Greedy Goblin

Monday, August 31, 2009

Why guilds s(t)uck?

I keep seeing posts on blogs, on WoWinsider and forums that: "I work hard to make our guild progress, but it doesn't happen, please help".

They usually don't get any meaningful help, besides the obvious "install failbot, practice rotations and sit down with every guildmember who is falling behind".

I think the question itself is wrong. "Guilds" cannot progress. Guilds cannot get loot (In Cataclysm they can, but only leveling stuff, no raiding gear). People can. So the good question is: "I do hard work to progress, but it doesn't happen, what shall I do?"

This is very simple to answer: compare to your performance to the others. If it's below, read class blogs, EJ, practice on dummy, and so on.

If you are above the guild average, giving applications to more progressed guilds in order. You control yourself, but not your guildmates. They would perform better if they could/wanted to. I wrote it almost a year ago and my own story proved it right. I'm in hard modes nowadays.

You want to help them? Very nice of you! But any of them asked for your help? They need more skills, period. Did any of them approached you with "please come to the dummies and help me fix my rotation"? Did any of them asked "where can I find resources for my class"?

They don't want your help. They want you carry them to get shinies to show off in Dalaran!

After answering "why people can't progress?", we can easily answer "why guilds can't progress?": because to get an applicant, someone must /gquit somewhere else and this doesn't happen too often, exactly because they want to progress their current guild.

Guilds can't progress because people don't want to /gquit.

Example: GuildA has 2 keepers down, can't progress because they have 5 empty spots that they can only fill with PuG or terrible "friends".
GuildB has Siege + Kologarn down, can't kill Auiraya because they have 10 empty spots.

None of the guilds goes anywhere! If the players would be goblins, following their own interests instead of social nonsense, some members from GuildB would apply to GuildA. By taking 3 players, GuildA would have all keepers down, while GuildB would be back to FL. This would make other GuildB members apply, allowing GuildA not only to fill their ranks but also to get extra people so the raid leader could optimize raid setup.

Result: GuildA cleared Ulduar, GuildB destroyed. 30-35 players happy in GuildA, 15-20 suckers are unhappy guildless, who will be taken to a "freindly social guild /w for inv". Anyway, who cares for those suckers?

There is one problem though. People tend to consider their group superior to other groups. So a GuildB member thinks "GuildA is not seriously ahead of us, we are just as good". It can even be true. However you can't make GuildB members come to your guild. Even if the guilds are even now, you can shift the balance by moving. After your move the other guild get stronger, attracting more people.

Tomorrow I'll write an analysis on how the Cataclysm guild system will affect guild life. Definitely not the way that Blizzard wants I can guarantee you!


Unknown said...

this happened to my guild. not because we were bad, but because of the summer raid slump. 1 alliance guild had to break up so the other guilds could fill their rosters

Anonymous said...

Gevlon, I think that if you want to really understand this topic properly, you need to go start your own guild and run it by your own principles. Because when you're a guild leader, you see these things differently.

Amusingly, the first ever 40 man raid guild I was in was formed BECAUSE the guild leader deliberately broke up some smaller guilds by luring people away. It was all very high drama.

Victor Praxedes said...

i'm on the side of the 'slacking' guild. i was the GM of one 10m raiding guild with an unusual schedule for people that work/study and have little time to play. we raided 4h per week, those 4 hours being a saturday night only.

we managed to clear naxx every week, but we couldn't clear ulduar, we always got stuck at yogg-saron. we still managed to try him, got it to phase 2, but time wasn't on our side.

even tought we couldn't progress, our core was freaking awesome, everyone played flawlessly and we wanted to make the guild work out. but suddenly, one of ours member realised that he could go to "Guild A" and progress. that started a chain reaction and the guild fell apart :P

just a tought, sometimes there are limiting factors to a guild progression, for my guild (and myself) it's the very limited playtime.

Unknown said...

Unfortunately, players are are way ahead of Blizzard in terms of making people stay in guilds against their better judgement. For example, a DKP-using guild is not unlike a company town, where you get paid with something that's only good within the guild. It's all well and good when the guild progresses and you can spend your DKP at the rate you earn it. But when the guild hits a slump, the sunk costs fallacy strikes. Even if there's little or no chance that'll you'll ever recoup your investment of time and effort, people will tend to stay. Furthermore, there's social pressure to stay, because leaving will get you labeled as a "loot whore" or a "fair-weather friend". On a small server, such reputation can stop you from getting recruited by other guilds, who think you'll be like this guy.

Valdesta said...

Great post!

I'd also be interested in hearing your thoughts on recruitment practices of the higher progressed guilds, which the lower guilds see as "poaching", but the higher guilds see as "the cream rises to the top".

I think I'm going to be posting about that myself too.

I can't wait to read your information on how you think the expansion will influence the guilding system! Things never work the way Blizz hoped, do they :) Damned social rules...

WoWGrrl's Player Blog

Ngita said...

Players are not robots, moving up, may mean a less suitable schedule or more commitment then you actually desired, being on the outside of the new cliques rather then the inside.

Guilds dont allways replace the players that leave, Their is allways a undercurrent of newer guilds competing for the very few good players that arrive. Sometimes the guilds break up and a certain % of the players, just stop playing.

Anonymous said...

@ Praxedes - That may have been valid before raid lockout extension was available.

Since the feature was patched in the 'we just don't have enough time!' argument is null and void.

Now since Gevlon disproved the gear theory (for normal modes, at least) there is no excuse for a progress-hungry guild *not* to extend a lockout, as any guild with the gear to reach YS (or any later stage boss) already has enough gear to kill him/her/it.

The only obstacle to guild progression is player skill.

Najtrok said...

I am in one of the best Guilds Server wide. I play on EU-Taerar, ahead of us is just one horde guild and an alliance guild that hast World Rank 19.

Now while in 10-man we downed Algalon and in 25 we got one of our healers the Val'anyr (you can guess its one of those who downed Algalon), we still have a problem that can't be solved that easily.

I could just go and /gquit and I admit, I partially don't do because I like the people I am playing with. But since I am top ranked member, there is another way to fix our problem (in theory): Sort out M&S.

Well M&S is surely not dps below tank, M&S means <4k DPS and standing still while Brain Linked, or doing 5-6k on Hodir HM. These are people that are carried by the 10-man Hard Mode Group.

So to solve that problem, you sort out the M&S and invite new players that don't suck. But we encounter a big problem here: These people either dont seem to exist or they have just not heard about us.

As we are 2nd best Horde Guild (though Wowprogress lists us lower), there's not much above us (to which those 10 would switch) as the only guild on top of us has very different raid schedule which doesn't fit for us.

So there's only one way: Take whoever slacks less and try to carry them as long as there's nothing better.

Since I am a fan of the goblin method the sorting out M&S is best way, but you can't do it if you can't get someone new (a long term problem of what many people experience with random raids: there's not enough supply).

So sometimes the goblin way is not that easily doable if the supply is limited.

And yes: I realize that a server change would definitley get me into a guild that is really good and where I am only average. But I will not for social reasons (call me a mix of social and goblin).

Oh yeah and our attempt now is to ask the guilds which a just some steps below us to take their best guys and join us, more possibilties don't come to my mind.

But maybe any goblin here sees a possibilty I don't see :)

Betty said...

Guilds aren't really that much different to businesses/jobs, why would i hire/recruit someone without a job? they usually aren't good enough.

Poaching people from other places is pretty much the only way to get someone decent.

Kristine said...

Im with Spinks here. Try being in charge of recruitment for a bit, run your own guild or even live through a down period of your current guild.
What would happen if your guild got stuck? What if your guild wiped on the same hardmode weeks in a row, lost some members to better guilds and had a few raidfades? Do you still think you would employ the same logic: "If the guild cant get you there, get another?"

After all, you have paid your way in, you seem to like it, probably earned some respect, some DKP and is comfortable with those around you. How long would you stick around before deploying some proper Goblinism and finding another guild?

Unless you are among the 100 or so players doing world firsts, you can always move up the ladder if you just want to.

Gevlon said...

@Kristine: my guild constantly rolls in hard modes. Made Vezzax (I missed that firstkill after 100+ tries), and now we are in pretty promising tries on Firefighter, so I'm satisfied.

But if they would start sucking, I wouldn't hesitate to move up.

Ayonel said...

Very good post. As a follow up to some comments from last week, I logged in the other day to talk to one of the officers about leaving because we are not progressing with Ulduar and ToTC, only to find that they decided to make me raid leader.

And this is truly a mixed bag. The merc in me says quit and find a guild where I can do what I do best; but there is also a side that says this could be good experience, learning to run raids, etc. I do like the guild, but most everything you have written in past weeks holds true for us.

I am not sure I'm really up for running farming tours of Naxx, but I have been in this guild since we were wiping on Anubrekhan 3 months ago, and we have since cleared Naxx 10, Sarth+1 on my lead, Naxx 25 up to Sapph, and got to Phase 3 of EoE last weekend. I have been on every first kill we have had, but when I started, I didn't know how to raid at all. Do I owe them something? Maybe, or maybe not, but it seems like the only way we will get to run 25 man content is if I help to build up the group.

Interestingly, apparently the reason I was made raid leader is because I disagree with the officers on almost every aspect of raiding philosophy, which is to say I think that there is no such thing as casual raiding.

I'll keep you posted; meanwhile, I'm owning the netherweave bag market, so thanks for that. More tips for tailors always appreciated.

Steve said...


Great blog, I just discovered it recently but am really enjoying reading it now.

I'm kind of curious though from your most recent comment. Why don't you leave your current guild and move up? If your guild took +100 tries on hard mode vezaxx and is only working on fire fighter now, you could definitely move up to a more progressed guild.

I'm not at all trying to disparage your guild's progress, having hard mode vezaxx down is something that probably 98% of WoW players have never experienced. At the same time though, if I understand it right, you offer something (gold generation and publicity) that would be very valuable to any guild, and should easily get you into an even more advanced guild. Doesn't the Goblin philosophy prompt you to move up to a guild that has Algalon down or cleared firefighter months ago?

Brian said...


I think you've identified exactly what the problem is with the "you can always move up" raiding philosophy...your guild always "sucks" compared to some other guild out there. So where do you stop? While I agree that it makes sense to leave your guild if you're not happy with their progress, if everyone had the goal of moving up until they were playing in Ensidia, guilds wouldn't make any progress at all.

Because the truth here is that guilds (or more accurately, raid groups) DO progress. Every other team activity out there works best when the team is actually working TOGETHER, instead of just being a bunch of random individuals. Now obviously learning a fight as a group is not the same thing as trying to carry crappy players through a fight...but downing a new boss is very much a team accomplishment. And while it's very possible that the good players in the group contributed more and carried the bad players, it's also true that the players interested in the group's progress carried the people who are just using the group as a stepping stone to something better.

I suppose I can't really find fault with this goblinish approach to guilds. After all, it's hard to demand that someone NOT take a better opportunity if they think they have one. But if EVERY raider in your guild was a goblin, you wouldn't get any bosses at all down. The best players in every group would quit to find a group where they weren't the best, leading to a neverending chain of guild-hopping that would prevent any kind of meaningful progress, even in guilds that weren't M&S. The success of Gevlon's goblin raiding experiment came precisely because the other raiders in his guild AREN'T goblins.

What's most interesting to me is that in guilds I've observed, the goblin/mercenary philosophy seems to be most practiced by the people least likely to deserve it. The best raiders in the group tend to stick around, while the average or below average players constantly jump around, searching for a better group. They don't seem to realize that to be in guild like Ensidia, you have to be able to PLAY like the rest of the raiders in Ensidia.

Anonymous said...

I'm in a similar situation as Najtrok.

I'm the leader of the #1 horde guild on the server. The only thing holding me to the server is for social reasons, but those people also happen to be my best raiders.

We're currently working on Firefighter in 10-man, but in 25-man we haven't even gotten Yogg down because we only have about 20 respectable raiders.

If cream rises to the top, our server lacks any cream whatsoever.

Althalas said...

"The only obstacle to guild progression is player skill."

And time to gain that skill. My guild recently lost about 4 players to burnout. They just quit playing wow. We are now int he process of training newer people to raid well and culling the chaff.

While the raid lockout extension helps it does not do it all.

Yaggle said...

Every guild will always have above average players. You are really saying that all players above the average, even by just a little, should try to find another guild? Those slightly above average players can improve themselves some more in their mediocre guild before moving on to better things. Maybe they will even learn some leadership skills while they are suffering through their company of mediocre guildmates.

Yurez said...

My guild isn't currently in this situation however I see it happening really soon. I only joined up about a month ago when I started playing again after few months absence and they had lost some people due to vacation and quitting and were just doing 10 mans building back into 25 man content.

I was fine with this, it met what I needed which was a slightly less serious situation as I relearned the fights, the ulduar content I hadn't seen before and figure out my skills and the changes.

Now we've managed to make some progress and things are ramping up but it's obvious that we have some rather mediocre members in the guild that have been there for some time with a solid core of good players running things. The problem is I doubt they'll truly call these people out so we'll be stuck trying to drag them through. These are the types that are going to limit any progress as they can gear up well enough but when it comes to fails they're always at the top and it's gotten to the point it's a running joke. I'd much prefer if they could just pick up their game and we move on but I doubt it will happen.

Pierre Goldbloom said...

Can I take this apt opportunity to plug my own blog? gang.

Secondly, I agree with many of these other commenters. To understand the mechanics of why and why not guilds fall apart, you have to lead one under your total direction and control. Although there are many reoccurring themes why guilds fail, it could often be down to some variable that's been overlooked by an outside observer. At the bottom of the rung the reasons why a guild falls apart may seem very simple, but to the leader and their officers things may look a lot more complicated and vice versa. Sure, you may think other guilds are poaching from you out of selfishness and stuff, but that's surely a sign that there's something wrong deeper in the guild? 'Poaching' doesn't exist in local guilds where everyone is friends with each other. Why is that? Its certainly not down to the whole 'want-to-raid' complex, right?

Betty said...

@pg, poaching can occur from any guild where someone thinks they can do better, friends or not. The only real difference is whether you feel guilty for abandoning friends.

I don't approve constant guild hopping, but there's no point in staying in a guild purely for friendship if they are unable to meet your raiding requirements.

Lee Quillen said...

There are some assumptions I disagree with, so I'll list my assumptions that can be disagreed with in turn ;)

1) The average person asking for help for their guild progression is not in a high end raiding guild.
2) The average person asking this question could not join a high end raiding guild simply because the answer is plainly obvious on the sites one would read to improve their character in the first place.
3) Most people joining guilds are joining because of the people in it, not for a chance to add to their own progression. This is based on the notion that those asking this question could pug their way to Ulduar appropriate gear more efficiently than failing at Naxx 25 3+ times a week.

The mistake I think you make, is that you believe everyone asking that question is interested in their own progression as a priority. I'll use myself as an example despite knowing perfectly well I am in a smal minority.

I'm in the guild I am in because of the people in it. We have 3 or 4 others who are solid players and would likely have no trouble learning and beating any and all game content. yes, that means we are usually carrying a few people who are struggling for a variety of different reasons. We're ok with that. I've personally worked with one person struggling to improve his dps who you would call M&S, and while his dps has doubled... it is still far short of most people being willing to invite him to Heroics (despite now having great gear). In other words, I wouldn't ask the question because I pretty much already know what we need to do to improve but I could see others asking who didn't realize some of the subtler things.

When asked by such a group, I'd offer up changing up class combinations (we've brought 4 druids before on 10 mans), having some hybrids respec for better balance, or simply bringing less melee (we often run with only 1 or 2 ranged). Telling them to leave and find a better progressing guild would earnestly not be an answer to the question as they are playing to play with people they know and not random strangers on the internet.

As to why I would miss out on the hardest content in the game? My personal opinion is there is little difference between seeing a boss in Naxx 10 repeatedly and seeing a boss in Ulduar 25 repeatedly. To me it's the same process, with me playing at the same skill level, and just a different boss. I'd rather do that with people I play with every year than a bunch of strangers. The only benefit, to me, of joinign a high end guild would be being able to say I beat a specific bos early... and that's not worth trading the playing environment I enjoy now. I imagine it's the same for others out there.

We don't blame loot for our issues, we know exactly what the issue is and we're working to resolve it. And , yes, I realize that the fact I already know where to look for help progressing and wouldn't ask on a public board probably negates me as an example of who you are talking about. Fact is the people asking aren't going to get into better guilds anyhow as if they don't know the answer those better guilds would be carrying them ;)

Crucifer said...

So far, Blizzard has given players things that they have asked for but which have had the opposite effect.

Players wanted smaller raids so small guilds could try it out with their friends. Thus, smaller raiding sizes gave us instead smaller margins of error instead of larger margins, thereby preventing exactly the sort of people that wanted to go from attending with their friends...

So, of course, I'm nervous that this new "patch" will simply eradicate smaller guilds and force people to merge into huge guilds that tax people for their interaction.

As for guilds in general, they're a means to an end to getting what you want, be it fun or loot.

Unknown said...

I didn't comment or anything here yet because I pretty much agree with everything you posted so far Gevlon, but I have a question for you now:

Could you show me a guild that's raiding 3 times a week, you need to attend to 2, and is full of as skilled players as I think myself is?

I've been searching for a guild like this for 2 months now.

Using your own thinking here: I currently have a very good ilvl/time-consumed-by-raiding ratio, and I'm carrying at least 10 M&S. By raiding 5 times a week in a more progressed guild this ratio would be worse.

And IF I could find such a guild, chances are slim that they're needing my class, as most guilds happen to have a solid tanking team nowadays (and the "we're considering exceptionally good applications" part is a lie, or well they are considering it but letting you down in the end, you don't need a 7th active tank).

Mnemnosyne said...

Well, I find your answer good as a final answer, but I would say there's several answers to that question depending on what your position in the guild is.

Are you a normal member with no particular authority? Analyze the guild, how many people are being carried, how many are as good or better than you? If more are being carried than are at your level or better, then Gevlon's answer is the right one right off the bat. If the percentage being carried is smaller, and if the leadership of the guild is not in that percentage, perhaps there's a chance that, if the situation is brought up correctly they'll adjust the rules, force the M&S to pull their weight or get out, and thus progress. This probably won't happen, but it's worth a try. If it works, the world (or at least the server) gains one more good guild - there will be times when the better guilds are saturated, after all.

If you're in a position of leadership, you still have to consider the percentage of your members that are being carried. If it's too many, you're unlikely to find replacements for them that will allow your guild to progress, but if it's a smaller amount, you can step up and demand performance or they hit the road (or at minimum are off the raiding team, if you like them for social reasons).

And yes, hopping guilds anytime there's any potential for "moving up" would result in nobody getting anywhere, but note that the answer is basically directed at people who aren't progressing now. If your guild IS progressing, even if you might be able to hop to a more progressed one, your current investment in the guild and teamwork with those individuals has value. If there's no potential for progress - or the potential isn't being realized - then is the time to guildhop, but not if you're moving along at an adequate pace. After all, you won't overcome any challenges by jumping ahead to guilds that already have all content on farm, and if it's not for the challenge of fighting new enemies, why are you bothering to progress at all? You certainly don't have to raid for gear alone.

Rob Dejournett said...

It helps to see things from both perspectives. From a guild side, the guild leader should want to support people and make sure they are having a good time w/o drama. From a raid leader side, its about the guild and the raid. Maybe the guild could use another tank or dps or whatever, but do they fit in? And do they suck? Those are two different questions.

Guilds are very much quid pro quo; yeah we are happy to see you, but you are useless if you come in without knowing fights, if you waste time, if you arent geared to the level of everyone else, etc. (although i think spec/rotation helps alot, and just not dying). Raid leaders are (at least I am) always concerned about advancement and loot distribution and fareness, and poaching. We dont like it when our members are doing the same content that the guild is in with another guild. That says a bunch of things but probably we are going to lose that member if the guild is more advanced.

Perhaps the main thing from the raid leader perspective is, how much effort do i have to spend on person X. Will they take loot and ninja quit? Will they not know fights, etc? Are they there for the team? Its kinda a lie to say the person is just there to have a good time, whereas the huge motivation is the gear and titles.

Anyway think about it from the raid team perspective next time you have some thought of 'i'll go guild hop to guild x, get this gear, then off to guild y'. That really sucks for guild/raid progression when there best geared members split.