Over the last few weeks I've noticed something I haven't seen in a couple of years in World of Warcraft. In the Trade channel, there's been a lot of advertising for new guilds. Not that advertising for guilds is new. What was unique to these Trade blasts was the type of guilds looking for new members.
A wave of social guilds surging on many of the normal and RP servers is a surprising turn.
Guild relations are an intriguing dynamic. Looking for members, you are never quite certain what to focus on. Is a website that important in the grand scheme of things? Should all guilds be required to have vent? Maybe the focus needs to be on what makes up the guild - the players.
Then, you have to decide what type of players your guild is seeking. Trouble was, if you weren't a raiding guild, you really had to search hard for a purpose. Gathering a bunch of players to your guild might be easy, but then what do you do with them? When Guild Achievements come online with Cataclysm it will give those less imaginative or less motivated GMs something to work with. It's a difficult task to entertain your members. That's why I believe raiding guilds are popular, it's easy entertainment.
Most of the larger or more popular guilds have been strictly raiding in recent years. With the Lich King expansion and more gear to be gathered, raiders have had the pick of guilds. Hardcore or casual, there is a guild out there waiting for a well-geared pally or discipline priest to join their ranks. Guilds that raid have the option to create a pond of players to pick and choose from when raiding, or they can set up a Black Ops style outfit with limited numbers all dedicated to their latest assault. Either style guild works well for raiders, giving them the option. Going with the large pond style, raiders can leisurely pick and choose where and when they join in. The only downfall to this system could be someone of lower rank in the guild might miss out on some choice gear. Raiders with a more militaristic guild set up know that they are always raiding and if they can't meet the schedule there's always the possibility of getting kicked from the guild.
Kudos go out to the dudes from The Instance podcast. These guys, and their compliment of guild leaders, manage to keep a handle on one of the most ginormous guilds in North America. With a crazy number of members (over 5000) right now, these guys somehow keep there guildies happy and more begging to join all the time.
Raiding guilds need strong leadership. You're dealing with personalities you typically know only in the game. Leaders should set down concrete rules if they want the guild to run smoothly and succeed. Know that with any guild, you're going to have people leave. Actually, this is standard advice for any guild. Have your rules in place before you start recruiting. Players will come and go and you can't take it personally. For whatever reason, they will go. It's up to guild to have a plan when a handful of your best raiders bail for greener grass and make sure they aren't doing a ninja on your bank when they exit.
My first experience with a guild wasn't great. I joined because someone invited me and I wasn't really sure what to expect. A medium sized guild with a number of active players seemed like a good choice. What I learned quickly was the guild had a clique and if you weren't in that group then you might as well not be in the guild. The guild folded a few months later and a few members joined a different style guild.
I wasn't sure I wanted to join another guild, but I did enjoy the chat and playing with these guys so I opted in. This was my first experience in a straight RP guild. I was game and the guild actively engaged members in a variety of events. Granted, some of them were weird but all of them were fun. It made an impact with all of the members that the guild leaders actually took time to plan and prepare for events. These events always included food, prizes, and different games, so it's a good idea to horde strange things like pumpkins and snowballs for events later. It was a lot of fun and I was surprised that the guild ended up vanishing after some cross events with the other faction.
These are all typical guilds that have been around since the dawn of Warcraft. Recently though, there have been more and more strictly social guilds looking for members. People that just want to chat, hang out, level together and maybe run a few instances together. No pressure, no fuss. Just log in and chat whenever you have the chance.
The new influx of social guilds has turned their focus on players in a different style of category. These guilds actually want to get to know you (Yeah, it could be for creepy reasons. Caution there - especially after the weird sex game guild from a few years back that Blizzard shut down). They are looking for members with common interests. Some of these guilds advertise for mature players. That's cool. Not every guild's dynamic need to include eleven year olds or players that only play once a month. These groups set their rules up front so if you're not an active player with kids playing soccer, you know not to apply.
It's a nice compliment to some of the more hardcore guilds. Choice is what makes Warcraft such a cool game. Guilds don't have to be vanilla flavored. They have the room to expand and change just as the game continues to grow. You'll never please everyone, so don't worry about it. If you want a guild of soccer moms, Warcraft is an awesome venue. You can chat with new friends while doing Trial of the Crusader.
I like the resurgence of social guilds. It gives a new aspect within the game that hasn't been around in a while. Warcraft is fantastic in allowing players to evolve and grow within the realm of Azeroth. With over so many players now, you have to expect new guilds to continually morph and change the shape of the game.