How to Lose 14 Players in One Night

It took the guild 3 years, but it was bound to happen sooner or later.

I just lost over 14 players from my raiding roster.

It started out as a simple personnel disagreement. There was a quiet debate raging within me for some time. On the one hand, I understand the strains of progression raiding and the impact it can make to a roster especially on the drive to having flawless raid nights. We all want a mistake-free raid group with players who can ace every obstacle thrown at them.

But does that mean putting up with personalities you don’t agree with all the time? The game was getting to the point where it was no longer fun for me.

Actually, scratch that. The game itself was fine. The managing social dynamics and personalities aspect made the game not fun. All I ever wanted to do was kill internet dragons, with friends or otherwise. One of the policies I even had in place for players was that they weren’t required to be friends with everyone. They didn’t have to go to the bar with them or anything. Over time, however, I began to wonder if that was a standard I could hold to myself. I realized that I had a very difficult time doing that because of all the added responsibilities and inter-personal problems that I had to deal with as part of my rank. As a player, in contrast to being an officer or guild leader, the only person you really need to be cool with is the GM. If the GM isn’t cool with you, then there’s no point in being there. This goes hand in hand with the chemistry clause – The right for applicants to be rejected because they don’t “fit” with the guild.

Competence and likeability are not mutually exclusive. The players I’m looking for have both. But it seems that the higher the skill level you go, the more disrespectful people become. Why? I can’t help but wonder if it’s because they believe their skills can give them an excuse to act however they want and get away with it. I don’t want to deal with that. If a player is skilled but not likeable, I’ll end up showing them the door. If a player is likeable but not skilled, eventually a newer player will work their way in and take their spot. That’s just how it is going to be.

Respect the chain of command

For any budding officers out there, this is the most important rule. If you bring up an idea, any GM worth their salt will at least hear you out and weigh all the negatives and positives associated with it. It’s up to you to sell your perspective. But once the decision from the top is made, that’s that. There is no higher authority to appeal to. You’ll have a hard time finding a GM who says otherwise. Do not try to circumvent it even if you know every fibre of your being says it is the right or wrong thing to do. The only thing you can do is look inside yourself and decide if it’s worth leaving over. That choice is absolutely yours to exercise. There’s no contract obligations that force you to stay in a guild.

In this particular case, cliques were cliques. When it comes to social groups like this, nothing’s going to stop people from playing with who they want. Trying to would just cause a social group to leave and create their own guild. This was a scenario I actually had in my mind as a realistic possibility. I don’t take kindly to ultimatums or threats of leaving at all. Given the option between killing internet dragons with people I’ve shared beers and had a good time with versus players who are willing to throw other people under a bus at a whim, I’d rather shoot for the former. I absolutely love raiding but not at the cost of my own mental health. Leading a guild isn’t easy at all when it comes to executive level decision making.

I still maintain that is perfectly possible to raid in a progressive raiding environment with people who you enjoy playing with. I see it in other guilds all the time. It’s my ongoing goal to reach that state, current drama aside. The only thing I can do is look forward and exercise my recruiting skills. And what an opportunity!

The thing about hindsight is that it always occurs after the events. I wish I had gone on offense sooner and made earlier changes. I don’t know if that would have offset the events, but it means I would have been forced to start the rebuild earlier. You always think and second guess to yourself wondering if that was the right thing to do. Or if there was another alternative solution or another way. I can’t answer that because I don’t know. I felt I offered enough of a compromise by allowing a player to stick around in the guild and idle on our Mumble servers even if they weren’t in our raid team any no longer. But that’s not enough.

Regardless, I’m sure they’ll be fine. I know for a fact we’ll be fine. 9 out of 10 rebuild guilds don’t actually make it and I have zero intention of being a statistic.

I also may have made up said previous statistic.

My options

  • Do 10 mans
  • Look for another guild
  • Quit the game
  • Rebuild us back to even strength

10 mans are okay. I could go look for another guild. I could just retire from the game and step down from blogging and writing on WoW Insider.

Or I can pick my ass up off the floor, dust myself off and get back to work. I challenge you to find a GM more determined than myself. Am I saddened? Yeah, a little. Do I feel that I can recover? Oh, you bet I will. This is a great opportunity!

That being said, Conquest is open for business. Firelands 25 man raiding only and we’re presently 6/7. We’re looking for all players in any position. I think we’re stacked on Resto Shamans though. I have almost no melee DPS remaining so I’ll be entertaining Rogues, Warriors, DKs, Enhancement Shamans. Hunters, I have many of. But at this point I just need bodies. I’m interested in any caster classes. I’m also looking for hybrid specced tanks who can double as DPS (a main tank and an off tank position).

Join now

If you have any questions or want to discuss a few things beforehand, feel free to get in touch with me or Lodur anytime.

42 thoughts on “How to Lose 14 Players in One Night”

  1. Good lucky matty, looks like you got the skill and hard work down pat. Thus luck should not be hard behind.

  2. Things like this are not too uncommon in large guilds. I feel this wouldn’t happen as much if more people had experience on what a GM has to juggle with on a consistant basis.
    I’ve read your blog and misc. thoughts and policies for quite a while though, and i think that if anyone can get a guild back on track, it would be you.

    Having a 10 man raid or 2 in the interim time wouldn’t be terrible. Then you could be x/7 10 man and 6/7 25 man 😉 Being a 6/7 guild, i wouldn’t think you need too much help on recruitment. All you need to do is recruit the right people.

    Good luck.

    • Thanks Pothos. I’ve entertained the idea of a 10 man to at least keep badges and stuff flowing. But we’ll see. Need to get some pieces first.

  3. Oh Matt, didn’t you get the memo? Being stacked on Resto Shamans isn’t a good thing! 😛

    Best of luck to you with the guild. My hat’s off to you for rolling up your sleeves and refusing to let circumstances dictate your path forward. And do remember–it isn’t a rebuild, it’s a revitalization.

  4. Holy moly. Evidently my work picked a hell of an evening to host an outing.

    Matt, this sucks — but having been through something similar with my old guild last summer (and knowing you are far better prepared to deal with it), it should be fine — just might mean scaling back for a few weeks until a full 25 roster can be fleshed out.

    I know leading is difficult – I herd cats at work every day, and I can’t imagine GMing or raid leading being that much different. That being said, if I can do anything to help, ask.

  5. I know you’ll get back to full strength, and I’m very glad you’re not sulking in the corner whining that things have fallen apart. If there’s anything I can do, please let me know. (I would attempt to put in a *real* application, but I can’t afford the server xfer, nor do i have sufficient gear/raid experience you’d require.)

    Hope all goes well
    D Manchild

  6. GM=Herding Cats. I give props to anyone that does it. it broke me after being a GM from TBC-Wotlk

    Even when giving a guild 100% people will treat you like your getting pay for the job. GM you have to be a babysitter, doctor Phill and a sports manager all in one

  7. Remember, you have a lot of pvpers left and in my experience, decent pvpers usually kick some ass in pve as well. As for me, I can’t make the 6pm thing. Most people on the west coast couldnt even get home by then if they have a regular day job. Plus, my loyalty is with the PvP end so other than monday, those days wouldn’t work. But, I’m not leaving, that’s for sure. I’m dusting off my pve stuff in case something changes. Either way, you have my support.

  8. Discriminating against Ret Paladins in your melee recruitment there? 😛

    Good luck bouncing back. I’m sure Conquest will be back on its feet in no time.

  9. These things happen and sometimes they’re necessary – especially when one’s enjoyment of, uh, everything goes downhill.

    I’m sure y’all will be fine and I’ll keep on the look-out for potential bodies.

  10. I just wanted to wish you luck. While not exactly in your same position I have been trying since February to build a solid 10 man team. We’ve had so many starts and stops. It has even gotten to the point that I asked myself why am I doing this when I could just find any guild and raid with them. Your post today has inspired me to keep trying and I thank you for that.

  11. Matt, If I weren’t the GM of my own guild for the past 7 years I would be happy to help. I know all too well about this scenario, as it happened to me in vanilla, since then I have been very careful about who I bring into the guild, 1 bad apple can spoil the crop so don’t just bring in anyone is the only thing I recommend. Bring in the right people for you. I wishing you guys the best.

    I do agree with many of the others, get 1 10 man going, 2 if you have the people, eventually merge them back together, as you recruit more bodies. There is no shame in 10 mans, hell some fights are more difficult in 10 man. 10 mans keep people engaged in progression, keep it going.

  12. Just wanted to say: been there; I’m there again. I respect your tenacity; when met with a similar situation, frankly, I threw in the towel. At least for a few weeks. It’s not easy to come back from that, but it’s good that you can.

  13. I don’t know the story from the other side, but I’m sure it isn’t because people didn’t like you. Would have a beer anyday. Best of luck Matt.

  14. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile and I’m sorry to hear about this. I also run a large 25 man raiding/pvp guild. We also had a split. Ours was a few months before Cataclysm and our PvP core split off. The guy who was responsible was a pvp officer and was very charismatic in a cult like way. He offered them the world so they followed. He never delivered and disappeared from his guild after two and a half months because it failed to achieve any of his goals. We had interest in our guild from some who left after he disappeared, they didn’t get re-invited.

    My regret was not kicking him sooner, he stopped listening to me a few weeks earlier but I knew others would follow him. I made a mistake. I found out way later he’s done this to at least 2 other guilds.

    Anyway, I know that one thing the split did was make me fight hard to keep my guild strong. Our remaining members respected that and grew closer. I’ve always known we could have a raider split too and I am very cautious but it will probably happen at one point.

    Most new guilds really don’t last including guilds formed from splits. From what I’ve seen I know yours will get out of this and will probably be stronger of it. Good luck!

  15. One thing about falling apart as a 25 man is that it is very hard to get back to a 25 man point – especially if you start running 10s. The gap from 10 to 25 is really large and people leave before you can gather enough solid folks to make a 25 man team again.

  16. I don’t think offence / agression is the way to tackle influential or respected members. That is more of a dictatorship approach. It is better to bring them into the fold and let their ideas blossom. Get to know thy enemy.

    • Not when it goes in line against policy and when significant compromises have been made to accomodate it. Being placed in a either/or situation is not conducive to a positive environment either. Arguments, perspectives and opinions were voiced. Someone has to make the call to settle the dispute and then move forward from that.

  17. Best to you Matt, I know you’ll be running strong again within the week. Guilds with a good rep usually have people busting down the door. =)

  18. Wouldn’t it be possible to look beyond your server with the current testing of the inter-realm real-ID friends groups? Just a thought that might assist you getting on your feet a little faster. could also assist with trial periods for those that would otherwise move to your server without paying the xfer fee.

    Just a thought.

  19. I am very glad you made a post about this. I just went through the same thing in microcosm.

    I run a small, mature guild, which I started about a year ago (almost to the day). I brought in a friend of mine to help set up and organize raids. Over time, networking connections brought in quite a few people for our main raid team – mostly friends of the RO, or friends of friends, but a few new people who liked the message our guild was putting out there.

    Over time, I became uncomfortable with how the RO was managing the team. When I asked for clarification on his decisions, his response to me was that he could be the only, final decision-maker, and that I needed to keep out of his business.

    I was at a loss. I’m the GM and he blatantly refused to honor the chain of command. And it wasn’t as if I was going to tell him what to do, but as GM I have the right to know what he’s up to and advocate for my guild members when they feel something is not right.

    We spent months arguing the point, and the tensions between us became noticeable – and were making raiders uncomfortable. But he refused to budge on his position and ultimately fired off an ultimatum that I, my officer team and my Founders (Charter members of the guild) simply could not accept, and he would accept no compromise.

    In the end, he left, and as a good number of my raiders were friends of his, or friends of friends, they left too. Of the folks who stayed, I have only four of my original main raid team, including myself.

    But I went through the same paces – do I fold? Do I rebuild? Do I just go completely casual? Actually, I was very close to quitting the game, until I read this article. So thank you. 🙂 I don’t know what I need to do to make the rebuilding happen, but I feel inspired to do so more so now than in the last two weeks. Just not sure how to go about it. My Old RO didn’t really leave behind a great success story on our raiding front – but then most of the people whose names would have been attached to that history are not with the guild either. 😉

    But thank you again for the inspiration to move forward. It means a lot to me.

  20. I would like to help make your guild stronger than before, but, your schedule conflicts with mine. good luck with recovering and I look forward to hearing about this on The Matticast.

  21. This all lies, Matt is a giant ewhore. All he wants is celebrity status “as a wow blogger”

    17+ people dont leave a guild because 1 person cant raid. The structure of the guild was corrupt, officers were corrupt, a raid leader tried to change things and help the guild progress, but no, he was shot down because bad players complained.

    Matt treated the guild like a dictatorship and he had the only way to do anything, he didnt listen to strats people offered even though those strats killed bosses. A guild should be ran not with the ideology of 1 person. Everyone should have an input and should be able to help out. This was not how it was in Conquest. Matt moderated guild chat from his Iphone just to make sure nobody said anything against him or his “circle of friends”. Matt didnt let anyone but himself lead things and this only leads to exactly what happened.

    • No, actually when it came to strategies I took a step back. Every stage of planning to execution was done by the raid leaders I had in place. I don’t generally raid lead at all because I’m too busy setting up healing. Some healers are effective at it, but I’m not. I only stepped in if they needed a night off. I let the raid leaders like Kimbo, Evan and then Beastyn come up with the various approaches and let them run with it. Those strategies DID kill bosses which is why I continued to allow and encourage those players do so. I appointed officers and allowed them to play to their strengths and minimize their weaknesses because I felt the sum of the parts was greater than the whole.

      Everyone did have an input. I listened to all pros and cons of every idea before a final decision was made. Most of the great ideas were actually not my own. They were unorthodox yet effective solutions offered up by various people and that call was made to implement them. This allowed us to keep moving and be effective. I’d rather make a decision and be wrong then remain inactive and endlessly debate and come to a consensus knowing it might take a long time to do so. The guild was designed from the top down to be quick, not stalling and endlessly debating. Imagine a company, or sports team that ran things democratically. How much would they be able to get done if everything was based on a “democracy” and where everyone had a “vote”? I took _all_ the heat for every decision ever made and the responsibility for it just so we would always be moving forward, as you said.

      The structure of the guild worked for the better part of 3 years. The guild does not affect my status as a blogger. My hardwork dictates that. The officers weren’t so much corrupt as they were slowly losing vision. Which is why I swapped out the leadership a little over a month ago in the hopes of getting things back on track. Obviously that didn’t work. A raid leader was shot down because he wanted to bring a friend in to play. He was denied. And then gave up. That’s why. I never had a problem with accountability or performance.

      In any case, I’m busy moving forward and onwards from this while rebuilding and using what I’ve learned. I ask that you do the same. I’ve got nothing against you or anyone that has left.

    • Actually, if you look at professional sports teams and larger businesses there is a form of democracy – from top to bottom. People who actually know what they’re doing can pretty easily derive advantageous solutions to problems that they encounter. For example, if you as a group are facing a roadblock it’s best when you can freely remove people for poor performance, misuse of rank, or flippant disregard for other people’s time based on the opinions of a majority. Its called accountability – something that applies to everyone regardless of allegiances or past endeavors. When it’s widely known that your CFO can’t stay alive or your CEO cant heal they should probably be moved to lesser roles.

    • Of course, there’s usually a team based mentality in that regard. Whenever roadblocks were hit, the floor was opened up if the current approach wasn’t working. Players can speak through O chat (they won’t be able to see it). Sometimes their solutions were implemented. I relied on the expertise of others to lay out information that I could understand, and listened to their recommendations and suggestions. Not all of it was used. For example, if I fired every player for one or two occasional mistakes, we wouldnt’ve been raiding. If I didn’t have a large bench, we wouldnt’ve raided. Somedays we ran with 8 healers. Some days it was 5 melee DPS. Sometimes we used our 4th, 5th, or even 6th string tank. I endured the cries that we weren’t being “optimal”. It was true, correct, all of it. But I did what I could to keep the raid moving and look for additional players to bolster the forces.

    • A dictatorship that allows you to leave if you do not like the rules sounds like an awesome dictatorship.

      Not like Matticus forces you to be in his guild and run by his rules, actually you choose that you want to do exactly that an complain then?

      Hi, I like some strawberry icecream!
      Here you go sir!
      What is this, it is all strawberry and stuff. And now you are forcing me to eat it.
      What? No I am not, you ordered strawberry icecream, if you do not like it anymore, don’t eat it!
      But i PAYED for it, now I HAVE to eat it and just because you are such an evil dictator icecreamseller!

      Seriously, you think you can do it better, why aren’t you running your own guild then? Because it is so damn easy to complain and so much more work to actually do it better.

    • Actually Cloee, that’s what they did. They left, made their own guild, and now have a nearly full roster consisting of competent people.

  22. Sux to hear Matt. I am a GM also, and that happened to my guild when I had to take a break for work purposes for a couple of weeks. People will be/ and are selfish, and sometimes cant see past their own needs, instead of looking at what would be for the greater good of the whole guild…they’re selfish..thats all there is to it. You just pick yourself up and dust yourself off, you’ll be better than ever and will wonder why you put up with the dead wood in your guild in the first place. Bads will be bads, let them do it on their own time, and you just enjoy your game. Use the experience to drive your success and thumb your nose at them on the way past. Give my love to Borsk (I love that guy ;P).

    PS, If I wasn’t in Oz, I’d totally join your guild (us holy priest GMs have to stick together ) Keep on smiling 🙂

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