While recently reflecting upon the many guilds in which I played over my 5.5 years of playing World of Warcraft, it ocurred to me that my favorite of all the guilds was the largest and most unwieldy of them all -- my vanilla raiding guild, Imperial Guard.
IG was not my first guild. My first guild was a lowbie-friendly uber casual guild. In that small friends and family guild, I got to run all the lowbie instances with other lowbies! It was great fun, until I hit the mid thirties and realized the only way I'd have anyone to play with would be to roll another alt for super lowbie instance running. And although that was fun, I wanted to see more.
That's what led me to the next guild. They advertised themselves as a growing raiding guild. That's sort of a cliche these days, but back then, it was a shiny new phrase not immediately met with suspicion. My SO was already running ZG with them weekly, so we joined. Which is the point at which we discovered it was really a friends and family guild with 5 Officers who all knew each other IRL and never wanted to do anything without each other. Oh, and some of them were foul mouthed and crazy to boot. But thanks to those folks, I got my first taste of raiding. We'd banded together with the server's many other "growing raiding guilds" and were starting to raid in Molten Core weekly. I got pulled in for the very first raid, at 58, because we were short a healer. One Saturday afternoon spent in Blackrock Mountain and I was hooked on raiding.
Unfortunately, the raiding alliance was all that was keeping me in that guild. The officer clique never opened up and thus for most of the week, the SO and I were on our own to find things to do. At which point, we started to get invited to AQ20 runs led by a buddy from that original lowbie guild. Those runs became what I most looked forward to each week. Filled with players from the buddy's raiding guild, plus us, we quickly plowed through that content, and made friends with -- gasp! -- people who wanted to do things!
This inevitably led to my receiving tells one evening about filling in for a druid who had to log off for bedtime (he was 15 and his parents kicked him off the computer) in BWL, would I like to go? Can you say HELLS YES?? My guild was not happy for me having made new friends and raiding with them, even though it was not coinciding with our alliance raids. Which is how I eventually ended up joining IG.
Everywhere you'd go on the server, it seemed someone had the Imperial Guard tag over their heads. That's because there were 200 or so active members. On the weekend, there would often be over 100 people logged on at any time. In addition to our Blackwing Lair progression raids when I joined, we had a weekly MC run that took a couple of hours (we called it speed raiding), and 2 Ony kills back-to-back, filling in slots with main raiders alts if we didn't have another 40 raid-ready players on. Eventually, we got up to 3 MC runs per week, plus BWL and AQ40, and weekly ZG and AQ20 runs.It's crazy to look back on all the activities the officers and class leaders kept going in IG.
The fact that there was always something to do was one factor in why it's my favorite guild, but not the primary one. Somehow, despite the size of the guild, there was a real sense of camaraderie and shared purpose. People donated valuable supplies to the guild bank alts, such as herbs to make fire resistance pots and flasks back when those were luxury items that took much grinding for the non-alchemists.
If a member of the raid coming in from PvP was set upon by the horde, our entire raid group would pour out of the BWL instance, and give the villains chase, and spend up to a half hour avenging our guildie's ganking. Similarly, we had alts strategically placed at the world dragon spawning points, and almost always got a shot in (or a kill) on a couple of them each week. The world dragon kills almost always devolved into a massive world PvP battle, which was something I always looked forward to because our raiders always played as a team. If you were out there with your raiders, you knew they had your back. As an aside, I can't count how many times since then I've watched guildies stand by and not want to get involved with world PvP, preferring to stand by and watch a guildie die than to jump into the fray. That's totally their choice mind you, but I do miss being a part of a guild where that would not be considered the honorable choice.
Due tot he large size of the raids, we were all split into Team Speak and chat channels based upon our class. Which is how I cam to build strong friendships with so many druids. The interesting thing about being in separate TS channels is we never had to hear someone bitching about a class they didn't know anything about-- our raid class leader would give any such baloney the smack down while we carried on, oblivious. In non-raid times, the druid chat channel would always be burbling with conversation, and offers to help with whatever harebrained scheme someone came up with. My friend Elvenia, who shared my love of vanity pets and concocting crazy ways to farm them, was one of those druid friendships I made in IG. That's also where I met my buddy Thardon, whose friends and family guild houses some of my alts to this day.
To be fair and balanced, IG had its faults. There were class and raid leaders who were far too young and immature to be making guild decisions. And our guild leader got incredibly burnt out towards the end of the expansion. And with Burning Crusade looming on the horizon, the progression raiders left the guild to start a 25-man raiding guild in which I was briefly a member. But that guild, focused only on raiding, and led by some of the members with the worst people and leadership skills, failed to capture the essence of what made IG special.
Although I have been happy in guilds since IG, I've never truly been able to recapture that certain je ne sais quoi. Thank you Imperial Guard, for the fabulous vanilla memories and the many long-standing friendships that sprung out from you.