Archive for guild

Friends and Comrades

My goodness, things get awfully dusty around here, don’t they? My apologies.

I was walking home from the store today, on a cold, snowy, wintery day here in Montreal, and I decided I wanted to dust off the blog and write something. Many leadership topics swim through my head on a regular basis, so, as I trudged home in the snow, I decided to talk about friends and comrades in a raiding team.

Your Friends, Your Core Team

As long-time readers already know, what happened to start up Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas originally is that our previous guild, Fated Heroes, split up, scattering many of us to different guilds (or not — many of us, myself included, remained unguilded for quite some time). Eventually, those of us who had stayed in touch decided that we wanted to raid together. In those days, raiding together usually meant being in a guild together.

And so Apotheosis was born on June 1, 2007.

When we first cleared Karazhan, including Nightbane, as a guild, we took a celebratory screenshot.

Apotheosis fully clears Karazhan. (June 11, 2007)

Apotheosis fully clears Karazhan. (June 11, 2007)

In that screenshot, you have me (as Madrana), Cryptkikr, Karsomaric, Slovotsky (aka my brother Fog), Bregalad (aka Kaiu), Shadowcry, Findric, Tharivol, Huntertoga and Palantir.

All of us, except for Findric, had been in Fated Heroes, even if only for a brief time. Karsomaric was a real-life friend of Majik’s brother, Sephden, who had been in our previous guild for a short while towards the end.. Findric and Palantir had bonded during the levelling phase of Burning Crusade.

We were basically a group of friends in that group of ten. Sure, I wasn’t best friends with Tharivol, but we had history (oh my God, it was a disastrous Dire Maul North run that we bonded over). There were many more friendships throughout the entire guild. But, of course, you couldn’t run 25-man content with 17-18 people.

Recruitment & Growing the Roster

We needed people. We needed another tank. We needed more healers. We had a bunch of DPSers who were healing instead of DPSing and had to keep recruiting so that we could switch those DPSers back to DPSing. (Thank you to the dwarves — Hulkdwarf and Tankdwarf — for all those weeks of healing instead of smashing things in the face with an axe.)

Among the people we recruited, we welcomed our first shaman, Jitte (who was resto), a new tank, Baur, a hunter, Immortalis, two DPS warriors, Netsuge and Venality, and a mage, Pewpewmagoo. All of them helped us with our first kill of High King Maulgar, on September 2nd, 2007.

Apotheosis downs High King Maulgar. (September 2, 2007)

Apotheosis downs High King Maulgar. (September 2, 2007)

But except for Netsuge, who knew Kaiu, there were no bonds between these new people and the older core. What was to stop them from just taking off? Nothing. And so, when you look at a kill shot from nine months later, many of the names aren’t the same.

Apotheosis kills Lady Vashj, clearing Serpentshrine Cavern. (June 2, 2008)

Apotheosis kills Lady Vashj, clearing Serpentshrine Cavern. (June 2, 2008)

Gone were Jitte, Baur, Venality, Immortalis and Pewpewmagoo. Gone even was my brother, Fog and Majik’s college roommate, Palantir. In their stead, we have Aaza, Criza, Opus and Mightypoo (all of whom came over to us at once), plus Antidentite and Furormalic, Brodix, Dayden, Duper, Eviildeedz, Kazir, Massimo, Shadowmyth, Warthon, Scrixi, Euphie, Legolia and Quelyne.

But again, there were very few ties holding these people together.

No Social Ties Means Less Loyalty

Churn, which is something I think about a lot in my current job, can be defined in World of Warcraft terms, perhaps, as an individual who applies to the guild, gets accepted, passes their probation or trial and then, eventually leaves the guild. (I wouldn’t apply the term “churn” to people who stay in the game but quit raiding or who quit playing altogether — that’s something else entirely.)

Recruitment sucks so much that it’s much easier to hold on to your players than to go out and replace them.

But how do you do it?

You have to involve them. You have to integrate them. You have to make an effort to be social with them.

It doesn’t mean you have to be their best friend, but you have to make an effort (as does the rest of your guild) to make new people feel welcome and feel at home. The more they connect with people within your guild, the more they’ll feel as though they’re a part of the team, which will lead to them staying through difficult times to help support the team.

If you don’t have that connection, they’ll eventually leave, whether it’s because they’re tired of your guild dynamics or because they think there’s something better out there.

Friends and Comrades

I didn’t spend a ton of time with my guildies in my time as guild master of Apotheosis, at least in the second incarnation of it. I think that my lack of desire to incentivize people to spend time together (and my lack of desire to spend time with people in general!) contributed to the churn we experienced. Our progression wasn’t quite so advanced that it alone was enough to draw in new players, so replacing each and every person who left was extremely difficult.

All of this to say, have your friends in-guild with you, sure, but remember not to be exclusionary. You must be welcoming to your new members or you risk losing them whenever they find it convenient. You must make efforts to keep them involved, or risk losing them.

This is where the distinction comes in between friends and comrades. Your comrades are your fellow raiders (or PVPers, RPers, whatever team you have going), with whom you do spend a substantial amount of time. It’s important to think of them as something other than “oh, they’re just a guildie I don’t spend a lot of time with outside of our guild events”. These are people upon whom you rely, who rely upon you, without whom you might not be able to accomplish all that you do.

They deserve your respect. They deserve some social interaction outside of your events.

Without those things, it’s just a matter of time before they move on.

Having said that, you’re not required to be their best friend. Or even their friend. But remember that they’re something more than “another guildie”. They’re a teammate. A cog in the machine. Think of them as something more than the warm body they may represent or risk losing their presence in your events.

Don’t miss The Kurncast

Every Monday (or so), I put out a new episode of The Kurncast. I recently had Majik on the show for Episode 37, so check it out.

On Competition, Winning and Being Stubborn

If you’ve been reading this blog for even five minutes, you may have gotten the impression that I am a stubborn person.

If you’ve been reading this blog for longer than that, you know I’m a very stubborn person.

You may also have gathered that I am someone who tends to care about winning — at least in the sense of getting a team win. (Winning stuff as an individual, while I’m in a team, doesn’t really matter much to me. Winning stuff individually when I’m not in a team setting, of course, is nice.)

A lot of people who play World of Warcraft are competitive and enjoy “winning”, whatever “winning” means to them. That’s fine. That’s great, even. If people didn’t enjoy winning, people wouldn’t even play this game. Every time someone tops damage or healing meters, I’m sure they’re psyched because they “won”. Every time a boss dies, people have “won”. There’s a lot of competition baked into the game and the developers leverage that personality trait of ours, the desire to win, to get us to do all kinds of things.

However, the fact that so very many of us are competitive also works against us.

Winning Isn’t Everything

Winning isn’t everything, “they” say. Whoever “they” are, “they” are right. That said, it seems silly to think that there’s no reason you shouldn’t be winning regularly in World of Warcraft, right? I mean, once you get your gear and have practiced your rotation or your role or whatever, chances are good that you ought to win in whatever you’re doing on a pretty consistent basis, right? Isn’t that what farm bosses in raids are all about, after all? I mean, you work hard to get to the point where you know what you’re doing and then you win. Consistently. (Well, hopefully.)

Winning seems to be the very point of World of Warcraft, no? Races for world-firsts, server-firsts, top of the arena rankings, best challenge mode times… the list goes on.

Wanting to “win”, though, harms the communication process a great deal. As someone who can be inordinately stubborn (whether that’s because I’m a Taurus or it’s just a character flaw I embrace because a Taurus is supposed to be stubborn, I am unsure), I had a bad habit as a guild leader, of which I absolutely had to rid myself: I had a tendency to want to win arguments.

WRONG.

So wrong.

So very, very wrong.

This is wrong on the same level as a hunter wearing cloth spirit gear and wielding two one-handed swords.

This is wrong on the same level as not moving out of the fire.

So. Very. Wrong.

Why is it wrong? you may ask.

It’s wrong because, believe it or not, you are not always right.

Sorry. It’s true. I know this because I tend to be right a good proportion of the time, and yet I can still be wrong. So if I can be wrong (and I can be!), you can be wrong, too.

Unfortunately, the problem with being “wrong” is that sometimes you don’t know it. And because you don’t always know it, you may be tempted to dig in your heels and… yes, be stubborn.

If you want to do that in real life, go ahead. I can’t say you’re going to make a ton of friends that way, but it’s your choice.

However, if you try to pull that as a guild leader, raid leader, guild officer… that’s when you’re going to have trouble.

The Needs of the Many…

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. So says Spock. And we can’t really argue with Spock, can we? (No, we can’t.)

What this post is really driving at is the concept that, if you’re in an argument with someone about guild-related stuff, you need to step back and take as objective a look as you can and try to see if what you’re doing is going to benefit the guild.

Are you arguing because you want to be right or are you arguing because you want to do what’s right for the guild? These are not always the same thing.

Even more frustrating, arguments can get heated and suddenly, you’re pitted against someone else in your guild. Not only does logic typically fly out the window in these scenarios, but suddenly the argument becomes less about whatever it is you’re arguing about, and becomes more about beating the other person. That’s what we do, right? We’re competitive. We want to win. Winning means that someone else loses. Whether it’s a boss or a PVP opponent… or even our guildmates and fellow officers.

This is precisely the wrong mindset to have. As a leader, one needs to make quick shifts in mindset. One moment, you may be trying your best to down a boss, the next, you may be arguing with your officers about the best strategy to ensure people don’t inappropriately soak Twilight Barrages on 25m Heroic Blackhorn…


Whatever the case, you need to stop being competitive when you start talking to other people. You need to slow down, calm down and listen to what they’re saying and then, regardless of how much you don’t want to, you may have to concede that the other person is right.

It’s Not Easy

Well, it’s not easy for me. And if you’re remotely competitive at all, it’s not going to be easy for you. But this is why I recommend that you do not surround yourself with “yes men” as officers. You want that other perspective, you want that dissenting opinion, if only to point out that there are other ways of looking at various problems.

It can lead to tempers flaring, it can lead to that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize that you were wrong, but… if it leads to something better for the guild, isn’t it worth it?

Yup. It is.

So the next time you’re arguing with someone about guild stuff, take a second to look at the situation from another perspective. Understand why you’re digging in. Try to figure out if your wanting to be right, if your desire to win, is because you just want to be right or if it’s because that’s what you think is best for your guild.

(I promise you, it gets easier with practice!)

On Leadership and Communication

My apologies for the length between blog posts this year, my dear readers. I resolve to write in this space more frequently in 2015. I have things to say and I hope I can organize myself better so that I have the time to get those things down here.

I actually have a couple of different things that I want to talk about, including healing, including my adventures, such as they are, in Draenor… but as we bring the year to a close, I wanted to talk specifically about leadership and communication. Why? Because these ideas are so very entwined with one another that I do not believe you can be an effective leader without being an effective communicator.

How to Communicate Effectively

Okay, so this isn’t going to be a long-winded essay on how to communicate effectively, much as I would like it to be. ;) I’m just going to jot down some important key points and expound on them a little bit.

As a leader (of your guild, your raid team, whatever), people are looking to you for direction. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to be all “OH MY GOD WHAT THEY SAY IS LAW!!!”. In fact, most people will probably not listen to you as well as you’d like them to, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not listening to what you have to say. And, in the absence of direction, they’re going to go off and do whatever they want to do. So you may as well give them some semblance of direction, right? Right. Here are some ways to do so.

  1. Communicate Early and Often. You know surprise parties? I have never had one. I have never wanted one. I do not enjoy surprises. At all. You know who also hates surprises? Your guild members. Individually, sure, people may like to be surprised, but as a collective, they hate it. They hate it. Now, most news coming from leadership will be a “surprise”, but the way to help your guildies to adjust to whatever changes you’re enacting is to communicate the changes well in advance and then give them follow-up reminders.For example, Patch 4.3 of World of Warcraft introduced epic-level gems to the game. They were difficult to get and red gems, the ones that boosted strength, intellect and agility, could go for five thousand gold each for a while. As a raiding guild, I knew we would want to take advantage of those beefy stats, but I gave the guild plenty of warning as to when those epic gems would become official raid requirements. I also set up a system to request them in limited amounts from the guild bank for gear over a certain item level. If memory serves, I gave them something like six weeks’ notice and then reminders every two weeks thereafter, then a one-week warning, if I’m not mistaken.

    Give them warning. Then remind them. Then remind them again. Do this for every change you enact in terms of guild policy. It won’t always be enough to deflect all criticism lobbied against you (and you will have plenty of that!) but it will certainly be a better situation to tell them of a change with warning than to tell them of a change that is dumped on them that takes effect the next day.

  2. Be Clear and Firm (and Polite). I was going to write something here about policies, but I’ve already done so over here at Sentry Totem. Basically, remove the word “try” from all of your communications. No, your guild members should not “try” to be on time for your guild events, they must be online for your guild events. But don’t be brusque or rude. Just be firm.
  3. Be Open to Feedback. Even feedback that consists of nothing more than hurled profanity at you and your ancestry is feedback that you need to consider. If you make a decision that goes over exceedingly poorly and there are other options, discuss those with your officers and consider changing the policy … and communicating it. Again.

    I did this in Cataclysm with regards to loot issues. We felt strongly that some individuals were hoarding their EPGP priority and, as such, were harming the raid group. So we were going to change the way we handed out tier armor and unlink it from the EPGP system. This went over like a lead balloon. There was a lot of feedback. And many insults hurled our way. (Thanks for that, folks, you know who you are…) We changed the suggested policy in favour of changing how often we decayed EPGP values. I’m still not thrilled with how this went, nor do I think that solution did a lot to solve the issues we saw in terms of EPGP hoarding, but we were open to the feedback and made changes that made some difference. It was more of a compromise than a real solution and, as is the case with most compromises, no one was really happy. Still, no one was really ticked off, either.

Why Communication is so Important

It’s important because when you communicate with your guildies, you’re not only passing along important information, but because you’re also taking in their reactions and their feedback. This leads to a better working relationship between all parties.

It also lets people know that you value them and their feedback. Had I waited six weeks to tell my guild “HEY, EVERYONE NEEDS ALL EPIC GEMS FOR TOMORROW”, they would have risen up and killed me. I respected them enough to tell them “hey, in six (or eight or whatever) weeks, we’re going to be requiring all epic gems…” and then reminded them consistently.

Communicating with your guild members also helps engender a team spirit, particularly if you write things framed where you are part of the team that your audience is also part of. If that makes sense.

For example, if I wrote this:

“You all need to put epic gems in anything that’s ilvl 410 or higher”

then that makes me look as though I’m not part of the team as as though I’m dictating to the people reading. This is not the tone you want to aim for!

By contrast, if I wrote:

“Everyone (officers included!) will need to have epic gems in any piece of armor that is item level 410 or higher”

then I’m at least a bit more like a team member. Better yet, though, is this version:

“We’re all going to have to have epic gems in any armor piece that’s ilvl 410 or higher”

WE. ALL. Team-related words!

Remember, whatever you’re doing in terms of your guild events, you are a team. There is no “I” in “team”, as the saying goes, and, as I am fond of saying, a guild leader without any guildies isn’t really leading anything.

Conclusion

To summarize:

– communicate early and often
– be clear and firm, yet polite
– be open to feedback
– at all times, try to build up a sense of the team

Of course, if your actions don’t back up your words, people are going to catch on to that and will not be pleased, but that’s another blog post entirely.

Have a safe and happy new year, everyone and best wishes to you and yours for 2015!

(More GM-related advice and information can be found at Kurn’s Guides and you can also find a ton of Guild Leadership columns of mine up at Sentry Totem.)

Introducing the GUILD PACKAGE!

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to announce that, starting today, a new version of my Kick-Ass Raider guide is available. It’s the GUILD PACKAGE! That’s right, if you’re a guild master or a raid leader (or perhaps just a generous person), you can purchase unlimited copies of my Raider guide for your own raid team.

For a limited time, $37 (regular price is $47) gets you virtually unlimited copies of my guide for your raid team members. It’s the EPIC version of the guide, too, not just the basic, rare guide. That means that if you want to get four copies for people, that’s already cheaper than buying four of the $9.99 Epic guides. That also means that if you have 30 people on your roster, for example, and you get this package, you’re paying just $1.23 per guide for all of your teammates. If you’ve got 12 people on your team, that’s just about $3.08 per guide. That’s cheaper than a cup of coffee at Starbucks! ;)

Okay, so it’s not truly unlimited in that it’s really meant for a single raid team, but if you’re the GM of a huge guild with a dozen teams or something, email me at kurn (at) kurn (dot) info and we’ll work something out!

All the details can be found here:

http://kurn.info/raiderguild.html

PLUS, the first 10 people to use this discount code get 15% off. The code is LEEROYJENKINS. (This promotional code is only good for this guild package.)

Looking for something free? No problem. Sign up for my free announcement list (very low volume, no spam!) and get a free copy of the rare version of Module 1 of my Kick-Ass GM Guide! Additionally, I expect to start work on my next project, the Kick-Ass Raid Leader Guide, in May, with sneak peeks showing up sometime in June, so sign up for the mailing list anyway to be notified when this stuff comes out!

Finally, remember that I’m writing the Guild Leadership column over at SentryTotem.com! I’ve got a new column up roughly twice a week at the moment, so be sure to check that out, not just for my stuff, but for all the other quality content on the site. :)

Happy Monday, people!

(PS: This post comes to you from The Storm Peaks where I sit, waiting, ever-patiently. Or, you know, not patiently at all.)

Being a Kick-Ass Raider & an Epic Giveaway

As anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while knows, I’ve been working on a series of “kick-ass” guides. The first was about being a guild master and the second is in progress. It deals with being a kick-ass raider and I’ve already got my first free Sneak Peek up over at Kurn’s Guides.

While I already have a basic idea of what I want to talk about (skill/knowledge, gearing, logs/parses, etc), I want to know what you want to know more about when it comes to how people can improve as raiders. If you’re interested in helping me out, here’s a handy-dandy embedded form for you to fill out!

The other thing I wanted to talk about is that I have finally set up a Kurn’s Guides presence on Facebook. If you like the page before midnight (ET) on November 3rd (which is next week!), you’ll be automatically entered in a giveaway where the prize is one free copy of the Epic full version of my Kick-Ass GM guide, which is actually my best seller. Normally $59.99, you can get it for free and all you have to do is like the page!

Oh, speaking of free stuff, the Thanksgiving Happy Moose Spectacular was so awesome that I’ve extended parts of it! The basic (rare) version of Module 1: Starting Up from my Kick-Ass GM Guide is free until November 8th, with the epic and legendary versions of that module sitting pretty at just $2.99 and $4.99 each, also until November 8th. Take advantage of the offer and learn how to start up a guild — just in case you may be in that position one day!

Finally, I really appreciate everyone’s support in my various endeavours. My Twitter followers, and dedicated RTers in particular, never fail to make me smile and remind me how grateful I am that everyone’s been so receptive to my guides. :) Good luck in the Epic Giveaway and thanks for your support here at the blog, over at Guild Chat, on Twitter and now on Facebook. :)

Introducing Guild Chat

Last week, I was working to try to launch something frantically before Tuesday arrived. I had almost everything set for this project’s launch except this one tiny little feature I desperately wanted to include.

Alas, MySQL errors exploded on my screen and I said to hell with it and delayed the launch for a week. I haven’t been too outspoken about it bcause I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to finish all the little bits and pieces needed for a smooth launch, but hey! I did. (And I have this Thing about launching on Tuesdays when it comes to WoW stuff, because, you know, Tuesday is the start of the WoW week. I know. I’m weird.)

So what am I launching?

It’s called Guild Chat and it’s a forum where people can talk about various issues facing them and their guilds and get advice from the other members. It’s over at:

http://kurn.info/forum/

You do need to register in order to see most of the forum (and in order to participate!), but it’s free. You’ll need to verify your email address when registering, so be sure to use a real email address, too — and to check in various folders or tabs (Spam, Social, etc) for the registration confirmation mail. If you have problems while registering, comment here or email me and I’ll work with you to get you registered. :)

The “tiny little feature” has been redesigned. Originally, I was going to use a mod for the forum that would allow registered users only to post anonymously in a specific forum. (If I let just any anonymous user post, it would end up being 99.99999% spam.) So I decided to maintain the spirit of the idea and created a special user (with special permissions) that anyone should be able to use to end up posting somewhat anonymously, should they feel the need to do so. Sometimes it’s hard to obscure information and since anyone can register for the forum, there’s the possibility that the guildies you’re complaining about will read what you’re saying, so in order to get around that, this special user should allow you to post somewhat anonymously. (I say somewhat because I will still probably be able to tell which post is linked to which user just via IP addresses, but I’m the only one.)

This all stems from the fact that, about eighteen months ago, I wanted to put together a very closed group dedicated to GMs and officers to talk and where they could safely vent their frustrations, but that never took off and then I stopped playing. But writing my guide made me realize just how few resources there are for GMs and such out there. The forum is for anyone, whether or not you’re part of a guild’s leadership, and I welcome people from other games which have guids, but the goal is for people to really sit down and chat with each other about the problems they’re seeing in their guilds.

Whether you’re an officer or a new recruit, part of an RP social guild or a Top 100 raiding guild, all are welcome. Let’s try to find some solutions to people’s problems, shall we?

And though it probably goes without saying, considering this is me we’re talking about, Guild Chat is a respectful environment. Read the rules and policies, respect them and all will be well.

Hope to see you on the new forum! :)

(PS: There’s just 24 hours left on my $77 and $97 Specials over at my guide site, in case you wanted to take advantage before they vanish.)

On Connected Realms

Back when I first started playing World of Warcraft, I, like everyone else, was faced with a choice. At the time, I was completely unaware of how important this one choice was. I doubt most other first-timers had any idea, either. That choice was, of course, selecting a realm.

The realm I chose was Eldre’Thalas. Why? There were two reasons. The first was that it was a “Normal” server, meaning it was PVE. I had (and still have) no desire to be ganked unexpectedly.

The other reason why was because I thought it “looked cool” by virtue of having an apostrophe. That’s it. That is the entire reason I chose my home server, among 45 other PVE realms. Subsequently, that is why I met a bunch of awesome people in the guild of Fated Heroes, why I stuck with them to form Apotheosis (BC-era) and why I came back, post-Wrath, to bring Apotheosis v2.0 to life.

Because the server name looked cool.

When I look back on things, I recognize how huge a choice that was. At the time, there were no character transfers. Even now, character transfers cost $25 to pop from server to server (and believe me, I have spent a fair amount of money on transfers!), so the choice of a server is still a fairly important one. True, it no longer takes 20-30 days played to get a single character up to level 90, much less level 60, but server choice is still important, though it’s becoming less so.

With the release of Patch 5.4, Connected Realms (previously known as Virtual Realms) are being tested and implemented. Nethaera informed us on Wednesday evening that the first two realms that will be connected in this fashion are the US realms Bloodscalp and Boulderfist.

According to the US WoW RealmPop site, here are the statistics for both of those servers.

Bloodscalp:
Server type: PVP/Normal
Server timezone: MST
Alliance population: 13,581
Horde population: 32,167
Total population: 45,819

Boulderfist:
Server type: PVP/Normal
Server timezone: PST
Alliance population: 21,887
Horde population: 44,472
Total population: 66,459

I admit, this first connected realm confuses me a little bit. The Connected Realms FAQ explains that they wanted players from two (or more) lower-pop realms to play together. So why Bloodscalp and Boulderfist first? Looking at the list at RealmPop, Chromaggus has less than 16,000 characters in total. Garithos isn’t much better off, sitting at 17k. Balnazzar and Gul’dan are around the 18k mark. All four of those realms are PVP/CST realms. It seems to me as though the logical thing to do would be to group those four up pretty quickly, no?

Then again, maybe they want to start slowly, in the sense that they might want to try out this technology with just two (instead of four) realms to begin. And just two of those servers connected together would only be a total of about 32-33 thousand characters, which isn’t ideal. (Hell, all four of them merged isn’t a great population, either!) So I can understand that.

The other reason I’m confused is that they’re looking to create such a LARGE connected realm. ~46k + ~66k = ~112k characters. Either I missed a conversation/blue post out there, or I was extremely wrong in thinking that Eldre’Thalas, with its estimated population of ~74,000 characters, would remain a standalone realm. I was very surprised to see Boulderfist included, with just about eight thousand fewer characters on it than my original, home server.

The idea of Connected Realms was really interesting to me, on a community level (which I’ll get to in a moment), but it was all academic to me, for a variety of reasons, including the fact that I haven’t actively played since November of 2012. However, the idea that Eldre’Thalas may be included in this, at some point, brings it home. It’s not that good ol’ Eldre’Thalas can’t use more people (I’m sure that the Horde of ET, the few of them that remain, would agree with that sentiment), but the instant that you connect two or more realms together, the community changes.

Let’s talk a bit about community.

Back when I started playing, in October of 2005, my server (and I can’t speak to other servers because I only had characters on Eldre’Thalas, at that time) had a bunch of personalities. As you levelled, you knew of pretty much anyone who was a good player, bad player, moron, genius, scammer, you name it.

There was Atlas, the rather infamous leader of The Final Sanctum, who was, by all accounts, a jackass.

There was Suttles, who you could always count on to be yelling inappropriate things.

There was Warninja, who was always happy to open your lockboxes on the Ironforge bridge.

There was Joejoemco, who was pretty much always responsible for insane feats of kiting. Like, if Borelgore (from Eastern Plaguelands) was sitting dead in Ironforge? Yeah, that was Joejoe’s fault.

There was Rastlin, the Horde shaman, who was awesome about creating flasks and rare-ish alchemy items for people, back when you needed to go to Scholomance or Blackwing Lair to find an alchemy lab to make flasks, even arranging things with Alliance folks via the neutral AH, if I’m remembering right.

There was Thack, the main tank of Eternal Force, who was That Guy standing in Ironforge in full Tier 3, on his black scarab mount, having been the guy to ring the gong on the server back when the gates to Ahn’Qiraj were opened.

Since, at the time, battlegrounds weren’t split between battlegroups, you also got to know cross-faction folks pretty well — or, at least, you recognized who murdered you brutally in Warsong Gulch. (Dar, the orc hunter, is who taught me what the hell Scattershot was by using it on me, causing me to exclaim “what in the fuck was that?!”. Elu, the tauren druid, showed me what a bear could do for flag carrying.)

Once you connect realms, the community changes.

However, since the peak of WoW’s population, back in late Wrath of the Lich King, since the introduction of Looking for Group and, later, Looking for Raid, plus the fact that battlegrounds and arenas are battlegroup-wide, there’s very little community remaining on many servers. Larger servers, such as Proudmoore (where I raided for nine months), had enough Alliance-side population to actually have personality. With pugs running constantly, plus gold DKP runs and pre-made groups, Proudmoore was a thriving community (disclaimer: I haven’t had a regularly-played character there since May of 2010). It was so different compared to Eldre’Thalas and its relative silence.

I came back to Eldre’Thalas after about an 18 month break during Wrath. I barely recognized anyone. People applied to Apotheosis, saying they’d been life-long ETers and I was like “who the hell ARE these people?”, although I did recognize the names of guilds they’d previously been in.

Even during Cataclysm, I didn’t recognize a lot of people. I still feel as though there wasn’t a ton of real community on the server. My guildies mostly stuck to in-guild activities, as did I. I tried a normal 10m pug of Dragon Soul on my hunter at one point. I was pulled in on Blackhorn (I was obviously replacing someone who had given up in frustration) and spent two hours working on that fight with these people and we couldn’t get it down. That and Baradin Hold pugs were pretty much the extent of my forays into server activities.

So, if  connected realms change the community of realms where there’s not a lot of community to start with, then this should be a good change, no? I kind of think so.

The other strange thing about Bloodscalp and Boulderfist’s imminent connection is that these are two Horde-dominant servers. Once connected, the total approximate Alliance population will be 35,468 characters compared to the Horde’s 76,639. And these are PVP servers. True, it’s not as though the Alliance aren’t already used to being completely outnumbered by the Horde on these servers, but good Lord, that’s more than twice the amount of Horde as Alliance. One would have thought that Connected Realms would not only bring up overall populations but seek to perhaps even out the faction imbalances, no? Well, I guess not.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Connected Realms are a good idea, even if the idea is not quite unfolding the way I had thought it would. Ultimately, linking realms in this fashion does not make life difficult for anyone (except auction house fiends) and, in fact, helps to build community (where there might not have been much) between separate servers that are now linked.

There are still some unanswered questions I have, in addition to the ones I posed in my last post on the subject:

Old questions:
1) How many realms will be in a Virtual Realm?
2) With which realms will others be connected? Are they going to tack Chromaggus on to Tichondrius, for instance? Or will they do it by lumping together five to ten low-pop realms to be one large Virtual Realm?
3) Will Virtual Realms have names?
4) Will players be able to transfer to a Virtual Realm (and then get randomly dropped on a server within that VR) or will they continue to transfer to individual servers?

New questions:
5) What is the ideal population size of a Connected Realm?
6) When will the actual lower-population realms start to be connected to others?
7) What’s the approximate cutoff that makes a realm “too big” to be connected, if such a number exists?
8) Is there any interest in making sure factions are better balanced?

Oh, and while I was poking around the official forums, looking for people’s reactions, I found this post in the Bloodscalp forums about Connected Realms and had a good laugh, so I absolutely have to share it! :)

Also, don’t forget to check out Kurn’s Recruitment Checklist, to better aid you in your 5.4 recruitment push, and if you need a bit more help, there’s always Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Guild Master! In particular, Module 2: How to Recruit is full of great recruitment info (as you may have already gleaned).

Finally, I’m starting work on my second Kick-Ass Guide! This one is targetted at raiders and will be a lot shorter than the guild master guide. I hope. Well, at 358 pages, the guild master guide is kind of massive, so hopefully it won’t be too difficult to release a shorter guide in a shorter period of time. The GM guide took me close to four months, so I’m aiming for half of that time before the Raider guide is out. Keep yourself up to date here or follow me on Twitter (@kurnmogh) or sign up for my mailing list over at Kurn’s Guides! :)

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