Reader Mail: Building a Trade Guild

I received an email recently from a reader who asks how one might run a guild with a focus on professions. At first I kind of blew off this idea as too fringe to work, but after mulling over a bit I thought of some ways it could be done. My initial reaction was that it would have to wait until Cataclysm and all of the incoming guild changes that will presumably make players more loyal to their guilds. Even those who aren't motivated by loyalty and teamwork might be encouraged by the extra goodies that guilds can unlock, so you'll have a higher sticky factor then. Right now there is no reason for players to favor one raid or another aside from raid schedules, so a crafting guild doesn't look strong for current content.

If someone were inclined to give it a go - a point in favor of a "trade guild" is the current dissatisfaction within the player base. Many of us are tired of e-peen minded, GearScore pimping jerks, so there's probably a decent number of folks who'd consider other options if it didn't interfere with raiding. I can see this as an offshoot of the social guild, strictly casual and mostly populated with alts. I think you could reasonably recruit players to join their non-raiding alts into a "trade guild". I assume one of the perks of this guild will be a more social environment. This could be the guild you'd want to be in when you are fishing or farming. When you have downtime between raids or heroics, or just don't want to be guilted into said activities, you'd log into a crafting alt and hang with your traders. Since everyone else is farming same as you, there should be livelier conversation as a perk.

Another perk would be the understanding that members would be able to trade amongst each other for crafted goodies. If you have a decent number of players, it shouldn't be difficult to have at least one of each profession represented. Not that guild members don't tend to do this normally, but it's hard to barter effectively when other players are constantly popping in and out of instances. I know that the vast majority of requests I see in guild chat for something I can do, I don't get a chance to help out because I'm in a heroic or raid. In a trade guild, most people wouldn't be running content and therefore would be more available to craft items, barter cooldowns, etc. You could even set up weekly events to host crafting swap meets between members.

One way you might attract folks to your guild is with a generous guild bank policy. You could set up all the tabs to be open access, with a limit on the number of withdrawals per day. Then you handle deposits on the honor system where players are expected to make deposits roughly equivalent to what they remove. This would let players share mats they don't need in exchange for mats they do need. If someone is clearly abusing the system, they are kicked or demoted from bank access.

You could also set up a policy of no charge for cooldowns so that all members can get CD-related crafts at no cost from those who aren't actively using their cooldowns. If that isn't workable, you could have cooldowns done on trade. Members could barter goods instead of having to spend cash to purchase a CD. Personally, I'd have no problem trading a stack of herbs/ore for my CD instead of gold.

For some folks this might not seem terribly appealing, but I can see a purpose in having a guild that's just for casual socializing. Sometimes it's hard to get your farming done, especially when your guildmates are frequently asking you to join them in combat activities. A separate guild would make it quite easy to chill for a while, get your farming done and chat with others who aren't looking for group activities.

To extend on this premise, we can delve into ways that Cataclysm might support trade guilds. Allowing players to be members of multiple guilds would be a very helpful feature, as I mentioned in my "Neo-Crafting" article. As a member of multiple guilds, our characters could participate in events from either guild and monitor chat from both. This would be a godsend for developing your character as a craftsperson without compromising your PVE status.

If special Trade guilds were implemented, their members could focus their energies on unlocking new recipes and guild vendors, possibly even beating raiding guilds in unlocking new tradeskill content. Something like this would give trade guilds a huge leg up over PVE/PVP guilds, since they'd be able to draw buyers to them in a way that has never been possible before. Adding the idea of "work orders" to the mix would make this scenario even more potent for dedicated crafters.

There's also a possibility that crafters could gain some sort of customization ability, which could help trade guilds gain visibility. If members of the trade guilds focus their efforts on coming up with lots of customization options, that could be a draw for customers as well. I would really like to see item customization added to craftables, and I think a feature like that would really help crafters distinguish themselves from the crowd.

So what ideas do you think would enhance a trade guild? Would you be likely to join one?


  1. I think we agree on many points.

    Some years ago, I tried to launch a trade guild for Ragnarök Online on a private server. It worked, but very few people used the guild storage. In fact, most of them were in the guild for fun. This might not apply for EVE Online where trading is a game in itself, but I think most of the best crafters are selfish and non-social goblins (hi Gevlon!).

    I'm not sure trading guilds could emerge by themselves with current MMORPG features. The ideas you throw are interesting, but MMORPG are getting more and more social. And I'm not sure socials/casuals play to craft.

  2. I'm not convinced this would work either, but I wanted to take a stab at the idea since someone took the time to email me with the proposal. For true viability, I think additional guild features are needed. Whether Cataclysm will deliver on that level remains to be seen...

  3. Good theory especially for the more social guilds. I know in EQ2 crafting is a huge part of the game, and very enjoyable.

    BTW love your site - great resource!

  4. That can work if some of the recipes weren't "raid" only. Example, only worthwile crafted items requires primordial Saronite only to buy the recipes. Those are raid only drops.

    To make a crafting profession worthwile, Blizz needs to rethink. In Lotro for example, Crafted gear, and drops were mostly the same (although raid drops wre a tiny bit better which was ok to me) and no recipe dropped in raid instances. In fact no recipes were drops they were all taught by a trainer.

    That makes crafting worth it. Right now I'm not even interested in taking up a crafting professions, because I know I can't have interesting recipes. But still, it takes a while and lots of resources just to get the crafting profession up.

  5. So, a trade focused guild will never, ever happen? So, what's the point of being a complentist then?

  6. Nevertheless, it seems like I have to start to really lvl up my chars to lvl 80 until I can start an alt-based profession guild. Your ideas were at least thought out, instead of keeping it to yourself as many WoW-focused sites do. And, maybe in the future I might be able to provide with a guild on how to make it work. As it is now, those things are harder to come by. For starters, you are limited to so many things set by Blizzard and any work-arounds are too time-consuming and really not fun for most people. Yepp, the best crafters are most likely egoistic as it is in real life. You know, rich people, like Donald Trump and stuff. That's just the way the wheel turns. Right?

  7. We would certainly love to hear about any crafting guilds that start up and show signs of success. I think I've proposed some ideas here that could work for some players, but ideally Blizzard needs to improve guild functionality for the best chance of success.