With an increasing number of guilds ceasing competitive raiding and closing their doors, this week we comment on the state of guilds. If your raid group has just enough players to still raid with but not quite enough to step into mythic, consider merging with a different raid group. We end off the show discussing how much of an impact mythic raiding has had on the game and on the players.

 In this episode we discuss…

  • Collapsing guilds
  • Factors in merging guilds
  • Impact of mythic raiding

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The Transcript

The transcript has been edited for clarity and grammar.

Matt: Another day, another edition of the Guildmasters Podcast, the companion show to the Guildmasters blog for both players new to leadership and veterans who are not quite up to snuff on their skills, but want to improve on it. My name is Matt Low, but everyone knows me as Matticus. Every week, we continue to tackle one problem or challenge related to in-game leadership. We’ve been there before and we’ve weathered storms and hurricanes. Now before we get started, I just want to take a moment to thank everyone for listening and subscribing to the podcast! We’re on our fifth episode not, and we greatly appreciate and value your feedback.

Matt: This week, I’m graced with the presence of a legend. Actually, no, I ran out of famous Wils. We only get standard issue Wil today. What is up, Standard Issue Wil?

Will: Insert standard issue witty response? Happy to be here, ready to tackle the next problem of the day

Matt: We have a great one this week and it’s actually on a topic that I’m all too familiar with. Let me cut to the chase here:

Main Topic/Question

Masters,

I’ll cut to the chase. We started work on Heroic Blackhand several weeks ago. But recently, our highest ilvl player whom we awarded 4-piece and trinkets to as a priority recently quit and decided to go elsewhere. We were set back in a huge way and that player served as an anchor and contributed heavily to raid strategy and discussion.

Not long after that, another group of players recently left after playing with us for about a month when they transferred here.

It’s as if we’re struggling to tread water, and now we’re sinking. Bosses that we normally crushed instead took us more attempts than we’dve liked. Our numbers dwindled from 23 to 16. Players are getting exhausted on Blackhand, it seems. The ones that had the courtesy to at least say why they wanted to stop raiding outright said that it just wasn’t fun anymore. While the high end raiding side of the game can be challenging, I think we were all caught off guard.

I logged online in the morning only to discover that one of our tanks had left the guild.

Our numbers… now we’re down to 13 raiders.

I don’t know what we can do here or what our next moves are. It’s a pretty big blow.

From,

Demoralized in Darnassus

Merger topic, dangers of merging guilds.  

Matt: Oh my, what a topic. To be fair, I actually completed a guild merger of my own recently in the past week (and by the time you all hear this, it will have been about 3 weeks ago). So maybe by the time you listen, it might not have worked out or maybe we’re still playing together! It looks like what Demoralized needs is a quick, swift kick in the butt to help get the guild going again. It’s hard to recruit individuals. You’re on the forums trying to recruit, or on trade chat trying to recruit and it’s hard to get that momentum going because every time you recruit one player here, two players there, it turns out another player that was going to be a regular decides to stop logging in. One of the methods that I would propose, and we’re going to be discussing this week, is the idea of guild mergers. It took my merger about two weeks to hammer out the agreement and negotiate all the terms. In the history of our guild, this would have been our third merger in 8 years that we’ve been here.

Will – Wow, three mergers. That’s pretty big. I know I’m a ripe old veteran of only one merger and that was back in the Throne of Thunder days to merge my hunter and paladin’s separate raid groups.  But its safe to say, Matt will agree, doing a guild merger is a really big undertaking.  It can’t be overstated.  Your guild and this other one have existed for some period of time and, in the process, acquired an identity, some history and some baggage. We all know about that baggage that comes along. Not to mention, of course, the people in your guild. There’s a whole bunch of those guys and gals that are hanging out with you.  The gravity of all of this should weigh on you and your leadership.  Why?  Lets go through a few dangers of merging guilds.

Matt: In my opinion, the biggest thing here is fear. GMs are afraid of losing their guilds. Officers are afraid of losing their power and influence. Raiders are afraid of losing their raid spots. Sometimes things just don’t work out or the attitude doesn’t mesh. One of the biggest killers in any merger is this us vs them mentality. You’re essentially recruiting another clique into the guild, officially. What about disciplinary action? What happens if you punish one guy? Are the rest of them might circle the wagons or refuse to come to raid or make life more harder requiring a different approach that you might not normally do when it’s someone within your own faction that decided to do something dumb and against the rules? It’s like you have to have two different sets of rules until everyone meshes together somehow.

Will:  Those cliques that have probably existed since the dawn of time in your guild will still keep on existing.  You can’t force people to be friends with someone new. You can try, but at the very least, all you can do is foster a healthy atmosphere of teamwork and cooperation that pushes your overall guild goals forward.  If it doesn’t happen, then you’re likely be looking at those cliques forming their own groups and jetting off to their own new guilds or finding places. It happens time and again. They don’t like the guild atmosphere, they don’t like what’s going on? “Me and these five other guys are gonna go hang out in this other guild over here.” It can tear a guild about. [Matt: Or they can start their own] It is a big deal.

Matt: Where do we start, exactly? There’s so many things to go over, and so many factors to consider in a guild merger. Absolutely, the very first thing to do is to sit in a room with their GM and talk philosophy for an hour. What is their guild vision like compared to yours? What are their guild goals? What does he want to do? How they feel on discipline, how would she punish people who are out of line? What’s the raid atmosphere like? This stuff is extremely crucial and if s the two of you aren’t on the same page, this union won’t last long at all. For example: scheduling. Can players of both groups even raid together? If not, is there a more adequate time? I had to negotiate a hard end time of 10 PM Pacific which I was able to get because a good chunk of my raiders are on the east coast, but that meant sacrificing and giving up our original start time of 6 PM and moving it back 30 minutes on all days. We now started at 6:30 on 3 raid nights instead of 6:00, ultimately resulting in a net loss of 90 minutes a week on raiding.

Will:  So that puts you at…you were at 12 and now you’re at 10.5 hours? [Matt: Yes, my math is right. Yes] That can be a big deal in terms of how much you get accomplished in a raid week. My own experience with a guild merger was more a convenience and pooling of raiding resources.  So to that end, there were two raid teams, and they continued on their own schedules. It just worked out that way.  The original team was running on Sunday/Monday, the incoming team did Tues thru Thurs so there was no need to change.  There was some mixing of team members who wanted to do different days but it mostly stayed intact. You’re not going to get lucky like that all the time. In this case, this question is more talking about trying to merge into one team. But schedule is a big deal for people. One of the factors for myself in applying for a guild is, “What’s the raiding schedule?” I have to know that it’s going to work for me. That can be a dealbreaker for a lot of your raiders.

Matt: What about policies? Is there a language policy on what’s acceptable in guild chat and what’s acceptable on Mumble? I’m much more relaxed on Mumble and I advise players to keep track of who’s online around them in their channel and as long as everyone’s comfortable, I’ll let it go. I’m not here to babysit. But in game, I’m a little more tougher than that because there is an actual language policy in use by Blizzard and their licensing, in the rules, and I’ve actually had a player get a three-day ban because he said something in a battleground that he wasn’t supposed to. It really, really irked me, especially during progression weeks. That’s something you want to keep in mind, too, and enforce if necessary. Does anyone in guild stream? If so, should they cover up their chat windows? Let’s not forget alt policy. Do they all have to be in guild? Are there no alts allowed? Are there other events going on? Lastly, and my personal favorite, there’s loot. What if your guild does loot council and they do EPGP? Things like this have to get reconciled, and someone has to ultimately give way and a compromise has to be reached.

Will:  That can be a huge mess in general. Think about a loot council. Our loot council is six people…officers and another raid member. What if they (the other guild) has a loot council and they have five or six people? No! Loot is never going to get handed out. So someone is going to have to sacrifice that they’re not going to be on loot council. And then EPGP, that’s a system of DKP points and a point system in general so….[Matt: What happens to their points?] Whose point system is the one of record and how do they merge together? It’s a huge mess. Loot in general is a huge mess day-to-day in a normally functioning guild. Pay a lot of attention here to working out an acceptable solution.   A lot of people, a lot of raiders are loot driven and even if everything else was peachy keen, everyone else is all happy, but they see a new guild member get that trinket over them, there are going to be some butts that are hurt. After you have worked all this out, be very clear on how its going to work post-merger. It’s going to save you some raiders.

Matt: On the same note, we’re talking raid spots right now. You’re going to end up with maybe 4 tanks and possibly up to 10 healers. Who stays? Who changes? Who leaves? Who is going to respec? Take the best possible players at those positions. Put together the team that will maximize raid effectiveness and help you achieve your goals here, that’s why you want to raid. That’s why you considered merging in the first place. Don’t lose sight of that. You’re going to have to sacrifice a couple players here. People that are not up to snuff. I think every guild, or most guilds out there, has those one or two or three different players who, all things considered, you wouldn’t really take them but you need them because they have a crucial cooldown, or you need them to fulfill certain numbers, or they’re the fifteenth or twentieth player so you can trigger the confirmed third or fourth item drop out of heroic. You don’t want to take them, but you don’t have much of a choice. This is where this situation comes into play now because you’ve got more selection of who is on the starting lineup versus who is not.

Will:  On the same note as slots, you also have to consider what you want for a leadership structure.  Do you give some of the other guild’s officers a spot on your officer roster?  Do you demote some of your current officers to make room so you don’t have, again, ten officers or whatever you might have?  Even a decision of who is the GM might not be a simple decision if you’ve got fifteen players coming from one guild and fifteen coming from the other, and it’s a mutual decision, someone has to have the GM title and it might not be you if you’re the one negotiating. You have to figure out what you’re going to do there. There’s a leadership structure in place, and it would be nice to give officers that title and privilege and such, but you still have to give some jobs out, and who is going to be doing what? Who is going to be doing the guild bank? Who is the healing officer? You don’t want to have multiple people doing those jobs and stepping on each other’s toes, so a lot to consider in your leadership structure as well.

Matt: Do you want two GMs at the same time? I’ve seen that work, actually, so it’s not completely uncommon, but it is going to take some serious effort. On top of that, there are other expectations. For example, voice communication software, is a good one. Are you using Mumble or Teamspeak? What is the voice communication software of choice? Who decides what the other rules are? Are there any mandatory addons? In my case, I said  Angry Assignments was absolutely mandatory. We use that to help organize our cooldowns or any other information that has to be on the screen at all times. That is absolutely mandatory and there is no discussion on that. I had to ask some of the newer players coming in to compile a best in slot list for our records, and just about all of them have done that for me, which is great, so they’re fitting in quite nicely. On top of that, I can’t think of anything else a guild might want of their members. Addon-wise there are obviously things like DBM or BigWigs, but that’s fairly crucial to everyone. Loot addons, that might be a good one. I remember there being a loot-specific addon that everyone might have had to had installed for something, which I can’t remember now, unless it’s quest tracking.

Will: Our loot is handed out with loot council, but we use RCLootMaster…or LootCouncil. I forget what the name of it is. One of the two. Before that I’ve had guilds where we also did EPGP Loot Master clients. Everyone had to run that so it would pop up the addon and make loot hand out really quickly. Just making sure everyone is aligned on that. Some guilds require that everyone has PowerAuras or WeakAuras so they can send around cooldown assignments or, you know, “Here’s this new mechanic that we all need to have a timer for. Import this aura.” Now everyone is on the same page.

Will:  Matt mentioned atmosphere earlier but thats one factor that can come along later that might take away from the other benefits of your merger.  You may have a group of mature 30-somethings, like myself, who joke around but have some general courtesy.  If the other guild coming in is mostly college age kids, it may not work out long time mixing the two groups.   Thats not to say that it won’t work, but have the leadership aware of potential personality clashes and keeping an eye on the health of the atmosphere of the guild. There’s a different level of personalities and things going on there, so as long as people know, “Hey, we all need to get along and we all need to work as a team.” As long as everyone is subscribed to that, it should all work out, but just be careful.

Matt: At the end of the day, be prepared to make sacrifices. I was prepared to reassign my tanks to other roles and offer their tanks the tanking position. In exchange, I wanted to preserve our guild name, our site, branding, and our infrastructure all largely due to the investments I had made in the past. T-shirts, and jacket designs, and all that stuff. I didn’t want to have to redo all of that stuff again.

In addition, I would strongly advise not letting anyone know that you’re in these discussions. If you have to, keep your officers in the loop and see what they have to say or add. Don’t get your players worked up over high expectations that may or may not happen. There’s no point in dropping that bomb on them right away. Lastly, once the merge does happen, and if you do manage to succeed, you have to work with their leadership core, whether it’s former or current, every officer needs to buy in and support this. Everyone has to do their part in reassuring and reminding that, “We’re all in the same guild, and all in the same raid group. No one is here to intentionally screw someone else out of loot or whatever it is.” We all want to progress together and all of our goals are shared. This is no longer an us vs. them, this is us vs. the big, bad bosses Blizzard has put in the game. That’s what it’s all about.

Will: All about downing Blackhand. I’m with you there. I’m right with this….that’s right where we are with progression as of this recording.

Alternatives to Guild Merger

Will: So if all of that discussion of a guild merger sounds like it won’t work for your situation, there are alternatives to taking such a large step as a guild merger.  Probably one of the first things to do is get a guild meeting together with those thirteen players you’ve got left.  Lay out what’s happened, what you see happening in the future and see where people are feeling. The talk. If people are still committed to the guild and willing to work at it, you can slowly rebuild and recruit, and still temper the expectations of the remaining raiders.  You may get that Blackhand heroic kill in a few weeks but you may not be able to step right into mythic after that if you don’t have the people.  As long as your roster is filling up and recruitment is happening, you can build the team and get to where you want to be eventually..

Matt: Before my guild merger, I’ll offer this as another alternative, I was extremely close to engineering a guild server transfer to a more populated realm. Recruiting wasn’t happening anywhere on my server, and I wasn’t getting the results I was looking for in trade chat, or on the forums, or any of the usual locations. The fact that we were on a PvP server was also drawback, and my server used to be considered a high-population server years ago, since it was a launch server. Now, that population has gone down. That was one of the consistent reasons I received when I was on the verge of signing a new recruit — they didn’t want to transfer over because we were on a PvP server. [Will: That would be a thing for me, honestly.] Nothing actually happens on a PvP server! Let’s be real, you’re not going out in the world to do anything. Most people just sit in their garrison all day long.

Will:  World of Garrisoncraft. I understand that from the recruit’s perspective. Especially coming from a PvE server, you just don’t know. You’re like, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t want to get ganked.” Even if it’s twenty to one for your faction. I get it. If guild transferring to another realm isn’t going to work for you either, I hate to go down this route, you can basically say it’s time to fold up shop and thank everyone for their time and effort, and the guild is dead. You can do a lot of things that help people here.  You can help people find a new guild. If there are four or five guys going to another guild, have them take along a couple other people. See if you can place people into new situations. It just might be time to do that. If you enjoy leadership, there are always guilds that need good leaders as officers. You might not be stepping into that role right away wherever you land, but you can still get there. You can still work with a new guild and show some promise.  If you don’t want to go that drastic, maybe you just give up on having that mythic goal for the guild and just hang out doing heroic runs, achievements and whatever else your guild might be interested in.  After all, it is about having fun, and if that’s still happening, you might as well keep it going.

Matt: Thankfully, I’ve never been in such a position myself but I’ve never hesitated to make that… pitch to other groups. I usually say something like “Think about it. Take the stress off yourself and you can just be a normal DPS player again. No need to worry about other players. Don’t have to be concerned over any drama or loot issues.” It never ceased to fail because it was awfully enticing. Players don’t have to worry about all that stuff on their shoulders. They could just focus on playing their toon to the best of their ability. They didn’t have to worry about recruiting or drama or any of that other stuff. Someone else could take care of it.

Will: At some points during my GM career, that would’ve been enticing to me, so I get it. A lot of work. [Matt: Yeah, I’m still doing this for some reason] So you can make a podcast and you can help other people. That’s what you do it for, right? [Matt: exactly.]

Cross-realm Mythic, why not Blizz?

Matt: Let’s touch upon mythic for a second. Everyone know that Blizzard has combined both raid groups from 25 and 10. It’s one giant 20-man party now. It’s funny how the community opinion has largely swung back in the other direction here. In the past, there were two separate tiers: You had your 10 man and your 25 man. But each group was always dismissive of the other. 10 man was largely more forgiving due to the allowances they had to make for not having certain classes or buffs. 25 man raids had the advantage of sheer numbers, global cooldowns, and class options even though it was tuned tighter. Everyone was dismissive because, “Well there’s no real strict progression race because there are two separate roads you can take. This kind of raiding isn’t the real thing.” But now that raiding is combined and condensed into one 20-player progression thing, people are having a hard time with it. A lot of guilds that tried to scale up from 10 could not.

Will: There were a lot of mergers at the end of Mysts, of 10 man guilds that scaled themselves up to 25 so they could be farming Siege of Orgrimmar, with the goal in mind of, “We combined these two 10-man teams and noww we’re going to be 20-man in Warlords.” Sometimes it has worked out and sometimes not, probably due to many of the factors we just talked about. Many people have suggested letting mythic be cross-realm would be a partial solution to these problems. Blizzard has been pretty clear that it’s probably not going to happen.  It is sad it can’t happen as it would make things a little easier for recruitment and helping to maintain raid groups. You can pug a mythic raider out of LFG tool at worst, if you can see their experience and progression, but right now you can’t do that. But I can see that there’s a world first race and realm first race,  I can see a lot of avenues for abuse and weirdness. It can get complicated quickly if we want to maintain that race.

Matt: Exactly, and it’s the only way it has to happen. They have to condense it into one giant race instead of two separate ones.

Summary

Okay, we’re about to reach the end of our show here so let’s recap!

  1. Keep in mind the different factors you need when it comes to merging, like schedule, policy, player roles, leadership, loot, etc.
  2. Alternatives to guild mergers like transferring servers, continuing the slow rebuild, or merging into someone else’s guild, or simply calling it.
  3. We discussed briefly the challenges that Mythic brought upon the raiding community here as a whole.

CONCLUSION

Matt: Thanks for listening to the Guildmasters Podcast! If you want to contact us and leave us your feedback or have a question that you’d like us to help answer, email us at hi@guildmasters.org.

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Remember to regularly visit Guildmasters.org. We have a small growing community of leaders and we want to connect with others who listen to the podcast and who read our content.

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow us @GuildmastersOrg and you can follow the hosts. Matt can be found @Matticus and Wil can be followed @GitErRaid. If you’re interested in the show notes for the episode or want to drop a comment, head on the Guildmasters website at guildmasters.org. You can also find the video and accompanying slides there as well. See you next time!