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Deathwing's about to ... ahem ... take wing and wreck Azeroth as we know it. After this Cataclysm, the game is going to be almost brand new. The world will shudder and change. New characters will attempt new quests, and everything old will be new again. With that in mind, you might find yourself wanting traveling companions with whom to explore this strange, new world. Where can you find those players? A guild.
Guilds are the fundamental social building block of the World of Warcraft. There are many different types of guilds. Casual guilds are usually mostly about leveling, hanging out and going whichever way the wind blows them. While many casual guilds raid successfully, groups who define themselves this way aren't motivated by progression. Raiding guilds, by comparison, take their successful raiding very seriously and consider their PvE success an important part of their fun. PvP guilds tend to focus on battlegrounds and arena.
But for all that these definitions are common, they aren't absolutes. I've seen few raiding guilds that completely ignore PvP, and some of the most skillful players I know claim they are "casual." Labels just aren't useful in this regard.
But with Cataclysm, guild perks will go a long way toward encouraging us to join up with guilds. If you decide you want to take the leap of faith and hook up with an extant guild, here are some tips for finding just the right home.
Know what you want
This might seem like useless advice, but it's probably the most important step in finding the right guild for you. Make sure that you have a firm idea of what you want in a guild. Are you looking for a social chat channel? Do you want to achieve success and kill endgame bosses? Do you enjoy PvP but find yourself wanting a little help in the battlefield? These are all good reasons to hook up with a guild -- but if you join a particular group for the wrong reasons, you'll never find yourself quite fitting in.
You should also have an idea of what your playtime will be like, how much dedication you're willing to put into a guild and a general idea about how you'd like things run. While you can't join an extant guild and demand changes, having an idea about these things can help you evaluate whether you fit in. If a guild wants a close-knit, high-intensity group and you're kind of a casual, as-I-have-time player, then that might not be a great match.
Know what you can offer
Most guilds that use applications are looking for very specific dynamics from new players. You should still know what you're offering a guild. It doesn't need to be something huge, like claiming to be the best tank on your server. It can be a simple offering like a fun, friendly player to hang out in guild chat. You'd be surprised how many guilds are simply interesting in having a few friendly faces.
Knowing what you offer a guild goes hand in hand with knowing what you want. I guess what I'm saying here is, "Player, know thyself." At the same time you're evaluating what you're getting out of joining a guild, you should be laying down a solid idea of what you're giving it in return. This will set up you up for a much, much happier marriage.
Check out the advertisements
I have two favorite locations to look for guilds. The first is The Classifieds. Every week, a wide range of guilds advertise themselves in the column, looking for friends to raid the instances, hang out and rock out to PvP. With a little patience, you're bound to find a group that matches your playstyle.
The second place is your local official forums. Especially if you're already firmly entrenched in a server, checking out your official forums is a good way to find guilds looking for people. Most official forums seem to frown on "LFGuild" threads, but there's always, always some kind of recruiting thread. And if nothing particularly catches your fancy, then go ahead and create a new thread to find someone. (Just try not to spam.)
Talk to the members
Even if there's an application process, I wouldn't go straight to the form. Take a few evenings and talk to different members of the guild. Try and get an idea of what they're like. It helps if you have some questions prepared beforehand. Examples of these questions include:
- What time of day do you usually play?
- Does your guild tend to need to PUG to fill out spaces in instance runs?
- Do you play much during weekends?
- How do you handle drama?
An important part of getting recruited into a new guild is contact with its leaders. Ask about what role you might fill. It's perfectly OK to be "that guy who just hangs out in guid chat." But by talking to the leader before you hang the guild's name over your head, you get the chance to designate yourself not only as a new recruit but as someone who cares.
A lot of guild leaders will be looking for people to help lead guild 5-mans, organize the bank or even help work on the website. And while you may or may not be suited for those roles, it's good to let the leaders know you're willing to go an extra mile.
Don't be afraid to leave
Perhaps one of the most difficult things in finding yourself the right guild isn't meeting those other people. It's having the courage to leave those other people when things don't line up quite right. But if a guild isn't to your taste, then you should feel free to leave it. Don't over-invest in a guild until you're sure that this is a home you can live in for a long time.
It might seem a little harsh to simply leave, so take the time to say good-bye. However, ultimately, if you decide that a new guild isn't working out for you, then don't force yourself to stay. You'll not be happy there, and that not-happiness will rub off on others. Bid everyone adieu and take a graceful exit stage left.
After enough repetitions of this process, you'll find your final home. And it will be glorious.
Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from how to control your character and camera angles when you're just starting out, to pulling together enough cash for mid-level expenses such as mounts and dual specialization, to what to do when you finally hit level 80.