Everyone (including me) has a million and one tales of horrible pug experiences, whether they’re via the dungeon finder (aptly nicknamed Sanity Tap a lifetime or two ago) or the via the joys of pug raiding and everyone’s favourite “Link GS and achivs” tradechat ads. Bad players, mad players, afk-ers, stoners, the clinically depressed and the clinically insane. Groups that fall apart after the first wipe. Groups that fall apart before the first pull. Groups which feel like a persistent low-grade infection — you can get through the day (raid) but the shine falls off everything.
How much of that is down to the way the raid is organised?
The most significant problem my guild faced when chasing that elusive first LK kill was the difficulty in getting ten of us online at the same time. We’re a little understaffed anyway, and once you factor in RL aggro it becomes very difficult to put a team together. In an effort to find opportunities to raid with a full group we took to throwing up signup threads in our forum which said “when are you available this week?”, and then trying to put together a raid on the night with the most people.
A couple of Fridays ago, we were all set to spend the night wiping on killing Arthas but last-minute problems meant we were missing people in key roles. I didn’t see the “sorry, raid cancelled” update in our forums and so logged on to find four or five others in the same boat. It seemed a shame to just do nothing…why not grab some alts, grab some random folks from trade and run ICC anyway? And, as it’s Friday night, commence drinking!
As a guild, we’re generally pretty allergic to PuGs. We have people with a single 80. We have people with multiple 80s who don’t want to run with randoms. We have a shared lack of tolerance for the more horrible people you can encounter in LFG etc., and amused disdain for the “LFM ICC10, need 5.8GS/Link Bane of the fallen King. Aiming for first 4+ bosses.” spam you see in amongst the goldsellers and stupidity in trade.
ASIDE: I keep pimping this to my guildies but since installing the dubiously-named BadBoy Antispam I don’t think I’ve seen a single goldseller in my chatbox. YMMV, naturally.
Anyway, we jumped on alts and I *gasp* crafted my first “LFM” for trade. It was something along the lines of “LFM ICC10. It’s a mostly-guild alt fun run, and we’re drinking! Need [roles]. Don’t bother telling me your gearscore, we don’t care. C’mon, it’ll be great!”
At the suggestion of one of our guildies, I asked each person who replied “Do you have much (or any) experience of ICC?”, and got a variety of answers ranging from achievement spam to simple “yeah, done X/12 on my [class]”. Anyone who sounded plausible got an invite, and was quickly submerged in the silliness that was our already-merry raidchat. One respondent asked how far we were planning to go. “Not sure”, I said, and explained that while we all knew what we were doing, we were a) on alts, and b) getting plastered and having fun, so if he needed to get to Arthas tonight we might not be the right group for us. He joined anyway, and soon we were off.
We had an a lot of fun. The banter in our vent channel between guildies made me wish I knew how/whether you can set multiple passwords for different access levels in vent, to make it easy to invite randoms without changing the main password. There was a fair amount of silly chatter in /ra too.
Our tanking guildy did very brief tactic reminders before each encounter, with a “shout if anything’s not clear or this is new for you”- addendum and we cleared the first six bosses before a number of people realised the time and had to go. We had a few deaths here and there, but I don’t remember any wipes and best of all, everyone was tolerant, funny, friendly and easygoing.
I’m not an experienced pugger but I have been on a few pug raids now – mostly on Centrella. One of the common features seems to be a general intolerance of other people’s mistakes, or of anything which impedes progress (the classic “FFS this should be easy” response). Generally speaking, I’ve also found a correlation between the “choosiness” of the raid organiser (i.e. how many “achivs” and GS required) and the amount of arseholery in the resulting group – the “better” the group, the more likely it is to be full of whiners and the terminally angry.
Contrast this with our little group: stated fun aim, no “must have X” requirements, result: a group of friendly, fun, competent players. Is there a relationship here, or is it just the weight of numbers effect of 5 guildmembers in one raid forcing people to conform?
It’s hard to know for sure. It does rather make me wish I a) had a little more confidence, and b) could be bothered to spend time learning the fights from perspectives other than my own. It would be an interesting experiment to try running some partly- or even fully-pugged groups where the entry requirements are based around being friendly and fun, and taking people at their word when asking “do you know how to do this?”. Obviously you’d also have to be reasonably firm when intervening in bad behaviour, but that should be relatively straightforward if handled directly and openly.
Does anyone else put together runs like this? Runs with little in the way of entrance requirements, focused more on the fun of being with people and maybe killing a few bosses rather than desperately pushing through for badges and loot? I guess if you’re a really experienced raider accustomed to only failing on hardmodes, the idea might not grab you, but a bit of no-pressure-let’s-have-fun-the-gold-is-virtual-y’know raiding on an alt might appeal even if your main is pushing for 12/12 heroic.