Handling Raiding Couples

Handling Raiding Couples

Couples that raid together in the same guild can be a nightmare to deal with. I’m glad to say I’ve only ever had to deal with a small handful of them. There were some great husband/wife combinations and some not-so-stellar ones.

Interacting with them individually can be a chore at times because most couples share information with each other. There’s little (if any) secrets between the two and I get that. Talking to half a couple may as well be like talking to the whole couple because the other half will usually be brought up to speed about any decisions, events, or other information shared with them.

Here’s the worst part.

Ever tried giving criticism and feedback to one of them? Maybe they weren’t doing so  hot or they entered a streak where they just had some bad nights. Or maybe that individual just plain sucks at dealing with a certain mechanic. You drag them out to the side on an off night or send them a message trying to figure out what’s wrong. They reply back with “But I’m doing everything I can possibly do” and deep down inside you know for a fact that it’s not true because you just looked at 4 other players of the same class, progression, and gear level then coming to the realization that they really weren’t. You send back another message laying out the information you have found along with some additional pointers.

And then what ultimately ends up happening is the other half just swoops in.

“WHADDAYA MEAN MY WIFE IS TERRIBLE HEALER? SHE’S REALLY AWESOME! SHE HEALS MY ASS ALL THE TIME IN BATTLEGROUNDS AND KEEPS ME UP, NO PUN INTENDED”.

Naturally, a cursory glance at other logs and incidental information proves otherwise.

“YOUR INFORMATION AND INTERPRETATION OF IT IS WRONG. THOSE FRAPS VIDEOS OF ATTEMPTS WERE OBVIOUSLY DOCTORED WITH THE INTENT OF SLANDERING HER AND MAKING HER LOOK AS UNSKILLED AS POSSIBLE.”

It’s at this moment where you introduce your face to your palm.

“THERE IS A CONSPIRACY HERE DESIGNED TO THROW HER OUT AND SPLIT UP OUR MARRIAGE. WELL IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.”

inception

We’re not out to get you

Seriously, there’s no conspiracy. There’s no secret organization designed to screw over a couple and split their marriage. It’s an honest to Elune criticism of their performance and the fact that it’s lacking.

That’s it.

Just not worth it

After a while, I realized then that some couples just aren’t worth having around especially not with such an overprotective attitude like that. GMs need to be able to deliver that honest feedback without a vulture jumping in and protecting every chance they get. Handling couple applications usually warrant a much closer examination and the questions asked during any interview stages are going to be different then the solo applicants. It’s gotten to the point where I’m tempted to blanket ask “If I said your significant other was performing poorly in this area, what would you do?”

On the other hand, you could just auto decline couples entirely and sidestep any potential drama problems that might happen later.

Thankfully the couples I have in guild right now are quite mellow and I haven’t had a reason to punt any just yet.

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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.

Comments

  1. Quite so. I’ve raided with my wife for years and have also raid led other couples. The difference I feel has at times been stark. You describe well one of the couple paradigms, but I’d add that there are many others.

    You mention your mellow partners, which is wonderful, but there are other couples who are both excellent but are also terrible to one another. Public fights, unwarranted criticism, and blaming occur between these types of couples who may both be excellent players but should simply not be playing together.

    Then there’s the dominant/submissive couples where one basically speaks for both regardless of actual success in play. I’ve had (usually) plenty of gentlemen who would explain their (usually) girlfriend/wife/whatever’s behavior without letting the other speak for themselves, or would team up with you against them, making the other far more defensive than a simple raid leader – to – raider conversation would have been.

    Both of these other paradigms (and I’m sure there’s many others still unmentioned) are nearly as bad as the vulture/circle the wagons couples, and I tend to agree that in most cases, couples raiding together are simply not worth it. That said, I still play and raid with my wife, so take this all worth a grain of salt.

    • Haha, yeah, I can only imagine there are other forms of interactions that I haven’t seen.

      It might just be best for everyone involved if select couples played together but remained in separate guilds even.

  2. Logtar (@logtar) says:

    Lol, you would have gone crazy in our guild then, we have 7 couples, 3 of then in our main raid team. I guess adults deal with criticism a little better. I had a lot more of that level of delusion from single players.

  3. My boyfriend of three years has always been my GM and raid leader. A lot of the time, he made calls that I disagreed with, but we never made a deal of it in Vent or chat. I would usually ask him for a moment and we would take our headsets off and discuss it, or wait until after the raid.
    And just because I was his girlfriend didn’t mean that I got to dodge the bullet when it came to scrutiny. When I messed up or slacked off, he jumped my case just like anyone else, *especially* if someone else noticed it and brought it up to him.
    We had another couple in our guild too, so a lot of the time if we needed to get information or what not about one and didn’t want them to find out (“Oh, is he pissed he wasn’t awarded that caster ring?”) we would go to the other.
    Raiding with my boyfriend is a real love/hate situation. I love it, because we’re doing what we love together, but I hate it because he’s harder on me than he any of his other raiders.

    • This is what it is/was like for us. Our own situation is changing effective tomorrow, as we’re transferring off our current server to another one where we will be under someone else’s thumb. For the last 3 or 4 years, we’ve been officers in our own guild that we ran with our best friends (also a married couple). It was great and we would often use the “going to the other part of the couple” trick for things. Since we were a couple, it didn’t scare us to work with them.

      At the same time, each of our performances stand on their own. We found our preferred classes and roles independently of each other. He picked pally tank. I had already picked resto druid. We tease each other in guild, but never seriously pick a fight.

      When husband became my raid leader, he was harder on me then anyone. But at the same time, I helped him present a calmer face to the raid because he was able to turn to me and say “WTF was that?”

      Couples bring both good and bad things. But I believe (as part of a raiding couple) that they can bring much more good!

    • Sounds like the two of you had some truly _wonderful_ experiences! If only there were more like you two out there.

  4. I am a bit disappointed in this post, Matticus – it’s overwhelmingly negative, with only a couple of references to your mellow couples or the great couples that you’ve had. Couples aren’t the problem – it is the people that are the problem. If someone can’t take feedback, that’s a problem with them as a player, and I imagine that they would be just as problematic for you if they were solo players.

    It’s already harder to find a guild as a couple, and I wish that people with a voice in the community like you were doing more to talk about the potential benefits of having raiding couples than making it sound like we’re all represented by the few bad apples that exist in any category of people.

    – Nazaniel
    (Half of a couple who have been raiding together for 4 years. Tired of the assumption that because we’re a couple, we will cause drama or problems, particularly when asked to bench separately. We won’t. Also tired of the assumption that because I’m the female half, I’m a bad player who is being carried. I’m a progression raider in my own right.)

    • I plan to leave a more detailed reply of my own, but for now.. kudos Nazaniel, 100% agreed.

      Bad players are just bad, don’t hate on all couples because you’ve had some bad experiences. I’ll post more later :).

    • Yeah, I’m only outlining some of the negatives I’ve experienced. I know there is potential for positives, but I’m writing from my own experience here when I’ve been in other guilds and raided with other groups. If I wanted to, I could embellish the few times where I’ve been in groups with other raiding couples but those times were far and few. I’m actually banking on someone out there who probably has had more luck out there. With (something like) 10 million odd players out there, I know for certain that I’ve barely scratched the surface on who I’ve played with. And you know, maybe some of you readers have had a different opportunity than I had and that’s what I wanted to reach out and hear from you first hand.

      But you gotta admit, as a solo player, it’s not likely you’re going to have a Butt In Bob chime in. You’re essentially on your own and you answer to your own accomplishments and errors of your own merit. There’s no one to speak FOR you, know what I mean?

  5. Wow, not only offside but two minutes for high sticking.

    there are plenty of couples out there who are a team and play together. My guy plays a caster DPS, and is one of those guys who can top the meter while distracted. he’s really good at his role. I generally play clutch – I have a tank, a healer, and a melee DPS and I stay away frmo ranged because I’m just bad at it. I also tend to wind up being the one who puts her foot down about attendance, raid preparedness, and performance, because casual shouldn’t mean sloppy.

    We’re currently in different guilds but get the opportunity to raid together. (I stepped back because I have been having a ton of problems with stress and while I have a lot of friends in my guild, I couldn’t handle my responsibilities, but so long as i was a member, i kept taking them on, and so i left the guild to try not to do them. It worked. …sort of. don’t look at me like that.)

    I have gotten pairs who were difficult to deal with… but strangely, they weren’t ever married or romantic couples. They were BFFs. So i’m not saying your problem pairs don’t exist, I’m saying not talking about gaming pairs that turn out great was offside, and I expected something more balanced.

  6. “On the other hand, you could just auto decline couples entirely and sidestep any potential drama problems that might happen later.”

    Sounds like the same type of guild that says they auto decline female players just to sidestep “potential drama problems”. Disappointing and immature.

    • There’s a cost/benefit associated with any action. There’s also potential positives as well as negatives. Not saying an auto-decline is the best thing to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an option that can’t be considered.

  7. I’d like to say as in krystina’s reply that I’m in a similar position. My BF and I raid together and I’ve had many times where I’ll ask how I’m doing and others where I’ll give him a tip or two. I’ve even had to do the whole ” let me learn because if I mess up I need to see it and learn from it” if you weren’t here I’d have to do it anyway. It’s tough sometimes and he likes to baby me. We’ve seen bad couples come and go and a lot of drama and threats where if one doesn’t go or win something or get special treatment then they threaten to leave. My favorite was a couple who up and left because they just never showed up on time and would be replaced. I agree that there are just BAD players as individuals but couples as bad players or just one of them can be more trouble than it’s worth when/ if they become unreasonable with rules or constructive criticism. As do single players. It’s a tough call bringing in a couple . I propose that questions before admittance should include things such as..
    1. How will you react if only one of you can make a raid on time?
    2. Of your partner is criticized , can you be silent and let them speak for themselves.
    3. If the raid lead is the criticizing force can you not take it personally and try to correct the issue at hand
    Lay down all rules ahead of time and tell them they apply to both as individuals and as a couple. Seems a little childish but if this isn’t done then you may find a lot of ” well that’s not fair and why does he/ she do this and I can’t . Lol it’s the truth couples or singles

  8. I’ve raided with and without my bf… and I have to say I prefer without! He was harsher on me when he was RL and even as regular member. The idea of grumping because we’re not always picked for the raid is… odd. I usually enjoy the opportunity to watch some crap TV show by myself :p

    Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’ve raided with 7-8 couples and never had any issues.

  9. My wife and I both play, and have been fairly successful raiding together in the past. I have seen some couples that have been problematic, but I think the people in question would have been problematic as individuals as well. In my mind the issue has more to do with individual personalities than being in a couple.

    A person that does not handle criticism well is not probably not going to handle criticism of their partner well either, and is probably going to be in a relationship with a person who is somehow compatible with their personality quirks.

  10. My wife and I play, and no doubt what Matticus describes does happen and I have seen it, but just as often I’ve had the pleasure to play with other great couples. I’d like to point out some of the positives you can get from having a couple in your guild.

    – If they are tank/healer combo you already have a huge leg up on assembling your raid, or an insta-5man.
    – If they both sign up, they both will show up (its very rare where 1 of the 2 noshow).
    – If you have a problem with one of them that doesn’t take criticism well, often you can approach the other and talk to them about how to handle it.
    – If one of them plays more than the other, you can still reach them “both” by talking to the one that is online.
    – If one of them has to go AFK or isn’t quite ready to start the raid, the other person can handle getting them online and buffed up so the group doesn’t have to wait
    – They tend to be more self-sufficient, not relying as much on others for enchants, gems, etc.

    An example: My wife is an “ok” dpser, but without my help she would be pretty poor. She just doesn’t do any research outside of the game. So I keep her up to date with game changes and strats and stuff. If she were solo, she would be putting all that burden on her guild (or simply get booted). She also can sometimes take criticism personally, like many woman do (/duck). But – officers feel confident they can talk to me and I will know how to best handle it. Together, I think we are an asset to any raid team.

    Sure having a start solo player could potentially be less “trouble” than having a couple on your team. But for every star solo player, there are probable 5 D-bags. I’ve only met a handful of couples that I would classify as not worth the effort. I think if you auto decline them all, you’re missing out on many potential gems.

    But I do understand the adversion to it, especially if you’ve been burned before. Just as I’ve been burned by younger players, girl players, ex-military players, couples, students, and random dudes 😛

  11. “If someone can’t take feedback, that’s a problem with them as a player”

    Completely, fully, and utterly agreed.

    And it’s that same person that will make their other half do the talking for them and swoop in, and you know that they’re smacktalking about you the raidlead off vent.

    This is about professionalism, being an adult, being able to deal with feedback, and a lot of other things, but it has nothing to do with couples.

    I am 100% convinced that if it was a housemate/classmate/study buddy/etc instead of a partner this type of person would react exactly the same.

    • Not sure if I agree with the last part on there, Shy. I’m not sure if a housemate/classmate/study buddy would have the same cutthroat edge to leap in their partners defense with as much vigor.

  12. Sometimes couples are the most OP advantage to have in a raid.

    I live with my boyfriend and have healed with him for several months now. We literally sit perpendicular to each other. He plays a very skilled holy paladin, and I play a decently skilled disc/holy priest.

    I think that the lesser skilled, more casual couples are what causes these negative aspects Matt’s talking about. I have the fortune of healing with someone whom I don’t need a mic to talk to, resulting in some seriously kick ass healing done… we healed 10 man raids and being the micro-manager I am, we had the best synergy established over a short amount of time.

    For example, not cluttering up vent with overly specific and very time sensitive requests like “Sh*t I can’t reach tank x I can’t reach tank x get him quick” or “I’m heading this way with player Y, heal player Z” etc is very nice. Or just knowing that he is going to heal and dispel bottom to top, and I will begin top to bottom and meet in the middle.

    This solid communication makes it extremely easy to dominate content, not to mention the amount of trust that comes with healing as a “couple” 🙂 I trust that he is the emergency catch-all given his class for players that are about to die, so I can cast slower heals and support him rather than try to compete and snipe his heals. We truly work very well together.

    It just boils down to what type of players the couple is – plenty of couples, like me and my boyfriend, do handle criticism just fine. In fact, we’d probably give each other an endless amount of shit and laugh about it if either of us needed to improve on something. 😉

    Now if only we had our second PC capable of handling 25-mans…. 🙁

  13. I have seen some “couples” work out excellent – one Tank/Healer combo comes to mind – their “private out of band voice channel” makes for amazing synergy. That and they are both very emotionally mature.

    On the other hand when the couple is the Guild leader and his mate and his mate can be a bit “impulsive” about leaving raids well that can be tricky.

    The potential for problems with raiding couples is very real.
    The fact that some cases work out very well in no way should blind one to the possible down side.
    As Matt suggests – deal with it at recruiting time – up front and center. It is always bests if expectations are clear on all sides of this “triangle”.

  14. There are quite a few raiding couples in my guild as well. Honestly, they’ve NEVER been a problem and all handle criticism pretty well. I think two of the pairs are officers as well. That’s not to discount that there won’t ever be issues but maybe we’re just lucky 😀

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