Running With Strangers or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the PuG

I’ve talked about how often I’ve been PUG’ing, but I don’t think that I’ve mentioned how much of a change this is.

As my wife and I leveled our current Mains (Warrior/Priest) to 60 I don’t think we grouped up more than a handful of times, and I certainly don’t remember running any instances.

We played a bit at 60, and in BC we ran the leveling instances – but only a few of those were PUGs, and for those we waited until we were already at the upper-end of the level range. All this is hardly surprising. We had little experience in instances, weren’t super confident, and it was just easier to not deal with it. I’ve since found out just how common this is – many many people talk about nervousness in groups. Looking back it seems silly, and this reticence over grouping did gradually fade on the trip to 70. By the time I was working to get my Karazhan key grouping was no longer stressful, and as we worked to gear the guild up for our first trip to visit Attumen I preferred it to any other form of play.

At level 70, much of my playtime was spent in 5, 10, or 25 man groups. However, I still almost always grouped with guild members or, at worst, the occasional friend of a friend or an ex-guildie. Using trade chat (or /lfm) evoked images of ninjas, large repair bills, wasted hours, and spoiled little foul mouthed children. Why would I want to deal with that? As a tank (with a pocket healer) it was trivially easy to find a few dps – in fact, I often had to remind myself to ‘share’ the invites so that everyone got a few runs with us. The world of instances, heroics, and raids had opened up, but I was still completely closed off to the majority of the actual people playing the game around me.

This past summer, I got hit by burnout and eventually left the guild that had been my home for 18 months. I came back to WoW not through the live servers, but through the Wrath Beta. My wife and I got in the beta early, long before any of our friends made it in, so if we wanted to run instances we PUG’d. Most beta players were experienced raiders, and the runs were generally smooth.

When we got back to the live servers and we wanted to hit the heroics one final time, it seemed only natural that we’d use /lfm to grab a few more. We weren’t guilded at the time, so it’s not like we had a ton of options, but by that point I didn’t even think about it being a problem. Somewhere along the way I’d misplaced my stigma over PUGs.

Truth told, I’m not sure that I have even ever been in the type of pick up group that I’d long feared. In dozens of runs over the last few months – Beta and Live, Outland and Northrend – I’ve come across one single player that earned a kick from the group and a place on my /ignore list (normally reserved for the most severe trade channel morons.) Sure, we came across some unskilled players, several with shocking low dps, or those lacking even basic grouping skills – but with that one exception – no one that ruined the run. Even the least skilled of the players were consistently willing to listen to suggestions, and were typically the most grateful for a run that had gone so well.

This brings us to Heroics at level 80. These days I am checking people on the Armory before I invite, but that is because the gear requirements a still very real. In our heroic runs, we’ve not had any troublemakers, and I’ve been blessed by meeting some great people.

A Retadin, who had the gear and skills to show he’d been in more than a few heroic runs, recently started started asking questions about our guild. His guild, a group of formerly hardcore raiders, were looking to start 10-mans but are a couple short. Could we see about setting up a joint run sometime?

We’ve talked a few times over the past week and went in Thursday night. It went great. Bosses died, loot was distributed, and -best of all- both groups got along great.

The details of future runs are still being worked out (by the respective guild leaders, so I’m just advising) – but things look promising. I don’t expect that this arrangement will last very long, they have several more on their way to 80 and won’t long need our help – but this does get all of us into raids earlier than we could manage separately.

I expect that in a few weeks we will find ourselves looking to raid on our own, and will probably still need to fill a few spots from outside the guild. We are actively working towards being able to make that happen, but for now, I’m enjoying the idea that we can get back into raiding without having to force our guild to grow to quickly.

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2 Comments on “Running With Strangers or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the PuG”

  1. kadomi Says:

    At 70, my spouse and I had to PUG because no one else in the guild was ready to run instances as much as we wanted to. It’s still my preferred play-style. We had great PUGs, so-so groups, horrible groups. The majority of the groups were great, so I have always been an advocate of PUGs.

    Eventually, we had enough people in-guild so I stopped pugging and haven’t gone back to PUGs yet. I would happily tank for PUGs again in WotLK, but I would not heal, likely. As healer, you have to deal with too much shit in groups that do go wrong.

  2. notcoding Says:

    That is a great point. Tanking or DPSing in a pug is totally different from healing. At 70 I would only very rarely spec my priest Holy for pugs, even though that would have made it far easier to get groups.

    I think the main difference is that a Tank controls so much of how the run goes, and a good one can change the pace to cover for problems in the group.

    Healers, however, can’t control anything. If the tank/dps foolishly pull too many mobs, or otherwise are take too much damage, there comes a time where the healer simply can’t keep up. At some point the math just doesn’t work anymore… and immediately the blame goes to the healer – who almost certainly wasn’t the one who borked the pull, or botched (or ignored totally) CC.


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