Who plays in a hardcore guild?
If you are more interested in the players found in regular raiding guilds, you might find this article more interesting.
A few days I spoke very generally about the kinds of guild you can find in World of Warcraft. It was by no means an exhaustive list, just an idealised list of guild types that cover most of the bases. Now I’m going to go a little deeper and actually describe the kinds of personalities tend to accumulate in Hardcore Progressive Guilds (HPG). I’ll be applying the ‘Bartle Test‘ (one day I aspire to have a test named after me — maybe for judging if someone’s righteous and egoistic or not…) to each kind of player. I will then also try to define each gamer’s ‘Learning Style‘, as defined by David Kolb’s research (and later expanded by Peter Honey and Alfred Mumford).
This is going to be slightly more meaty than the previous entries; remember to double click a word or phrase if you don’t know what it means: a helpful box will appear, (hopefully) defining it for you! You can also find a WoW-specific glossary over on the official site if you’re a World of Warcraft newbie, or if you just need to freshen up on the language of our ‘secret society‘.
The 3 player types found in hardcore guilds
By the time gamers reach a hardcore progressive guild (HPG), most of the chaff has been stripped away. The first thing you’ll notice about all of these players is the sheer comparitive quality. I’m not saying they are the best gamers or team players in the world, but compared to players in normal raiding guilds, HPG members will blow them out of the water on almost every front: skills, dedication and play time. That’s not to say that every member in a HPG has all 3 of these attributes, but they will usually have at least 2 — incredibly skillful and dedicated, or dedicated with a lot of play time. Sometimes you’ll find a player with all 3 of these desirable traits; these are the players you really want to fill your ‘world top 10′ guild with.
What ‘quantity’ of these traits does each member type have? Assuming every player in a hardcore guild already has these traits to some extent, what other characteristics also define the members of such a guild? Once we can define their characteristics, we can try to determine what makes them tick – what keeps them playing at such an incredibly intensive and tiring level of play. This is where the Bartle and Kolb metrics are useful. We can define, with fair certainty, how a certain kind of player will react in a given situation.
Silent But Deadly (SBD)
These are the few players that almost certainly have skills and play time, but above all they are dedicated. They are loyal. It actually hurts them inside when they have to skip a raid — they apologise profusely and say it’ll never happen again. These are the few players that you can really rely on to always have their consumables ready, as they really don’t want to be the ‘odd one out’ that didn’t bring what was required. They are often quite softly spoken because they are focused on doing their job, and doing it well. They are most certainly not dominant; they are quietly confident — they are in one of the best guilds in the world, after all.
- Bartle Player Type: Most likely to be a Planner, although Scientists are fairly common too.
- Kolb Learning Style: Almost entirely Convergers.
The Silent But Deadly are a fairly easy-going bunch — they don’t require strict raiding schedules and guaranteed progress, but it both are obviously desirable. They are quite happy to busy themselves theorycrafting, or help the guild make consumables if a raid is cancelled. Get as many of these players as you possibly can; at least 1 of each class! If you can find a main tank of this variety… God is smiling upon you.
What To Avoid
You can probably do almost anything to a SBD before he gets upset. They are most likely to get upset at themselves for underachieving, or missing raids. You want to make sure they always get a raid spot, even if it means kicking someone else from the raid. These really are your most trusted, loyal companions. Look after them, and don’t ever call their loyalty into question!
Aptly named after one of Bartle’s player types, the Killer is in the guild to do just one thing — kill. Kill raid bosses, or kill those that oppose the guild; they don’t care, as long as they’re killing. These are the most passionate players — equally as dedicated as the SBD (but perhaps more dedicated to progress than to the guild’s wellbeing), but perhaps slightly less skilled (but not through lack of trying!) They may have issues reflecting on past experiences but obviously not to such an extent that they are bad players, but more so than other players in hardcore guilds. They really are there to hit stuff as hard as possible, and to be #1 in the world.
- Bartle Player Type: Even split between Planners and Killers.
- Kolb Learning Style: Accomodators, with a few Convergers.
Killers aren’t brainless — far from it. It does take some measure of intelligence to be the best killer in the world; you have to plan the perfect murder of that raid boss after all! That being said, when it actually comes to the raid, they are nearly always the ones shouting ‘LET’S GO ALREADY!’ over voice coms. You want your DPS classes to be Killers, obviously! Killers can also make good healers (but the tunnel vision must-be-number-one thing can be an issue).
What To Avoid
Killers are likely to also get very dramatic if they can’t achieve their goals, for whatever reason. They are prone to be incredibly insulted if you don’t invite them to raids (because they’re the best in the world, don’t forget). They also don’t deal very well with criticism, unless you really know what you’re talking about (again, because they think they’re the best in the world, so how could you possibly correct them?). Complicated instructions and strategies are also not their strong point — they learn just fine from wiping and experiencing the encounter, though.
Killers respond very poorly to any ‘nerfs’ and treat them as some kind of personal affrontery. Killers are the most likely player type to quit the game, usually due to an unbearable nerf, or another change that significantly impacts how they play the game (the dumbing-down/simplifying of content by Blizzard is a common example, or simply a change that heavily impacts their killing power).
I struggled for a while to give a name to this kind of player. The Dramatic perhaps sounds a little too derogatory, especially given the theatre of online gaming. Dramatic players are normally the ones causing problems for the guild, but they’re also the fun ones. SBDs are quiet, Killers spam in ALL CAPS — there has to be someone inbetween, and that’s the Dramatic. They are friendly and helpful. These are the ones likely to regale you with stories in guild chat — perhaps of a time they corpse-camped a lowbie when he was bored, or of when they explored a forbidden territory.
- Bartle Player Type: Fairly even mix of Politicians and Planners, with a few Griefers sneeking in.
- Kolb Learning Style: Accomodators and Convergers.
It’s their explicit player interaction which draws these gamers apart from the other types; they’re politicians. They like to talk and they like to be seen. What weaknesses they might have, they make up for with smart words. That’s not to say they are lacking in skill, they might just be slightly more occupied with their appearance than their actual performance. These are the ‘doers’ of the guild; they are proactive, and don’t require a promise of fresh blood like their Killer brethren. Dramatics tend to play healer classes, or at least hybrids — perhaps it’s something about their flexible, interesting nature?
What To Avoid
Dramatics can be skilled, and certainly play the game a lot. Where they can fall down a bit is dedication — it seems to be directly proportional to how valued they feel. You want to listen when a Dramatic whispers you something ‘important’. You want to pay attention to the Dramatic that tells you he’s going to get all of X nationality to walk out of the guild. Ideally you want to keep these players close to you (keep your friends close, your enemies closer!), or so far away from the core of the guild that their actions don’t matter. Give them a sense of purpose, or be ready to face their dramatic tantrums when they get bored. They are by far the most likely type of player to sell their account; like most politicians, more than anything else they care about themselves.
Dramatics make the worst ‘important players’ you can ever imagine. You do not want a dramatic main tank, or ‘main healer’. If you have a dramatic main tank, just save yourself the pain and replace him now — don’t wait until it’s too late.
How do I work with these 3 types of player?
You’ve probably noticed, if you’ve learnt about or researched Bartle’s Player Types, that all three of these hardcore guild member types are Doers and Learners. Right from the get-go that makes your job as a guild leader easier — there is simply a lot less hand-holding to do both in and out of raids. Your job becomes more of a facilitator and purveyer of information outside of raids, and a ‘nagging mother’ during raids.
How best to go about doing just that then?
- Silent But Deadly types need information, and lots of it. Dump lots of boss strategies on the forum, and easy access to parses of the raid statistics (using a site like WWS). They also need to digest and reflect upon each pull you do — they don’t want to mindlessly wipe time and time again. As a raid leader you can ask them what went wrong, or what went right. Why was the other warlock higher than them? Your job here is to get them thinking in the right direction.I’ve said it before, but the best thing you can do is cultivate your SBD players. Encourage them to thrive and never stifle their creativity or theories, no matter how wild they might sound. They’ll do a lot of the work for you, and come up with some truly awesome ideas when you least expect it. These players will notice things that no one else does.
- Killers are incredibly simple creatures. They are often blinded by their absolute and unwavering interest in being number 1. Your main job here is to just point these whirling death merchants in the right direction because they don’t strategise very well. You need to give them piece-meal strategies; very finely granulated strategies: ‘You need to run to this point [with you jumping up and down to illustrate], and continue stabbing furiously.’ or ‘At exactly 33 seconds into the fight, you will cast this spell, OK?’These gamers can have extreme tunnel vision and really require a lot of strenuous effort to get them to follow a strategy. These are the players that wipe your raid, after they’ve reverted to a ‘better’ way of doing something, without telling you. They require by far the most effort on behalf of the raid leader, both during raids and out of raids. Slap them with written strategies, as many videos as you can find, and just keep shouting at them until they do what they’re meant to do.
- Dramatics, being a mix of the two other types, are a bit of a mixed bag. Some Dramatics might need help understanding boss strategies, and some might need help seeing the importance of excellent personal performance. Being the most dynamic of players, Dramatics might surprise you — they might go and find a nice video of a boss encounter, or research for tips and tricks. Again, like Killers, you need to keep Dramatics going in the right direction — get them to do things.The problem with Dramatics is that… they like drama. You can never be quite sure what repercussions you’ll have when you kick a Dramatic from the raid or guild. That’s why I suggest you keep them close, either as officers, or as ‘highly valued members’. Give them some perks — repairs, consumables — something to keep them happy and content. You’re in for a rough ride if they get bored; they will often ‘share the love’, festering and spreading discontent throughout the guild.
You will notice that I used classifications from both Bartle’s 4-category and 8-category player type systems — if the Wiki article doesn’t provide enough background information, or your interest has been piqued by this entry, go and buy his book!
Again, like the previous article, this isn’t an exhaustive list of the player types you will find in hardcore guilds. There are the brain dead types that sneak in when you’re not looking, and the girls that weaseled their way into the raid group by virtue of… being female (sleeping with the guild leader is certainly one way to get to the top). Hopefully though you now have a better idea of the kinds of players in top-end hardcore guilds, or the kind of players you can hope to attract if you’re looking to ‘step up’ to hardcore progressive raiding.
If you have any questions about the issues or topics raised here, I’m more than happy to answer them. You can ask them in a comment, or email me using this form.
If you liked reading this, there is more to read about WoW, guilds and raiding in the archive!