Guild Leadership Corner: Where have all the guild funds gone?

This post was co-written by Lissanna, Ranico, and Mindalen of Undying Resolution (US-Elune), as part of the blog’s guild leadership series.

Our guild has a problem. We’re slowly going broke this tier because Blizzard’s changes in 5.4 have removed our guild’s primary source of guild income.

Our 25-man raiding guild used to be self-sufficient:  We’re currently working on normal-mode Garrosh and working on starting heroics. Our guild offers repairs, flasks, food, gems and other raiding materials as part of the package of benefits we offer to our raiders.  In return for these materials, our guild keeps any greens, blues, or epics that drop in the raid and people don’t need. This includes BOE epics, BOE patterns, or shards/materials from disenchanting BOP epics. The guild also accepts donations from members, and plenty of guild members make their own flasks and such. For all of Cataclysm and the first several tiers of MOP, we were able to do this while still either making money or coming out even in funds every month. The beginning of a raid tier is almost always a profitable time in our guild’s raiding, with the end of tier economy usually slowing our guild’s income.

Something is wrong this tier: With the change to noodle carts reducing our food requirements, our actual guild income should have gone up at the beginning of this tier (especially with our faster than average progression through normal-mode content). Instead, we’ve netted an approximate loss of 250,000 gold in the first few weeks after the start of 5.4 (a really unprecedented early patch loss). Without major reductions in providing materials to our guild members, or increasing guild donations, we will have depleted all of our bank’s reserves by the end of December at the rate of loss from the first few weeks.

Where does all that money go?
Item name – Number of stacks per week = Average amount per stack(average per week)

  • Golden Lotus – 5 stacks of 20/week @ 1300G = (6500G)
  • Raw Croc Belly – 6 stacks/week @ 229G = (1374G)
  • Emperor Salmon – 5 stacks/week @ 125G = (625G)
  • Giant Mantis Shrimp – 3 stacks @ 120G = (360G)
  • Tiger Gourami – 3 stacks @ 225 = (675)
  • Raw Turtle Meat – 4 stacks @ 30 = (120)
  • Pumpkin – 6 stacks @ 290 = (1740)
  • Cabbage – 2 stacks @ 300 = (600)
  • Carrots – 2 stacks @ 200 = (400)
  • Green Onion – 2 stacks @ 200 = (400)
  • Additional Meats/Fish/Veggies in lesser amounts 6 stacks @ 100 = (600)
  • Gems – 20/week = (approx. 1200)
  • Enchanting mats – Random amounts – Not trackable. Usually donated or obtained by DEing greens.
  • Black Pepper – 3 stacks/week @ 1800 = (5400)
  • Rice Flour – 2 stacks/week @ 1800 = (3600)
  • Leg Enchants – 5 x 3 = 15 @ 400G = (6000)
  • Belt Buckles – 4 @ 400 = (1600G)
  • Shoulder Enchants – 4 x 3 = 12 @ 350 = (4200)
  • Guild Bank Repairs – On average we spent 10K gold per week on guild repairs.

What was our original source of income?
In previous tiers, BOE patterns would drop from raids that could be sold to non-raiders or other guilds that were unlucky with their pattern drops. We sold BOE epics that dropped from raids and didn’t require crafting. These BOE epics were often rare and of equal ilevel to the normal-mode raid gear. These were often bought by people who wanted to get a quick ilevel boost outside of raids at high prices. In addition, for the last several tiers, some epic crafting items required tokens such as haunting spirits. These tokens came from disenchanting gear from raids, and used to be so valuable in previous tiers that we didn’t hand out much off-spec gear since the need for haunting spirit tokens to fund the guild was greater than our guild’s need for off-spec gear. A combination of all three of these would mean that selling BOE epics, patterns, and required crafting spirit tokens were enough to keep our guild either breaking even or making a profit each raid tier. We could also sell the crafted items made from having the rare patterns and valuable required spirits.

In the current raid tier, NONE of these major income sources are available to us:

  • In the current tier, there are no BOE epic drops in the raid instance, so we can’t sell BOE epics.
  • There are no BOE pattern drops, so we can’t sell BOE patterns.
  • The current tokens (spirits of war) aren’t used in the same way as the tokens from previous tiers, and so fewer people are buying the tokens. Thus, these spirits can’t compensate for the loss of BOE drops from the raid instance, due to the spirits not being a required crafting material anymore.

Why are Spirits of War not enough to sustain guilds this tier?
As a tailor, the spirits of war only accelerate the rate of making the daily cloth grind to make Celestial Cloth. It takes 21 celestial cloth to make a single epic item. Making a celestial cloth takes 10 bolts of windwool cloth once per day. If you use the spirit of war, it still costs 10 bolts of windwool cloth to make a celestial cloth. So, all it does is speed up the amount of time. The spirit of war is not a required item to make the epic, and it does not reduce the resource requirements at all. Thus, guilds can’t sustain high levels of guild expenditures with selling these spirits of war on the auction house, since they sell at a slower rate than previous tiers. Guilds also can’t sustain spending with only spirits of war to make BOEs to sell (in the absence of BOE epic drops from the instances). For example, since the 210 bolts of windwool cloth (at 12 gold a piece) means that it costs us the equivalent of 2,520 gold to make a cloth belt.

While these crafted items are selling okay early in the patch (at an average of 15,000 to 20,000), this isn’t likely sustainable due to limitations on the current crafting materials (e.g., who is farming the raw materials to make the items in the first place?). There are only so many trilium bars our guild can farm up outside of raids (and in previous tiers, the BOE items we were selling came as raid drops, and not as spending hours outside of raids farming materials). As the prices of these crafted items (but likely not the raw production materials) will decline over the next 6 to 8 months, if we sold the belt for 5,000 gold several months down the line, we would potentially only profit 2,500 gold based on the cost of the materials to manufacture these items (a far cry from the rate of weekly spending the guild will still incur at a point where our individual guild members may be feeling less generous on their own to keep the guild bank afloat). The rate-limiting factor for making the epic belts and other profession crafted items is not the daily cooldown for guilds with piles of Spirit of War tokens, but instead the rate of farming drops of windwool cloth or other materials required to make the items, especially on lower population servers with hurting economies in the first place. To be profitable, spirits of war and their role in crafting needs to be seriously re-examined.

What could Blizzard do to help guilds recoup lost funds?
To save amazing guild bank systems like Undying Resolution’s, a change to the spirits of war needs to happen soon – before the next expansion.

  • Spirits of war could reduce crafting costs. They need to make spirits of war either seriously reduce or entirely remove the material cost for crafting epics. So, a spirit of war plus a trillium bar could produce two of the balanced trillium bars instead of creating only one; it could reduce the cloth needed to 5 instead of 10 bolts, and reduce the magnificent hide costs to 1 instead of 2.
  • Turn spirits of war into a valued currency. They could also potentially put patterns or items on a vendor where the spirits of war are a currency for buying items directly.
  • Add back raid BOE items. It could be possible to add new BOE items this current tier for normal & heroic-mode raiding, with higher ilevels than normally available (e.g., BOEs at the thunder-forged value level). However, at the very least, for the next expansion, BOE raid epics absolutely need to return.
  • Increase guild raiding challenge rewards. They could also help guilds directly by greatly increasing the rewards from raiding guild challenges. For example, they could increase the number of guild raid boss kills and the gold rewarded per raid boss kill for the guild challenges). If it isn’t possible to make it easier for us to sell things, they could help fund raiding guilds by giving raiding guilds more gold for killing raid bosses (and reduce the need for us to sell items in the first place).
  • Increase guild funds from the Cash Flow Perk. Increase the Cash Flow Perk percentage or make the Cash Flow Perk applicable to more sources of gold income (such as quest rewards or auction house sales). With the declining interest and reduced number of dailies, the Cash Flow generated through this perk continues to diminish and represents but only a small portion of our guilds gross income. This would be better than adding in a taxation system where guilds could “tax” their guild members earnings, since the cash flow perk is a bonus on top of what the guild members earn. However, a “tax” system could also potentially be used to allow guilds to control how much gold their individual members donate to the bank, and could be used for guilds to distinguish differences between themselves, and determine how much money from individual members a guild requires to sustain themselves.
  • Have inexpensive cauldrons (flasks) and feasts (food) available to raiding guilds every tier. While the noodle carts are a nice addition this last patch, this ends up almost being “too little, too late”. As golden lotus for flasks ends up being a major guild expenditure, a 25-man flask cauldron similar to the noodle carts would have gone a long way to making the guild bank issue into a non-issue. The guild funds are really only expensive in the first place because Blizzard took away cauldrons and feasts this expansion (making people reliant on individual food/flasks after a long time of having those provided by their guilds). We could compensate for this by sustaining guild income with sales of BOE epic drops from raids, but removal of the safety net really hurts guilds who created centralized guild banking to provide cauldrons and feasts to their guilds in the first place.

Conclusions:

While some non-raiders may see the removal of these exclusive BOE items as beneficial, they come with a huge negative downside for the raiding guilds who required those items to make large raiding guilds sustainable. At the current rate of gold loss, our once profitable bank strategy has us leaking money faster than our income can keep up.

We are making internal guild changes (such as offering guild members rewards for donations to the bank, posting notices of what items we need donations of each week, reducing the amount of raid repairs we allow per day, and other strategies). In the short-term, we have seen guild member donations increase due to showing the guild our finance problem. However, this is the equivalent of shifting the costs onto our guild members – instead of an individual member crafting a belt and selling it for 25K, they’re spending their time and money outside of the raid crafting a belt and giving that item to the guild to sell. At that point, it’s no longer the guild providing resources from the funds gained from selling items acquired from raids, but members sharing resources they personally acquired outside of raids. Even with serious changes, we may have to seriously consider reducing the quantity and selection of raiding materials we can provide to our guild members 6 or 8 months down the line if donations don’t stay high enough to make up for the loss in sustainability from raid drops (we will eventually exhaust the resources of the minority of raiders who consistently donate to the bank if all raiders don’t donate equally). With the fact that our guild has one of the best maintained guild banks I’ve ever seen, having to change the way we provide materials to our members would break my heart. For guilds less well organized than ours, it is likely that they will stop providing materials much sooner than we would, as they are likely to run out of funds much sooner than we would. If this trend continues into the next expansion and several raid tiers down the line, this loss of sustainable guild funding would also cost us one of our primary recruitment tools after several years, and would hurt the culture of our guild since our members are used to how amazing our guild’s resources have been thus far.

Of course this raises the broader question, why not have raiders pay for their own repairs and provide everything for themselves? Why do we even need a Guild Bank? That question can continue sofar as to: why do we even need guilds? Especially true with both LFR & Flex. The simple answer is we want to be able to create our own communities with our friends, we want to be able to craft our own collective narrative and history within the game, not just as individual players but as a broader guild. Please give us more tools and ways to do this, not less. The answer to a vibrant community is not simply connecting realms or removing barriers to raiding, it also includes making “Guilds” fun and interesting, making them a network of micro communities across realms that forms the backbone of the broader macro community in WoW (as they always have).

10 Comments

  1. Posted October 16, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Something I’ve also noticed is there seems to be fewer guild groups running heroics or scenarios and getting those gold rewards, too. And it makes sense – why run scenarios when VP is only used to upgrade pieces or buy inferior Throne of Thunder-level gear that mains don’t need? And mains didn’t often run heroics anyway, but alts? Why run heroics when there’s better, easier, faster gear available on the Timeless Isle?

    The Isle is great for alts, of course, but it does remove basically all motivation to run heroics or scenarios now, other than for guild gold.

    • Lissanna
      Posted October 16, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      That’s part of the reason why in talking about the guild challenge rewards, I specifically talk about adding more raid boss rewards – rather than increasing the rewards for all guild challenges – since most guilds aren’t able to get people to care about running heroics or scenarios as a group anymore. We’re far more likely to organize Timeless Isle farming runs, but those runs don’t contribute to the guild challenge gold rewards.

      • Posted October 17, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, multiple raid kills – or kill 5 bosses in a week, that kind of thing – would definitely be nice!

  2. Vitaemachina
    Posted October 17, 2013 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    Really great writeup. You run your bank similarly to us, and have identified the issues pretty perfectly. Even in the earlier tiers of MoP (at least on my server) it felt like BoE items & raid crafting materials just didn’t have the same level of influx they did in past tiers & expansions. Overall, we’ve run a huge cash deficit this expansion, and I don’t see any way to dig out of it. I really hope Blizzard reconsiders how they handle things, because adding in large gold sinks without taking into account centralized banking is pretty uncool.

  3. Posted October 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, our bank funds have steadily been dropping in Siege as well. Frankly, at this point I’m just gritting my teeth and dealing with it because I know we’ll be able to make millions by selling the H Garrosh mount in a few months.

    Of course, that situation doesn’t help guilds that won’t H Garrosh, so it’s not a good solution in general.

  4. tweell
    Posted October 18, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    We’ve been seeing the same thing. Since 5.4 the raiding guild I’m in has had to drastically restrict repairs and beg for donations to keep the GB up.

  5. Berdache
    Posted October 22, 2013 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    We dont provide anything like the the support you do (raiders provide their own flasks and our guild bank is full of banquets that had to be made levelling cooking) but my guild has also had to lower the guild repairs recently. We have been attributing it to less money being dropped on the new Island and plenty of fatal mechanics. Alongside this far fewer guild instances and scenario being run due to the uselessness of valour.

  6. Jurik
    Posted October 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    We have noticed the same thing. Generally the first few weeks of a new raid we make tremendous bank from selling BoEs and disenchanted materials, but the market for both of those has been severely diminished or entirely cut by Blizzard this time around.

    I guess the end result is that non-raiders will have less to spend their money on this tier; usually they are indirectly funding our raids through purchasing our raid-generated drops.

    When the time comes we might consider selling a h.garrosh mount, though I would expect the majority of that money would go directly to contributing raiders, not the guild bank. The cost of the heroic mount will be very high, as well, probably needs to be 750k+ to make it worth our time (50g x 12 core raiders on roster + 150k for gbank, expenses, and smaller cuts to any long-term alternates)

    Hopefully Blizzard will notice this unintended side-effect and remedy it for next tier. Putting a 1000g+ per week cost to being a raider is pretty steep disincentive to people looking to make the step up from casual (flex/lfr) raiding to structured raiding. (Math: 1000g per week buys you 10 flasks and about 40 wipes worth of repair costs. This doesn’t include food which with noodle carts is about 30g per wipe per entire raid–so between 40-120g per week per raider depending on raid size)

    Keep in mind that if you don’t mind paying someone for their time, there are cheap alternatives for spare 300 stat food this patch: I can crank out a stack of Spiced Blossom Soup in under 15 minutes, for example, and the pandaren spices are dirt cheap. If you had a raider on roster that has the recipes, you might offer to buy his farming time to get a few stacks of each for when a noodle cart doesn’t make sense.

    Another thing that might be nice for Blizzard to consider is a hybrid flask that changes bonus based on talent specialization, to reduce the number of flasks someone will go through if they are a flexible role. Especially if you’re monkeying with your raid composition when pushing heroic raiding, having a monk go dps->healer->dps->tank in under an hour is a lot of wasted flask time.

  7. Posted October 27, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    We’re experiencing much the same thing: where we started with a surplus of gold and people were wanting to know how we’d spend it, we’re now starting to wonder if we’re going to run out just from the basic flask, food and repairs spend. Most of our mats are farmed but we do still pay for them, albeit at slightly lower than auction house prices. Fortunately the hefty surplus we started with means we can ride it out till, probably, the next expansion but if Blizzard doesn’t boost it next tier then it’s going to start getting tricky.

  8. Phrinn
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Hi, came across your blog and found this an interesting read. My guild supplies all consumables (flasks, potions and food) for every raid as well as guild repairs for raiders and all members. We run the EPGP loot distribution system in our two 10 man raid teams, so I run “farming weeks” every now and again where I write up a list of the materials we need most to make the consumables and award EP to raiders who contribute them – so it’s a win-win situation, raiders get EP and all their consumables, and the bank doesn’t have to fork out for materials. It’s good because we’ve been basically fully self-sufficient this whole expansion, we don’t need the same materials each farming week because generally we end up with a good stockpile of mats (I had to create a guild bank-guild to store everything).

    We’ve had issues recently too with the guild challenges being met, but generally we get most (not all) of them done. It doesn’t take long to go in with a group of bored guildies and smash out a good number of scenarios and dungeons. I agree that something needs to be changed here, no one cares about running them anymore.

    We sold quite a few haunting spirits in the last patch which tended to give us a nice boost to our bank and put us in a good position for this patch, but I have noticed a lot more of a decline in guild gold this patch than I have previously.