Guild Rebuilding 101

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and support. The past week has been extremely hectic and straining as recruiting efforts kicked into over drive. I am pleased to announce that Conquest is on the way to finalizing a roster going into Firelands. We actually went back in last Tuesday. All in all, I think its a fair bet to say that we experienced the highest turnover in a raiding roster but managed to recover within a span of about 4-5 days. This included solidifying the main tank and off tank positions, numerous DPS in addition to a new raid leader.

Pulled that off over a weekend. We’re stable right now which is good. We’ve got a consistent group of veterans combined with newer players who are just stepping foot into Firelands. I consider myself extremely fortunate and lucky. I daresay most guild leaders would have definitely thrown in the towel and called it a career.

What were the steps?

Step 1: Reassure everyone

When a potential guild crushing event occurs, the first thing to do is say everything’s going to be alright. This involves damage control out the ying yang. 

The first thing I did was explain to every player what was going on and what our plans were going forward. Our plan was to rebuild and develop our player base back to a number which allowed us to comfortable go into Firelands. After that, we would then begin the process of gradually cutting or developing players as needed to get them at a skill level consistent with what was needed to get us through the bosses. I had no illusions that it was going to be easy. I wanted to be back in Ragnaros’ door step within 4 weeks. The Vanguard (Rated BG division) offered their services by signalling their willingness to alter their PvP teams so that some of them could participate. Their offer was touching but I didn’t want to handicap their schedule.

Step 2: Get the word out

Once I finished assessing the overall damage and losses to the roster (no tanks, a completely depleted melee roster, no casters but a relatively unscathed healing corps), the next step was to get our numbers up again. Thankfully I had the whole weekend to try to pull that off. It would take a completely herculean effort to get players onboard. I would be targeting players who were looking for a fresh start or who were just getting into Firelands. Messages were sent to every player who applied but were turned down because we didn’t have the room. In essence, we were reactivating the reserved list. We told them that there were numerous roster spots available and that they would have a crack at earning and securing them.

Then I received a rather interesting proposal and this where the luck factor came into play. Turns out one of the players who I declined earlier told their present guild what had happened. The two of them started talking and before I knew it, I was dragged in. It was a 10 man raiding guild that had made some progress into Firelands but they were experiencing a myriad of attendance problems. In other words, I was presented with the offer of a potential guild merger. I didn’t even have to stress over sharing officer status or anything. From what I was told, the leaders were tired and wanted a new experience where they could just focus on their game and didn’t want to worry about things like recruiting anymore.

Again, that’s the luck factor coming into play. On Monday, we held a trial raid. We didn’t have the numbers to pull off attempts on Ragnaros (and I wouldn’t dream of going back in there, at least not for a while). The next course of action was to get both groups acclimated and used to each other. I wanted to see if there were going to be any potential personality conflicts. We ended up stepping into Blackwing Descent on 25 and had some fun in there for the next few hours blowing up as many bosses as we could before time ran out (and wow I didn’t realize the extent of the nerf).

Step 3: Meet with every new player coming in

With every recruit who was interested in joining and every player who was coming in, I did my absolute best to sit down with them and answer their questions. You figure players who are getting pulled from their sense of familiarity into a completely brand new setting are going to want to know what they’re diving head first into. I set aside some time and hung out with them on their voice servers and addressed their concerns as much as possible. The biggest thing here is be honest. If you don’t know, just say you don’t know. While GMs are often expected to know everything, that expectation is far from reality.

Even though the guild took a fatal blow, we’re going to be okay. The guild is evolving from a simple WoW guild into a truly multigaming community (League of Legends!). Although, I’m disappointed at losing several friends. These were players who I trusted and confided in. This experience only goes to show that you never truly know who your friends are going to be in this game. Some people change, some things don’t. That’s the way it goes.

Heck, we even picked up a weekend raiding 10 man guild in the process. If any players out there are looking for a solid 10 man group to run with on the weekends, look us up (4 PM – 730 PM Saturday and Sunday afternoon).

Bonus step: Reflection

This is a great time to reflect and think about your guild some more and what you want to do with it. I’ve had to make compromises and look the other way at times for the sake of guild cohesion in the past. After this though, I’ve developed a better understanding of what I wanted to do and what I expected from the team. As Mel said, it’s possible to have elite players without the berating elitism. Even though the process will take longer, it’ll be better for recruiting and for the atmosphere in the long run.

It’s a good thing Enjin allows us guild leaders to create multiple application forms.

We’re about to finish out our first week in Firelands. We’ll be back in front of Ragnaros in no time.

Has your guild experienced a rebuild? What steps did you take after the fact? Did it ultimately end up working? Was there anything you wish you could have done differently?

40 thoughts on “Guild Rebuilding 101”

  1. Matt you wiped 15 times on Bethilac Normal mode, wiped on Nefarian 25 normal AFTER THE NERF like 10 times, and YOU DID LOSE YOUR HEALING CORE. 5 Healers left, the ones that carried Conquest to most of the kills AKA CHIMEARON

    • I am a little unclear why you feel the need to comment on this. From what I gather, you left. What Matticus is doing with his guild and his perceptions of his guild and it’s situation are no longer your concern, nor do you have the right to opine.

      I think the fact that Matticus was able to rebuild in a weekend speaks to his abilities as a GM. Not many have the drive and the passion to pull this off. His efforts are to be commended.

    • This is true. We wiped 20+ times with numerous undergeared players and socials. We wiped many times on Nefarian because we pugged several players and a tank who wasn’t familiar with handling ads. All very true. As for the healers in the exchange, to my knowledge I only lost 2 Paladins and 1 Resto Druid (which for someone reason everyone was jumping down her throat last month for something or other).

      But hey, you got your Rag kill. Grats man.

    • Looks like you’re better off without these people. Glad I don’t have to raid with people like that to get progress.

  2. I dont think you understand, the 20 of us that left, reformed a guild and killed Rag within a day of leaving Conquest, and did 6/7 on their first day of raiding 25 man. We reformed faster than Matt did, and killed 7 more bosses

    • So you left with more people than he did had already planned on leaving along with an idea of who was coming and what was needed bringing along all of the experience you would have gained in conquest and think it is some wonderful achievement that you got rag down before conquest did?

      Stop being petty its not a good look.

    • @sydney Better off? yeah.. He look at logs bro.

      Conquest is dead. Its admirable seeing you go down with your ship. Yet, it brings teh lulz. Conquest, the twitter and blogger circle jerk.

    • Far from being dead, sorry buddy. I know you’re hell bent on seeing us crash and me give up and disband. That’s not going to happen. Not until Titan comes out at least. You cannot crush an idea nor can you crush someone’s passion and motivation for the game. Good luck in your new guild.

    • so you had a whole 5 spots to fill?
      wow that must have taxed the ol’ grey matter.
      Not to mention that your core is primarily players that were originally picked by Matticus himself. It’s more than a little amusing that the only person who has failed to spot the irony in the situation is yourself.

    • Congratulations to you, Autopsy. I’m sure you’ll do fine in the guild. I know it didn’t work out in your 2 (or 3) previous ones. I trust you’ll find what you’re looking for.

  3. A few things I would like to share with you, maybe it was solely my experience maybe it will serve as a heads up to you(granted your situation is different I was made GM as the guild was crumbling around me and had to rebuild). The most gungho about sticking it out, if they are just vocally gungho and don’t help, expect them to leave as you rebuild and be gone before its over. Idk where you sit with officers, but this is one time its better to do more yourself than promote someone based off need(I learned this the hard way). The process will take a lot longer than you expect, I figured 3-4 weeks to et back where we were at, in reality it took my guild nearly 3 months, during the rebuild turnover will be abnormaly high. That’s all I can think of off the top of my head, if you need any help or advice from a GM who has been through the rebuild hit me up on Shadowmoon.

  4. Wow. If Lawlquest and Baddicus are two examples of what you had to deal with, good riddance to them.

    • I can only imagine that those two are a bit jealous of Matt’s successful blog or two, plus heal one of the best resource sites out there and his job at wow insider. Because we all know you make all that happen by being a bad priest right?

  5. Looks like they are the perfect elitist’s they mutiny an entire raiding roster, and are proud of normal mode kills. What I don’t get is why you care so much, you left and made your own guild, why not build your name from your own accomplishments instead of from attempting to troll another? It appears that you have already started down the road to your guild imploding by your own attitudes, especially if you are officers there, if these posts are any indication then Conquest will be around long after your guilds demise. Turn things around and stand upon your own merit.

  6. I think lots of GM’s were forced to make compromises with Cata. Recruiting has been a nightmare this expansion. I know my guild has made several “mistakes.” Luckily, we’ve been able to get them out quickly, as we recognize them, before they form a big enough clique to hurt our raiding. The good people are always so much harder to find; and sometimes it seems like it’s easier to put up with jerks than go back to the recruit drawing board.

    It seems like you’ve done a helluva job this weekend. And I’m looking forward to hearing about your progress in the next few weeks.

  7. Kudos for not giving up Matt, I don’t think I’d have managed it. I’m fairly new to guild officership in a 10-man guild and thought our troubles with 2 healers leaving at the same time was a headache! I look forward to hearing about your progress, and would love to hear how you go about evaluating all the new raiders in such large numbers!

  8. Congratulations on the monumental recruiting effort to rebuild. Be careful that you don’t burn yourself out shaping the new team. Initial thoughts that this is a blessing for your guild.

  9. Congrats Matt, you have tackled a tough job and succeeded. You will prevail with a Ragnaros kill my friend. Keep focused and continue with blogging, your efforts are appreciated 🙂

    As for the two ex-Conquest(yay) trolls, you two are so adolescent. You made the choice to leave, now live with it. Sounds they have some regrets. Learn from your mistakes, be mature about it, and set an example to your new guild by being mature GM’s.

  10. I wish I had the hours to work with you my friend, you seem like you are dedicated to making your guild work regardless. I understand you made some sacrifices for progression because I’ve done that too but I’m glad you are pulling it together. Congratz man and let the haters hate.

  11. If anyone of you were actually in the guild, your comments about anything would be the complete opposite of what you have said. Apparently saying 1 comment comes across to Matticus as a personal attack, tells the person to leave for said comment, *I guess* causes the entire raiding roster to gquit.

    This is one side of the story that Matt is telling his appreciated followers, but if you ask anyone who left that there is another side which is the whole truth

    • Don’t you just love the internet? It lets you post anonymously.

      No there is no truth. This is about perspective. You can spin your take on it but it doesn’t match mine what I was told. You only know what you’re told. In regards to comments, I let a _ton_ of shit fly. If someone steps over the line, too bad. I gave a lot of freedom to many players in regards with what was cool and what wasn’t cool.

  12. Let me first say, kudos to you Matt about being professional about the split. Now with that being said, the fact that you said of the healer corp, ” but a relatively unscathed healing corps,” just shows that you had little to no respect for the healers that you lost. And we were agruably the 3 best healers you had.

    49% of the reason I personal left the guild is the fact that you show little to no respect for the ppl that you don’t personal recruit or accept (the other 51% is the respect I have for a couple of players that switched).

    I believe a lot of this split is on you.”This is not a democracy, this is a dictatorship.” No one person is ever bigger than one specfic cause.

    • When I said relatively unscathed, I meant no disrespect at all. It meant that I still had a healing corps to use. Don’t feel offended that the three of you who left are completely replaceable. You expect my spirit to break when you three left? Sorry, not that kind of guy. I don’t give up very easily. With 10 million plus players out there, it’s not hard for me to find steady and skilled healers. It’s not like I had zero healers to work with. Get it? I still had enough depth at healing that I could still operate without having to heavily recruit. I still had enough that I was able to work with what I had and not have to worry about recruiting a ton of them or anything. You three were definitely good. I never said you were bad or terrible.

      And yes, it’s not a democracy. I don’t believe in democracy based guilds. I don’t believe in “voting” or majority rules. I’ve been in those guilds before. They never really worked out or were hamstrung with leaders who were neutered because they were held by their own policies. How far do you think we would’ve gotten if I placed every major decision up to a vote? Every player “recruited” coming in up to a vote? We would’ve been dead a long time ago without the ability to flexibly adapt to different situations. It might work well for other organizations but I didn’t think it would do well here because I would be too inefficient. But that absolutely did not mean I never listened to anyone. I delegated raid leading. Loot mastering. Healing assignments, melee team, ranged DPS teams. All of that stuff was taken care of by specific players I trusted who I felt could do it. So yes, while it was a dictatorship, I listened to all the opinions and made the best possible decision based on all the facts. Sometimes I was wrong, sometimes I was right. I listened to Delphie when she requested changes in healing and the problems that she, you and others experienced. I let certain healers do specific things that they wanted to and enabled them to raid heal or tank heal instead of forcing people to do things they didn’t want to do even though I felt that every healer under command SHOULD have been able to do anything that was asked willingly.

      So don’t even throw that shit in my face. I don’t have a problem with you. I don’t have a problem with anyone. You guys made your case and you left. Cool story, now move on to your own chapter and I’ll move on to mine.

      And for the record, you were brought in because select other players vouched for you quite highly and you were given a chance despite my own personal objections. Thankfully they were proven wrong and you went on being a great player.

    • Newsflash, Guilds aren’t democracies. They are ultimately dictatorships, and that structure is reinforced by Blizzard’s own guild ranking system. Only a single GM, doncha know?

      If you don’t like the leadership, move on. And that’s precisely what you did. Kudos to Matt for being professional about the split, and kudos to those of you who decided that you wanted to move on and did just that. The rest that are sitting back and slinging mud don’t have the moral highground here, and you certainly haven’t moved on.

    • It sounds like you didn’t get treated like a little special snowflake and patted on the head after every kill and told what a good job you did.


      It isn’t a democracy unless the guild was created as one. You joined knowing full well it wasn’t a democracy, and it sounds like you had pleanty of time within the guild to make your feelings known if you wished. Did you take that option, or did you just sit around %&%^$ and doing nothing but feeling underappreciated? Because we all know people are mind readers, and totally know how you feel without being told.

      Sure ppl have a reason to leave. Doesn’t make it a good one. One person gquit because they didn’t like the tone of my voice. Someone else spent 30mins telling the guild I hated them because I didn’t go on an instance run, I went and had dinner with my family instead. I’m not even the GM, he has a whole lot more to deal with.

      You left a situation you weren’t happy with. Good – better gone than sitting around poisoning things. But how about you get some decency, go do your thing and get your face out of your old guild. You left, you don’t care what they do now, right? If you cared, you’d still be there. So go, enjoy your new guild and enjoy your successes.

      If you’re stroking your ego over having 20 ppl used to raiding together going and clearing out known content, doing better than a rebuild pug, well you have issues 🙂 If you can only feel good about yourself by tearing someone else down, Conquest is well rid of the lot of you.

    • Ah yes, that’s funny. Unfortunate it never occurred to you that armory was actually wrong. You can ask the guys that were online. We physically inspected him and he was using the requisite int gems.

      On the other hand, good ol’ Lodur though. Proves he can heal just about anything no matter how mismatched gemmed he is.

  13. Matt, you must completely know what I am talking about, “And for the record, you were brought in because select other players vouched for you quite highly and you were given a chance despite my own personal objections,” but yet you bring in a preist that does 1/4 of the healing as the next healer fight after fight because you think that she had “potential”. As nice of a person she is, she just didn’t produce, yet you brought her raid after raid. We had a really good healer leave because you would rather bring in a healer not cutting it and wipe to heroic Mal instead of benching her and downing a boss. And this is just for the 5-6 weeks that I raided with you. ANY and EVERY thing that I had to say went unheard.

    People just don’t up and leave Matt, there is a reason behind it. I wish you guys the best of luck but in my opinion, which I am sure will go unheard, you are too stuck in your ways to improve with any players that you can’t manipulate.

    And I was not trying to throw anything in your face Matt, I was just offended because you have always had zero respect for me personally when I had 100% attendance and always performed.

    • I had a ton of respect for you before. I’m sorry you didn’t think that was good enough or that you felt that way. I didn’t want to bring in 3 Paladins at a time, but I was willing. I didn’t want to bring in 3 Resto Shamans at a time, but there were some days where I didn’t have a choice (it was either that or don’t raid at all). New players are always going to get brought in. I’m sorry that I have to trial players in a variety of different situations (some of them forced). Hell, you read the application and there was a specific section that says “willingness to be sat for any reason”. If you didn’t want to, you should’ve just said so right there and then. I’m sorry I’m not psychic and can’t read your mind when you’re all hurt and feel that the GM’s ignoring you and not giving you the 100% attention that you and every other player is due all the time. Forgive me for wanting to over recruit and wanting to have a bench team of players on the side who could come in and give players nights off or cover for them in case of real life emergencies.

      But hey, you’re in a better guild now. Good luck and I trust you’ll find what you’re looking for. I’m sure you’ll bring this up to your present GM well before your feelings overwhelm you. Maybe he’s psychic.

  14. It is interesting that the people who have left still feel so in touch with Conquest that they follow your blog and your progress.

    I run my raid group in a similar way to Matt, although our raid goals are very different (I run a raid group with low entry requirements but I expect every single person to work hard when they join, plus we have regular training sessions to help those who are underperforming). I make all the decisions as the raid leader and although we have regular open meetings with the raid group almost every decision is dictated by me. To run a group this way has advantages and disadvantages.

    Advantages – Changes come quickly and immediately, you have one person who can drive an overall vision instead of people pulling in separate directions, everyone knows the clear chain of command.

    Disadvantages – Harder to gain everyone’s trust, there is more responsibility on the raid leader and therefore the raid leader cannot hide from the mistakes. Any failure of the group is the failure of the raid lead.

    To run such a guild you need to have a very understanding core of players who will allow you to be human and make mistakes occassionally, they also need to learn to trust your decisions even if it has flaws. It is important to let the members know that you are listening to their concerns and welcome feedback but that ultimately the decision is yours. Our raid group has a very clear complaints and suggestion policy, all feedback must be presented in a set manner or it gets ignored. i.e. calmly, preferably outside raid time, with supporting data where necessary, if its tactics related it goes on the forum or I am not interested.

    For those that are responding here and are old members of conquest, my advice to you is to succeed on your own merits, no need to cling to past experiences and comment here, unless your guild name or character name is directly challenged.

  15. I think I’ve come down with Blizzard on this. You may be good at what you do (I think the jury’s out). You certainly have a vision of what you want to do and how you want to do it. I just don’t like you very much.


  16. You join a guild because you think you share ideals and goals. They might be heroic kills, they might be world firsts, they might to start raiding, or to tell jokes in guildchat. You might want to find a new group of best buddies. You might not care who the guy next to you is provided they do their job.

    Part of the “trial” process when you join a new guild is to see if you’ll fit in, where fit can include your interactions with others, your willingness to help out, your performance and a load of other things. The trial’s not one-way though — it’s just as much for you, the applicant, to see if you like the guild as it is for the guild to see if they like you.

    If things aren’t the way you want them to be, leave. Or don’t join. But don’t join a guild expecting to change it. And when you leave, you don’t have to raise a shitstorm in the process.

    I don’t always agree with everything Matt posts on his blog. That’s entirely up to me. I can ignore the things I don’t like. Or, if I wanted to, I could make a case against the things I disgree with in the comments or perhaps even in an email. If it particularly annoyed me, I could stop reading.

    Or… I could start mouthing off, and encouraging people to not read his blog or anything he’s connected to.

    But that’d be silly.

  17. First, Matticus, thank you for taking the time to cover this. It means a lot to many of us facing the same issues. Not many of us are in a position to rebuild as quickly or effectively, but it’s great to have a venue where we can talk out our issues and maybe help each other and I think I saw a couple of really good ideas in there.

    I am sorry that you are now going through aftershock drama. If it helps, it kind of helps me as I’ve been through the same thing. It’s nice to know that this juvenile mindset is not isolated. I am also now firmly of the opinion that if these were the people in your guild you’re better off without them. Teams can be rebuilt, raiders can be trained – personalities, by and large, do not change. A guild’s strength is in the calibre of the guild member.

    On my end, I have some dialogs open with a couple of GMs in similar straights. I’m looking to see if I can get some raid alliances going short-term. I’ve also decided to look at sites such as lookingforguild dot com and I just got a hit from there. It’s not an easy discussion when you have to talk to rebuilding your raid team, but I have found that there is a market for raiding guilds designed around older players who work and have families. We’re also looking to shore up the community presence. And I appointed one of my players to be our pvp officer – partially because we needed someone to herd cats but also because the player in question is a good problem solver.

    Where I struggle is the fact that we have effectively stopped raiding, and it’s hard to bring in folks ready for Firelands with no team to socket them into. Technically, we should have had a team, but when it came down to seating the new team, too many players were simply unresponsive. I am not sure if this is due to the summer or not. Thankfully, our guild doesn’t focus on competitive raiding, but it’s still breaks my heart each week I can’t pull a team together.

    I just don’t know how to approach that from a recruitment perspective. The first assumption people make is that we did something “wrong” which is why folks left. I then have to explain what happened. In the meantime, I lose hits from people who just assume and move on. So I’m not sure how to approach, say, my server forum recruitment thread. WTB Guild PR firm. 😉

    • Araquen, you just need to keep plugging away at it. Set a timeline for yourself and pick a date for when you actually want to get in there. If you don’t set a specific time, you’ll end up with your tires spinning. You can explain the past events if you want, but you’re better off focusing on what you’re trying to do and how you want to pull it off. The players who aren’t responsive are going to be unresponsive and you can’t do anything about that other than try to fish for players who will be. Just gotta get out there and do it. It sure as hell ain’t going to be easy.

  18. We all have our opinions. Judging individuals based on a couple words, that’s what we do best. But as one of 20 people that left Conquest let me remind you there’s always the other side of the coin. Just because Matt chose to publish it on the interwebs doesn’t make him more right, just because the ones suffered the consequences of a poor leadership handled the split with an outrage it doesn’t make them wrong.

    Whatever happened, how it happened is the past now. If we are still on these pages arguing, it’s not cause we want in on the e-celebrityness it is because the one-sided tell-tale story you read is actually an insult to most of us who put the time and effort to make Conquest a better raiding guild.

    What Matt wanted to do for his guild and how he wanted to do it was always louder than any of our voices so excuse us while we take our non-tweeted adolescent e-bodies, hopes of being a non-mediocre progression guild rather than a weekly blog post with 104 likes on facebook take elsewhere.

    Internet is fun when you start thinking like it.

    Good luck to both of us.
    Show must go on.

    • One sided? Too bad no one came to me directly and explained their side because I only some of the events from my perspective (emphasis on some). This one sided story is a case study for other guilds going through similar issues and how to dig themselves out. I’m not trying to hate on anyone. The stuff I write here, on WoW Insider and elsewhere is designed to help educate.

      Yes, I agree, it’s in the past. Keep it there.

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