A Lesson in Guild Ultimatums

It’s been 2 and a half years since Conquest has been formed. We’ve had our shares of victories and defeat. I figured a situation like this would come one day. I never imagined it would come from a main tank. Least of all from a main tank. I knew he wasn’t having much enjoyment out of the raiding scene.

Let me be clear for a moment. The story I am about to tell is not one of vindication or shame. It is one of education so that my guild leading colleagues would be better prepared should a scenario like this arise. It would come in many forms, but the most common would be if I don’t get <this>, I’m leaving.

Threats never work. Even if the leadership allows the request to go through, you can be damned sure it’ll be done so reluctantly and not out of loyalty. If anything, such gains are only for the short term.

Right, let me resume my story. Our main tank had opted for retirement. Not having fun’s a perfectly valid excuse and one that appears to be echoed throughout the community by several players. I have absolutely zero desire to force someone to play a class or role that they don’t want to play. It’s just bad for business. So I accepted it and moved on. Every player that had a tank position in my raid group was bumped up 1 rank. The secondary tank became the primary tank. Tanks 2-4 frequently rotated depending on the encounter. I am blessed with having 6 players w ho are capable of tanking should that need arise.

I come back the next day and visit my forums. I discover that our retiree posted a message:

“If you don’t make me an officer, I’m going to quit the guild.”

Was that what this was all about? Power and recognition? My gut instinct was to flat out say no. Officers are selected based on certain qualifications. There are certain traits that make them special and dependable. However, what you may not know is that there are qualities which automatically discount a player from ever being an officer.

I’ll list some of them here.


When a player takes a break from a game without mentioning anything, I might give them a bye for it if their reason is justified. When a player pulls that stunt multiple times without saying a word, that’s the line for me. I cannot have leaders who decide to come and go at their own whims without notice. It would do more harm than good. A leader needs to be available when they can and to say so when they cannot. If a raider does this, I cannot trust they won’t abandon their position when issued additional responsibility.

Shirking responsibility

Conquest has an unspoken leadership ladder. As leaders are appointed by myself with the consent of the other leaders, there needs to be a way to evaluate their mettle and skills. Our loot system involves the use of loot council. The only way to ascend is to go through the process and sit on the council at some point. If a player refuses to handle loot council, then they may not be fit for command at all. If they’re not willing to handle important decisions like who they believe loot should go to, then I don’t know if the harder decisions can be handled (such as roster, player evaluations, and so forth).

Saying no the first time

When the boss asks a player if they want additional responsibility, the player shouldn’t just say no and then issue an ultimatum months later. If I asked someone and they said no the first time, that’s that. I wouldn’t approach them again because I figure there’s no interest in it. Onus is on the other player if they reconsider. I can’t chase people down and hound them repeatedly. I do that enough during raids calling stacks, spreads outs and debuffs. I generally don’t make offers more than once. But that’s a personal style.


This one actually just occurred to me. Leadership players need to be a rock (or at least, pretend to be one in front of everyone else). It’s okay to be pissed off and upset once in a while. But constant brooding does no good to anyone. A long time ago, I had a player who would crumble and fold when they were chastised for blowing an assignment. Officers have to be made of tougher stuff to withstand the criticism that’s bound to happen. Someone who sheds tears or anger every time something negative is said in their direction isn’t a player fit for command and I doubt such an individual would be able to garner the respect and loyalty of the players.

That being said, I learned a few things from this experience. Strong player depth is what allows guilds to keep going and to survive. The very day that ultimatum was issued, the player was flatly denied and practically laughed out of the guild. We went and took down Theralion and Valiona on heroic mode that same night. While tanks are a critical component for raiding guilds, an awesome tank does not a successful guild make. You still need the DPS and the healers to play at their best. One of my faults is not keeping a tighter finger on the pulse of the guild. It’s difficult to split time between work, raid and just general socializing. It’s also nigh impossible to know what goes on in the heads of others. But I have to make a better attempt somehow even if that means sacrificing my peace and quiet time.

The burden of command is not a light weight to carry at all. Anyone that tries to make such demands for it is just out of their mind.

Next time you’re annoyed about something, I’d suggest talking about it first and requesting it rather than trying to make a threat. Odds are good it won’t end well.

14 thoughts on “A Lesson in Guild Ultimatums”

  1. Nice article man. It’s been a year since I was in a guild leadership position, and about six months since I’ve really played WOW seriously. This brought back some memories.

    Always a fan,

    Muks of Antonidas (occasionally ;-P)

  2. Thanks so much for this, in the four guilds I’ve called home in my WoW life, 2 of them eventually died due to more and more people (tanks, in particular! a few healers here and there) making demands similar to this. It’s quite saddening. But I guess, in a game where you are treated like a hero among NPCs, they also would like to be treated like a hero among their peers but go about it the wrong way?

  3. Hah! Seen a few of these. We had someone during ICC days that kept saying “Look if I don’t get _, then # of people are leaving with me” The first time we were like Alright, whatever, here you go.
    The next time he started raging over nothing and pulling the same stunt – we called his bluff. “Then we’ll just have to recruit more players and deal with the outcome.” After he left, not one followed. Not even the people he considered “friends” and recruited for the guild.

    Ultimatums don’t give you power, if you didn’t have any in the first place.

  4. Great article. I’d add a couple of other important traits I look for in a guild leader:

    Calm – when a problem arises, are they the kind of person that calmly works toward a resolution or do they incite a riot? A hot headed guild leader or raid leader can destroy teamwork.

    Propose Solutions – every group has problems, but does the leader come to the GM nagging about problems, or do they propose solutions? “Mom, cindy hit tommy!” doesn’t help. But, “Mom I noticed that cindy and tommy fight in the car a lot so I suggest you put me next to tommy in the back, and cindy sits next to you in the front.”

  5. In my limited experience, it always seemed to me that the people that made good officer material were the ones that naturally were already trying to help out the guild…not in a sucking up kind of way, but just seeing things that needed to be done and getting on with it.

    The sort of people that actively try to become officers or issue ultimatums are usually the ones that don’t realise that its hard work and rarely any thanks or reward from it.

    Anyone trying to become an officer as some sort of status symbol is doing it wrong!

  6. Thank you for sharing, Matt. You note, “One of my faults is not keeping a tighter finger on the pulse of the guild.” As you didn’t fully explain this, I can’t fully comment, though remember that a finger too tight on checking the pulse cuts off blood circulation (think literally checking someone’s pulse).

  7. I always made officers from the most helpful people and not the ones that ask/told to be officers.

    From a grunt point of view there is always someone better then you no one is that good in the game that can not be replace. A lot of times the newer person will try a lot harder when they know they are fighting for the spot.

  8. One thing that everyone should remember:

    “Or else” does. Not. Work.
    The best result is that you get what you want. Downside? The one you just arm-wrestled will prepare either a backup plan or will prepare a counter-strike.

    And trust me, Hell hath no fury like a guild leader scorned. You will BEG for mercy before it’s all over.

    Matt, one thing I did notice is you mentionned not getting the pulse of your guild. I have similar feelings on my side of the Atlantic, but one thing I did realise is that I have only so many hours in my life – forcing ourselves to commit more than we truly wish for the guild can only have bad influence on our mood down the line, with dangerous consequences.

    I was considering two options, one conjectural, and one structural: I might ask an officier to keep an eye on social matters. That’s a bit silly, but on the short-term, it’s efficient? On the longer term, I thought about working on the general guild outlook: everyone should be at least responsible enough to ask someone responsible to handle problems.

    Because honestly, you could stay online 24/7 and keep asking about every little thing and not be a leader. You’d be a busybody. I think you’re much better building a structure for communication and hammer home that it’s always open, and always friendly. People are amazingly good at handling the responsiblity of asking someone for help when they can :-p

  9. I am the tank that quit Matt’s guild. I really respect Matt as a GM, he is the best ;p. Actually it’s nice he made a post about me. But yes, he was one of the main reasons I liked raiding with Conquest so much and a major reason why I was there as long as I was. Matt has very good management and communication skills. Not to mention he is a Canucks fan and a fellow Canadian ;p.

    However during the year I spent there I realized there was a “clique” built up in his officer core, possibly friends that all helped form the guild, or bloggers that supported him, I am not sure.

    I have no guilt in saying I have wanted to be part of the guild leadership of Conquest. I have raided for over 4 years in Wow and with Conquest as main tank for a year.

    It seemed though that the “clique” that was built on friends and bloggers out-weighed progression-minded players, and people that had a large part in the guild’s progression. People that were WoW bloggers got instant g-invites and even officer invites above long standing raiders.

    Some of Matt’s friends who were officers did not deserve a raid spot in a heroic-tuned guild let alone officer roles in my opinion. And to boot, Matt promoted someone to tank officer that didn’t even tank! Only because he was part of his “clique”.

    Meanwhile I took on all the tank responsibilities and tank assignments!

    I really do wish Conquest the best, and we will both move on in our WoW careers. I enjoyed my time with Conquest immenseley and have no regrets. Best of luck to you Matt.

    • While I think it does show class reading and posting on this blog and even more so having mostly good things to say about the guild, I think you are missing a few things here.
      Being in both roles myself(I am the GM and the MT)I can very very easily see how being the MT can make you feel you display the abilities needed, hell it is how I became the raid leader and later down the line the GM of my guild. However the leadership and responsibilty needed within that MT role does not translate to a good officer, I have seen some of the best officers be one of the worst players on the roster, but they fill the officer role better than another could. 99.5% of WoW player will never understand what being an officer, an actual officer not just the title(as so many have)entails until they have been there. Many players feel they can handle the responsibilty and strike off on their own, or fall flat on their face when promoted to that role…it is the reason there are 867289208 new guilds in cata, everyone thought it was just so damn easy. It is also why so many guilds fail after only a few months, they are not new anymore and they have to stand on their own merit, which many officers and GMs can not do.

      Honestly seeing both sides, I would have done what matt did as the GM. The retirement followed up by that post is rather childish and 100% the wrong way to go about it, if you have issues with the officers, bring it to the GM, if they won’t fix it, they know your concerns then you can gratefully leave. However with the guild around as long as it has been matt clearly knows what he is doing, and while too many times officer cliques happen “retiring” to throw a temper tantrum is just what a tantrum imply childish. Were your concerns valid? I have no idea, as I also know that as a GM many times we can just be blinded to some issues as being the GM eats away so much of our time in game while not raiding, if you did not approach him with these issues then that is your own fault. If you did, then bravo for doing so, but at the same time shame on you for leaving the way you did.

      The Blackhawks will return to haunting the nucks next year!

  10. I am MT for my guild as well. Have been so for about a year. I consider myself to be one of the most reliable players of my guild. An MT usually is so. I have made a demand myself. Because I have reasons. As he wrote above, your MT had reasons of his own as well. Both his and my reasons are related to an issue with the way guild leadership is affecting raiding (esp progression). From his point of view you were in the wrong and this was his way of fixing it. I’m doing that myself. Would rather if the guild leader understood my demand rather than grant it just based on my status as an MT. Maybe you should’ve asked him why he has made that demand though, what is the point and what is the problem, rather than act outraged. And try to solve things together.

  11. The last two comments make valid points. I did not communicate my wishes in the right way, and I likely got the response I deserved.

    I could comment more on the general indifference I felt the officers took towards the pressure and responsibilities the MT assumes, but I don’t think it is worthwhile.

  12. ^quietly contemplates why anyone in their right mind would want to be an O or a GL…40 to 60 hours a week…no pay…lots of time spent in drama prevention and customer service qq processing….

    Actually it felt more like being a cruise director…like…ok I want to go on the cruise on Mon, Thur this week and Tue Fri next week…but make sure I get to see the …or 5 min before the raid…I can’t make it..GF aggro. Seriously GF/wives > GL and every boss in Wow dungeon…

    I was an officer in a very fun progression guild for several years in WoW. Death, I can understand what you are saying about the clique thing. We tried to avoid it but it happened anyway just because we O’s spent so much time doing guild management stuff.

    On the progression thing, we went through that so many times–non O raiders and O raiders coming to the raid with all with their best ideas on progression etc. But it comes down to the need for someone in the guild to make the final decisions so things can go forward.

    My advice as a previous guild mom is for people to remember this is a ***game*** no matter what those evil Blizzard programmers have done to make us think everything in wow raids is life or death…oh wait…it is life or death…I digress. If you aren’t having fun in your class or role or guild, it’s ok to change or move on, but it is very classy and very much appreciated if done with giving the O’s adequate notice and a chance to remedy things (which can’t be done if given a threat).

    And on non-raiding officers, it really is useful also to have a few non-raiding O’s who ride herd on the daily guild activities/requests and help with raid scheduling things, website management and such.

    Very good article, Matt. I have always loved your blog when I was a priest raider. It gets better and better!


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