In this column I've talked about what makes raid guilds as a whole break up, but not what makes individuals decide raiding isn't for them. Having seen multiple guilds go through this process en masse recently, and breaking up as a result, here's a point-of-view on raiding and when it's time to stop or move on, based on personal experience in a European PvE guild.
As a long-term raider staying in one guild, one tends to attract responsibility. Capable people, or those with time and the willingness to help, gravitate towards the top – those who can play their class as well as multitask become raid leaders, while others might help out with rotations, DKP, logging or the guild bank.
However, people leave over time for a number of reasons, and the officer group is at a high risk of having members burn out as the responsibilities beyond raiding take their thankless toll. Without finding adequate replacements, or with new officers deferring to their seniors and thus not reducing the workload at all, it's easy for the guild's cares and woes to rest on one or two pairs of shoulders. All the raid leading and management end up resting with a couple of people who become increasingly jaded with the situation.
When you reach the point when you, as an officer, have no desire to log in due to the impending headaches that will land at your feet; when you watch the clock during raids; when, frankly, raiding becomes on a par to a bad job you can't wait to quit – then no wonder it becomes difficult to motivate others through tough periods, too. But why is this time particularly tough?
The requirements of Sunwell have taken their toll on many guilds
With the arrival of summer, even more raiders have quit altogether or taken breaks so they can go on vacation or get on with RL. This happens everywhere, but some guilds are being crippled by having key players leave, causing others to follow because the place isn't the same without them. Going from smooth error-free performance to breaking in new recruits (who aren't the quality you hoped, but the recruitment pool on PvE especially has dried up) and wiping all day on 'farm' content makes the better players frustrated, and causes them to re-evaluate precisely why they are spending their time with you.
Thus, your top performers move on, you recruit more (or make do with the dwindling pool of raiders you have) and the cycle continues – wipes and frustration. All this piles up, getting blamed on the officers and as good players themselves, they start questioning themselves why they are still bothering. When people refuse to listen; when people underperform but do nothing to improve; when you can't kick the poorer players because then you can't field a raid – when you yourself spend countless hours outside and during raiding making everything run smoothly, yet hear only whines and bitching because raiding isn't perfect, it's time to wonder if it ever can be, and if it's worth your time putting up with being a punchbag for others' mistakes.
Sometimes looking back instead of forward isn't productive
And so, a fork in the road. The officers are leaving; the best players are leaving. The guild simply isn't what it once was, and yet people stir up false hope reminding each other of victories back in Naxxramas. Looking at the guild roster, you realize that only a tiny number of the current raid force even saw those victories. With the hope sounding hollow in your ears, is it time for you to move on?
In this situation, further departures harm the guild even more, especially if you're an officer. Your choice is to try and convince people that you can keep everything together, that the guild will pull through and that everything will be all right – or to walk away, knowing you have worked to your limit trying to fix things. Walking away isn't easy. You're leaving behind players you have raided with for months or years, people who relied on you and who may never forgive you deserting in the 'hour of need'. But on the other hand, what if most of the players you genuinely respected have already gone? There will always be some players who deserve more, but as that number gets smaller it's easier to leave.
Sometimes fresh blood is the answer. Let the jaded officers go and reform with a stronger management team, clearly defined roles, people willing to do what it takes to get the guild running again. The enthusiasm and belief in the guild brought in by these people is far more powerful than forcing someone who doesn't want to be there to 'stick it out' and take on even more work to fix things. It might involve a few backward steps, but ultimately provides a more solid grounding for the expansion.
The other alternative, which we've seen time and again, is to simply break up the guild. Go casual, keep the guild tag for nostalgia but let the serious raiders find new homes. Perhaps merge with someone else, but ultimately, put the guild out of its misery and give people the freedom to move on without guilt or regret. It's up to the guild to decide which is best.
Combining forces could be an option
Of course, many guilds aren't going through this and sometimes it's clear to see why. Strong, balanced officer teams, good quality raiders who care about progress and performance over loot, an influx of high-performing recruits to take the place of those who naturally leave; all these seem to make a guild that lasts. So if you're building a raid guild for the future, make your foundations solid and don't pile everything on one or two people who will inevitably burn out.
And so, what destination for an endgame raider, ex-officer, ex-raid leader and all round dogsbody? To enjoy the silence and peace of the real world for a while? To reroll with a guild full of like-minded people? Or to transfer somewhere else, and enjoy the simplicity of excelling at your class without having to deal with the clamours of the kindergarten for once?
Rerolling is tough but many people have found success with rerolls
This, in and of itself, is an argument for PvE to PvP transfers. Far too many players have gone through similar processes to this, partly due to the lack of PvE recruits – and are now themselves stuck, excellent players with brilliant gear, but unable to be the best they can simply due to choosing the wrong type of server three years ago. With guilds like Juggernaut rerolling entirely on PvP, the situation is becoming extreme – there may be hope in specific cases but unless Blizzard change their mind and go back on months of denial, those of us on PvE realms have to stick it out. Our choices are to deal with the problems of finding good recruits with only a fraction of the playerbase to draw from, or give up and reroll.