Guild Changes in Cataclysm: Part 1

This is a series of articles on the changes coming in WoW: Cataclysm as they relate to guild management and leadership. See the other articles in the series: overview, part 2, part 3, reforging links and final thoughts. Articles in the series will be published every Mon and Thursday from Aug 27th through September 14th.

Let’s start going into depth:

Guild Levelling

Guilds will level from 1 to 20 (and presumably beyond in future expansions) as their members perform “activities that they do anyway”.  The activities mentioned include:

The activities of the “20 top earners” in the guild will be added to the guild’s experience every day.  This is intended to prevent large guilds from having an advantage over smaller guilds.  If your guild has less than 20 active members, your progress will be slower, but as we don’t know how long the guild leveling process is meant to take, it’s not clear how much slower.

As a guild leader, this can break several ways.  Obviously Blizzard doesn’t want this to be a grind, but some members may go out of their way to do more of the above activities than they might under normal circumstances.  If more than 20 people are doing this, you might see a spurt of activity then a pull back as people who come in #21 or #22 a few times get discouraged.  I assume that we’ll have visibility of the top 20 via the guild log or the armory, but hopefully Blizzard lets us see other people who came close but didn’t make the cut.  One would hope that the gold and reputation rewards from doing additional dailies would be reward enough, but you may wish to offer some form of  incentive to those people to encourage healthy competition.

In order for boss/raid kills to grant guild experience, more than 75% of the members of the group need to be from the guild.  This is an interesting cut, and I hope that they change it to 60% for 5 man dungeons while leaving it at 75% for raids.  I wouldn’t want to be pushed towards bringing only one PUG in order to get guild experience if you have two free slots.

Guild Alliances seem to get the shaft here, as it’s unlikely that any of their raiding activities will grant guild experience.  Guild Alliances have always seemed to be a bit niche to me – I know they are more common on RP servers where people are members of their own small guild for story purposes but form alliances to take on larger raid content.  It’s probably too much to ask that Blizzard develop a formula that takes such alliances into account – even if you could make one that evenly did XP for two guilds, what about three and four-guild groups?

Guild Achievements

If you’ve been online when a guild gets a realm first, you may have noticed that the chat message that the server receives includes the guild name.  This suggests that Blizzard meant for these achievements to be tied to the guild and not the individual.  In Cataclysm, the new realm first achievements will be guild achievements.  I don’t suspect that existing achievements will be migrated, as there will have been much movement of members since and it’s not clear that Blizzard even recorded the member’s guild when the personal achievement was unlocked.

It will be interesting to see whether new realm firsts continue to have titles rewards attached to them, and if so whether you retain the ability to use that title if you leave the guild.  What about members who join after the guild achievement was unlocked?  Perhaps the achievements will have two parts to them – a guild achievement that can be looked up on the armory, and a personal achievement that grants the title.

In more than one guild I’ve been in, it was a running joke for an officer to kick someone for various silly reasons, then immediately invite them back.  If the title is only available to people who were in the guild at the time of the boss kill and isn’t granted to new members, then doing this could have a serious impact on someone.

Guild Talent Trees

Guilds will now have talent trees.  The images shown at the game systems panel suggest at least 7 tiers, with a 3 point investment per tier required to move down the tree.  The image suggests more than 22 talents, with some having prerequisites in lower tiers just like character talents.  Some of the talents mentioned include:

I assume the guild leader will be the only person who can set these talents, and you can re-spec your guild, either using guild currency or presumably guild bank gold before your guild is at level 20.

All the sample talents shown seem to be PvE related, though they are a small slice of what will be available when Cataclysm launches.  Choosing the talents for your guild is something that will require some planning and foresight – you want the talents to complement your guild’s purpose.  If your guild doesn’t have a clear purpose but caters to PvE/PvP and casual dungeon runners, you may find it difficult to find a set of talents that benefit everyone.

An interesting idea would be to tie the Cash Flow talent with the guild tax feature – if you get 10% additional money from mobs, have 10% of the gold people earn go to the guild bank, making the transaction effectively cash-neutral. Then use the guild cash more freely than you might in today’s game – pay for guild repairs all the time instead of just on hard progression nights for example.

Once we have more detail on what the full talent tree looks like I’m sure you’ll see cookie cutter builds for PvE and PvP guilds come out from sites like WoW Popular.

Guild Currency

Once your character hits max level, quest XP is converted into gold.  Once a guild hits level 20, guild experience will be converted into guild currency.  The sample pics show a guild at level 16, so we didn’t see how this will be represented.  I assume it will be similar to the current guild bank total, though perhaps not delimited into gold/silver/copper.  The currency can be used to buy guild-bound profession plans, vanity items like tabards and mounts, and “create guild versions of items that cost less or use new reagents”.  I’m guessing this will be things like repair bots that you build using reagents you buy with guild currency.

I’ve had an article about guild policy transparency on the burner for a while – the short version is that the activities of guild leadership should be visible to members if it involves gold or materials that the guild members helped to acquire.  In the same fashion, the way in which guild currency is spent should be visible to members.  Perhaps this will be by default in the guild log and/or armory for any member to see.  If guild currency can be used for items that have use both for the guild and the individual, you need to ensure that those who can spend guild currency don’t splurge, especially in the novelty period right after the guild hits level 20 and currency starts to roll in.

By the same token, hoarding guild currency the way many guilds do their gold today probably isn’t a good idea.  No extra effort has to be made to earn guild currency, so the use of it should be budgeted.  Once you have an idea of how quickly you earn guild currency, plan to use say 75% of it on a weekly basis to support the activities your guild does.  Remember to adjust your expenditures when the guild’s activities (and thus income) go down, as they are no doubt to do in the summer months.  If you’re farming an instance, consider reducing expenditure in the weeks leading up to a new patch so you can go crazy on consumables and reagents when the next tier of content is available.

Someone best call up Microsoft and ask when they’ll be updating MS Money to support WoW Guild Currency.

This is a series of articles on the changes coming in WoW: Cataclysm as they relate to guild management and leadership. See the other articles in the series: overview, part 2, part 3, reforging links and final thoughts. Articles in the series will be published every Mon and Thursday from Aug 27th through September 14th.