The first time my guild showed up on the radar of Warcraft Realms was July 27, 2006. Five years ago, today. I was not a member of the guild at the time. In fact, I was not a member of any guild at the time. I had only been playing WoW for a little over 4 months at that point, very on-and-off. I didn't find the Dragons until 2 years later and joined when the guild I was in at the time, Calentrai, was merged in.
I've tried for a couple hours to think about what, exactly, to write in this space. I kept referring back to a post on our guild forums by Dinaer that he made just prior to Cata and has maintained since, basically recounting our guild's history. I've finally realized that he summed it up better than I ever could, so I'm just going to repost it here, nearly word-for-word. Hopefully he doesn't mind.
The Dragons is one of the oldest continuously active guilds on the Sen’jin server. It was founded in July of 2006. There are still a couple of players in the guild from that far back.
Back then the guild was mostly a social/leveling guild. Most players were not at the level cap. There were two players who had raiding experience and they led us on some fun adventures. Many of our current officers joined back in late 2006. They had a very fun group that got along well.
The Dragons did our first guild raid (UBRS) in late 2006, but we did very little actual raiding as a guild. At some point we finally decided that we should try real raiding. We got all of our interested members attuned to Molten Core and arranged to join a 40 man raid along with some friends in another guild. Then, just days before we were ready to go, Blizzard announced the release date for the Burning Crusade expansion. With that information out, interest in raiding plummeted, and we never got to go into Molten Core.
The Burning Crusade expansion was released in January 2007. It took a while to level through it. We weren’t really focused on raiding. Our experienced raiders were gone. At the level cap we ran a lot of heroics but didn’t raid.
Sometime around June of 2007, the GM called a guild meeting in ventrilo. He told us that he had arranged a guild merger (without informing anyone else) into a large guild. The reason for the merge was to give us all opportunities to raid. This announcement was not met with the reaction he had hoped for. The majority of our members really liked the friends-and-family feel of The Dragons. No one wanted to go be little fish in a huge pond. In the end, the GM and a few of his friends left to go to the other guild while the rest of us stayed in The Dragons.
A few days later we had another guild meeting in vent to decide the future of the guild. We needed a new leader. Dinaer was about to nominate Hamacus for that position, but Ham was faster on the push-to-talk button than Din was and he suggested Din for the job. The guild agreed and Din was promoted to GM of The Dragons.
We decided that the best way to cement this decision was to start raiding on our own. Within days of the new leadership we set up a Karazhan raid. This had problems from the start, due to our lack of experience organizing raids. There were more people who wanted to raid than there were raid spots, and the selection process was handled poorly. Feathers were ruffled, and as a result a group of players left shortly thereafter to form their own guild (our first drama!).
We still had enough to field a raid team, so we pushed into Karazhan in the days to follow. Raiding was much harder back then. It took weeks of wipes before we even killed the first boss in Kara. We didn’t kill the second until October 2007 – three months after we started raiding there. Progress was slow, but steady and the learning process was fun. We had a fine raid leader who taught us much about raiding. By the end of 2007 we had defeated most of the Kara bosses. Along the way we added many excellent players that helped drive our success.
And then in February 2008 things just fell apart. We had a lot of strong personalities on the guild, and eventually there were disagreements and conflict. Our raid leader and his wife did a server transfer to get away from the negativity. When we had trouble fielding raids, others left for larger guilds. By March 2008 we had as few as 3-5 people logging in each night. We considered disbanding the guild, but chose to continue out of respect for the longevity of The Dragons name.
We knew that to continue we had to find a way to raid. Around March of 2008 someone stumbled across a forum post by a guild called Calentrai that was looking for a guild alliance for raiding. Din spoke to their guild leader and soon we were running Karazhan raids with them. Those raids went pretty well. Between the two guilds we fielded two full Kara teams most weeks, and we got along well.
Now that we were raiding again The Dragons started to thrive once more. Several members who had left during the down times would come back to us during this period, including the original GM. Between the two guilds, we had enough people to move into 25-man raiding. (For those who are new, in BC you did not have the option to choose 10 or 25 man raids. Karazhan was only 10 man and the later raids were only 25 man)
In April of 2008 we started in Gruul's Lair, and had that raid cleared by May. By June, The Dragons had enough people to run our own guild-only Karazhan raids and still have enough people left unsaved to do our joint Dragons-Calentrai runs. The guild alliance was moving right along, downing Magtheridon and moving into Serpentshrine Caverns.
However, Calentrai started to have its own internal problems. When the guild alliance started in March, the raids were 70% Calentrai and 30% Dragons. By August 2008 they were 70% Dragons and 30% Calentrai. After a lot of discussion, in September 2008 we decided to merge the two guilds. (San's note: By this time the co-GM's of Calentrai were taking a break from the game to work on personal issues. Norf had been promoted to active-GM and I was also given officer status to help try to keep it together until they came back. They never really did.) This turned out to be the most important decision in the history of the guild. About half of the current guild leadership came over in that merge.
There was a short golden age of Dragons raiding then. Blizzard nerfed a lot of the raids in advance of the Wrath expansion, so we blazed our way through most of Serpentshrine Caverns and Black Temple. We had a lot of fun in those last days of BC.
Wrath of the Lich King
As we went into the Wrath expansion we had a very solid core of players. The expansion was released in November 2008, and by December we had a group of players at the level cap so we started raiding Naxxramas. We had cleared it with a 10-man team by early January, only two months after its release.
At that point, we were hit with the type of drama that always plagues casual guilds. A group of our raiders wanted to push progression more aggressively. That didn’t fit in with our guild philosophy. When we didn’t go that route, a large group left to form their own raiding guild. We still had enough solid players to do 10-man raids, but our 25-man raiding was put off for quite a while.
Through the Wrath years the guild was pretty stable. Our officers have been around the since Wrath began. Din had been GM for four years, and I had been leading raids since the guild merger. We went through cycles where sometimes we had enough people to do 25-man raids, and sometimes we didn’t. In a guild with no attendance rules and no gear requirements, those sorts of ups-and-downs were bound to happen. Through it all we maintained our friends-and-family approach and always put fun as a first priority. We were joined by the members of more guilds during toward the end of the Wrath cycle - Guild Drama and Freedom Knights, bringing more good people into the fold. We did manage to defeat the Lich King and complete the raid content before the end of the expansion.
This expansion presented us with a challenge. Raiding was harder, and raid lockouts changed. No longer could we try to balance 10 and 25 man raids. We decided to go strictly with 10-man raids. We also imposed some gear requirements for the first time in our history. It was an adjustment, but one that helped in the long run. We have tried to balance two 10-man raid teams through this expansion. Its been tough, and one team has had more has had success than the other.
Despite the changes and the slow loss of players due to burnout, the guild has reached all-time new heights during the first six months of Cataclysm. We were the 13th Sen'jin guild to reach Level 25. We have stayed in the top 10 on the server in guild achievement points.
Most notably, we cleared all available raid content before any content nerfs or new gear was released. This is the first time in the history of the guild that we have accomplished that feat.
I can honestly say that I'm very fortunate to have fallen into this guild. The people are great, the atmosphere is always comfortable, and it's just an all-around great way to play. I don't think I could play WoW in any other guild for long without just calling it quits. (Except maybe the Effers. They seem alright.)
The slow decline of a guild
2 days ago