The importance of being small

My guild, the Imperial Guardsmen, is an exceptionally small guild by most people’s standards.

It always has been no matter how much effort we’ve thrown into recruiting. On average, we’ve tended to have between 40 and 50 members at any given point in our lifetime since I took over as GM, and while we try as hard as we can, we simply can’t manage catch up to other guilds. Of course, this sometimes creates issues. Oftentimes, we get stuck with several people who have really good ideas for things to do, but we just don’t have the human resources to make it work. If things are implemented regardless, they go unappreciated, or fall flat due to lack of interest.

For example, we recently purchased a Ventrilo server for the guild to use, and thus far a total of five different people have used it. Four of them are officers. Another example would be our guild website, which is updated pretty frequently and provides news, forums and a messaging system for our guildies. At the time of writing, we have a total of seven people signed up to the site, and approximately three of them use it regularly. Similarly, we set up a guild Facebook page for anyone who preferred to communicate through that medium, and inevitably it has just four members and has essentially fallen into disuse. The final example I’ll mention is the guild bank; after investing (officers’) gold into buying tabs for it, it is used a couple of times a month and that, again, is mainly by the officers. Hardly the healthy trading situation we had hoped to create.

The problem also exists with raiding and instancing. We can’t advertise and say we raid, because we rarely do, meaning we get very few people joining (seems as though everyone is looking for a raiding guild). However, without current members willing to put the effort in so that we can at least run half a raid, we can’t actually try and do things to improve the situation. Swings and roundabouts.

Now like I say, this problem has always existed, and in a way it has helped shape the guild’s nature. We have a relatively low turnover rate, losing and gaining just a few members in a time period where a larger guild could see many more new recruits, so instead we have turned our focus away from endgame content, and instead towards the members themselves.

While we can’t say we will ever finish a raid as a guild, what we can do is foster a social atmosphere we can be proud of. We have a fairly low level restriction on joining (40+), and indeed many older members have good memories of weekend guild instances – no, not to Karazhan or Naxxramas, but instead to LBRS, Zul’Farrak and even BRD in order to help our members through the levels on their way up to the cap.


We’ve grown used to the idea that members are liable to leave once they realise there’s a whole other world out there, outside the bubble you form while leveling, and we accept this. So we give them the best atmosphere possible while they level. We run our alts through instances with them, or we boost them. We give advice and help, and guide them to new sources of information. Once or twice, we have, as a guild, comforted someone emotionally who was upset or having a hard time. We saw someone through the birth of their first baby. We chat about everything from flying fire-breathing sheep rams (BAAAA-UUUURN) to the Theory of Relativity. Several of our ex-members have gone on to join the server’s top raiding guilds, and in many ways we consider ourselves like a school, preparing talented people for what comes next.

We also take screenshots, and I make videos – we’ve built, and are building, a history, founded on creating that atmosphere, supported by a solid group of officers, most of whom have been with us almost since the very beginning. When we disbanded briefly last year, the commemoratory video contained the names of every single recorded member ever to pass through the guild by that time. You can see it at the top of the page, and our other videos are on the same Youtube account.

In all probability, nobody is ever going to make more use of our facilities than they are now, but what we can do is make sure those facilities are available. If someone wants that blue item out of the bank to use for ten levels to help them level, then sure, why not, it’s there after all. If people need to communicate, we provide every means we can think of, all of them readily accessible. Later this year, in celebration of the guild’s third birthday, we’re going to be holding our first ever real life meet-up for our members. We don’t expect many people to come along – possibly nobody but the officers – but we’re doing it anyway. We’re giving people that chance, which is there for them to take.

At the end of the day, we provide a place where people can log in, relax and just have a good time while they play. I have never felt at home anywhere more than with the Guardsmen, and the sentiment is shared by many others, including many who have left. I don’t know another guild who does family atmosphere as well as we do and for that, I love my guild and its members, and I wouldn’t have our situation any other way.



9 Responses to “The importance of being small”

  1. Sarainy Says:

    it is nice to see someone who is not only capable of admitting that their guild is not only not a full raid guild, but is also a social guild.

    This seems to be a lot of pressure on guilds to be hard-core and while they are not necessarily antisocial, they should be only social towards members that are dedicated and are going to stay.

    For a lot of guilds the idea of members leaving in a few months time to join a new guild is considered a sin — it is nice to see you accept the fact that members might leave.

    Congratulations on the anniversary, and good luck with the meet up!

  2. Mindles Says:

    boooo i wanna come to the meetup 😦 farking trains and their hideous fares

  3. Syrana Says:

    Our guild is much like yours. Unfortunately, more long term members are seeming to take it personally that people have left us after reaching 80 and running some heroics with us. I wish more of our members would feel less used by those who come and go and share your view (which is quite similar to my view).

    And some of those people that have left for raiding guilds? They've either returned after a period of time or have asked to keep/bring alts into our guild because they love the community of it.

    And that is most definitely something to be proud of.

  4. Veliaf Says:

    Syrana – it’s interesting to hear that there are other people and guilds out there in the same position. I think our long term members have become accustomed to it, really – it’s just the nature of the guild.

    It does make me happy when people return. It’s like you were right all along 😀

  5. Nocandi Says:

    I am one of those guys Syrana talks about (from her guild even!!), and I have to admit that this post completely reminds me of our remarkable guild. I came along a few years ago, had no clue what I was doing until well after I hit 70. Heck, Syrana may be able to give some hindsight into how she may or may not have had to teach me to swim down into the Coilfang Resorvoir even 🙂

    I did leave just before wrath hit so I could give raiding a shot (left my alts in of course), came back to the guild once on my main toon and have since decided to leave again on my main for a casual raiding guild permanently. but my alts will never leave OI. The environment of a guild like this completely makes the game for me.

    Great post!

    • Veliaf Says:

      Hi Nocandi – thanks for commenting and taking an interest 😀 That’s exactly why we pride ourselves on sort of teaching people, because we’re building the foundations for their later lives in-game. Someone has to do it after all!

      May I ask, what does OI stand for?

  6. Syrana Says:

    (Sorry if this is duplicate – it looks like my comment got eaten by the hungry interwebz, but I’m not certain)

    Haha ❤ Noc.

    I did have to teach him how to swim. Ahh those were the days, when he was a wee nooblet. ;P

    OI stands for Order of Illuminatus. The other interesting thing about our guild is that we have multiple chapters across games. Even those who do not play the same game share a sense of community through the guild's forums. Our Horde chapter's guild tag is shortened to .

    I had posted a link to your post on our site and am glad to see that some of my guildies have read it. While Noc looks to be the only one to have commented here (so far), there were very positive responses on the forums. It’s nice to know there are other guild’s like us out there! 😀

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