Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

It’s been quiet around here because generally things with me have been status quo. I raid with BT once per week on our “new” casual schedule, and enjoy it a great deal. I play WoW on the other days when I feel like it, but otherwise all of my management responsibilities have been greatly reduced. I don’t have to stress out about performance or progression because we aren’t pushing for it like we used to. I hope the rest of the guild doesn’t mind, but if anyone does mind they haven’t mentioned it to me! On the contrary, the past month has seen an explosion of guild activities, more than we ever had before outside of raiding. There was a brief lull after we slowed our pace, and then all of those free raid days began to fill up with other activities organized by other people. There’s an arena team that runs Tuesdays, people run BGs together a few times a week. I started a Firelands run on Saturdays which is a whole entry unto itself, and Fsob has been organizing what he dubbed “MMLA” runs (you heard it here first, people). That is: Mounts, Mogging, Legendary and Achievement runs. Because Real ID now allows for grouping up to do old content, we’re no longer limited by the number of people available to us.

These runs started off small – a concentrated group of BT people and a few friends doing Sunwell, Black Temple, etc. But the changes to Real ID have allowed it to explode into almost an entire group of people running Ulduar 25 for achievements, a shot at Mimiron’s Head, transmogging gear, and meta-achievement drakes. A few people even brought characters locked at level 80 because they need the gear to eventually do a Herald of the Titans run. I was thinking about something as we were doing Ulduar last night, hanging out on Mumble and “meeting” some of the people I’ve known via Twitter for a long time. Business Time’s footprint is small – I mean, we are a small guild, kept that way intentionally. We have maybe twenty members, tops, at any given time. (Probably less). But our reach is wide. Through Twitter networking, blogging, and runs like Fsob’s run, we interact with a great many more people than our small guild size would seem to suggest. The fact is, the guild we are in almost doesn’t even matter anymore, and will come to matter even less after Battle Tags are implemented.

Think about it. Via Real ID, I have been running Firelands with a holy paladin from Apotheosis for a month now. We were friends before, but now we also raid together. Likewise, the guild leader of Waypoint on Medivh has been running with us each Saturday. Last Saturday we brought Tikari (also of Apotheosis). Now of course, Nowell and Tikari are still members of Apotheosis, and Karanina is the guild leader of Waypoint. But what are they to me, and what is BT to them? It’s not exactly nothing. You might call them “friends of the guild.” If they wanted to make an alt and hang out in BT, I would absolutely say yes. The bonds of friendship online, in a game like Warcraft, are forged through three things: communication (via text), communication (via the spoken word) and shared experiences. I’ve been raiding and talking to all of these people once a week for a month now. I raid with my guild once a week. So how do the two groups differ?

I think in many ways, they don’t. The most important and key way, obviously, is progression raiding. Apotheosis is raiding hard-mode content with a group of 25 people. Their policies and involvement may differ considerably from Business Time’s. But in the space that we intersect, we get along famously. I also cannot overstate that this is absolutely the best thing that could possibly happen for guilds of any size or goal. Guilds have typically been (largely) insular operations. You have your own guild chat, you have your guild events, you may sometimes invite “outsiders” along but generally it’s all about what happens within a guild. Thanks to the new connectivity between guilds, this mentality has been exploded. Small guilds (such as ours) can tap into a much larger resource of players. The challenge to keep your guild engaged and interested has just been greatly reduced! It used to be that I worried if I wasn’t online every day, or I worried if we didn’t have enough events being planned outside of raiding that people would get bored, or stop logging in, or even leave. I imagine that other guild leaders may have the same fears. It’s tough to maintain a community of people when everyone has commitments outside of playing a video game. Especially in smaller guilds players can be like ships passing each other in the night – never even seeing another soul online for hours at a time. That may still be a true, but an influx of organized activity that members can participate in keeps people happy and engaged. As far as I’m concerned, there is no downside to this at all. I get to meet and raid with friends that might not necessarily share the same progression raiding goals as I do, and we don’t have to be in the same guild, but we still have a good time!

It also means opportunity for everyone involved. Cross-pollination of guilds widens the community, and bridges the gulf that’s always existed between isolated guild communities without impacting the singular goals of the guilds themselves. Thanks to the contribution of these folks, I am making progress towards building a Dragonwrath. Yes, I decided to go ahead and get it done, no matter what it took. That wouldn’t be possible without the help of these friends. We usually have a critical mass of BT players each week, but are just 2-3 people short of a “guild” run. To me, it’s been pretty amazing. We’ve been doing heroic modes and having a blast. I think everyone has fun. (Although ask them how they feel in a few months…) On the flip-side, Val’anyr shards have been going to Jasyla in the Ulduar 25 runs. Somehow it seems “right” to me that our guild members can help her build a legendary while some of her guild members are helping me build one, too. I’m not a member of Apotheosis, and they aren’t members of Business Time, but as I said – we aren’t nothing to each other, either.

Meantime, I haven’t even touched on the raiding communities that have sprung up as a result of this Real ID change – people who want to make cross-server raiding their primary game activity! The guild that you are in at that point matters even less, because there is not likely to be a “central” guild organizing an event, rather it’s an individual bringing together raiders from all over. It’s radical to suggest that you might not even need a guild to enjoy raiding content, but with Looking For Raid and cross-server raiding, that has very quickly become our reality.

So where do we go from here? Let’s break down even more barriers. I wish I could group with people from the EU. I wish I could raid with my cross-faction friends. Let me invite friends from other servers via the in-game calendar! Consolidate these things so I am spending more time in your game. Let me offer guild repairs for everyone in my raid, the same way I can drop a feast and provide flasks for them. The final one, I’m a bit more trepidatious about: the ability for Real ID groups to join raids for current content. If that one becomes a reality, your guild tag really might cease to matter in a way that’s dangerous for guilds, although it might also really help to be able to fill a raid last-minute with a friend. The structure of guild and group play in WoW has been fundamentally altered. I’m not quite sure where it’s heading, or where Blizzard will draw the line, but for the time being I am pretty happy about it. The recently announced Scroll of Resurrection plays into this too. Characters and guilds and play are ultimately malleable at this time. It’s as easy as snapping their fingers for Blizzard to create a level 80 character, to race/faction change a character, and send them to whatever server they want. All of this is accomplished usually in a matter of minutes – I know, because I’ve poured money in that direction before. Now that the floodgates have been opened to allow us to play together, I predict that people won’t be content to stop there. We’ll probably see current content Real ID raiding, guild raiding coalitions, possibly even guild mergers. (It’s possible to server transfer a guild now, too!) More and more, we’re going to be playing together however much we want to be.

So how about you? How have the Real ID changes impacted your gameplay? What do you think about the “new” social reality of World of Warcraft?

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Comments on: "The New Guild Order: Why Your Guild Tag Matters Less All The Time" (28)

  1. YES. IT IS HAPPENING.

    Guilds will only matter so long as Blizzard continues to insist that they are required for progression raiding.

    I can’t wait for Battle Tags. :)

  2. I’ve been a big loud voice of non guild raids for a lot of years. I lead two!

    Applying to Business Time was a big deal for me, because it was the first time I had ever apped to a guild for the sole purpose of raiding. (Of course, the fact that I actually enjoying hanging out and talking to people came quickly. I enjoy hanging out!)

    I like the idea of cross server raids! (Cross faction would be even more cool, if only to hear Voss complain about me bringing the Horde stink!)

    • And I’m so glad that you did! =) You are definitely an example of how multi-guild(ed?) it is possible to be and still enjoy success and a lot of different fun. It sounds like a blog post to me…

  3. /shrug

    It’s there, but I don’t think about it too much. That’s most likely because I can count on one hand the number of people I have on Real ID. Plus, I still don’t play all that much, and when I am logged in not that many people are awake. (Unless you live in Australia or you’re a night owl.)

    However, I do think that Real ID and cross realm stuff has revitalized the game for a core group of people who want to hang with their friends who aren’t necessarily in the same guild.

    Outside of Battle Tags, the last frontier of all this is cross faction grouping. Of course there are issues with that, like the Gunship Battle in ICC –which faction’s gunship do you use?– but there’s plenty of examples where this sort of cross-faction grouping would make sense. (Sunwell due to the Shattered Sun, ICC due to the Argent Crusade, etc.)

    Oh, and one thing never changes: no guild = lots of ‘guild invite’ whispers.

    • I am definitely a big proponent of the cross-faction raids. Introduce a “Culling of Stratholme” type effect if you must, and we can take turns alternating with Horde friends (whoever is party lead determines the run’s faction) just to keep it above board for “lore” reasons, but really – even on an RP server, this wouldn’t impact people at all. Since instances are an enclosed, singular space, you could just choose never to take part in a cross-faction one and so your character never has a quandary. I know it’s a bit lore-breaking but it would be such a quality of life thing for me to be able to play with my Horde friends on my main character and vice versa.

      • I don’t think it’s as Lore breaking as you think, Vid. Considering that organizations such as Shattered Sun, Earthen Ring, and the Argent Crusade were composed of both factions, it only makes sense that you’d be fighting alongside a person from another faction.

        That is actually a pet peeve of mine, in that for all the cross-faction organizations, there’s precious little in the game that gives a nod to ex-members refusing to fight others. The only one that stands out in my mind is Thassarian and Koltira and their refusal to fight each other.

        Which reminds me: the unique situation of the Scryers and the Aldor accepting toons of both factions makes me wonder if you could cross faction raid all as members of one of those two Outland organizations.

  4. And, while I understand your concerns about guild cohesion, I’ve been an officer in the same guild for six years, three years of which I ran a non guild raid.

    Noxilite is still going strong, stretching across two games. Raiding is just not a guild activity, if that makes sense. We still have a strong sense of guild. We are still Noxies. (Much like me being in BT, doesn’t make me any less of Noxie)

    Wait… did I tell you I was the officer in two guilds? I am sure I mentioned that I was the officer in a vanity RP guild. Ah well. So be it.

  5. That late night looking for raid with some RealID folks was some of the most fun I’ve had with WoW in a really log time, even if it kept me up past my bedtime. I wouldn’t have traded in sleep for it. It refreshed me, and encouraged me in a time when I really needed it.

    I still fairly closely guard my Real ID information, so I also can’t wait for battle tags, where the limits will be boundless :)

    • I’m glad you had fun! I really like combining the “two worlds” as it were, actually playing the game with friends I’ve made outside of it. It is so perfect. When they first announced that it would be possible I’m fairly sure my squee was heard audibly from coast to coast.

  6. I think BattleTags will make it ever more widespread. I already had a healthy size of real ID friends and would love to have a way to better organize them because it is growing.

    I have used the ability to raid mostly with people from my old server, but I do want to use the services you mentioned in the post more. I think doing 25 FL is probably going to happen soon, have done a couple of a ICC25 achievement runs with awesome results. Tons of fun.

    • Organization is going to be HUGE. (Cross-server calendar invites are something I definitely want just for ease of use!) I’m glad to hear you’ve been having fun with the Real ID raiding. It definitely changed the way I play the game.

  7. Goons have a similar thing going that does cross-realm raiding on both factions. The insular twitter community isn’t the only ones doing this, though I have no idea how widespread it is.

    Making current content cross-realmable will be the opening of the floodgates. Korean realms already GDKP pug 8/8 heroic dragon soul, that’s the sort of change that would make the talent pool big enough for US/EU realms to do that sort of thing as well.

    • I’ve no doubt tons of people are doing this, I definitely don’t think I said anywhere in the post that it was something exclusive. ;) I’m just talking about what I have personal experience with.

      I’m still not sure whether they will go with letting current content be raided this way – it could be in their eyes the ‘last bastion’ that they prefer not to touch. It may come down to what is best for business – if it’s something people demand loudly enough, it’ll probably happen.

  8. I had fun joining up (if very briefly) with the Team Waffle podcast cross-realm raiding a couple of weekends ago. Apart from the lols of an all druid (well +1 shammy) raid it was great to be able to join with so many ‘famous’ druids!

    Now if only Blizzard could do something to nerf timezones so I could actually play with the majority of the player base (and blogging community). Heck Gnomer and I basically don’t overlap and we’re in the same country (although it is slightly better in winter).

    • Haha, poor outlying shammy. “One of these things is not like the other…”

      Nerf timezones! You crack me up, Gameldar. “Now that they’ve nerfed timezones everyone is awake at all hours – in my day we had to stay up until 4 AM to raid like that – now they’re just catering to the casuals…”

  9. Ah, this makes me a bit sad because I finally turned on Real ID when this feature was announced but haven’t added more than a couple of folks. So raids like this haven’t been happening like I hoped.

    • I’m sorry to hear it hasn’t panned out like you’d expected. My only suggestion would be to consider finding one of the organized groups like Twitterland Raiding (and others, I think Looking For Raid was one) where they organize groups to allow you to join in the fun without necessarily starting with a big network of Real ID friends!

  10. [...] know, I’m contradicting myself. If you read my most recent post, you read that I am pretty excited about Real ID raiding. I think especially once Battle Tags are [...]

  11. Oh, Vidyala, you said it what I have been thinking for some time, and again, will mention this post in an upcoming thought mash-up.

  12. I’m curious how much of a difference this feature is really going to make for the wider WoW population. On the one hand I keep seeing a lot of enthusiasm for it from a certain group of bloggers, on the other hand I don’t actually know anyone in-game who has used Real ID for anything but the occasional chat. Would be interesting to know some numbers.

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