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The Guild Counsel: Building a roster from the ground up

Karen Bryan

When you're running a guild, it's essential to choose wisely when you're filling out your roster. Longtime guilds are successful at weathering the ups and downs of guild life because they've put together a team of like-minded people and have established a guild culture that suits everyone well.

But it's hard to build a guild from the ground up, and it's no surprise that most new guilds don't last very long at all. Guild leaders need to grow their roster quickly because if there isn't enough manpower to take on guild goals, the few who have agreed to join will have second thoughts and end up leaving. How do you recruit quickly but avoid building a guild that's primed for drama? Let's take a look in this week's Guild Counsel.

Class warfare

As guild leaders invite more and more members, they often run into a situation where they have a great recruit who's a perfect fit for the guild but who happens to play a class that the guild really doesn't need. That shouldn't deter a leader from inviting that player, though, because class balance can often sort itself out and it's better to get a good person than it is someone who's the right class but comes with baggage. In fact, for a new guild, it's easier to sit down with everyone and work out who would want to play what because you're still in the process of getting everything set up and prepped. You can't force someone to change, but usually if the guild leader explains what the guild needs, a member will step forward to fill that void, and it not only makes the guild stronger but helps build respect among the members who are coming together as a team.

Some things you can compromise

When you put together the qualities of what you're seeking in potential guildmates, there are some that need to be more concrete than others. If you advertise that your guild chat is family-friendly but a potential guild member can't help swearing like a sailor, you really shouldn't invite him even if he is the best player on the server because it affects all of the other members in the guild. Playtimes might be something more negotiable, though, as long as the potential guildmate understands your peak playtimes and is OK with them. It's not ideal, but you can usually bend a bit on things as long as it doesn't disrupt the rest of the guild. They signed on to a certain type of guild and shouldn't be subjected to a "bait and switch" afterwards.

There are no bad players, only bad matches

Every guild leader comes across a player who is the polar opposite of what the guild is all about, and it's tempting to write him off as a waste of time. But for every player type, there is a guild that matches. Even the most cutthroat, self-centered player could become a positive addition to the right type of guild that can keep that player in line and take advantage of his abilities. Building a roster can be extremely frustrating, but if you can avoid lingering over badly matched candidates, it's easier to spot the good ones when they do appear.

The Guild Counsel  Building a roster from the ground up
Noobs aren't really noobs

Go to any starter zone in a game and you're bound to come across several players who have just rolled up their characters. It's easy for guilds to overlook newbie players, but they're actually a great demographic to recruit. Most new players aren't new to gaming, and in some cases, they're not even new to that specific game; they're often returning after a long absence or rolling up an alt. Many guilds are hesitant to invite new players because they think it involves a lot of babysitting, but in many cases, that player comes with years of gaming experience under his belt. He might need a couple of pointers here and there, but for the most part he can take care of himself just fine, and it won't be too long before he's got the gear and level to participate with his guildmates.

A couple of gaming trends over the past few years have actually made it easier for guilds to recruit members quickly. First, the free-to-play movement has enabled many players to get into games that they might otherwise skip past. Even though some criticize free-to-play because many players come and go too quickly, there are plenty of good players who do stick around and would make great additions to any guild. And there are even more who would probably stay with a game longer if they were invited into a guild because guilds are the glue that helps build community and make gaming a more compelling experience. Free-to-play, combined with the many promotional events in MMOs, makes for a perfect time to wander a newbie zone and hold a little guild recruiting fair. New players get a warm welcome and a sense of community, and a guild gets first crack at a fresh crop of potential guildies.

It's true that when building a roster, you might have to kiss a lot of toads before finding the prince, but good players are out there, even if it doesn't seem like it. Doing a round of recruiting takes some legwork in the short term, but it's worth it once you've put together a solid core of members. As you establish your guild's culture and get your name out there, recruiting begins to handle itself, since players will start to seek you out and ask to join. You don't have to completely abandon your guild vision in order to build your guild, but you might need to try some unorthodox measures, at least initially, in order to keep morale high and take on your guild endeavors.

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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