Maybe someone else won the robes. Maybe they’re tired of wiping to the same mechanics. Maybe they’ve got beef with that one rogue. Maybe they’ve been arguing with you in tells for half an hour, or maybe it’s out of the blue, but they skipped over everything else and went straight for the most nuclear option: the mid-raid /gquit.

The raid goes quiet. Someone laughs nervously, asks if it’s serious or not. All eyes turn to you.

What do you do now?

Step 1. Remember that above all, you are in charge

Remember that no matter who it was, a healthy guild does not stand on the shoulders of one person. In leaving mid-raid, this person has shown their immaturity; you must not do the same. Take a page out of Dr. Spock (the psychologist, not the Vulcan) and treat it like you would treat any child that threw themselves crying and screaming to the grocery market floor: unflappably.

Step 2. Address the guild

You need to address your guild – or at least your raiders – as soon as possible. The sooner you say something, the sooner you stop the rumor mill – and trust me, that mill started turning as soon as they saw “[Player] has left the guild.”

However, do take a moment to collect yourself before speaking. You may be mad, you may be confused, you may be downright pissed-off, but right now, the guild needs to see infallible. Keep a business-like tone: state only the essentials, and don’t let emotion take over. Simply say, “yes, [Player] left. We’re dealing with it. [Substitution Player], you’re in. Summon him and let’s keep pulling.”

Step 3. Assess the damage

Let me say it again: everyone in a guild is equal. But, to quote some very smart swine, some raiders are more equal than others. Okay, maybe they didn’t say exactly that, but it still applies.

And so, assess the damage. Who left? Was it a trial who’s been there two weeks, or a core raiders who’s been there two years? Was it your top DPS or the guy who stood in the fire? Obviously, a tank leaving is going to have a bit more immediate impact than a DPS, and a long-term member will create a larger ripple than a new guy, and the solution to each problem will vary.

Step 4. Whisper the person – but don’t beg or chase them

Assuming you don’t already know, send them a very impartial tell which 1) asks them if they’re serious (joke /gquits can happen!); 2) attempts to discern the situation that caused their quitting (if you don’t already know); and 3) gives them, politely, their “one chance” (a simple “are you sure?” usually suffices, but you can be more blunt).

However, when players leave, it is often something of a power play. They believe that their leaving will have some effect on the guild – you won’t be able to finish raiding, others will quit too, or you’ll come begging and pleading to get your “best player” back. Don’t feed into that. Are they hostile or angry? Cut them off. Tell them, “Look, we’re still in the middle of a raid here. I’ll be happy to discuss this further with you afterwards if you wish, but right now, I have a responsibility to my guild.” Make them agree to your terms. By refusing to beg or plead with them, you show them that they are no more special than anyone else, while also giving them the opportunity to calm down a bit before re-engaging. The effect will be a bit like popping a balloon: all the air rushes out, and they deflate.

If you’re afraid that by telling them to “discuss it later” you’ll lose all chance of getting them to return, keep in mind: they already quit. As far as you should be concerned, you have already lost that player. Anything you do from here on out is damage control, and maybe that player will see the error of their ways. But that is not – and should not – be your goal.

Step 5. Try to replace them in the immediate term

Now, I know what you’re saying: but what if it’s a tank, or a healer, or worse yet – an officer! Well, the answer is: it really doesn’t matter. Replace them to the best of your ability no matter what their job was. If you don’t have an equal horizontal substitute (i.e. melee for melee, healer for healer) then bring in a well-geared and preferably well-played! alt or offspec. If a strat requires a certain class or spec and the player was your linchpin, try your best to adjust. And remember – take it all in stride (at least, in front of the guild). Never act surprised or unsure. Simply state what you’re doing as if it is the most obvious solution there is, with no room for questions, because now is not the time for questions.

In the long term? Reach out. Double your recruitment efforts (bonus points if you immediately update your recruitment needs right after it happens) and reach out to any connections you have. Alts, retired raiders, friends – all are fair game when you need to fill a spot. My guild has survived numerous tank tantrums by utilizing an Arms Warrior or Ret Paladin’s offspec – so much so that we now actively gear one or more tank offspecs in our talented players.

Step 6. Keep the raid running

Nothing is more important than keeping that raid running. I understand: depending on their role, keeping a raid running might seem like the last thing you want to do. But if you cancel the raid, it will leave your raiders at the lowest point of the night, and it will say to them, “we can’t function without that player.” You’re setting yourself up to have an even greater mountain to climb the next day: at best, morale will stagnate overnight; at worst, it will plummet even farther.

Now, the immediate effects might be difficult to overcome – morale is understandably low when someone quits mid-raid – but after one success i.e. killing a boss it will start to improve. So don’t become overwhelmed thinking about the future just yet; that can wait until after raid. Just aim for that one success.

If you’ve done all of these steps, then when you re-engage them at the end of the night, you will have the upper hand. Should they want to return, play it cool; don’t give in too easily, and definitely take the time to consider if you really want them back at all. If they’re a long-term and otherwise stable member who had a bad night, take that into consideration – but unless it was horrendously out of character for them or some other extraneous situation, you generally don’t want a player who left once already back in your guild.

The work is not over – is it ever, really? – but you’ve survived one of a raid leader’s worst nightmares, and hopefully done so with your dignity still intact. Pour yourself a drink – you deserve it!

…But, perhaps, it didn’t quite work out that way?

Step 0. The Hidden Step

I’m not going to spit rainbows at you. You may follow this guide to a tee and still find that continuing a raid feels like you may as well be beating your raiders’ heads against the wall. You may find that you can’t replace the player at all, and that you have no choice but to cancel the raid. In these situations, despite my best efforts, I’m sorry: this guide just won’t help you. I’ve tried to give you a quick six-step how-to to keeping a raid afloat and minimizing the damage done, but unfortunately, it’s not that simple – it only works if you already have the safety nets in place. The difference between a guild that keeps moving and a guild that crumbles boils down to one thing: planning.

So right now, take a step back and consider: what would you do if a raider – DPS, tank, or healer – left mid-raid, tonight? Would you be able to take control of the situation and replace them smoothly? Could you keep the raid not only afloat, but moving? If not, why not? Does your guild’s activity hinge on any one person? Do you not have any safety nets in place for key roles? Use this guide and identify now where your weaknesses lie, and aim to fix them – before you actually need to do so.

What’s your take? How do you handle a mid-raid /gquit?