I mentioned earlier that I raid lead one of several raid teams in my guild, so the culture is different from the "normal" one raid per guild structure that most people are accustomed to in World of Warcraft.
This turned into much too long for a single post, so it's broken into several sections. The first section explains why I originally got into the guild.
Finding Myself Without a Home
As ICC and WotLK drew to a close, I hopped around in several different guilds. I had left my ICC guild due to personality conflicts, and was searching for a home. I transferred to different servers and tried out a bunch of different types of guilds, progression, and so forth. I spent time with a 10 man working on Sindragosa normal, was an officer for a guild just starting out, and spent several weeks with a 25m guild working on Sindragosa HM (we finally got her!). While I like raiding, I also like a lot of other things in game. I realized that I didn't want to do hardcore raiding, since that would prevent me from doing these other things.
As the holiday season got closer, my husband's work got busier, and he didn't have much time to play. He remained on our initial server, and I eventually brought my characters back there. I joined a casual guild, but raids with them were unsatisfying. The roster was in constant flux, so every raid was a progression night for several folks. We didn't get very far into the instance.
I knew that in order for me to enjoy raiding, I would need to find a group with consistent attendance, but a short schedule, and without any window lickers.
And Then There Were Two
My husband loves to raid - it's his favorite thing to do in game. Unfortunately, he works a weird schedule that keeps him from most normal raid times (he gets up at 3 am, so needs to be in bed around the time most raids start). In LK, it seemed like there were PUGs going at all hours of the day, and that was fine for him. It didn't seem like that would be the case in Cataclysm, though.
I realized that if he wanted to raid in Cataclysm, he would have to find a team that raided at a time that would work for his schedule. And if I wanted to raid with him (I do!), then it would also have to meet my desires as well.
I searched around for awhile, and found a small guilds on the US servers that even met his schedule requirements. Eliminating the groups that didn't have a stable roster or performance problems (I generally did this based on record), and I was left with a hardcore guild or two. My husband also works 50-60 hours a week, so that wouldn't work for him, and I just didn't like raiding that much.
I realized that in order to get a group with everything we wanted, I would have to create it. I'm the natural organizer in our relationship, and I had much more free time.
During my transition period, I had worked as an officer of a start-up guild, so I had an idea what would go into creating a guild. It's a lot of work....and I didn't really want that. I like to putter in game (I usually have 20 projects at any given time) and I didn't want to spend my time managing a whole guild.
About the same time, I noticed a post on our realm forums. This would be great, I thought, since I could run a raid team without the overhead of guild management.
The guild was horde (I was originally alliance), so I rolled an alt and spoke with the guild leader about what I wanted to do. While we agreed that it may be difficult to find 8 other people at a time that would work for us, he said that his guild would be a good place to attempt it. We decided that after the Shattering (when I could be a TROLL!), I would faction transfer.
What I Would Be Doing... and Avoiding
From those initial discussions, I learned that I would be responsible (or able, however you look at it) for recruiting folks for my raid team, and if they weren't already guild members I could invite them. I would be responsible for my raid team (and any drama that they created).
My responsibilities also included determining my loot rules, attendance rules, and conduct rules (if above the guild requirements of "be cool"). We would have use of the vent server (and our own channel) and the guild forums (we have our own sub group). We have a single bank tab.
By starting a group in a guild like this, I can recruit without people worrying about my guild dissolving after a few months like so many start up guilds. The mega guild is well established and has been around for years (it was created in 2006).
I don't have to worry about managing a social rank of non-raiders. Especially in the Cataclysm environment, some guilds are taking in extra people to help them level or get achievements. I haven't had to face that question - we get achievements easily.
I don't have to manage the external sites - Vent or the website. We have our own area, and the guild administrators take care of it.
It's the least time consuming way to run a raid team when I don't already have a group of folks that I can trust to delegate things to. I know that if I started a guild, in time I would find trusted people to delegate things like this to, but in the meantime I would have to do everything myself.
Moving Forward So, these were all things that I knew going into Cataclysm. The next several posts will break down the specific advantages/disadvantages, as well as address some concerns that people seem to have when they talk about this.