New content brings all the skeletons out of the closet–the tank who didn’t want to tank anymore, switched his main to dps and then took a break from the game, the healer who just stopped showing up, your favorite dps who logs on to do his dailies, but really would rather be put on the “call me” list for the raid–and now you have to find a place for them while working with your new people!
Keeping Things Friendly
The first thing to make sure you do is welcome back all those sometimes, maybe, I don’t really have time to play right now guys and gals. You might feel like you got left holding the bag of complaints, and they got a nice break, but honestly, you gotta remember it’s a game, and if it’s not fun or interesting anymore, people are going to scoot for awhile.
Catch up your old-timers–Let them know who’s stepped up, who else stepped out, and what you accomplished while they were having that break.
Find out what their goals are–sometimes you’ll get players back for a patch that just want to check things out, see the new content, and then will be right back out the door. Be aware of this before you start raid invites or passing out raid gear. While you want to not alienate any members, sometimes its a good idea to treat old timers as new recruits when it comes to invites–when your new guys can’t make it, or bringing them to the 10-man, not the 25-man raid. This way they get to see the new content without boinking your progression
Expect some losses–Like any new member, old members just coming back may find that the guild isn’t what they need any more. Perhaps they don’t want to play as much, or they want to raid every day before taking another sabbatical. Either way, you should anticipate some of your old-timers finding pastures that fit their current goals better and don’t take it personally!
Don’t over-plan!–When you start seeing old friends logging in, don’t assume that they’ll be upset about warming the bench, and don’t try to figure out how to fit them in or “OMG we’ll lose the best tank we ever had!” Talking to your guildmates is the best way to find out what they need and want out of the game.
What About the New Guy?
If you’ve made a firm plan about the scope of your guild, having old friends come back should not overly disturb your guild team. Is attendance important, documented, and an indicator of raid invites? Is longevity in the guild more important? Is real-life over in-game friends? These should be things you have thought about and addressed in some way shape or form (preferably a guild charter) before you see any come and go with your guild mates.
New guy is as vital as old guy–In most raiding guilds, you will find that new guy, who has filled in while old guy has been taking a break, has become an important part of your regular raid performance. You don’t want to perma-bench him everytime old guy comes back, and frankly, in a couple weeks or months, your new guy MIGHT be your old guy — you want to send a consistent message!
For you casual guilds–when I was in most of my casual guilds, raiding wasn’t on the schedule, it was just something that happened if someone felt like putting something together. In these cases, replacing your new raider with your old one likely won’t cause massive backlash.
Keep open communication–Just like you talked to your old guy about goals in-game, you should be keeping abreast of your new guy too. Chances are, he’ll be happy to rotate (hey, Friday’s are always a pita for me) but only if you ask first.
Own Your Guild
Bottom line is: it’s your guild, and you need to make the best decision for the survival of your guild. If having old guy come back in, replacing new guy entirely (and perhaps losing him) will make for better progression overall for your guild — and that’s a high priority — then it might be worth the hassle. However, if you DO do something like this, you need to make sure that you’re talking to both the old and new guy and making sure your team is really getting what it needs. If you lose the new raider to find the old guy only sticking around a couple of weeks, you’ve endured a lot of drama for no reason.
Same scenario on the flip side: If you say no to the old guy, chances are, you’re not really missing out. Your guild has, I hope, managed to survive and thrive without one raider holding everyone else hostage! If you lose him, it might be sad, but it probably will not change your guilds success one way or the other. I think, more often than the guy who comes back and expects everything to be the same, most players expect that they’ve fallen on the roster, and are willing to earn their spot back.
The most important things you can do to preserve a relationship with new and old raiders: communicate!