The Underdog Guild

Time and time again, I seem to find myself joining up with the underdog guild on a realm.  When I reach 80 or server transfer onto a realm, I try to stay unguilded for a while, running instances to the best of my ability to get a feel for the various guilds who are raiding.  By inspecting party members and watching how they play, you can get a pretty good feel for who knows what they’re doing and who doesn’t, regardless of what a guild may put in their recruitment message or on their website.

It doesn’t take long to figure out who the “top” guild on the server is.  There’s always one per faction, sometimes two.  And then there’s the underdog.  The guild made up of solid players who for various reasons aren’t at the bleeding edge of progression on the realm, but who have all the right qualities to be the top guild.

And for some reason, I prefer to run with guilds of this sort, even though my experience and schedule more than qualify me to app to one of the “top” guilds.


Asking the that way question makes it seem like I regret making the choice, which isn’t true.  There are many reasons whyI don’t want to be in the top guild on a server.  While I have the time to do a five-night raid schedule, I’ve observed that some top guilds let their success go to their heads.  Any PUG they are a member of must be an absolute success by virtue of the guild tag they wear, and any problems encountered in such groups is obviously your fault, not theirs.  Inability to

dial DPS down seems to be a common problem.  This isn’t a condemnation of all top guilds, just a pattern that I have observed more than once.

There’s also the pressure to perform.  While I consider myself to be an excellent tank and healer, I’m just not as good a DPSer as other people who dedicate their time to one class.  Having a severe case of altitis doesn’t help – I’m at 15 characters across four accounts and two regions now, and all should be 80 by the end of summer.  If I just picked one DPS character to focus on and pimped them out with the best gear/gems/enchants I could get my hands on, I’m sure that I could bring my damage up to what’s required for a top-end guild, but I just can’t seem to get invested in my DPS characters the way I do with my tanks and healers.  Most guilds tend to have higher rotation in the DPS ranks than tanks/healers, so it’s not common to see top raiding guilds have spots open for the roles I want to play.

Ultimately though, I think it comes down to always wanting to have a direction to improve as a guild.  I can only imagine how boring Naxxramas must have been for the top guilds on most servers.  On my EU realm, Heroic Naxx was cleared only a few hours after November 25th (now Ensidia) cleared it on Magtheridon.  We didn’t see Ulduar until May, and while a few of the hard mode achievements must have been neat to attempt (I still can’t fathom doing the 6 minute Malygos kill on 10 man), they certainly wouldn’t have held my interest for six months.  My 10 man guild on the other hand took until early February to get everything for “Champion of the Frozen Wastes”, and even then we fell apart because people became bored out of their skulls in March.

If you’re the underdog, you have to get used to two things: you’re going to be bringing in people who don’t already know the content, and you’re going to lose people who do know the content to the top-end guilds.  Turnover tends to be a bit higher in these guilds, and sometimes the loss of a few key people can completely change what you’re raiding week to week.  You constantly have to be fighting to bring in people and keep your reputation on the realm high so that you can attract new members.  But you don’t tend to be bored.

To make an underdog guild work however, the core members need to understand and agree that you are the underdog.  If some of your members are comfortable not progressing into hard modes, you’re going to lose momentum.  If others assume that once a boss goes down one week, it will go down every week thereafter without issue, then you’re going to lose members to frustration.  If you find the chase more fun than the goal, then being in an underdog guild may be for you.

(Underdog image is presumably copyright W. Watts Biggers)