Officers' Quarters: The raid leader retirement plan

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

Every raid leader has this moment. You're trying to get the raid ready for a boss attempt, but you just can't get people to focus. Someone's taking a quick bio. Two people are still arguing over the loot from three bosses ago. Another person is whispering you ill-conceived advice for changing your strategy. People seem to be more interested in listening to your healing lead talk in Vent about a movie she just saw than they are in buffing or putting on resist gear. Then someone that you can't replace DC's for the eighth time that night and you just snap.

You wonder if it's worth it. You wonder what it would be like to be a grunt rather than a general. Someone who just follows orders and doesn't have to worry about anyone but themselves. Sprinkle in some real-life stress in your life and retiring from raid leading suddenly seems very appealing. This week, one officer wonders how to give up his general's stripes without causing too much fuss.

'Lo there,

I've been a huge fan of your column for quite some time, and it's one of the few that I read immediately rather than saving for downtime during the game. I first got hooked during the 4-part casual raiding columns, which came at the time my guild was first venturing into Kara.

Anyway, I'm the executive officer in charge of raiding (supreme raid leader) for a successful casual/social guild on a server infamous for its lack of progression. It's a position that I've held since we started into Kara in Feb of '08, and since we first started raiding I've gained a couple of assistants that do an excellent job helping coordinate things.

The issue, in part, is that RL has started rearing its ugly head, and my work hours have been slowly increasing. [. . .]

I know I've got two upcoming months during which I will not be able to raid at our regular times. Last time that happened, we were fine just having an assistant take over both coordinating signups as well as leading the raids themselves.

The other part of the issue is that I'm starting to get burnt-out. I still like WoW and I love my guild, but I'm increasingly considering stepping down from my current position and trying out life as a rank and file raider.

So, the question I have for you revolves around voluntary officer transitions, namely: can you provide any advice? I went back through the old columns but couldn't find anything touching directly on this subject (a surprising amount about forced transitions, though).

TL:DR version: Long-time raid leader/coordinator with less available time and inclination to perform job duties would like suggestions or advice for ensuring a stable transition.

Thanks very much,


Hi, Anonymous. Believe me when I say that many, many raid leaders out there can sympathize with you. I'm sure some of them will chime in below.

You have served your time and it sounds like you were a critical part of your guild's success over the years. There is no shame in feeling the way you do. You've earned the right to retire from raid leadership.

However, don't rush toward this decision. If you are finding yourself burned out, take the opportunity of your changing work schedule to enjoy a much-needed break. It sounds like the guild will manage without you, since one of your assistants can cover for you in the meantime.

Retirement can be a tricky thing. Just ask Brett Favre. After this involuntary break, you might find yourself refreshed. You might want your old job back. That's why you should never do what Favre did and announce your retirement right after a long, draining season. Wait till after your "offseason" to make your choice. At that point, you'll have a better idea about whether you still want the job or not.

If you decide to retire, then the assistant who was leading in your absence can simply continue on in that role. Make yourself available to advise her, but don't tell her how to do the job. She has to put her own stamp on it and run things her own way.

That's part of the risk. You might not like the way she runs a raid. Retiring from raid leadership is not like retiring from football. You're not calling the plays anymore, but you're still on the field.

In my experience, it's very difficult to let someone else take over. I've raided as both a general and a grunt, and I enjoy both aspects. Sometimes when I'm a grunt, however, I get anxious. I start thinking about how I would have done or said something differently. Or I think the pace is too slow and I want to kick people into a faster gear. When you give up the raid leadership role, you give up control. And that can be a difficult adjustment.

If you retire, you have to stay retired. You have to let your replacement make mistakes and find her own way. Changing your mind about it once you've given up the job is a vote of no confidence in the new raid leader. That's just going to cause drama. So if you're uncertain, run a raid or two as a grunt and see if you can deal with it. Then make your decision.

Before you go on leave, talk to your guild leader about the possibility. Discuss who the best replacement would be, so the guild leader can ask that person to do the majority of the raid leading in your absence. Hopefully, the raids will still run smoothly, and you can both feel good about your retirement.

That doesn't mean this assistant actually wants the job, though, so make sure to speak with her -- after you've made your decision. If she doesn't want the job full-time, you'll have to groom someone else.

You could talk to her about it now, but that can create unfortunate outcomes. She might feel extra pressure during your break to excel, which could lead to a quick burn-out. Or she might be disappointed if you decide to keep the job. It's better to let her ease into the role, and then ask her if she'd like to keep doing it.

It's admirable that you want a stable transition, but it's really out of your hands for the most part. All you can realistically do to fix the situation if it goes south is to change your mind.

Don't let anyone guilt you into coming out of retirement. Officers and members may clamor for your return. Some may even quit the guild. Your guild leader might panic. Just remember how you feel right now. Remember all the headaches and the stress and ask yourself honestly, before you give in and un-retire, if it's really what you want.

Raid leadership can be very rewarding. I've certainly found it to be. There's nothing quite like the feeling of taking a bunch of random players, getting them to work as a team, and conquering the baddest bosses in Azeroth. But it can also be very intense. Over a long enough time line, everyone eventually needs a break from it. Whether you decide to make your break permanent is entirely up to you. Just make sure you're prepared to face the consequences, either way.


Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!