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Making the Most Out Of Your PUG

If I say that I love PUGs, you’d probably smack me on the upside and say “You’ve gotta be kidding me!”

But I really do love PUGs. My friends even think I’m strange for liking PUGs so much and running instances without them or guildmates. My PUGing dates back to Scarlet Monastery, when I started running dungeons regularly for drops and quests. I try to complete every quest that is offered by that dungeon so I can get the most out of the experience.

When I finally started running Outland instances with guildmates, they were surprised at how well I was trapping mobs even when it didn’t seem necessary with a pally tank.

So what’s my secret to surviving PUGs? It requires a bit of dilligence, but it’s so worth it.

  • Do your research. When you play WoW nowadays, a lot of the people you play with as you level are probably people with 70s who are playing on their alts. They’ll regularly ask in the instance “Does everyone know this boss?” Of course, most of them will be nice enough to explain the fight, which is why they ask in the first place. But you should always stay on top of your game. Before you decide you want to run an instance, do a quick skim on WoWWiki on what each of the bosses do. You don’t need to memorize their abilities, but at least get a sense of what to expect. For example, many PUGs end up dying at least once on Antu’sul in Zul’Farrak, oftentimes because they forget that the spawned basilisks can get quite annoying. He can also aggro if you get too close to his cave. Reading up on things like this will prevent wipes or accidental pulls that will annoy people. Even if others have done the fight numerous times, we’re all humans and are prone to error. Be the one to remind the group what to do.
  • Do your quests. Especially true for lower level dungeons, many people who want to genuinely run instances do so for the quests and rewards. By doing the quests, you maximize your PUGing experience by learning about all the fights and tricks of each fight so that on your next run, you can help make the PUG go smoother because someone knows and can tell the group what to do: YOU. The Temple of Atal’Hakkar (aka Sunken Temple) is hated by many people because (aside from the shear number of trolls) of its labyrinth-style hallways. A PUG here can take some time to plow through all the mobs and become lost at one point. I ran the dungeon so many times to complete all the quests I still remember how to navigate through that place, all 5 levels of it just because the quests take you through all those corners of the instance. I still get guildmates asking me if I can do a quick runthrough for them.
  • Get the quest items. Get the Mallet of Zul’Farrak for example. (I actually did this before 2.3 made Jintha’Alor non-elite, so I had to get help from my level 70 priest friend.) If you play that card, you will get a group faster because people want to run complete instances. This even goes for getting keys to dungeons like Shattered Halls and Arcatraz.

You’re probably thinking, “But I was expecting a guide on how to work through group dynamics, not the actual dungeon experience itself!” Well, I do have advice on that also, some you’ve seen and some you might not have.

  • Learn your class. Know your role. Don’t be afraid to tell the tank that he’s not assigning you the right duties. Hunters (especially!), learn to chain trap, as both BRK and Pike have demonstrated. Even if a tank says it’s not necessary to trap an unmarked mob, do so anyway because you’d rather make this run efficient rather than be involved in an accidental wipe. If s/he doesn’t listen, you can always find a more attentive tank who will accept advice.
  • LFG. Use it. Look at the LFG list, search the zone for someone who might be interested. If you initiate the group and know what you want, you’ll more often than not find a group that’s more effective than one that someone else tried to put together. It’s the sort of leadership effect. Because you will have at least some knowledge of the fights and initiated the group-finding, people will listen to you. Don’t ever be the first to leave a group that seemed like won’t be getting anywhere because it will make you seem impatient and not genuinely interested. Sometimes the good runs are worth waiting. It took me several attempts to get a PUG for Hellfire Ramparts. On my first Outland instance run when I finally got one, [Scale Leggings of the Skirmisher] dropped for me.
  • Communicate. Party chat is there for a reason. Talk with your group, make it a less tense environment. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and those party members will be at your levelling pace, and you’ll find them on LFG looking for a group for another instance several levels later. They’ll remember you for being friendly. I ran Maraudon and Sunken Temple with a few of the same people several times just because they always seemed to be at my levelling pace. Ask if you can roll Need; don’t automatically roll even if the item is most useful for your class. And always thank everyone before you leave the group at the end of the instance.
  • Give and take criticism. Taking criticism is the easy part because you get a learning experience out of it (and learn how stupid you can be). Giving it is the hard part, especially giving criticism in a polite manner. There’s a difference between “You suck, L2P” and “I think you can improve a bit on this, I can give you a suggestion on what to do.” Yes, you get stubborn players, like the one time we had a warrior tank who refused to use a shield and continued dual-wielding the entire way through Mana-Tombs because he claims they are not necessary in tanking. They actually show you the different playstyles that people have and anticipate problems before they arise. Learn and adapt. The more you do it, the easier it will be to adapt to different situations.

PUGing helps you grow as a player. I credit PUGing to my being able to learn so much in my 5-month journey to reach level 70. I don’t think I would be the same player if I relied on friends and guildmates telling me what to do in an instance rather than learning them myself.

I’ve come to love PUGs, especially at lower levels, because I’ve been following that formula. It gets a little bit harder at level 70 because people are often running with their guilds. Sometimes you also find level 70 PUGs are more immature because they didn’t have the patience for lower level dungeons, powerlevel, and don’t get the learning experience.

If all else fails, go quest. Killing non-elites is fun too. :)


One response

  1. Ess

    Great post! And I’ll add one thing that’s really helped me in all my pugging:

    Keep a good sense of humor. When you’re pugging, you’re going to play with folks of all different skill levels, and when things go wrong, sometimes more experienced players get *very* frustrated. By keeping things light and fun, you can set the tone for the entire run and help everyone be more relaxed. Be encouraging, compliment improvement as you progress through the instance, revel in the successes, and have a good chuckle over the wipes. :)

    17 April 2008 at 12:12

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