Guilds are tough to manage in World of Warcraft. You have players who actively try to tear your guild down from within, players who are apathetic to anything the guild is doing that isnt for them, and a ton of attrition to get through to get a core set of players to join. However, with the right mindset and some luck, you can start and run your own guild without much trouble.
The basics to creating and maintaining a good guild involve one simple idea: a common goal. Everyone who joins your guild should have the same goal that you have and your guild needs to be actively developing the ability to or already contain the capacity to meet that goal. For instance, if your goal is build up a solid roleplaying guild, then you need to be a roleplayer yourself and invite only people who want to roleplay the way your guild wants to roleplay. If your goal is to down hard mode instances then you need to be capable of doing hard modes and the members you invite will need to be as well.
Everyone has different goals, but Ill break them down into two basic groups. Casual goals are generally related to the social spectrum of things like roleplaying, chatting, or just cooperative anything goes gaming. The other is the hardcore goal set which mostly involves raiding or PvP as a primary focus. There is a big difference between the way youd run the two types of guilds and well focus on both below.
Leading a Casual Guild
Getting a Casual Guild off the Ground
The most important thing to a casual guild is usually being attractive enough to get likeminded players to join. The hard thing is getting enough people into the guild to make your guild seem fun and energetic, but not invite enough people that its just another one of those Barrens Guilds or guilds that show up, hang out for a week, and disappear as everyone leaves to the next spamfest of a guild.
My best advice is to seek out and get your friends to join. Youre going to have to keep everyone in your guild entertained, give everyone something that they can do with the guild (instances, RP events, etc.), and maintain the initial disputes and small bubbles of drama that show up in your fledgling guild. Having a core group of friends to help accomplish these things will make your guild much more successful.
Generally youll want to spam guild recruitment at first to get people into your guild. Its a bit sleazy, but youll often find a few people who are legitimately interested and make wonderful additions to your guild. My best advice is to screen people by having a bit of a chat with them. If they dont want to talk to you about what theyre looking for in a guild then just /ignore them and move on. Thats the best way to weed out the strange idle people who randomly join and leave.
After you get people in your guild youre going to want to be active, especially at the start. Host events, coordinate raids, help people, and do everything you can to make people feel like theyre part of the team and that there is a benefit to being in your guild. If there isnt anything in it for them then they have no reason to contribute and therefore they move on.
Establish a guild website (GuildPortal works, but something with a real domain and real forums is better) early on and get people to register. Setup your rules (like how loot is handled, what officers do, invitation rules, guild bank rules, etc.) on your website and link the information to all new people. Get an active forum going so that players have a way to talk even when theyre offline and to help coordinate things.
One thing I highly suggest you avoid is taking donations or asking for help to pay for things. Front your own guild banks slots, tabard fees, etc. Many people do not ever want to think about donating to a guild that they dont know a lot about and you can kick off some early drama when money comes into play. If youre not a high enough level then youll probably have to ask people to chip in, but if you do keep it as something thats voluntary and only if you want to. Dont beg or spam for it or you will find that your new recruits will be far more likely to jump ship.
Keeping a Casual Guild Going
Being guild leader can be tough especially if you lose sight of your guild's purpose (click for big).
The number one reason people leave social or casual guilds is because they have no reason to be in them. If there is nothing for them to do with the guild then there is no reason for them to stay with that particular guild. So you have to make sure that you and your officers coordinate things for the guild to do as a whole. This can range from making sure RP events get off the ground to organizing and leading raids. You have to make sure your guild is active. If there arent a lot of people on at the times that people play then youll need to invite more. If there are too many people on then youll want to curb invitations for a bit.
One way to keep people excited about a guild and to help make the guild self-sufficient is to promote contributors to higher ranks. People like having more power within a guild and love the feeling of being rewarded for helping lowbies or doing really well in a raid. Make sure your guild structure allows for some form of advancement for everyone. An alternate view on this is to only have one rank and have everyone treated equally, which works well if you want to establish a mostly social guild.
Avoiding the Casual Drama
Most drama in a casual guild comes from random disputes between members (like loot drama in a 5-man or someone harassing someone else). You can avoid headaches early on by setting up clear rules and making sure people understand them. Not only should you set up clear rules but you should also have a system of punishment for violators and make sure its easy to understand. Get rid of any bad apples before they ruin the bunch, but do give them a chance to redeem themselves first to avoid looking like a power-tripping dictator. I find that establishing a three strikes and youre out rule is generally sufficient to weed out the drama llamas and the people who just screwed up because they didnt know better.
Leading a Hardcore Guild
In all honesty, those who embark on this mission are usually those who don't need guidance, but for anyone wondering how to start just read below:
How to Start a Hardcore Guild
The hardest part in establishing a guild designed to do endgame raiding is that you need to be doing endgame raiding in order to attract new endgame raiders. So youll need to go into it with more than just yourself and youll need a goal of what kind of endgame raiding youre going to want to do. If its just casual waltzes into 10-man (insert current endgame instance) then you can easily follow the casual rules and recruit enough players to casually do it. However, if you want to do hardmodes or 25-mans youre going to need a lot of starting players in order to make your guild attractive.
Your best bet is to either steal a large group of players from a current endgame guild thats either about to break apart or has a large group of dissatisfied players, or to somehow talk well geared players into joining your guild before youre capable of doing the content that you want to do. Hardcore guilds generally have a core set of players (those who always raid) and then a group of casuals or standins who can show up if someone cant make it. If you dont have the core 10 or 25 players then youll need to fill in those blanks with PUGs and as many people will tell you, that usually doesnt end well.
You can also try crawling before you run and establish a guild doing normals and try to build it up to do something more. If thats the case then youll need to make sure that the people youre inviting are capable of doing harder content and are just either down on their guild luck or just arent geared up enough yet. There is a big difference between players who are bad and players who are bad and will never care to learn to be better and you have to discern that and be a bit selective even if you dont have a lot of players signed up.
One thing that doesnt work for endgame raiding guilds is spamming up guild recruitment or general chat channels all the time. Your best bet for finding people is through running PUGs and posts on your servers forums. You need to find people who are actively seeking to raid and not just the random people who are looking for that next guild to hop into.
Be sure to establish loot rules, guild hierarchy, and the rest early on and make sure that the rules are set in stone. Dont make exceptions for friends, dont make exceptions for anyone, and be sure that its 100% fair. Otherwise youll be heading to drama central. A guild website can help early on by letting people know youre serious, but be careful spending too much money before your guild pans out.
Keeping a Hardcore Guild Afloat
As a guild leader, youre going to want to be sure that your guild is running properly at all times. Make sure that content is being done. The quickest way to end a guild is to have the guild stuck at a point where its no longer able to do content or to advance through content. Advancement doesnt always mean boss kills, of course, it just means youre getting further each week. Youre also going to want to make sure people are getting loot along the way.
Youre going to need gear to be evenly but fairly distributed to your guild. If gear all goes to one guy then hes the only one thats going to be doing awesome, while the rest of the guild suffers by being undergeared and unable to tackle harder content. Likewise, if the gear goes to people who dont show up or never contribute then youre going to be in the same jam. So make sure gear is flowing to people and that loot is never a problem.
As a guild leader you dont always have to lead raids. Bringing in an experienced raid leader is a great asset and allowing officers to handle loot can take a lot of work off your hands. The job of a guild leader is to keep everything together. You dont have to micromanage the entire guild, but you do need to keep an eye on things and be the solid foundation from which your guild can grow.
Hardcore Drama Fits
Drama hits a hardcore guild the hardest and is more often than not unavoidable. Your main tank leaves with two of your best healers, you cant down content that week, and everyone splits to another server. This is even more common if you brought in a ton of people who ditched a guild to join to yours because theyve already done it before. Loyalty to your guild ends when the loot and the content stops and a simple bit of drama can topple the entire fortress.
My best advice is to fortify the guild against any huge drama outbursts by bringing in casual players and training them up to be decent raiders through non-main instances (an "a" team and a "b" team, the "b" team is your main team's alts and the casuals in 10-man or 25-man content). Keep an eye out for conflicts between players and work to resolve it as best you can. Make sure that the loot is flowing fairly and no one is feeling left out. If you suspect that someone may be turning on your guild and have evidence then keep a replacement in mind.
Additionally, avoid power trips. As leader you need to lead, but not control. Stay your hand in many of the guild matters and let others as either a group, some kind of council, or mini-leader decide things. Let the raid leader lead the raid, let the loot council/DKP managers/etc. handle loot disputes, and take advice from everyone on any major guild actions. No one has fun in a guild thats more of a dictatorship than an actual guild.
Well, hopefully my advice can help. It wont work for every situation, but from my experience its the most fundamental basics to starting, running, and keeping a drama free guild. Everything wont work for you, but if you have any questions feel to jump to our forums and ask our community for advice.
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