For a long time, I moved from guild to guild every 6 months or so, from Raid Leader to Rage Leader, looking for a guild that suited me. I’m not a generally aggressive or angry person, but I am competitive and like to work and excel at whatever I choose to do. The problem I found was that most guilds fall into one of two categories, ‘hardcore’ or ‘casual’.
Terms for Guild Styles
Something I dislike about the raiding community is the terms ‘hard core’ and ‘casual’, despite the fact that I use them myself. From my experience, the guilds I like the best don’t fit in either of those categories.
Hardcore tends to refer to those guilds who are on the bleeding edge of progression, but also those guilds where raiders have to take a large amount of abuse and infighting to succeed. Everyone has to be there even if they’re benched and there’s big penalties for missing raids.
Casual on the other hand, refers generally to groups where attendance isn’t mandatory and progression occurs as much as possible on any given day. There’s usually a much larger pool of players and people aren’t fussed if they don’t raid every time as long as they get some here and there.
What I wanted
What I was always looking for fell somewhere in between. A group of raiders who were good friends, enjoyed each others company both in and out of raids and could have a laugh when things went wrong, but when they did, they’d pick themselves back up and do it right the next time. Raiders were eager to raid and so had high attendance, and were active in preparing themselves before raids with gear, enchants, consumables and research.
I moved from guild to guild failing to find all the right elements. Some guilds were dedicated, but there was mismanagement or favouritism at the top, or an abusive raid leader etc. Some guilds were friendly and got along well, but when it came to progression either didn’t want to or weren’t willing to enforce any requirements for performance and preparation.
What I did
Along with another raider who I’d moved through two guilds with, the second where we were both officers, I formed Ex Tenebra in September ’10. We knew it would be a struggle to get the guild off the ground at the time, partly due to the raiding ennui from late ICC, as well as the raider under-populated server we are on.
The big thing about ET that I wanted to maintain was that the raiding environment is dedicated to progression, but is still a friendly environment. People should receive constructive criticism about the problems they’re having or the failures they’ve made in any given attempt, but not to the point of brow-beating them into submission, or making the up and leave.
Our raid expectations and rules are tailored to this, with things like EPGP favouring high attendance and not punishing people for being sat if we have more than 25 online.
How we raid
I don’t yell. That’s rule number one. I also don’t let anyone else get away with yelling. Criticism is fine and even encouraged, as long as its constructive. I try to do a recap between fights to identify what went wrong, and people are finally starting to come around to it, though I think a number of them are scared that they’ll get yelled at (despite ANY evidence to support that idea). But as an environment, people clearly enjoy it, because we do get told that regularly. I still expect people to perform and will highlight where individuals went wrong when I can, but as I’ve said to the group a number of times, I expect everyone to know what they did wrong and fix it themselves. If you died in a fire, then learn from that and avoid fires etc.
We’re very strict on raid end times, and with numbers up getting better at starting dead on start time, and we semi-regularly audit everyone’s gear to make sure that they’re keeping the basics up to date. I also have ‘fail’ mods like BigBrother and PhoenxStyle/RaidSlackCheck to announce where people went wrong. DeathNote helps me clarify exact failures but I always let the raider I’m asking tell me why they think they died before I detail whats in the log. If they’re right, I leave it at that and usually they learn from it. If they’re wrong, I’ll let them know what my logs say and see if they get it.
Did it work?
As with most of these sorts of endeavours, the answer at the moment is Yes and No. We’re not the powerhouse Top 5 of Server that we want, but that’s not due to any lack of effort on our part. The biggest two problems we’ve struggled with are sufficient numbers, and stable connections.
The biggest problem that we’ve struggled with throughout the life so far of the guild is numbers. We’ve kept a close watch on the door to make sure that the people we get in are the right people, both in attitude, performance and dedication. I won’t claim the process has been perfect, and we might have scared away some potentially good players too, but by and large we have a good team of players. However, our roster is currently about the 28 mark and climbing with a few new recruits, so hopefully we can hit the ground running in Firelands and push through progression quickly.
The other issue with insufficient numbers is that you can’t use the bench as a punishment for those who either miss raids without telling us, or don’t perform well enough despite repeated attempts to get them to improve. One example was when despite having only 23 raiders online, I sat out a Paladin (now retired) who refused to get the 346 Relic made to upgrade his 318 relic. The amount of effort to get him to do it far outweighed the effort to do it, but it was one of the rare cases I’ve benched someone despite having lack of numbers, simply because even though they’re holding back the raid, not having those extra warm bodies is holding back the raid more.
Stable Net Connections
The bane of my existence lately however, has been stable net connections. Being a single IT-enabled guy with a stable and comfortable income (well, up till I buy my unit in two days and get crippled by a mortgage) I have sole custody of a big fat stable internet connection through the best provider I can find (Internode). On the other hand, many of my raiders are in families or share houses and unable to control a) the provider of the connection, b) capping by various other members of the household, or c) the annoying ability for torrents to nuke a net connection.
I’d estimate that about 3/4 of our wipes on Heroic Halfus, Heroic Chimaeron, Nefarion and Cho’gall were caused purely because key people disconnected mid fight. The most frustrating one is tanks, as of all the tanks we’ve had in the lifetime of the guild, I appear to be the only one with a rock solid connection. We’ve had nights on Nefarion where we’ve simply given up and gone somewhere else because the blasts from the 3 adds can’t be interrupted on one server or another.
With our numbers on the rise, hopefully we can put a good showing in for the Firelands content and get our name out there. I’m hoping the net connections are a similar issue to what happened in ToC where some people got bad modules downloaded, and thus always D/C’d, and that in Firelands all those issues will go away like they did in ICC. With success comes apps, and we can solidify our numbers and get a good bench such that we won’t have empty raid spots.
That and we’re holding the Gnome Olympics to raise our guild’s profile on other Oceanic Servers, but more on that later.
And in closing
Clearly other people have the same ideas, since this popped up on my Reader after writing this: