Is it time for guild consortiums?

A few days ago I felt like I had hit the wall with this game. Garrisons seemed to be eating up all my play time, and raiding four times a week with two guilds compounded the problem. Raiding with Guild Two is fun and productive — we completed Highmaul normal last week and will have a couple shots at heroic before the new raid content comes out in a few days. But I found I was almost dreading raid nights with Guild One, with a never-ending cycle of who shows up and who doesn’t, who is going to show up late and make us wait for a half hour or more, will we even have the bare minimum of 10 to raid, and if we do does that mean we will have to include a couple under-geared people or people who even after weeks of the same boss cannot grasp the mechanics? Guild One is still 4/7 in normal Highmaul, and honestly, with our usual raid complement, downing Brackenspore, Kor’agh, and Mar’gok seems doubtful in the near future.

So after much painful soul-searching I told my Raid Leader in Guild One I was considering leaving the guild. I would have preferred to just remove my two raiding alts, but since guild policy is all or none for all your characters on the server, my only option was to leave completely. I am quite attached to the guild, have been with it for over three years, and really did not want to leave, but I felt like I had no choice. After some discussion with the RL, I agreed to wait a few days (no way was I going to leave them in the lurch anyway) and he said he would look into some options.

Raid night rolled around, and as usual we were having a hard time scraping up 10 people. On top of that, our Vent server was down. It was looking like another typical raid night for this team, and indeed after about a half hour of trying to pull something together the RL surrendered and called it for the night. Poor guy goes through this almost every raid night, I knew he had to be feeling even more discouraged than I was. But he had a surprise for us. Calling everyone to a different Vent server belonging to a friend of his, he announced that we would be merging raid teams with this friend and a few others. RL had been in a raiding guild with them several years ago, and while their guild had lately kind of fallen on hard times, some of them still really wanted to raid but they also were having a hard time getting a quorum most nights. Short story is we will be putting together what sounds like a fairly robust core raid team, giving us the flexibility and stability we need to really progress.

This was enough to cause me to reconsider my decision. (I don’t need much to go on, almost anything is usually enough to give me hope!) We should have the initial team ready to go in about a week, once we sort out a vent channel and an invite list, so I am pretty excited about it. I think it has real potential.

But there are a ton of logistical considerations and ramifications down the road. The current game structure is not very friendly for inter-guild cooperation. You can make a raid team work, because it is basically an invitational pug, but even that could get problematic, because of guild progression statistics and achievements. If one guild has the requisite number of players, it will get credit for the kills, but if not then neither guild does. It pretty much devolves to strictly individual kills for achievements.

Full guild cooperation is even stickier. To make it work within the current game structure, you have to rely on either some very inelegant workarounds or on a series of addons. I am thinking about things like the calendar, chat, instant mail, etc. There are workarounds for chat and the calendar — assuming you can get most guild members to install addons, subscribe to a special closed chat channel, or regularly check a shared website — but they are clunky and end up being ultimately unsatisfactory. There are no workarounds for things like instant mail, roster/profession check, or shared achievements. Probably lots of other things I haven’t thought of as well.

I know some of you are thinking, sheesh just merge guilds. While that is often the best option — and currently is Blizz’s only true option — I think there is a growing need for the cooperation option as well. For one thing, some people have a real attachment to their current guild and it is very unsettling to be forced to give it up because the game requires more resources for some activities than the guild can manage. In the midst of some pretty tumultuous changes in the game itself, a familiar guild can be the one stable spot that helps people cope.

The current raid structure especially calls out for guild cooperation. Take a look at the raid finder listings if you need proof. Anyone wanting to find a normal, heroic or God forbid mythic raid must pretty much fill out a job application to do so. Raid leaders specify a dizzying array of qualifications to join their raid, qualifications that are usually much more strict than those for guild raid team participation. They do this because they don’t personally know the pug raiders, so they compensate by setting the entry bar very high. To me, this indicates that there are a lot of guilds out there having problems filling out their regular raid rosters, and a formal cooperative guild structure might help them a lot.

I am certain that implementing a fully functional Guild Consortium interface is beyond Blizz at the moment. But it seems to me they could do some things to help out guilds wanting to cooperate on their own. For example, they could amend the requirements for guild raid achievements/progression so that if a raid team is composed of players from just two guilds, both guilds get credit. Yes, I know there will be abuses, but these can be dealt with as they arise.

Blizz could also implement a default consortium chat channel that would be like a super-guild channel. This would require the formal registering of Guild X and Guild Y as cooperating guilds, and I understand that is additional administrative overhead for Blizz and probably requires an additional lua variable and data base entry when identifying a player, but it seems like small potatoes when compared to, oh say an entire profession revamp and garrison implementation.

These two changes alone could help out guilds trying to stay viable in a game that requires them to commit more resources than they have by themselves in order to stay alive.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

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