Posts tagged ‘PuGs’

Locking it up in an Eye of Eternity PuG

I took advantage of my brand-new alt status to join a Eye of Eternity PuG — or, rather, partial PuG, since a 10-man guild was hosting it.  I recognized the raid leader as my sister’s ex-boyfriend’s brother (who I’ve never met in real life, but have raided with a time or two and know to be an excellent tank), so I responded to his advertisement in /trade with the basics.  Five minutes later, I was en route to Coldarra for the second time this week.

The hosting guild turned out to be a reform of the one my sister raided with in The Burning Crusade, so there were several familiar faces in the group.  One of the druids even greeted me as I joined Vent: “Hey! It’s Mis’s not-so-evil twin!”  I giggled … and then promptly informed him that I was every bit as evil as my little sister, thank you very much!

Since PuGs and their requirements — some reasonable; others ridiculous — are a hot topic these days, I feel I should mention that this one did not require players to be “attuned” to the Eye of Eternity (i.e., to have the achievement from a prior raid).  There was no minimum DPS stipulation either, but I assume from the brief pause between my initial /tell and invite that the raid leaders were alt-tabbing to Armory. 

The raid was assembled quickly.  (I’m pretty sure I’ve taken longer setting up guild raids than these guys did their three-quarters PuG!)  As soon as the 25th player was invited, summons went out and we all zoned into the Eye of Eternity.  Vent info was posted in a /raid warning, along with the admonishment that only raiders who joined Vent would be eligible for loot.

Needless to say, Vent filled up quickly.

The loot rules were announced ahead of time and very simple: main spec rolls, with a one item maximum.  There were no minimum performance standards, no items held in reserve and no priority given to guildmembers over PuGs.  In other words: no drama.

I could tell right away that most of the players present had defeated Malygos before.  Several asked specific questions (“Clockwise or counter-clockwise in P3?”; “Save Bloodlust for two stacks?”; “Who’s healing the air phase?”).  Only one PuG seemed confused, zoning into Occulus instead of the Eye of Eternity.  He admitted in raid chat that he wasn’t familiar with the instance, but seemed reluctant to ask questions, so I ended up talking him through most of the fight in /party — much to the consternation of a shadow priest in our group, who complained loudly (insofar that you can complain loudly in text…) that people shouldn’t PuG into encounters without bothering to learn them first.

Gentle Heart LambI agree, in principle, but I think the shadow priest was a little too abrasive about it.  Then again, I’m a Care Bear … albeit an appropriately evil one. >.>

(That’s Gentle Heart Lamb, for the uncultured among us.  She’s technically a Care Bear Cousin — but then, I always liked the Cousins better than their ursine counterparts.)

All in all, the PuG went surprisingly well. 

We wiped once, because one of the two Death Knights on Spark-duty disconnected mid-fight.  This is the type of thing a decent guild could most likely recover from: if we lose a Death Knight in a guild run, then our raiders take note of it and adjust accordingly.  The ret paladin and boomkin take over stuns and snares, for example, or a hunter starts DPSing the Sparks at range so we’ll have more control over when they die, to make up for our loss in control over where they die.

In a PuG, with players who who don’t really know each other’s roles and abilities, an untimely disconnect or death can have a much more devastating effect.

Fortunately, we recovered quickly from the wipe, replaced the Death Knight, and downed Malygos on our second attempt.  Loot was distributed (the PuG Priest I coached through the fight won a new robe; grats to him!) and we disbanded on a high note about 30 minutes after forming. 

That was all.  No horror stories.  No Oh. My. God. I can’t believe that just happened! moments.  No unnecessary wipes; no cajoling or bullying from the raid leaders to get things done; no squabbling over loot or post-PuG snipping in /trade.  Just a solid raid experience, unique only because it was with virtual strangers rather than … virtual friends.

It’s not even blogworthy, really — just something I wanted to commemorate in writing because it was so very different from what I expected (and therefore worth remembering three months from now when I’m resurrecting my /tar desk /cast Bang Head macro in an ill-fated Uldaur-10 PuG).

*  *  * 

Some tips for warlocks for the Eye of Eternity, since Dagashi asked and I have Malygos on my mind anyway.  These are all from my personal experience (I’m not much of a theorycrafter), so your mileage may vary:

  • Right before the pull, drop a Demonic Circle next to the orb that summons Malygos.  Since Demonic Circle: Teleport is an instant cast, you can ‘port back to your Circle at the start of every Vortex phase and continue to DPS while the rest of the raid is spinning uselessly through the air.  Just be sure to watch threat, since the tank will have a hard time generating it while in the Vortex.  (Don’t be afraid to dust off that Soul Shatter button and move it back onto your toolbar!  The extra DPS time means I’m often threat-capped in this fight.)
  • Also, keep an eye on the cooldown on your Demonic Circle.  If DPS is slow or if the pull was delayed, then your Circle might expire during phase 1.  Drop a new one; trust me, it’s worth the global cooldown.
  • Ignore the Power Sparks, especially if you’re Affliction.  Unless you’re specced into some bizarre PvP talent that I don’t know about (I tend to ignore those tooltips; sorry!), then virtually everyone else in the raid including that level 78 Dragonhawk (You’d think the hunter who fo’shizzled me on Vent would know better!) and your White Tickbird Hatchling are better at Spark-management than you are.  This is because  you don’t have reliable stuns or snares to root them in place, nor do you have the burst capability to nuke them down after they’re anchored by someone else.  Ideally, your raid will have two Death Knights tag-teaming the Sparks (Death Grip = win!); we sometimes use a boomkin or a retpally.  If you absolutely don’t have a choice, then try to trade roles with a Holy Priest.  You can probably heal the raid more effectively with bandages than you can control a Spark, and he can lolsmite spam them better than you can anyway. 
  • Watch your buff bars during Phase 1 to make sure you’re really stacking Power Sparks.  Just because there are multiple Sparks on the ground doesn’t mean you’re standing in all of them; you may have to reposition to find the areas where they overlap.  (This applies to everyone, not just warlocks!)
  •  P2 is supremely pet unfriendly.  Put your pet on passive if you want to keep it around for buffs, or simply sacrifice it.  It’s going to die anyway. 
  • P2 is warlock unfriendly, as well.  Melee get priority on discs, so we’re generally left running from bubble to bubble, DoTing whatever we can reach.  Don’t worry unleashing your full rotation on the Scions.  They often spin out of range before you can finish it, anyway, and casting that initial Shadow Bolt to get Shadow’s Embrace up does you no good if you can’t follow it up with some serious DoT damage.  Just concentrate on getting as many DoTs on as many Scions as you can.  I’m one of those spatially-challenged individuals ^.^, but I find that tab-targetting between mobs and channeling Drain Life for a tick or two will help orient me.
  • If all of the melee have their discs, then by all means — grab one.  You don’t have to worry about breaths or even be healed while on a disc (bonus!) and you can DPS from it even more effectively than those melee types, since you won’t have to waste time chasing mobs through three-dimensional spaace.  (Who knows?  You could even get an achievement out of it.)  We let the melee take discs first because they’re completely useless without them — instead of just mostly useless, like us. 😉
  • Don’t panic if your P2 damage trails behind … everyone else.  Unless you’re lucky enough to snag a disc, this is not a ranged friendly fight.  The point is to survive.  (Take heart: gear permitting, you should absolutely dominate the meters in P1.)
  • You probably already know this, but the highest DPS in P3 is a simple 1, 1, 2 rotation.  Just make sure you have enough energy to get two combo points and a shield up if you’re targeted for a surge.
  • If at all possible, make sure that the raid is accompanied by at least one Stinker and either Bombay or a Black Tabby.  Watching those two do their thing while all hell breaks loose is pure awesome.  (In fact, I’m pretty sure that if that damn cat ever decides to return Stinker’s affections, then Malygos will be shocked into sanity.  He’ll submit instantly and Alextrasza will send everyone five-piece T7 in the mail out of sheer gratitude.  For reals!)

February 23, 2009 at 12:38 pm 4 comments

Northrend Roulette

Tobold posted a complaint about PuG’s (“Pick Up Groups,” to those fortunate enough never to need them!) that I’ve seen echoed elsewhere on ‘Net:

There is a general trend I’ve noticed in which the requirements for PuGs are getting more and more ridiculous.  You can get kicked out of a PuG for a simple heroic because you don’t  have 2,000 spellpower.  Which is of course difficult to get if you can’t get into a group to do heroics in the first place.  Basically what these people are advertising is that *they* want a free ride some place, inviting only overgeared people.  And then of course there will not be any crowd control, no sheeps, no shackles, no saps, no ice traps.  Everything will be AoE’d instead.  Minimum skill and time requirement, but only completely geared up people are welcome.

I understand the frustration, of course, but I’m not sure I agree with the sentiment.  

If a newly ding’d level 80 Ret Paladin in quest greens is spamming trade with something like this—

/2 LF4M HC Old Kingdom, need Tank/Heals/2 DPS!  PST with Northrend Dungeon Hero achievement.  Twilight Vanquisher is a plus.  Must be defense capped, hit capped or have a minimum of 2000 spellpower.  No plate-wearers, please.  [Frozen Orb] is reserved.

—then yes, I agree.  He clearly wants to be carried and deserves the public ridicule he will no doubt receive (much like the 12 year-old Shaman who “led” last night’s For The Horde! debacle, come to think about it.  On his second attempt at the PvP-go-’round, he was only accepting levels 75+ … as a level 71, himself.  /cough)

But what about those of us who have already done our time?  I wiped for hours on Loken when I ran Heroic Halls of Lightning for the first time with my guild, decked out in 4-piece T6 and rocking a blue weapon from the Amphitheater of Anguish.  Why in the world would I want to subject myself to that zeppelin-wreck of a “learning experience” again, much less for four strangers who haven’t invested a fraction of the time or effort into their gear that I have?

I don’t mind “relearning” instances with guildmembers for the simple reason that I’m commited to them.  Our new Holy Priest wants to farm the Mace of Unrequited Love from Heroic Nexus?  Sure, no problem.  I’ll respec elemental and suffer good-naturedly through a few wipes while he figures out how to heal us through poor Keristrazsa’s demise. 

PuG Priest with identical gear and experience spamming trade for a quick run-through? 

Nuh-uh.  No way.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t blame these hypothetical PuG’s for being undergeared.  We were all new to endgame once, just like we all level and gear at our own pace.  The fact that that tank isn’t defense capped yet doesn’t make him a bad person, or even a bad player … but I’m still not going to heal him.

Does that make me a bad person?

Obviously, I’m a little biased.  But I don’t think so.

When I run a Heroic, I often have a limited amount of time: 45 minutes before raid invites, for example.  I want to get in, get my badges, and get the hell out.  I don’t want to explain the mechanics or movement of a fight to someone who has never seen it before.  Nor do I want to wipe five times on the Azjul’Nerub gauntlet because the Hunter can’t break 800 DPS, or spend 20 minutes kiting Ley-Guardian Eregus to death because the tank’s UI wasn’t set up for a vehicle fight and the DPS didn’t know how to use their dragons.

I don’t consider myself an “elitest” — far from it!  I occasionally forget how to kill bosses I haven’t seen for a while, and alt-tab to WoWWiki between pulls for a quick refresher.  I find vehicle fights awkward, and fake my way through them as often as not.  (I did come in second on damage for Malygos P3 the other night, though.  Go me!  … and nerf Keaton.)  I still get lost in instances, to the point that my guildmembers all know not to let me stray too far behind and I often have an assigned escort in Naxx.  (Hi, Aly.  *wave*)

Even my achievements are unimpressive, because they’re divided between two characters.  My Warlock is a Champion of the Frozen Wastes, but my Shaman is still three Heroics shy of becoming a Northrend Dungeon Hero.  Yes, that’s right: I can two-heal Naxx 10, but I can’t get an invite to a trade channel PuG because I can’t bring myself to run Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle again.  (Three months, two elated Paladins, one jubilant Hunter and a perpetually dour, but still well-armed, Warrior later, I finally saw — and disenchanted — my first Girdle of Bane.  Sigh.)

So, if I’m not a spoiled, snobbish, elitest brat who thinks she’s too good to PuG … and not a lazy, undergeared, (what is it Gevlon calls them?) M& S looking to be carried … what exactly is the point here? 

The point is simply that I understand why someone who has invested in his gear might not be inclined to carry someone who hasn’t — just like someone who has already suffered through learning all the fights in particular Heroic might balk at the idea of repeating that painful process all over again.

The reasonable thing to do, in my mind, is PuG content with players at approximately the same level of gear and experience. 

Yes, the overgeared group is going to AoE everything.  They won’t bother with crowd control or kill order; they won’t pause for more than a second or two to eat or drink between pulls; and they certainly won’t stop to explain the next fight.  They will simply charge in.  The bosses will die, and Dream Shards will fall like rain.

Meanwhile, a lesser geared group will progress through the instance at a slower pace.  Good, undergeared or even appropriately-geared PuG’s will mark targets, utilize crowd control and follow kill order.  They may even discuss new bosses as they encounter them, sharing strategies and tips based on their diverse, if limited, experience. 

roulettewheelBad PuGs will simply wipe.

And wipe.

And wipe some more. 

It’s Northrend Roulette, really. 

But those requirements that Tobold thinks are “silly” actually serve a purpose: they help the better-geared players — the ones who simply want to hit and run — to find each other.  The corollary is that by shutting undergeared players out, they also create a second, de facto tier of PuGing for beginners.

If that elite group won’t let you into their power-run because you don’t have the right gear (which could very well drop from the Heroic you can’t get into), what do you do? 

You team up with other players who can’t get into the power-runs and do it the hard way, using CC, kill order and careful planning.  And thus you learn the boss fights, master the instance and earn the gear that will get you into those power-runs in the future.

Personally, I wouldn’t join a trade channel PuG if it came with unreasonable pre-requisites — even if I met them — because, dramatis personæ notwithstanding, I’m not the most confident player in the game and would be so terrified of falling short of expectations that I probably would.  (Self-fulfilling prophecies are a bitch.)  But at the same time, I’m not going to look down on someone who asks potential PuG’s to provide some basic stats, either, because I know where he’s coming from.

Been there, wiped on that.

*  *  *

In completely unrelated news: I invited one of our Shamans to raid on his Hunter last week, since he seemed to be heading for healer burnout.  His response?  “Fo’shizzle. =D”

I giggled.

February 18, 2009 at 12:24 pm 4 comments

For the Horde?

forthehordeI’m working on a rather lengthy update to my Cliques Happen/Guild Drama series, but it’s draining.  So, in the meantime:

I did the For the Horde! achievement tonight with an awful trade channel PuG.  We got the job done, but … what a stupidly frustrating experience.  >.<

I am not kidding: the Raid Leader was 12 years-old and had to /afk for dinner in the middle of the Stormwind portion of the raid.  He was gone for a good 20 minutes.  When he came back to his computer and realized that we had killed Wyrnn without him (the PUG pretty much ignored him as RL when he commanded all of the mages to Pyroblast at the same time, because he “wanted to see what it looked like”), he totally freaked out on the raid.

He’s been spamming /trade ever since, trying to get a second group together to kill Wyrnn again.  Several people have tried to explain the concept of respawn timers to him, to no avail.

I kind of feel sorry for the kid, at this point.

On a related note, Tyrande hits like a … not girl, because we hit damn hard!  But she’s thoroughly unimpressive.  I tanked her for a while after the Death Knight tank went down, and a Shadow Priest eventually peeled her off of me and finished her off.

I also came in second on damage, and I had rezz sickness for the first half of the fight.  Really, it’s amazing we managed to kill one faction boss, let alone all four.

I did meet a nice Retadin, though.  He even thanked me (the raid’s sole warlock) for summoning everyone all over the world … unlike the other Ret, who fell off the boat to Darnassus and blamed me when he died to fatigue.  Because I didn’t summon him fast enough.  Clearly, my fault.

I hate world PvP.

February 18, 2009 at 1:02 am 4 comments

OMG, ninja!

scarlett-ohara1Drotara of Less QQ, More PewPew posed an interesting question: When would you become a ninja?  

My first impulse was to exclaim “Never!” in my best Scarlet O’Hara voice, while clutching at my heart with one hand and fluttering around wildly with the other.  Then I remembered that I’m Undead, with half-rotted fingertips that are likely to fall off if I attempt that bit of girly frivoloty … so, nevermind.

For the record, Drotara isn’t asking “Why would you master loot that spirit trinket to your mage (over the PuG resto druid who could actually use it)?” or even “Is it ever appropriate to Need-and-run?”  No, Drotara is more interested in the ethics of passing another player over for a piece of loot — especially if she actually won the roll — if you don’t feel that she “deserves” it.  Maybe she died 3% into the fight and didn’t contribute at all.  Maybe her performance was simply subpar.  Or maybe you don’t agree that she needs an item because it isn’t optimal for her class or role.

What really made me stop and consider the question was a story Drotara shared about another player’s mother, who participated in a Vault PuG and actually won the roll for Valorous gloves — only to watch them go to another Death Knight because the raid leader decided she “sucked.”

My Mom plays a Death Knight, too.  The last time I checked, she was completely decked out in spellpower plate because it looked cuter on her Blood Elf than DPS gear, and had the added benefit of “making her spells pwn more.”  (Really.)

If my Mom were brave enough to PuG into a Vault run — which she isn’t; she’s listened in on enough of my siblings’ raids to be absolutely terrified of opening herself up to that kind of criticism — I suspect she’d come somewhere below the tanks and above an Affliction ‘lock her Baby Blizzard Bear on DPS.  She’d try her best, and possibly even drive herself to a panic attack in the process … but the damage meters would not be kind, and I can’t imagine that the typical Black Dragonflight PuG would be either.  (Sometimes, I think my server prides itself on its collective cruelty.)

What if I were the raid leader?  How would I handle the situation?

As a guild leader, my reputation is extremely important to me — so on the rare occasions that I organize trade channel PuG’s, I am very careful to (1) make the loot rules clear before the first pull and (2) follow them to the letter.  If this means rewarding the Death Knight who can’t DPS her way out of a netherweave bag, so be it.

When I’m handling loot in guild runs or even partial PuG’s, I do tend to be a little more subjective.  In these cases, the letter of the law actually becomes secondary to its spirit.

I’m thinking specifically of an incident that occurred in a 3/4 guild, 1/4 PuG run of Serpentshrine Cavern.  SSC was officially considered farm content, so we were using a simple “Need for main-spec/Greed for off-spec/Pass otherwise” rule to handle loot (with a few pre-determined exceptions, such as the Earring of Soulful Meditation and Tsunami Talisman — our primary reasons for hosting the PuG in the first place!)

We were muddling through with less than a full raid group, including a PuG tank who remains to this day the single-worst prot paladin I have ever met.  “Healsforhugs” absolutely could not pick up his adds on Hydross; our feral druid ended up tanking all four, while Hugs ran around dropping Consecrates around the perimeter of the raid for … no discernable reason.

Still, the rest of us overgeared the content, and were able to brute-strength our way through it fairly easily.  Hugs picked up a couple of off-spec drops uncontested, including the warrior-tanking mace off of Lurker.  (We really couldn’t figure out why he wanted it, but no one else did, so … whatever. /shrug)

We eventually made it to Leotheras, who dropped a Champion token (and some other things I can’t remember, but definitely not a Tsunami Talisman).  Healsforhugs asked to /roll.  So did our Holy Paladin, who already had healing gloves but was looking to build a protection set in preparation for Mount Hyjal. 

At that point, Hugs was in the raid simply because I didn’t have the heart to kick him.  His actual contribution was negligible — perhaps even negative, since he had been directly responsible for numerous trash deaths, and we had already decided to call the raid after Leo since there was no possible way he could tank Tidewalker’s adds or anything in the Karathress fight.

Meanwhile, it was in the guild’s best interests for the Holy Paladin to have an up-to-date prot set, since our pally tank was teaching a summer course and often missed raids, which occasionally left us without a viable tank for Hyjal trash.

I explained to Healsforhugs in whispers that even though the other paladin was healing at the moment, prot would be his main spec in guild raids so I was giving them equal priority.  The /roll alone would determine the winner.

The Holy Paladin won the roll, and I looted the tier token to him.

Healsforhugs threw an absolute fit.  He immediately dropped the raid, hearthed to Shattrath and started denounce us in /say us as “ninjas” and “robers” … which, come to think of it, led to this rather comical moment:

[Healsforhugs]: Don’t join Elleiras’s guild!  Ninjas!  They just robed me!!
[Random Player #1]: You mean … they forced you into a robe?
[Random Player #2]: OMG, I would totally join a guild for a free robe! Where do I sign up?!

… I really shouldn’t make fun of poor Healsforhugs, especially since — technically — he was right.  I did break my own loot rules when I accepted the Holy Paladin’s off-spec roll as if it were main-spec.

Was it justified?  I think so.  Healsforhugs was worse than useless, had already received several items and actually lost the roll to the Holy Paladin.

Did the guild’s reputation suffer as a result?  Not at all.  Healsforhugs made a fool of himself in Shattrath and I actually received a /w that night from the leader of a guild he had recently applied to, thanking me for exposing him as a loser and a creep … which I didn’t quite get, since the extent of my public response to his theatrics was a simple “/say You lost the roll to another paladin; I’m very sorry that upset you.”

February 10, 2009 at 5:46 pm 16 comments

Happy New Year (from HoL)!

I rang in the New Year in a regular Halls of Lightning PuG.  I was healing on my mini-Shaman, now level 78 and still specced Enhancement for fast leveling.  I didn’t bother to respec or re-glyph for the run; I just threw on my old resto gear from ZA and chain healed away.  With the exception of Loken, who took a couple of tries — the tank had never seen the instance before, and had some problems mastering the movement of the fight — it was a breeze.

The Warrior tank was tagged with one of those infamous trade channel zerg guilds that the entire server likes to make fun of, for its admittedly stupid name (redacted to protect the guilty) and slight disconnect between its members’ raiding pretensions and actual progression (by the end of TBC, there were three groups clearing Kara — barely).  Still, I had an open mind: my little brother is in the same guild, and I know from listening in on Vent that his guildmates tend to be friendly and fun-loving, if occasionally immature … in other words, kids.

In spite of the wipes on Loken and my discovery that I am “that shaman” (you know, the one who remembers she forgot to buy ankhs when she dies 90% into the boss fight?), it was a really good time.  Surprisingly, refreshingly, I’m-so-glad-I-accepted-that-ninja-invite good.  Everyone in the PuG was decent at their class, tolerant of mistakes, and generally just fun to be around. 

It turned out that four of us were in Mountain Standard Time, so we wished each other a Happy New Year at  midnight.  At the end of the run, amidst the usual “great group!” ‘s and “thanks for the invite!” ‘s, the Death Knight actually said we made his New Year’s eve.

Much to my surprise, I found myself agreeing.

EDIT:  One resolution for the New Year?  Don’t autorun (autofly?) and alt-tab to blog!  Fatigue = rezz sickness = bad!

January 1, 2009 at 5:56 pm Leave a comment

This started as a post about healing …

Rohan of Blessing of Kings recently posted a list of complaints about PuG DPS, from a healer’s perspective.  As a DPS main with a healing alt, I’m hard-pressed to disagree with any of them … as much as I find myself wishing I could.

One of Rohan’s pet peeves is mine as well: players who post the damage meters every other pull.  As an affliction ‘lock, I shine on long fights, but I can’t compete on the trash meters and shouldn’t have to.  I’m specced for longevity, mobility, self-sufficiency and sustained DPS.  The trade-off is that my trash damage is abysmally low.  (Case in point: I once put myself on /follow between boss fights in Naxx 25 to bathe my dogs, and no one noticed!*)

As a guild leader and sometimes raid leader, I don’t care if you can blow all of your cooldowns and burst through trash at 4K DPS.  If you run OOM two minutes into a 10 minute boss fight because you have no concept of mana efficiency, or if you’re missing one in every ten spells because you gemmed for spell power and haste over hit, then you simply aren’t as valuable to the group or raid as a player who can manage sustained DPS, even if she can’t come close to your “peaks.”

There’s a destruction warlock in my guild who advertises himself in Trade as 4K+ DPS.  In his defense, I’ve seen him hit 4K after a series of lucky crits.  But on our most recent Heroic Patchwerk, I topped the meters at 3.7K, closely followed by an unholy Death Knight and a retribution paladin.  The hotshot ‘lock didn’t even make the top 5 (probably because he refuses to gem for hit over spell power and thinks Chaos Bolt is the cornerstone of his PvE rotation *sigh*).

One of Rohan’s other frustrations is party members who don’t run back after the wipe.  This is one I can relate to no matter which hat I’m wearing.  As a healer, few things irk me more than rezzing everyone else in the group who was too lazy to run back with me — especially the elemental shaman.

Hello!  You can rezz, too!

Ancestral Spirit is not a deep resto talent!

As a warlock, it’s the same thing — but with summons instead of rezzes.  If I have the soul shards for it, then no, I don’t mind summoning you directly into the instance.  Especially if there happens to be World PvP happening at the stone.  But for the love of all things dark and demonic, ASK FIRST.

Don’t hearth to Dalaran because you ran out of arrows or forgot to repair, without telling anyone, let alone asking if I have the shards to act as your personal, inter-dimensional taxi cab.

Don’t zone into the instance after a wipe, ninja /afk, and then beg for a summon five minutes later when the rest of the party has finally made it back through whatever labyrinth we happen to be running to find the last boss who thwarted us.

And by the way, there is no summoning stone for the Vault of Archevon, and half the time the portal from Dalaran is closed.  If I have to make the trek through Wintergrasp, risking death and dismemberment in a PvP zone to enter a PvE instance, then so do you.

… I’m off on a tangent here …

I started this post with the intention of talking about a tongue-in-cheek comment I made in response to Rohan’s post:

A careless DPSer can be just as frustrating to conscientious DPSers as to healers and tanks.

Especially when the mage refuses to focus-fire, pulls aggro, iceblocks, and gets the poor, unsuspecting warlock (what? we exist!) murdered because the tank is suddenly out of range.

I thought this was a fairly innocuous comment (less the dig at mages, of course, but sometimes I just can’t help myself).

I checked the blog on a whim before work, and found a couple of responses, including this one from a poster named Chris:

If a mage is pulling aggro these days, then your tank is terribad.  Almost every Heroic and Naxx pull is AOE these days, and if Blizzard/Flamestrike/Arcane Explosion is pulling aggro, either the tank isn’t using the correct abilities, or they’re spec’d incorrectly or just plain bad.

Further, if after an iceblock the Warlock is the next aggro target, that’s even MORE proof that the tank is bad.  How are both the Mage and the Warlock above the tank’s threat?

Answer: The tank is bad.  Period.

Actually, my tank is good. Very good.

I may be slightly biased in this regard because my tank is also my boyfriend, but I think his résumé speaks for itself.  A feral druid, he was my guild’s Main Tank throughout The Burning Crusade, leading us from Attumen all the way to Illidan.  He’s tanked all heroic and raid content currently available in Wrath of the Lich King, up to and including Malygos.  With a guild group, in a raid environment, he won’t lose aggro.  Period.

… And believe me, I’m trying to pull it off of him.  It’s a private challenge between us, and the details are almost certain to be TMI — so let’s just say that I have a pair of gloves enchanted with 2% threat and have been known to cast Searing Pain from time to time.  That’s how incented I am!

No, the problem isn’t the tank; it’s the mechanics of tanking as a druid vs. the “almost every Heroic and Naxx pull is AoE these days (so I don’t have to worry about the tank’s threat, let alone my own!)” mentality that has dominated the PvE game since 3.0.1 and is captured so well in Chris’s comments.

In order to establish aggro on a multi-mob pull, my boyfriend/tank will Starfire the third kill target, Moonfire the second and Feral Faerie Fire the first.  This is generally enough to grab their attention, but not enough to hold aggro if the DPS starts unleashing the AoE before he is able to hit the mobs with a Swipe or glyphed Maul.

Unlike Consecrate and other AoE tanking tools, Swipe hits in a frontal cone rather than in a full 360 degree arc.  This means that a druid tank needs a second or two to position the mobs (especially if a pack contains casters, which are always tricky) after the pull before he can start building reliable threat.

What inevitably happens in a PuG is that someone will see the initial Starfire cast and blithely assume that the tank has aggro on ALL of the mobs, including those he hasn’t touched yet, and start DPS before they, or he, are in position.

If a mage pulls aggro at this point with a Bizzard/Flamestrike/Arcane Explosion, it’s 100% her fault — not the tank’s.

And while it could very well save the mage’s life, a poorly timed Iceblock could also send a loose mob ping-ponging through the party or raid.  This is because once the mob is out of the tank’s melee range, it takes 130% of threat to pull aggro.  If taunt or Feral Charge are on cooldown, the tank doesn’t notice the loose mob right away or is simply operating under a “You pull it, you tank it!” philosophy (and I know several who do), then the healer and any conscientious DPSers who were at max range at the beginning of the pull will find themselves in melee range of a rampaging mob, and that much more likely (110% vs. 130%) to pull healing or backloaded DoT aggro.

(My threat ramps up over time as my DoTs tick.  I can safely single-target DoT mobs while the tank is dragging them into position — assuming that the Mage doesn’t do something stupidly reckless and get us all killed, of course.)

If this sounds like a specific set of circumstances, rest assured … it isn’t.  This happened to us every. single. pull. in a Heroic Culling of Stratholme PuG, to the point that my boyfriend flat-out refused to tank the instance (at least until a guild group coaxed him into it and he won his bronze drake, the jerk!).

While what started as a response to a Paladin healer and his pet peeves somehow evolved into a rant about druid tanking mechanics, Rohan’s original point remains a good one:

How the DPS acts is much more of a wild card, and really makes the difference between a pleasurable run and an unpleasant run

— not just to the healers, but to the rest of the party as well.


*This isn’t something that I would usually do or condone, but my terrier had just come back from the groomer with ticks(!), so I wanted to dip all four dogs as soon as possible.  I tried to duck out of the raid, but there was no one else available to take my place.

December 31, 2008 at 7:13 pm 2 comments

PuG Loot Rules

One of the disadvantages to blogging from work is that my access to WoW-related sites is restricted by my company’s Internet filters.  I can’t view gaming websites, including most blogs.  Google’s feedreader allows me to keep up on my favorites, but I can’t post comments on them if they’re hosted on private domains.  (Although not, for some reason, BigRedKitty.  Whatever BRK is doing to keep his site off the corporate radar, can the rest of you kindly do as well?)

Side note: the fact that gaming sites are blocked at work is a minor inconvenience — and by minor inconvenience, I mean major pain in the ass — for a financial analyst specializing in the Hospitality and Gaming industries.  >.<  Not only am I blocked from viewing WoW sites, but I’m also unable to look at anything related to the casinos and resorts I’m supposed to be analyzing.   That’s corporate America for you, I guess …

Anyway, Matticus posted an open-ended question about PuG loot rules this afternoon that I would have liked to comment on.  Since I can’t now (and probably won’t remember when I get home tonight and start frantically cleaning in preparation for my parents’ arrival in 2 days, 3 hours and 54 minutes), I’ll just borrow it as inspiration for today’s post.

Matticus recently participated in a Naxx 25 PuG with some fairly specific loot rules —

  1. 1 Tier roll for the entire night
  2. 1 Need/1 Greed for Spider and Plague Wing combined
  3. 1 Need/1 Greed for Military and Abomination Wing combined

— and asks:

Have you participated in any heroic raids lately.  How has loot been handled?

The answer to the first question is simple: no.  With the exception of Vault of Archevon, which is impossible to schedule in advance, I don’t allow my guildmembers to PuG heroic raids unless they know they won’t be able to attend the guild raid that week.  Even then, I ask them to talk to an officer before joining a Naxx 25 or OS 25 PuG — if only to avoid setting the precedent that it’s acceptable to PuG progression content if you “think” you can’t attend the guild raid, are worried you might be wait-listed, or simply feel you have a better chance at loot via /random roll with a PuG than following EPGP with the guild.

That said, I don’t think anyone in my guild would actually prefer a PuG to a guild run.  I have tried very hard to build a community that players want to be a part of and, for the most part, I think I’ve been successful.  But some of our more casual members (those once- or twice- a month raiders who don’t meet our attendance requirements for dedicated spots) might choose to take the opportunity to PuG if it presented itself, especially if they thought they might be wait-listed from the guild raid.  Since we do save a handful of raid spots for our casuals as a matter of principle, we would be hard-pressed to raid if they all started saving themselves to PuG’s. 

So, no, I haven’t PuG’ed any heroic raids since dinging 80. 

However, as a guild leader, I am occasionally forced to look outside of /g to fill the last few spots in a raid, and am still struggling with how to deal fairly with PuG’s when it comes to loot.

As a guild, we use EPGP — a ratio-based system in which players earn Effort Points (EP) for participating in raids and recieve Gear Points (GP) for taking loot.  The ratio of EP to GP determines their priority, or PR, on future drops. 

Although it is possible to add PuG’s to our system, it isn’t practical.  PuG’s won’t earn enough EP in a single raid to meet our minimum threshold to bid on loot, and because they aren’t guilded, they aren’t likely to raid with us again.  This means that if we were to hold PuG’s to our rules, they would have virtually no chance of recieving loot.  In other words, they’d be working for nothing.

When we were one of a handful of Horde-side guilds farming Black Temple, a PuG might join our raid for nothing more than the opportunity to see new content.  Now that PuG’s are routinely attempting (and in, some cases, clearing) 25-man’s, this isn’t enough.

Under our current PuG rules, PuG’s are invited to /roll against guild members for all main-spec upgrades of the appropriate armor class. 

If the PuG wins the roll, then he or she also wins the item.  ‘Grats! 

If a guildmember wins the roll, then the item is distributed according to guild rules — not necessarily to the guildmember who won the roll, but to the guildmember with the highest PR at the time.

Most of my raiders hate this rule.  I hate this rule. 

But I think it’s fair. 

As stupidly obvious as this sounds, our goal as a raiding guild is to raid as a guild.  If we have to PuG to fill our raid roster, then we’ve already failed.  We are now indebted to the PuG or PuG’s who allow us to raid in spite of this failture. 

In my mind, then, PuG’s deserve to be rewarded — or, at least, deserve the potential to be rewarded — for their role in salvaging our raid

If we could do it without them, we would.

If we can’t, then they are well and truly needed … and that makes them as much a part of our team for the night as any guilded raider.

One of my long-time raiders complained (upon losing a T6 roll to a PuG) that it’s more lucrative to raid with us as a PuG than as a guildmember.  If a PuG wins a roll for an item, then that item is essentially “free.”  But if a guildmember wins it, then he recieves GP, which lowers his priority for future drops. 

I don’t necessarily agree.  While it can be painful to see the one drop you’ve waited three months for  looted to a PuG, it’s important to remember that the fact that the PuG is there is what allowed you to see it — and /roll for it — in the first place!  Without the PuG, the raid would  mostly likely would have been canceled.

Of course, the simple solution to not likeing the PuG rules is not to PuG in the first place.  I’ve told my guildmembers on several occasions that we aren’t supposed to like the rule.  The fact that it favors PuG’s (or is percieved to favor PuG’s) encourages accountability: if you sign up for a raid, you had better be there!  24 other people are counting on you.

The rule also incents  us to recruit appropriately.  A large part of the onus for this is on me: as as the guild leader, it is my responsibility to ensure that I have the right number of raiders — enough to fill raids consistently, but not so many that I am consistently asking would-be raiders to ride the bench. 

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done in a casual guild, with a raid roster that is likely to change from day to day, if not hour to hour — but that’s a subject for another post.

December 23, 2008 at 10:28 pm Leave a comment


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