Kirk at Priestly Endeavors (again, two links a day keeps the boredom away) wrote about Training Guilds last Friday. This struck a chord with me because I originally founded our current guild with that very objective in mind.
The Initial Plan
When TBC hit the market, I decided to re-roll on a new server and on horde (I had been playing mostly alliance before that), together with a couple of officers from our previous social / raiding guild. TBC drama as well as a late evening schedule not really fitting raiding basically barred me from envisionning even semi-casual raiding, so I was looking into creating something both different and still rewarding.
The idea behind creating a Raiding School came together based on pre-TBC raiding experiences. My previous guild had been founded through a peaceful merge (yes, some of them actually do work out) of two relatively similar-minded semi-casual guilds who started having several players reaching level 60 and didn’t want their friends scattering all over the server. We actually created a brand new guild, made sure officer positions were equally distributed between both, and hit the road.
One month later, the people reaching level 60 were enough to start some decent raiding and off we went to ZG, soon killing the first bosses, getting the first loot and gearing our raiding force into something ready for more.
As I mentionned, we were a rather casual bunch, with two raiding nights a week only, a zero-sum DKP with a couple of rules hastily put up by yours truly, and no big constraints on the membership.
What happened then, within a month of our first success, was (and still is) a classic. Our MT decided we weren’t moving fast enough for him, so he secured a spot as OT in a guild in the middle of MC progression – with the gear he had earned on our ZG runs and the Dark Iron kit crafted for him in part on guild resources. Our progression came to a halt, and we had to find another MT. Then a couple of healers left in a similar fashion, and again even good ole’ Venoxis became hard to beat for a while.
We eventually stabilized a 20-man team and resumed our progression. We struck an alliance with another alliance of two smaller guilds also running ZG to get into MC and ran together for a while, tackling the first 5 bosses pretty fast. And then came summer.
While the GM was on vacation, some officers were approached by the GM of another smallish guild who proposed an absorption on seemingly generous terms, and albeit the officers eventually declined, we lost our geared MT, OT, two healers, three officers and a couple of DPS in the process. Back to square one again – this time, it was our GM himself who’d become the MT to avoid any further risks of losing a geared tank.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, what happened to us, after reading several other accounts, was a classic of the issues with pre-TBC raiding.
During the last year before TBC, a food chain had set in place which would have the top guilds (those finishing AQ40 and working on Naxx) grab the best players of the second-tier guilds (those finishing BWL and starting on AQ40), who would in turn leech off vital blood from the more casual, third-tier guilds.
The whole mechanism was particuliarly painful for these third-tier guilds, or at least, it was for ours. As a social / raiding outfit, our aim had always been to enjoy the game at our own pace, but in the company of the friends we had been making on the journey. The various leeching moments, in particuliar when it was a sizeable portion of our raiding crew who’d just vanish during the witching hours (you know, 4-5am) tended to generate much drama and of course hurt everyone’s morale, not to speak of our raiding progression.
At the same time, this whole food chain ecosystem was enforced, game-wise, by the gear gap.
No Tier-1 guild would recruit players wearing anything but full T2 (and later T2.5), and no Tier-2 guild would take any players with less than T1-grade kit. Fresh level 60 players simply had no other choices than joining the more casual / social guilds and use these as stepping stones to go further.
The Raiding School we planned to build was meant to address exactly that issue. To bridge the gear gap between brand-new endgame players and second-tier raiding guilds, teaching them the necessary core raiding skills in the process. We meant to achieve that with having a group of experienced players, our Faculty, guiding raid newbies. The Faculty themselves being pretty well kitted out, we then thought that classes lasting for 3 months or so would be enough to do the job. We had planned out a couple of aggro-games, and then a couple of visits to level 60 boss encounters before moving to level 70 stuff just to show everyone the ropes.
We then hoped we could get some form of cooperation from the other raiding guilds while establishing our reputation as the Raiding School – the idea being that someone who spent a class with us would get a seal of approval, and upon request, a direct recommendation to a class officer in a recruiting guild.
That was end of January 2007. That vision never came to be.
The vision we had failed on several levels. First and foremost, we had rolled on horde on a new post-TBC server. There’s little non-guild activity in general, so little room to recruit the missing Faculty, and to gear ourselves up to a point where we could actually do some coaching ourselves.
Then there is Kara. Kara attuning, and Kara itself is the biggest roadblock to guild progression and guild survival. First and foremost, in order to begin raiding, you have the whole key quest to complete – contrary to old WoW, there’s no ZG where you can take a class of 6-8 new players with 3-5 coaches and start teaching and gearing people from the get-go. Even the more motivated players in our guild will eventually tire of running SL and Arc over and over for the key quests before going back to teaching Kara to a group of new players.
And last but not least, our little friendly levelling support guild was hit by its own share of drama, dwindling to near nothingness. These days we’re down to two level 70 players, Steptoe and me, myself far from Kara-attuned. And we’re not motivated enough to go back to recruiting, instead, we’re talking about transferring out to a more populated place to actually get groups to gear ourselves up for… what exactly? Arena. And probably heroics.
My playtimes haven’t changed, and Kara is as newbie-unfriendly as it was. Talking to other GMs, especially of those rare surviving Tier-3 guilds who still haven’t left Kara (or just did within the past month or so), building a proper Raiding School as envisionned is simply not possible in TBC, the game’s design is too hard to overcome, here as well.
I still like the old concept we put on paper back in January. Maybe, just maybe, we can open our drawers and start anew with WotLK. Though I don’t have my hopes too high on that.