Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In the Wake of a Bad Merger

You guys have probably noticed that I haven't been writing a lot over the past two months. And that most of my posts have been about Star Wars. Well, there's a reason for that. Looking back on it, I think I've been playing so much SWTOR not only because it's the new hotness, but also to avoid logging into WoW. Which is somewhat ironic if you take the view that people often play WoW to avoid real life.

When I last talked about my guild in the beginning of November, I mentioned that we had gone through a split, had moved to a more populated server, and were looking at merging with another 10-man guild to get back up to 25s.

That merger turned out to be the worst mistake in the history of our guild.

There is a type of person who believes that all failure is caused by people playing badly. That skill is everything in this game. That the only response to any problem, any difficulty, is to tell people to play better, or recruit better people to replace the failures. That you must always take the "best" raiders you have to a raid to ensure success.

There is a degree of truth in this.  But in my view, there usually there are a lot more elements that you can look at before you conclude that the problem is solely due to bad play. Sometimes the strategy is not quite right. Sometimes people misunderstand the plan. Sometimes people just make mistakes. Sometimes you just need practice, to wipe a few nights before everything clicks. Sometimes you just have to go with the army you have, rather than the army you wish you had.

In any case, the merging guild was entirely made up of people who held the first view. They were all very good players, at least pure skill-wise. But their response to any wipe, any failure, was to yell at people, to point fingers and berate them.  Sometimes the yelling would start before the attempt even finished, while we still attacking the boss.

It was the worst raiding experience of my life.

And of course we started hemorraging members. In two weeks we went from 35 raiders online to barely 25. We lost some essential people from our old guild before the merger.

The final blow came last week. We only had 23 raiders on, so it was decided to take the 10 "best" people and down some Heroic bosses for progression.  Apparently that team had trouble and drama blew up, with lots of yelling and finger-pointing, and the upshot was that the entire group of merged people left the guild.

So we're back down to maybe a 10-man worth of people, minus those people who left earlier. I'm not really certain what will happen. A lot of the people who remain sound rather "shell-shocked", with their confidence in their ability to tackle Heroics broken.


  1. I once heard it said, "a Partnership is the only Ship that won't sail."

    I was once consulting with someone that was thinking of merging his businesses with another. The CEOs were like minded. They had a similar culture... AND...they had similar problems.

    My question to him was, if you are so alike, what makes you think your problems won't be the same...only larger?

    He got back with me a month later about how the merger fell through.

    Mergers (WoW & IRL) can work, but honestly that may not be the best option at any given moment. At times, we need to let something die so that something else can grow in it's place.

    I hope that your guild gets better w/ the other folks gone. I also hope that you're having a blast in SWTOR!

    All the Best,


  2. Just remember, the people in the first group do not have long lives. I mean seriously, those kind of people die pretty young due to their stupidity for believing in such lies.

    Skills only matter? LOL, any real adult knows that is not true.

  3. Ah, guild drama, one of the reasons so many people end up choosing to solo in MMOs. Guild drama at least partially contributed to my exit from Dark Age of Camp-a-lot, The Exciting Game Of Riding Horses And Pointing Fingers!(TM).

    As a result, my forays into EQ2 and AoC involved guilds composed primarily of RL friends and alts. In Rift I was lucky enough to stumble into a really fun, laid-back guild.

    We made the mistake (seen now with 20/20 hindsight) of recruiting a great guy from another server. He brought friends, who were also good people. But one of the sad facts of life is that even good people don't always get along. They have differing values and viewpoints that often lead to subtle conflict.

    One of them was a great, helpful guy who was, unfortunately, really into PvP. He became frustrated that no one else in the guild was really interested. He became frustrated because of perceived imbalances in classes, server populations, and skill levels. He became vocal about it. He finally went back to his original server.

    Like the tiny crack that can prove the fatal flaw in a mighty dam, all the people who had transferred from the other server started coming up with excuses as to why they were unhappy. We weren't raiding enough. We didn't PvP enough. The server population was too low. The Auction House on this server sucked. Even when we addressed some of the issues, they came up with other issues. Then, after dragging guild morale down with their constant complaining, they all moved back.

    Of course, by then, natural attrition plus low morale had caused other members of the guild to stop logging in. And the worst part is, I can't even say that anyone was really "wrong" or "bad." There's really no one to blame.

    So yeah, I have a good idea where you're coming from. Rift just isn't as much fun to play now; and it's not just due to boredom or burnout, but also due to the guild drama.

  4. Sorry this happened to you.

    It seems the longer a guild exists, the more likely it will eventually disintegrate. At one point my guild was a constant second or third on our server as far as progress. We've been through the near collapse, re-recruitment, failed merger and some people who didn't work out phase. We're now down to a ten man group that likes to play together and is lucky when we stay in the top ten. Although our current group has about 6 members that have been playing together for years, others have come and gone. With each of those new personalities our group dynamic has changed some. Just last week, we had a loot argument (A HUGE NO NO for us and something that has NEVER happened before). After it was resolved we talked about a guild being like a family and how one might tend to fight guildies the one often does with siblings.

    Hopefully, the ten man team you have left can find a way to get along and have fun together. If you can make it fun and the people have half a brain (meaning they learn from their mistakes) then you can still progress in WoW.

    Good luck.

  5. I am sorry to hear about your experience. I've seen both the good and bad side of mergers... in the end it is all about the people and what your goal is. You have obviously figured out that skill<>success without the right attitude. I have seen the whole yell thing work on a small scale, but it does not last forever, eventually people want to be treated like adults.

    I think 10 mans are a better environment if you want to have fun... pushing progression just has never sounded all that appealing to me because of the pressure it puts on people.

  6. Rohan -

    We should go get coffee and talk. Even if it's virtual coffee (/pour a cup). I 100% understand and feel everything you shared above and is something that has been weighing heavily on me as of late.

    I hope you land on your feet, wherever it is you land.


  7. I am already going to be cancelling my SW:TOR account. I enjoyed it, but once I hit level cap it died down for me. Nobody doing level 50 flashpoints. PVP and Illum is too laggy to be viable for me.

    Unfortunately, all of my friends are playing it.

  8. Hi Rohan-

    Stumbled on your post through a RT. I have always been against mergers because it seems like nothing positive really comes out of it. Yes, people might gain more bodies to raid 25's, but is it *really* worth the heartache that you've just described?

    Things like this make me really timid when it comes to mergers. I am sorry you went through that- here's to hoping for the best for you and your team!

  9. @Rohan,

    Sorry to hear of your guild's misfortunes, brother. These things trouble us in our days both online and offline. It is personal. Like the disappointment of a bad relationship gone bad and broken apart.

    Good news: there ARE other fish in the sea and your guild WILL add more of them to your roster. You know this. Your guildies might not feel that way today, but they know they were successful long before you ever merged and will be successful again without the 'mergees'.

    When we got smaller than a 10m, we started up a raid group on the server without requiring people to change guild tags. Not a pug. Recurring weekly raid with roster just as if in guild. Same discerning reviews before adding someone. It has helped us meet and recruit more people. And we're having fun raids again!

    One thing we all know: it'll work out.

    Chin up, brother. Swing the Light!


  10. My guild went though a pretty ugly merger back in late wrath, and in its aftermath, we wound up dropping down to 10 man raiding rather than risk another. It was a dark time for us, and I sympathize with you for going through it now, especially with a guild that you've been working with for such a long time. I hope you find something that can keep your spirits up, whatever that may be.

  11. Oof, I know what it's like when one's guild is going through a bad patch. It sucks. :(

    For what it's worth, in my experience there was no hole that I could not dig the guild out of as long as I was willing to put in the effort. Things will get better, more people will show up, and six weeks from now I bet you'll all be in a much better place.

  12. Apparently the merging players didn't realize that teamwork is also a skill, one which they are sorely lacking.

    It always saddens me to hear of people getting yelled at over a video game.

  13. There is a degree of truth in this. But in my view, there usually there are a lot more elements that you can look at before you conclude that the problem is solely due to bad play. Sometimes the strategy is not quite right. Sometimes people misunderstand the plan. Sometimes people just make mistakes. Sometimes you just need practice, to wipe a few nights before everything clicks. Sometimes you just have to go with the army you have, rather than the army you wish you had.

    Now, I'm not saying I disagree with the point you are making as a whole, because you're right. But I would point out that the only example in this list that ISN'T attributed to player skill of one kind or another is the last one. Developing a plan and presenting it to the fellow raiders is itself a pretty key skill for a raid leader, and being able to learn from deliberate practice is also a good skill for anyone to have.

    That said, I'm sorry to see that things blew up on you. My own guild basically crumbled silently when TOR came out, even though the majority of the players actually WASN'T switching (or, at least, planning to play both). It made me pretty sad to keep logging in for the regular 10s timings to find out that NO ONE was online at all.

  14. Usually the reason why things like this fall through is because people aren't on the same page. I've seen guilds that are purely focused on skill and execution succeed, and I've seen guilds that are purely focused on maintaining positive interpersonal relationships succeed. It sounds like the reason your merger didn't succeed was because you had two groups of people with disparate ideas about priorities try to play together. That doesn't mean the people that stayed are failures and it doesn't mean the people that left are jerks. It just means your priorities weren't the same, and it took a live raid to figure that out. If your guild still wants to move forward, it just means you'll have to find people that feel the same way you do. Those people are out there, it will just take time to find them. In the meantime, all you can do is work with what you have to try to keep up some momentum. Maybe that means doing 10s, maybe that means pugging spots to fill 25s. Either way, I wish you luck and I hope you find what you need to get back to having fun in-game.