Back at the launch of WAR where having several hundred guildies and several dozen online were much more commonplace, I was actually a high ranking officer of one of the largest Destro guilds on the ORvR/RP servers. Still to this day I can recall quite vivdly the incredibly charismatic guild leader who really served as nothing more than a politician to the guild, and all the combat/in-game duties were relegated to his officer core. Structure is one of the things that has always interested me with guilds and maybe if I were more inclined to herd cats I would have tried keeping one together. The extremely low barrier to starting and maintaining a guild in Warhammer is one of the things that I see as a problem with the game. There are literally hundreds of active guilds on each server, but barely a dozen with a respectable and active population.
Coming from Shadowbane, which was effectively a dead game as it were when I left, guilds were everything. You literally could not compete in a meaningful way without one as they were your main access to cities, territory battles, resources, player crafted gear, and player owned shops. During the death throes of Shadowbane, the guild I was in still managed to field 3 groups on a nightly basis which is a hell of a lot more than I can say about any of the guilds I’ve been in with WAR in the past two years now (also to consider, we were a small guild). Barring mega-guilds like the Gaiscioch on Badlands, the low point of entry makes it easy for anyone who ever thought of having their own guild to run, to sign up half a dozen people and keep it alive even if all alone.
Now I’m not sure if making the restrictions to form and maintain a guild significantly more involved would really solve any problems of getting like minded players running under the same banner, but anything that nudges us towards guild consolidation in this day and age might not be a bad idea. I know I would personally lose at least three guilds that are GR20+, but that’s a price I would gladly pay to have a guild that fields more than a dozen, and an alliance of guilds that can do the same. How much would it affect you if your guild suddenly just up and vanished (assuming you’re in a smaller/low pop guild). Are you good enough friends with the few guildies around that you would recognize them by name?
I think a fundamental change to guild leadership is in order, and it would start off with what a guild does in game. Primarily the single most important thing a guild could do (pre 1.4) is claim keeps. With the new system turning all the keeps into static placeholders, it would severely limit how claiming would work. However, it does bring us to 9 keeps per realm which might be a good enough place to start. For all intents and purposes any existing guild information would be stored with the current guild leader. These guild leaders would go on a list in the Guild tab, and every player would get a vote to endorse that guild. The top 9 Guilds would be allowed to open, invite players (or re-invite their previous roster as an option), and be assigned/choose an RvR keep to defend. Everyone else would be dumped into The Forces of Order/Destro by default. This would happen quarterly in my mind.
You would still be able to create a guild by accumulating a party and heading up to the guild hall to register, but you would never actually be able to lead one until you collected enough endorsements to own a keep. All that guild information and setup would be archived (potentially saving a lot of backup time for Mythic). In the beginning, every single ex-guild leader will likely be chomping at the bit for their very own Keep to claim. Which would probably be quite good! It would mean that the bottom handful of guilds holding keeps would probably be pretty variable for a while until people naturally start to consolidate players. All of this would be building towards more active guilds, and a more competitive environment for the great leaders that need that sort of thing to stay interested.
With a new guild structure in place you can immediately expand on things that makes each guild keep individually important to the realm. Obviously the largest and/or most powerful guilds would want to claim the central zones in each tier so Guild Scrolls could be tweaked to actually send players to their Guild Keep. This could also convert the previous guildhall into a more general gathering hall which City scrolls would send a player to instead. Guild merchants would then be available to any player who made their way to the inner Keep walls and could be upgraded based on Guild rank to sell cheaper/more materials. Also, guild Vendors that sold items via a guild only Auctionhouse listing. Another cool addition would be a Dungeoneer who could queue you for a guild group to the various PvE dungeons, and then offer a summoning/chat channel when a full group was formed.
All of these NPC’s would be located within the walls of the keep and would defend the inner courtyard in the event of an attack. I would also propose the return of NPC guards as well so guilds could once again use the many upgrades they have already accumulated over the years. Lastly, moving all of the Guild upgrades to be purchaseable with either gold OR Ordnance stashed in guild vaults (located at the Inner Keep instead of at the City). You could probably wedge a use for Skulls in there as well somewhere although I would lean on those as a new crafting ingredient somewhere.
However, let’s also address the players who might not have that much interest in Politics and Cat-Herding. Solo’ers and Duo’ers aren’t going to need any kind of organization, but the 6-man premade gallavanting around with Guild Tags would definitely need some concessions. If there’s any one activity that spurns much competition and trash talking, it’s the instanced PvP we call Scenarios. 6-man groups have no traditional need for all the things Guilds get when it comes to Keep claiming, but they DO need the organization. I propose a 10-man Strike Team, consisting of 6 members and 4 substitutes. Each player would be allowed to be a member of one guild, one strike team, and be allowed 2 substitute slots on other strike teams. This would be a new tab on the UI where a player could check and see the population of their strike teams. Teams would be allowed many of the essential organization things needed for small group play. Player listing, last time played, location, quick join/form group, chat channel, and most importantly a ranking system.
A weekly ranking system (and roster lock) for teams could bring out some of the best grouping and competition the game may ever see. Particularly so as you would no longer need to be backend graded by the so-called “matchmaking” system. Instead it would be out in the open with a 10-man roster attached to it. It also would allow a new metric to look at for class balancing and synergy, and best of all, it would work wonders with a premade cross-server scenario queue (now they just need to outsource Blizzard or Trion to make it work apparently). Also, the flags sitting out with Guild Tags over them could be converted to Team tags instead as Guilds would have their own homes out in the battlefield, and wouldn’t change hands nearly as often.
Value is my goal with the game at this point, things that could be added to existing systems, or ways existing systems could be tweaked to make them matter a little bit more. Guilds these days are merely a collective of players all holding on to the game we all enjoy, most of them are more than willing to pick up new players but only a few eager young guilds bother to recruit. Shaking up the system and letting 9 Guilds exist at a time could bring things back to life in this aspect. A team based system for your day to day grouping operations could also lead to some VERY excellent competition as well.
I think I’ve rambled on long enough. Let’s hear some feedback!