Guildleader Chores - Sunshine Patriots and Winter Soldiers

When someone says Winter Soldier to me, of course I conjure up images of Captain America and Bucky/Winter Soldier.

But Xyn was telling me that the original meaning of the Winter Soldier came from 1776 when Thomas Paine wrote a series of articles around the American Revolutionary War:
These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
During the American revolution of the 1770s, soldiers who joined the Continental Army during the spring/ summer but went AWOL in autumn/winter were known as "summer soldiers". Many of these "summer soldiers" were farmers who would enlist when their crops were planted, fight during the summer, and then go back home in the autumn to help with the harvest.  Others would stay with the Army through the harvest, but disappear once the weather got cold.

Meanwhile, the people who supported the revolutionaries when the revolution was going well were called "sunshine patriots". However, their support disappeared when the revolution WASN'T going well.

In the Vietnam War era, John Kerry (the current  68th US Secretary of State), a decorated war veteran was part of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) movement and in 1971 he addressed the US senate:
The term 'Winter Soldier' is a play on words of Thomas Paine in 1776 when he spoke of the Sunshine Patriot and summertime soldiers who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough. We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out.
A Winter Soldier is, in effect, the opposite of a Summer Soldier or Sunshine Patriot. A Winter Soldier is one who stands on the front lines for their nation in the most dire and desperate of times. In the VVAW movement, the war heroes spoke out AGAINST the war, and risked everything to tell the ground truth about the horrors of war and advocate for a new direction. They are willing to hold themselves accountable, tell their nation when it is wrong and struggle with it to make it right.
Captain American #8
Ed Brubaker, who wrote the Captain America: Winter Soldier comic said:
I came up with the name in 2004, when I was pitching for [Captain America]. I liked the sound of it for a Russian assassin from the cold war, and also liked its connections to Thomas Paine, my personal favorite founding father. The “summer soldier” quote is from The American Crisis, and I believe he meant that the summer soldiers are only patriots when it’s easy to be, but the winter soldier is a true soldier for the cause.
So, you may ask, what the HELL has this got to do with World of Warcraft?

We were talking about raiders in terms of Winter Soldiers and Summer Soldiers. When kills are easy and raiding is good, Summer soldiers are plentiful. But when the going gets a bit tough - be that with people not turning up to raid, bosses becoming harder to kill - then suddenly these Summer soldiers disappear. Then the naysayers come. The guild is collapsing, everyone else is a bad player, and they want to find people that can play to their standard. It all sounds like mercenaries, or Sunshine patriots - where I've extended that to include that they will go to whichever is the winning side, or winning team.

I am fortunate I guess that we have a lot of Winter Soldiers in Frostwolves - who are there to keep the guild together through the tough times. It's actually a lot to ask - after all, World of Warcraft is just as a game, and it's there to have fun, and most people's concept of a game is that you play it, have fun, and you stop playing it when you don't have fun.

I don't just like World of Warcraft, I LOVE World of Warcraft. I LOVE my guild, and the community we have created. When times are tough, if I don't fight for my guild and keep it alive, then who will? Surely I can't be fighting this fight all by myself! And the same goes for the game - who is there to fight to make it better? To feedback what could be improved? It's all very well to stand on your sounding board whinging loudly about what is wrong with the game, but how about offering workable solutions that look at the greater whole of players rather than just yourself?

I've thought a lot about officers since I took over this guild. What is an officer? What do they stand for? What is their role? What attributes should they have?

I just want the officers to all be winter soldiers. I don't want them to be officers during times when it's easy - it's when times are hard that I need them. They help me keep spirits up, to show that we are strong together. that we are a guild bound together by a common purpose and goal. It sounds so cheesy when I'm sitting here writing it, but it's true. When times get tough, I need to not only be out there talking to people, forging alliances, recruiting and trying to improve morale, but I need someone to help little things that make my life easier.

So why haven't I said I wish all my raiders were Winter Patriots?

Well that would be nice, wouldn't it :) But in reality, to be a Frostwolves raider you just need some skill at your class, be able to follow instructions, have a relaxed attitude and turn up to raid ready to go and be reliable. It does help if you're a fun and friendly person too. But if you are also a Winter Soldier who wants to help with the guild and are in it for the long term, then that would distinguish you from an ordinary raider to something a bit more. I admit we have quite a few Summer Soldiers in our raid team, but what can you do? I've said it many times - play what you want to play, play when you want to play, but be reliable - and by that I mean if you say you're not going to play after we kill Archi on heroic until Legion then that's good, at least I know. Don't leave me hanging!

I just wish I find enough solid players - even reliable PuGs - and then I wouldn't have to worry about my guildie summer soldiers! Ah, the bane of every guild leader!


  1. The Mary Sue: Learn the History of the term "Winter Soldier" and why Ed Brubaker Used the Name in Captain America
  2. Veterans for Peace: Who are the Real Winter Soldiers?
  3. Wikipedia: John Kerry and Winter Soldier Investigation
  4. Winter Patriot: The Summer Soldier and the Sunshine Patriot


  1. This struck a chord with me, not least your lines: "But when the going gets a bit tough - be that with people not turning up to raid, bosses becoming harder to kill - then suddenly these Summer soldiers disappear. Then the naysayers come. The guild is collapsing, everyone else is a bad player, and they want to find people that can play to their standard."

    Obviously it is to be expected that things slow down a bit during the quiet periods of WoW, and I am always on the lookout for people who are reliable - be that as a social player or a raider - regardless of how "awesome" they are. I'd much prefer to have a solid, steady, reliable player than a really good player that may not be with us during the down/hard times.

    I think the only thing you can do is try to cultivate those who are likely to stick around first, and then hope they'll be a good addition to your raid team later. On the positive side of things .. those sticking around and solid now are more likely to be the same at this time next expansion.

    1. Even when I'm recruiting I almost never consider people who are ahead of us in raiding, or are just looking for raiding. That's not the kind of person I want. Most of them time I am picking up the social players who love Wow and enjoy playing or are looking for a home to spend a long time with - those are the keepers IMO. And I have found now, in the low point of the expansion where content is not new and people are bored, it's the socials who are online keeping the guild community alive.

    2. Same. Ideally you want people who are not solely focussed on raiding .. and those with a few alts is also nice, because generally even if they're bored with one, they tend to have something they want to do with another :p I hope you don't mind, I linked this post for my guild members to read too ;-)

    3. As if I would mind. What an honour! :D

  2. Wonderful post, as always! That is a very, very solid analogy. The second I clicked on where you were going with it, a few names from my time in Concur instantly sprung into mind.

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