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Officers' Quarters: Be careful what you promise

Scott Andrews

Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available now from No Starch Press.

Promises, promises. Politicians make them all the time. In fact, many of them get elected based on those promises. No one seems surprised anymore when a politician fails to deliver on a campaign promise, yet our guild members usually expect us to do what we say we will. Could it be that guild officers are actually held to a higher standard? Let's look at this week's email to find out!
Hello I am an officer (well one of 2) in a medium sized semi raiding guild We also have a large number of "casual" players in our guild.

During LK era, we had 2 different 10 man raiding teams going on. Both groups I took the time to rotate different players out each given week so everyone had a chance to raid.The second group was also made up of some of the first group's alts. This was very stressful on me due to I would take all week to get the groups ready only to have someone say at the last minute would say oh I can't make it 5 minutes before raid started, then I would have to rework the "group composition" in a flurry to be able to start the raid on time. Well during Cata we all agreed we did not want to do rotations and only wanted to do 10 man raids and wanted two solid 10 man groups with the same people every week ( with a stand by if needed), so we could work as a "family" unit and mesh well together.

The first group was made due to the fact all 10 players had gotten geared and learned their class inside and out but also just so happens to be a few of our best raiders. The second group is missing a tank and a few healers but are in the process of getting started with in the next 2 weeks.

My first problem is some of our "core raiders" from LK era are not in the first group due to they were not ready, and they are very upset we started without them. My other issue is we do not have any tanks nor healers as of right now to make a 3rd group, and some of our guildies are upset they are not going to be raiding any time soon. Some also seem to think the first group is the "best" group and if they are in any other group, they are just going to fail over and over. We did not hand pick the first group to be the "best"; everyone was simply ready before others. I know I can not make everyone happy -- that is impossible -- but how do we make the guild understand we are trying as hard as we can to make all groups successful and not just throw a groups together to say ok go raid?

One of the most important lessons to learn as a guild leader or officer is never to promise anything when you're not sure you can deliver it. You're only setting yourself up for these kinds of problems if you fail.

Overpromised, underdelivered

What your guild "all agreed to" -- what you promised your members, in other words -- is not an easy thing to put together! Creating two workable 10-man groups is actually more difficult these days than one 25-man group. For a single 25-man group, you only need three tanks at most for any given encounter (and more like two and a half, since an off-spec tank can usually handle such duties when needed). For two 10-man groups, on the other hand, you need four dedicated tanks. You also need enough available crowd control among the DPS slots for both groups. You need to try to balance out the various raid buffs that certain specs bring (hunters are a godsend here). Not only that, but you need to figure out who can make which nights and try to form raids around everyone's schedules.

Forget about that third group. You never stated an intention to form three groups, and it would be extremely difficult. Two is a tall enough order, and one that would require a great deal of targeted, successful recruiting to pull off. I'm not shocked to hear that you've been struggling to meet it. I'm also not surprised to hear that the raiders who are waiting around for a second 10-man are growing rather vocal about their impatience. They're feeling like second-class citizens right now, and it doesn't help that the most dedicated raiders have all managed to accumulate in the first group, basically by default!

Now, I've said in the past that I don't have a problem with A and B teams. In fact, sometimes they can be essential to a guild's survival. However, if you're not going to run A and B teams, then you need to split up that first group at some point. Frankly, I don't recommend doing so. You're only going to cause more problems for yourself at this point if you try. Those players might even decide to leave the guild so they can continue to raid together if they feel strongly enough about it.

As an aside, you may want to rethink your policy on rotations. You'll never find people to be on standby if they aren't allowed to rotate in sometimes. Also, when they're called up, they won't have any experience with the bosses if they're never allowed into the raid normally. That will only hold the whole raid back, particularly if it's a 10-man.

Finding solutions

If you think that second group will get up and running soon, then you can stick it out till then and see how things go. Otherwise, what can you do? Well, here are a few suggestions:

1. Publicly acknowledge that the plan has not worked yet. Doing so will let your angry raiders know that you hear them and that you understand what's happening. While you're at it, explain what you've done and what you've managed to accomplish so far.

2. Request solutions. Ask your raiders how they would like to proceed at this point. Leave it open-ended for now. That way, if someone suggests something like reinstating the rotation or forming a 25-man group instead, it won't come across as breaking your promise or changing your mind, but rather as giving in to the requests of your raiders.

3. Choose a solution. Among those suggested, choose a course of action either by deciding among the officers or calling for a vote among all of your raiders. Whatever is decided, make sure it's realistic.

4. Do your best to enact that solution.
Communicate regularly about the steps that you and others are taking in order to make the solution happen. Give an estimated timeline but, most importantly, don't promise or agree to anything unless you're sure you can make it happen.

5. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Nothing will shut up complaints from members faster than asking if any of them can actually help you to solve the problem. It will buy you some time, at worst. At best, some of them will actually volunteer to lend a hand!

I have a feeling that your best bet will be to form a 25-man raid. It will be much easier to recruit some extra DPS than to find extra tanks and healers who are good enough to carry a 10-man team. Also, it sounds like you are already going to have more DPS than you need for two 10-mans. Those raiders will be left out in the cold, since you don't allow rotations. Do you expect them to sit indefinitely until a slot opens up? I doubt they will stick around that long. A larger group might accommodate them.

If you stick it out for the two-team plan, state your intentions for the first team. Will you break them up? Under what circumstances? What if the second team struggles? You should answer these questions now, before any second team begins to raid, so that no one is surprised later.

The key to working your way out of this mess, as it is for many guild problems, is communication. Be clear about what's possible and what's not, be consistent in your message, and be sure to listen to what your raiders are telling you, even if you think you've heard it a million times already. It's the only way to find out what will work for the guild moving forward and what won't.


Join us to learn how to survive the leveling process, deal with guild perk freeloaders, and discuss the guild talent controversy or the guild reputation system. Send Scott your guild-related questions and suggestions at; you may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!

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