Is Too Many Any Better Than Too Few?   19 comments

Monolith is now exactly one month into our 25 man progression raiding. In that time we’ve done really great things, including killing all 12 normal mode encounters and seeing our first hard mode at 9%. For a guild with our focus, I happen to think that’s pretty good. However, like just about every guild out there, we are also recruiting to fill open raid slots.

Now, one of the things I’ve always been pretty pleased with is that we have fairly low member turnover – and rarely does someone ask to drop off of our raiding roster for anything other than real life conflicting with raiding. And 95% of the time, those that do move away from our raiding ranks continue to spend their time in WoW in our guild. However, with this expansion, I have found recruiting to fill those few spots we have open even more tedious and troublesome that I had previously.

The first problem that I’ve faced is quite frankly the quality of the applicants. To be fair, we aren’t snobs when it comes to looking for new talent to add to our ranks, but we also are looking for someone who is ready to step up to the plate with little coaching and be able to at least hit a double. The second problem is finding applicants who want to truly commit the time it takes for progression level raiding (yes, even though we aren’t pushing for rankings it is still a commitment). I can’t even begin to tell you the number of applications we get where people apply indicating that they can only make half of our raid times at best.

And that doesn’t even address the biggest challenge, which is being on a mid/full population release server with average progression. Trying to recruit on server only just isn’t an option, because the talent on the server is very tapped. Yet trying to get server transfer applicants (or any applicant, to be honest) to submit a parse of their performance is almost impossible. Which in turn makes trying to evaluate the skill of an applicant a game of Russian Roulette. Hell, I even added a “How to make your own WOL parse” into our application to see if it increases the number of parses we receive.

As I have been dwelling on recruiting for some time now, and I’ve seen the slews of other guilds – both 10 and 25 – also having difficulty filling their gaps, I started to wonder if my recruitment woes were only a symptom and not the problem.

What do I mean by that? Well, I can’t help but wonder if the true crux of the recruitment problem is that there are too many guilds. I know that people felt it was bad back in Vanilla that if you wanted to raid you basically had limited options on where you could do so, and often times that meant playing with people that you just couldn’t stand. Many times there were just too few options to chose from when it came to guild matters.

This problem was alleviated somewhat when with the release of TBC and raids being culled back to a 25 man size. Guilds split, other guilds formed, and the net result was that even though your choices were still somewhat limited – you nonetheless had more of them. When Wrath of the Lich King released, offering a 10 man raid offering for every zone, many guilds felt some strain on recruitment as many players opted to just stick with a 10 man raid setting. This started to decrease the available pool of applicants that were looking for a guild, putting more strain on finding quality applicants to fill open raid positions. While I believe this may have been felt more by 10 man guilds in this expansion, 25 man guilds were not without their struggles as well.

Enter Cataclysm, and Blizzard’s plan to equalize raiding between the two class sizes. I do not think I am wrong when I state that the start of this expansion saw even more 10 man guilds spring up than in Wrath of the Lich King. In fact, I’d almost go as far as to say that the number of 10 man guilds on my server doubled, and that might be an understatement. So where there were once maybe 20 guilds actively raiding – there are now 40+. And while I think that it is fantastic so many people are now into the raid game, I can’t help but wonder if having so many guilds isn’t an overall detriment to raiding as a whole.

Where in Vanilla, you could say that guilds were too thick and not plentiful enough, I can’t help but wonder if in Cataclysm guilds are too bountiful and the player base as a whole has spread themselves too thin. There are a finite number of players on each server, and in the game. This also means that there are a finite number of players to fill open raiding positions. And while the number of players subscribed to WoW did not drastically change with Cataclysm, the number of guilds that are raiding – and subsequently recruiting – did increase significantly.

So now what I ponder is what happens when you can’t recruit to fill your open positions? I would think that a 25 man guild has a little more leeway in this, being able to host a slightly larger roster than a 10 man, but the end result is the same, if you can’t recruit, you can’t raid. And that is likely going to destroy a lot of guilds – and believe me when I tell you that recruiting is the hardest boss you will find in WoW.

What I see as the problem, is that there are too many guilds and all of them are looking for more players to fill their ranks. I don’t think anyone can deny that it was a lot easier to fill your ranks when there were only a dozen or so guilds on your sever competing for progress. Players who wanted to raid when look at those guilds and fill the ranks accordingly. But what happens to this process when there are 40 guilds, all looking to bolster their ranks?

Not only is that a problem, but you also now have your talent very thinly spread between a larger number of guilds. All guilds have their “superstars”, and what makes “royalty” guilds unique is that every player on their roster is a superstar. Ideally, the more equal the player base of your progression roster is, the easier you will work through content together. When you look at your logs you want to see a giant block of DPS and heals – not staircases when you can clearly differentiate skill drop offs. And let’s be honest here – no one sets out to recruit the guy that can’t out DPS your tank. But when the community and player base as a whole has spread themselves increasingly thinner, doesn’t that skill get increasingly spread out as well?

I honestly don’t think that recruitment is any easier or harder between the two guild sizes, I think that recruitment in general is just very difficult for everyone right now. And I tend to think that the heart of the problem lies in the fact that there are just too many guilds. Personally I don’t find that having too many guilds is any better than having too few guilds was. No, I think it is likely equally as bad if not worse.

So that brings us to our next question, how do we work around the too many guilds problem? And sadly, I’m not really sure I have an answer. I suppose one very Darwinian answer is to hope that your guild can outlast others so that you then have the potential to try and absorb some of the talent that was just released by a guild without the same fortitude that yours has. Of course, I’m not really sure that “hope” is a strategy that I want to rely upon. I’m more of a “you make your own destiny” type of person. But I honestly don’t know that I have a good solution to the problem. I suppose we will just try to recruit vigorously to continue to fill our roster.

What do you think? Are there now too many guilds? Do you feel that too many guilds causes problems? Do you disagree with my assessment that too many guilds is even an issue in the context of recruitment or otherwise?

P.S. Oh, and by the way, I would probably be remiss if I didn’t mention somewhere that we are currently looking to supplement our raiding roster with 1 Holy Paladin, 1 Ranged DPS and 1 Melee DPS.

Posted February 9, 2011 by Beruthiel in Deep Thoughts, Guild Management, Raiding

19 responses to “Is Too Many Any Better Than Too Few?

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  1. Yea, we’re seeing similar troubles. Even the top guilds on our server are having a difficult time recruiting (to the point where some guilds are trying to snipe other guilds’ applicants . . . I don’t think that’s terribly scrupulous, but there you go.)

    I wonder, too, if part of the “problem” isn’t the guild leveling system. People who have been a part of a guild for some time may not be happy at the idea of changing guilds and having to start the rep grind all over again. Certainly that could make people think twice about changing guilds.

    • I definitely think that the guild leveling system makes people think hard about changing guilds, but I believe that was part of Blizzard’s intent in their drive to make guilds important.

  2. I was in a guild at the end of ICC that broke up largely due to recruitment problems. We’d lost a lot of core raiders to end of expansion burn out and life changes. And there was zero way to recruit more quality people on server, and 90% of the limited apps we received were from the utterly unqualified/illiterate.

    We spent the last 6 months of WotLK raiding ICC heroics with as few as 16 people – HLK and HHalion progression weren’t possible. All top 5-6 guilds on my server were in a similar boat, but no one wanted to give up our unique guild cultures and leadership.

    When the guild split, a good 15 -20 people ended up back in the pool on that medium-pop, medium-progressed server, giving the other top 4 guilds a really strong roster going into Cataclysm. [Except the one no one joined because their rep a bag of dicks, I digress.]

    In the end, if you can’t recruit, long term, you [the general you, not Monolith] have only a few options. You can:
    * Lower your recruitment standards.
    * Move to a different realm – move to a low pop realm where you’ll be raiding royalty.
    * Move to a high pop realm where people are looking for guilds.
    * Drop from 25s to 10s and remain playing with your friends.
    * Disband the guild and enrich the other guilds on server.
    * Create a raiding alliance
    * Merge with another guild.
    * Go on break until content changes, increasing the pool of raiders available. (Badge gear in TOC and the hurdle of TOGC NRB was a game changer here, resetting the gear discrepancy.)

    Which one ends up happening depends on a huge number of factors. Saying too long at the “we can’t recruit” stage and not dealing with the consequences will eventually make that decision for you, though – raiders will burn out on cancelled raids or enrage timers, and officers will burn out from the frustration. In retrospect, to preserve that guild, we should have merged with another top 5 guild, or absorbed a 10 man guild entirely.

    • We do try to fill positions before we ever get to the cancel raid point, and we have a large F/F pool that can help out in a pinch.

      Recruiting should be a bit of a perpetual thing, so that you always have a pool of applicants to review. But that doesn’t make it any easier or alleviate the problems involved 🙂

      • Absolutely, recruitment through all the standard methods should be on-going. I only meant my list for a guild at a crisis-point, for whom regular recruitment wasn’t working anymore. 🙂 I in no way meant to imply that your guild was at that point.

  3. I think a large portion of this problem is, as you pointed out, the absolute plethora of 10man guilds popping up. To be honest I think the number of 10 man guilds will wane sooner rather than later.

    A lot of 10 mans look to be just not ready for the level of difficulty, and its destroying them.

  4. This is really interesting actually, I’ve noticed a lot more guild recruitment spam than usual, but had put it down to the beginning of an expansion rather than a shortage of people..
    But I think you might be right.

    We are also recruiting.. more slowly than usual..

    I don’t think *too many guilds* is a bad thing – it does give you a lot more choice if you want to move around. But I do agree that if they can’t sustain raiding through lack of people, they’re probably doomed to fail.

    • I think too many is a problem. It’s the dame reason that you can’t have 10 coffee shops within a block of each other. While lots of people want coffee, there are too much supply and not enough demand.

  5. We’ve had some crazy good luck recruiting off-server people come to join our 10 man guild (11/12 progression on a not that competitive server). I think mostly what you’re seeing is a smaller pool of people who want to raid 25s instead of 10s. I’m glad that players have a choice of both, but that does lead to people voting with their feet. Building up a 25 man team takes a lot more work on the part of the officers, so I admire your effort. I think that got even harder in Cata now that 10s are a viable progression path.

    • I’d agree but for the fact I’ve also seen some very strong 10 man guilds struggling to recruit members as well. I do not believe the issue is solely a 25 man concern.

  6. I think you’ll find that recruiting problems will ease as guilds created for the expansion implode of progress, personalities, or overall goals. The new viability of 10-mans prompted a number of people who would not normally consider running a guild the motivation to at least TRY. While some will succeed, just as many will flounder and fail. I think you’ll also some players trying 10-mans for the first time as a primary progression path, and let’s face it, not everyone is going to like 10-man raiding.

    I definitely understand your pain — recruitment is the biggest hassle and headache a guild has to endure in order to field their primary activity, and it is a tough season for it. However, I would hesitate to bemoan over players having too much choice, even if it does make the field more competitive. More players are raider savvy now, and have demands of their own if they want to commit to a guild. I know I have a short-list of things I consider absolutely essential before I even consider a guild, much less apply.

    • My position isn’t that players have too much choice, it’s more that having too many guilds spreads talent, and players, too thin. And I think that is something Thad will be felt at all levels.

      I do agree, however, that there is a high likelihood that we will start to see some of the less structured and/or less successful guilds start to crack and break.

  7. I’ve noticed exactly the same problem on my server. Some quality raiders left to take a break at the end of ICC, but a lot dispersed into new 10 man guilds with a bunch of their closest in-game friends.

    On the surface 10 man guilds can seem like a great idea – specially if you’re forming your own. You think you’ll get to raid less and achieve the same progression, you’ll never have to raid with anyone you don’t like, and you’ll finally have a say in guild policy.

    However, from personal experience there are a number of drawbacks to 10 man guilds that some of the people who’ve headed that way are probably already noticing, and will soon start to tire of.

    No-shows on a raid night have far more impact, as you have a smaller raider base, and less offspec possibilities to fill an empty role. You have less people to socialise with in game – for heroics and probably just to chat to in general. Your guild will level slower (assuming the guild consists primarily of your raiding team). And finally, there just isn’t the same sense of achievement killing a boss in 10 man as there is in 25 man. The difficulty of the fight might be the same, but the planning and coordinating is much less, and for me at least, this is part of the challenge.

    I think after another couple of months, the more serious raiders that tried out the 10 man guilds will start looking for 25 man guilds again as they find the 10 mans just aren’t quite what they’d hoped, and the drag of leveling rep in a new guild won’t seem quite as bad as staying put does.

    • I do not disagree that 10s and 25s have their own sets of challenges, but I do think that they share in the recruitment challenge 🙂

      • Very true, but as some of the startup 10 man guilds crumble, a few more raiders will be released back into the pool and will go on to help fill up some empty spots in other guilds (both 10 and 25).

        Some 25 man guilds may also break apart or morph into 10 mans, but for some reason I can’t really define I find this a less likely scenario… just like large companies can usually endure rough times, but little startup companies often can’t.

        I do think that a natural balance will eventually come about, and whatever happens, it’s very interesting to observe from a purely intellectual point of view. Kinda like a social experiment.

  8. One difference for 10 man recruiting is that we simply have a lot less spots to fill. That can make it seem like less of an endless job, and more of a temporary search to fill a hole when it opens up.

    I do agree that running a smaller roster means 1 no show can be a big deal. Although, in a 25 if 1-2 of your best tanks/heals don’t show up, that can just as easily cripple a raid as well.

  9. Too many guilds may be bad for guild recruiting, but it is good for players. If you have immediate soft spots in the roster, then recruiting top notch applicants is important, but if you have room to take a longer view, you can take the time to train up new raiders. The introduction of guild rep makes your investment less likely to be wasted by the member jumping ship. Obviously this places an incremental burden on raiding guilds, but it is probably good for the game as a whole (and definitely good for Blizzard, who can maintain accounts which might otherwise be closed for players who can’t bridge the gap to raiding.)

  10. I think the answer to your question varies with realm. On my realm I wish there were more raiding guilds. I don’t have a main raid spot in my guild, but I don’t see anywhere to go either. And to a certain degree the guild perks are a trap in that I’m unwilling to just abandon them without a good group to move to. For now, I raid 10 man with other non-main raiders and some raiders’ alts. It’s fine, but I’d prefer a more frequent, committed progression group.

    Also, if you are making progress then why are you recruiting? My own bitter story: after 11/12 lk hm my guild replaced me without so much as a “gee, we’d like to see some changes.” I hope you are working with your lower performers and giving them a chance to get it together.

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