Perfect Ten: The types of MMO guilds

This was a television show.

Guilds! They’re remarkably consistent features of MMOs because developers have long realized that they are an unparalleled engine for creating drama, arguments, and recriminations. Occasionally guilds actually band together and do things, but most of the time they’re a way for players to make everyone in a social group equally uncomfortable until someone finally gets annoyed enough to leave. Inevitably, it’s the one person everyone wanted to keep around. Then starts the chaotic break-up process before everyone gets into a new guild.

Unless, of course, your guild is actually a collection of enthusiastic friends!

See, that’s the thing about guilds. They do tend to fit into a certain number of categories, but there’s also a lot of difference between the guilds that tend to spam advertisements for anyone not currently in a guild and the ones with thoughtful, targeted recruitment. Or even more specifically, the guilds that exist chiefly as a vanity project for a small number of people, maybe even a lone player. Let’s break it all down into listicle format – why not?

Not pictured: Pets, joy, the love of God, goodness.

1. The social guild

While sizes vary, the social guild is (I suspect) the vast majority of most guilds in any game. These are the guilds that fit in no other category but are primarily focused around bringing together strangers who are at least broadly compatible with one another in personality, creating a general circle of camaraderie in which everyone feels welcome, happy to talk, and eager to do stuff together even if what exactly the stuff is that will be done is often ill-defined.

At the best of times, these guilds tend to be a great way to meet people you didn’t previously know and get exposed to more of the game accordingly. At the worst of times, they devolve into basically an extended social circle for one or two people whose outsized personalities dominate the entire conversation at all times. Which one you get can determine a lot of how the guild feels, but the point remains the same – this isn’t really a guild with a focus so much as it is meant as a general-purpose friend list.

2. The “just recruit everyone”

Whether or not these guilds have a focus intended is irrelevant because these are the guilds that just spam invites and/or pleas for anyone unguilded to join. They’re trying to get more members by casting the widest possible net, thus ensuring that many of the people who wind up there are otherwise not in a guild for good reasons and even more of the people there just want to be in something without caring too much about what. As a result, it’s a social guild without filters.

This rarely goes well for anyone involved.

Knife fight, baby.

3. The progression guild

This is a guild focused around one singular and understandable goal, and that is dominance. Maybe it’s in raids, maybe it’s in PvP, maybe it’s in crafting – the details don’t matter. What matters is that this is a guild with a purpose, and that purpose is being as close to the best as is realistically possible.

Again, this is the sort of thing that can vary a lot depending on the people involved. Sometimes you get a group of friendly but driven players all working their hardest to advance through difficult content. Sometimes you get a bunch of inconsiderate jerks bound and determine to prove how hardcore they are. And sometimes – far too often, in fact – this group overlaps well with the next sort of guild.

4. The trolling jerks

A PvP guild might consist of people who want to play at a high level of competition… or it might consist of people who want to ruin the days of other players. A progression group might take joy in wrecking other player-run social events, distorting the marketplace, or otherwise just kicking sand all over the place. These people are here to have a good time, and that good time almost always comes at the expense of everyone around them.

If you are in one of these guilds, you should probably leave. If you’re happy to be a part of one of these guilds… well, I don’t care to know you.


5. The roleplaying guild

A time-honored tradition, the roleplaying guild is a group of players all dedicated to doing the same thing, and that thing is roleplaying out as much as is humanly possible. As such, there are so many different flavors of roleplaying guild that I couldn’t possibly list all of them, and there’s almost always overlap with other guild types. Many roleplaying guilds are also progression guilds, for example, and others fall under one of the several headers later in the article.

This tends to be the sort of guild I wind up inhabiting because I am a gigantic dork and don’t pretend otherwise.

6. The newbie guild

Whether official (formed automatically by the game for new players at a certain point) or player-run, the newbie guild is based primarily around helping new players get a sense of how the game is supposed to work or at least have a shared spot to be confused within. It hopefully features at least some veteran players to answer questions and help guide people, although often there’s little to no vetting process and thus there’s nothing stopping the supposed mentors from having no idea what they’re telling the new players.

If it weren’t clear, that’s a bad thing. These guilds are valuable and should be used to help give new players a gentle on-ramp to the title rather than a place to troll the clueless. If you use one of these for trolling the clueless… again, I don’t care to know you.


7. The unique function collective

There are guilds in Final Fantasy XIV that exist to put on plays. They’re not roleplaying guilds, per se; the people putting these plays on are often not on roleplaying servers and aren’t pretending to portray their characters as anything. Instead, the purpose is to serve a very specific and unique design of putting on in-game plays for people to enjoy in-game and using the game’s engine to do something interesting.

Frankly, these kinds of guild are usually really neat and worth learning more about, regardless of how common or uncommon they might be. Sometimes they do overlap with the roleplaying guild, too, which is kind of wonderful and weird.

8. The tiny vanity guild

All right, so sometimes these are actually really the same as the special purpose guild but they’re just made for one or two people. These are tiny, tiny guilds, often consisting of less than a dozen characters, made to fulfill some specific need within the game and nothing beyond that. They’re not recruiting, they don’t want more people, and sometimes it’s not even remotely clear why the guild exists, but it does just the same.


9. The bitter ex guild

This is a guild formed by a schism. Something happened in the leadership of another guild on this list, people wound up leaving, and ultimately you wind up with a new guild that’s defined in no small part by “we’re no longer part of [OLD GUILD], we’re now [NEW GUILD]!”

This doesn’t inherently make the new guild a lesser prospect; sometimes, these bitter ex guilds actually wind up surpassing or supplanting the original, sometimes in weird ways. The point here is not to diminish the guild but to note that in some way, it is at least initially defined by the fact that it used to be part of a different organization, and the leadership is steering it in no small part to be in contrast with that.

10. The “family” guild

Last but not least, you have the guild that is broadly a “social” guild but technically surpasses that because it’s not a social circle formed within a game. Instead, it’s a social circle formed before the game, often one that moves from game to game by collective decision, with the guild itself forming something of a family unit that bands together in a variety of settings.

The bright side of these guilds is, of course, that they become an all-purpose haven for a certain group of players to share and experience things together. The down side? Well, you’re technically missing out on people you don’t know yet… but considering that also means skipping the trolling jerks you might not care to know, that may be a good thing.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at or with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”

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The “just recruit everyone”…

This rarely goes well for anyone involved.

I strongly disagree with this.

Sure, it brings people together who may have little enough in common to begin with, but if the Guild or group functions it will soon distill itself into different components, with a strong “core” while those who can’t stand the group leave quickly. There will be other sub-groups who may remain in the Guild or spin off into their own new super-team.

But invariably what happens is new friendships are formed, relationships happen, coalitions appear and the experience of involved players is generally widened and improved.

And what’s really the worst that happens? Somebody learns not to accept a random invite next time around?

I’ve been playing MMOs for over 15 years and I’ve joined a lot of these groups and always had a very interesting – and generally, very positive – experience.

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There are also ‘Mom and dad’ guilds run by and for older players, in which nobody freaks out if you have to AFK in a dungeon, and it’s totally fine if you’re only on for a little bit of time each day, and so on. (Hi guys!) 😁

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Turing fail

I joined a corp/guild in EVE Online because I knew its leader IRL from work. The nature of the game doesn’t foster trust, so being able to walk into his office if he screwed me over in-game was a major factor in my joining up.

This group was a combo of social and progression. Unfortunately, aside from the guy I knew from work I never really meshed with the rest of the crew (-social), and every time I flew with them I got killed because they were disorganized in PvP (-progression). I eventually left when my colleague took another job and a break from EVE.


Those #8 vanity guilds I’ve been a part of. Ironically they’re usually to stop being pestered and bothered by randos to join their guild when at or near max level (#2 on your list). So it becomes a sort of defense mechanism to just leave us solo players alone so we can enjoy the game our way….


The only kind of guild I’ll usually consider joining is The social guild.

The progression guild isn’t for me; it often demands discipline and commitment, and I flat out refuse to ever commit to a game. I might play a lot and even become quite good in the process, but I’ll always be just one whim away from leaving the game altogether.

The trolling jerks is very much why I’ll only play MMOs where other players are incapable of negatively impacting my character, which means not just the absence of FFA PvP, but also no mechanic at all that could force me to acknowledge that any other given player or guild even exists; then I can just put it on ignore, pretend their members don’t even exist, and keep enjoying the game in peace.

The unique function collective is something I’ll often join if the game allows multi-guilding; it’s often great fun, but it’s not something I would ever join as my only one guild.

The tiny vanity guild is what I end up with in most games that provide benefits or rewards for being in a guild; ironically, having benefits meant to push people into joining guilds tend to make me create my own one-person guild and, thus, be much less likely to ever join a “real” guild.

The “family” guild is something I wouldn’t join because I’m not going to let other people decide what I play, ever.

Franklin Adams

That’s kind of a really limited special function, I’d call it a performance art guild and not really an overarching special purpose. It’s cool, hell I’ve seen a group do this before over in STO I saw a group of people do MacBeth at Starfleet Academy years ago, with a running translation in “the original Klingon” (R.I.P General Chang/Mr. Plummer). It was pretty fucking impressive. But in reality there are a lot of performance artists in MMOs, Sleeps-on-Bridges comes to mind. They’re an Argonian male that literally sleeps on Bridges across Tamriel and in Coldharbour. I have no idea what the point of it is, but I chalk it up to performance art.

There are a lot of special purpose guilds out there outside of that rather narrow definition, like the UESP Guilds in NA and EU ESO and the Fuel Rats in Elite: Dangerous, that fill a specific function that’s overall fairly important to the overall community. Like with UESP a lot of us contribute to the wiki at, others use the forums, some use it as a raiding guild, others for PVP, others are just admirers of the staggering amount of work that Daveh has put in on the website over the years but the unifying thing is that it’s centered on UESP (Just for disclosure, I’m an advisor, kind of a junior/warrant officer in UESP NA. I’m the guild non-vampire that keeps vampire hours as I’m around late at night, I also write the bi-weekly trivia questions)

If you’re not familiar with the Fuel Rats, they’re a volunteer organization that rescues stranded pilots that have run out of Fuel, anywhere in the Galaxy, so CMDRs don’t have to self-destruct and pay hefty re-buy fees. They’re like the E:D AAA and they’re one of the most genuinely helpful community driven organizations in any MMOG.

Back when the Foundry in STO existed there were fleets that were devoted to creators helping one another with making foundry missions, which was a special purpose also. I’m sure if more games had that kind of UGC there would be more examples of it.

But yeah, there are a pretty large number of special purpose guilds that aren’t just focused on one small niche.


My favorite tiny vanity guild story involved a someone else being mistaken as the founder, resulting in the sentence “You think I would make an Ascian-themed FC named BOYZ?”

Adam Russell

My first guild in EQ was a RP guild and their first meeting after I joined was a tea party in Kelethin. I didnt last too long. I like RPing an adventurer but tea parties are just over the line.


You forgot about Trade Guilds, and the different kinds of Trade Guilds that fit into the Categories you mentioned.


I’m only in any kind of “guild” in two games.

In Warframe, there are a number of weapons, warframes, and consumables where the blueprints can only come from Clan research projects. Assuming you don’t want to just pay real money for the Warframes and weapons using the in-game store. Which is sometimes, but not always, an option. There are a handful of weapons that ONLY come from Clan Research.

Fortunately for me, Warframe doesn’t restrict blueprints by hiding them behind higher tiers of Clan membership. Instead, they scale the research cost based on the size of the clan. The biggest clans will hopefully have hundreds of members to contribute, so their projects cost more. The smallest, Ghost tier clans only have up to 10 members. And their prices are scaled to “more than personal research. But not huge amounts more.” So in that game, I ended up with a solo clan just so I could unlock new items as they get added to the game.

In Star Trek Online, I have a redside and a blueside solo fleet. That game *DOES* lock research behind getting to higher clan ranks, and the prices DO NOT scale. Since there is less than no chance that I’m ever going to have the tens of millions of Dilithium and hundreds of millions of the other resources, I’m never going to unlock those projects or be able to build those items. I made solo fleets pretty much exclusively for the purpose of blocking the frequent “blind invite” spam that some fleets engage in.

No, I don’t want to join your super awesome fleet of people who clicked Accept after getting a random invitation that showed up without even a single /tell.