Case study: The Player Who Wanted More and the GM Who Couldn’t Care Less

Have you heard of the grass is greener concept? It’s a basic premise that there is something better elsewhere or on the other side of the fence.

When it comes to Warcraft, there are all sorts of guilds with different aims. You’re going to play alongside players with different goals. These goals aren’t static. People’s ambitions change. Sometimes life deals a curveball and the game has to take a back seat. The end result is the departure of a player.

One case I wanted to discuss is the departure of the player who wants more. I’m not going to delve too deeply on other reasons and there’s no hard feelings between myself and the player who left. I’m very liberal when it comes to stuff like that and I’ve learned long ago to not let people leaving bother me too much.

What it boils down to was that the player was ambitious. He wanted to do more and see what it was like in an a higher echelon guild. The environment in an extremely hardcore guild is obviously different compared to a simple raiding guild. He’s never been in a situation like that before and he told me he wanted to try it out.

There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I encourage everyone to try apping with or raiding with a top server guild at least once just to see what it’s like in that sort of setting. I believe everyone should experience it at least once.

What’s unfortunate is the way he did it:

  • Left in the middle of the raiding week – As a GM, given the choice between having a player take off midweek or depart at the end of the week after multiple attempts on hard mode, I’d rather they leave at the end of the week. It’s advantageous for both parties. That player still remains an asset to the guild until such time that another player can fill in and they don’t waste their lockout until the time is up.
  • Took an item – I suppose I shouldn’t be too upset about this one. I might have done the same thing if I were in their position. It’s incredibly bad form to take an item knowing that you’re planning on leaving if there’s another person in the guild who can also use it. But, we did award it to him because it was felt he deserved it after an increase in performance.
  • No advance notice – My only desire is he spoke to me first before leaving. Instead he opted to leave before consulting with any of the leadership about his attentions. I would’ve been happy for him to go and get the experience. In my view, there’s two things that can happen: Player leaves and raids with a higher end guild, discovers he enjoys the pressure and is able to sustain the high level of performance required or comes back after having his confidence shattered and realizing that high level of guild isn’t what he’s looking for.

How should a GM react in this case?

So this is where a bit of introspection comes into play.

Reactions are going to vary based on situation and individual. Why wasn’t I as upset as my officers? They were rightly pissed. I felt indifferent. He expressed interest in some gear which we awarded to him and took off with virtually no warning. I should have been super angry. Chairs should have been thrown against the wall. Headsets should have been smashed. Don’t get me wrong, I care about my players. I’m just not sure if any player warrants begging or groveling to return. Other GMs on my server would have pitched an absolute fit if a player deserted their ranks. I suppose I am just as mortal as others for not recognizing the signs and the symptoms.

I didn’t feel any shock nor did I feel anger.

But why?

The guild still has a some amount of depth. It may not be the most ideal, since I had to ask a Resto Druid to come in as Balance instead. It’s funny because on previous attempts on Heroic Icehowl, we were only 1 for 4 on dodging his tramples. It was disappointing. The other night we didn’t have any Hunters for de-enrage duty and we were able to pull off a 100% success rate on dodging the oversized Yeti Icehowl when he was trying to take us out. He was killed with 1 tank, 4 DPS and 3 healers down. Thankfully he enraged right after he crashed into a wall allowing everyone to pour a large amount of damage resulting in a kill.

As a sidenote, we were able to wax Heroic Jaraxxus after 9 or so attempts as well. Faction Champions was down after another grinder of 6+ wipes and reached Heroic twins.

I suspect my lack of emotion could be attributed to my inherent belief that everyone is expendable and replaceable (which is true to an extent). I do care about my players, but as a GM I also keep many people at arms length. Again, I wish I could explain why. It just feels like another day.

“Hey Matt, this player left today.”
“Alright, put the word out for that class. I’ll be in my ready room reviewing logs.”

On a side note, I’m looking for some additional ranged DPS and backup healers for our raids if there’s any free agents out there looking.

Two fantastic posts by new team additions Mimetir and Thespius earlier today. I’m putting the final touches on a post that addresses the idea and problem that Wrath is too easy and follow it up with a solution. Look for it as early as tomorrow.

Have a good weekend

Error, no group ID set! Check your syntax!
About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.


  1. *fights bouts of jealousy* If I wasn’t so devoted to my current guild, I would definitely be applying to join your team. Hmm… maybe I should see how fast I can level up a second priest…….

  2. I guess it would depend on who it was. I’m pretty sure I’d be far more hurt than angry, as my raiders are my friends. We’ve been spending our weekends together for years. At the very least, I’d be a bit huffy. Leaving without warning it just so rude! 😛
    .-= Codi´s last blog The Wrath Effect =-.

  3. s13 - zhenya says:

    Screw it Matt, it’s only the third time that clown has left.

  4. The gear would annoy me the most, as most uilds have several players after one item and to receive such an item, than bail without warning or thought, is more like a bit of a kick when down tossing mud in his face. Especially after helping and encouraging the player to increase his performance.

  5. I completely disagree that taking an item then leaving is bad form. He was there, he put in the time and you awarded it to him so he must have deserved. The fact that he was leaving should not change that. A member of my guild had to leave due to scheduling changes and wasn’t going to raid with us b/c she didn’t want to take any items. Not only did I encourage her to raid, but I was just as excited for her as the rest of my team when she snagged 3 items before she had to go.

    As to them not telling you, that’s your own fault. You have to create an environment where they feel comfortable telling you. You should also understand that some people no matter what will never be comfortable telling you they are leaving. It’s just something really hard for some people to do. From what you’ve described, if he had told you ahead of time, here’s what would have happened:

    1) He’d have not been allowed to go on the raid. -or-
    2) He’d have not got loot for going on the raid if he had got in even though clearly he deserved it.

    Not to mention, he’d have had to put up with all the other officers being pissed at him until the week was done. Where is the motivation to tell you if there’s only negative that can come of it for him?

    I understand that it’s important to support your officers. They have to believe you trust them, but I don’t think it’s in your best interest to encourage them to be “rightly pissed” whenever someone leaves that made a contribution to the guild.
    .-= Veneretio´s last blog ..DPS > TPS. Why nothing and something has changed. =-.

  6. “I should have been super angry. ”

    Why should you have been angry? He took gear which he had earned from raiding with you guys and left because he wasn’t finding what he was looking for in your guild. Either he had earned the gear (in which case you have no reason to be angry) or he hadn’t (in which case you shouldn’t have given it to him).

    I don’t understand why you feel people need to consult with you either. What’s to consult about? “Hey, I’m not happy, I’m applying to other guilds.” “OK then.”

    All I got is that it would have been a bit more polite to have given you some notice. But it’s not worth getting really angry about someone being a bit more polite or not. I think too many GMs act as though they own their raiders. In fact, if the guy had been a good guildie and a good raider previously, the big thing to do is just man up and say ‘Good luck in your new guild, hope you find what you’re looking for” and not to act like he killed your dog or stole your car.

  7. Completely agree with Spinks and Veneretio. Especially about the ex-guild member not telling before hand. What good would of come from that? Would any GM be less angry about the situation? I don’t think so. If any thing I think more GMs and officers would be more angry that the person was sticking around to get loot. I’m trying to imagine how that conversation would go.

    “Hey GM I’m gonna leave, this just isn’t my place anymore.”
    “Oh, ok thanks for telling me.” *GM waits for guildie to quit* “…so when ya gonna leave?”
    ” Oh end of the week… ya I still want to raid and spend my dkp. I REALLY want xyz item.”

    He probably would of been given the boot or like Veneretio said not allowed into the raid.
    .-= Kirei´s last blog ..Heroes of Newerth ~ A Lesson in Backdooring =-.

  8. dkp matt.

    I’m not in your guild, never have been and really have no intrest in going to ner’zul despite having buds there.

    I’m rocking content on my server. *typed all that because the damn thing told me that my initial answer was too short

    point is if they put the effort in, they get the rewards.

  9. Let’s put it this way. If a player wishes to leave, I’d rather they tell me THEN go as opposed to leaving THEN telling me. I wouldn’t mind them finishing out the week especially if I’m lacking a player or two and giving me time to find replacements for next week. I had a player several months ago who said he wanted to leave but offered me a two week grace period where he would continue showing to raids before officially departing until we were able to fill that position. It’s not like its a concept that’s absolutely unheard of.

    And yeah, I understand the idea of players putting in efforts and getting the rewards. It’s just unfortunate that the guild which helped the player gain the reward ultimately loses it. But that’s the GM perspective, right? No GM wants their players assets to walk away even though players are the ones that ultimately earn that stuff. I’m upset that he took gear which won’t be used to help us further along in our progression raids. But alas, c’est la vie. It happens.

    There’s also a third option: Coming into raids and getting loot that no one else wants. I’d like to believe I’m not that unclassy. I won’t lie. I’d give weapon and trinket drops to the main raiders to help the guild get far. But if there’s an item or two that no one wants that he might benefit from, I wouldn’t shard it.

    Creating an environment where people are willing to come to you is difficult. There’s no manual for that sort of stuff. Even after a year of doing this (holy, it’s been a year, eh?), people will still have a hard time coming to players.

  10. agreed, its shitty and i’ve seen it done, and worst of all is mid week in progression.

    I too have passed on things I really could have used for people who ended up leaving for greener pastures. they leave a working yogg guild for one whom first downed it comes to mind… and then sat and then quit….. lmfao

    at this point we are working anub heroic, some could go to the other guilds and sit, but meh they know they’ll get their shit, they know we’ll tear up icecrown, they know they wont sit.

    so mmm dependable raiders *well besides nights we farm val frags.. -.-

    a reason guilds do a three month trial, and dont LC shit, is to make sure the feckers show up man.

    that becomes the hardest part of raiding in this nerfed enviroment, where hardmode gear only leads to more hardmode gear…

    IMO you want people whom want the same you do, who put in the time to not do it all easy mode, and well,… apparently this dude was allowed to do what we all don’t want to be done to. Use people for a stepping stone.

    he’s a douchebag.

  11. ps. that was supposed to read three week trial, but meh, three month sounds pretty good =)))

  12. “IMO you want people whom want the same you do, who put in the time to not do it all easy mode, and well,… apparently this dude was allowed to do what we all don’t want to be done to. Use people for a stepping stone.”

    While this is one way to look at things, it’s totally unrealistic to expect people to go against their own self interest.

    Being a guild master is similar to being a boss in a business. You invest in your “guys” with training and time (gear, gold and mats in guilds) to help advance your own self interests.

    Just because I train someone, doesn’t mean they belong to me. It’s the same for a guild, just because you gear them up, doesn’t mean they have to stay married to you.

    Just remember, people do things that are in their own best interest.

  13. As a former raid leader and guild leader I’d never even thought about what part of the week someone left in as mattering. It simply hadn’t occurred to me.

    If they leave on Saturday it messes us up for the rest of this week, if they leave on Tuesday it messes us up for the coming week. It may be that your players simply don’t know it makes a difference – I wouldn’t.

    As for him getting an item I think you need to see them, as others have commented, as payment for services rendered rather than strategic assignments for beating future bosses with. How is that item any more key to future successes than all the other purples he’s wearing?

    Also you seem to be saying that had he told you he was planning to leave you would not have given him an item you felt he had earned. Isn’t that rather unfair?

    Lastly should he have told you before he left? Having been in the same situation sometimes you get told to just jump by your new guild. You will have been negotiating joining them for probably a couple of weeks and get a tell saying ok, “gquit and I’ll invite you”. It’s the end of a long stress-filled process.

    Of course it’s more classy to say give me a moment to say good bye then I’ll send you a tell. But if you’re nervous about getting in you don’t want to do anything to appear uncooperative to your new guild.

    And clearly, as you’ve already implied had he told you significantly earlier you would have stopped paying him for the work he put in. With that policy (and Loot Council) you will rarely get people tellling you they plan to leave because it costs them.

    I was interested to see another commentator mention that this player has done this three times. I’d not be angry that he left but I’d be very reluctant to take this guy back.

    Good luck with the recruitment. Conquest sounds like a fantastic home for WoW raiders!

  14. Oh, by the way I actually had a very similar real life situation once.

    I was working as a barman in central Cardiff at a very rough bar full of criminals and prostitutes. It was the most intimidating place I have ever been in.

    I also wasn’t very good at pulling beer. Vast oceans of foam would fill the glass with a millimetre of gold at the bottom while Vinny Jones’ evil twin scowled at me across the counter.

    I did two nights and after getting paid the second night told the boss I quit. He, surrounded by six scarred 6’2″ bouncers, gave me a long evil stare. He then told me I was the F-ing worse barman he’d ever had that I’d F-ing left him in the F-ing lurch and that if he wasn’t so F-ing nice he’d have my F-ing legs broken. He told me “go on then, F off!”

    He then thought for a moment and added “Oh and by the way, you’re barred!”

    I was so glad I got my money before telling him I was quitting.

  15. Deathxray says:

    If I can write from the perspective of a raider who has just been forced out of raider status by my guild officers.

    Near the end of August, I knew I was going to be away for a vast portion of September due to a few personal trips. I gave the officers a good 2 weeks notice before any absences would occur. Immediately I found myself getting benched from raids due to not being available for about 3 weeks in the upcoming month. I would only get the call if all other raider assets were unavailable and spots were still required to be filled. Then time came where I was unavailable. There was a few nights where I was able to get access to a computer with Wow, and when the guild called due to people DC’ing or general fail, I went in to help as best I could, whether they be kills or wipes on Twins 25-Heroic.

    During my week between unavailability trips, I was called out to raid the Wednesday/Thursday, then told that for Sunday’s raids that I would not be invited because I was going to be away another week (why was the first two days of a reset period okay, but not the third or fourth?). In this time, an item dropped that I could use, I bid on it with DKP, and one of my friends who is an officer had to argue that I should receive the item based on me having the highest DKP – they weren’t going to award it to me otherwise.

    Finally when I came back, I was told I wouldn’t be invited because I had been away too much. I could maybe have understood if it was true, but when I only missed 2 weeks of raiding on my own accord, and the rest due to their choices – I lost interest in raiding at that point and have gone social.

    I apologize for the wall of text and I don’t intend it to be a QQ. I just want to give a example of situation that a raider has to consider when she/he must go away, even if it is temporary. Unfortunately not everyone who plays the game can assess things in a logical and clear manner; some even less so than others.

    Ultimately I think everyone just has to do what is best for them, and while its nice to give lots of notice and be all proper, the game lacks any sort of agencies who will protect your rights as a ‘worker’ (raider) against the decisions of your ’employer’ (Guild officers) and vice versa. At the end of of the day, we all pay the same subscription fee for the same game…

  16. No point getting yourself worked up about these sorts of things so I think you handled the situation correctly. If you find yourself getting angry at people (or the game) whilst playing, then it’s not doing you any favours.
    .-= We Fly Spitfires´s last blog ..Low System Requirements – An Element Of Success =-.

  17. Hello there.

    I think there are a couple of issues

    – RLs, GMs and Offs tend to see a player leaving as a treason, a vote of no-confidence in their technical, organizational, or social skills. It is the case sometimes, but not always. Many WoW players are young, and want to see new things, sometimes change for the sake of change. So, don’t fell threatened, misjudged… if one of your player leaves. They probable had other reasons, however misguided.

    – A player is an investment in gear, boss training, skill training. A player leaving is a major loss to the guild. Which is why gear should really be allocated fairly, proportionally to someone presence in raids and play quality. And players who are below par in their performance, understanding and implementation of strats, mastering their class… should be booted. “below par” obviously depends on your guild, but it’s soooo frustrating to invest loot, time, effort in a noob that soon leaves… save yourself the aggravation, he/she’ll probably be happier in a guild more in synch with their skill, even if he gets fewer shinies.

    There is kinda the same issue with players who make IRL breaks, or WAR/AOC/Aion breaks. To me, how they go about it matters a lot:
    – did I get advance warning, after the fact statement, on no warning at all ?
    – did they NEED stuff right up to the last minute ?
    – did they / do they still pop up on the forum fro time to time ?

    In any case, I make it clear that anyone is welcome back, but quality of treatment upon return will be propotionnate to quality of departure, and that they are expected to get back to our level mostly by themselves, grinding heroics, 10-man pickups … unless they did all the right things before leaving.

  18. The reason for letting the guild know you’re leaving is for me common courtesy to the people you’ve spent alot of (online) time with. And why burn your bridges? I’ve seen players leave for greener pastures and then when they failed in a more serious raiding guild wandering around guildless or even have to switch server.

  19. Good post, Matt. I wonder if the guy who left was scared of the conflict that might arise if he talked to you about it (ie. easier to be covert), but then by counterpoint he shouldn’t have taken that epic if he was avoiding conflict. Curious behaviour.

  20. oook, i kinda did something close to that scenario…
    1. I decided i want to leave but i haven’t talk with anyone from the ppl that leaded the guild (only the gfriend of an officer)
    2. I did tell them only in the morning of the day i wanted to leave about my plans to the GM, officers and a few that counted for me
    3. I did not care if i will raid or not in that evening, but i said i will come and help. I did got invited and… The GM (that knew i am leaving) awarded me an item that NO ONE ELSE wanted.
    4. step 4… fill the xfer and leave server.

    In my eyes i did nothing wrong there as long i already have help the guild as much as i could (by xfering for that reason to play with them) and in 3 months i think i did give a lot of time for things to improve. Now… things didn’t went how i was hopping so without making a lot of drama i just left.
    I don’t know how it was in your guild but for me, when i see that GM and some officers are casual players and the aim of guild is nr 1… on server… that really doesn’t fit good.

  21. Everyone not best guild on the server is eventually a stepping stone for better guilds. And with cross realm transfers, even if you’re the best guild on the server people are going to leave.

    That’s the way we think about it.

    Our guild does have a policy to kick players who apply on other guilds forums, everyone knows that, no bad feelings BUT we’re not going to invest gear and time in players we know for sure aren’t going to stay with us. We try to stay friendly with the players who leave and that has made for some of the best “PuGs” on the server.

    So, in short, when you go, you go.
    Because think to yourself: why get upset? Most guilds do the same to other guilds. They recruit players who are already a bit geared. And where do those come from? Yes, guilds lower on the ladder then yours is.

    So, either you take in levels 1s, guide them on their way to 80 and gear them up yourself, or you’re being a bit of a hypocrit when someone with a bit of gear leaves, because you take other people from other guilds.

    Recently we did have quite an epic guildleave.
    Right after reset, we were starting on ToC 25 heroic and after our 2nd try someone tells that he had been accepted by a higher guild and left. He was however saved for the rest of the week with 2 tries on his name, unable to join his new guilds raids for a week 😛

  22. Actually the gear in question was a sidegrade basically went from one 245 weapon to another 245 weapon. That too me was pretty bad in itself.

    I feel bad for the player in question somewhat. The guild he was going to was going to be very demanding and I knew he would not be ready for that. I believe he raided once or twice with them and was given the boot

Speak Your Mind