In MMOs you will always come across someone perceived to be “better” or “stronger” than you. Sometimes it may be an opposing guild or clan who seems to have overwhelming members, or has the best gear and weapons available. It may even be within your own guild, someone who presents themselves as better than you, when you feel inside they are not. You must not spend time worrying about what the person or conflicting guild actually feels about you, or if they’re simply putting up a front to intimidate you. Spending resources, or worse, human players to “figuring out the truth” leads nowhere and is a waste of time.
It is however, important in how you approach that situation. You want to win, sure. You want to eventually take their place of power. However more often than not, simply being boisterous and flamboyant will lead to nothing but ruin. Bragging about your own achievements, or trying to put out grandeur displays is NOT the way to win over your competition, or earn respect among higher ranks. It is a common mistake many make. Even the top guild leaders of your server have insecurities. By going out and presenting yourself as a threat, you fail to achieve what’s needed to eventually overcome them – stealth. By being loud and proud, you only serve to have them manifest their insecurities on to you or your own guild.
If you are naturally outshining your leaders or opponents, appeal to their nature of assuming luck is involved. Give discreet flattery that you got lucky, while they really deserve credit for the hard work. Always act naive in how you are progressing.
This quote focuses on making sure you are doing everything you can to NOT become a target. More importantly however, your main job when working your way up the rankings is to make sure you are making it clear you are not a threat to those already at the top. There are many historical examples of empires who effectively “stomped out” competition when the growing competition slipped and showed their cards. MMOs are no different and it is very common – especially in sandbox MMOs – for the big to hunt the weak. Some games take this further by even calling the top-ranked clans “alphas” and everyone else “betas”. If at anytime a “beta” clan slips and shows their growing power, the alpha swoops in and completely wipes them out.
Your goal is to become the alpha without the existing alphas knowing it. It involves constantly appearing naive and weaker, while also making it clear your goal is never to be better or stronger than them.
What to Observe About Yourself:
- Its natural to want to talk about your goals. A tip I commonly tell other leaders is to have two sets of goals, one set being your true desires, and the second the “fun” goals. This way you are never lying to someone when you talk about what your real goals are, you are simply just not giving the entire picture.
- Repeat your goals always, keep the same message. Be boring. Throw some roleplay into it. Nobody respects or fears a roleplayer who talks of bigger ambitions.
- It is human instinct to trust appearances. It is just as important to control what you say as it is to control how you appear, whether as a guild or individual. The individuals to worry about are the ones not trying to take center stage.
- It is important to be vocal about topics even if you do not believe in them. You want your opponents knowing you stand with certain issues rather than you trying to be secretive – which is a possible trigger for them to see you as a sort of threat of unknown.
- Look for opportunities to support different sides of conflict that do not affect the major powers at play. If two completely garbage guilds are going to war, support one vocally. Make your opponents see that if you have intentions or goals, you are vocal about them. When you actually do have secret intentions or goals, your lack of discussion will not sound any alarms.
- Do not overdo it. Always mention that honesty and integrity is important in your decision-making process.
Sun Tzu had a great passage in “The Art of War” covering this. In general this applies the same way. You are at best advantage when you appear weaker than you actually are.
It’s important to remember you will not always be able to avoid upsetting every powerful guild or figure you come across, but you need to be selective and choose wisely who you decide to “flex” to and who not to. It is always more advantageous to appear as a mystery or even a casual guild/player than to immediately come across as an elite/hardcore PvPer for example.
As a final note, it is always better to appear honest than dishonest, even if you are known for deception. Your enemies will see you as less of a threat if you come out and say “yea I wasn’t exactly truthful about that PvP attack” than if you remain silent. Sometimes being diversionary with a extravagant display is the right call, although its important to develop a backstory as to why you did it. Being consistent is the biggest key to continue hiding your true intentions and goals, but always make sure your actions and words are more general and “normal” than the surroundings of the server environment you are in.
Example MMO Scenario:
The Vanquisher guild is currently holding top spots in the rankings. Their most important castle is the one location on “Rat Mountain”. The Leader of “Bros” wants to take that castle over the next weeks knowing its importance, but needs to approach it without Vanquisher knowing that or getting tipped off, which might lead to Vanquisher declaring war or summoning their alliance against the leader of Bros.
The Leader of “Bros” should take extra time during the weeks talking about taking a different castle. He should come up with reasons he wants the castle beyond its strategic importance, such as it has great views of the local coastline, and similar RP or aesthetic reasons. He should not be elaborate about it though, and keep it simple.
As he studies more about the real castle on “Rat Mountain” he wishes to take, he might open a voice dialogue with the leader of “Vanquishers” and ask them for advice on taking the lesser-valued castle, but do so from a position of naivety.
Sometime during the next week, he makes a post on reddit and the forums suggesting that castles with coastlines need more love, further suggesting his intentions publicly for the less-valuable castle.
About "Guild Leader's Guide"
“Guild Leader’s Guide” is a collection of lessons and thoughts from over ten years of leading an pvp-focused large-scale guild. All content here is done mainly by Freelancer, with special additions from other guild/clan leaders he has worked with over the last 12 years of Legacy’s history. All content should be considered opinion and for entertainment. We hope this helps expand your mind when it comes to leading your own guilds or simply being a constructive force assisting with a guild.