Roger Zelazny once wrote “Into every life, a little blood must spill.” Last night my WoW guild went through a fairly radical restructuring, which will hopefully be for the long time best.
When I first joined The Grim Covenant, it was a fairly small guild. Several people from the guild I’d previously been in had come over to this one, and I followed them. The addition of those players gave them enough people to run two Karazhan raids in parallel, and they were working their way through that instance. I was, at the time, still levelling up, and so I wasn’t really part of the raid culture at the time.
The day I hit 70, the guild had moved on to Gruul’s Lair. I was asked along, to fill the 25th slot and make it an all-guild run for the first time ever. We one-shot High King Mulgar (for the first time), and then wiped several times on Gruul. Over the next few weeks, we kept after him and finally downed him.
From that point on, we started to fairly rapidly progress through the 25 man content. We got Alliance first kills on several T5 bosses, and found ourselves suddenly one of the top progression guilds on the server. We were flush with success, and suddenly everyone wanted to join the Covenant as it steamrolled through the end game.
Then….we met Kael’thas Sunstrider. And we wiped and we wiped and we wiped, and weren’t making much progress. The muttering began. When the 2.4 patch came out, there was a serious philosophical split….some people wanted to take advantage of the removal of the attunements for Mt Hyjal and Black Temple, and others felt we needed to down Kael’thas before we were “worthy” to move on, because that’s how the game was designed. Unfortunately, some people refused to go to the new stuff while the old stuff was unfinished, while others refused to go to the old content because they were bored and there was new shiny stuff in the new content. As a result, nothing got done for a few weeks, some people quit in frustration, and new people, not as well geared nor as well seasoned, took their place.
The raiding core that downed Lady Vashj was fractured, not in a sudden dramatic twist, but one by one through soul breaking attrition. We tried to get back up for things, splitting our time between Hyjal and the old stuff, working to get our green raid members geared up so they could contribute to progression and we could get back on track. But more and more often, raids were being called for lack of attendance, and when they did go off, we struggled to complete content we’d once had on farm.
Last night, everything came to a head when one of our officers announced that he was defecting to another progression guild on the server. He was frustrated by the lack of progress, and our inability to complete content we’d mastered months ago. The officers who were online – myself, Oakblade, Willowleaf, and Tiberian, sat to discuss this state of affairs. It was clear that our rebuilding was not going to be fast or easy, and we risked continuing to lose our best players to other guilds long before we managed to get the newbies up to speed, and we ran the very serious risk of turning into a farm team for other raid guilds; the sort of place where people came to get geared up before jumping ship to a more progressed group.
Once upon a time, TGC was a guild of friends who played together for the enjoyment of playing together. Our leader decided that the best way to get back to that was to start over. So he more or less threw everyone out, and told people who wanted back in to let him know, but to be aware that we were not going to concentrate on progression raiding anymore. A great number of us formed a group we dubbed “Willowleaf’s Ark” and refused to let ourselves get kicked at all. Anyone who was offline at the time was sent an in-game mail explaining what had happened and how to contact folks if they wanted to rejoin, but if progression raiding is what they want, they’ll probably want to go to one of the groups that’s focused on that. (I think we will still do some raiding, but it will be on our terms and not with an aim towards being first on the server.)
At the end of the purge, we’d gone from just over 200 members to about 75 (about 75 actual people, since some of us have 2 or more guilded characters). There’s still a great deal of uncertainty and unrest about the future, I am hopeful that this will mark a return to the friendlier, more intimate TGC that i remember joining so long ago, now that the stress of progression is no longer on our agenda.