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Officers' Quarters: How do we govern? Part 2

Scott Andrews

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes
Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

If you're just tuning in, last week I discussed how running a guild is much like running a country -- or an empire. In the previous column, I covered the dictatorship, the constitutional monarchy, and the democratic republic. This week, we'll talk about three others that aren't quite so conventional.


Genghis Khan, ruler of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, could kick my butt -- and he could kick all of your butts too. If there's one thing he knew how to do, it was kick butt. He kicked it all the way across Eurasia, founding an insanely massive empire. And he didn't do it with fancy gifts or diplomacy. He did it with ruthless, bloodthirsty conquest. No offense to Genghis -- the guy was actually pretty darn smart, too. And you might even be related to him. But let's face it: All the smarts in the world don't build an empire without a little butt-kicking from time to time.

Although a khanate in the historical sense isn't much different from a dictatorship, I'm using the term here to denote an aggressive, expansionist dictatorship. This type of government is all about "winner take all." It's about never being satisfied with what you have, but grabbing every piece of territory you can and spilling the blood and guts of its residents all over it. Barbaric? Yes. Effective? Well, that all depends on how much butt you kick.

Pros: The khan answers to no one; the khan takes what he or she wants, without pity or remorse; Khaaaaaaaaaaaan!
Cons: You're not going to be very popular with other world leaders; bloodstains are difficult to scrub out

In Warcraft, running this type of guild isn't entirely possible. Someday there will be a game like that, and it will rule. But, with the consent of your guildmates and a few other guilds on your server, you can have a khanate of your very own. Just take everyone in your guild who wants to be in charge to one of the arenas (the world arenas, not the gladiator arenas), and duke it out. The last man or woman standing is the new GL. Then, take your entire guild and meet someone else's guild in the arena. Assuming you win, your guild gets the spoils of the other guild's bank. All of the losing guild's members can either join you or be "killed" -- i.e., leave the server forever.

It's harsh, it's high stakes, and it's not for the faint of heart. No one would be crazy enough to do this, would they? Perhaps not, but doesn't it sound like a heck of a lot of fun? (At least, if you win . . .)


I know, I know. Another column, another fancy word. Someone named "Chris" actually used it in the comments to Part 1, so I know I'm not the only one out there with words like this stuck in my head. Chris, I'd give you credit for the idea, but I already had this part written before the first column went live, so you just get props for knowing the word instead.

Anyway, "oligarchy" is from Greek, and means "rule by the few." This style of government is similar to a dictatorship, but rather than consolidating power in an individual, it is done by a ruling elite. One of the most famous examples of an oligarchy is Sparta. What's Sparta? Say it with me: THIS IS SPARTA! (And no, this one is not a YouTube link -- read it and learn something.) Spartan kings were mainly field generals. True power lay with the elected ephors and a ruling council called the "gerousia." Members of these bodies came only from Sparta's aristocratic families. Ordinary citizens were property owned by the state.

Pros: System of checks and balances like modern democracies; differing opinions may lead to compromise; it works for the Klingons
Cons: Limited pool from which to draw leaders; no single leader to solve disputes; may have to fight giant mutants and/or Persian mercenaries on rhinos

Ever heard of guilds who appoint their bank toon as the guild leader? I'd consider those an oligarchy, especially if their officers are unelected or elected from a very exclusive pool of candidates. This style is a great option for those guilds who don't feel the need to have a single guiding personality and can come to decisions as a group. A lot of guilds who actually have a GL and an officer corps are run more like oligarchies, with the GL -- much like the position of the American vice president -- existing mainly to break tie votes. From a certain standpoint, the concept is very appealing. Does anyone really want to be the sole individual bearing the heavy burden of an entire guild's success or failure on one's shoulders? I guess some do, but it can be better to share.


Anarchy is rather self-explanatory: Nobody is calling the shots; no one is making laws, or enforcing them, or even thinking about them all that much. It's not a state of affairs that tends to last very long. Sooner or later someone like Genghis comes along and sets up shop, or people decide they've had enough and start putting the pieces of society back together again. A state of anarchy typically occurs when a government is violently overthrown by individuals who don't particularly want to rule in that government's stead -- they just didn't want those jerks telling them what to do anymore.

Pros: No taxes, jury duty, or census forms; download all the copyrighted material your hard drive can handle
Cons: No social services, national defense, or public transportation, and very few, if any, restrictions about the amount of fecal matter in restaurant food

How can we create a state of anarchy in a guild? It's very easy, actually.
Step 1: Log in around 4 a.m.
Step 2: Promote every. single. member. to officer-level status with the power to invite or kick out anyone else.
Step 3: Delete all other ranks.
Step 4: Go play Minesweeper for a week.
Voila -- anarchy! Log in and report on the mayhem for WoW Insider's Guildwatch column.

There are plenty of other ways to run a guild based on historical or current governments. Some are feasible and realistic; others, not so much. But it's interesting to think about the many methods you could employ. Have any of you intentionally run a guild similar to a real-world government? Tell us about it below!


Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!

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