EDIT: Just as a clarification – our guild changes were really a group effort. In the comments I’m being given waaaay too much credit. In reality, I had very little to do with it all. I was a strong critic of the old ways and I suggested a few concrete ideas that might help us improve as a raid team, but the credit for implementing change should go to our raid leader. He’s the gifted one who listens to everyone’s input then makes good decisions that he stands by. And our team as a whole deserves credit for their active participation in all aspects of the process.
I left “my old guild” at a time where my raid schedule was very limited and I couldn’t really dedicate myself to a team. I was welcomed into a group of (casually raiding) friends who seemed cool with having me around and understood that I would move on once I could live in more raid-friendly timezone.
So that early January, I went from a 9/12 guild to a 0/12 guild.
Oh the culture shock!
There was no point in writing on the forums: no one visited them. There was no healer chat to goof around in. When we’d reach a new boss fight, only the raid leader knew anything about it. Pulls were slow and difficult to recover from. Random AFKs were normal. Raid start time meant “we’ll think about whether or not we want to raid and if you’re lucky, we’ll send invites out within the hour“. If the raid wasn’t cancelled that is.
The people were fun and I liked most of my guildies. It was a blissful break from the childishness and the vulgarity that my former guild chat had degenerated into. But the raids… The raids were painful. Skill or attitude weren’t an issue. These people were quite possibly the most patient individuals I’d ever come across on the internet. And as I would tell those who asked about my guild situation: “They play pretty well… on the rare occasion that they play.”
I don’t care about boss kills much. Me, I get pleasure from strategy discussions, from pushing myself to squeeze every ounce of juice out of my character and from working as a team. When I say I hate casual raiding, it’s not about the boss kills and it’s not about the rankings. It’s about being deprived of the game aspects that make me tick.
As I was getting ready to leave…something happened
I’m not sure exactly what triggered the idea to change. I knew at the time, but I can’t remember. I do remember those long chats with my raid leader about how we both needed a more focused environment. I also remember hoping that I could stay on Nerzhul.
Then one day my raid leader mentioned that a few other guildies were interested in upping our pace a bit.
Then a lot of things I don’t remember happened, which eventually let to a thread (started by our raid leader) called “In order to make a more efficient raid group“.
I wanted a project. I also really liked working with Team Sport’s raid leader. (Remember this post?) And I didn’t want to leave the server.
So I got on board.
Would they go for it? Could I hope?
I know what it’s like to drag a heavy bolder up a hill. It’s just like trying to get satisfied players to change their playstyle.
My biggest worry was our raid team enjoyed our current status. Of course, they always want more boss kills. But, to them, would those boss kills be worth the trouble? I like being extremely time-efficient, but would they?
We decided to actually play
I didn’t interpret them properly at the time, but the majority of the responses in our raid efficiency thread expressed annoyances with our late start times, our frequent signs-up-but-doesn’t-shows and our constant stalling due to random AFKs. I was delighted to discover that I wasn’t alone in feeling the way I did.
I pushed for communication
Maybe it’s a gender thing. Girls tend to like to communicate. I’m the only girl in the guild. I’m the one who whined and whined and whined and WHINED about our lack of communication.
They are lovely and humoured me. We got healing/dps/tank chat channels. Our raid leader now often hangs out after raids for those who want to talk about the night. And someone starts a debriefing thread on the forums after each raid.
The Challenges of a Democratic Guild
Alas‘ Effers made a big splash in the blogosphere with their democratic (and originally officerless) guild. And I think the Effers were the first to really talk about it.
I’m also in a democratic, officerless guild. A democratic, officerless guild that is several years old. We’re even sort of GM-less. It took me 6 months in the guild to find out that we had a GM. It went kind of like this:
Me: Why does that guy always get all weird about guild stuff.
Guildie: He started the guild.
Me: So he’s actually the GM?
Guildie: I guess you could say that.
There are ruins of past attempts at having officers: there are still some characters with a “team captain” rank and there’s an officer forum on our guild website (last post is from December, by someone who doesn’t have the “team captain” rank).
But all the raid organization and role leading is done by the 2 or 3 (depending on the day) guys who came up with the idea to fit a raid team into the guild. All “members” can see and type in /ochat. To become a member, you have to be voted in by at least 10 other “members”. (I do love the concept, however we don’t have 10 active “members” anymore, so it’s currently impossible for new recruits to become full members. I’m not a full member.) If someone wants to suggest and implement a new policy, a vote is called and all “members” vote on it.
In theory it’s awesome and I love it. In practice, implementing new ideas is a big hassle. This guild is several years old and, until recently, has experienced very little turnover. What happens when a democratic guild has been around for years is this: the group becomes set in its ways and status quo takes over. In other words, everyone becomes afraid of rocking the boat.
So we had a team who hadn’t seen much significant change in a few years. We had no one with any formal authority to say “this is what we’re going to do”. This wasn’t looking good.
The results, up ’til now
Our “raid team improvement” thread was about 3 or 4 weeks ago. Since then, we’ve down 2 new bosses (4 if you count Neferian and Cho’Gall, which aren’t much of a challenge on normal mode anymore), which is probably where we would have been anyway.
– We’ve started every single raid on time (with the exception of a few delays due to having to pug a few raiders).
– We’ve received a surprising number of applications (including an AWESOME application written by a dear commenter on this very blog!).
-It’s been two weeks since we’ve had to pug. We even had to sit someone for the first time due to too many dps online at once.
– We’ve shaved a lot of time off our trash pulls (I know because I time our trash).
– I don’t feel the need to alt tab out between wipes on progression bosses anymore.
– People who randomly AFK are being chastised by their fellow players.
– Role-teams are communicating more.
– A larger number of team members are participating in strat discussions and post-raid debriefings.
– Some people actually read the forums.
– Guildies have been going out of their way to gear up outside of raids and, even better, helping each other gear up outside of raids.
I can’t begin to express how I excited I am and how proud I am of my guildies for all their hard work.
I know that the changes might just be temporary. The pace is new to us, so we’re learning and can’t joke around as much as we used. We might give up before we get used to this pace. Or we might just decide this style of raiding was fun for a little while, but not longer. Or, as my track record predicts, I might have a falling out with our raid leaders and have to go my own way.
I can, however, accept that nothing lasts forever and, like in anything I do, I’m enjoying the moment.