2009: Looking Back

This is a rather sentimental and introspective post about the rise and fall of a guild, and the journey that has brought me to Scarlet Crusade.  All those guild-oriented posts have had me thinking about how I could have managed my own guild experiences better, and what I’ve gained and lost through that experience.  Although my topic has nothing to do with the “form” for evaluating your 2009 gaming year, there is a year-end survey over at Blog Azeroth.

I started the new year in a great place in the game.  My main was Lyre, and I was a dedicated tank for a 25-man raiding guild, Insurrection.  I had talked all my friends into joining me there, and great times were had by any and all, but there were some concerns within the guild, most of which I was not privy to, but long talks with various officers and the GM led me to believe that a guild re-structure would take place before Ulduar to create a stronger raiding team.  A buddy of mine from my L70 raiding guild, Honor Bound, was the raid leader, and all seemed right with the world.

Then: the restructure.  The leadership had a guild meeting the day of the restructure.  The guild would be disbanded with two new guilds forming picking up the membership of the old.  The raiding portion of the guild would only take dedicated raiders, and any not previously selected would be invited to a social guild maintained by the alts of the raiding guild (or a non-raiding officer).  Drama ensued.  My friends, the raid leader myself all assumed that things would be peachy fine, and we wouldn’t be separated from anyone that we actually hung out with.  Invites go out, everyone is expect is there, except….  the raid leader (also the main tank).  I get on the horn.

Leadership — Oh, btw, we want you to main tank Lyre.

Me — *splutters* How can you just remove an officer type person without any notice expect no invite????

On our private channel, we are trying to figure out what to do.  We are aggrieved that our guild would do this to a fellow raider and friend.  Within the hour, we have un-guilded, gotten together and formed Social Darwinism.  Only one person wants to be the GM (another who was not selected for the new raiding guild) and I’m getting tells from various people concerned that he doesn’t show up often, and he’s not the greatest (frost mage anyone?) raider in the first place.  I volunteer to GM, the RL remains the RL and everyone agrees.  I am now stuck GM’ing a guild.

The plan: Recruit everyone we know.  Practice in Naxx.  Be ready to stomp Ulduar when it comes out.  Become a 25-man raiding guild.

The actuality: I made critical mistakes as a GM, and our guild failed before we completed Ulduar.

WTF happened?

I failed to realize how bad problems were with the raid leader in our previous guild.

While he often took part, and was designated raid leader, his actual power was severely curtailed by a strong officer core.  Add to that, the guild had reasons for not inviting him, which I ignored, namely, guild members were refusing to raid with him.  This would crop up again in our guild.

Officership fail

I picked officers who I knew were good at their classes, but whom did not have the time to commit to actually running a guild.  I tried to rectify this later, but I compounded the problem by not completely removing them from officer positions and instead increasing my officer core in order to salve bruised feelings.

To much democracy at the wrong time

Democracy in a guild can be a good thing, yet, there were times where I used it poorly in order to give everyone a voice.  While I knew that 25-man formation would be difficult, I allowed my members to dictate our resolve to be a 25-man raiding guild, which caused serious problems in recruitment and retainment and gave us a bad reputation as “not big enough.”

Insiders vs. Outsiders

Our raiding core was comprised primarily of raiders who did not get invited or chose not to accept a position with the new raiding guild.  Our initial recruitment cycle went very well, but our raiding core ended up being 2-3 “insiders” and 7-8 “outsiders” yet the leadership of the guild was primarily “insiders.”  Another GM fail.

Resolution of Complaints

Again, I have to take full credit for this — our raid leader was causing the same problems for us that he did for the previous guild — members were refusing to raid when he was leading.  If they knew I was taking the reins for the night, then I’d have a full roster, if not, then we’d be scraping barrel by our 2nd month in.  I took the problem to my officers (d’oh) who all decided to keep him.  When I knew he needed to be removed or benched, I should have done so.

The Final Straw

I took a vacation (3 weeks) following some pretty serious family health problems.  The raid leader blew up and left among cheers from the ranks.  Most of my guild members stayed because they didn’t wish to leave me hanging.  (A pat on the back for myself here–I garnered a lot of loyalty from most of my members)  When I did not resolve the Insider vs. Outsider problem upon my return, 3-4 of my most solid, dependable raiders left crippling the guild irrevocably.

All in all, our raiding guild lasted approximately 4 months.  If I had made some critical decisions quickly, decisivly, and without fear of hurt feelings, I’m sure we would be successfully raiding today.  Frankly, I know I’m a good manager, I knew decisions were being made poorly, but because I was a reluctant guild leader in a very progressive guild, I was clearly the wrong GM for the job.  If we had been a friends and family raiding guild, my choices would have been correct, but since the goal was to be a progressive raiding guild, I made the wrong choices for the type of guild, and the guild suffered for it.

After the core crumbled, I held several guild meetings in order to hold together or disperse the guild.  Some members went willingly, others not.  I finally told those left that I was rerolling on another server.  The guild bank was open for the most part, and most drifted away, some with nice gifts from the guild.  I rolled Windsoar on Scarlet Crusade and haven’t looked back since.

The reroll did me a lot of good personally and game-wise.  It gave me time to evaluate why I play and my priorities with friendships in the game.  We had friends reroll with us; however, I decided that I needed to play my characters however it made me happy, and not beholden myself to anyone, including in game friends, in terms of their needs for a guild.  When I moved Windsoar into a raiding guild, a couple we knew went back to Vek’nilash to raid — I talked to them beforehand, and they didn’t want to join the guild I selected — I think we’re both happy with our respective guild choices.

I’ve found a home and a community on Scarlet Crusade that fits me very well.  I don’t agonize if I can’t raid for the week, but I feel accomplished enough when I do raid, that I don’t feel that I’m wasting time by raiding.  I am slowly building my stable of characters again, and enjoying the leveling process (which I always have).

During this time, I decided to start a blog about WoW, not because I feel that I have a lot to share, but because I wanted to practice my writing skills, record my memories, and become involved in the larger community of WoW.  Like all new endeavors, I haven’t always made the best choices (ignore my snarky post please–no I’m not linking it–ignore it!) but all in all, I think I’ve done fairly well in getting my foot in the door and just getting started.  I enjoy the process, and it gives me yet another reason to stay involved in my game.

Trials and tribulations have followed me this year, but so have joy and new friendships.  What is the saying, without sorrow, there is no joy?  So has 2009 been for me–I hope your year has been as fruitful in gain, and rather less in loss–a time of learning and growth that I shall always remember.

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3 thoughts on “2009: Looking Back

  1. Every experience is a chance to learn and grow and sometimes it is the painful ones that teach us the most. While I know it was a difficult road that brought you to us, I am so pleased to have you as a friend, a member of our raiding team, and a member of our guild. Your experience and wisdom is definitely part of what I value. *hug*

  2. Fascinating post, Windsoar – I think it's rare to find people willing to talk so honestly and coherently about things that have gone wrong, especially with something as complex as guild leadership. I'm glad everything turn out well, however, and I'm definitely glad you started blogging – yours is one of my favourites :)

    • @ Awryt — Thanks so much! We enjoy our new home and the great people *hugs*

      @ Tam — *blush* Thanks Tam.

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