If you’ve been reading here, you may or may not know that I’m the guild leader for an awesome group of people. (They’re awesome, it just so happens that I’m the guild leader). I’ve written about our commitment to tens raiding previously, and I’ve also written about why I’m so happy to be raiding with them all.
What I have to write at the moment is a bit more difficult, and I’ve held off doing it because the matter was still under discussion. The discussion has stalled, because I think we’re all at a loss as to what more we can say. A post that Traxy made about strict tens recently has prompted me to think about it even further.
For those unfamiliar, the “strict ten” designation was invented by Guild Ox as a method for people whose primary guild focus was tens to measure progress against one another. Business Time has adhered to it for as long as I’ve been a member. It’s a bit arbitrary, because it has to be. They have to draw the line somewhere to separate between “guilds who only do tens” and guilds who do tens but primarily twenty-fives. I’m sure there are many guilds out there who focus exclusively on tens, but haven’t worried about meeting the criteria. We’d always said that if we no longer had reason to adhere to the restrictions, we’d let them go.
In the past, we have had reasons for wanting to stick to them.
- Recruitment: Because the role we fill is so specialized, almost all of our recruitment is cross-server and in some cases, even cross-faction. The idea of strict tens draws any combination of confusion, curiosity, straight through to outright scorn. The Guild Ox rank enabled us to advertise as a strict ten guild, and demonstrate to prospective applicants that we were serious about what we were doing. I’ve spoken to many of our current members who admitted that the ranking did help to attract them to the guild. It’s a way of saying, “This is what we do, and we do it well.”
- Pride: What progression raid guild isn’t proud of their achievements? In the small pond of people focusing on and restricting themselves to tens, we do pretty well. We achieved our 11/12 hard-mode status along with the first pack of strict tens to do it. We’re currently ranked tenth for progression in the US, and 16th in the world. It’s pretty neat to be able to say that, nice to have the “badge” to put on the guild’s front page and feel that all those hours you’ve spent wiping to this boss or learning that ability “mean” something, at least in this limited sphere.
- Identity: “Strict tens” forms the backbone of what we do, and why. We focus on ten mans because we like them best and we like raiding as a smaller group. We’ve kept the Guild Ox ranking because we like to be able to say, this is what we do, this is why we do it, and we think we do it pretty well. Perhaps the ranking itself isn’t essential to that; it does help to solidify it.
But lately, those reasons have been warring with some other reasons, equally compelling, to let the “strict ten” designation go, or else reasons why the first reasons don’t seem to matter as much.
- Recruitment: We have a really stable player-base, and extremely low turnover. We also seldom have to turn to the forums for recruitment any more, because lately the trend has been for applicants to come via word of mouth. They are friends of friends or similar, and so we don’t have to wow them as much with “Look at how awesome we are!” The stability and appeal of the guild speaks for itself because it’s more usual that we can’t find a raid spot for someone than that we have empty raid slots, summer vacations aside.
- Limitations: Whenever someone joins BT, they’re aware that running 25-mans is verboten unless we’re consciously bringing them in with the understanding that they already have the twenty-five man achievements, and so continuing to run the content doesn’t really matter. This had the potential to create a real culture of the “haves” and “have-nots,” but fortunately it never materialized that way. People who still enjoy a twenty-five man pug on occasion do so, and those of us who have never done them – we haven’t done them because we don’t want to, so there’s no loss on either side. The problem is that there are people who have alts at 80 that had raided before they joined up with us. We have a few members who belonged to tens guilds before, but the majority of us came from twenty-fives. Because of the restrictions, they can’t have their alts in the guild, so they sit either guildless, or in alt guilds. Frankly, I think that stinks. We have a channel for connecting with people on out-of-guild alts, but it’s cumbersome. If you’re in the guild, you’re in it, you shouldn’t have to sit outside just because you’re playing another character.
- Obsolescence: “Strict ten” isn’t going to mean anything once Cataclysm comes out. Because of the changes to raid lockouts and to loot, there’s not going to be any functional difference between guilds that run twenty-fives sometimes and tens sometimes, or only tens, or only twenty-fives. There’s going to be equality with regards to the loot, and no need for restrictions of any kind. We’ll just be raiding tens together, and not feel as though we have to run twenty-fives to fill certain gear slots or to manage to compete at the top level of content.
So with all of this in mind, first we discussed, then we discussed some more. Then we put it to a vote, very simply phrased – who was in favour of dropping the strict ten designation, and who was opposed and wanted to keep it?
The vote was split exactly down the middle. Admittedly, I abstained. Half of the guild wants to let the restrictions go. This won’t have a major functional difference for us, we think, because the people who want to run twenty-fives already can, and the people who don’t – still won’t. I’ll be honest with you, it leaves me feeling incredibly torn. To let the restrictions go won’t actually help us with our heroic Lich King attempts. Some people in fact were actively opposed to the idea that we might “game” the encounter. They really, really want to do it with the gear available to us. I can’t blame them.
The other half of people are in some cases people who never took to the idea of “restrictions” in any case. They don’t like anyone telling them what to do with their game time, or saying what they can and can’t do (whether they’d actually want to do it, or not). They’d be just as happy to see the strict designation go. It doesn’t change who we are, after all, only how we appear. I can’t blame them, either.
On both “sides,” if you can call them that, are people I care about and each is essential to the success and well-being of the guild. I want to do right by them, and I want them to be happy. My initial feeling was that in the result of a stalemate, we would maintain the status quo. After all, if we say, “We’re going to let the strict tens designation go,” we’re saying, “We’re going to take this away from you even though it’s important to you.” I thought that there was no actual loss on the part of the people who want it to go.
But the more I think about it, the more I start to wonder. The people who’d like to put their alts in the guild so as to hang out with their friends – aren’t we taking something from them, too? Rather, we are keeping it from them, and I don’t like that either. If we stop being strict ten and then go on to kill heroic Lich King, it might feel hollow compared to if we had maintained the designation; whether or not the reality of our gear bears out the fact that it was a big accomplishment. If we continue to stay “strict,” whether we kill the Lich King or not, are we choosing prestige and bragging rights over the happiness of our guild-mates?
I’m really not sure, and I’ll admit that I’ve puzzled over it, and thought about it, and I still don’t feel any closer to the “right” answer now than I did when the discussion began. Originally, this entry was going to end there, but then I received the following comment from a new reader, Archel, on my most recent entry. I want to share it with you. It eerily strikes to the core of what I’m trying to say:
I’m one of those people who had google haphazardly drop them onto your blog last week when searching for something like “Healing Deadmines Paladin” and have been reading happily ever since. I don’t think i’ve ever read a blog in my life, but this one drew me in. The game seems so cold now, so matter of fact. Badges per hour, gear score, gogogo. At first hearing your stories of having to deal with such people while you leveled and being happy just to find the occasional considerate person put me into even more of a funk.
There have been moments in wow over the years that I remember most fondly. Time periods when my RL friends and I happened to be on the same page, just having fun playing together. The time where I embarked on a new server and found new friends and we played together and had fun before the greed of raiding, the efficiency of progression, or the jealousy of human nature tore us apart. The time when a random Tauren Druid tossed me a heal as I got some adds in Hellfire, and we ended up talking and leveling together to 70 from there.
Oddly enough, during most of those periods I always thought it was progression I wanted; To be in the best guild of the server and to be the best in that guild. I accomplished it at times, and it wasn’t that great because the guild itself was run like a business and I was a mere resource. Looking back, getting server firsts really wasn’t as fun as just questing with that druid.
I admit feeling a pang of jealousy when seeing you describe a guild rerolling horde and leveling together. Actually wanting to play together for fun. Actually wanting to talk to one another and not just logging in five minutes before raid time and logging off five minutes after. I felt the same pang when I saw the post about Lara coming over to level with you, or when I saw you describe what makes you love 10 man raiding by taking the time to draw your guildies and describe what they meant to you.
I don’t really know what point i’m trying to make here and probably sound mostly like a sap… I just think it’s cool to see that somewhere, on some server, people are still having fun together and being good to each other.
The crux of the matter is, I think that the guild has evolved into something truly worth belonging to. We take the time to talk about these things because we care how our guild-mates feel about them. We’re taking so long to have the discussion because it’s worth considering carefully. And no matter what we decide, if we stay true to the heart of what the guild is about, we shouldn’t go too far wrong.