In January 2012, I wrote up a wish list of improvements to the guild experience that I wanted in Mists of Pandaria. We're at the point now in the expansion's life cycle where all major features have been revealed. The next big additions to WoW will come in patch 6.0. So let's look back at what we got in Mists and what we're still waiting for.
Wish 1: Treat legendary items as guild rewards, not player rewards.
Status: Granted, in a way
In my original list, I wrote about the drama that legendaries created in guilds and wished for a way to reduce that drama. I suggested that a legendary item should be bound to the guild that helped a player to earn it, rather than the player.
Instead, Blizzard took legendaries in a direction that no one expected: they created a quest line that anyone could complete. In doing so, they took away the drama factor. They released officers from the burden of deciding who would receive a legendary and who wouldn't. For most guilds, this has been a welcome change.
Wish 2: Create more guild achievements that matter.
Status: Mostly still waiting
When Cataclysm introduced guild achievements, many of those achievements had rewards tied to them. You could earn pets, mounts, heirlooms, recipes, an extra bank vault, and other helpful items. I enjoyed this rewards system and I wanted to see more such achievements in Mists.
The follow-up from Cataclysm's guild systems has been disappointing overall. Guilds did not increase in level like players did. The rewards from achievements have been few and far between. We can earn a pet from getting gold in every Challenge Mode dungeon, a mount from the Tier 14 meta, and vanity shirts from the dungeons meta. That's it.
Wish 3: Guild halls -- make it happen.
Status: Still waiting
I believe that WoW will feature player housing some day, in some form. I've made my case for guild halls. I know that Blizzard wants to keep players out in the world. I think that content like the Timeless Isle will do that. After all, no matter how amazing a guild hall is, it's not going to offer the adventures or the rewards that are waiting for us outside.
Wish 4: Design better recruiting tools.
Status: Still waiting
The guild finder is still the only in-game tool for recruiting, and it is lackluster. A poll earlier this year showed that only 17% of players use it. Connected realms will solve the low-pop problem for guilds. However, finding the right players to recruit remains a challenge, even in a high-pop realm.
A more comprehensive guild finder tool could really help. Blizzard should add criteria such as the type of raiding or PvP the player wants to do, the level of experience they have with such activities, the classes and specs they are willing to play, their available times during the week, and so on.
On the other side, Blizzard could add a searchable guild database that includes all the relevant information that is normally included in a guild ad on the forums. The guild leader's permissions could include the ability to fill out the desired info and to toggle whether or not the ad could be seen.
With Blizzard's shift in attitude away from LFR and toward flexible raiding, they clearly want players to find and participate in guild communities. Give officers and unguilded players the tools to find each other.
Wish 5: Enable a "rep for deposit" function for the guild bank.
Status: Still waiting
I suggested a system where donating specific listed items to the guild bank could earn a player guild reputation. We could go beyond that system and offer gold (from the bank) or other rewards such as Lesser Charms when you donate. I still think that's a good idea, but the bank UI doesn't support any kind of automatic reward for a donation.
Limits would have to be put in place both by Blizzard to prevent guilds from gaming the system and by officers to prevent a flood of useless donations, but it could be done.
Wish 6: Reward larger raids appropriately.
In Mists, Blizzard's solution to the dying 25-man raid size has been Thunderforged items. These higher-ilevel items are a throwback to the days of Wrath, when larger raids automatically rewarded higher-ilevel drops. Because they aren't guaranteed and because they are also obtainable in 10 man (at a much lower probability), the system doesn't feel as punishing to smaller raids as Wrath's setup did. Thunderforged items are a well-designed compromise and a much-needed bonus.
The question remains, however: are they enough? I don't know of any guilds that have decided to switch to 25 from 10 because of Thunderforged items. They reward the guilds that have maintained the bigger roster and encourage them to stick with it. Unless players start creating new 25 man raiding guilds again, though, the net trend will continue toward zero.
Blizzard has also talked about splitting the achievements for the two sizes when it matters, which I support. The players in 25s should be recognized for that.
Wish 7: Expand guild tabard design options.
Status: Still waiting
Tabard designs are awful. No icons or options have ever been added. The tabard UI has remained completely unchanged from patch 1.0. At the very least, the UI should be updated to include the improvements made to the character creation tool.
I realize this couldn't possibly be a lower priority in the grand scheme of the game. Still, it's the one area where a guild can show off some personality besides their name. The design has become more prevalent over time, also, since it now appears on battle standards and bank chests.
Perhaps it's time to scrap guild tabards. With the popularity of transmogging, players don't want to cover half their character in a color and design they didn't pick. What if instead of a tabard, the guild symbol and colors appeared as a glowing belt buckle? Or, leave it up to the players to display it on their armor as they choose. Gem-like slots for a "guild badge" could be added (with a consumable item, like a belt buckle) to any armor slot except trinkets. Equipping the rune would make a small version of the symbol appear on that piece of armor.
Overall, Blizzard gave us two out of my seven wishes. They were the two most urgent problems, also. That's actually pretty good, I would say. I'm holding out hope for the rest as the game evolves.
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.