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Officers' Quarters: Backseat raiding

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.

Raid leading is never an easy role in the best of times. When players start to question your decisions and argue with your strategies, the job can take on a whole new dimension of hassle. That's the case in this week's email:

Recently drama erupted in my guild which I felt had been brewing for a while now. My fiancé and I joined a newly formed guild and it was known at the time, we went through with the GM how we were not a package deal and if one of us did not make the cut that we were okay with it. The only thing we requested was fair treatment.

Shortly before cataclysm I was asked to be an officer, due to some qualities I had shown during raids, namely not being afraid to speak up and ultimately voice who had made the mistake thus creating more accountability ... I took over raid leading and led the guild to a double digit us ranking according to Wowprogress.

During this time drama began to brew, two players one of which was new ... and one of which was a founding member started a campaign which I could clearly see to discredit and argue strats I had prepared as well as judgement calls I made on the fly, it all escalated when one of those wanted to argue the raid comp and then in turn that my fiancé should be the one sitting not the new mage who was a recruit (and dating one of the other core raiders) despite the logs showing that was not the case. The gm wanted me to do it to appease them and I refused, the raid ended up being called.

It has been more drama since as well as watching the guilds us ranking plummet even more than it had started to following our peak (the same time one of them started causing the drama). Is this a situation I should stick out or leave for greener pastures where I would be appreciated more? On one hand I feel that I deserve better as I spoke with the GM regarding these issues multiple times, and even said to him if you don't agree with me I will gladly step down and just raid, and he would follow up by agreeing with me but doing nothing. On the other hand I dislike looking for guilds, and have a fairly small window in which I can raid which makes it hard to find a guild of this caliber.

This is a ridiculous reason to cancel a raid and I lay the blame squarely at the feet of your guild leader. He should have stepped in and either supported you or made the decision himself. To send everyone home is utterly senseless.

You were right to stick to your guns. It's one thing to be uncertain of a decision and listen to arguments to help you decide. It's another thing entirely to be sure about what to do but to give in to pressure to do something else.

I dislike how your guild leader handled the aftermath as well. The whole "private agreement, public silence" routine is poor form -- it's spineless. Your guild leader should make it clear that whoever is in charge for a particular night has the final authority to make decisions for the raid. Discussion is vital, but one person should be making the tough calls.

Policies solve drama

Your guild leader also needs to create an official policy for filling raid slots, so that it doesn't fall on you time and again. For example, on a progression fight, if the rule is the highest DPS get slots or people simply /roll for them, then that takes the decision out of your hands. Everyone will know who is going and why.

There is a personal issue here, also, with you being forced to choose between your fiancé and someone else's girlfriend. Again, this is exactly why an official policy is needed. Your guild must take the personal component out of it to avoid future drama.

You've proven that your methods are successful because the raid has been successful. You don't really owe the people who are questioning you anything.

If you don't get the support you need from your guild leader, however, you may have to consider more drastic measures. It sounds like you have people in the guild who think they can do a better job than you. Perhaps you should let them try.

Win by surrender

It sounds counterintuitive, doesn't it? However, if you're truly OK with stepping down, then you have nothing to lose.

Offer either to step down or to share the role with these two players who are "backseat raiding." If you decide to go the sharing route, I don't mean sharing all the decisions, which would just cause discord. I mean alternate the role every week/month or even every zone, whatever your guild leader and these other guys are comfortable with. You want a clear separation between their leadership and your leadership.

Let's go through the possible scenarios.

1. They don't have the guts to lead and they back off. They never thought that their comments would land them in the spotlight like this. They have no real interest in leadership and they back away from the opportunity. It is to your advantage to make the offer in public, so everyone in the guild can see that these guys won't put their money where their mouth is.

2. They agree and become capable raid leaders. Again, you win. You can stay in the guild and enjoy the success of the team. Plus, you don't have the pressure of being the guild's only raid leader. You can take nights off without feeling terrible about it.

3. They agree and fail miserably. Their choices are bad and the raid struggles. The guild's rank plummets. They see what it's like to be in your shoes. They understand how difficult it is to lead a raid well. People clamor for you to take over full time again. These players are discredited and humbled. They buckle up and let you drive.

No matter what happens, it's a win for you. The only real risk is if that the third scenario might cause people to quit the guild. However, canceling raids for stupid reasons will absolutely cause people to quit the guild.

Just remember that ranking may help a bit with recruiting and it's certainly an achievement you can all be proud of, but the most important thing in the long run is a stable and fun atmosphere for your raiders.


Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to

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