A couple of weeks ago I got into a discussion with someone who was struggling with running a casual guild and yet wanting said guild to perform more professionally in raids. I’ve seen similar discussions going on quite a bit lately, particularly in the wake of Pandaria. So how do you convince your guild to focus more on raids without becoming a shouty jerk?
As someone who built a guild from a couple of low level characters hanging out in Stormwind to a fairly capable 25-man heroic raid team, I have some definite opinions on the matter. Here’s my advice.
Reconcile your vision with reality
Perhaps no word in the MMO gamer’s vocabulary has been more up for debate than “casual”. The dictionary defines it as “without serious intention”, and without veering too much into an unwinnable argument I think that jibes with what most MMO players mean when they say the word, whether the intention is in regards to time or effort.
Do you want your guild to raid “without serious intention”? There’s nothing wrong with that. Lots of guilds have a primary goal of hanging out, and any bosses they kill are just bonus. But if you want your guild to focus more and thereby accomplish more with their raid time.. well, that’s probably antithetical to a lack of serious intent. Being on time, being flasked, making sure the guild has raid food — all those things require effort. They require being less casual.
Now, this certainly is not to say that you need to start implementing crazy mandatory attendance rules or performance standards! Think about the casual elements of your guild that you enjoy and value. Is it bringing people who are not always optimal, but are nice? Maybe it’s being flexible with that guy who can only show up at the last minute, or not worrying about specs. The good news is that you don’t have to change any of those things that you enjoy! In fact, I’d advise against it. Don’t throw out your guild’s identity for a little more raid success.
By this point you might be thinking, “Okay fine Liore! I’ll stop calling my guild “casual”! So what?” Well, I’m glad you asked.
Reconcile your guild with your vision
When you call your guild “casual”, most people immediately think of some variation of “lack of seriousness”. This is particularly true when that term is coming from the guild leadership, who are responsible for setting the vision and timbre of the guild. It will potentially confuse new members who thought they were joining a casual raid guild but are now getting some social pressure to show up with flasks and buff food.
One of the biggest problems that a guild can encounter, in my opinion, is discordance between what the members expect from a guild and what they actually get. I’ve read literally hundreds of posts on official forums written by people who thought they were joining a progression guild but nothing ever dies, or vice versa. Clearly communicating your expectations is a fundamental way to ensure a good match between you and your members.
So: want your guildies to stop treating raids so casually? Stop telling them that you’re casual. In my case, I switched to the similar-yet-different “casualcore” which was a nice balance between relaxed and serious, but there are many different ways to communicate a more considered attitude towards raiding.
Start right now, today, by being totally transparent with your goals and desires. Waiting until after the raid to grumble in officer chat about the lack of preparation (and man, I have been there) is just going to create a bad vibe for everyone. Instead, consider sharing something like, “We’re still the same loveable guild we always were, but if we want to kill some bosses then we’re gonna have to show up on time, and I’m going to expect that from now on for people who want to raid.”
There is absolutely the possibility that your guild will completely reject your motivation to kill bosses as something that they’re not interested in. If the vast majority of your guild rejects it, then at least you’ll know not to ever expect a higher level of attention to raids and you can stop worrying about it.
The “too long, didn’t read” version of this all is: Sort out your own priorities, and then communicate them effectively to your guild. That includes making expectations clear and using the right language when you talk about your guild. If you want to be less lackadaisical about right nights, then stop pretending you don’t care. There is, in fact, life after casual.