For a game called Guild Wars 2, there is very little emphasis on guilds within the game. While guild missions exist, and there are dozens of perks to being in a guild, very few things are a reason to be together as a guild beyond a bigger friends list.
WvW didn’t get that memo. Guilds based around WvW get together for “raids” all the time, picking fights and achieving glory in dozens of different ways every night. How they raid can be anything from havocing the countryside, to simple duos and trios of roamers, to a few dozen people ready to find the enemy’s massed force and break it into bits.
Guilds provide so much to WvW that the mode is reliant on them for its success. Despite the lack of updates, the miserable state of balance, and the constant movement of players among servers, WvW continues. Guilds are the reason.
DISCLAIMER: All mentions of guilds in this post presume a WvW-focused (or at least, groups for WvW regularly) guild.
The Rallying Flag on the Battlefield
Guilds are known names in WvW, a group of players with the same tag prosecuting the war against the enemy. And just like actual military units with uniforms, a pile of similar guild tags following a commander becomes a place for anyone not in the guild to rally.
When a guild (or guilds) is actively fighting on a map, players who would have logged off for lack of anything to do stick around. And over time, especially if a guild is consistent, that consistent presence alone will increase the number of people playing at the same times, because players know that the guild will be there.
Commander Training Ground
Commanding takes practice. A lot of it. While some people have a natural talent for tactics, or strategy (or even both), fine-tuning it requires not just consistent practice by the commander, but a consistent group of people to practice with. Guilds provide exactly this. They are also a number of people that the commander can rely on in each and every fight.
Additionally, “PUGmanding” is a hard, demanding, and very difficult job to start. Rather than the presumed group of guildies who will raid alongside all but the most inept commander, a player attempting to command PUGs has to contend with people joining or leaving based on the outcome of each and every fight*.
*Granted, if a player can persevere past being an unknown name, they will have the same “pull” as a guild commander. But it takes far longer, and rarely happens.
Player Training Ground
Guilds also provide lesser-experienced players an ideal opportunity to learn alongside more experienced ones. Just like commanders, players themselves are able to learn and grow amongst a consistent group of people.
This also highlights the role of guilds as a trove of massed knowledge about WvW. Players who know what’s going on group together, and someone newer that gets in the same guild as them gain the benefit of their knowledge, no guides required.
A Reason to Stay
Guilds provide one of the most solid reasons to continue playing WvW: a like-minded community. Servers ebb and flow as transfers take their toll, a zerg of players one night likely won’t all be there the next. But a guild provides people to play with, to enjoy the game with.
“Succeeding” takes an immediate back seat to “enjoying.” Players spend less time comparing things like “rewards” to “time spent,” and cherish the time spent laughing, joking, losing, and winning amongst friends. And social interaction with friends is the core draw of MMOs as a concept. All other features are reasons to bring together friends*.
*This is rabid idealism speaking. The original core draw of MMOs was exactly that, but many features and systems in modern MMOs focus on providing individual enjoyment, rather than giving groups a reason to get together.
Further, server names are almost always followed by the major guilds currently on them. And as a group of guilds stays on the same server for an extended period of time, the server picks up their identity. While some server communities still hold their own identity, as more transfers have occurred, guilds have replaced that general server identity.
The Backbone of Activity
Piling onto all of these is the simple fact that guilds are the basis of WvW activity. They spend more time in WvW, bringing all of their advantages to other players along with them. Generally, the more active guilds on a server, the stronger that server is on the battlefield.
Likewise, a server without guilds, or one that abruptly loses a lot of guilds, though it may have WvW activity, has far less, to the point that many servers are declared “dead” by the WvW community.
Guilds are the Core of WvW
With all of these advantages, the importance of WvW-based guilds should be without question. They function as the very center of everything that happens, with other players, guilds, and even servers steadily bending to their movements.
The current system presumes that servers function as the center, but that has never been true. The structural problems that WvW suffers will not be fixed by focusing on servers, because they aren’t guilds.
With this in mind, any new system that seeks to solve the problems plaguing servers should be based not on servers, but on guilds. The proper foundation isn’t new, and dates back to the original Guild Wars: alliances.
The Alliances Series
- Putting Guilds Back into Guild Wars: WvW Alliances
- Unbalanceable Problems: Why the Server System Cannot Work
- Heart and Soul: The Guilds of World vs. World
- The Case for WvW Alliances
- The Alliance Structure: Sidestepping the Problems
- The Pros and Cons of WvW Alliances
- Rewarding the Competition
- Implementing Alliances