Author’s note: This post ended up being rather long and drifted off topic a bit. I considered splitting it into two posts but in the end decided against it. If you aren’t interested in some of the drama of my former guild then just skip the middle part that has been marked off.
When I first started playing WoW I considered one of the open houses in Ironforge home. I can’t remember which one it is now, but I distinctly remember that I was particularly fond of it.
Nowadays I think of my guild as home. When we were in the formation stages I remember a number of people referred to the guild in those terms as well. It makes sense – for most people home is where their family is, and for most people the WoW equivalent is their guild. You share your WoW life with these people – your accomplishments (should I say achievements?) and failures, maybe you raid or PvP with some of them, hopefully you laugh with and support each other. Sometimes it spills over into real life with members meeting, becoming friends or even becoming each others real life family.
I am the co-lead of a small 10 man raiding guild. I really like all the members, and I should, because the other guild leaders and I handpicked them… from our former guild. Ok, wait just a second, and that thing about my mother is only half true. It really isn’t as bad as it would seem to be.
When I joined my former guild, at the beginning of this year, it was mostly a leveling guild. It was also the largest guild on the server (active level 80s). There were a few people who raided, mainly with one of our ‘sister guilds’. In fact I had almost left to raid with my wife’s guild as they had an open spot on a team for a raid healer, having gone so far as to whisper the guild master to have the talk with him, a whisper that went unanswered. The next day one of the members of my former guild (now an officer in my guild) sent me a whisper to ask if I would heal ICC 10. I said yes and opted to stay as otherwise the guild seemed like a good fit.
I raided with that team for a few months but eventually a few issues prompted me to form my own team. The fact that we had three of the best healers in the guild in the group while only using two of them was one. I was healing full time but it wasn’t fair to our priest who went shadow most of the time. My wife had a tank that she wanted to raid with but didn’t have the opportunity in her guild, and I would have been a fool to pass up the chance to have her tank and heal her. So I gathered up a shaman healer who we had known since BC who had just joined the guild and filled the rest (including one of the people who would become co -lead of my guild) over the course of the next few days. By the time the whispers started floating around in the guild we were ready to raid. I kept it quiet because a few weeks prior someone else (who would become the other co-lead) tried to set up an ICC 10 team only to have it quashed by the GM despite there being more than enough interest within the guild. (Writing it here I see the threads starting to be woven together)
My new team started progressing at a steady pace, especially given that we had a few people who had never really raided before. We killed the Lich King. Happily every after… right? Well obviously not, so what could have happened? Well, who would have imagined that the biggest guild on the server would be prone to drama?
It just so happened that I had inadvertently exacerbated the drama when I created my ICC team. I hadn’t realized it before then but there was a split within the guild, with the two progression teams on either side of the fault line. I think it started as a preference for one raid leadership style over another, but it really started to feel like it had morphed into cults of personality.
On one side there was… lets call him Tom. Tom had been in the guild for quite a long time (longer than the GM, iirc) and was a high ranking officer. He ran an ICC 10 that was half from our guild and half from a sister guild. It was the first team from our guild to start running ICC. Tom also lead the ICC 25 when it was started up in the guild.
I think the best way to describe Tom’s raid leadership style is… Tom liked to yell. Indiscriminately. This turned a lot of people off, and many in the guild got to experience it. Because people don’t generally don’t like to get yelled at for other people’s obvious mistakes, there was quite a bit of turnover in his group. When I ran 25s with him as the loot master the application of the stated rules changed from week to week and there was always at least one major issue with loot distribution each time we ran. Soon people started asking me to ‘fix’ things that were going on in Tom’s group. People started asking that the loot system that I used in my 10 man group (Suicide Kings) be used in the 25 man even though I had no real authority in that raid and had stopped participating in it rather quickly, and it continued well after I had stopped raiding with the guild ICC 25. After a while the 25 fell apart because enough people weren’t willing to run with Tom anymore.
On the other side there was me. I tried to run a tight ship instituting performance standards, attendance requirements, and a loot system other than /roll. We progressed quickly, and people started to notice. It seemed like everyone wanted to run ICC with us. This being a social guild not everyone was really ready to go past the first wing but the fact that I refused to PuG and filled empty spots with people from the guild (or the raid’s friends lists) means that sometimes they did, sometimes going 10/12 in a few hours. Every time someone got a new wing achievement it was another member of my cult.
People started asking that I start a 25 man ICC. People started asking that I start another 10 man ICC. I have never really cared for 25 mans so that was really out of the question and my only other level 80 character was my neglected warlock, fully decked out in T7 gear, and I really had no desire to play him. My wife on the other hand has 7 geared 80s, and started a new non-progression run, basically she was running raid school. It was able to absorb most of the people who wanted to run with me, and most of them seemed happy with it.
Many people were happier with their raiding schedule, but the atmosphere in the guild continued to deteriorate. Many of the raiders were looked down upon. The GM would refer to raiders in derogatory terms such as ‘the jocks’ or ‘the people who have beer and pizza every night’. One night when we were working on Lich King, before we had killed him, right before our second pull of the night the GM said in guild chat something to the effect of ‘Oh they’re wiping on LK again’. That pretty much ruined that night’s attempts for us, and even prompted one of our raid members to leave the guild. I was promoted to officer along with one of the co-leads of my current guild but we later found out that it was really just in name only after being told by the GM that our opinions wouldn’t really be considered. That was really the last straw for me.
We left on a Saturday after word had started getting out the night before. We ended up pulling my 10 man team, most of the people on my wife’s training team, and most of another 10 man team (the first one I had been on) and most of their alts.
I had a lot of mixed emotions when we decided to leave the guild and form a new one. This was a place that I had called home all year. There was a community there although I was becoming increasingly aware of how dysfunctional it was. One of my co-leaders and I discussed, thought about and agonized over it for weeks. Then we brought in our other co-lead and went over it for another week. We had tried to make improvements to the raiding situation but were rebuffed. The social atmosphere in the guild was driving us away more than enticing us to stick around. With the Cataclysm coming we decided it was time to make a change. So we basically moved across the street.
I ran into my former GM in the Goldshire graveyard on the Day of the Dead. He whispered me and said hi and asked a few questions about the event. I politely answered but was slightly uncomfortable until a moment later when one of my current guildies showed up… it brought a smile to my face.
All that being said, I found myself sitting on one of the balconies in Ironforge the other evening, looking out over the entrance to the Military Ward… but I realized between fielding whispers from guildies that it wasn’t my old place. Think… think… the Great Forge…? Mystic ward…?