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The Guild Council: Why you should diversify your guild roster

Karen Bryan

More than once in this column, I've tried to hammer home the point that it's important to recruit players who match up well with your guild. So much guild drama spawns from a situation in which one player just doesn't fit in with the culture of the guild.

But you don't want to lead a bunch of sheep, either, and while there are certain traits that you want to see match up (like playtimes, game style in general, and chat preference), it's worth it to carry a roster with some diversity. In the past, we've looked at a few good player types to seek out, but in this week's Guild Counsel, I'd like to look more closely at some of the more subtle personalities that are good to have on board.

The theorycrafter

No, I'm not talking about the min/maxer who does it to brag and annoy. I'm talking about the kind of player who loves to talk shop, in the same way that a baseball fan loves to talk about stats or a political junkie loves to be an amateur pundit and analyze hotbutton issues. I love being guilded with players who are passionate about the game and want to share what they've learned with everyone. I'm playing with a couple of players right now who love to comb through the various soul builds in RIFT, and they tend to find things that you can't find in forum guides. There are a handful of popular builds out there, but these guys come up with builds that are outside the box and work really well. I have the same philosophy about raiding, which is that spoilers and walkthroughs are helpful for conveying the mechanics, but guilds need to adjust and tweak strats to fit the makeup of their raid force, not be married to a particular strat because "that's how everyone else does it." By creating your own custom character build or devising your own tailored raid strat, not only do you potentially increase the chance of success, but you have the added satisfaction of knowing that you did it yourself and didn't just follow along with what everyone else does.

Theorycrafters can be a great addition to the guild -- if they come across the right way -- because they can increase interest in the finer points of an MMO and generate some fun discussions about certain aspects of a game.

The loremaster

I love game lore, but I'm lousy at following it. Usually that's because a lot of it is included in quest text, and I'm apparently hard-wired to click through it as fast as possible. So I can't tell you how many times I've faced off against a boss or entered a really cool dungeon and wondered out loud what the background storyline was. Thankfully, I've usually had a loremaster guildmate nearby who could chime in with a detailed rendition of the story behind the game, and it's made my gaming much more satisfying as a result. Lorehounds and their art tend to get overlooked, although some games do show attention to those who love lore. EverQuest II used to have special lore quests in game, and once it even promoted its expansion by sending a cryptic lore puzzle pieces to various game and fansites. It's hard to put lore on the front burner because then it can come across as being forced. That's why I appreciate loremasters so much; they go the extra mile to follow the storylines and backgrounds of the game.

The Guild Council  Why it's good to diversify your roster
The newsie

Most players never visit official forums, let alone the main site. Having a member who's tapped into the news is a great resource because you always feel as if you have a better handle on the game thanks to the constant news updates. Ironically, for some newsies, the real "game" is in being the first to come across an important announcement or game change, and these players relish the ability to answer questions about things like downtime, bug fixes, and class tweaks. If you have more than one newsie, things can definitely get a bit tense in the rush to report, but in general, having one player who's on top of the story can liven up guild chat and help players stay informed.

The game connoisseur

These days, it's nice to have a virtual version of Norm from Cheers: someone who loves to chat about MMOs across the board. Some guilds might not want to have someone talking about other MMOs because that hints at a grass-is-greener scenario. But I think it's helpful to have open discussions about other games in chat (when the time is appropriate) because if players are exposed to other ideas and features that work well in other MMOs, they can lobby for changes that could improve their current MMO of choice. Some of the most enjoyable conversations I've had lately have been comparisons between different MMOs, and it's a lot like sitting around a table at a bar talking sports. Essentially, it would be just like a typical conversation among Massively readers (minus those occasional personal jabs)!

These game types aren't necessarily something you can actively recruit for, but if you have one in your guild, embrace him. Often, leaders try to build a roster for a specific purpose, be it raid progression, maximum crafting efficiency, or ganking ability. But just as with a stock portfolio, it's good to diversify and find a blend of personalities that are different but work well together. The theorycrafter, loremaster, newsie, and game connoisseur are four types that can add a lot to your guild atmosphere.

Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.

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