doors and called it a day.

Needless to say, it's been a hell of a weekend. My first thought was nonexistent, my second thought, oddly enough, was whether or not we'd ever had a guide on this particular situation on WoW Insider. I couldn't find one after peering through the archives, so I decided, after all the madness of yesterday had settled down, that I ought to write one.

So, from first-hand experience -- what do you do when your guild falls to pieces?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds

New generation comes of age in record-holding long-time guild

New generation comes of age in recordholding longtime guild
You know your adults-only guild has built up a serious steamhead of history when you begin seeing an entirely new generation of applicants from within your own ranks. That's right, WoW players, you really are that old. This month marks the 17th anniversary of The Syndicate, the current Guinness world record holders for the longest continuously operating online gaming community.

"As our move into our 18th year as a community, internally we are starting to see the children of our members applying to join," writes Sean "Dragons" Stalzer, president and CEO of The Syndicate. "Said a different way, that means people who have only known MMORPGs similar to WoW or EQ or UO or Rift are heading off to college."

When we interviewed Dragons three years ago, we examined the group's massive size across multiple games, its unrivaled retention rate (an average loss of one to two people per year, for a 99.92% retention rate), and its own studio that turns out strategy guides for casual players and handles game and hardware consulting and testing for various game companies. That's a heady bouquet of achievements for a hardworking guild. Still, the group's anniversary this month makes waves in a much larger context -- a new era for MMO designers and fans alike.

"It matters because the MMOs of the past 17 years were created, in large part, by a community of developers who knew the world of BBS gaming via a modem... who played MUDs and MOOs... who, in the more senior levels, knew gaming before there were computers," Dragons writes. "We are just now reaching the point where the future programmers, designers, producers etc.. are heading off to college having never known a world without MMORPGS. Some of the core mechanics and concepts that shaped what 'success' is in the MMORPG world are things they have never experienced, and that isn't a bad thing. It means there is change coming to the MMO space."

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Filed under: Guilds, News items

Guide to choosing the right style of guild

What type of guild is best for you DNP
Are you searching for a guild of "friendly, mature people" who "have fun" in either a "social" or "raiding" context? You're in luck! You'll find those terms in most guild recruitment ads for WoW's 10 million players worldwide. On second thought, that may be more than good luck; it's more like an avalanche of virtually identical guild profiles. Will those terms help you discern any meaningful distinctions between these groups of players? That's a lot of "friendly" people to sort through.

Many guilds are fairly easily described by their schedules and raid progressions (or their lack of either). More likely, though, the essence of your group -- the part that gives it its flavor and makes it stand apart from other guilds -- is somewhat trickier to describe. "Social," "casual," "raiding" ...These terms describe most guilds. And even terms that seem fairly self-explanatory at first glance can be problematic for players trying to evaluate a potential fit. "We're a dedicated roleplaying guild." OK, so what's the spin? One RP guild might maintain a military structure and campaign, while another plays out some very adult-themed interpersonal dramas -- definitely not interchangeable concepts!

Our experience is that player and guild drama becomes inevitable when members end up unhappily guilded in a group that doesn't truly fit. The Drama Mamas frequently get mail from players who find their guildmates nice enough but still have that itchy feeling that something just isn't clicking. The fit you want is probably out there, but the terminology and labeling for these guilds hasn't quite caught up yet.

What are you looking for in a guild? What sort of group will help you enjoy playing World of Warcraft? Let's figure it out -- and if you're looking for a particularly specialized type of guild, we've included a few niche group suggestions to kickstart your research.

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Filed under: Guilds, Drama Mamas

What's your guild's niche? Help players find your specialized group

What's your guild's niche Help players find your specialized group
What is your guild all about? Many guilds are fairly easily described by their schedules and raid progressions (or their lack of either). More likely, though, the essence of your group -- the part that gives it its flavor and makes it stand apart from other guilds -- is somewhat trickier to describe. "Social," "casual," "raiding" ...These terms pretty much describe most guilds.

Even terms that seem fairly self-explanatory at first glance can be problematic for players trying to evaluate a potential fit. "We're a dedicated roleplaying guild." OK, so what's the spin? One RP guild might maintain a military structure and campaign, while another plays out some very adult-themed interpersonal dramas -- definitely not interchangeable concepts!

Our experience is that player and guild drama becomes inevitable when members end up unhappily guilded in a group that doesn't truly fit. The Drama Mamas frequently get mail from players who find their guildmates nice enough but still have that itchy feeling that something just isn't clicking. So as we prepare a guide to help players target the qualities they're looking for in a guild and figure out where to find them, we're turning to you for feedback plus a chance to let other players know about what your own guild's niche has to offer. Click past the break for more details on how to participate.

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Filed under: Guilds, Drama Mamas

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