Mists of Pandaria represents a unique and unprecedented era for guilds. It will be the first time in WoW's long history that a player can see all of the game's instanced raiding content without a guild, by simply queuing up in the raid finder.
Many people mock the raid finder experience. It's easy to make light of it, but to underestimate its impact on the game could cost your guild dearly. Guilds are no longer the gatekeepers to content. To keep those members who are on the fence about staying, you need to offer more. You need to add value to their WoW experience and make sure that members have confidence in the guild's leadership. Let's look at five ways to help you do that.
1. Communicate your expansion plan. Even if the plan is the exact same one you've had for four expansions now, make sure your members know what the officers intend. This type of communication is crucial for instilling confidence. The last thing your members want to hear is, "Meh, we'll figure it out."
Now is a great time to look back at how past expansions went for your community and find ways to improve on your members' experiences in Mists. Some issues to consider:
- Who will the guild's officers be, and what will be each officer's role in the guild?
- Will the guild be recruiting, and what types of players will be sought after?
- What are the guild's policies for raiding, including attendance, schedule, loot, performance, slots, and so on?
2. Encourage guild-only heroics. When Cataclysm launched, two things were especially difficult for players, gearing up in heroics and maxing out crafting. We don't know exactly how difficult heroics will be at level 90, but one thing is always certain: It's better to do them with guildmates. It's easier to coordinate strategy with people you know, and of course the loot will be shared more beneficially.
Encourage your members to skip the dungeon finder. They can always figure out their own runs, of course, but you can help, too. For your busier members, set specific times for groups to "go off" every night, so players know that by logging in at that time they have a good chance at getting into a guild-only heroics group.
Make sure an officer is available for these runs. Heroics are a great place to note potential problems with members' performance pre-raiding. You can use these runs as a constructive learning opportunity to iron out issues on a smaller stage.
3. Coordinate crafting. Crafting can be a bear to level early in an expansion. Raw materials are insanely expensive, and the market is flooded with the same end products. Here are some ways you can help your members hit 600:
- Ask volunteer disenchanters to turn all those excess greens into enchanting mats. These can be returned to the crafters to auction and then buy more raw materials, or they can be given to your guild's enchanters. In either case, it's far better than vendoring them or auctioning them for coppers.
- Start threads on your forums about who needs what materials and what they are offering in return. Instead of auctioning everything, encourage the guild's gatherers to trade raw materials for useful end products such as rare- and epic-quality crafted armor or weapons, cut gems, glyphs and tomes, enchantments, and other essential items.
- Encourage players to level up fishing and cooking by paying them for feasts out of the guild bank's funds. The same can be done for alchemy and cauldrons. You'll want to build up a stock of these as quickly as possible anyway.
- Remember, the auction house takes a 10% cut. A guild bank can act as a "free" AH by buying and selling raw materials for 10% less than current AH prices. Sellers win because they don't have to fight the one-copper undercutters for sales. Buyers win because they save gold. Of course, it will take one or more dedicated and trustworthy officers to handle these transactions.
4. Get after those world bosses. Mists will initially offer two outdoor world bosses. Unlike normal raid bosses, you can bring as many players as you like, and everyone gets a chance at their own loot. However, you must be in the group that tags the boss and succeeds in killing it in order to get said loot.
I'll write more about world bosses in a future column. However, as raid content that can't be accessed by the raid finder, world bosses will be your guild's best way to add value to a member's raiding experience. A better chance at downing these bosses will be a huge perk for guilded players. Take advantage of it!
5. Think beyond raiding. For a raiding guild, it's easy to focus your efforts entirely on ensuring the success of your raid team. Certainly that should be a priority, but the guilds that last are the guilds that offer more. Few players are so focused that they only want to log in for raids on one character and rarely do anything else in the game.
Alt runs, PvP nights, achievement-based activities, contests, or real-life meetups can all add value to a player's guild experience. The burden to coordinate these activities doesn't always have to fall on the officers. Members can handle these things too, and some will be excited at the chance. Just make sure to communicate the officers' blessing for such events, particularly by participating whenever possible.
Presenting opportunities for members to socialize and have fun outside of a pressure-filled raid dungeon can strengthen bonds and relieve stress.
What is your guild planning to offer in Mists? What's your strategy for retaining players? Tell us below!
Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.