Guild Chat: Damage control after MMO guildmate poaching


Welcome along to another edition of Guild Chat, the column through which I gather the Massively Overpowered readers together to help me tackle a guild-related issue. This time, reader King wants to know how to stem the steady flow of his guild ranks into another guild’s after some recent hype in-game started the poaching off. King mentions that he feels that the guild was running fairly well until another guild leader joined his usual runs as a PUG and people started becoming interested in his tales of great success on Discord. Feeling that the grass was most definitely greener on the other side, what started off as the reciprocal filling of gaps for one another’s guilds has become a spot of member poaching.

You’ll find King’s full submission below alongside my response as to how to deal with this poaching problem once and for all. As ever, King and I would both greatly appreciate your advice and would love to see it in the comments section.

I started bonding with another guild leader and it is proving to be terrible for my guild. I needed some spots filling and posted up ads to that effect, and a seemingly nice fellow guild leader offered to bring his alts to our runs if we would do the same for any gaps he had. This worked well for a number of runs and we got close until he started telling stories about his solid main runs and easy full clears. This is when our members started to jump ship and went to his guild and just left us with alts for our main run, which basically killed our progress dead. I am furious that he is using us as a recruitment pool especially since he only takes our best and I want to prevent the tide of leavers as much as possible.

Cut the co-dependency as soon as possible

The most obvious first step to take to reduce the number of players jumping ships is to cease your co-dependent relationship with the other guild leader and focus on strengthening the team you have left. Although your progress will be slower and the contact between your guild and theirs is already well established, you can minimise the ease of poaching by reducing your need of the other guild and also the feeling that they are the superior choice. If you can’t cut it on your own, it makes the poacher’s guild seem like the simpler and most obvious choice: Your members might as well join the guild that is holding up your bootstraps.

Think about it this way: If you were a contractor working for a local company and making modest yet rapid gains in lead generation and customer capturing with the help of a larger firm that was moving in on your company’s area, and then you were offered the opportunity to join that new firm, you’d consider making the leap. If the other guild is offering more reliable results without much effort or upheaval on your members’ part, the jump will seem like a no-brainer. It’s not personal and you shouldn’t feel betrayed or upset by the jumping you’re witnessing: Remember that when you’re dealing with people’s hard-to-find leisure time, people will often take the most direct or effective route to fulfilment.

Ending the co-dependency means not using the leader — or his guildmates — in your runs for the foreseeable future and also pruning away any alts they have in your ranks if you feel that those characters have not been left with you for the purpose of meaningful engagement. If this leaves your roster too sparse to run your desired content, feel free to do as you did before and advertise for casual players to join you. The rift might sting and some tempers may fray at the loss of talented players from your talent pool, but their investment in your progress and activities is low to none if their main focus is on another guild. Keep it civil and factual: Explain that players will be stretched too thin if they try to run with both guilds indefinitely.

Do a guild health-check while you’re taking stock

After pruning your roster and making a clean, civil break, you’ll find it is the perfect time to take stock, correct any guild management issues that might exist, and improve on your guild administration where relevant to you and your guild. Your roster has shrunk and this gives you some quieter time to fix anything that previously wasn’t quite up to standard without upsetting the regular running of your guild at peak. Virtually every guild can improve on its organisation or offer more events and connection between its members, so gather your officers and have a good brainstorming session.

If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to check out my recipe for a successful guild: I’d suggest making your remaining roster a more cohesive unit by creating a guild ethos or mission statement that refocuses everyone on your common goals, looking at your officer ranks and general permissions, and reaffirming that the direction you’ve set for your guild is one that suits its members and leaders. There’s always room for improvement in even the best guilds and this prep work will pay off in the long run as you come back from the losses caused by poaching.

An important administration check that you’ll need to do is to consider the bulk of your roster and how they fit into your future plans. Now is the time to recruit the up and coming members of your roster up into your regular content teams (if you structure things that way, of course) and ensure that every member is offered the opportunity to engage in meaningful activities with your guild. Consider the gaps in your roster and build a picture of how readily your ranks can be refilled and with what sort of player you plan on doing so.

Begin recruitment before you stagnate

Once you have redefined your guild and have made clear the division between your guild and the poaching guild, it’s time to begin recruitment again. The biggest risk your guild faces at this point is stagnation caused by the roster shrinkage, so opening up the books after fully appraising what sort of players you need and how they’ll fit into your content framework is a critical step in getting over the poaching. If your remaining roster gets a whiff of the guild winding down operations, you’ll lose more players once again and will soon end up with a skeleton of a guild, so be proactive about your advertising and get creative.

I highly recommend pairing organic recruitment — engaging with and attempting to recruit suitable PuGs you add to your content runs — with advertisement across the available in-game channels for your MMO of choice and perhaps even out of the game on game forums or a dedicated guild website. How you choose to do this is up to you: My general advice without knowing your game or guild type is to cater your recruitment to the style of play you envision and don’t make applying overly taxing on the applicants.

In my experience, unless you are running one the top high-content guilds on your server — and I’m supposing that isn’t your aim if you are a victim of player poaching — you don’t need to go to massive effort designing a complex application system with a sprawling questionnaire. Keep it simple: If you cannot clearly communicate it over PM, either revise your message or keep a simple, clean guild website with the needed information in as easy to digest a format as is possible. If any officers or friends are helping you with recruitment, ensure they know the methods you are using and apply the process consistently.

Over to you!

It’ll be difficult to put aside any ill-feeling and rebuild your ranks, but if you plan well and manage to prevent stagnation then your roster will undoubtedly recover with a little time and effort. Good luck with the recovery process, King!

Have you ever fallen prey to a guild poacher? How did you react, and were you able to fix the situation? Let King know your take on this in the comments below.

Many thanks to King for this week’s submission. If you would like to see your guild-related query or dilemma featured in Guild Chat, email me your submission for consideration.

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
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