Friday, March 4, 2011

Raid Building 101: Dealing With Loss

I thought it was a power up!
Raid Building 101 is a weekly article detailing the finer (and sometimes the not so finer) points of building and leading a successful raid group. Be it a world first or super casual, Raid Building 101 has something for you.

As I’ve stated earlier the biggest boon to your raid is a group of friends that join the guild and start raiding with you.  They already usually know what they are doing and enjoy raiding.  I also stated that you should split them up if you can for different raids and not let them constantly raid together.  There is a reason for that.  What happens when one of them gets very mad or feels like they got the bad end of a deal and leaves with all of their friends?

At the beginning of Wrath a group of friends joined with my raid. They brought with them some great DPS and healers. We cleared Naxx with ease and even got a bunch of the 10 man achievements. Then one day they decided to switch to a different guild. Now I had invested a lot of time into this group of people hoping to make them part of my core group of raiders I can trust to show up and perform anything I need them to and then poof! They were gone leaving a hole the size of the grand canyon in the middle of my raid. In total they took about 6 or 7 people out of my raid. Which in turn left me a few people short in 25 mans and almost an entire group short in my 10 man raids. Recovering from something like this is both a guild responsibility and a raid leader responsibility.

Looks like Stabbzz hit 6k GS....
Handling groups of friends leaving from the guild perspective
Our guild leader set this precedent early on while I was a newer member. When someone left because they wanted to join a more “hardcore” guild. His reply was, “Go for it, we don’t need self-important people in the guild.  Anyone who puts themselves above the guild is not needed here. We are the longest running guild on the server and we’ll keep running without you.” Now at first look you might think that’s kind of a crappy way of looking at things, but here is the secret. If the whole guild believes it, then dealing with a group loss becomes more of a rallying cry than a crisis in the raid.

Do you know what happened when we lost these people? The Guild Leader and the Guild Officers mentioned to everyone and posted on the forums the statement above. Anyone who puts themselves above the guild can leave, we are a guild, and always will be no matter what. Then we took a few steps.

Steps to help deal with the loss
  • Raiders from different raid groups signed up for the affected raid to fill in missing ranks with geared and knowledgeable raiders.
  • Raiders from different raid groups signed up on their alts to fill in any role if there is a need.
  • Raiders who stopped running Naxx (the delay to Ulduar was way too long) signed back up to fill in even though they needed no gear. (thus the whole the guild is first mantra)
  • We asked those who like to pvp more than pve to come join the raids for a month.
  • We never put the fact that people left in a bad light. They screwed us, but we won’t fail.
  • Acted as business as usual to keep everything running smoothly.
  • Any raider of the group that left that is still in the guild the day after talk to them.
    • Make sure they know if they have to leave with their friends that it is fine, but they are welcome to stay.
    • Find out if there is an underlying reason why their friends left. If there is it will be easier to address. If they wanted a more hardcore guild, that’s up to them, and good luck to them.

What this did
  • This quickly geared up the newer people because people who needed no gear were raiding with them.
  • More people stayed in the raid time because they enjoyed it. Some from PvP and some who were just too intimidated to raid in the first place.
  • The raid time became even more tightly knit because we all worked to get through the adversity.
  • Sometimes not everyone leaves because they agree with the guild first mentality.

What NOT to do
The knee jerk reaction of most raiders if they lose their highest DPS and best healers is to freak out and wonder how the heck they can raid now! Certain bosses may not be killable for a couple of weeks and that can dishearten the raid. Don’t do these few things;
  • Act like there was a huge loss and it can’t be replaced.
    • This will discourage sign-ups and make the rest of the raiders feel less than important to the raid slot.
  • Attack them in guild and raid chat.
    • Saying more than they left because they were selfish and just writing it off as “stuff happens” can make raiders who may have been on the fence about leaving or staying leave.
    • Keep it simple and on message, if the officers want to dump on them in officer chat that is one thing, but publicly in the guild or in a raid is a bad precedent.
  • Cancel raids.
    • The first few raids may not quite have enough people or may be lacking in certain things. Do NOT cancel the raid until you’ve tried getting raiders from alts, pvpers, and people who run other raid times.
    • Cancelling raids can cause raiders to not bother to sign up the next time, and the next time, until no one is signing up for the raid slot and it continues to fail.
  • Complain about the new crop of raiders.   
    • Just because you had a core group all trained up doesn’t mean you can’t do it again and again and again.
    • Complaining about the newer raiders who are helping you keep together your raid is basically calling them worthless to their faces. Everyone has a learning curve, keep your patience.
  • Start whispering the people who left yelling at them or telling them off.
    • Sometimes they realize they really hate where they went and it is not enjoyable and they ask to return to the guild.
    • Getting into a fight with them right after they leave will guarantee that they never come back.

Bad pull.....
Losing someone the right way
There are a few instances where people actually tell you they are thinking about leaving or want to leave the guild for another guild. I never try to actually talk a person into not leaving, it is a game and if they think they want to try something new then they can do it. Just make sure you ask them if they are sure of it, ask them if they can raid a couple more weeks to gear up a new replacement and then make sure they know they can come back if they leave without causing a huge fuss. This does a few things;
  • The guild and raid know ahead of time that someone is leaving. 
    • Sometimes the individual doesn’t want the raid to know until after his last raid before leaving.
  • The person can help gear his replacement and feel like they at least did something for the guild before leaving.
    • Leaving a guild is usually a hard decision, helping gear your replacement helps relieve any guilt the raider might have.
  • Leaving on good terms means that anything bad that happens with the new guild will be viewed against the way they left your guild.
    • A lot of times the grass is not greener on the other side and the way things are run seem horrible compared to your guild.
  • If they decide to come back they are still on good terms with the guild and can fit right back in with everyone.
  • Sometimes people who leave contact me back and let me know anything different that another guild does on a boss that seems to work better than our strategies.
    • Just because they are not in the guild does not mean you can’t still stay in contact and remain friends.

Losing someone the wrong way
There are also instances where someone just leaves of their own accord in anger or spite or just because they are too good in their minds for your guild.  It may shock some people, but the best way to handle this is to pass it off as more, “stuff happens.”  A couple of things should be done if the split from the guild is not a good thing perhaps with name calling or trashing on the guild.
  • Make sure your guild has a formal "not welcome back" list.
  • Add the person to the list and what they did when they left, what they said, any actions or posts in the forums.
    • This way if they try to come back the Guild Leader can look at the record of how and why they left and address anything if they even want to let the person back into the guild.
  • Ask the guild if anyone has any questions on what just happened.
    • Almost always someone says what??
  • Make light of the situation if it is possible.
    • We had an ongoing joke in Wrath about hitting a 6k gearscore meant you were too good for our guild. When people hit a certain level they suddenly wanted to go to a hardcore guild.
    • We also say “Welcome” to anyone entering or leaving the guild. This is a long standing tradition and every time someone leaves and a bunch of people say welcome it is humorous at best.
  • Keep in good standing with other guilds and monitor their pages. We have removed a few people for simply applying to other guilds for “better progression”.
    • We have a slower progression because we gear so many people up and give everyone their chances. We currently run 4 to 6 10 mans a week. (not including BH)

Final thoughts
Losing someone from your raid is never fun. Losing them in a way that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth is even worse. The best thing you can do is make the raid even better, which is the best form of revenge. I see people leave for a “hardcore” guild and become a sub while we end up killing a lot of the same bosses and they are stuck on the sidelines waiting for a chance in a new guild. Progress and fun is a good counter to bitterness and anger. Never let your emotions get the best of you and lash out at raiders or the guild. Also make sure everyone knows the guild policy on leaving and returning. Make sure everyone knows the guild comes first then the raid then the raider. If these are always repeated and followed dealing with the loss of a core group or a core person will only make the guild stronger.

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Gordrin is the current Raid Leader of Guild Malice - Early Raid. After several years of constant and intense ragequiting, Gordrin has been quoted as saying "Now I'm just laid back (with my mind on my money and my money on my mind)." Gordrin can be reached at

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