Fun and games -- that was the original focus of this article. I was all set to write up a good old-fashioned romp through the community-wide events being run over on Baelgun (US-Horde). As it turns out, the resounding success of Bless the Martyr's public events -- kicked off with a Gurubashi tourney and chased by current plans for a level 1 draenei footrace -- are merely pointers toward an even happier turn of events.
This is the story of a competitive raiding guild that had already transferred realms once in order to escape the inevitable neck and neck with another world-class raiding guild. It was an all-business move that worked. Their leadership was still solidifying, though, and some members' conduct was less than stellar. They didn't cement the realm as a friendly home.
With a new leader and a new attitude, Bless the Martyr found themselves in agreement that it was time to pick up and scoot their stuff to a new realm yet again. Would they be able to find the sense of community they craved? How long could they expect to spend as the new kids on the block? Would their transfer upset the apple cart, saddling them with a realm full of resentful players shrugging off every chance at interaction? Would established raiding guilds slam the welcome wagon door in their faces?
The final tally: In the short time since the Fourth of July when they transferred, BtM has found itself nestled in a thriving community ever more enthusiastic about connecting with realm-mates. "... I can't imagine having not transferred," says Pathosìs, an officer in the guild. "I get whispers now from people asking about what BtM is doing next, questions about raiding, class-specific questions, random hellos and so much more. I'm so proud of the guild and so happy to be on a server that doesn't ignore whispers just because they aren't coming from a guildmate. And I have to say, I'm fond of the whispers I get when I do something nice for someone who needs something. Such a nice change!"
WoW Insider: Let's set the stage: How long has Bless the Martyr been around? Tell us a little bit about the guild.
Pathosìs: Bless the Martyr was originally formed back in September of 2010, solely as a group of players who wanted to kill Lich King 25-man heroic before 4.0 and Cataclysm hit. We were successful in doing so -- even landed a great kill at U.S. 208. Shortly thereafter, the original leadership decided to move the guild from Sen'jin to Shadowmoon in hopes of escaping Premonition's server- and world-first legacies.
From there, the guild did well with top 200 kills on early T11 heroics, coming in around 160 U.S. After an unfortunate series of events, however, we had to rebuild the roster and the new GM, Worldboss, took things over and have led through thick and thin since!
So you're really only about two years old -- still relatively young for a guild ...
As a guild, we are hardcore raiders, and we push ourselves to the limit every tier to be the best we can be on a very light raiding schedule. What makes us unique, I think, is that while we play to raid, we're also a family. I can't count how many hours I've spent with the people in Bless the Martyr outside of WoW, getting to know them and sharing in their successes and even their failures. And this also extends to our server, because we love the game for its community as well and strive to do what we can to keep that sense of togetherness alive.
So what caused the guild to make yet another realm move? That's asking quite a lot, to make players pick up and move a second time.
Worldboss actually brought up the idea of a realm transfer shortly after Blizzard announced the guild transfer service, some time in Firelands. About the time heroic Madness became farm content for us, a good number of players, including raiders and officers, began talking about performing the second realm transfer in BtM's history.
Those who had been around since Sen'jin days had never really been part of the discussion about moving to Shadowmoon, and in all honesty, had never felt comfortable on the server. The sense of community we really desired just wasn't there. The only PvP that ever happened was world ganking. Guilds rarely did anything outside of themselves, and because it was such a long-established server, there were cliques and well-known trolls. This sentiment turned out to be shared by quite a few others in guild, and with Mists right around the corner, we felt it was time to move on and find a home.
Don't get me wrong, Shadowmoon has a massive raiding population and I've met many great players there, but BtM wanted something more than that. We wanted a sense of community, somewhere a little more homely and where guilds didn't just stick to themselves.
Why do you think you never connected there?
Additionally, shortly after we'd arrived on Shadowmoon, the old leadership core had no policies on how members were to conduct themselves outside of guild, and we unfortunately had something of a bad reputation early on because of this. This of course has since changed with Worldboss as GM; both he and I raided together on Moonrunner, which was a server with less raid progression but an amazing community of GDKPs, cross-guild alt runs, and healthy competition. He values a good name on our server as much as I do and as much as our raiders do.
So after a lot of discussion between everyone in guild (we weren't about to repeat the Shadowmoon mistake), we settled on Baelgun. It was really an ideal server for us to come to -- a central data center, PvE, chance for raid competition with another 25-man guild, and what seemed to be a much closer community. We warned the server we were on our way, and began transferring July 4, 2012. We had the guild and all of its raiders over a week later and started preparing for our first server-wide event!
I think most long-time players can relate to that sort of guild evolution, the kind that happens as a group naturally matures. So has the move accomplished what you'd hoped for the guild?
Having been in BtM since the second week of its inception, I have to say that this move has possibly been the biggest benefit we've ever had aside from Worldboss taking the reins. I haven't seen my raiders so excited for a Tuesday since that first week on the server (where we and Crisp had some friendly PvP outside the portal); there's nonstop chatter in guild chat about things they're doing, and people they've met since we've been here.
I also think that us really and truly doing everything we can to strengthen the sense of community has been a great experience for everyone involved and brought BtM even closer than it was. Our whole guild was so pumped about beginning a series of unique events to be hosted by us and even more pumped to participate and give back to the server.
Right, the events! Let's talk about the realm-wide community events.
As I mentioned before, both Worldboss and I raided together on Moonrunner before we came to BtM. We participated in many, many things there, from GDKPs to two and three alt runs a week with several other guilds and people we'd come across in trade chat. And that was one of our favorite things about the server -- there was always something to do, always a way to get with other players on the server and raid, PvP, or what have you.
After he became GM of Bless the Martyr, Worldboss always invisioned being able to get that back, and we had a lot of guild events for team building, but never anything server-wide like he desired. He's the brains behind our event ideas, and we chat it over together and toss around ways of making things work before we approach the guild with it. This all came to fruition when we set our sights on Baelgun, because it's such a perfect server to start a tradition on. We have the means to run large events, because we have a raid roster and many casual friends in BtM and also the means to award prizes to winners.
Tell us about the Gurubashi event.
Ah, the Gurubashi event! We actually started planning this long before we began transferring, and I have to say it turned out better than we could have ever hoped!
The idea was to invite everyone -- Horde, Alliance -- to an all-out PvP free-for-all in Gurubashi Arena to duke it out over a full 8/8 heroic Dragon Soul run with any loot they desired plus a Lifebinder's Handmaiden and, of course, the Savior title. All that was required to win was at the designated time, to loot the chest that spawns in the middle of the arena and screenshot receiving the item "Arena Master" to prove it was legitimate. The run could be given away to anyone the winner deserved, and BtM would host it the next week.
So to inform Baelgun of the event, we posted on the realm forums and detailed the rules and prizes and also left a brief Q&A. That was when Crisp, our "rival" 25-man Alliance guild, stepped in and offered to host the 8/8 run should an Alliance player win. This was awesome of them to do and just furthered the idea of a community coming together!
From there, the whole event just exploded -- the weeks leading up to it were full of trade chat talking about it, the forum thread being incredibly busy, and quite a bit of planning between Bless the Martyr and Crisp.
When the day of the event actually rolled around (July 15), we already had about 60 players waiting in the stands an hour before the chest was to spawn and the event to begin. Ten minutes before the event started, that number had increased dramatically. We had Horde and Alliance players totaling around 200, and some had already begun the PvP fun down on the arena floor. We also had somewhere between six to 10 people streaming, some from BtM and some from Crisp, with commentary and prize giveaways to viewers. They shoutcasted the whole event and really added something special. I think between all of the streams, we had another 300 to 400 viewers all told. Add the almost 200 views from the YouTube video we later produced, and the totals of people involved in some way with the event top out around 700+.
For Crisp to jump in like that -- very cool.
It was really awesome to work alongside Crisp (even though they got us back for our For the Horde right before Gurubashi and took Garrosh down, LOL), and we definitely plan to do so again in the future. Another Gurubashi is planned for every raid tier while we're on the server, and while this upcoming event is BtM hosted, we hope to see some Crispians among the competitors.
And now there are plans in the works for an upcoming draenei team footrace, is that right?
The idea is that everyone rolls a level 1 draenei (as their starting zone is easily the furthest away) and races in teams to the front gates of Orgrimmar. Along the way, each team has to take a screenshot with their BtM captain with every Alliance leader.
What makes this difficult is not only the trek all the way from Azuremyst Isle, but we structured the rules to ensure it remains a footrace -- no portals, summons, mounts, or flightpaths can be used! The only help each team can have is that of their teammates at level 1. We're aiming to have teams of four to five, with a member of Bless the Martyr there as a captain.
We're giving away some really nice rare mounts to the winning team and again plan to stream and make a video for YouTube. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to come, even those off-server, especially with Mists introducing account-wide mounts.
Sweet! So where do folks go to sign up for the footrace?
Those wishing to participate can post on the Baelgun forum thread. You can also reach any officers in BtM in game or through our website, www.btmguild.com. The forum thread also contains details on official rules and prizes.
OK, quick wrap-up: What content is Bless the Martyr playing right now?
Bless the Martyr is currently a-farming away in Dragon Soul. We clear 8/8 heroic every Tuesday and knock out an older guild raid achievement as we're working our way toward having all of the available guild achievements done. We hold alt runs on Mondays and occasionally bring them into the main raid, as we're firm believers in having prepared, geared backups in case we need them.
On off days, we do quite a bit of Firelands, old content and alt leveling galore. Beyond that, we also play D3, LoL, Smite, and other games together.
And what's on the books for Mists?
All of our raiders are dedicated to being 90 the Sunday after MoP's release, and with Blizzard's current plans to stagger raid releases, we'll just hit up heroic 5-mans and be as prepared as we can be when we walk into our first raid. Worldboss is busy liquidating things from our gbank so we can afford what our raiders need come the release, and everyone is theorycrafting for their 'toons and the comp we'll have. We aim to climb at least 100 spots in the U.S. next tier for 25-man raiding, and I know we have the talent to make that a reality, even on 14 hours a week.
Well, best of luck -- not only in Mists, but all the way along the dusty path to level 1 draenei in Orgrimmar! "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.