I’ve referred to the fact that I am the Guildmaster(GM) of a World of Warcraft Raiding guild before. You learn a lot about yourself and other people being the leader of a group of 70 people, and I thought I would write a couple of posts about my experiences. World of Warcraft is unlike any game before it in some ways, although it takes a lot of its lineage from the other MMO’s that came before it.
First some basic information about our guild. It’s roughly two years old. I was not the original GM, but I was one of the founding members. I was the Raid Leader for the first six months of the guild’s existence. I will talk a little more about that role later, but I had the role of GM sort of thrust upon me when the membership was unhappy with the original GM. I didn’t really want to be GM, and I think in some ways that has made me a much better GM. We have had, at most, about a hundred members.
We raid four days a week on a regular schedule. Most of our members are adults, and I have had everything from State Department diplomats to lawyers and doctors to college students and warehouse workers in the guild. I would guess that the average age of our guild would be something like 28. Raiding, for those who don’t know anything about games like WoW, is when a large group of players get together to tackle game encounters that require everyone in the twenty five man group (it used to be 40) to effectively play their role well. The encounters range from very simple ones which last 5-10 minutes, to very complicated ones that last up to 30 minutes. The learning curve of a particular encounter can be anywhere from a couple of hours to a few weeks. When your guild has mastered an encounter, they move on to the next one in the learning ladder, and the previous one is said to be “on farm status”.
Our guild ranked around 500 in the world and 200 in the US in terms of progression. That’s not terrible by any means, but it’s not nearly as hardcore as some folks. In the past, we cleared Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, AQ40, and almost had cleared Naxx when Burning Crusade came out. Currently, we are working on Kael’thas Sunstrider, the last boss in Tempest Keep, who is sort of a gateway boss to the second half of raiding in Burning Crusade. It’s a brutal encounter, with 5 phases that require learning. We’ve been working on it for three or four weeks now, and should finally get it done in the next day or two. On our particular server, we are the third most progressed guild, and one of the oldest raiding guilds.
So, with that background, here’s some observations. First, being a GM can be a very lonely job. You have to be the voice of reason, the source of discipline, and ultimately keep order where 50-70 personalities are involved. You have to try and gauge morale while continuously trying encounters and failing over and over until you succeed. Interestingly enough, this aspect of being a GM is very similar to my day job of managing people. Once you cross that line into being a boss, your relationships with your guildmates will change. You now hold the ultimate power where all things guild are concerned. It requires, above all else, patience. People want raid invites, and things from the guild bank, and they will leap up and down to do things for you if you ask. It’s tough to remain impartial, and to keep things as fair as you can.
When you are a GM of a raiding guild, you are always hiring. In order to keep pace with the other guilds on your server, you have to keep killing bosses. If you don’t have enough people of one class that is required for an encounter, it can stunt your progression, and people are constantly coming and going. People decide they want to play with an old friend and leave your guild, or get a “better offer” from a more progressed guild. Recruiting is a full time job, and as a result, I have two officers whose only job is recruitment, which is critical because I don’t play every night. We have a set process for evaluating candidates, and I would say we actually take about 5% of the people who apply when we have openings. Of course, once you hire someone new, you have to then train them in the various encounters you already have on farm status. It’s a never ending treadmill that you just have to get used to as a GM.
Reliable infrastructure is important. It’s critical that you have a guild forum, a dkp accounting system and a voice chat server for the guild, and that these three things are reliable. The forum gives the membership a place to discuss things out of game, a housing for your rules and regulations, and a place to post your “strategies” on how bosses get killed. It also gives your potential applicants a place to post their applications for your evaluation. A fair dkp system is the lifeblood of any guild. It’s purpose is to make sure that “loot” is distributed in a manner that is in line with each person’s contribution to the guild. This can be a real pain in the arse, as you have to then enter four raids worth of attendance and loot every week. However, it’s incredibly important that this get done. Finally, without voice chat, you won’t get very far. It’s critical to succeeding at the complex encounters. It’s also critical to fostering the social relationships that make the game worth playing.
I’ll do a part two to this soon. If there are particular things you are curious about, post in the comments, and I will trey to address them.