Raiding 101: Cliques

In this Raiding 101 series, we discuss tips and tricks for various aspects of running a guild, which can range from guild leadership duties, to raid leading, to growing as a player. Today we’ll be discussing a pervasive and sometimes harmful topic that most guild leaders will face at some point during their tenure: Cliques.

Whether you’ve seen a particularly insidious clique destroy a guild, you’ve been part of a relatively benign clique, or you’ve had concerns about cliques brought to you in your time in guild leadership, you’ve likely encountered a discussion about cliques several times throughout your WoW career. You probably have felt, as I have, that cliques are an issue no matter where you go in-game, from the most casual guilds to the hardcore raiding teams. The truth of the matter is that almost all guilds have dealt with a clique at least once, and for most guilds, cliques are a persistent issue. Is there a solution to this problem? Are cliques even a problem at all?

Read on to find out!

Table of Contents

What ARE Cliques, Anyway?

If you hadn’t heard the word “clique” before today, you were introduced to it several times in the introduction to this article alone. But what IS a clique, exactly?

What does this definition mean, in practice? In WoW, you’ll often encounter cliques when a group of friends all join a guild together, or your guild faces a merger with another team, but they also develop naturally as people spend more time together in a social setting. Of course, “birds of a feather flock together,” but what makes cliques distinctive is that they are not just close groups of friends; instead, they are close groups of friends who are either intentionally or accidentally exclusive.

You likely have a clique on your hands if:

  • When other people join a Discord channel, a chatty group clams up or leaves entirely
  • There’s a group who will choose never to play with or interact with others outside their inner circle
  • A select group of people create their own Discord server in order to hide away from socialization with the rest of the guild

The distinguishing feature of a clique is the exclusionary nature of the group, which is, naturally, disruptive and drama-inducing for guilds trying to encourage inclusivity, friendship, and community.

What ISN’T a Clique?

We’ve looked at the basic definition of a clique, but it still may feel difficult to understand where the term applies in WoW, and where it doesn’t. Therefore, let’s consider two scenarios that you will definitely encounter in a guild at least once during your playtime to highlight some key distinctions between a group of friends or a team versus a clique.


In World of Warcraft, Mythic+ teams are a unique situation all on their own. In theory, they completely fit the definition of a clique, but in practice, there are some unique features about them that complicate the application of a strict definition:

  • They are sometimes exclusive – almost all serious key pushers spend a lot of time running keys with their exclusive team, but they also all spend a lot of time just doing keys in general, including with other friends, or strangers in LFG. Truly, part of being a competitive Mythic+ player is running a whole LOT of keys!
  • Mythic+ teams are exclusive out of necessity – the nature of pushing keys, especially as you approach the 0.1% title range, is necessarily exclusive. Not everyone has the desire to grind Mythic+ so hard, and what’s more, many people don’t have the time to dedicate to this particular venture. Thus, the challenge of pushing keys is not only the absolute player skill required, but also the ability to find 4 other people who have the drive, talent, and time to pursue this goal with you.

In terms of Mythic+ push groups in your own guild, you may indeed receive some complaints that these groups are cliques since it’s easy to feel left out when a push group is working as a team and achieving the high IO that others may want to achieve too. However, it is exceedingly difficult to “punish” a group of people who put an immense amount of time and effort into building a viable push team and attending frequent key practice. Instead, look to find ways to encourage players to build their own groups too, or run their own keys up, instead of fixating on what an established group is already doing.


It may seem that tight-knit friend groups are cliques, but unless they are excluding others or disappearing from the community social setting instead of engaging with anyone but each other, they likely aren’t looking to isolate themselves. Some people prefer the company of a few close friends, and tend to gravitate towards those people. This preference, in and of itself, is not cliquey, but just reflects a close friendship. Close friends who spend the majority of their time in one channel together in Discord but also welcome others in and socialize outside their own group are NOT behaving in a clique-y fashion, and are likely not people to be concerned about. You may prefer that people choose to socialize with a larger portion of the community, but ultimately, if the group is not being exclusionary, this is not something to worry much about. Be careful not to fixate too much on friend groups, because every guild has them! They are not a problem on their own, until or unless they are exclusive and exclusionary.

Addressing a Clique in Your Community

So you’ve identified a clique within your guild. Is there a solution?

There are a few! You may not resolve the issue of a deliberately exclusive group overnight, but there are certainly strategies you can explore to help you approach the situation in a mature way.


The best way to address any social issue in your community is to approach the problem with honesty. Don’t mince words or tiptoe around the issue; instead, have a frank conversation with the guildies who are causing concern. Sometimes, cliques are completely unaware of the way they come off to others, and hearing about the perceptions developed about them is enough to elicit some change in behavior. Other times, the clique is aware of the way they are perceived and simply don’t see this as problematic. While this may be a more difficult group to have a frank conversation with, it’s important to discuss the impact of their behavior with them.

It may be that a particularly enmeshed clique is simply not interested in engaging with the broader community environment in your guild, regardless of any attempts to make them aware of others’ perceptions of them as a clique. They may not be concerned about the impacts of their behavior on your community at all. This does happen with especially ensnarled friend groups, and while it doesn’t feel great, take a conversation like this as a clear sign that this group of people just isn’t the best fit for the guild environment you’re interested in building! Having several members part ways with the guild together can be anxiety-inducing, but remember that sometimes people are not the right fit for your community, and this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done anything wrong. Your job as guild leadership is to protect the guild environment as a whole, and sometimes, removing a group of people who aren’t particularly interested in engaging with that whole environment is the best choice for your community.


I will forever and always preach on the subject of community bonding. You won’t find success in forcing people to interact, but creating fun, relaxing social situations does encourage people to spend time with guildies they may otherwise not encounter much. Playing other games together allows guildies of variable skill and experience levels in WoW to meet up on a more even playing field, or may shift the power dynamic in a way that encourages healthy respect and bonding that may not have been present in the relationship before.

Besides scheduling off-night events outside of Warcraft, many communities benefit from having a Discord with several (or, okay….MANY) channels for diverse topics. While two people might not feel they have a ton in common when they’re raiding together, if they both discover they’re avid home chefs, or tech nerds, or comic collectors…whatever the common thread, allowing guildies to develop relationships based on their other hobbies is a great way to encourage those social branches to reach outward. Sure, we all play WoW together, but what else are your guildies interested in? How else can you encourage them to chat with each other on off-nights and during lunch breaks?

In short, fostering the expansion of your guildies’ social networks and modeling inclusivity from the top down are the best possible ways to reduce the occurrence of isolation and cliquey behavior. Do not force your guildies to play WoW together (outside of raid nights) if they aren’t into it; instead, create and prioritize other activities and topics of conversation that allow people to connect on non-WoW levels, organically.


Another option for addressing cliquey behavior is to encourage your guildies as a whole to engage in conflict resolution techniques. It can be exhausting to have to serve as the go-between for any and every social disagreement that arises, so putting some of the onus on the upset guild member can help relieve some emotional labor on the officers. Additionally, being approached by an officer usually feels like a scolding and immediately puts people on the offensive, as well as making the complainant seem like a “tattletale.” You may find you have much more frequent success in encouraging guildies to speak with each other with the same honest vulnerability that you model in your own communications. Sometimes, the issue is a simple misunderstanding, or an interpersonal conflict that is best resolved between the two people without officer intervention. You may want to offer to sit in as a mediator, but do your best not to intervene directly or drive the conversation unless you are explicitly asked to do so (or unless the situation escalates).

It’s always a good idea to encourage self-sufficient communication amongst your guildies, if at all possible, and this is an excellent way to practice that communication. If someone comes to you feeling excluded, encourage them to reach out on their own and speak honestly to a member of the group or with the small group as a whole. Not only are you eliminating the additional tensions that arise when an officer is asked to confront someone on behalf of another individual, but you’re also teaching your guildies how to have healthy conversations and engage in conflict resolution.

A Few Words of Warning

While the suggestions presented above are generally helpful in mitigating cliquey behavior, or even avoiding the formation of cliques altogether, there are a few caveats you should keep in mind as you approach the topic of cliques in your guild.


In my experience, officer cliques are both the most commonly complained-about and insidious form of cliques. Because of their tendency to spend a great deal of time talking together, officer teams are frequently accused of being cliquey. If your officer team receives feedback that you are cliquey, try not to jump straight into defensive mode. This is not an easy accusation to have levied against you, particularly if you are a team working hard to encourage a tight-knit community feel, so being defensive is completely understandable. However, I would caution all officer teams to take a close and careful look at their behavior and socialization tendencies; more than any other group of people in a guild, all eyes are on you. More often than not, an accusation that the officer team seems cliquey has some kernel of truth to it, even though your team itself may feel they are working together to combat limited socialization and clique behavior in the rest of the guild. Ensure you are choosing to socialize and play with as many guildies as possible, and not sticking to yourselves. Be mindful in your playtime and your behavior around others.

If left to fester, officer cliques can quickly become the downfall of a successful guild. The leadership team drives the guild environment, and trust in the officers is crucial for a healthy, communicative, bonded community. If guild members feel that officers have only their own interests and tight-knit connections in mind, much of the natural trust in leadership erodes, leaving a situation in which guildies are unsure whether their officer team is interested in advocating, defending, and working alongside them at all. It is absolutely imperative that officer teams take the time to develop friendships with as broad a swath of the community as possible; one of the most important aspects in developing numerous friendships is extending a hand to everyone, instead of clamming up in an officer-centered clique.


As you begin looking into a complaint about a clique in your community, ensure you are correctly identifying the root of the problem at hand. Is there truly a group of people who are excluding others and keeping completely to themselves? Or, as is sometimes the case, is this an issue of one guild member who feels left out for other reasons? Often, inappropriate or hurtful behavior on the part of one guild member results in others choosing to distance themselves from them; while this may be a result of a bad actor in the community, you may also simply have a neurodivergent guildie. Be sure you understand the dynamics at work in any accusation about cliquey behavior before you jump in to trying to resolve the situation; always plan to approach the group being accused and delve into the situation from their point of view before you make any judgments or reach any firm conclusions.

If the problem is, indeed, a member who has created an uncomfortable situation for others, ensure you are addressing this with the member themselves. Do not approach the situation with guns blazing, ready to dole out justice, but instead model the same healthy communication I’ve been encouraging all along. Give misunderstood or unheard guildies a chance to have a voice. You will likely encounter bad actors who are truly only interested in sowing discord in your community, but not every “difficult” guildie is a bad actor. Many of them are struggling to communicate, misunderstood, or feeling that they don’t fit in well. In this situation, your role as an officer is to help that guildie integrate more easily, whether that’s helping them discover guildies who share their interests and passions, helping to “translate” guild jokes or behaviors, or simply providing a supportive ear and a willingness to help them problem-solve or explore new ways to connect with others. Bad actors can go, but guildies feeling like misfits deserve some time to learn how they, too, can fit into the community, and your support may be a crucial part of that process.


As difficult as this may be to understand, sometimes the only thing you can do about a clique is to acknowledge it exists and encourage branching-out as much as possible. In most cases, the members of the clique are adults, so continuing to hound them about their behavior or micromanage their socialization can make them feel a little like being scolded on the elementary school playground. Most people, if presented with a choice between consistent micromanaging by the leadership team and finding another environment to play in, will simply choose to go elsewhere. Accepting this reality doesn’t feel great, and I’m very familiar with the frustration and disappointment that comes along with any feeling of imperfection within the community, but unfortunately, sometimes there are simply no perfect solutions. As I mentioned above, some groups are just not interested in integrating more fully with the rest of the community, and at that point, you may decide it’s best to cut them loose rather than continue to try and micromanage their socialization.

So, Are Cliques Actually a Problem?

Cliques can absolutely be a problem! Any situation within a guild that contributes to feelings of exclusion or inadequacy can quickly result in divisions amongst guildies. Additionally, cliques frequently serve as echo chambers, in which people unhappy with one aspect of the community fixate on that aspect together, exacerbating their unhappiness. Cliquey groups can lead to the downfall of the guild as a whole if they allow their frustrations to fester and spread; you may find that a clique begins to grow and add new members, which only serves to widen the divide between the included guildies and those who are noticeably excluded. Attempts to micromanage or break up cliques generally only serve to drive them further away both from healthy communication with the leadership team and the rest of the guild.

Key Takeaways

Cliques are a stressful and too-prevalent aspect of managing any large community, but all is not lost! You will certainly encounter cliquey situations that demand a level of micromanaging that is both unacceptable and frankly, unappealing, and that’s okay. There will not always be an immediate answer, and sometimes that group of people just isn’t the right fit for your guild. The best thing any leadership team can do is continue to model and encourage broader community socialization, open and honest communication, inclusivity, and conflict management skills. Ensure that you yourselves are not engaging in cliquey behavior by playing and socializing with all members of the community, while also engaging any concerning groups in an honest conversation about the impression they leave on their peers in the guild. The very best tool against cliques, however, is working to prevent them entirely by fostering new friendships and offering multiple ways for guildies to socialize, from hobby-specific Discord channels to off-hour game nights, movie nights, and other bonding experiences.


About the Author

Gogogadgetkat has been playing WoW since late BC, and has been the GM of her guild Propaganda since its creation in 2014. As a career healer, Kat has a number of CEs and old-school heroic kills under her belt, all on a variety of healing classes and specs—she’s a serial altoholic! In addition to Mythic raiding and a little Mythic+, creating safe, inclusive spaces in gaming is her longtime passion; Kat has been an admin for the Perky Pugs community since late BfA, and is also a founding council member and the community manager for the DEIBAJ initiative Liquid Women in Warcraft. She is excited to bring her wealth of experience and love of writing to the Raider.IO team.