This is a guest post written by Apple of Azeroth Apple, where she writes about various things relating to World of Warcraft (Like Pugging Pally, only with more of an… Apple flavour).
It seems like, these days, all you see about PuGs are Bee Pit posts, with the shock and awe of a really great PuG tossed in there from time to time. And I will admit, the number of idiots to be found in PuGs really are quite high, especially in the held breath before 4.0.1 hits and everyone who doesn’t play on the PTR starts streaming back in to relearn their class before December.
But looking back on the multitude of PuGs that I’ve done in the slow but steady trek from 15 to 75 on Lisan, I have to say… while I may have ranted in the moment, the vast majority of my experience is positive, in retrospect. I learned a lot about team dynamics, I learned more about the lore of Azeroth, I learned how to play my class, and I had a lot of fun in the process! So, without further ado, here is a list, in no particular order and in no way complete, of things pugging has taught me.
Humour is Better
In my early days of pugging, when the party (or at least all members with rez capabilities) wiped, and someone didn’t release, deciding to wait until the healer had run all the way back to rez them, I would snap at those stragglers. “If the healer runs, you run,” I’d say. “I won’t be rezzing you.” Now, I still stand by that policy, though I’m inevitably undermined if there’s another healing class in the group, but that wasn’t necessarily the best way of declaring it to the offending parties. Sometimes it would work, but the feeling of the group would change. Chatty groups would quiet down, quiet-but-not-silent groups would go silent, and silent groups…. Well, when you don’t get Arcane Intellect from the mage who buffs everyone else, and pointedly ignores you when you ask for it, you get the feeling that you might’ve pissed someone off. And other times, I’d get lolled at and another player would rez them. Once I was even unceremoniously booted from the group. I stopped insisting on it for a little while, feeling like there was no way to politely ask for other people to be polite, and that I would always come across as a dick no matter how carefully I worded it.
And then, on a lark, just to make my friend laugh after a wipe, I basically told everyone to please not wait for rezzes… but I did it by spoofing the Old Spice Man commercial. You know the one. It got a laugh from everyone, and immediately lightened the mood with the other three (random pugged) members of the group. And then I realised… I’d found it! I’d found the way to ask everyone to make the run without sounding like an entitled jerk! And now my action bar has the following macro on it:
Hello, ladies. Look at your corpse. Now back to me. Sadly, we’re both dead. But if you release and run back, like me, we can start killing things again quicker. Look again. The HP is NOW DIAMONDS. I’m on a macro.
Every time I’ve had to use it, I’ve gotten a laugh and quick compliance from the person lagging behind the rest of us in releasing. And as a thank you for that, I generally wait for them at the entrance and buff them while we run back to where we’d left off. It’s a little thing, but I like to think my silent thanks comes across, as well as my humour-filled request did.
(As a side note, I’ve had a couple runs where we’d lose players and get replacements, and the people who’d stuck around would tell me to pop my macro for the newbie, because it’s funny. I don’t think it’s that funny, but it always makes me smile.)
Who to Bubble
So I went through a brief period of time when I would bubble anyone but the tank who had aggro for more than a couple of seconds Sometimes this worked better than others, but it took me a little while to remember that while bubbled… no one could physically attack the mobs. Now, it didn’t impede ME at all, because I was healing the party, and it didn’t impede the casters because they were, well, casting, but after I popped it on one particular warrior, I realised why that was a bad idea to use bubbling on the melee as a matter of course.
I don’t remember exactly what was said, but I remember his utter confusion that he couldn’t hit anything. And the tank took what had to have been half a second to type “pally” into group chat. It was like a revelation. When I use my bubble on melee, they’re protected, sure, but they can’t attack for eight seconds unless they notice and right click off it. Now, I know there are situations where you WANT to use it on melee, and things like that, but it was something I hadn’t even thought about, since I wasn’t meleeing. It probably would’ve taken me a lot longer to really internalise that aspect of the spell if it hadn’t been for pugging.
Who Screwed Up?
It was you. No, seriously, you were the one that accidentally aggroed the boss while the healer was still OOM, or you were the one who had “Path of Frost” on when everyone jumped into the pit, and you caused a wipe. You misclicked and didn’t get that heal off. It was your fault. You know what PuGs taught me about that situation?
Own up to it.
Seriously. Making excuses or blaming someone else is not going to make you any friends, and you don’t want these people disliking you enough to votekick you. Saying “I’m so sorry, that was my fault,” when a group wipes or the tank or healer dies can go a long way to making sure the rest of the group isn’t going to hate you for the rest of the run. “I forgot to be on the ball about X, it won’t happen again,” will do.
Just make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Perseverance Can Be Fun
Or, if not fun, than at least rewarding emotionally. You’ve all had those PuGs – the ones where for whatever reason, you can’t keep a tank, or you lose DPS like flies because no one really likes the damned instance. And how many times have, after the second dropped tank, you said “screw it” and dropped yourself?
But I’ve found that in the end, the most satisfying kills, the times I feel the most connection to these random people I’ve been partnered with, are when we suffer wipes, and tank drops, and delay after delay to get the dungeon done. Sure, we may have spent two hours in an instance that should’ve taken 25 minutes, but we did it. This is a lesson that I think will especially carry over to my future raiding with Apotheosis – if that’s not what progression raiding is, than I don’t know what is.
Friends for an Hour
What I really, in retrospect, consider a good PuG is not how quickly we did an instance, or how well everyone worked together – it’s how much fun we had doing it as a group. Sure, the LFD tool is really anonymous, and a lot of the time you will get runs where no one says more than two words, if that, but sometimes – more often than you’d think, at least in my experience – you get a group that’s there to have fun. You joke around, /lick each other, make rude gestures at the bosses before you pull them, and generally have a good time.
These people have become your friends, for the half hour you’ll be spending together. Be respectful, but don’t feel like you can’t tease them a little, or laugh when they die by accidentally running off the edge of the path or something. It’s so much fun to be running with people who feel like they could be a bunch of guildies, so you should take advantage of it!
Trouble? Don’t Drop!
This is something that I know intellectually but am very bad about following, because my patience is often worn thin by the time I get home and log on, however, this is my advice: Don’t drop a group at the first signs of big trouble.
I know, I know, you might end up being miserable, but think of what you could also end up doing: You could end up giving a baby tank some pointers or a confidence boost that they needed to keep going as a tank and become really good. You could end up realising that you were doing your rotation all wrong. You could end up (if you’re not a healer like me) encouraging a baby healer to be confident in their abilities, which will generally lead to better heals. You might start a whispered conversation with the feral druid from another server who’s looking for a good guild, and they might find a good home with you.
Now, I know all these things are not the most likely to happen. But if you stick out that instance, even if you don’t realise it, you might just be making someone’s day. And wouldn’t you want to help someone else have a better day, if you can? Give them the benefit of the doubt, and push through.
Pugging isn’t perfect. It’s full of plenty of idiots, plenty of frustration, and plenty of Bee Pit stories. But I think a good way to make your pugging experience better is to change your outlook – don’t go into the dungeon finder saying “well, I hope I don’t get another idiot tank today”, go into it saying “well, I hope I meet some fun players today!”
Because honestly, if you go in expecting to have a good time, you’re much more likely to find what you’re expecting on the other side of the loading screen.