Thursday, December 10, 2009

To PUG or not to PUG...

...that is the question.

With patch 3.3 Blizzard has introduced the new LFG tool (or should I call it the "PUG tool"?) which is supposed to make it easier for people to find groups for dungeons and raids. If you've been reading this blog, at least occasionally, then you know that I'm a solo player and I don't do dungeons and especially raids, unless it's something like a holiday achievement dungeon such as Utgarde Pinnacle or Brewfest. Despite all this, I'm rather excited about this new tool.

It's not like I despise dungeons and raids with all my heart. It's just that I don't want to be involved in a guild but on the other hand it's time consuming to find a regular PUG. Since I haven't been in a single WotLK dungeon/raid except Utgarde Pinnacle, I don't have experience in any of them. Once, I tried to join a group for TOC 10 but when I told the group that I had never done it before, though I would follow all their instructions to the letter, the group mysteriously dissolved. Maybe it wasn't me but it shamed me into never attempting to join another dungeon/raid group again.

Some commenters were telling me that I should go and do TOC a few times instead of worrying about BoE gear but the truth is, I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed of making an ass of myself in an instance I have no experience with. Granted, regular dungeons are usually straightforward but I also worry about special boss mechanics and such. I such cases I would bluff my way through, just following what the others are doing. It might work, or it might backfire, but I would be mortified if I caused a wipe.

Now don't get me wrong, I've been in hundreds of groups, instances and even raids, but those were all pre-Burning Crusade. I still know my role in a group and I do my best to fulfill it. By the way, all this discussion revolves around my Hunter who's got the best equipment (relatively speaking). Even with all pieces > ilvl 200 and some at ilvl 226 I'm still not sure I would perform as well as experienced players. Still, I am pretty good at playing my class. Luckily being DPS is not as tricky as tanking or healing. We Hunters have the easy job, especially as ranged DPS.

Beside playing my class well, I will also follow orders without hesitation. I am always aware that someone else in the group has to be smarter than me so I never act like a dumbass. Group members should feel safe with me as a result.

Despite all the above, I'm still afraid of making mistakes due to not knowing the mechanics of the different bosses. In a PUG, if everyone assumes that everyone else knows the fight, it is possible that no one gives any instructions. Then I won't know when I have to stop DPS, when to slow down, when to expect massive AOE and so forth. There is a strong possibility that my actions could cause a wipe and I would feel like crap if that happened.

And then Blizzard comes with this shiny new PUG tool. They must have tailored this with someone like me in mind. Getting in a PUG has never been easier. What's more, it is cross-server meaning that if you screw up you don't have to be embarrassed when you run into the same people later. It also ports you directly to the instance so a noob like me doesn't have to stumble around looking for the entrance. On all accounts it sounds like the perfect tool for casuals, anti-socials, shy people and other "dysfunctionals" such as I.

Yet, I'm still afraid to try this. Even if I'll never see those group members again, assuming that I screw up, they are still people. Someone, somewhere, is wasting their time and getting frustrated behind their character. But then again, everybody's gotta learn somewhere.

Blizzard has given us an additional reason to try this new system: the Perky Pug which is a cute new vanity pet. If nothing else helps, this pet should convince me to try this new LFG tool. Thinking about this tool, I realized that it's genius on Blizzard's part. Maybe now I can finally experience the content that I missed out on for such a long time.

Just imagine: I can find groups for all the beginning Wrath of the Lich King 5-mans and maybe I can then move on to raids and even Arthas. The possibilities are endless. This new tool will give me the confidence to attempt tougher dungeons and it will allow me to get better gear. Since it is designed as a fire-and-forget system and I am transported directly to the dungeon I won't be wasting any time trying to find a group. Dungeon runs will be quick and whenever I want them, not when other people want them. One other thing that makes me giggly is the fact that guilds will stop being as vital to running dungeons as they used to be. Now you don't need to be part of all the guild drama in order to find a spot in a high level instance. Of course, this applies to mostly anti-socials and casuals but it's still an awesome thing.

Yeah, on second thoughts I think I want to try this exciting new system. I never thought I'd see myself run a dungeon again but the magic 8-ball now shows a definite "maybe".


MK said...

I've been lurking your blog for a few months, because I too have this irrational fear of screwing up in a group setting. I've been mostly solo until 3.3 came out.

I LOVE the new LFG system. I actually ran 5-man ToC several times yesterday with it. It's the first time I've been in an instance since Wrath hit (Not counting the holiday meta requirements).
I did a lot of research on ToC, watching strat videos etc.. and it definitely paid off.

The thing that I had to get over was, wiping in an instance isn't the end of the world. It's easier than ever to get right back in there and bust some heads like nothing happened. People are surprisingly understanding when there is a wipe, and usually ignore it and just run back to the instance.

Now all I need is to focus on increasing my DPS (I'm an unholy DK).

Good luck, and I do look forward to reading your thoughts on the system after you've dove in.


Medwards said...

Don't worry, you will do fine :) When i'm doing a new raid or boss, I always print out strats and read them at work to prepare for them.

Moarheelz said...

I had the exact same reaction, thanks for writing this! I haven't tried the new PUG system yet, but will be soon.

Safrienaer said...

I have kind of the same problem. I decided to approach the Wrath dungeons with my Shaman alt first - she's 63 now and I'm planning on leveling her with mostly instances from now on. That way I'll be able to learn all the strats without making a buffoon out of myself.

Anonymous said...

The new tool is just fantastic, a shame it cannot be used for raids too. Use it and learn to play heroics. They're epic, they're fun and they're worth your initial failures. It's a game, not a job. Have fun :)

Anonymous said...

"...I am always aware that someone else in the group has to be smarter than me..."

This is WoW you're playing. And there are only 4 others. That may be quite unlikely...

"...not knowing the mechanics of the different bosses..."

There is an add-on called deadly boss mods (Google DBM) - this will tell you with big red letters what to do and exactly when!

You can almost completely ignore this in most heroics, but I would get it for the new ICC instances when there are a few times when you have to stop all DPS 'cause the damage goes to a group member if you don't.

For trash pulls, just misdirect to the tank and go mad on the multi-shot/volley. Heroics are so much easier now than in BC it's not even funny.

Oh, and don't stand in fire. Or more accurately any kind of graphical effect on the floor. And if everyone else seems to be running away from something it is probably a good idea to go with 'em!

That's about it. Seriously. Useless mouth-breathing morons happily chain-run heroics all the time, anyone who can write a blog like this will absolutely

Lugnut Daffodil said...

I was in the same boat. What I did was I picked two easy ones and did them a LOT till I built up my Playing-In-A-Group confidence. I had chosen Halls of Lightning first....regular AND heroic because I could do the regular a few times with other level 80s and the regular is waaay easy....and then I did Heroic Utgarde Keep which was easy too. I did these till I got sick of them!

But sure enough, I started getting comfortable being in groups. Finally I tried out Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle, which was a little scary for me because of the mechanic with the harpoon gun boss, but when it was done I was like, "Dude, that wasn't bad at all."

And now, weeks and weeks later, I did my first timed Culling of Strat run just yesterday and it went perfect. I bought my first emblem of triumph shoulders afterwards and I couldn't be happier!

I still get nervous...I'll prolly pee my pants if the random heroic tool drops me into Occulus :) But hey I'm playing with people from different servers now so if I mess up it's not like I ever have to face them again.

Your blog rocks dude....keep posting and I'll be a reader till then end!

P.S. When you fight Loken (the final boss in Halls of Lightning) with your hunter, switch to aspect of the wild since he dishes out tons of nature damage and that'll help the group take it. In reality, it doesn't help the group all that much, since at least half your group will have oodles of emblem of triumph gear and can take the hits, but MAN it sure did make ME feel better to know I could do that.

Jarnow said...

You'll be fine. Based on your gear posts from a few months back, you are so over-geared for heroics it's ridiculous. Just make sure you're on your tank's target, stand in the back, and shoot :) Keep an eye on threat and that's all you need to know for most of 'em.

One important thing: You DO need to be able to find your way from the graveyard to the instance portal! In Northrend most of them are just right there, but just be aware. Last night for the first time I Pugged Hellfire Ramparts on my leveling druid. It all went great till we wiped and I couldn't find my way from Honor Hold back to the instance. Got it eventually but it was a tad embarassing...

So just do a little recon before you go, just to make sure you know where the damn thing is ;)

Bowcephus said...

Yeah seriously you need to jump in there. I've only been playing for 11 months. I soloed my way to 80 as a Beast Mastery Hunter, never having done a single instance. When I hit 80 I dual specced to survival and got a wolf pet. I cobbled together gear from rep grinds, Champions Seals, Honor Points, and crafted gear. Most of my gear is 200-226, though I have a piece under 200 and I spent a ton of money on 245 bracers on the AH. Anyway I had to watch my dps in the random pugs I ran last night because I was pulling aggro from the tank. I ran three Heroics, none of which I had ever seen, and had to be careful not to pull aggro off the tank. It was a blast. Get in there! I got roughly 15 Emblems of Triumph from 2 hours of play last night; by the end of the weekend I will have easily farmed enough badges for a Tier 9 Helm/Chest/Leg, which will improve my dps more moving forward. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain. And if it is horrible, leave, wait 15 minutes, and try again. No harm, no foul.

Thanks for writing a great blog btw, I have been coming here for tips and tricks for months.

Unknown said...

What I did while solo gearing myself so I could raid with my guild was pug the crap out of every heroic I could. If I hadn't seen the fight, I let the group know. 9/10 everyone ws cool. Sure you get the jerks everyonce in awhile. I think hooked up with a healz and tank that wanted to farm heroics for a couple of hours. Score. That was awesome. Built up a repore with them and they are on my friends list today. One of them asked me to an ICC 10 today.


Skaut said...

Yep, I pretty much posted the same thing on my blog yesterday, about whether or not-as a soloer-to jump into this dungeon thing. And I've pretty much decided I can't do it. Just thinking about it makes me nauseous. Good luck if you do try it, but I think I'm just gonna stick to my soloing.

Unknown said...

Hey Darth Solo:

Can you shoot me an email? I'm working on an article about dungeon soloing for the official WoW magazine, and would love to get your thoughts! davemurph[at]



Darth Solo said...

Hey guys thanks for the overwhelming number of comments! I wasn't expecting this deluge of feedback from one simple article. I read all of them and each comment is golden. Thanks again. I won't be able to answer to each individually this time due to some "domestic" issues but...

Right after posting this article I decided to use the dungeon tool and wow, I was blown away.

I'm gonna post another article today or tomorrow with my impressions.

I can tell you this though: solo play is dead!

Gyldenfeax said...

So is there gonna be a blog name change? Personally, a possible dungeon faux pas and people's reactions to it still scares the $%!t out of me, but I hope you do well and get some awesome gear.

Safrienaer said...

"I can tell you this though: solo play is dead!"

Oh, so I'm not the only one who found the Heroics a lot of fun? :D

I spent all of yesterday running random Heroics, even though I had never done any of them and didn't feel like reading about them beforehand. Long story short, I topped the damage meters every time (sometimes with a 500 dps gap to the second dps) and had a blast. My group disbanded only once, but that was because we got the Old Kingdom. :P I was also able to snag myself the Bronze Drake from Culling of Stratholme, squee!

However, the most awesome experience for me were the new Heroics. I was fortunate enough to get a great group and even though we wiped on Tyrannus a couple of times, everyone was cool and we nailed him on our fourth try. I would've hoped to get the group earlier, as at that point it was getting late and I had to log off. I would've probably stayed up all night and just run stuff with them if I didn't live at my parents' house!

All in all, I think I'm going to make a habit out of running these random Heroics. o.o

MrShides said...

I have never been to your blog before, and I have been a raider since Molten Core opened up, and heavily invested with running a guild.

Bowcephus, who posted above, has said to me the exact same things you referenced above. I got him into my guild under our family/friends program, and he certainly was intimidated when confronted with an invite to his first heroic. He did fine.

We just got done talking and he was telling me about your blog, and it is so funny how your trepidations mirrored his. He finally realizes that he has been comparing himself to me and the "elite raiders" in my guild. The fact of the matter is, on pug terms, he's above average.

Here's my advice to you and any other "solo" wow players beginning to run instances.

Stay out of the fire. The fire may be green. It may be a poison cloud. It may be a circle on the ground. The bottom line, get out of it.

If you pull aggro and your aggro reducing cooldown is not up, or you don't have one, run towards the tank not away from him so he can pick it back up.

If you haven't seen a specific encounter before, just say the same thing I do. "Hey, I have not been here since like february, so I don't even remember this place." Then when you get to a boss, be like "what does this guy do again?" Although I'm telling the truth, no one is going to know that its your first time (well till the achievement pops but then the run is over anyhow, plus you can just say that this is your alt or something).

Accept criticism and tips. I personally don't care about a pug doing something wrong, but is willing to take some criticism to do it right.

Lastly, with the new LFG tool, there is a measure of anonominity. Your probably never going to run into these people again.

Good luck!

Darth Solo said...

@Gyldenfeax heh heh no, I'll always be a solo player. Now I have even more of an incentive! I've always wanted an easy way to run dungeons and now I have it. I'm not completely anti-social or I'm sure I wouldn't have played a MMORPG.

@Safrienaer I haven't installed a damage meter yet but I'm sure I was on top of the damage due to the massive numbers I was seeing. I saw my first 10K+ hit ever. Up until now I never hit for more than 6K.

@MrShides thanks for those tips. I was aware of them for the most part because I also used to raid in Classic WoW. Besides, I'm pretty good at playing a hunter. And I like to think that I'm good at taking criticism and advice. Anyway, now I've cut my teeth on 2 heroics and things are looking good. I'm getting my confidence back and it feels good.

Myka said...

Like you, never participated in any WotLK instance group. Because just to look a group is annoying and waste of time for me. But, I'm doing this way: instead using the random instances system, I'm using selected instances, studying the boss fights and doing each instance once per time. Why I'm doing this? I'm afraid to wiped the whole group for any mistake I can make, not knowing the fights, reading guides and videos strategies for each boss and each instance (I'm doing in heroic mode). And, after doing all the instances this way, I can use without afraid, the random instances system.
Oh, and I'm hunter too. :)

Darth Solo said...

@Myka that's another strategy. I prefer using the random option due to the fact that I get the extra Emblems. Besides, I'm relying on my group mates to carry me through in regards to strategy. So far they've been pretty competent.