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BUILDING A GUILD: PART I

17 April, 2016

For every guild management article out there, there’s another article that goes in a completely different way but is still equally right. While it’s true that Dragon has always put a lot of work in having its administration well defined, what works for us might not work for others. With Legion coming up however, I felt that the timing was right for an article describing a little of what it was to build a guild and the kind of challenges we deal with every day. This is just the first part of the article but I do hope it covers the trials and tribulations of the guild in its first few competitive tiers.

When the guild was formed in 2007 and it was decided that I should head the project, I had already been involved in the management of other teams in CS 1.6 and Warcraft 3. I had also been a passionate sports fan for a long time and was fascinated by the management part of things. I always found interesting how some teams would have a much better structure than others and do better than their rivals, even with less resources . For me it was the same: we had of a group of people that shared the same goal and if i followed the model of these clubs and do the required adjustments, we could build a successful team. The first challenge was implementing the long-term thinking. We didn’t exactly get a lot of effort out of our new recruits and putting rank in front of fun wasn’t something we came by often.

This didn’t make a lot of sense to me and I felt that if I was starting up and trying to be good, then the guild should be looking for other individuals like me. I also felt that being generally respectful towards the scene would not only gain us some support and momentum but also get our name out there and differentiate ourselves from other guilds more focused in getting enough bragging rights to call other people’s “scrubs”. These guilds woud stagnate and stop progressing very quickly so it was a good way to differentiate ourselves and gain access to exactly the kind of player we were after.

I think that most lower ranked guilds will agree with me that recruitment quickly became the biggest problem. We managed to form a team of like-minded individuals but we couldn’t keep them and when we lost one of them, it took time before we could replace them. This lead to constantly playing with a patched up team, recruiting who we could and lacking the pulling power and rank to be appealing to higher quality players.

We were also adamant in keeping the guild’s image above any individual so we’d still reject applications that didn’t fit the profile we were looking for. Today I feel this really helped us gaining an identity and getting our players to value what they had, even when we weren’t getting the best results.

We were also adamant in keeping the guild’s image above any individual so we’d still reject applications that didn’t fit the profile we were looking for. Today I feel this really helped us gaining an identity and getting our players to value what they had, even when we weren’t getting the best results. Our solution for this was to pick whoever was closest to fitting our idealized player and integrate them into the roster the best we could and then coach them in whatever we felt they were lacking .

For the most part, it worked. We had a good basis of people that were interested in seeing the project strive. Our atmosphere was good and we managed to get the kind of players we were after. Instead of going for strictly for numbers, we fell we could work on the numbers later, and focus on getting smart, well mannered, ambitious and communicative players. Performance was obviously a priority but back then we didn’t have the resources nor the experience to judge it through logs (other than raw numbers) so that would always be the first thing we looked at once a player would join the guild. If he could listen, communicate appropriately and have good enough judgement to stay alive and pull some numbers, we could work with him. I don’t think this is something you see a lot these days anymore. World of Warcraft became a game of moneyball for the top guilds and even if we also do it for almost every trial these days, we still focus a lot on the human aspect and in getting people that can fit well with our roster. We get some negative criticism for it but the fact is the majority of our current officers have all been recruited strictly based on their potential and not on their gear or experience.

The next step was the management of expectations. We were doing extremely well and gaining ranks with every boss but our roster would focus more on the negatives of the upsets than on the overall gains. To tackle this, we started setting up goals at the start of the tier and found this would reduce the pressure on the roster and get everyone excited about the next tier where we could do “even better”. This way we would evaluate our roster and our performance as a guild at the end of the tier instead of during it, allowing us to focus on micromanaging the details and for the first time ever, focus a lot more on the game instead of just keep recruiting new players.

The next step was the management of expectations. We were doing extremely well and gaining ranks with every boss but our roster would focus more on the negatives of the upsets than on the overall gains. To tackle this, we started setting up goals at the start of the tier and found this would reduce the pressure on the roster and get everyone excited about the next tier where we could do “even better”.

Overall, we progressed as a guild up the ladder relatively fast but once we got to Throne of Thunder, we hit a big wall. After losing some of our core members right at the start of the tier, a series of bad results in the early bosses followed. This lead to bad atmosphere and a lot of frustration. The instance was dark and full of terrors and some bosses required a very specific setup which turned the entire tier in nothing but a huge recruitment effort in the most stressful instance yet. This ultimately resulted in us realizing that our “good atmosphere” wasn’t that good and ended up being the first guild in the World to kill Lei Shen with only two Warlocks, simply because we couldn’t get any more. Lei Shen’s progress was so rough that at one point, we were relying on our enhancement shaman to come home from the army for the weekend so we could have 25 members online.

After a long grind, we managed to recover and finished the tier with our best rank yet and a pre-nerf Lei Shen kill, which definitely galvanized our entire roster and above all, showed us that regardless of how behind we were, you can always catch up, especially on the last few bosses where the going gets tough for everyone and not just us.

This however had some unfortunate results and the grind and negative atmosphere in guild was enough to wear some people out. Some of our best players quit the game or moved to other guilds where they could do better at the end of the tier. We knew we had to change radically in the next tier turn our guild around but to know what we changed…make sure you don’t miss the next part!

 

Shacabau is Dragon’s Guild Master and founder. Currently playing Blood Death Knight. To know more, feel free to visit his profile right here on Dragon’s website.