On Guild Leadership

Once again I have found myself in a place I didn’t think I’d ever reach again in my gaming career.  Through a series of rather unfortunate events, I have been left without a cohesive group structure to take interest in.  I’ll admit, I’ve made some mistakes along the way that have nudged me to this point, but I would have never thought  I would have been in this position ever again.  I thought I had found the communities I would be with until I stopped playing games altogether.  But sadly, things changed for the worse, and I’m left without a direction to go from here.

Since I started playing World of Warcraft in 2009, I have called six guilds across two games my home.  Each of these guilds promoted me to an officer position at some point, and each one eventually led me to move to a different place.  And in those six years, I’ve learned a lot across those positions of leadership, and I think I’ve come to realize just why each of these fantastic communities has driven me away.  This is by no means meant to be an attack against any of these guilds, but merely my observations on leading them over the years.

What it takes to be a guild officer

To me, being a guild officer is not merely having a  major responsibility, and thus a title to designate that.  The position of guild officer is so much more than just a list of duties.  It’s a mindset.  It’s an undying sense of loyalty to one’s guild.  It’s a vested interest  in the day to day operations of the guild.  It’s having an attitude to constantly make a mark on the community as a whole, and having pride in the fact that it’s your guild doing it.  It’s making the decisions no one else wants to, and bearing the brunt of the consequences.  It’s having an open mind and a loud mouth, especially when something isn’t how you envisioned it or shows all the signs of being a problem.

Officership doesn’t always mean a concrete responsibility

I have only twice ever held the position of officer based upon the responsibilities I had taken on.  Once as a guild recruiter, and once at first as a raid leader.  Each other time I was either given or took duties upon myself because I had taken on a position of authority.  Only one other guild I have been in has required a responsibility before receiving an officer position.  And after each of these times, what I’ve found is that it just doesn’t work.  Officers lose their interest in what they’re responsible for.  Responsibilities change hands, sometimes leading one officer to have no duties anymore.  Being an officer only really means being a workhorse for the guild, no more, no less.  And often, due to the necessity of having everything being done by an officer, the number of officers often dwindles or never increases, which leads to more burnout of those already in the officer positions.  It just doesn’t work. A guild can’t rely on a small set of officers to maintain its presence.

The biggest part of being an officer is being vocal

Nothing ever happens if nothing is ever said, and stagnation is often worse than decline.  A guild officer must be able to speak  their mind, be heard, and acknowledge responses.  If not, ideas get left on the floor, discontent breeds contempt, and the guild slowly dies from the inside out.  I’ve seen this problem three times now, I’ve left or lost my position as officer, and twice those guilds died a painful death.  I can’t stress enough how important clear, concise, and honest conversation is necessary for a guild’s survival, especially amongst officers.

Sometimes, the best way to lead is to move on

Sometimes, despite an officer’s best efforts to keep it going strong, a guild just cannot survive.  Sometimes, the guild’s environment moves itself in a direction against one officer’s best interests.  Sometimes, the echo chamber is just too strong to fight against.  Things change through no fault of the officer, and in some cases, it’s best to let time run its course and settle down somewhere new.  True friendships will last forever, and depending on the guild’s makeup, some may move on with the officer.

And I guess that’s really where I am now.  I’ve been forced to move on, take my experiences and motivations in another direction.  But is it really worth it for me to go through the struggle of finding a new place to call home?  Every time I do it, the more jaded I get toward the idea of playing group-based games as a whole.  How long am I willing to wander before I just settle in the desert?

Woo Streaming

So I’ve finally gotten off my ass and started up a twitch stream.  I’ll be streaming whatever I’m playing for the night at http://www.twitch.tv/sadoni if you want to check it out!

Dealing with Toxic Guild Members

Last night my guild went 11/14 in Siege of Orgrimmar in one night.  The night before we got our first kills on both Blakfuse and Thok.  It’s great that my guild is finally getting around to having a steady number of raid nights again, as well as a group that’s beginning to show up on a more regular basis and actually perform to the level necessary to kill new bosses.  I’m really looking forward to killing Thok again tonight and probably getting our first Paragons kill!

That being said, I’m also beginning to dread coming to raid in the back of my mind.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to raid.  I love being a tank, getting my face smashed in by bosses for three hours three times a week.  I love being a partial raid leader.  I actually like being somewhat in charge.  And for the most part, the people are great.  I love my guildies, and they’re all my family.  They may be crass, angry assholes, but they’re also kind, loyal, and caring.  They’re great to hang out with, and someone is always there for support when I need it.

The problem comes when that guild relationship becomes toxic.  For some reason, there’s been some no so good attitudes amongst the guild over the last few months, and it’s beginning to boil over.  People are yelling at each other, snapping at each other’s heels, and giving each other the silent treatment.  And that’s really what gets me not wanting to raid.  I hate seeing my friends mad at each other, especially when it seems completely arbitrary.  It ruins the fun relaxing mood of raiding and makes it more of a chore.  It drives some away and drives others to worse performance.  Getting to this stage is just all around terrible for the guild and its members in every aspect.

From past experiences, I know that this situation has one of four outcomes, and none of them are necessarily great.  The offender(s) can change, they can leave, they can be kicked, or the guild can dismantle.  Here are the pros and cons for each one.

1. The Offender(s) Change

Pros:  Everyone is happy again.  No recruitment for replacements.  Performance improves.  No loss of friends.

Cons:  The change may not last long.  People may hold grudges against the offender(s).  It’s probably only a matter of time before the problem arises again, and next time it may be harder to deal with or could cause problems before you catch it.

2. The Offender(s) are Kicked

Pros:  No more problems, and the problem can’t easily come back.  Nips the problem before it gets too bad to handle.

Cons:  More than likely will lose a friend.  A few bridges will be burned.  Recruitment is necessary.

3. The Offender(s) Leave

Pros:  No more problems.  Little to no burned bridges if leaving amicably on own accord.

Cons:  May take a long time to play out, if ever.  Recruitment is necessary.  Could lose more before you lose the problem.

4. The Guild Collapses

Pros:  No more problems.  Guild can reorganize into more cohesive groups.  A second chance at making sure this never happens again.

Cons:  No more guild.  Bridges will be burned and friends will be lost.  Some will move on, others will regroup.  Recruitment is necessary.  A bad taste is left in everyone’s mouth.

Personally, I think that of these options, #3 and #4 should pretty much never be on the table.  They are signs of poor leadership, and #4 especially should only be an option if that ship has already sunk.

The differences between #1 and #2 are more of a question of risk.  Would you rather lose your friendship, or run the risk of having the same problem down the road?  Which is more important, making sure no one’s feelings are hurt or keeping the group and guild together.  And if you do go with #1, what do you do to prevent it from happening again?

This is a really tough situation that my guild has now handled several times, and I would say we’ve done decently so far.  But this time, I’m not so sure.  I guess only time will tell whether or not I’ll be recruiting, or even being recruited.

How to Learn Any Class

As an owner of a level 90 of each class, I feel pretty confident in saying that, although I am definitely not an expert at most classes, I am at least marginally competent at some aspect of every one. I may not be able to top the charts on every class, but I can definitely excel enough to pull adequate numbers for the content the character is geared for. So with my credentials out of the way, I present to you the 8 easy steps to playing any class adequately.

1. Find a reason to like what you’re playing.

If you don’t like what you’re doing, you’ll never be good at it. If you’re determined to play a class, find a spec and playstyle you like. If that means you never touch PvP or PvE, so be it. You’ll have much more fun not subjecting yourself to stuff you don’t want to do, and you’ll be better for it.

2. Read about it before you even start.

Research the class. Make sure you know what you’re getting into. Icy-Veins and the WoW forums are great places to get a basic idea on how to play a class. However, take everything you read with a grain of salt. Some of this stuff will be geared more toward min/max’ers, and others of it will simply be proven false based on your own personal experience.

3. Actually level and play that character.

The best way to learn a class is to play it. When leveling, try to avoid gaming experience as much as possible. Taking fast tracks will reduce the amount of practice time while leveling, and this could definitely harm you once you reach end-game.

4. Dungeons are your friend.

Dungeoning, especially once you hit 70, is most definitely the best practice you can get. Running dungeons helps you to prepare for what playing your class will be like in a raid environment because that’s what dungeons are, a small raid training ground.

5. Remember the basics.

Often all it takes to play a class to an adequate level is simply knowledge of how to play the game in general. Avoid fire, always cast, keep up dots, use cooldowns properly, know fights, etc. You may lose out on the edges where your class excels, but anything is better than nothing.

6. Talk to people who play the class.

The best kind of education is one-on-one. Find someone who plays the class to a solid level, sit down with them in front of a target dummy, and discuss where and how you can get better. A lot of times it just takes another perspective to see where you can improve.

7. Don’t let yourself get rusty.

Keep up on class changes. Play the character on a regular basis. You won’t miss out on critical changes to your class, and you’ll be better in the long run.

8. Being adequate is expensive.

Being even mediocre requires proper gems, enchants, and reforges. Make sure you keep them up to date.

Like Brother, Like Sister

Turns out my little sis isn’t too bad at this healing stuff.  In fact, she might be better than me.  Looks like we’ve got our new healer.  Now to just get her bedtime moved back.

On another note, I’m gonna start writing my next tabletop campaign.  It’s going to be run in the Dark Heresy system, set in contemporary Europe, specifically Britain and France.  More information will come with time.

Super Happy Fun Break Learning Time

My little sister is about to hit 85 on her pally over this Christmas break. So far she’s been tanking all the way from level 15.  However, we’re going to try to teach her how to heal so she can fill in the empty spot in our raid group.  Keep in mind that my sister is 13, and I’m about the youngest person in the guild at 22.  Most of my raid group is married with kids.  And the guild is generally uncensored.  Lots of swearing and incredibly inappropriate conversations.  Like Khaz’s constant daydreams about what he wants to do to Roxzr tonight…

And then there’s the fact that she hasn’t healed on her pally.  Ever.  She’s proven to be decent at priest healing.  At level 55.  Otherwise she has no healing experience whatsoever.  Especially at max level.  And we’re gonna put her straight into raiding.  And it’s my job to teach her…  This is going to be one fantastic break…

Oh, did I mention we have to get her bedtime moved so that she can raid with us?  It’s just an all-around great situation…

At least she’s somewhat cooperative, and hopefully it won’t take too much to get her used to healing.  😀

It’s Christmas Time!

Christmas is fun… I guess…

Anyway, went and got Christmas presents for my family today, and it got me thinking.

TIME TO WORK ON PRESENTS FOR MY GUILDIES.

This means hours upon hours of grinding out useless crap to fill their mailboxes. 😀 Last year it was Christmas cookies.  What should it be this year?  I was thinking…

Sparroew:

Since you love to spam me with your unnecessarily large numbers of materials that you want me to make something useful with, I’ll supply some for your aspiring alchemist!  Have fun with those filled letters of felweed.

Roxzr:

You know what?  I’ve kinda treated you rough from time to time, so I guess I’ll treat you.  Epic flying for one of your toons.  Coupled with a full mailbox of food for you to cook.  😛

Mel:

You give me so much cake as a mage, so I think I’ll return the favor!  Mailbox full of cakes.

Tharkash:

To the man who has everything, I think you deserve something special.  I hope a full stack of +60 Stamina gems is OK for your death knight’s tank set.

And for the raid in general…

CAKES FOR EVERYONE.  AND GUMBO.

Of course, after my gracious gifts, the guild will get my yearly massive donation, just because it’s awesome and I support it’s continuation of paying my repair bills. 😀

Merry Christmas BD!