I am always hesitant to read printed books about guild leadership because I worry about the militaristic, draconian tone that they take. Let's face it, guild leaders tend to have pretty strong personalities, and it's easy for a book about guild advice to turn into a self-congratulatory bragfest. So when I read Andrews' book on guild leadership, I was pleasantly surprised because it put a human face on what's often a very hard-edged existence. The Guild Leader's Handbook is a refreshing look at running a guild, and he approaches it with a sincere focus on building an atmosphere that's enjoyable for everyone in the guild. There's often an us-vs.-them attitude that comes up when discussing leaders and members, but Andrews avoids that by looking at things in a very compassionate way. When you read his columns or his book, you see his focus is on the guild leaders and members, not on himself. It's not necessarily about passing judgment on which party is right or wrong; it's about finding the best solution that enables the guild to function as effectively and as enjoyably as possible.
Dealing with grey areas
If there's one thing I admire about Andrews, it's that he emphasizes fairness while acknowledging that it's impossible to create complete fairness in a guild. It's easy to look at issues on a surface level and draw quick conclusions about what's right and what's wrong. But it's a lot harder to weigh the many perspectives of those involved with a particular issue as well as the grey areas that often come into play when trying to come up with advice that will effectively solve the problem.
He also has a refreshing take on areas that normally get overlooked. Across the blogosphere, there have been many advice posts on recruiting and loot distribution but few on tougher areas like burnout, morale-building, and even what guild leaders should and shouldn't try to help with when it comes to members' real life issues. It's surprising how many legitimate problems come up when running a guild, and Andrews has covered many that guild leaders might not even have considered.
Looking beyond the stereotype
One of my favorite sections in the book comes when he talks about The Eedies -- players who are greedy, needy, leety, and cheaty. The player descriptions aren't necessarily new, but Andrews goes beyond just explaining the types and going for the quick laugh. For a guild leader, it's important to understand the many different types of players who share a common guild and how a guild can actually be an incredibly complex network of interpersonal relationships. In fact, he devotes an entire section to this topic and explains the many ways player types can gel and clash. With The Eedies, he explains why these player types are dangerous for a guild and how they can ruin other members' experiences, and he gives suggestions for not only how to screen them but how to speak to them when you do turn them away from the guild. It's that follow-through approach that makes his book and his columns well worth reading.
has a very lively and active community, and the give and take that Andrews has had with his fellow players has made for some terrific columns. The discussions that result from his columns are often as valuable as what he's written because the readers have moved beyond the usual comments about whether guilds are good or bad and gone into the finer points of successful guild management. Andrews has a very even-handed approach to guild issues, and that's encouraged readers to treat even sensitive guild topics with carefully crafted and thoughtful replies. It's a rare thing to find online, and it's made his column a gold mine of advice for anyone looking to run a guild.
Five years ago when Scott Andrews first began his column, the MMO landscape was very different from its modern version. Not surprisingly, guilds were different too, and if you were seeking advice on building and running a successful guild, there really weren't many resources available. That's partly because there tended to be a lot of competition among successful guilds, and just as a successful coach wouldn't reveal his playbook to the world, successful guild leaders tended to keep their strategies close to the vest. Another reason is that it might be seen as a sign of weakness to ask other leaders for help, and the last thing a guild leader wants is to be seen as a wimp.
But I also think that leaders never really took the time to step back and look at things in an analytical way. They were doing things based on gut instinct and their best sense of what might work. Over the years, guild leaders have learned enough valuable lessons and overcome enough mistakes to be able to describe what's worked for them and what the potential pitfalls will be, and that's led to an increasing field of bloggers and authors who have chosen to share that with others. Scott Andrews has been one of the trailblazers in this field, and he's also one of the best when it comes to giving thorough advice on guild leadership. So hats off to you, Scott, and here's to five more years!
Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.