Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available now from No Starch Press.
Last week, a reader wrote in to ask about some dos and don'ts as a guild leader during the character leveling process of an expansion. Obviously, we're focusing on Cataclysm here, but many of these tips will be relevant for any expansion with a raised level cap. Part 1 provided four tips:
- Have a plan.
- Organize group activities.
- Don't rush anyone.
- Set a date for the endgame.
5. Keep it light.
Just for a moment, think about GearScores, progression bosses, wipes. Think about arena ratings, comps and counter-comps. Did you experience any stress? For most players, these are not stress-free topics. Let that be a reminder to all of us officers out there that the initial leveling period of an expansion is usually the only time players don't have to worry about such things. Don't cause unnecessary stress during this period -- place an emphasis on enjoying the leveling process and having fun.
Striking a balance between maintaining this attitude and motivating people to level efficiently should be your overall goal.
6. Remember that your guild is leveling, too.
Celebrate the milestones as they happen. Publicly thank players who made outstanding contributions through achievements or activity. Reminders like this help members to feel like they are part of a community.
Another way to promote a sense of common purpose is to accelerate guild achievements with achievement bounties or scheduled events.
Finally, remember that at least four of five members in a dungeon group must all be in the same guild for the run to count as a guild run. Encourage your members to run with other members whenever possible. Given the anticipated difficulty of Cataclysm's dungeons, you may not have to twist any arms. It'll just be the smart thing to do.
7. Identify level 1 rerollers.
Some members will be lured by the new races or race/class combos and will decide to level up a new main from scratch. You want to know ahead of time who is planning to do so. If half the guild is starting over, you're going to want to prepare for that by scaling back expectations for the first few weeks. Depending on the rate at which people play, it's possible some of the rerollers will actually beat a few of the 80s to max level. However, you have little control over this, so your best bet is to manage the expectations of players by gathering information and tracking progress.
Players who choose not to reroll might grow impatient if they can't do anything as a guild for a few weeks. Thus, at a minimum, try to ensure you'll have a viable 10-player team for raids/battlegrounds who are leveling from 80. Failing that, a viable 5-player dungeon or arena team will at least give guild members something they can do together if they coordinate their schedules.
If the number of rerollers is going to cause a big problem, you could ask some players to volunteer to level their 80s first to help out with guild activities and then switch mains later. If your guild uses a points-based loot system, you could offer to let such players transfer their points to their new main once they've gotten that character up to raiding speed.
Having said all that, just because a player wants to switch mains doesn't mean you have to give them a slot after they do. If you have to get tough on people in order to make sure you still have a viable group comp at 85, then you have to get tough. Two dozen DPS and a tank won't be able to bring down a boss at 85.
8. Don't obsess over losses -- learn from them.
Despite taking all these steps, you may still find yourself losing members. Most players look at an expansion as a clean slate. They may use the opportunity to join a friend's guild on another server or reroll on the opposite faction for a change of pace. There isn't much you can do about such things.
The real problem is when you lose people because they want to find a "better" guild -- whatever that means to them. The only way to know why members decided to leave, if they're not forthcoming about it, is to ask. Speak to them in private. Explain that you're not angry about the situation (unless you totally are), but that you just want to know why they left so you can better understand the guild's possible shortcomings. They may not give you a straight answer, but some will, and that information will help you improve the guild to prevent similar losses in the future.
9. Recruit early if you think you'll have to.
There will soon be a large pool of fresh 85s itching to jump into the endgame and looking for a guild to join. Other players will want access to your sweet guild perks and bonuses. The moment the expansion hits shelves, recruiting will be much easier than it has been for the past six months, so take advantage of it. Just watch out for freeloaders!
It's impossible to please everyone, but if you've done your job well and built a vibrant, successful community, then you should be able to carry most members through the leveling process and into the endgame. Leveling through Cataclysm will be one of the most exciting times in WoW's history. Try not to worry too much, and let yourself enjoy it!
Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas and suggestions at email@example.com. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!