Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Guild leadership and raid leading

By mentioning my unsuitability to lead raids in my introductory piece about guild leadership, I incidentally made the impression that I believe being able to lead a raid is required of guild leaders. This is not the case.

I didn't really want to go into the matter deeply at the time because I wanted to avoid my post becoming book-sized, as tends to happen when I go theorizing (this is sort of a subtle warning). So instead, you'll get to read about the hypothetical relationship between guild leadership and raid leading in this separate post, yay!

Non-raid leading guild masters

A living example of why I would be wrong to assume that guild leaders should lead raids is Weels of the Senate Guard, who I interviewed last week. She said the following about raid leading and leading a guild:
"When he (...) handed the guildmastership to me, I considered for a minute or two just handing it straight over to Ev, as I'm not a raid lead and believed at the time that it was essential for the GM to lead raids. I decided to give it a go and see what I could do on my own and I'm actually very pleased the way it's turned out."
Guild leaders often lead raid teams and as a result we tend to assume this is a necessary quality of a leader. However, Weels manages the Senate Guard quite successfully without ever leading a raid. Obviously, she has other qualities that make her suitable to leading a guild. This is what she told me when I asked what those qualities would be:
"Personally I believe that everybody is good at something and we should try to play those strengths. Some like to lead raids and I’m lucky that we have officers who are very good at it (...). However, some hard core players can have a short attention span and get frustrated with slow progress. This is where I try to make people laugh and/or get them chatting and usually it works. So it's encouraging your members to do what they're good at and getting them to encourage people to do the same thing."
Weels' strength lies in keeping the guild spirit alive, whilst inspiring her officers to do what they are best at, including raid leading.

Keeping raid leading and guild leading separate can even have positive effect, Chestnut (who currently leads a Wildstar guild) writes in the comment section of my introductory post:
"In my own experience (having led many guilds), keeping it separate helps to keep a guild more active, and prevent burn out and drama from many angles. In WildStar, it's like a burden is lifted not having to raid lead, and having an officer dedicated just to it with me as someone who helps settle the disputes (rare though they be)."

Raid leading guild masters

Over to the dark side with Bo of PCG. Guildmaster Bo does lead raids, and although we didn't talk in detail about raid leading, he did tell me the following regarding the desirable qualities of a guild leader:
"You have to be a reasonably good player at the actual game. If you really don't have a clue you can't really help anyone, I think that's a sort of basic understanding."
This is a better explanation of what I was trying to say with "Knowledge of relevant gameplay" in my list of hypothetical GM qualities. I think that, to be able to effectively lead a guild, you need to know some things about the gameplay of the MMO you're playing. This can be very basic stuff, such as "a SWTOR raid is designed for 8 or 16 people". In fact, how much and which knowledge is required, and what gameplay is considered relevant, will depend heavily on the type of guild: the guild activities (achievements, social events, role-play, raids and/or PvP; or even none), the intensity of and attitude towards those activities (laid back, social or ambitious) and the guild spirit.

Final thoughts

One of the reasons I chose to interview Weels and Bo is that I knew they are managing two different types of PvE guilds using different leadership styles. I can imagine guild masters being raid leaders more often in a guild in which raids strongly form the core of the guild, such as in PCG, which is structured around the various raid groups. Perhaps it is more customary for social guilds to 'outsource' their raid leadership. Then again, these are only two examples and I'm aware they are not representative of guild leadership in general. What do you think?

Why then do we perceive the raid leading guild master as the default? One of the reasons could be that raid groups are often the core formation of high profile guilds. After all, the majority of PvE content in most MMOs these days is completable solo. Grouping up regularly with the same people is especially worthwhile for taking on difficult multiplayer game challenges, such as raids. A guild is the obvious in-game social form to facilitate the organization required for raiding. As a result, guilds have been known to form from raid groups, with the raid leader automatically becoming GM. Because large raiding guilds are usually more high profile than smaller social guilds, this may cause us to expect raid leading guild masters as the default.

One thing both raid leaders have in common is that they have a view of how they want their guild to be, and this view resonates throughout the rest of the guild. If a GM is not involved with guild activities at all, I think it would be hard to function effectively in this way; however, leading raids is not a required quality of a guild master.

This interview is part of a series of twin posts on guild leadership by Ravalation and Gamers Decrypted, looking at PvE leadership and PvP leadership respectively.


  1. I don't think that a raid leader has to necessarily be the Guild Master, but I don't think I've interacted with a guild where the Guild Master doesn't raid in some fashion.

    The exception to that is a Guild Master who happens to be unable to raid due to external constraints, such as the Guild Master who is out on deployment.

    Of course, you could make an argument that raiding is one of the primary reasons why people join guilds --outside of simply being social, that is-- because raiding with people you know is often preferable to raiding with random people. You know the strengths and weaknesses of your guildmates, so you have a feel for how they'll perform in a boss fight. As any number of puggers will say, a pick-up raid is like opening a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans.

    1. Love the Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans comparison! Quite accurate.

      I have been in guilds where the GM was away for half a year or even more. Those guilds did function, because they had raid leaders that kept the guild activity (progression raiding) going. In one of them, however, friction between members emerged. Because there was no one fit to deal with it, it eventually led to Conrad &me leaving the guild. Maybe it was for the better in the end, though, because we ended up in Asylum, where we've been forever since. That was in LOTRO, and now we're playing with the same people in SWTOR.


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