Bring out your dead: Profiting from the demise of other guilds


In which we pore over new recruits from dying guilds like otters waiting for their fish.

It is a sad day when a guild or a raid community dies. Not just for the players involved – although by that time, many of them will probably be relieved to be free to find new homes – but for the wider community and even the game itself. A guild can represent so much combined effort from so many people. It isn’t just an in-game identity, it’s also a virtual home. And when a guild fails, all that effort goes to the wall.

Some guilds have an actual end day when everyone ceremonially leaves and the (ex)guild leader does the equivalent of falling on their sword and dismantling the guild. Others simply fade away over weeks or months of fewer people logging in, fewer events being organised, more raids being abandoned due to lack of interest, and players drifting off to join other, more active communities.

On a tight knit server, others outside the guild will notice the loss too. Some well known guilds spawn long, surprisingly sympathetic threads on realm forums where other players (including past members) voice their memories. A long running, well known guild is simply a part of the server history, a history that could be measured in the rise and fall of guilds, with all the associated drama ….

When my first raid guild in WoW split up, I was gutted. I was an officer at the time, and a class lead, and I’d ridden through both the high and low points with the rest of the guild. But by the end, I was so very tired of it all. I asked if the GL at the time minded if I left my character in the defunct guild, while I took a break from the game. When I logged in several months later to take stock, I had several whispers from people who just wanted to reminisce about my guild tag even though many of them had never been members themselves.

So when a guild dies, what happens to the now homeless players? If players had been very invested in the guild, it’s a time of grieving. Some will transfer servers to be with other friends, others will look for other guilds on the same server, and still others will spend some time as free agents, or even take a long break from the game altogether. Occasionally new guilds spawn from the ashes of old ones, but it’s never quite the same.

Good news everyone! Applications are looking up!

In WoW at the moment, things are winding down towards the next expansion which will not be for several months (no, we don’t yet know the release date). Many raid guilds are struggling for numbers as players get bored and decide to take a break until Cataclysm.  The ennui is hitting guilds which I had thought to be immune. Maybe things are really worse now, or maybe just older guilds have hit the point where the game itself has changed so much from when they were created that the leaders don’t want to keep changing with it. Or in other words, they don’t much fancy the idea of raiding in Cataclysm anyway if it carries on the way it has in Wrath.

In any case, we can tell that other raid guilds on the server are breaking up because we get an influx of new applications. And since the hardcore raid guilds on AD are … well … more hardcore than we are, those applicants are generally well geared, well disciplined, well spoken, and any raid guild would be delighted to have them.

It feels like a reward for hanging in there, because we’ve also been struggling for numbers but (much credit to all the comm members and to the long suffering raid leaders) have still managed to keep raiding and keep the progression just about going. But raiding has definitely slowed, and if we take on some of these guys, it would be a shot in the arm.

It is a risk also. Can someone who was a mainstay of a hardcore guild really be happy to raid on a more casual basis?  Maybe they can, if what they really wanted was a virtual home.

One thing is for sure, whenever one raid splits up, many other struggling raids will suddenly get an injection of much needed raiders. They died so that others could live.

11 thoughts on “Bring out your dead: Profiting from the demise of other guilds

  1. Guilds usually fall apart, when the reason for founding one is gone, since the members are not interested in the people, but the game.
    If you have nothing in common besides raids, there will be not much left to talk about.

    I like the term “home” as a description, its well chosen.

    The existence of our guild is ensured for 10 years now, by avoiding anything that is considered necessary for a successful guild in terms of progress.
    There are no Raid Leaders, Class Leaders or other forms of experts.

    First of, this keeps those guild hoppers away, who are just interested in progression.
    Secondly, you are forced to organise yourself, be your own raid leader.
    As a result, our raids are pretty straight forward and on time.

    For some unknown reason, casual always seems to imply “not organised”, since it means not regularly attending. To my opinion the contrary is the case.
    Casual requires a lot of organisation, which is usually done by the Leaders.
    But if all your members are Leaders, everything organises itself. From class setup, over tactics to material.

    Another nice side effect is, that people show a lot of flexibility and initiative this way, so there is usually always something going on.

    So yes, I like being at home.

    • This is amazing, Usiel. I mostly experienced very progress-oriented guilds where you were a part of the system that could easily replaced when you sucked or very casual guilds full of very friendly but noobish players.

      But this is also my gripe with the contemporary guild mentality: Actually it is not a guild in the sense of a band of buddies but a raid organization machine.

      • I think the heavy task emphasis is more of a WoW angle. The way WoW raids are set up, they encourage people who want to do them to form into raid guilds. It’s the easiest way to set up regular guaranteed weekly raids.

        Other games encourage different types of guild. For example, although there are LOTRO raid guilds, it’s not really that raid focussed of a game.

  2. I personally don’t see it as ‘failing’ when a guild disbands. With that perspective it becomes extremely hard to identify what success is. Guilds should never start with the sole goal of being around for all of eternity. In fact, many of my best memories from WoW were in highly active but very shortlived guilds. Looking back on all those fun times, there’s no way I’d ever say that those guilds failed.

    However, I’d be a right fool indeed if I never wondered or analyzed the chain of events that led to the dreadful disband. Interestingly, it almost always involved complications arising from real life events attacking key members through a myriad of dastardly tools like babies, new jobs, or the eternal march of war.

    This is why I believe Usiel’s guild is the diamond in the rough. Every member is a key member, and while each maintains an equal or near equal role within the hierarchy, no one member is more important than another. However, in my guild travels as part of more traditional structures, losing a competent raid leader or well played key component to a raid group (as in a tank or premier healer) led to a long downhill process that eventually resulted in guildicide.

    And yet I’m still attracted to those elite but smaller guilds that continuously compete closely with the far larger and more stable guilds that have solidified their position through ridiculously high recruitment rates and a raiding roster featuring 85 potential raiders.

    We still manage to compete, and often dominate our competition on the server stage until raider burn out or real life catches up to us and starts the decay. In the end though, the time there was much better than I would have ever expected. With such a small yet dedicated raid force, we all manage to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses much more than we ever could have. However, with the goal being competition, we cannot afford to mold a perfect guild akin to Usiel’s. We simply can’t expect all of our players to take that amount of responsibility when their entire career has been built around listening to or being a raid leader.

    A guild with the mentality of Usiel’s and the dedication to competition I’ve enjoyed in my past guilds would be unstoppable.

    • “Guilds should never start with the sole goal of being around for all of eternity.”

      That’s probably a good idea, but DKP in particular encourages players to think that the guild will be around for long enough for them to spend their points. And people often assume that raid guild == weekly entertainment for the foreseeable future.

      • While I definitely agree with your assesssment of DKP, it is by no means the only form of reward structure.

        For me it feels very impersonal to assign a number to individual contribution that is often viewed by every member of the guild. In many cases my guilds try to focus the members toward playing the game and less on playing manager. The more information they have that they don’t need, the more likely it is that those members will try to fond a need for it, and the last thing I need is backseat raid leaders.

        This is one reason why many of the guilds I’ve been in use a loot council of extremely dedicated individuals who know what is necessary for success. However, it only seems to work well because we’re so small and tight-knit. Measuring performance and balancing rewards accordingly is much easier when your raid group contains roughly the same 25 people week in and week out.

  3. Intresting times neh?

    I always view any prospective recruit with a degree of …well waryness. I have been in several guilds that died due to rash recuitment polcies. A few were those ‘nice friendly social guilds’ that would recruit anyone that answered officers spamming channels.

    One was one I was an officer in. We opened recuiting to ‘friends of friends’ and before long we had a bunch of strangers and a broken guild that split in showers of forum napalm and bile.

    A mass of refugees of dead raid guilds is a new phenom to me, as you point out these people look like really class acts. If you’re not carefull you import an entire clique and integrating those folks could be a tough job. A lot of folk are going to be afraid of the incomers as they are unknown and ‘Coming here and taking our jobs!’ Not to mention maybe inheriting whatever politics that broke the orginal guild. But a lot of these guys and gals will be great players and great guildmates. Hard call and I’m so glad I’m not an officer these days 🙂

    • Yeah, I share your wariness about recruiting a group of people at the same time. Even if they are all lovely, there’s the risk of setting up a clique which may not agree with the current leadership. Particularly where they are more hardcore, there’s the risk that the group itself will be urged to get more hardcore also which would put other people off, even without the added competition. Actually, in my old guild that split up, that was part of the symptoms. But also in said guild, I used to actively recruit from guilds which I knew were about to disband or stop raiding. No reason all those lovely raiders need to go to waste!

      Ofc, it wasn’t as amusing when it happened to us 🙂

  4. I wish more people recognized that guild-grief is a real thing! I just cut ties with a guild that, frankly, was a terrible situation. Some of my old guildies want to stay connected and prove that there’s no hard feelings, but I can’t! I have hard feelings! They’re not personal feelings, but being reminded over and over of what happened to the guild I’d worked so hard to build is like being hit!

    My boyfriend is taking it even harder… he hasn’t logged on since the split. Maybe I’ll show him this post and it will remind him that it’s alright to be upset.

  5. Pingback: The beginning of the end « "And now for something completely different…"

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