This guide is not about figuring out what type of guild might best suit you. (We've cover that in a future guide.) If you're unguilded or dissatisfied with your current guild but not quite sure how to describe the kind of group that would make your online gaming experience feel just right, consider this week's pointers as food for thought until we can analyze your own guild needs.
If you're ready to find a new guild right now, read on for the best ways to connect with a quality organization.
Your search for a guild home should incorporate a combination of web and in-game tools to help you narrow down the possibilities.
Be wary of newbie guilds. It's not the end of the world to join the guild of the guy who spammed you with a random guild invite in Stormwind or the group of rag-tag beginners that somehow fell together in The Barrens. You may meet folks who'll remain fast friends for years to come. In general, though, you'll get a more lasting (and organized) experience if you look for a more established group with leadership, structure, and purpose.
Get social. The single most effective way to find a good guild fit on your own realm is to meet people. Group up for quests, ply your trade and make purchases from other tradesfolk of similar levels, run level-appropriate instances, or help someone who's struggling with adds as you pass by. Make a special effort to get out there in the type of content you'd like to enjoy with your future guild.
Check the in-game guild finder. Yes, people really use this tool now. It's a solid way to make first contact with likely groups. (And hey, guild officers -- polish up your listing!)
Visit your Blizzard realm forum. Look for recruiting threads, of course, but also keep an eye out for social drama that sheds light on a guild's attitudes and behavior. Get a feel for the guild's general reputation, and observe how guild members conduct themselves on the forums.
Review the Blizzard guild recruitment forum. This forum will be more useful if you're seeking a particular playstyle, progression point, schedule, or niche -- and, of course, if you're willing to play on a different realm.
Google "WoW guild [realm name]" -- yes, Google. You'd be surprised.
Listen for recruiting messages in public chat channels. If you spot something that sounds especially likely, whisper the recruiter for more information. Posting your own Looking for Guild messages in these channels is a fairly outdated, needle-in-a-haystack strategy that might set you up for more razzing from other players than helpful contacts from guilds.
Once you've determined a guild has a broadly compatible playstyle and hours, dig for details.
Look up guilds on the Blizzard site. Type the guild name into the search box at the top right of the page. Browse the progression chart, activity feed, and profiles for a handful of members to get a feel for how the guild actually plays.
Look up guilds on their independent guild websites. If you can find a link to a guild's website, you'll get another fantastic window into its schedule and personality. Check out the forums. Do members seem serious, immature, friendly, rude, humorous, crass ...?
Do a /who on guilds that interest you. See who's online during your normal play times and what members are typically doing during those hours. If you're new to the realm, you can create a level 1 character to do this.
Scope out the field. Keep an ongoing eye on the behavior and reputation of guild members around town and out adventuring.
Talk to current guild members. Ask about their ultimate guild goals, how long they've been together, average player age, typical play times, regularly scheduled events. Find out if there are any geographic or other commonalities that might exclude you ("We're all from Yuma, Arizona" or "We all go to UofM").
Try it out. If you're able to raid or group with potential guildmates, see if you can't come along as a guest for a guild event or two. Anyone who's gotten stuck in the wrong group will understand and respect your caution.
If you're still having a hard time finding guilds and players who sound like a good fit, try these ideas from Robin:
- Contact members of guilds you've belonged to in the past to see if anything's changed that might make it a better fit for you today.
- Join local realm events or raids to see if you hit it off with anyone participating. Maybe someone there can recommend their guild.
- Ask members of a group you belong to in the physical world if anyone plays WoW. You may be surprised that your gym acquaintance also plays or that someone in your book club is hiding a secret World of Warcraft habit.
- Look at online forums for your other interests to see if anyone there hangs out in Azeroth, too.
- Contact old friends and former guildmates who've moved on to other guilds or realms. You might discover a compatible group.
- Don't categorically rule out a realm transfer. A transfer might be an especially solid solution for a character you have specific goals (such as progression raiding at a specific level) with. It's not difficult at all in today's economy to establish a beachhead on a new realm. Nothing says you have to bring your whole stable of alts with you; peaceful solo questing or running the dungeon finder will be just as fun for them on your old realm.
- If you are considering a realm transfer, Robin advises, don't spend the money on a transfer until you've researched the guild and server. This may mean leveling a character for a bit to get a good feel. Better to waste a few hours on a character you'll never go back to than to discover you've spent money to become even more unhappy.
Specific playstyles and niche interests in the game often have their own communities, sites, and forums, and these are exactly the places you should be haunting when you're looking for a new guild home. Cleave to thine own, to thy own heart be true, all that stuff -- your goal is to find your tribe.
- Roleplaying Roleplayers face a whole different set of challenges when they're seeking a new guild home. We've got a whole article with advice for roleplayers.
- The local connection To find WoW players who live near you in the physical world, try Meetup.com. Google gaming groups to find players with compatible interests.
- Scheduling issues Work around an odd schedule by searching for realms by time zone; choose a realm whose peak evening playtime most closely matches your own play time (or the reverse, if you want peace and quiet).
- Retro play Google is your friend here, as well as WoW Insider retro raiding posts and article comments. Also try well-known iToons on Korgath (US), currently focused on level 80 content and moving into Wrath raids.
- PvP twinking Check out Twinkinfo.
Raiding Before you hit the major specialty sites and forums, make sure you know what to look for in a raiding guild and are prepared to submit a strong application.
- The raid finder The raid Finder is a great place to shop for a raiding guild, reminds Robin. "Many guilds use the raid finder together, and you can witness their personality types, how they work together, and how they treat others outside of their group. Also, Captain Obvious says that if they are playing while you are, your schedules are compatible."
- World boss pickup groups Similarly, world boss PUGs spotlight guilds that work well together and with others (or not so well), Robin notes. So sign up for the Sha runs being advertised in trade for more hands-on guild research.
Be polite and persistent
Finally, don't be afraid to leave a guild that's just not the right fit and keep on searching. It's not always the fault of anyone or anything in particular if things just don't click.
If you must leave, do it politely. The best way to pull out is to speak with the GM or an officer, and be brief but honest: "I've decided to move to another guild where I'll be playing with a good friend. Take care, and thanks for having me!" If you still feel awkward about making a retreat, we have an entire article devoted to leaving a guild without drama or burning bridges.
The final word comes from well-known WoW player @wowcynwise on Twitter:
More Drama Mamas advice on guilds
@lisapoisso Be patient, be friendly, and don't settle until you find the right folks.- Cynwise (@wowcynwise) January 3, 2013
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn) ... a blind ex-serviceman and the guildmates who keep him raiding as a regular ... and a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid's DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.