Soulonnís Casual Raiding Manifesto
It is not my intent, in the following post, to say in definite terms what a casual raiding guild should or must be. My intent is only to lay out what, in my experience, has worked, the problems that the casual raiding guild faces, and possible solutions. Every guild has its own dynamic, a fact that Iím very aware of. Therefore you must play to your own guildís strengths when seeking solutions, but some problems can be universally approached the same way.
With the purpose of this post laid out, I guess the next step is to introduce myself. My experience comes mostly from playing EverQuest. I played EQ for 6 years, and spent my time there in a grand total of 2 guilds. I was in a family style guild (more on those later) for 2 years and a casual raiding guild for 4. The casual raiding guild was thought to be in the top 5 server-wide, being the first to break into the Plane of Time as a casual raiding guild. I never achieved the rank of officer in either guild officially, but through good play and responsible behavior, I was afforded respect that many officers never achieve. In World of Warcraft, I have had some bad experiences with guilds, mostly guilds that tried to become casual raiding guilds and failed to do so. Iíll have a subsection dedicated to the pitfalls and obstacles every casual raiding guild must face in WoW.
Now that the introductions are over, on with the show!
Any discussion about casual raiding guild must logically begin with a definition or description of what a casual raiding guild is. Sometimes the best description of the casual raiding guild includes what a casual raiding is NOT, more than what exactly it is, as the nature of the casual raiding guild is nebulous and often cannot be described to a T. But Iíll work my way through the spectrum of guild types, in a very general manner, from most casual to least.
Family Guilds- these guilds are formed by a group of friends, most frequently. Whether they are real life friends or friends that met in the game, it matters not. These guilds typically top out at 5 man instances, and sometimes form alliances with other guilds to attempt other raid instances. One of the benefits of these guilds is that they always play together so they know each otherís play styles better than just about anyone can hope for. A high level of teamwork means that they can pull off tricks that other similarly equipped characters cannot. Loot is awarded on an informal basis; recruits are often scarce, made up of family or friends met while filling in the 5 man groups or in pick up groups. Fun factor is high, and demands are low.
Casual Guilds- these guilds are 1 step above the family guilds, and resemble more of a fraternity frame of mind than the family guilds. They invite as many people as possible, to keep the pool of players large, so everyone has a potential group in the making. Itís tough to know everyone in this type of guild, and harder still to play as a cohesive unit as a result. Loot is still awarded through greed/need, and recruits are invited as a direct result of spamming the LFG channel. Due to the nature of this guild, resources are more abundantly available. More tradeskillers means more crafted armor and weapons, and more members usually mean the availability of a vent/ts server and/or a webpage with forums.
Casual Raiding Guilds- the mission of this type of guild is to be a family style guild that has the numbers, skill, and ability to raid at a fairly high level. They wonít necessarily be in the top 10 guilds on a server, but that isnít their aim. They hope to see the raid instancesÖ eventually, on their own terms. The guild, the membership, and RL come first for everyone. People with families, jobs, and other commitments are an integral part of these guilds and give it their personality. Raid attendance is typically not required, loot is distributed by various means (Iíll discuss the systems Iíve encountered), and they typically have at least as many if not more resources available to them as the casual guilds.
Raiding Guilds- High amounts of play time, high amounts of effort, high amounts of ability, and a high amount of progression is the name of the game for these guilds. Thatís if all goes well. If all does not go well, then youíre a struggling Raiding Guild. Ha. I donít have much experience with this guild type, so I canít write much about them.
Regarding Casual Raiding Guilds:
Everyone that plays this game plays for a different reason. Some play it just to do something with friends. Others do it as boredom relief. Some play it to ďwin.Ē Others do it for a feeling of accomplishment. Some play to test themselves. Some play it for all these reasons. At some point we all do a self assessment of what we want out of this game and choose our path accordingly. I have never had the time or type of schedule to allow me to be part of a raiding guild, and a lot of people are in the same boat. However, I do want to challenge myself to become better, and in my experience the casual raiding guild is a perfect fit for me for this reason. In the following paragraphs I will attempt to layout the structure and key policies that are the basis for a successful casual raiding guild, according to my experiences.
Guild Master/Guild Leader- in my guild, the GM was more a figurehead or behind-the-scenes type of leader. He managed the other officers, and dealt with any conflicts that arose or escalated above the officer level. This included conflicts among the officers or between members. Also, the GM was the public voice/face of the guild. Anyone wishing to make an alliance, or having a conflict with someone in the guild was encouraged to speak to the guild master.
Class Leads: just what they sound like, these individuals managed the class they were put in charge of. Depending on the size of the guild, you could have fewer or more officers in this role. A small guild may only need an officer in charge of the melee classes, and one for casters/ranged, while a large guild may want to have an officer for every class. These individuals are tasked with keeping their classes in order, having some idea as to the ability/gear of each of their members, and knowing the role of each member in a raid. Often they are looked up to as the ďexpertĒ on the class they play. This pool of officers was often drawn on to make up the raid team (more on that later).
Raid Team: many guilds employ one or only a couple raid leaders; my guild used a raid team. This decentralized the responsibility and allowed the raid leaders to enjoy the game a little more, as all that responsibility wasnít thrown on them every time we wanted to raid. This team can be made up of members or officers alike, but their knowledge of the raid instances is crucial. This team was made up of people that wanted to raid more than the average member, and wanted to be successful in their endeavors. They researched, and knew what weíd have to do to get the job done.
Loot Council: In our guild we used a loot council to distribute loot. This also set us apart from other guilds that were raiding the same content we were. In any case, use what you deem necessary. The loot council in a DKP system would just refer to the people tasked with maintaining the system is all.
Recruitment Officer: an officer dedicated to handling new apps, filling class needs as relayed by the class officers via the Guild Leader.
Members- in our guild, every member was valued just as much as the next one. We respected each other, and we were always sure that a new member was a good fit (more on the recruitment/application process we used in the next section).
Apps: potential new guildies, fodder for hazing (j/k).
Recruiting and the Application Process
Every guild, whether they are just starting out or have been established for a long time, faces a time when numbers begin to dwindle, and they donít have enough numbers to accomplish their goals. Enter the recruiting and application process. Hereís how it went in our guild. We were aided immensely by our reputation as one of the finest casual raiding guilds in EverQuest, but the following policies should help guide you regardless.
1. Set a cutoff point- the needs of the guild need to be decided, and then the requirements for applications must then be set. A casual raiding guild in WoW that is just getting started might, for example, want to set a level requirement of 60 or 65, and then also perhaps add a spec requirement. These requirements assist in gauging the ebb and flow of membership. If you want to open the flood gates, lower the level/gear/spec requirements.
2. Duration of the Application Process- our guild set the minimum duration of the application process to 2 weeks. The person would remain unguilded during that period of time. This showed the personís commitment to the guild, and 2 weeks isnít really that long a time. Applicants had their own chat channel to join, and that was the main point of contact between apps and members.
3. Sponsorship- Every app must find a sponsor from within the guild. Someone that has grouped with them frequently enough to evaluate their skills and personality and judge them to be a good fit for the guild. A guild member could only sponsor 1 applicant at a time.
4. Guildy Approval- In our guild, 10 recommendations or ďrecs,Ē and fewer than 2 black marks were required in order for an app to become a member. No member could have more than 3 recs handed out at any given time. To put this in perspective, we had about 60 or so members. All in all, 10 out of 60 members is a pretty good number. Itís definitely not a majority, but if 10 people like the app, and other guild members are like-minded, itís a good sign the others will like him.
5. Raid Attendance Requirement- This may seem odd for a casual raiding guild, but it was the only time attendance was required. The applicants were required to attend at least 2 raids before they could be invited to the guild. Not 2 consecutive raids, just 2 raids. This was used to judge their performance in a raid environment, as we WERE looking for people who had the abilities for raiding.
6. Preinvitation Interview(s)- The final step before the applicant was invited was for them to interview with the class lead, the sponsor, and the guild leader. Typically it was a performance review (in the raids you did pretty well, we just ask that you work on this a little bit, see the class lead if you have an questions, how do you like it, etc). When an app made it this far, chance are they would be invited.
7. Invitation/Probation Period- After invitation to the guild, the applicant was on probation. 1 complaint against them meant a boot. Applicants in the probation could not attain loot, again to show their commitment to the guild. This helped cut down on the loot-and-scoot phenomenon that affected other guilds.
8. Full Membership- After that two week period, the applicant was treated as a full member with all the rights and privileges thereof. They could be awarded loot, and could sponsor and rec new applicants.
The Good Stuff (Loot Systems)
In general there are a few methods to distribute loot, and here Iíll actually be a little specific to WoW. Thereís need/greed, DKP, and Loot Council. I honestly donít see need/greed rolling making it in a raiding guild of any sort, so Iíll discuss the other two methods.
DKP (Dragon Kill Points)- Members are awarded points for raid attendance, extra points for boss kills, and points awarded as ďincentivesĒ for certain behavior (showing up on time for example). Many people preach the fairness of these systems, which allow even a casual player to accumulate points, and then spend them. I was never a fan of these systems, even though I raided often enough that I would have always been near the top for total points.
Loot Council: this method requires a mature group of leaders and most importantly a mature group of members in order to work. In a casual raiding guild, the focus isnít strictly on player/character development or progression, but on the guild and members themselves. You donít want to see your fellow members floundering; you want to see them get upgrades and participate in raids too. My guild used certain weighted criteria to distribute loot through the loot council. Here they are:
1. Amount of upgrade- if there are two players interested in an item, and it would only be a marginal upgrade to the one player but a good-sized upgrade to the other, it would be weighted toward being awarded to that second player.
2. Date of last upgrade- we looked at the last time a player attained an upgrade as well. If again two players were interested in an item, and it had been one day since one got an upgrade and a couple weeks for the otherÖ can you guess how this would be weighted?
3. Raid Attendance- we never penalized people for not attending raids, but we did include it in our consideration for loot, albeit at a lesser weight than other criteria. If we award the loot to someone that raids with us more often, the argument is that the raids get easier, and more loot drops for everyone else.
Those are just the criteria we started with. By the end we had added more to further incentivize the membership to follow certain behaviors. Loot is a very good motivator for behavior.
I mentioned earlier that apps could not receive loot. This was more or less true. We had a hierarchy of loot and it was simple: Members => Alts => Apps. This isnít as applicable in WoW raids, as alts canít be brought in after a fight to loot a mob, but if a player chooses to use bring an alt to a raid, they would be placed in the same hierarchy. They would only get a chance if full Members did not want that item. Apps would be last in the consideration. If even the Apps didnít want it the item would then be banked if possible or sold and the proceeds banked.
Well, thatís it for now. I would say Iím cutting it short, but this hasnít exactly been short. In the near future, I plan to put together an FAQ, with problems Iíve found face a casual raiding guild, and solutions we used. Iíll also put together a Tips section, with miscellaneous quick tips I feel donít fit into any other category. Feel free to ask any questions, and Iíll do my best to answer them from my own perspective, but remember that I by no means consider myself an expert on this subject, just more knowledgeable than the typical player.