Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.
Two weeks ago, Officers' Quarters presented Part 1 of an in-depth look at guild alliances -- how to avoid all the negativity and actually make them work. I talked about assessing compatibility, communicating, and keeping your finger on the pulse of your own members' feeling about the other guild. This week, we'll talk about leadership roles, loot rules, and more!
The leadership aspect of a guild alliance is less like the relationship metaphor I used in Part 1, and more like the U.N. Do you want your pool of mutual officers to be a neutered governing body that talks a big game but never actual does anything? Or do you want to crack your knuckles and get down to business? For the latter, you're going to have to make some tough decisions and compromises.
Who will lead the raids? Will it always be the same person or the same guild, or will these duties be shared? Who will be main tank? Who will assign healing? Details like this might seem insignificant when you're first starting out. Most people will be happy to be raiding at all. But all it takes is a disagreement over whose tank is better geared to start things off on a sour note that can never be overcome. Making these decisions can be the first true test of an alliance. If you can't even agree on who's tanking, it's never going to work.
Members of one guild can easily start to feel like second-class citizens when their officers and their best tanks and healers are reduced to a passive role. So make sure that responsibilities are shared to a certain degree. And definitely make sure you work all of this out before you zone in.
To some it's the only reason to play. To others it's just a means to an end. No other issue can flare into an argument faster.
Some guild alliances use a mutual DKP system. Others each keep their own internal system, but have a separate way to divvy drops between the guilds. Loot can create some sticky situations. For example, if a boss has three drops, one guild is going to get one more drop than the other. Basing who gets the third drop on who has more people in attendance that night might be fair, but it can lead to a separate disagreement about who gets to bring how many people, or who isn't well-geared enough to attend. You can alternate who gets that third piece each week, but what if a guild doesn't want the third drop on their assigned week? Do they get two weeks in a row, or have they forfeited their loot?
In my opinion, the /random system is usually the best and most fair, at least for deciding which guild gets first dibs, or who gets the odd piece. Just designate a roller from each guild and let the chips fall where they may. No one can argue about luck, though you can certainly complain about it. Whatever your system is, don't wait till after the boss goes down to make decisions about this crucial detail.
The other guild may not like to handle things like scheduling the same way you do. They may not get everyone to the zone quite as quickly as your guild does. They may be a little slower with buffing or running back after a wipe. You will encounter any number of small annoyances, mainly because you are used to doing things one way or used to certain things happening in a more timely fashion.
These are the moments that will repeatedly test your resolve and your patience. When those moments happen, it's tempting to express your aggravation. But every time you do this, you chip away at the goodwill between your guild and theirs. It is much better to politely ask if someone needs a summon to the zone, or if the buff assignments have been given out, etc. After the raid, if something really bothers you, discuss it with the other officers to see if it's an issue that warrants a conversation. If they agree that it does, bring it to the other guild's officers privately.
They may not agree with you. They may tell you that you are being unreasonable. This is a hurdle. Before you leap it -- or crash into it -- weigh this one issue against the good that the alliance has brought and the fun that your members are having. Is it worth undoing all you have accomplished over this one problem?
This is a big enough topic for another column entirely (and someday I'll write that column). For now, let's just say that when the offer of a merger is put on the table, we are back to my original relationship metaphor. A merger offer is like a marriage proposal. It's basically a permanent step and you should consider it very carefully before saying yes!
A successful guild alliance takes a lot of hard work. It can also be a big risk. But the reward can be a better playing experience for everyone involved and a bigger circle of friends to enjoy Warcraft with. Has anyone out there been part of a successful alliance? Tell us about it below!
Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!