How do you know when you’re in a bad guild? Well, I am going to tell you a few things that you may want to consider before joining any guild and help you etch out in your mind if the one you are in currently is right for you. First a little background; I am not a big MMO player, nor do I play many FPS style games. When I do, I usually just go with random folks on random servers. I do, however, play World of Warcraft, and I assume that guilds on WoW are no different in theory than guilds on other MMO’s. And that is what we are dealing with here, MMO and RPG guilds as opposed to FPS game Clans/Guilds.
I have been in over 10 separate guilds in my travels in Azeroth. Two of them were guilds I created. Many were guilds so horrifically awful, so dreadfully terrible, that I only lasted a single day. Others were a dream come true, they enriched not only my experience playing the game, but my life because I met interesting characters that left an impression on me.
Guilds come in all sizes and styles. Guild size/style is important too, because depending upon said size/style you may have different goals and determinations, so it would make sense to discuss the different variations.
Basically, a guild can come in three sizes. As you might have guessed: small, medium and large. Small guilds usually have 2-10 members total, maybe 15 if there are alts. Typically a small guild is comprised of real life friends, or people you’ve played with a lot in game that have very similar time schedules. It often makes sense to just form a guild so you can all wear a similar tabard and express unity. These guilds are typically extremely close knit, very effective from levels 1-59 and have chronic trouble recruiting new members because the guild is built upon solid relationship foundations rather than a cause.
Medium sized guilds are usually comprised of 15-35 members, maybe 40 with alts. They’re usually a loose coalition of real life friends or close online friends similar in nature to small guilds, except numerous clusters of said working groups. One medium sized guild can have three or four people from the same college dorm who like to play together, two friends from Toledo who play together, several brothers in California who play together, and they’re all in the same guild. Usually these guilds start out small and over time with recruitment bring in small groups of people who also bring along their friends. The guild then blends together and you have a pretty solid core group. Usually these are less unified than a small guild, but more versatile, and able to recruit over time with much more ease because of their size and resources. These guilds tend to make up the backbone of the majority, and usually with merges become the larger raiding guilds that everyone wants to be a part of.
Large guilds are usually comprised of 45+ members, occasionally going all the way up to 200 or 300. These guilds are paradoxical; They are good and bad, or sometimes one or the other. They usually have very open recruiting policies (bad) but many times they can pull enough members together to challenge a big raid boss (good). They are typically the least unified, based on sheer numbers because you quite simply have too many faces to deal with. Large guilds also have the most potential if the level spread is correct. Which leads me into the next issue of importance, “Level Spread.”
Level spread, as one may have guessed, is the range of levels within a guild. A guild with 10 members all between he levels of 40-45 is probably going to function much better and more effectively than a guild with 200 members all between 1-100. Quite simply, level spread is one of the most important factors when deciding on what guild to join or assessing if you’d like to remain in your current guild. A small level spread that you can fit into is best because it will afford ample opportunity to quest and raid with people on the same material as you. If your level is low and the level spread too great, you will be stuck between begging for help from people who usually don’t want to be charitable and trying to get out of having to help the level 10’s in the newbie zones.
We have in our guild an active policy about level spread. We will not accept anyone above it or under it for the time being, and it has been growing with the guild. Whereas we used to only invite level 30+’s we now only invite 40+’s but under 50. When we reach 60 we will recruit 58+’s while we get the rest of the guild up. We have one stipulation and that’s to allow people under or over the spread only if they are close friends or family of current members, because then they become the responsibility of the host member and are not a drain on the whole guild.
Now, we know that there are guild sizes, but there are also guild types. In any given game there are different elements; you may have read the Golden Jews World of Warcraft Assessment. It goes into detail on PVP and PVE as well as the dynamic raid encounters with Onyxia and Nefarian. Each guild is usually tailored to a specific interest. In the case of my guild we tend to focus on PVE, which means we do the quests and run instances and collect loot. Some guilds are more into PVP. Raid groups are almost always level 60’s and they’re all raiding the big end game stuff. The ultimate goal of a PVE guild is to become a large Raiding Guild when they hit 60. This usually happens with merges, and lots of recruitment.
So if you want to join a guild or want to know if the guild you’re in is right for you, ask yourself this question: “What are your goals in this game?” It doesn’t make sense to join a PVP guild when all you want to do is loot up and level on to 60. So make your decisions accordingly.
Ok, so you know what kind of guild you want to belong to because you know what your goals are. Say you found a possible guild that has about 20 members with a low level spread which you fit into. Now here is the next question you should ask yourself: “Does this guild have a community?” Guild community is built in a couple of ways, the most popular are guild websites and forums, and Voice over IP programs (VOIP) like Ventrilo or Teamspeak. I personally wouldn’t join a guild that lacked any of those things because they truly do bring a guild together. And a guild without it tends to have much less communication than the guilds that do.
So the guild you were looking at has them, now what? You apply for membership. You do this in the most respectful way by seeing if they have an application process on their website. Someone worked hard on their site, and it would be a shame to let it go to waste. If you apply there, don’t pester them for the results. They will let you know in due time. If you cannot apply on their website because they don’t take applications there or you want a more direct approach, then you can send a message to their GM or officers in game. Say something like “Hello I am blah blah, I am a level 45 warrior, and my talent spec is this. I am interested in joining your guild, I have done some research and feel that it is the best to suit me, and I feel like I can contribute.” Nine times out of 10 this will get you at least an initiate status and a chance to prove your mettle.
What you do once you’re in the guild is really up to you. It is suggested that you be proactive, take part in discussions, but be respectful. Offer help if it’s needed and refrain from asking for help too often; you don’t want to seem like a nuisance.
These are really just the basics of guilding in MMO’s. It’s important to make informed decisions and to be on your toes. Guilds come and go, but your name and reputation on a given server are forever. So be sure to be kind and respectful. Being kicked out of a guild for misconduct is terrible because word spreads and your name does too. Soon you might have trouble trying to get into other guilds. So keep that in mind.
In conclusion, basically you will have to make all the decisions on your own. This humble article is merely a tool to help you decide what the correct path for you is. Joining an organized guild with a good community with lots of people in your level spread will make your play experience much better than soloing. If you decide you should want to start your own guild, then please remember what you read here and try to implement the best aspects of it.