Several guilds I’ve known for awhile are ceasing guild raiding as Azshara's Eternal Palace opens. I’m saddened at this. The problem is lack of raiders. I wrote about the state of raiding and the release of new content hasn’t changed my mind. There’s usually an “excitement bubble”, when new content is released. But if progression-focused guilds are calling it quits, something’s wrong.
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In my early vanilla WoW days, I was in a couple of guilds that imploded. It’s fairly obvious when the guild leader doesn’t log on or masses of people leave for another guild that the guild is in death throes. But how do you know when it's time to suggest your guild change its focus — or disband?
Let's first look at causes
There can be any number of reasons for decline in attendance. It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere and there are myriad things to do which do not revolve around sitting in front of a computer on a balmy summer night. If some of your missing crew used to be punctual raiders, have you talked to them? Are your lines of communication open so someone can say, “I’m going to be gone from x to x on vacation?” Do you encourage guild members to talk to the officer corps to apprised them of life situations?
Content is a grind right now. More than one person has told me flying isn’t worth it. That’s a damning statement. It’s highly possible a tipping point has been reached with regards to the amount of things required versus the eventual reward. Grinding turns people off and they find other things to do.
WoW is not the only game in the universe either. We cover other games. They aren’t WoW-killers but they have a pull which means people who would show up at your raid might be playing something else.
And finally, one thing which isn’t always mentioned — what is the value of being in a guild now, really? With the Looking for Group tab, you don’t have to wear a unifying tabard to get good loot. Other than being able to assist each other and know the person who is standing next to you, is there a draw to being in a guild? As a guild leader I like to think so, but realistically, the lack of Blizzard support for guilds means maybe not.
When do you know to call it quits?
That’s subjective but here are some questions to ponder with your officers.
How long have you struggled to fill slots? Do people simply not log on or do they log on and not do anything with the guild? How long has this been going on? When you do get people, are you struggling to kill trash or a boss? Do people want to do the background work necessary to provide for guild raiding — i.e. are they coming prepared, when they do come? How do the raid officers or the guild officers in general feel?
If all of these questions are negative, you need an officer meeting to discuss the direction you want your guild to go. Unless your officers aren’t logging on either, they are aware of what’s going on. They may see things a guild leader doesn’t. It’s important that everyone say what they feel. Do you want to try the mercenary route and/or just invite anyone who responds to an LFG post? Maybe take a temporary hiatus? If your guild means a great deal to you, having outsiders raid with you may make you feel less like a guild. For sure they won’t get any of the jokes.
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Be honest if that time comes
If, after a complete appraisal with the officer crew, you feel you aren’t going to make it through raiding content as a guild, you have to present this to membership. “After much discussion amongst the officers, we feel the time has come to cease raiding as a guild. These are the reasons we why we’re doing this. ” Make sure you’re clear on whether this is permanent or temporary. If it’s temporary, know when will you reassess your decision.
Don’t attack anyone in your reasons. The biggest issue is probably going to be, “We just don’t have people logging on to raid with us anymore.” Maybe the membership will have suggestions. Maybe they will agree with you. Listen to them. For some, this will be a bitter pill to swallow. Others might poof and you’ll never see them again.
What you make of your guild after deciding to cease is up to you. If you have good raiders, consider still raiding with them, but in the LFG manner or in LFR mode. Encourage people who want to raid to find other guilds. They are out there. Offer to put in a word of recommendation for them. Don’t burn bridges. If the winds of game design change, you may want to reform your raiding team.
If you want to completely disband, I believe — strongly — in giving everyone a share of the bank. That can be a tricky proposition but I’d divide proceeds evenly with every person getting an equal share — not every toon, every person. It leaves a better taste in everyone’s mouth if you don’t divide things along the “X gets more because they did more”. People have long memories when it comes to perceived slights. Sell it all, give everyone a share, and your future WoW gaming life will be happier.
You’ve put your heart and soul into this guild and to struggle — as it feels guilds currently are — means the possibility exists for disbanding. Talk with your officers. Talk with your members. Listen. There are a lot of ways to see content. Maybe an alternative route works best for you.