Thursday, June 25, 2009

How boring would life be without PUGs?

I do a LOT of pickup groups. I like to run lots of instances, do lots of heroics, earn lots of badges. I also like to participate in a lot of battlegrounds (as you can see from my battleground guides), which are almost nothing but PUGs. (Hmmm, that phrase comes dangerously close to "butt plug", which wouldn't be an entirely inappropriate analogy.)

Even with a fairly active guild, I find it difficult to regularly find 5 people who want to do these activities with me. When we aren't raiding, they are all busy farming and cooking and crafting, which mystifies me a bit. I mean, I can do all of those things in real life. If I wanted to fish, I'd grab a pole and walk down to the local pond. Why would I play a game to do something that I can do better and get more enjoyment and satisfaction out of doing in real life? On the other hand, when (in real life) am I ever going to get the chance to kill trolls and dragons, strangulate a magic user, cast chains of ice on a fleeing target, infect a group of giant spiders with diseases? Never. To me it makes much more sense to play the game to escape reality, not to emulate it!

Because of this inability to find "regulars" to group with, I end up in a fairly large number of PUGs. I have a few people that I group with on regular occasions that I know and trust, but usually have to fill out at least one or two spots with random unknowns. And sometimes its the entire group.

When I mention PUGs to most people, they do whatever the digitial equivalent is of groaning loudly and rolling their eyes, and act like it is the bane of their existence. I may mention to a guildie that I need one more for a group. "Guild-run or PUG?" he asks. When I tell him it's a PUG, he invariably says no thanks, he'd rather continue farming mining nodes... or put a sharp stick in his eye, for that matter.

But why the utter prejudice against PUGs? All PUGs follow one of three variations:

1) Best case: it turns out to be a really good group, we all really "click", and we plow through the content with little or no problem. You get people with good senses of humor, and who are good players without taking either themselves or the game too seriously.

2) Maybe there are one or two bad apples in the group who we all secretly laugh at. There's a couple of wipes or near-wipes, and the bad apple starts making off-the-wall comments. Or maybe he's just bossing people around indiscriminately, despite the fact that he clearly is not as great as he seems to think he is. Sure we could let him make life miserable for the rest of us, but this IS just a game after all. No sense getting too upset or letting him ruin it for the rest of us. It's more comical how serious he's getting.

3) Maybe the whole group is a disaster. Lots of conflicting personalities, people complaining about who did or didn't do what, finger-pointing, and just general stupidity all around. One idiot standing in the fire, the DPS DK death-gripping everything, the warrior tank who can't manage rage. In these cases, I try to remain quiet and just soak it all in in a state of bemused horror. A wise man once said: "Never argue with a fool, people might not be able to tell the difference." This is never truer than in a bad PUG.

But in any of the above cases, I still enjoy it. Is that so strange? If you didn't have the occasional number 3, there is no way that you can seriously appreciate the number 1's. And it's those two's and three's that give us great stories to tell and jokes to make, and it gives people like me things to blog about!

If you are refusing to join PUGs, you are really missing out on the good times! You should go and join a PUG right now. Just commit yourself to having fun, since that's what playing WoW should be all about in the first place. Even if the encounter turns into an unmitigated disaster, you'll still come away with good stories to tell and lessons learned (i.e. how NOT to do something in the future!).

One final piece of advice: Save your sanity; don't stick around in group #3 any longer than absolutely necessary. Know when to cut and run. :)


inmysissyrobe said...

Ah yes, I can see here you're using "boring" in its alternative sense of "peaceful and fulfilling" =P

I'm a dedicated PUGer m'self, although I suspect I'm slightly less, err, resilient about it than you are.

I suppose it's partially because when you have a solid group of friends, running instances and playing the game is just about as awesome as you get. And not even the best PUG can leave up to that, although, of course, good PUGs are, in their own way, pleasing.

Secondly, I think have a strong relationship with your guild would help enormously. That way there's always reassurance, friendliness and, if necessary, back up when you need it. And, is it just me, or do you bad PUG stories never get old?

But since I don't have the above, a run of failPUGs is genuinely extremely demoralising - you lose faith in yourself, the game seems suddenly pointless and empty and it really does become hard to struggle on in the hope of better times head.

It's why I find blogging so amazingly helpful actually - reminds that there are great people out there also playing WoW, just not necessarily with me =P

Zaphind said...

ZOMG! I have a reader!

Yes ok, it CAN be a bit demoralising after a while. I'm just trying to see the silver lining, ok? :)

gnomeaggedon said...

2 readers... I love doing that...

Anyway, similar position to you, mates and guild are rarely available, so PuGs it is.

I generally find that 3/5 aint bad... I am usually one of the good ones and hopefully the tank and healer are there with me.

If the tank is average, but the dps are smart enough to play within the tanks ability, then all should go fine.

I do hate it when the tank is obviously struggling and you tell the over aggroing dps to give the tank a chance (otherwise it's back to the queue) and they get all pissy...

Seems like a great opportunity to practice threat management