Guilds have always been a huge deal in World of Warcraft. As a long time player, both in and out of guilds, I can vouch for the fact that a good guild makes *all* the difference when playing. WoW is an interesting game, but is a great game when playing with other people. Of course the reverse is also true, other people can make this game terrible, but I want to focus on guilds.
Want to run a dungeon? Sure, it can be pugged through the Dungeon Finder, but having a guild run serves multiple purposes. First, you are playing with people you know. No drama over who pulled. No drama over who’s fault a wipe is. Also, you tend to work better as a team. Second, loot is so much easier to deal with. Players who will fight tooth and nail over the smallest upgrade in a pug will gladly hand over that same piece to a guildy. Not to mention that if all the people in the run are guildies, then every drop that is used is one more drop making your guild stronger. Add to this three – ventrilo is usually usable, four – breaks are generally accepted easier, and five – it’s just more fun to play with people you know, and there is really no reason to run in a non-guild group if you can get into a guild group.
In Cataclysm, they added a whole new level to guilds. Guild levels. Each guild can earn 25 levels. Each level comes with some special reward or perk. Everything from faster leveling to mounts and pets to increased skill ups and gathers! It is enough to make even the most anti-social want to join in and contribute. Also, contributing is simple. Every thing you do, very nearly, increases the xp of a guild. Leveling? 25% of your xp counts as guild xp! Battlegrounds? Kill those Horde for the good of your guild!
Now, many of the initial nay-sayers piped up with, “But that means mega-guilds will level faster!!! NO FAIR!” Well, yes, a guild with 70 active members is going to level faster than a guild with 7 active members. Logically that makes complete sense. So, Blizzard instituted a cap on the amount of guild xp earned each day. The daily cap on guild XP is 6,246,000 xp. That’s about the amount of personal exp it takes to level from level 83 to 84. No small feat.
I am currently in two guilds. One, a rather large progression raiding guild with about 40-50 active members. For the first week of guild leveling it takes about an hour, on average, to reach our daily xp cap. Even with the nerf (previously 100% of earned player xp went to the guild cap, now it is only 25%, when the 100% was active it took about guild about 30 minutes to hit cap, sometimes less). My other guild is a friends and family guild, that is literally me, and two other players. Now to be fair, I haven’t been playing those toons, and they didn’t have Cataclysm until Friday night, BUT regardless, on our best day, when all 3 of us were on, playing for a few hours, and leveling like mad we earned…. about 19% of our daily cap. This was post nerf, which means pre-nerf, just the three of us would have reached almost 76% of our daily cap. I am willing to admit that I still think these numbers are fair. We are 3 people. By no means a “real” guild. And my larger guild is the very definition of a guild, and an active one at that.
It never occurred to me that this would become a limiting factor. I mean, yes, I was aware of the desire to join a larger guild that had multiple perks (after all who can pass up 20% exp from mobs?) but I never really considered how long it would take to bring a guild up to max. I assumed that a large guild could do it quickly and a small guild it would just take time.
The total XP required for a guild to level from 1 to 25 is 845,670,000 – which translates to 136 days assuming the cap is reached on a daily basis.
136 DAYS. Meaning my little guild, playing our hardest, would be 680 days. THAT’S ALMOST 2 YEARS of solid play from 3 people. 2 YEARS?!? ARE THEY KIDDING ME?!? Now previously, we could “pad” our numbers by running old world stuff with a “guild” group and earning the achievements. But they removed that, so now, we can’t even do that. 2 years.
I was annoyed at this, until I was in Stormwind and saw someone selling a guild. Level 2 guild for sale, 6 tabs, 50k gold. Suddenly I had this image of end game guilds, creating a secondary guild, moving enough players into it to keep it capped every day, then SELLING it for huge sums.
The sadness is, this will limit the number of new guilds formed. People won’t want to be in a newbie level 1 guild. People will flock to the high level guilds to get their bonuses. People will put up with bad situations to stay with the perks a large guild has. Something like when a few friends of mine and I splintered from a dying guild to form our own won’t happen as often. I could see us staying in a negative guild just for the perks. Of course, this negative environment would make it likely for us to have bad experiences and end up leaving the game all together.
There needs to be a change, an adjustment, and some kind of account given to small guilds. You should chose a guild for the people, not for the perks. And yet, Blizzard is rewarding perk seeking behavior, for all their “bring the player not the class” they are now saying “seek out the bonuses instead of having fun”.
Jason A. Lauborough –
Excellent essay on the subject of the guild leveling system; I pretty much agree with the main points made, especially the bit about sticking around in bad situations. I suspect that many servers will at least see large pseudo-guilds being formed for no other purpose than grinding the levels, while the achievements will remain outside the purview of most people (much like high-end raiding was for quite some time pre-Wrath).
What may also happen is that people with lots of characters across a couple guilds (such as yourself) may cycle their alts into larger, high-level guilds, grind the rep to earn access to the special items, and then switch them around again. The large guild still gets access to the player (potentially in different roles) but the player gets to keep their smaller, friendlier guild.
IIrc – You can’t do that. If you leave a guild that has the phoenix mount unlocked, and join a guild that doesn’t, while you do not lose the mount, you can no longer use it.
So you see, it actively *punishes* you for leaving your old guild a…nd joining a lower level one even if you *like* the lower level one bette
Jason A. Lauborough – Oh hell, I didn’t know it’d been confirmed that you lose the items. :\
Ember – Technically you don’t lose them, you just lose the ability to use them. Though, this is info from the beta, not from live.
Alex von Minden – Hey Ember, nice essay. As for me, it’s all about the people. Sure, some of the guild stuff is nice, but I don’t know that I’d care about a pet or mount – I doubt I’d guild hop based on guild perks only. But then, that’s just me.
Chris Luhrs –
I actually finally switched guilds to one with people I actually want to raid with the day before cataclysm.
I suspect that they actively want to discourage extremely small guilds (especially singletons) and changing guilds. It feels like they have in mind an idea for how big a guild should be and are really pushing you to be in a guild that size. I don’t know if it’s a good idea or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it increased the games stickiness.
@Alex – Last Tuesday I would have agreed, but this Tuesday, I am not so sure. I have played with a guild with fast track and a guild without. The difference is noticeable. As the perks pile on, it is likely to just be more significant a difference.
@Chris – I agree, they do seem to be trying to force the mold on their idea of a guild. The problem is, with 12 million players, this is gonna leave a great deal of people out in the cold or running with a guild just for the perks. It is massively multiplayer, and I get their idea, but, I don’t believe a game like WoW, that has worked so hard to be “single player” friendly, should do something like this in such a fashion so that it takes 2 years for a nice little guild to catch up to the “design ideal”.
I think, as time goes on, they will need to adjust it to allow for new growth. I mean, look at Booze Hounds, if guild leveling had been present for all of Wrath, we would never have been able to pull in the quality people we did, coming in so late to the game. Some times what you really need is a fresh start with new people or people who share YOUR ideal of what a guild should be. Not Blizzards. They are actively deterring the creation of new guilds. And I think it will lead to some serious stagnation.
Alex von Minden – Ah, yeah I see where you are going, Ember. Yeah, it will be interesting to see if stagnation issues come up. Would be quite insightful to see actual data on the rate of guild formation, etc. but I doubt they’d release any, unless supporting changes.