Things Pugging Has Taught Me (Apple)

 

It's an Apple!

 

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.

In conclusion…

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.

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18 responses to “Things Pugging Has Taught Me (Apple)

  1. I totally agree with your pugging sentiments, Apple. I have long since adopted the mentality of the detached, bemused spectator when in pugs, which helps not get annoyed, mad or frustrated no matter how things go. I just sit back and observe people’s funny behavior, weird habits, and whatever else the LFG randomness throws my way. One of the things that always help diffuse stress or drama is humour, positive reinforcement, or both. Just wiped? Joke about it, or comment how hard that boss’ special mechanic is, or lament how close you were. Anything that helps draw the group together and encourages everyone to stick around and not get upset about dying!

    In addition to valuable class/spec/gear advice that people can offer to new players, I think one of the most valuable things experienced players can do is the miscellaneous little things. I’ve been leveling my baby hunter lately, and I’m developing an eye for little things to help out the tank or take some pressure off the healer. Things like marking a group of mobs that are patrolling around so the tank notices the symbols through a wall, or taunting that one caster mob the tank didn’t & hasn’t noticed and is fireballing the healer, and LOS’ing them into the melee fray.

    Even just asking questions openly to the group so that they can react to it helps. For example, in a RFK tonight we were one pull from the final boss when the tank fell off the side and had to run back up. We all stood there awkwardly for a minute, before I asked the ret pally if he wanted to tank the last trash pack, or should we wait for the tank. Either would have been fine (we ended up waiting) but by putting the question into chat, it prompted everyone to respond and reach a group consensus, instead of just sitting there unsure what was going on, or half the group waiting while the other half pulled, etc. I do the same thing on on my 80s when healing DTK, by asking a DPS specifically “You got stairs?” Even if they say no, the group is now aware of this fact, and everyone knows that someone will need to volunteer, and quickly.

    In my opinion, an experienced player taking on these little duties really helps a bunch of strangers work together smoothly. And since you’re just doing minor, unspoken things rather than declaring yourself the boss and ordering everyone around, no one gets annoyed or offended – ie, no “Grumble, who died and made THIS guy the boss?” thoughts. It’s win-win!

  2. Good post, I especially agree with the point about humour, or as Rades put it above, positive attitude. If someone does something silly or clumsy, don’t yell at them for being stupid, make light of it. If someone doesn’t run back for example, I gently poke fun at them – which sort of gets the annoyance off my chest without starting a fight. The other players should never become your enemies if you can avoid it. Treat them kindly and the payoff can be quite surprising at times.

  3. You do have to not take yourself seriously in a pug. That doesn’t mean you can blow everything off, but just don’t take stuff too seriously.

    Now, I’ll see your macro (and Old Spice Guy) and raise you one Grover;

  4. @Rades Yeah, it’s surprising how often to me just being the first person to say something that’s not “hey” or “rdy?” can make a group that much more chatty and communicative. It’s harder for me to keep my upbeat attitude or bemused attachment because I get very involved in the task of keeping people alive, and thus get easily cranky with people who take damage from being stupid, but I try, and it really does help. That or cursing profusely in vent, as Ose can attest from last night, lol.

    @Shintar Seriously, I am so glad for my macro. It makes people laugh, and it quietly makes the people not releasing either a little ashamed for not releasing, or gets them in a good mood thinking “eh, this healer’s not so bad, I’ll humour them.” Which, y’know, either way, I’m happy, because they’re running!

    @Redbeard GROVEEEEEER!

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  7. Great post, Apple. I really enjoyed it. I love your creative and kind solution to people not running back – I have to admit that Voss and I roared with laughter; we don’t have TV so neither of us had seen the Old Spice commercial. (Had I ever met you in a pug I think I would’ve been greatly confused by the macro… but then, I never would’ve been the person not running anyhow. ;) You can definitely have a great time in pugs if you go into them with the right attitude, expecting anything – more often than not, people will surprise you pleasantly! And for the times that they don’t… well, that’s what blog rants are for, right?

  8. I must just have lousy luck. My “good” pugs tend to be the ones where everything goes smoothly, but everyone is silent and robotic. Much more often, even on my lowbies, I’m deluged with with demands to “gogogo” and “pull big”.

    While tanking on my lowbies, I’ve had groups get mad at me if I don’t pull an entire room of 8+ mobs at once. While on my Warrior in SM one night, pulling groups of four or five wasn’t even enough, so one of the DPSers; at the goading of the healer, no less, pulled the entire 12+ mob room at once. That’s the only Instance so far that I’ve ever left mid-fight.

    In my Battlegroup, at least, it seems that Instances are much less social than they were pre-LFD. At least when it was confined to single-server, you would chat and socialize a bit. I haven’t added anyone to my Friends list in months. It’s reached the point where I don’t like to run Instances by myself anymore. Having someone with me who I know helps lessen the tension, and we can complain to each other.

    Plus I think she likes to hear me get angry in Vent. It makes her giggle. And she cheers me on when I lose control of my temper and tell off a group.

  9. Your healing macro is simply incredible! I wish I had more cause to use it…it’s just too good to go without :O

    I definitely agree with your points about using humor and sticking it out even if you have a rough time. I’ve been able to do both of those in non heroics, but I find that by the time you get into the level 80 heroic badge grind the most noticeable pugs are the unusually talkative or truly awful ones. To me, the shining points in my collection of pugging experience were all pre-80, or normal dungeon runs, where people knew they weren’t hot shit and didn’t pretend to be. We screwed around, we told jokes, we wiped and rezzed and tried again, and for the most part it was very friendly.

    Come to think of it, I hope that the class changes in the patch humble people – having to tweak or completely relearn their abilities may make them more cautious, which I think leads to more relaxed, fun, and friendly dungeons!

  10. You have touched so well on what good runs are like. I am one of those people that never speak in an 80 heroic. No need to, they pass by so quickly that it is not needed but at lower levels I have found that the things you said are perfect.

    I actually like the banter of some of the lower level LFD groups I have picked up. Occasionally you will get the “I have 6 80s and you suck or you are an idiot” type of player in a dungeon but I must say they are usually rare. Most people like to have some fun in lower dungeons.

    Also, having tanked and healed at all levels I must say that at a lower level if I make a mistake or just can not keep up I do not get bitched at like I would if I did the same thing at 80. Leveling up dungeons are so much more fun, and forgiving.

  11. I love your “Release and Run” macro. I died from laughter.

    The biggest thing about PUGing is that sometimes you can give someone who doesn’t have a very good experience with say, Hall of Reflection (which I hate, btw) the best HoR experience ever (as mentioned multiple times in /gchat). The time they’ll remember when no one died. When the second tank came in and did a fabulous job. Or the healer damn near got you all killed but in the end didn’t. When the DPS pulled aggro but didn’t die. Those are the dungeons you’ll talk about for days, and it makes *that guy* look like a tool for dropping in the first place.

    I know for a fact that I am a tab-targeter. I am a terrible tab-targeter because even with my fabulous new computer with all the graphics turns on, in the middle of a pull my retarded ass will have pulled the next group… before anyone was ready. And you best believe I apologize profusely and lament about my moment of teh dum.

    Very informative, and oh so true about PUGs. Also, your macro made me lol for at least a half hour, every time I thought about it. It was pretty fantabulous. Just sayin’.

  12. @Vid Yeah, I don’t watch live TV either, but the commercial was making the rounds of my friends and I got linked to it, and DAMN if that guy isn’t the funniest thing ever. I am wildly attracted to his voice. AND I’M GAY!

    @Will Some battlegroups are better than others – I’ve had some good groups on Reckoning, but it seems to have a higher concentration of WTF?? tanks, at least in the 60-75 range. Stormstrike had some bigger (or louder, anyway) douches, but I also had a lot more fun, because I was getting more chatty groups, even in heroics on my DK. I haven’t done many instances on Retaliation or Vengeance (my hunter’s been on both), but they were pretty silent, stifled affairs. But then, it’s also the luck of the draw – there’s probably people on Stormstrike who hate pugging and people on Retaliation who have a grand ol’ time.

    Also, vent ranting is the most fun. :D

    @red cow I’m quite proud of that macro. ^_^ I’m hoping that the fact that everyone’s going to kinda suck, at least for a while, will help knock the egotists down a few pegs.

    @Grumpy Elf yeah, I love pugging, deep down, even when I’m complaining about it – that’s why I keep doing it! It’s not that I don’t like questing, because I DO, though there are stretches where I definitely didn’t mind forgoing levelling due to… being sick of certain areas. XD

    And yeah, I feel sad that a lot of people feel like they should just try to run through their heroics with no chattiness or fun at all – chattiness can make the grind seem less grindy! Get down with your social self! Ah, well, all I can do is be friendly and chatty myself and hope for the best, right?

  13. Those are some really good points. I fully agree with the humour thing, and I try to use it when not too frustrated. For the most part I just try to get the dungeons done and I’ll never drop group. The only exception is a couple of times where my healer was undergeared to heal another undergeared tank in HoR. It just wasn’t possible and after a few wipes of using every cd and spam healing I just had to resign to the fact that I couldn’t do it.

    Other than that I try to stick with it. Some of my best runs have been on my warrior when everyone else is a new 80. People are a lot more polite when they know they’re not awesomely geared *lol* I still remember the time when after the dungeon they actually thanked me for sticking with it (they had been fresh 80s and died to whirlwind etc. due to low health). I didn’t need any thanks, but it felt good that they appreciated me nonetheless. I guess I wish someone would just show me the same courtesy when I come on my new alt ;)

  14. Good points! I tend to do the humor thing as well in PuG’s, to lighten the mood. I don’t force conversation, though. I do try and let folks know things that may impact their playstyle. Like when my 70 disco priest was newly transferred, not having been played in at least a year and healing for the first time in her existance, I let folks know “Just fyi, I’m learning how to heal on this toon, take it easy on me!” Sometimes people are just disinclined to talk and that’s fine. I may grit my teeth and times over people’s attitude or antics, but I generally keep my seething thoughts to myself.

    I am probably TOO patient when it comes to multiple wipes. I stick with it, until the group falls apart. I’m just stubborn that way, so it’s fustrating to see people instantly drop after one wipe. I don’t know what that’s all about. I’ve spend entire evenings wiping on bosses when I’m raiding!

  15. @Hestiah Yeah, well, cracking you up is my goal in life, Sugar. ;)

    @Saga It’s amazing how different people act when they’re undergeared for something and they know it. Also, props to you for having the patience to stick with groups – a lot of times, though I know I should, I lose my patience and drop. But then, as anyone who’s heard me on vent while healing knows, I am a very short-tempered healer. XD

    @Endyme Patience props to you as well. I definitely like to let people know when I’m still learning the ins and outs of healing a certain instance, usually because I go OOM a lot doing it, and I usually don’t. XD At least they’re warned ahead of time, and if we have a druid with a spare innervate, they tend to pop it on me a lot when they know my mana’s gonna be rough, which helps a lot.

  16. I’m the nice rezzer. If it’s a wipe I’ll say I got rezz, go refresh your beers and drain your bladders. Nothing is worse than an epic boss fight and your drink is empty or your trying not to piss yourself.

  17. Bee pits make for hilarious insectoid fun, but aye, fact is, I prefer reading about hilarious fails (schadenfreude!).

    I mean, I can’t say anything much original – people’ve been (wisely) agreeing with you left and right here in commentator valley, but I will happily echo what you say in your response to Rades; Being the first one to break the ice is important.

    It’s probably part of the whole fear of failure thing. Sure I read a post, perhaps even by GC on it? Tyranny of being wrong? Speccing/gearing/acting suboptimally earns you scorn, so people conform. The same applies to group chat, in some way?

    The second you say something witty, funny, or just remotely conversational, you’ve often poked a hole in that. Friends for thirty minutes are still friends, yo!

    Reader’s digest: @Apple: “Yes!”

  18. LOL, late to the party much, Mits? ;) But yeah, I don’t always do it (if I’m a bit brain dead, especially. Or if it’s Violet frakking Hold.) but when I’m up for some conversation, I’ll often look for something to say that’s just… friendly and conversational. No one has to take the bait if they don’t want to, but giving them the chance is really all they need.

    Though I admit to enjoying bee pit stories as well. There will always be bee pit PUGS, but the right attitude can change an otherwise only mildly crappy or just un-remarkable run into something more fun. :)

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