Since the start of this series of ‘Life as a guild leader‘ articles I’ve received quite a variety of questions both here on the site and via email. With a little break from the norm, I’m going to answer these questions publically, so that hopefully everyone can learn from the trials and tribulations of other guild leaders.

I’ve removed any incriminating and identifiable data so don’t worry, if you’re one of the people that sent me a question!

I have questions from very hardcore through to casual ‘we met in The Barrens and are currently working our way through Wailing Caverns’ guilds, but first I’m going to answer some raiding-oriented questions:

My guild is at that stage where we’re not quite sure if we’re hardcore, and we’re not quite sure if we’re regular raiders. The serious players are pulling us towards the hardcore side of things, but we have a lot of ‘oldies’ that would rather remain a normal raiding guild. What should we do?

One of the questions that plagues the membership of almost every WoW raiding guild: Are we hardcore? Do we want to be hardcore? There’s unfortunately no simple answer to this one. It will probably come down to one thing though:  does your guild leader have the time and energy to propel your guild from regular raiding through to hardcore progressive raiding. Obviously active class leaders can help a lot with the transition, but at the end of the day it’s the drive of one person putting in hour after hour to ensure you have a stable platform for hardcore raiding that will make the difference between success, or failure.

Someone has to set up a good website, a DKP system, a set of rules — this is nearly always the guild leader! If you want to make that step-up from server 10th to the top 3, someone has to put in the hours. Whether a group agreement is made by the officers, or the guild leader agrees to put in a lot of extra effort, one thing is certain: a lot of labour goes into building a hardcore guild. I’ve written some other articles on the topic of leading a hardcore guild, which you can find in the archive.

If you think you have the balls and the time to make a hardcore guild, the next question to ask is: Do we have the players? It is certainly guaranteed that you will lose your casual players if you become a hardcore guild. Likewise if you remain a regular guild, you will lose your hardcore players to hardcore guilds! As World of Warcraft is an easy game, it’s not normally hard to find raiders, but it does require rigorous recruitment to find raiders that can play unhindered and unmolested for 4 hours a night, 5 days a week.

If you have the players, and someone that’s willing to put in the effort of recruitment and logistics (making sure people turn up for raids is hard), you simply need a good DKP system and you’re ready to rock!

Is it better to lead a guild with an iron fist, or to take a more laid-back position? Should I ween out the weaklings myself, or should I let natural evolution take care of it for me?

This likely comes down to how your guild was formed. If you are a relatively new guild where the power structures are weak, with nonexistant or newbie class leaders, leading with an iron fist is probably the only way to go. Someone has to grab the reins and dig their spurs into the guild to drive it forward — and that person is the guild leader. As the structure of the guild develops and a successful hierarchy forms, a more laid-back position can be assumed. Issues will bubble up through class leaders and perhaps to assistant guild leaders before they finally get to you. In mature guilds problems tend to solve themselves through discussion and peer-pressure — just like communities in real life — and it’s likely you’ll only have to step in with your fist of iron if things get really out of hand.

If you lead a developed guild with an unwavering, unerring view on things, you might find that your guild becomes stale and lifeless. Tyranny is generally very poor for the development of society or culture — you want your members to be able to voice their opinions and feel at home! A community is only as strong as its members…!

What’s the best way to judge if you have enough raiders to raid successfully over a period of time? Is there an ideal number of each class that prevents burn-out, but also limits drama when people don’t get invited?

With Blizard’s new ‘bring the player, not the class’ initiative, it’s hard to pick exact numbers. Assuming Blizzard continue to provide a ‘fair’ experience for each class (i.e. encounters that favour each kind of tank, DPS and healer), you can’t go far wrong with the following numbers, broken down into class and role, and starting with the tank classes:

  • 3 warriors — 1 tank, 2 DPS/tanking hybrids
  • 4 paladins — 1 tank, 3 DPS/healing hybrids
  • 3 death knights -- 1 tank, 2 DPS/tanking hybrids
  • 4 druids — 1 tank, 3 DPS/healing hybrids

With this setup you have 4 available ‘main tanks’ — a number you require, assuming each raider maintains 75% attendance. Three tanks is the ‘standard’ 25-man raid tank alotment, according to Blizzard — you have plenty of hybrids if you need to fill in an off-tanking role for whatever reason, though

Moving onto the pure DPSers (Rogues, Hunters, Warlocks and Mages), it’s fairly straightforward: 3 of each DPS class.

This leaves just the shaman and priests — 4 of each is a good target. Shaman, with so many juicy buffs, tend to do a lot of respeccing. Priests, as the jack of all trades (well, except for tanking…) can fill any remaining gaps nicely. It’s not uncommon to see a guild with 5 priests, or with 0, depending on the strength of their other healers!

This gives you a total pool of 34 players, which assuming raiders maintain 75% attendance is about 26 players online at any given time! In reality though, you will tend to have either too few or too many people online — that’s when a rota system can come in handy! If you have 4 raids a week, 1 druid can skip a single raid each week — as long as the other 3 promise to turn up!

In general, with these kinds of numbers, assuming 75% attendance, you will be able to maintain healthy raids with a minimum of ‘invite time’ drama. An attendance closer to 80 or 85% is obviously more desirable on ‘progress raids’ where you might want to make switches — but hopefully with Blizzard’s new initiative that won’t be a requirement!

One last question:

Morale’s really low in our guild at the moment. We never really recovered from the complete cock-block of the later bosses in Sunwell Plataeu, and now this easy-mode grind has taken us in the other direction — now we’re done with things in one night, everyone logs out, and we don’t see each other until next week. I’m worried that when Ulduar comes we won’t have the teamwork we once had. Help!

This is a remarkably common problem, especially amongst guilds that didn’t quite become a hardcore progressive guild (i.e. number 1 on the server, or close to it). You’ve pushed incredibly hard, often to the point of breaking and eventually giving up; or going on a  ‘raiding break’ as some guild leaders like to diplomatically call it. It often happens on pre-nerf instance end bosses — C’thun at 60 and Kael’thas/M’uru  at 70 — where only the very top guilds will have the skills, endurance and reserves of morale to get the kill. We’re talking tiny numbers here: about 150 guilds killed Kil’jaeden — maybe 4,500 people out of a few million.

Quite simply, if you haven’t quite got what it takes, your guild will at the very least lose a bunch of players to burn out. At the very worst, enough people won’t turn up at the end of the raiding break and the guild will fold. So then, how best to prevent that burn out? It’s remarkbly simple: don’t push it beyond breaking point. The only problem is knowing where that breaking point is! Normally it’s when people start turning up late, or you begin wiping more rather than less. If you find yourself bringing new people to the raid each time, that’s a good sign too.

Ultimately you have to judge how strong the guild feels. Is Ventrilo becoming a graveyard during raids? Are people losing their temper at the tiniest and inconsequential mistakes? Are people making more and more odd excuses in the raid-skip forum thread? Any and all of these are signs that you’re pushing it beyond the threshold of your raid group. Just remember that those pre-nerf bosses are only meant to be done by the very top guilds — Blizzard always nerf them at a later date for everyone else to do them! If you haven’t got what it takes, don’t push it. Wait for the nerf! Even if you’re not #1, at least you’ll have a guild and your community at the end of it!

The second half of the question, regarding the dumbing-down of content in Wrath of the Lich King, is slightly harder to answer. You could embrace your inner casual (Blizzard certainly seems to encourage it), or you could encourage the guild to level alts together. PVPing is always good, both arenas and battlegrounds; they keep people talking to each other, and it’s a whole lot more ‘reactive’ than the current content available to us. The other option is to play other games! Left 4 Dead and DOTA are the two current favourites of my guild: both require a lot of teamwork and communication, and both are excellent time-sinks if you are looking for cooperative games like WoW, but don’t require 25 people!

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.

An attempt at food photography... that soon went wrong
This Spring something hairy this way comes...


I am a tall, hairy, British writer who blogs about technology, photography, travel, and whatever else catches my eye.