Anatomy of a PuG: expectations
There’s been a lot of hubbub on various forums about the new incentive program for PuGging that will be launching with 4.1 (likely today!) Many tanks are saying they won’t tank any differently than they do now. Others are saying that the anticipated rewards aren’t going to help. Still others say the “have to queue alone” requirement makes a significant difference to them, in that it’s not sufficient incentive to not be able to tow along at least one buddy.
Like many folks, I have read the debates with interest, but for a different reason. I’ve always been curious about why it is that PuGging has such a bad rap. I’ve done some. I’ve had more good PuGs than bad. I actually almost see it as being like rush hour traffic. There are jerks out there, and you have to watch out for them. But you never remember the peaceful trip home for more than the evening. You only remember the bad PuGs, too.
Healers and tanks claim to have it the worst. They’re in short supply, and are easily blamed for mishaps. Let me provide an example: I have a shaman who I heal on. She’s still leveling, and so I have been PuGging a little bit to practice that, since solo questing provides very little practice for healing. I zoned into Shadowfang Keep. My tank was a druid. We had a hunter, a mage and a rogue. The tank goes racing off for the first pull. The rogue is sitting on his butt getting a food buff. The mage is summoning her water elemental. The hunter and I follow the tank. The hunter’s pet still has growl on. Who gets blamed for the hunter dying in that first fight? The healer. Whose fault was it? Well, let’s see. It could have been the hunter, for not holding his own aggro in check, or for letting his pet get aggro and die. It may have been the tank’s for not waiting for the rest of the DPS to complete their preparations. Nope. It was the healer’s, who was, by the way, keeping the tank up to about 50% health, because he hadn’t waited for the rest of the DPS and was taking a little too much damage a little too long.
Fast forward. The hunter has gone, we now have a warrior in his place. We’ve killed the first boss with only one wipe. Caused (and admitted to, this time!) by the mage pulling while the tank was dead. We’ve gotten to a little hallway where there’s a sharp doorway before a boss room. We’ve just finished killing two of the three mobs in the room. One of those three had been pulled off the tank by the mage, and the warrior had just picked him up as the two the tank still had were dying. The tank turns, and runs around the corner into the room and grabs the next pack. While the rest of the group is still killing one, and I’m trying to keep a non-tank warrior up as well as the druid tank. Said tank dies spectacularly in the moment I realize his bear butt has run around the corner. And blames… the healer. For, oh, I don’t know. Let’s see here, not chasing after him immediately… while we were still in combat with another mob, no less?
Yes. That’s a bad PuG. But why was it a bad PuG? Because we had bad DPS and a bad tank, and, potentially, a bad healer. I’d like to think I’m not a bad healer. I’ve successfully healed boss fights. I don’t think a bear being around the corner on trash counts as being a bad healer.
What this boils down to, though, is that one of the problems with PuGs is that everyone thinks everyone else is expecting you to be bad at your job. Tanks think DPS are impatient and just want you to keep pulling as fast as you can go. DPS thinks healers won’t ever drop a heal on them in a tight situation. Healers think they’re going to get blamed if anyone dies. And because of these thoughts they become reality. Healers get blamed because they accept the blame. DPS are impatient because tanks keep going fast. Tanks die because healers get stretched too thin by DPS who think they won’t hold up their end if they watch their threat.
I go into my PuGs with a good attitude (If I feel I’m going to have a bad attitude, I don’t PuG). Let me give you another example: I’ve queued, and I’m in Gnomeregan with a pally tank, a pally DPS (who are chattering like they know each other in party), a rogue and a mage. We get through Grubbis with no issues. He drops a pally item. Both pallies need the item. The one who loses makes a smart comment, and the other one responds “next thing we both need, I’ll give to you” (Remember, they’ve made it plain they know each other.) The rogue drops group. Huh? Well, he’s DPS, he’s replaced in half the time it took me to type this.
My theory on that experience was that the rogue wasn’t paying attention to anything but the negative comment made by the one pally, and thought someone was ninjaing. The run went smoothly as far as mechanics went. But it was perceived that there might be a problem, and so anything that sounded like a problem was one for the rogue.
And let me provide you with one final experience, just because it needs to be said. It was another Gnomeregan run. Everything has been going swimmingly. Viscous Fallout drops the cloth boots, which the mage in the group passes on. (remember, I’m a shaman, but healing.) The cloth boots have more int than my current quest greens. I ask “Mind if I need?” The mage answers “They’re an upgrade in stats, go for it.” I need. I put them on. We’re all happy, and keep going.
Down the hall towards Mekgineer, a pair of leather agi boots drop. The hunter (we have no other leather wearers besides myself) asks if he can need. Two of us reply with “Of course! No one else does!” He says he just thought he should check… and I realize why, so I say “Oh, the boots I asked about were cloth, and I can wear leather.” Sometimes over communicating is good.
Next week I’ll talk about why tanks are supposed to be know-it-alls.