How to Come out of Raiding Retirement

It took about two years. It’s nice to be acknowledged finally though. I don’t hold any ill feelings towards the WoW Magazine or Blizzard.

Picture this. You’ve retired from raiding. You have a nice, quiet home in the interior. Maybe there’s a river or a stream nearby. Everyday, you sit back on your Pyrium reinforced lawnchair with your fishing pole provided graciously by the Kalu’ak when you helped them out in Northrend those years ago. Some days you get a bite, some days you whiff and get nothing. It’s a peaceful life where you do nothing else but fish and drink beer everyday.

But you’re tired of it, aren’t you? You want to Brett Favre your way back into the raiding scene. Maybe Michael Jordan your way into the guild again. There’s a right way and then there’s a not-as-right way.

Go back in time for a moment when you explained to your leaders that you wanted to stop raiding. At the time, you probably figured it was a permanent thing. You had a new job, new spouse, or maybe you were just sick of the game. Whatever it was, you couldn’t commit anymore and your leaders understood, they wished you the best and said you could keep your characters there.

But then you said something like this:

“I’m going to quit raiding but let me know if you need me to pitch in for a day or something.”

Saying that doesn’t work for me. It’s nice of players to offer their services like that on a part time manner. The reality is that leaders have a hard time planning for unexpected contingencies. It’s not always possible to provide any kind of reasonable notice. If you happen to be online and the guild is desperate for a spot, sure you got lucky.

As a leader though, I don’t like being placed in that situation of having to depend on a person who has said they wanted to step back from raiding. Once I hear the plug pull, that’s it for me. I’ll still be friends with them easily and there will be no hard feelings. In my eyes though, when a player quits, they quit. There’s no inbetween. I’d rather pull in a new recruit and trial them in the raid. I would only pull in a retired player after every avenue was exhausted. I can tell you right now that no leader wants to rely on someone who said that they were quitting raiding.

Leaders prefer the safety and security of knowing that players will do their best to attend raids regularly. Having a question mark over the head of someone who decides to raid at their own whim doesn’t help the rest of the group.

So you want to come back

Then say so.

Let your leaders know that circumstances have changed. Maybe your scheduling is different or your living arrangements allowed you to raid again (or you sacrificed something important to your significant other for the ability to raid). You need to explicitly sit down with the officers and tell it to them instead of constantly saying “Hey, I’m around in case you can’t find anyone.” That just doesn’t work and it leads to a bunch of misunderstanding especially if the raid leader’s trying to respect your wishes and not have to resort to you, the retired player, all the time.

I never really understood it. Either you can (and want to) raid or you’re not able to. Just being in between seems to be detrimental to the raid at best. Maybe one of you readers can shed some light if you’re in such a situation?

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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.


  1. While I’m sure a player has good intentions in offering to help out if needed, this just isn’t a realistic position to hold. A raid team strives to be a well oiled machine, and it depends on it’s members to be up to date on strats, geared for the content, and familiar with their teammates. The only way to not be the guy (or gal) with a handle on your back for the run is to have spent time practicing the fights and gearing for them in pug raids to be prepared, and if you’re willing to go to those lengths you might as well BE a raider. So I agree completely that there really is no “in between” raider. If you want to step back and take a break, by all means do so, do what makes you happy to continue enjoying this great game. But keep in mind that raiding is a fairly serious commitment, 9 or 24 other people’s gaming experience is dependent on you now.

  2. Uh oh! I think I’m one of those in-between folks. But I like to think I’m not a detriment to my raid.

    I’ve been in the same guild since WoW launched, so we all know each other pretty well at this point. I raided with a tight-knit 10-man in Wrath, and most of us are doing 10-mans together in Cataclysm.

    And then I adopted two little boys.

    “Hey,” I said, “I don’t think it’ll matter so much. They go to bed before our raid even begins.”

    And for a couple of months, it was working. But I was exhausted, and starting to feel like the only time I had when I wasn’t changing diapers, I was obligated to be in WoW, on a raid. So I gave my raid a few weeks notice, and stopped raiding.

    When summer came along, they started having trouble filling the roster. So I told the raid leader, “I’m happy to fill in once a week or so. Just let me know.”

    So I’ve been raiding usually once a week for a couple of months. My gear isn’t as good as the rest of the team; in that regard, I’m definitely not able to keep up. But I don’t think that my gear is worse than, say, someone’s alt who might be available. I’m pretty sure it’s better.

    And I’m a known quantity. They know I’ll learn the fight mechanics, they know I work well with the rest of the group.

    I think as long as everyone is honest about what they expect, it can be fine. (In my case, I know that my once or twice a week loot pinata of farm kills will go away once they find someone permanent to add to the roster. In the meantime, I raid with friends and they don’t have to cancel because not enough people signed up.)

    • Right, yeah. Your gear wouldn’t be at a level where it’s outright bad but it definitely wouldn’t be as optimal as someone who’s always there. Your gamesense and skill level would only rise up with consistent exposure to the bosses and doing the same things over and over. A player who spent 3 days wiping has a considerable edge over a player who only spent one day because they’ve had more chances and time to work on the boss.

  3. I did the part-time backup raider thing for a while.

    The short version of why I left my raid is that I wasn’t having any fun anymore. In my case it wasn’t a time commitment thing or a change in circumstances, just not really wanting to be there. However, I had been good friends with the people I raided with for five years and had been an officer for quite a while so my emotional attachment to the raid’s progress was still fairly high. Additionally, my SO continued to raid with them which meant raid nights he was unavailable for hanging outs.

    I was well and truly out for several months but then my raid ran into some recruitment issues getting back up and running at the beginning of Cataclysm. There was finally one night where they really just didn’t have a 25th and so I offered to fill in. I admit I was kind of curious what the new raids looked like but mostly I just wanted to see my raid succeed, even if it was without me mostly. This led to a good six month stint where I was sort of a backup and was around on raid nights but really preferred not to go if they had the people.

    As it turned out, I got taken one or twice a week most weeks. I even switched my main toon back to shaman to cover a healer gap that developed in the roster after the ranged slots got filled out. I was there for some first kills and while I wasn’t exactly instrumental on them, I wasn’t detrimental either.

    In my particular guild’s situation, having someone around willing to go was a decent help due to the overall roster situation. I can honestly say there were a few nights that we wouldn’t have been able to do what we did if I hadn’t been there because it would have been an empty slot or there wouldn’t have been enough healers.

    All that said, some severe drawbacks:

    – Because I wasn’t super interested in playing, I also wasn’t super interested in properly preparing for raids via research and reading strats
    – Because I wasn’t super interested in playing, raid prep like valor point grinding was no fun and very chore-like
    – As a backup, I didn’t have the benefit of a lot of the learning nights that main slot or full time backups had
    – As a part time backup, I was very wary of taking any contested gear because it was much more likely to see more use for raid benefit if someone else took it. This attitude had the best intentions but it also put me behind the gear curve of the raid which isn’t super helpful.

    All these things taken together, I know I wasn’t the kind of raider I would have preferred to have in my raid when I was an officer. I had been playing long enough and recently enough that I could jump in without being worse than an empty slot (the true measure of terribleness), but you definitely prefer to have someone who does their homework, has the same gear level as the rest of the raid, and has fun doing it.

    Recently my SO changed jobs and had to quit the raid. With that I stepped back from my part time backup role as I would prefer to spend what little time we have off together hanging out rather than raiding. Not sure if that story sheds any light, but there you are. 🙂

    • That’s good on you though at least. It just seems like it wasn’t the ideal situation for everyone involved because it seemed like you didn’t want to really be there :(. But hey, at least you got what you wanted in the end. ^^

  4. I’m coming from a very tightly knit guild. Around half of the members have been around since Molten Core and know each other from outside the game as well.

    From the guild leaders point of view if the guild values social interactions as much or more than raid progress, then I can see a retired backup raider being prefered against a new recruit as long as the recruitment is running. It’s hard to find very good fits for the guild on short notice, so there’s definitely a niche to be filled by known members.
    And (at least in my guild) full times raiders sometimes bench themselfs on farm runs, so they can get a free evening and give the retired friend a chance to have some raiding action. Although we’re not currently in that state yet in Firelands.

    From the players point of view it is definitely convenient, having the possibility to raid without the obligation to do so. That view might be tainted by me being an ex-guild leader and never having retired yet, so take it with a grain of salt 🙂

  5. I think some people feel weird about going back on their word. Or maybe they feel like they would be rusty and aren’t quite sure they’re ready to step into the progression ring. Or maybe they feel like they don’t deserve the “full-time” spot anymore because there’s others that HAVE been there all those weeks/months since you “retired”. There’s a multitude of possibilities that could keep people from coming outright and saying to the GM, RL, officers, or whoever “Hey. I wanna raid again.”

  6. Kimboslice says:

    You can always beg

  7. Matt that link at the top is outright weird. Seriously? What did you say that could possibly make Blizzard so mad! Or those other people who were blacklisted? Oh well, I got to say I enjoy the blog and feel its VERY messed up to pull those sorts of shenanigans to writers but at least you got your credit . . . years later :\

  8. Okay, this sounds about right to me.

    The first time I backed out of raiding it was because it wasn’t meshing well with family life. I had just become a father and even going to a two-day a week guild wasn’t working as far as the demands went for the family. So I retired.

    But I still played WoW when I could. I still liked raiding. It just didn’t mesh well with the notion of being able to stay on for four hours at a time. So when attendance issues hit a few months later, I stepped in to fill in for a while.

    No, it wasn’t ideal. My gear wasn’t as good as others. I didn’t have as much experience on the fights. However, this was a much better option than recruiting someone that was not ideal for the guild (IE, settling), going with fewer players or simply cancelling the raid.

    And I only did it when it worked for me. They knew that they couldn’t perfectly depend on me for it, but if i could help out that would be great. I knew that as soon as they didn’t have attendance issues I wouldn’t be in the raid. It was a perfect arrangement with completely reasonable utility given on both sides. Heck, I was in on a number of first kills in heroic ICC because of it and was commended on picking up the fight so fast and doing so well despite my outdated gear.

    Here’s the thing, Matt: if you’re a good player you’ll be a good player. If there’s a hole in a roster a raid should welcome you back if you can play a given night because, well, the alternative is not good. This is especially true for guilds that are very, very picky about who they recruit and do not have an extensive bench or roster.

    I agree that in an ideal world if you want to come back to raiding you should do so full time. That’s not an option for many, however. There are lots of folks who want to raid but can’t for whatever reason.

  9. I think it all comes down to good communication. Tell your officers what you want, and ask them if it works for the guild. If it’s 1 day a week, full time, whatever. But once you’ve given up that raid spot don’t expect anything – the raid has moved on, and your spot has been filled. You should do everything you can to catch up gear-wise, as well; not only will you contribute more when you do get back into the group, but doing the work demonstrates your commitment to the team.

  10. Oh I want to. And my friends in the guild would let me. I just don’t have the time for it any longer… 🙁

  11. Lychordia says:

    Yeah, I have a wonderful SO now. And I just can’t put in the time like I had in the past. But darn it! I just had a gaming pc built for me. I quit with Wrath half done. And bought Cat but never played. Now that I am back in it, I am still not a committed raider. This post has really helped me see that. I think I will try some raid finders and see some content, but I will not let my GM think I am going to be up and running any time soon. I am just going to take my time and enjoy the game. Who knew that the Darkmoon Fair was actually a little fun? I might actually have to get serious about fishing too. *Inster smiley face here*

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