No, not Coltoon. Nor Frostydude.
Once upon a time, there was a gnome mage. He grew up, experienced 5-man dungeons and obtained gear of a reasonable level. There were these raid things he had heard of, so he went on the official forums to ask his fellow inhabitants of Azeroth for advice on his further mageing and on how to transition from 5-mans to that fabled raiding. Coincidentally, we were also about to take that very step and just started active recruitment. So, we left a message in his thread (which quickly became an EJ-outpost of arcane mages beating each other in wit while reasoning over trinket cooldowns), I added him to my Friends list, greeted him when he logged on and after a bit of chatting he agreed to “join and see”.
“Hmm, you only have 6 level 80 characters in the guild,” he keenly observed first thing after joining. And, just to be clear, I had not lied about, not even concealed our small scale and state of development.
“Well, yes, but at least they’re actually from 6 different people. And we have 2 friends who run with us,” I tried to come back.
Hmm,” he concluded. Abstract friends reliable guild rosters do not make, and even 6 + 2 still only gives 8, which is remarkably less than 10.
A couple of hours later he apologetically explained that he received a better offer and that although he’s sorry, he will seek his luck there. You shall not hold up the travellers, as a German saying says. I politely expressed my regret about his decision, but assured him I can’t blame him for it and wished him all the best.
Today, little more than a month later, we have close to 30 level 80 characters in our guild. People transferred server and faction to play with us, people resubscribed to play with us – you cannot imagine (well, maybe you can) the magnitude of pride this fills us with, more than any measurable in-game achievement. We’ve cleared Naxxramas and The Room of the Crusader, as well as VoA, Sarth and EoE. We have two bosses left to best in Ulduar (not counting Algalon…yet!). Our raids are some magically impossible combination of competence and amiability – even though we are still working on the structures and infrastructures around them (that punctuality issue was pretty severe and started, as always, at the head – myself. I think we’re getting a firm grip on it now though). When we feel prepared and roll up in ICC, that Arthas dude should better make a life insurance. Or death insurance .. whatever it is he’d like to insure.
But on that chilly evening in late February, I felt very, very helpless and borderline desperate. Yes, of course, the very fact that he left was best proof that the gnome mage was not a fit for us. That was not the point, though. The point was that terrifying vicious circle starting up a new guild this late into an expansion (and even later into the game itself) puts you in. You can’t do anything exciting unless you get the numbers – you can’t get the numbers until you can offer them something exciting to do. We were lucky. We were incredibly lucky to find and be found by some incredibly nice people who then recommended us to other incredibly nice people or just contributed their incredible niceness. It’s all pretty incredible. And nice.
But back when even a totally inexperienced little gnome left us for greener pastures the probabilities looked rather dire. So, what is he up to now, you may wonder? According to the Armory, he has yet to set foot into a raid and changed guilds at least yet another time. He came back into his thread once or twice saying, right, thanks everyone, now he’s got a guild and is prepared and totally looking forward to raid really soon. Which made me smirk, because at that point we were already raiding, and he’d have been raiding as well had he remained with us. But he did not believe. And wanted to go the path of the least resistance. The thing about the path of least resistance is however, sadly, that it rarely leads to the place you want to be in.
What was the point of this post? I’m not sure. But I am sure how I will end it – by thanking everyone who believed and took the risk with us. It is a pleasure to be around you, it is a pleasure to log on and emerge in your company and it is a pleasure to do our best to reward you for your faith with the best you could believe in. Thank you.