Last month we asked for guild leaders to tell us about their guilds. Over the next month, we will share with you what we found out there in more than a dozen guilds. We will highlight key takeaways from each interview and provide the actual responses for you to read. There is a lot of information–both interesting and useful! Be sure to let us know what you find interesting and useful. Next up is <The Exodus> of EU Twilight’s Hammer, numerically represented in this article’s graphic and led by Garnaph, a contributor over at Restokin.com.
Each guild has unique traits that make it special. In regards to the demographics of its members, the overall personality and attitude of the guild, and the mindset of the guild regarding progression – The Exodus has carved out a special niche leading to a prosperous and distinctive environment for its members. Utilizing somewhat of a ‘referral’ system to attract new recruits, The Exodus has managed to maintain a stable and dependable player base. This allows an already tightly knit guild community to grow on its own terms while preserving the ideals that make it distinct.
One of the primary qualities that makes Garnaph such a special GM is his empathetic nature. An empathetic, supportive, yet directive, approach to leadership provides conditions under which all can thrive. Garnaph clearly possesses all of these qualities and it has appeared to pay dividends in the guild’s ability to deal with drama and incidents that can lead to instability.
The Exodus was formed after a tumultuous merging of two separate guilds – both distinctively possessing a different philosophy and approach to the game. Being forged in such a fashion has given The Exodus a perseverance and persistent quality that has stood the test of time. In only it’s 1 and 1/2 year existence, The Exodus has endured and overcome instability on its second raiding team, the departure of a core group of raiders, and unexpected turnover among some of its key members and officers. Instead of viewing this in a negative light, The Exodus attributes it as a key indicator of its growth and unwavering leadership.
Garnaph clearly pushes his members to the brink when engaged in progression raiding, but he knows when to tone it down a notch. Everyone will have an opportunity to maximize their potential in The Exodus and when raiding under Garnaph’s philosophy, but they will not be pushed over the edge. It takes a special leader to successfully employ such a strategy, and The Exodus has benefited from this approach.
“The right balance of social and progression is what defines us…We’ve always been defined as the middle ground,” states Garnaph. It is difficult to maintain such a strong sense of identity as The Exodus without going to one of the extremes – be it strictly hardcore or purely social. Regardless of whether The Exodus defines itself as “middle ground” or with a balanced approach, they clearly rise to the top when providing us with a model for success and stability in the ever turbulent World of Warcraft.
Guild Name: The Exodus (Garnaph = GM)
Server/Faction: Twilight’s Hammer (EU), Horde
Guild website: http://exodus.orangepinnacle.com/forum/
Number of active members: About 30, plus socials.Number of days per week of organized guild activity (raid/PvP/social event): 2 or 3 raids per week
Age of guild: A year and a half. Many of us have known each other for the better part of 3 years.
Type of guild: Social raiding guild, with one team slightly more hardcore than the other.
Painting the Picture: Philosophy and Feel
1. What is your guild’s mission statement/overall goal?
We’re primarily a South African guild, although non SA players are always welcome. Our goals are to down raid bosses, make friends, and generally enjoy the game. The right balance of social and progression is what defines us. Too social, you never kill anything, too hardcore, it’s not fun any more. We find the point in progression where you hit a brick wall, where tempers start to flare, and then slow it down. Progression is not worth interpersonal drama for us, although sometimes it’s inevitable.
2. How do you ensure recruits/applicants/new members are on the same page with the guild’s goals?
We have an application process that relies fairly heavily on vouches from existing guildies. For unknowns, a trial raid quickly shows how well someone fits in with us.
3. Has your guild evolved since its origins? In what ways?
Our guild is the merging of exiles from two guilds, one more hardcore, and one too social. We’ve always been defined as the middle ground. Our primary raiding team has had the same raid leader since we started (myself), and as such has always been very stable. We downed 11/12 HC in ICC (with frostwyrms), 12/12 normal T11, and are currently 7/7 normal T12, looking to take on some HC. We found LK HC to be too hard for our liking, and Nef was perhaps slightly beyond what we would normally attempt, but as we had already killed 11/12, we pushed through. We never took T11 HC seriously as a result. Rag wasn’t too hard for us, so we’re going to push into HC.
The second raid team has been a roller coaster. They’ve had 4 raid leaders so far, and one of those RL took off with the entire team to form a new guild at one point (that guild failed down the line, for what it’s worth). They generally lag behind the first team because of this instability, and the fact that they have one less raid night (5h a week vs 9h), but they do well with what they have. It’s not a matter of one team being better than the other. It’s different approaches. Group 1’s progression is better, but Group 2 has dramatically less stress and drama.
4. What do you feel is the biggest myth or stereotype for a guild of your type? Why?
SA raiders generally aren’t taken too seriously, due to the latency involved in our (300-800ms, vs 30ms for EU/US players). However, we’ve done well with what we have, and we realise our limitations, so we don’t overreach and invite unnecessary frustration.
5. How would you describe your guild’s feeling/sense of community?
We’re a very social bunch, since most of us came from a heavily social guild. We talk a lot of nonsense in guild chat, joke a lot, and try to have each other’s backs. I work hard to make sure the two raid teams see each other as equals. We organise as many RL meetups as we can, but geography makes it tricky at times. Most of my RL friends I met in WoW.
6. Is there an age requirement for your guild?
21. Preferably 23. Most of our players are 25+, and it shows in our approach to the game, as well as the language that is often used. Younger players don’t tend to fit in too well, and they tend to frustrate the older players.
7. On a scale of 1 to 10, what would you say is the average skill level of the player base in your guild?
On average, 8. We have two who are involved in posting on very popular blogs (myself, and my hunter, Shinbelf), but most of the guys work very hard on our characters, watching patch changes, always pushing to stay on top of our game.
8. What is the biggest challenge your guild has faced? What happened, what did you do, and what was the result?
When the Group 2 raid leader at the time broke off with half of my raiders, there was a lot of uncertainty around what was going to happen. I held everyone together, rebuilt the second raid team, and the guys showed their loyalty. When the breakaway guild fell apart, some of those who didn’t burn their bridges on their way out came back, and we’ve been stronger for the experience.
9. Does your guild have any organized events other than the day-to-day scheduled (in-game or real life)?
The guild was founded on a group of friends who live close by to each other, so we see each other IRL as much as possible. If someone from elsewhere in the country ends up being nearby, we always make a plan to get together to see them.
10. Do you have any “rules” that you require your guildies to follow?
Of course. They are rarely ever referenced, but they were put in place when the guild was founded, so we’d have a good argument for dealing with bad behavior.
11. In terms of someone being removed from your guild, what kind of behavior is zero-tolerance? Second chance? Three strikes you’re out?
Zero-tolerance is ninjaing, excessive swearing or racist language, or anything else that brings a bad rep on the guild, or ruins the gaming experience for anyone. For other offenses, we give everyone a chance to correct the behavior. If the warnings are ignored, they get removed from raid teams, or kicked from guild, depending on the individual situation.
12. Do world rankings matter to your guild, either formally or informally?
Not really. We like to see where we’re sitting compared to the rest of our server, and we like to see that we are ahead of rivals with similar setups to our own, but we don’t take those rankings too seriously.
1. What is the leadership structure of your guild?
GM (myself), a co-GM (who holds the same authority as me) the raid leader of the second team, and 3 other officers, who are there for input and voting if an issue comes to that. I’m a dictator, but I always try listen to others, especially officers. That said, they trust me and follow my decisions. I can’t lead if they mutiny, so I always do whatever it takes to keep the peace.
2. How have you selected leadership in the past and how will you in the future?
Generally officers need to have the best interests of the guild at heart. So selfish players are a big no-no. I prefer to see people who are already doing a job, and then give them the title, rather than the other way around. People have to be willing to actually do something useful for the guild, to see being an officer as a job, not a title to be shown off. My co-GM has the rank he has because he has in the past helped put out fires more than anyone else. Giving him the rank seemed to motivate him to take that job even more seriously, and the guild as a whole benefited from it.
3. What is the biggest issue that you have to deal with in day to day guild operations?
Admin around replacing raiders who can’t make it at sort notice. Most of the guys are very committed, but life does happen. There’s a fair amount of admin involved in keeping a raiding team ticking over, especially when group of raiders go ADFK for long periods of time.
4. How do you deal with guild drama?
I try remain level headed, get all of the facts, wait for things to cool off, then I act decisively. I find that acting quickly and emotionally often leads to reactions I regret later. I’ve recently learned the letting people get away with bad behavior only makes the problem much worse over time.
5. Do you have guild and/or leadership meetings? How often? Are they organized?
Not really. my co-GM is a close friend IRL, and my wife (also an officer), also has a big say in how the guild is run, so these conversations happen very informally.
6. What are the guild’s leader’s strengths?
Empathy, hard working, dedicated to seeing the guild as a whole succeed, not just individuals, or even a single raid team. I take pride in both teams doing well, not just one.
7. What are the guild’s leader’s weaknesses?
I can often be too soft on players, which causes problems. This is where I rely on other officers to fill in for my weak points and make the harsh decisions that I can’t. I can also be fairly moody, especially when I’ve been patient with a player who refuses to see reason. I can then explode without warning, which usually just makes matters worse.
8. What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a guild leader?
Building a guild from scratch is very hard work. Setting up structures, rules, preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. I was a GM before, and in that guild I had to assemble raid teams out of nothing, where most raiders knew little to nothing about raiding, myself included. That communal learning curve was also extremely hard to overcome.
9. When your guild hits a road block, what do you do to try and maintain morale?
Off weeks, farm runs, anything to lighten the tension a little and get everyone joking around again. Off weeks also help everyone regroup, do some research, go over raid logs, and prepare for the next attempt with a fresh perspective.
10. What tools does your guild leadership use to help run the guild?
Google spreadsheets for raiding rotations, phpraider for signups. PhpBB forums for everything else. I also have almost all of my raiders on skype and google talk, for discussing matters outside of raid times.
11. Personally, what is your goal as a leader?
Keep the peace, while progressing through raid content. Balancing those two is a full-time job, and I’m still learning harsh lessons about how it should be done.
12. Have you ever been the leader through a guild meltdown, takeover, schism, or other related major event? What happened, what did you do, and what was the result?
I was involved in a somewhat hostile takeover in PnV (my old, very social guild). There was a need for more organisation in raiding, and the current GM was very young, immature, and selfish. I started organising raid teams, and with time everyone started to look to me to make decisions. When I needed the GM to perform actions that only he could perform, he would always make excuses. Eventually I got his officers to turn on him and insist he hands over GM. I made sure to make him feel welcome in guild regardless of what happened, and he is still a member of that guild as a result. I took over for the greater good, not because I wanted power.
The other major event was the Obedience (the name of the new guild) split, hinted at above. Good friends I’d known almost since I started playing wow tore the guild in half without warning, and then couldn’t understand why I was upset. the understanding was that they knew how to run a guild and a raid team better than me, so why be in a position where they had to take orders from me. In the end, their GM didn’t have the empathy for players that I do, and as a result, one by one his raiders left, until eventually the guild disbanded. I feel somewhat vindicated by the result.
13. How do you assess member performance? Do you use World of Logs (or similar)
WoL for sure. I also use the mod Fatalilty to track what is killing raiders in raids, so I don’t have to look at a WoL parse after the raid to see what’s wiping us.
14. How does your guild handle loot?
/roll, with a priority system. If you get a main spec drop, for the rest of the week, anyone else rolling against you for main spec will get preference, until you both have a piece, then it’s fair roll again. A separate list is kept for off spec.
That said, I do heavily influence who gets to roll on loot, based on who items would be better for. We’ve had problems with loot whores who demand loot at times, but those individuals tend to be dealt with separately. Loot is for the betterment of the raid as a whole, not individuals.