Loyalty and Bad Apples

Welcome back to Tales from the Front! Its been far too long!

I’m hoping to have a proper weekly blog for you guys again! But I want to start this off with a story.


Many years ago my guild was raiding Black Temple and farming Illidan. We had a rogue raid leader by the name of Rootleaf who was one of the best raid leads we’d ever had. He was the good cop, always calm, collected, like a NASA operator. He was a fantastic player, with us since Zul’Gurub went on the PTR in mid-Vanilla. And he would continue to raid lead for us through Sunwell, become a close friend and attend my wedding last weekend.

So we’re farming Black Temple every week, killing bosses, collecting loot, trialing apps and having a good time. When the inevitable happens: one of the Warglaives drops. Except that our daddy raid leader was absent this one particular raid.  Everyone(almost) in the guild knew and wanted the first set of warglaives to go to Rootleaf.  Well we had to give it to our second choice, a young Rogue by the name of Aloris. He was a younger kid, lacking a bit of life maturity but a good player for the most part. The loot council determined that was the only logical choice since Rootleaf was not around.

Our first Illidan Kill, late 2007
Our first Illidan Kill, late 2007

A couple months later, as Sunwell was close approaching, we had tested a number of the encounters on PTR and knew how demanding the dps requirements would be, especially on a fight like Brutallus aka Patchwerk 2.0. And as the universe sometimes likes to screw with you, a few weeks later we had a second warglaive drop, the opposite to the first warglaive.

I want you readers to put yourselves in my loot council. Who do you give the second warglaive to? Do you award it to Aloris, the rogue to complete his set and potentially help the guild with progression? Warglaives were pretty overpowered. Or do you give it to Rootleaf, the tireless, highly respected raid leader? The one who has shown loyalty throughout, commitment, and was by all accounts the deserving choice?

Well given that we had a couple years of experience under our belt, we wanted to give it to Rootleaf. But Rootleaf in his soft spoken voice said ‘no, give it to Aloris. While I appreciate the gesture, its best for the guild and our progression in Sunwell to complete his set.’ So we decided to follow his wishes and completed Aloris’ set. Aloris would then go on to absolutely destroy the damage meters on every single boss fight with the glaives and would be a reason we would kill Brutallus and a number of Sunwell bosses. It looked like Rootleaf had made the right choice.

Fast forward once more to progression on M’uru the Guild Destroyer. This was a boss that required perfection from your raiders for two long phases, high dps, good communication, and was an encounter I tanked. And once you did everything perfectly, there was an aspect of RNG that could screw you over. So many guilds fell apart on this wall of a boss, stuck on him for months. And as morale in many guilds waned, my core players were content wiping, trying again, bashing our heads against it until we’d kill it. But a couple of our younger players weren’t content. Maybe it was the millennial in them, the short attention span, or simply the lack of maturity, they cowardly quit and jumped ship to the one guild ahead of us on progression. And with those players, our warglaives went.

While there was some anger towards these disloyal players, and in particular our warglaives carrier who had been with us since AQ40, Rootleaf said one thing that resonated with all of us: In a game where weapons are pixels, rankings won’t matter in years to come, what matters is who you can trust.

And this is the point I want to get across. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re killing Bosses on US 30th, or 50th. It doesn’t matter if you get a weapon or trinket the first time it drops, or the second. What matters is who you spend your time with, whether you enjoy playing with them, them being part of your team, and who you can trust. That is a life lesson that many haven’t learned yet. And that is a life lesson I’m giving you after 14 years of MMOs and being at the helm of higher echelon guilds.

Our first Kil'Jaeden kill, Rootleaf in the middle.
Our first Kil’Jaeden kill, Rootleaf in the middle.

So onto the blog! When do you get rid of a player that isn’t fitting in with your guild? How do you deal with a player/raider that is for the most part awesome, but turning into a cancer that is killing morale and hurting the raid atmosphere?

The short answer: when it suits your guild. And I realize that is a little pragmatic but the survival of your guild is the most important thing. It transcends friendships, raiding, loot, everything. Your guild is the reason these friendships have been formed and nothing is more important than the continuity of your team, your family.

The long answer is it depends and it is difficult to juggle the progression of your guild with the morale of the raid. If you cut a player loose, it will hurt your raid. You might even lose their best butt buddy in the process, hurting your raid further. It might set you back on Archimonde progress, potentially lowering morale because after 150 attempts, people are getting a little tired. But if you cut them loose, raid morale may improve because people are enjoying themselves more and progression will pick up again.

You may need to keep players around until you find a replacement for them. And its extremely tough to be walking on eggshells around a player you know will be cut loose for the sake of progression. Simply put, after doing this for a decade, its not worth it. Your own sanity as an officer, raid leader, GM, is not worth dealing with disloyal players, or players that hurt the guild/raid atmosphere, or make your job more difficult. Your thankless job in leadership is difficult enough without unique snowflakes thinking they are special.

Unless you’re being sponsored or playing for money, does it really matter if you kill a boss a week later? After years of doing this job, no it is not important. While realm firsts, world ranks are awesome, and my guild has achieved plenty of them, when you mature you realize what is important, and that is the people around you.

I’ve let people go that were applicants and full members in my guild because they didn’t have the core values that I want of my Death Jesters. Whether it was top ferals, warlocks, hunters, rets, or windwalkers, I’ve had to let them go because they were not good for the health of my guild. While some of them were world class players, no player, no matter how skillful, is worth hurting the health of your guild.

And one hard lesson I’ve learned after dealing with a handful of these types of players is don’t keep them around for long. If you have an applicant that is a world class dps, but a selfish person, cut them loose asap. If you have a player that has been around for a while but no longer fits with your guild’s ideals, replace them asap. My one mistake while dealing with this issue has been keeping bad apples around for too long and them poisoning more. Cut those weeds as quick as you can because they’ll come back and infect more. Don’t make the same mistake I have.


Players can be taught to raid, to mash their buttons. People cannot be taught personality or loyalty.

Keep your guild, your team, your family strong.