Once more … into the breach

Hi all and time for another blog post, it having been too long since the last.

There are several reasons why the gap has been so long, some personal, others game related but I’ve decided to outline some of these in this post as Weekend Warriors heads into its eighth expansion and me into my thirtieth ‘tier’ of raid content.

When I founded WW things were rather simpler, the game was less fragmented, raiding was the main outlet for many players with little to no competition from other end-game activities.

People looked to raid progressively through tiers as far as their capabilities and circle of friends or guild allowed them to and relationships and guild leadership were not treated as easily dispensable on the altar of further progress.

Sure, if you wanted to move from 10 man content to 25 man either your guild grew or you moved to another but aside from that people generally stuck with the people they knew and the guilds they trusted and you killed what the guild could kill and accepted that rather than searching for more progress elsewhere.

I was also younger at 42 years of age and most of the people I played with were in the 25-40 bracket which meant we were more attuned to each other socially and demographically which made interaction easier as we all lived the time we were in in a similar way.  Gaps were smaller and yes, whilst we occasionally met and played with younger players and even had children in guild they were our kids and as adults we held the reigns.

To see what this looked and sounded like all you really need to do is watch our raid kill videos through the earlier expansions and see what raid atmosphere was like back then.  Easy-going, talkative, entertaining and even as the guild developed and moved into harder and harder content this remained a connective link with the past, people talked, called important events in an unobtrusive and helpful way and accepted and worked around individual strengths and weaknesses.

Much of this was due largely to my own character and style which came out of my approach to the game and my acceptance of my own limitations when it came to questions of raid knowledge and methods of learning.  As such I always encouraged others that I knew were more knowledgeable and more aware of roles and classes to give advice and when asked, to make calls.  This ultimately led first to experiments with bringing in others to lead the raids mechanically (whilst I retained overall control of the raid’s composition and final decision-making) and then later to the council system that still persists albeit in somewhat mutated form, today.

However, nothing in life stays the same and as the game and I both got older, the end-game content and demographic that play it changed. 

Younger players grew up from ‘kids’ into men and women and put their own stamp on the what they wanted from the game, Blizzard’s developers changed and the new ones listened and new difficulties and more diversity in end-game opportunities were created. Older players increasingly reduced their time investment in the game, redirected their end-game aims to less stressful activities or often quit the game entirely to raise families, focus on careers or just break the cycle of addiction.

As guild master and raid leader I could only look on as all this happened around me, always knowing that I could not allow myself the luxury of going the same way without abandoning a beloved creation to others or more likely just causing its disintegration.

Fortunately for the guild, for me and for you I have a son, Max (or as you know him Rag or Necroaxe) that not only holds a similar love for and dedication to the members of this guild, but is just as stubborn and conflicted as I am about temptations to throw in the towel.

As he has grown from the child he was into the man he is now, he gave me renewed reason to keep this project going.  Not just this, but as he came into his own as an adult, his desire to come out from under his rather domineering and orcish father and the people he chose to raid lead for him led to him to take a step out of the progress raiding scene he was finding too constraining and create the flex raids (and later team) where he could find his own feet as a raid leader and hone this on a more old style WW type approach to the game.  This led inevitably to a growth in the guild’s size and something for the older demographic to gravitate to as the hamster wheel of Mythic raiding became too tiring or ill-fitting.  An 18 year old Rag became the guild’s social officer.

After the creation of the raid council concept that allowed me return to a softer form of shared leadership, Rag rejoined the team, first as a raider and then eventually as the raid leader after the issues that led to the Team Cobra schism which were caused in some part due to the inability of the new, younger demographic of progress raiders and a fifty plus year old raid leader to understand each other’s priorities and ways of thinking and motivation.

In life I am very much an alpha male personality type so inevitably I find myself professionally and socially in leadership roles and this is both how I like it and things work best. So, as you can expect, this wasn’t easy for me initially.  In some ways it still isn’t, after all he’s nothing if not very similar to his father.  It’s complicated when two alpha’s go head to head but as neither of us can afford to let this spill over into our personal relationship and he’s too old for me to be play the ‘dad’ card, over time I learned to stop interfering and let him get on with his role and make his own inevitable triumphs and mistakes.  

My plan was to increasingly take a back seat and to slowly ease myself out of the leadership role and raiding in general as, well, the game has changed, the people I play it with also and at 55 I’m no longer the player I was even 5 years ago and I really hate not pulling my weight as much as I would like.

Unfortunately, life is not that simple.  Even as increasingly the people that I play this game with change, those that I know from the past, get to know and appreciate from the present become more important to me.  The guild itself is to all intents and purposes a part of me, one that I cannot simply discard or really see myself passing on to others.

This is not to say I would not willingly do so to my son as of course I would, but the snag here is that I don’t want to put all this load on his shoulders when he is still young and needs to focus on other things rather than sacrifice his best years on something he feels obliged to keep alive.  I cannot in all conscience further increase WW’s dependence on him and similarly for this reason and others, he doesn’t want me to quit totally and we’ve inevitably got used to us doing this together over the years so much so that it’d be weird when we don’t.

You know that famous scene in Godfather 3, as Michael Corleone holds his dead daughter in his arms and says “just when I thought I was out, they PULL me back in…” well that’s the way it is for me every single tier.

It’s also the way Rag and I feel every-time the guild takes a knock from one problem or another which again is always people related and we have to double down, fight, recover.

Whenever I think I can drop from 99.5% 10 year attendance to letting others raid instead I’m needed to make up numerical issues and provide support and stability and Rag can’t even take a well earned short break without us having to pause raiding and people leaving the guild to get a kill with another guild that then may well fold a month later and leave them wondering where to go next.

Back in my day they’d just ask to leave for the kill and rejoin, now they just stealth quit or say a three line goodbye to a guild that has been home to them for three years or more and burn that bridge good and proper.

People never cease to disappoint me.

Anyway, so what’s the point of this post? well I guess it exists to understand somewhat what happens next or which way we’ll be looking to go this next expansion and in the future to make the guild more manageable for both of us, to reduce it’s heavy reliance on us and make the activity of running this  more pleasurable and manageable for us both with less aggro and disappointment.

As we head into the next expansion the temptation to return to a simpler time in WW’s history is very strong.  

Rag enjoys the “almost WW of old” experience and characters of people that raid flex more than he does the less communicative and more self-centred attitudes of many of the progress raiders we have had in the last two expansions and I can’t blame him.

I don’t raid evenings so flex isn’t something I do or experience, but I’d also love things to be more relaxed and team rather than result focused and a return to feeling a greater sense of connection and similarity in character and outlook that we had back in MoP and WoD where I could at least talk and have a laugh as well.

We both also want more integration and a greater overlap of the entire guild (progress, flex, social) in guild activities to prevent the growing situation in recent months where a full flex/social raid pushed progress raiders out into pugging content (even though gear oriented desires to raid flex and then dump it were never really what we were looking for when we let progress raiders participate there).  Far too many progress raiders either pug content or do it in limited groups even though we have guild M+ events and this is not ideal.  A raid M+ clique formed and this eventually led to people being forced to choose to side with their friends in any inevitable disputes or disciplinary situations to the detriment of the guild, the group only being as integrated and reasonable as it’s least integrated or stable member.  This was detrimental to the guild’s cohesion and added hugely to the workload of managing it for Rag and I neither of whom are just content to shrug and ignore things we know aren’t right.

Bottom line people, neither of us will want to continue with the situation we had in BfA for another tier or expansion, we’d simply both stop offering what we now do and whatever the outcome once the dust settles, WW would cease to be what it currently is and become something significantly smaller and different and this would be a shame for all concerned given our longevity and the lack of stable or similar alternatives out there. 

To help with this realignment we’ve decided to make some changes to how we approach applications to guild and who we accept and who we indeed decide to keep to avoid letting people in that have a high chance of adding nothing to the guild longer term.

You’ll notice that the guild’s social and flex recruitment is currently closed aside from F&F applications and this is because we’ve decided to pause guild growth for growth’s sake simply because more and more people apply and we lack people willing to sacrifice their time to be officers and share the load of catering for their needs and can honestly do without constantly adding extra bodies that effectively play a single player game in a guild setting.  We’re also taking more of a hard line on the social and demographic aspects of guild membership as this is a guild for mature (i.e. older) players so we expect additions to be sociable and mature in their outlook and behaviour, not just to apply to be here because we accepted their friend and they really, really must join the same guild because it’s convenient.  Cliques of 5 or 6 members that all join just to then only play together and do nothing else in guild are not what we are about as a guild or here to cater for.

We’re also looking to carefully manage the progress recruitment side of things to reduce the tendency to look predominately at progress, current needs and ability over other factors whilst ignoring an obvious tendency to guild hop or quit playing during progress or a bad fit demographically and expectation wise.  These players bring nothing lasting to the guild and are the first to leave when the going gets tough and wipes mount up and are really not worth us investing our time in only to find them out of here when they have the opportunity to jump ahead in progress or wipe count after getting what they needed from us.

So, as things settle post release and as trials are run and players either confirmed or failed we’ll be looking at if we can create some overlap with the Legionnaire and Blood Guard ranks into a more general raider rank to get back to a more team spirited and balanced type of play that creates greater cohesion and willingness to work together towards a goal as we had in the past.  

We’re not entirely sure how this can work or how or even when it might be viable, but it’s there as an aim if the current system continues to disappoint Rag and I and cause continued aggravation.

Slower progress with people you know and like is better than slow progress with people you don’t care about at all.  Let mercenaries find their own home but not in WW.

Lastly, as I’ve said we need to increase the coverage of guild officers for guild events to allow Rag and the other officers some breathing space where post release there will be none.  We’re therefore actively looking for players who want to help out with official duties and once proven, to eventually join the officer team.

There is however one important difference from what we have expected of officers in the past.  We will not be looking for single issue or single responsibility officers such as a healing officer or a ranged officer alone.  No, any officers will also be expected to lead guild events as required, M+ events, flex raids, mog runs, achievement runs and yes even progress raids.  

To be an officer of this guild you will need to be flexible and active across the entire guild and share in the workload because this is a multifaceted guild with different player types and the officers must know, understand and interact with all of them.

So, if you’ve got past officer experience and want to help, or feel ready for the challenge then speak to Rag or I about it.

Thanks for reading and here’s to the new expansion, let’s hope it’s a good one as the ancestors know we all need it to be.

Founder and Warlord of Weekend Warriors.
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