I often hear about how “horrible” a PuG is, or how people just won’t PuG because it’s going to be a disaster. Well, I have a theory about PuGs that I put to the test last weekend!
Saturday evening I was moderately bored when I queried the guild with “I wonder if I could lead a Successful Naxx 25 PuG”. Response was mixed, but I was certainly up to the challenge, so I offered to open it up to guild alts first, then alts from another raiding guild on our server, and then filling roughly half the raid with true PuGs from the server. The entire run took just over 4 hours, and the only place that was really wipey was Razuvious. We downed Kel, and everyone in the raid got some new shiny loot. After the raid, I got flooded with tells thanking me for organizing the run, and advising me that I had restored some people’s faith in PuGs, which made me feel really great. Overall I feel it was a success, and something I could see myself doing on a regular basis.
And now, what you’ve all been waiting for!!! The secrets of organizing successful PuGs! First and foremost I think the success of the PuG will be tied to the leader of the PuG. Do they know what they are doing? Do they have the patience to explain every encounter to the raid? Are they using a good medium to communicate to the raid? If the answer to any of those questions is “no” then you will probably find that your PuG struggles some.
Creating your PuG
The first step to creating a PuG raid is knowing what you are doing. Know in advance how many healers/tanks/dps that you require for your raid. The key to any good raid is having strong tanks and healers coupled with DPS that can get the job done. I find that 3 tanks, plus one hybrid Tank, for a PuG Naxx is a nice mix. Tanks don’t have to be geared in the best gear, but they DO have to be crit immune (540 defense for a level 80 DK/Warrior/Paladin, Feral Druids are crit immune naked if they are specc’d appropriately), and they DO need enough life to survive. All of this can be accomplished with Crafted and Heroic gear.
While Monolith can run Naxx with 4-5 healers, my PuG cannot and to expect that they can is just foolish. I find that 7 healers is a nice cushiony number for the content. I also try to make sure that there are a few people that can step in to help heal Razzuvious if my MC priests are both healers (i.e. Elemental Shaman/Moonkin). Sometimes it is hard to find healers, but if you start to build a reputation of being able to run a good raid, the healers will start to come out of the woodwork!
So…3 tanks, 7 healers, that leaves room for 15 DPS. When I look for DPS, I try not to overload one class so that everyone has a fair opportunity for set items (sorry, I can’t take 8 DKs to my PuG!). I’m not so snobby that I request your stats/numbers, but I do indicate that you must be in at least heroic/level 80 instance gear to attend. I am of the philosphy that everyone gets at least one shot to prove themselves to me. If they do well, I will take them to another run, if they are horrible in either attitude or performance it is likely that they will not be invited back. (Sorry! You DO have you out DPS the tank). But I do try to be fair, and having an open mind is ecspecially helpful!
Communicating with your Raid
A successful raid of any nature requires good communication. I happen to be the owner of our vent server, and it has a fairly large capacity, so it is easy for me to open up the server to those in my PuG raid. I do think that voice chat is important, ecspecially in a PuG. If you don’t have the luxury of your own guild server to share (I have never told someone in our guild that has asked to use our server for such a purpose “no”), you should check and see if your realm has someone hosting a “realm” server. EVERYONE can get in vent. If you have sound, you can use vent! We don’t require people to speak on our server, but we do require everyone to listen.
Voice chat will do a number of things for your PuG. 1) It will allow you to progress at a much quicker pace. 2) It will allow you to communicate in real time that adjustments need to be made during encounters. 3) It lets people freely ask questions, and you to freely communicate directions. I think that this is essential.
The most common error that PuG leaders make
Most PuGs make the same mistake over and over again…and it completely baffles me. The leader makes the assumption that everyone knows what they are doing with regards to any encounter. This is a huge folly for a number of reasons. 1) There is always more than one way to skin a cat! Why assume that everyone in your raid uses the same strategy?! 2) There will be people in your raid the have never done an encounter before. This doesn’t make them bad players, it just makes them new to the encounter. My standing rule is that the raid will not laugh at you if you don’t know what to do and ask for guidance! But if you screw up because you didn’t know what you were doing and didn’t ask, we will all point and laugh at the idiot who didn’t speak up! It is vital that you communicate to your group that it is OK to ask about something that they are not familiar with! Asking a question about something in front of a group of people that you don’t know is already intimidating enough, you want to encourage this behaviour though so it really is important that people aren’t afraid to speak up. Before every new wing in Naxx, I ask those that haven’t done any of the encounters in that wing to privately send me a tell, so that I know how indepth I need to be in my instructions before a boss.
Here is an example of how poor communication plays out. I was in a PuG sarth on my Mage a few weeks back where the tank used the Sarth +3 drake positioning for Sartharion. Which in itself was fine. But what the leader of that PuG failed to do was realize that this was NOT the positioning for Sartharion that most people in the general community are familiar with (Sarth tanked in the middle of the room), which is turn meant that the majority of the raid had absolutely NO clue where to move to be safe from the lava walls. Instead of taking the time to explain this to the raid, the leader just insulted the raid, calling them morons and bad players because they kept dying to the lava walls.
I found this grossly unfair to the group, and I stepped up before our 4th pull and took the time to explain to the raid where the “safe spots” for the lava walls were located for this particular tanking location (on the dragon, or on the red lava strip that is smack in the middle of the island/on the little island for Melee). People took note of the this simple direction, adapted, and stopped getting hit by lava walls and we killed Sarth the next pull…and all it took was for one person to take 2 minutes to explain what to do.
Additionally, sometimes PuGs need the same reminders about stupidity that your guild does. This past Tuesday I lead an OS25 raid, and after going through the explination of the encounter, I simply reminded people that no matter how much DPS you do, your numbers will be zero if you are dead, and the best thing you can do to boost your DPS numbers is to stay alive. Consequently, I think throughout the entirety of the raid only one person died, and that was at the very end.
Treat your group with Respect (sing it Aretha!)
This seems pretty common sense to me…but is something a lot of people, and unfortunately often those in end game progression guilds often forget when it comes to PuGs. If you treat people with respect, they will respect you in return. For whatever reason, be it the internet/annonimity factor or whatever, many people seem to morph into complete assholes when in a PuG situation and need to prove to everyone that they are God’s gift to WoW.
Who cares if you were the world first kill of whatever…you are now in a PuG, rather than run around telling people “lawlz l2p newb”, embrace the extra experience that you bring to the raid, and use it in a positive fashion without looking down on those who aren’t fortunate enough to have your experiences. It’s a PuG! Expect to wipe! Expect to have that guy in your raid that is a little slow not be able to dance! Keep in mind that it’s OK if you don’t one shot something, just dust off and go at it again, and keep a positive attitude!
In general, just treat others how you would like to be treated yourself!
Set up some Rules!
The first rule that everyone wants to know about is loot…how is loot done. I run my PuG raids with a “one main spec loot, unless no one else wants it” rule. Everyone gets one loot before people can take a second piece, but if someone will use an item, they get it before a shard. I also let main spec take a priority over an off spec, regardless of the number of loots someone has had. I also don’t count “off spec” loot as a loot that counts towards your “one loot”. This works relatively well, and is fairly drama free.
To keep things moving at a swift pace, I also request that if you need to leave, you give me a 5 minute warning so that I can find a replacement before you have to bail.
In conclusion PuGs can be a lot of fun and very rewarding! Surprise! If more people kept some of the points above in mind, I think fewer people would dread the PuG. Good Luck and Happy PuGing!