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.

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