Hot on the heels of our interview with Immersion we have a great interview with Enk from the guild “Inner Sanctum,” a hardcore alliance guild based on Silvermoon EU. They are currently ranked 23rd in the world on wowprogress.com and 14th in the EU.

1. Who are you and what role do you fulfil within Inner Sanctum?

My character is Enk, I have been Inner Sanctum’s raid leader and policy shaper since The Sunwell.
Enk is a Warrior that I both dps and tank on, though I originally joined as a tank because I felt I could contribute better in a more of a hybrid role, especially as I did not want to overly stock on any single tank class and we have another excellent Warrior that is ALWAYS around, his name is Skynet and he lives on the moon, say hi to Skynet everyone.

2. Tell us about Inner Sanctum’s history.

I only joined during Black Temple and there are very few (active) people left that have been around since the very beginning, but I’ll share what I do know. Rather than history, have a story.

Inner Sanctum started back in Vanilla and was famous for the encounter guides that the guild published. The guild quickly established itself as one of the top and was the best hardcore guild on a PvE server in Europe, which turned it into a “beacon” for any (Alliance) hardcore player that was stuck on a PvE realm not wanting to reroll before PvE to PvP transfers were made possible.

At the start of TBC the original guild master quit the game as he could no longer juggle the game and his very demanding job. Inner Sanctum was not quite the same without him for a while during TBC but those who stayed and lead the guild did very well keeping the guild competitive and appealing to would be applicants. We quickly found our way back during Sunwell thanks to many talented and skilled people the guild had picked up during the long period of Black Temple. The momentum continued through Obsidian Sanctum, Ulduar and miraculously, ToC.

In ICC however the guild met a bit of a crisis, all the non-limited attempt heroics went down in a single raid, leaving us with nothing but limited attempt bosses. While we as a guild always had a game plan (in Ulduar we had a dedicated time schedule for bosses which contributed greatly to our success on the Keepers, as they were our main target). We simply could not be bothered to play the alt game, ToC had exhausted many of our core players with its nonsense, and ICC proved to be the breaking point. It was not enough we weren’t really interested in the alt thing (we defined it as soul draining, though we did do it for normal mode boosting – 3 normal ICC 25 mans a week is unhealthy, even if it’s only 4 or 7 or 9 bosses), it was not enough that limited attempts forced us to spend 45 minutes of every raiding hour talking about the encounters and every single contingency, we were exhausted. Long gating, trivial content, and the only content that was truly interesting (Putricide) forced us to raid in a way that we could find no pleasure in.

Ultimately our motivation was severely weakened, we decided we want to continue and finish what we had started however, and so we did. Halion marked the end of the expansion for us but we also had hope again, hope that nonsense like limited attempts will not repeat again. I personally quit for a while after Halion, returning thanks to Cataclysm beta being pure awesome.

3. You are currently ranked 23rd in the world and 14th in the EU on wowprogress.com. How much do these positions mean to you as a guild?

Our players raid for various reasons, but we still mostly raid to have fun in the game and to have fun together. Ranks are nice, they’re good for moral when you’re up top for sure, but they are not what Inner Sanctum raids for. We had decided (the entire guild, together) back during ICC that our goal is to have quality raiding where at all possible and when at all possible, when we can put in the time without hurting anyone, we do it. We don’t force the issue just for world ranks, we do want them, the competitive scene is a lot of fun, but there is more to the game than ranks.

4. What sort of work did you have to put in to make it possible?

Preperation, it’s why Inner Sanctum has been for years now an extremely fast starter. We take information that is available to us in terms of what to expect (not encounter wise, since we make it a point that it’s very important for us to learn it ourselves and find our own solutions). We will for example plan our schedule with goals we find realistic (first day, first week, etc).

Unfortunately this is not always possible – our guild had very limited beta access for Cataclysm, so we mostly raided on borrowed accounts and in 10 man when we could scrounge people to do so. This hurt our preparation (and feedback) greatly.

Other than preperation it was mostly much of the usual; recruitment, commitment, motivation. These are all very non-trivial things; you can’t get far in any sort of group competition without these qualities unless you are especially blessed. We put in the hours, when we could, we put our backs into it, when we had the hours to put in, and raided, raided, raided. Our motivation plummetted however (I’m sure if you graph it you’d see a correlation to our world ranking), when the end game was exploited front back and center. We for weeks on end refused to do it, which caused a lot of internal friction. Eventually though we did follow through and I would mostly attribute our “success” to our willingless to eventually use dubious game mechanics bordering on flat out exploits to win “if 100 other guilds did it we may as well.” I wonder what rank our Atramedes kill was, was it even top 100?

I do view this tier as a failure on our part, we will strive to do better!

5. What do you make of the difficulty of the first tier of raids in Cataclysm?

SOUL DRAININGLY AWESOME. The difficulty was great, but the encounters and game were plagued with issues on release, from class balance issues on specific encounters to oversights to bugs that would make you tear your hair out. If anything, the game on release was too difficult, some fights were just flat out (mechanically, I.E. numbers) impossible to beat as they were intended. Some fights were entirely possible but just extremely difficult for a time (Atramedes – such an awesome fight, such an awesome base concept) but they were destroyed over nonsense.

I honestly feel though that the game is on a very good path now and can’t wait to see the lessons learned from this (huge, ambitious) content release to be implemented onto the next tiers.

6. What would you rate as the hardest encounter and what tips would you give guilds that are currently struggling on it?

Right now all the encounters are fairly easy. An encounter I could see people struggling on would be Sinestra – my advice is simple and universal: Don’t copy what you see other people do just because they do it. Tailor the tactic to the strengths of your group, just because someone else did it in a specific way doesn’t mean you have to do it in (exactly) the same way. If you need different positions so that people react to the Twilight Orbs better, try. If you need more dps on the Spitecallers because you can’t do the eggs in one weaken, that’s ok too. Recognize what is important in that fight; prioritizing the health of characters with Wrack, correctly understanding Wrack and explaining to your dispellers what combinations of damage would kill Wrack victims. Phase 2 is about control; the only reward for a single weaken dps check is the size of the pools. Maximize the value of specs in your group, if a spec is very good for multitarget but another is only good for single target, make sure that you limit assignments so each player focuses on the strong suites of their spec. On Cho’Gall Arms Warriors are terrific when it comes to Adherents – for instance, this in turn lets Mutilate rogues focus their dps on the boss rather than force inefficient target switches. Raid dps > Personal dps, always.

7. Where do you see the guild in the future? Will you be competing for world firsts?

Our guild will as always try to find the best, most efficient, quick way to beat the end game. We despise having to use exploits; so if it comes to that again I really can’t say where that will leave us. Otherwise it is really a default state, if our guild members want to put in the hours and we are not artificially limited in our preparations (through lack of access) it’s always possible.
There are some hella crazy good guilds out there right now with jaw droppingly brilliant people, so even if everything goes perfectly for us only time will tell what we can make out of it! I’m not very easily impressed but seriously, hats off to some of the top guilds out there.

8. What makes Inner Sanctum stand out from the thousands of guilds in WoW’s competitive raiding scene?

We’re realistic and we have a very empathetic leadership. We care about our players, how they want to play, why they want to play and when they want to play.

Once you show us you’re someone we want to play with we will try to give you all the reasons in the world to stay. I as a rule try to be considerate of what people need and want, both when planning and during raids. We’re also a very small guild, this is often a curse more so than a blessing, but we never recruit players to bench them. If you suck at an encounter expect to sit it out, if you suck period and somehow made member expect to sit out, sure. But we want our players to be involved and immersed in the guild. We’re also (for the most part, though it varies a bit from member to member) quite sociable and are always looking to have a laugh (your mom jokes are in right now).

Also, our guild will never raid (some encounters, hello Al’Akir) encounters in 10 man just because they’re easier and we feel we need the ranks, the only reason we would consider 10 man raiding is if we can’t field a 25 man for that reset. 18 people sitting out so that 10 may raid (even if successfully) is not ok in our book.

I don’t really know if any of the above constitutes as different from other guilds though, I’ve only been in 3 raiding guilds in the past 6 and a half years, 2 of them were basically the same guild reformed for TBC, but that will do.

9. What do you look for in potential recruits and what makes an application stand out?

If you’re fun to be around, can communicate well, and don’t suck BALLS (the game is progressing towards balls, lasers might be next, so get ready to not suck LASERS, maybe?) we want you!
Our ideal applicant would be motivated, intelligent, and first and foremost a team player who is capable of both thinking on his feet and executing. We want people we can get along with, who can think things through logically and see that sometimes what’s best for them isn’t best for everyone. Find a way to show this in your application, that you’re both exceptional and unselfish, put some work into your application and that will be enough for us to want to talk to you, it’s all up hill from there!

10. What tips would you give a player who is on trial in a guild. How can they impress during the trial period?

Be around, be active, be exceptional. For example our own trial periods can be anywhere from 5 months (hi Paltos, to be fair his pc was broken) to 2 weeks, people just need to get to know you and get to see that you know what you’re doing in game and out. The social aspect isn’t something you should neglect just because you (think you) are a good player. We’ve declined plenty of really good players because we felt they would not be a good fit socially, so take that into consideration. But my best advice: Scout them out before even applying, be a nag if you need to, just get a feel for the guild. A lot of guilds stream these days, that may be a good place to start.

Great advice and a fantastic interview. Thanks for taking the time Enk and we look forward to watching how Inner Sanctum progresses into Firelands and beyond!

In Other News:
  • Check out my guest post on Real Life Raiding Skills over at Jaded Alt.
  • You will probably have noticed that we have recently gained two great new columnists in Roark and Khaas. You will also probably notice that this still leaves 8 classes without writers (all apart from Rogues and DKs!) We are still in the process of recruiting writers for these columns. If you would like to be considered, we would love to hear from you. Just send an email explaining a little bit about yourself and what you think you could bring to Top Rosters to mail[at]toprosters[dot]com. Thanks