Guild Chat: Successfully merging MMORPG guilds

    
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Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column in which we gather together to help a reader in need solve his or her guild-related quandary. The reader in question this time round is a young guildleader called Thomas who has spent some time working alongside another guild and has realised that the other offers more to its members that he currently does. This has made him wonder whether he should merge his guild with theirs and fold up his members into the larger, more stable roster of his new friends’ virtual home. He worries that he will annoy the bulk of his current roster by jumping ship and also has doubts about what a newly merged guild would offer him personally. Read Thomas’ full submission below and chime in on the issue at hand in the comments to help him out.

I’ve been wondering for the last couple weeks about merging guilds and wanted some pearls of wisdom before I make the leap. I run a small casual guild with some great members who are having fun leveling and generally making friends. I tend to go outside the guild to do endgame hard content, though, and have made some connections in another guild that is more hardcore than mine. I feel really guilty when I see how well the other guild runs compared to mine and it makes me think that maybe I should fold up into that guild and take anyone from my ranks who wants to come with me. I don’t know if I have the time or skills to run my guild as well as they do because I’m only 17, and I would have more guildmates for endgame content if I joined the other guild. I would want to keep some control but don’t even know what to say to my guildmates and the other leader if I do go ahead with this. I don’t even know if it’s a good decision. What do I do?

Guild merging in scenarios such as yours is more common that you might think, Thomas, so rest assured that you wouldn’t be the first guild leader who considers folding into the crew of a bigger, shinier ship than their own. There are several potential pitfalls that go hand in hand with mergers that I’d like to bring your attention to, and I also want to help you make certain that leadership is definitely off the table for you before you take this step. It’s not as though a merger is entirely irreversible should you decide to lead solo again down the line, of course, but you can’t know how many people join you in splitting off again or how well the other guild would take it. I’ll help you find those answers and will hopefully get you much closer to happy guilding again by the end of the article!

guild 03Why a merger and not just a member exchange?

Before you head down the merger route, why not consider opening up a sort of member exchange that mutually benefits both guilds without any players losing their existing guild identities in the exchange? Guilds are such nebulous, ever-changing units. They continually adapt to the unique group of people they contain, the current conditions in your MMO of choice, and external pressures that have little to nothing to do with gaming. Keep that in mind: Maybe what you’re feeling right now isn’t so much the urge to jump ship as the knowledge that you’re outgrowing your current guild mission statement.

It seems as though you want a new in-game challenge that you are unsure is in keeping with the casual nature of your guild, else I suspect you’d be running the endgame content you crave with your own crew. I ask you then why a merger of your member base into a more endgame-savvy, “hardcore” guild would be of specific benefit to both your guildmates and the other guild? If you believe your guild members wish to work toward more “hardcore” completion of MMO endgame activities, why not mentor your team to greatness now that you’ve seen how this content works and how such a guild operates? What makes you think that you’re not up to the task? Maybe sending your endgamers to PUG for their guild while taking in their players who need to go casual due to outside committments is wiser?

You say that at your age, you’re unsure of your ability to lead, but if you’ve been able to hold a steady roster for a period of time with no major fallouts and a bunch of happy campers, you’re halfway there in terms of guild management! Many people greatly overthink the challenges presented by guild membership and leadership, which is sort of why this column exists in the first place. If this is the case for you, let me be the first to tell you that you can do this should you wish to, so don’t rush into downing tools unless you’re very certain that you’re making the best choice for all parties (obviously weighing your in-game happiness appropriately since that should be your main responsibility) and aren’t actually sacrificing a good thing to reach pastures that look greener from your side of the fence.

guild 02Assess the merger’s advantages for you and your crew

To help you make that decision, go back to my initial question and answer it truthfully: What specific benefits are gained by you, your crew, and the other guild by creating this merger? You might well have to do a little bit of digging into the other guild before you can really get to the answer here. Does the other guild have a casual wing that can accommodate your guildmates while they transition into competent endgame play? How do they feel about those casual players and do they host get-togethers or events to include them? Will you be able to find a regular spot in its ranks to run the sort of content you’re seeking? There are many questions you should be asking before even broaching the subject of a merger, so get chatty with the other guild’s leadership.

In this instance, I’m not so worried about how beneficial the merger is for the other guild since I’m looking at this from your perspective, but I will say that there should be some real benefit to them to ensure that the merger is well received. Offering them your crew as a developmental talent pool is a nice idea in your specific case, provided you don’t promise the stars to the new guild about your guildmates’ ability levels or to your guildies about the opportunities they’re likely to be offered initially.

Look after your fledglings where you can because they have placed a certain degree of their trust in you and have invested their gaming time in your ranks. You’ll still be working with your original crew in some capacity if the merger goes ahead, so kindness and honesty is the best way forward. Give them the reality of what the merger would look like and let them decide whether or not joining is worth it for them. They may well want to stay in a casual-only guild where there is no pressure at all to level up, gear up, and shape up.

guild 01Carefully consider the pitfalls as well

Mergers sometimes come with a degree of hostility, clique rivalry, and tension between old and new members, so expect to deal with your fair share of fallouts should you go ahead. The main thing to remember is that relationships take time and work to build, so facilitating that process is the easiest way to get through teething problems. Have some fun with VOIP chat, play games, meet up in-game for a party, and generally get social. Deal with any negativity swiftly and decisively, remembering that the main aim is to have fun and that it’s okay to lose some people along the way to help all parties find a setup that is enjoyable to them.

The hardest part of a guild merger for the ex-leader is working out the new power dynamic. When you’re stepping into a different type of guild that already has a working infrastructure, you could well find that you don’t have a natural place among the leader ranks in the new environment. Where you’ll fit in on the roster is most definitely something you should hammer down before you start moving your players to the new guild: They’ll expect you to be in a position to help them transition smoothly, so have your role established first.

It might be best to move just one of your characters to the new guild to see what it’s really like when you’re a member there if you haven’t already done so. Sometimes when we’re on the outside looking in, it’s easy to see a covetable scene of perfection when really all we’re seeing is the edited showreel of that guild’s best action by its best members. Check out the guild chat and VOIP chat and use these tools to speak with the ordinary members who maybe aren’t those who you run endgame content with to more generally scope out the atmosphere; it’s a good reality check for you to make before committing.

guild 00Manage the new power dynamics at play

To your roster, you are a leader that they’ve been happy to follow, otherwise your members would have left your guild already. Those members will continue to look to you for leadership, but be careful that you don’t tread on the new guild leader’s toes when dealing with your ranks. If you do take on an officer or similar leadership role, be careful that you don’t favour your original crew over your new guildmates or else you could find yourself out of that role rather quickly as tensions build. Likewise, don’t let the new guild walk all over your crew either: They’re now all one big in-game family, after all, and your roster deserves to have the same opportunities and privileges bestowed on them as any other member of the same rank.

Explain your usual way of operating in detail to the new guild leader ahead of time and encourage him to ease your crew into his or her preferred methods sensitively: If you usually allow casual swearing but the new leader issues note-recorded warnings for that, for example, negotiate on your members’ behalf that the rule is made a little bit more lax for them on the first offense. Explain the new guild’s rules clearly to your old ranks so that nobody is set up to fail from the start. You don’t want to create a scenario where your old crew feel bullied by the new leadership while those leaders are frustrated about how their rules are being disrespected. Equal treatment for all will come naturally after a little time but manage the situation as sensitively as you can until then.

Having been on the “big guild” side of a merger myself, I can tell you that they can and do work well when handled correctly. I had an immense amount of fun getting to know my new members and finding ways to use the increased amount of people-power the merger afforded me. We all got along splendidly, and I ran several tiered raiding teams to accommodate as many of those members as was feasible. I really hope you come to a decision that makes more gamers just as happy, Thomas! Whatever you decide, happy gaming to you and your guildmates.

Over to you!

Have you ever been part of a guild merger? How well did it work? Have you got a different perspective to offer? Comments make for a much fuller picture for our readers in need, so pop your opinions and advice for Thomas below.

Many thanks to Thomas for his submission! If you would like help with a guild-related issue, feel free to email me your query. Please send along as much detail as possible to make my answer as specific as it can be.

MOP’s Tina Lauro is on-hand to deal with all of your guild-related questions, queries, and drama in Guild Chat. Whatever your guild issue, she’s sure to have a witty yet sympathetic response. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to see dissected, drop Tina a comment or send an email to tina@massivelyop.com.
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