Over the last few months I’ve been running a whole lot of dungeons in World of Warcraft Classic and Retail and in Dungeons & Dragons Online. Most MMORPGs use the trinity system or some precursor or variant thereof. In WoW and DDO characters can be built, depending on their class, to be a tank, healer or damage dealer. In WoW I play healers more than any other role, though I have enough alts to have various options depending on the group make-up for a given dungeon run.
My main in WoW Classic is a Holy Paladin, a healer. His role in any dungeon is to heal the tank, heal other characters and to buff and otherwise help the group to win through challenges. I sometimes try and do some damage, or use the seal & judge combos to bring some utility like self-healing or mana-regen to a fight, but keeping health bars topped up is always the priority.
I read Shintar’s latest post about tanking in PUG dungeons in Star Wars the Old Republic and could imagine just how annoyed I would be by some of the behaviour she observes among the random groups assembled by the queue system. “Unfortunately, people don’t like to wait three seconds to allow me to do this because they want to pull now” and “So I stand there forlornly with only half health after just picking up my loot, as the healer didn’t even bother to throw a heal over time on me after the last fight” are two quotes of situations that would drive me rapidly up the wall if I were playing a tank in such a group.
Granted the linked post is mostly written from the tanking role perspective, not from a healer view, but in any good group the healer and tank are usually on the same wavelength. It’s one reason why my husband and I play MMOs so well together, we make a really great tank+healer team: it’s also our defacto choice for duo play in games like Neverwinter. Playing so much in static groups has me spoiled rotten, I’ll admit. I’d say we make a really well practiced team, along with our close friends that we play with in WoW and DDO.
Pugging dungeons is something I’ve done at times, but I invariably enjoy it less than running dungeons in static groups. Part of that improved experience comes down to the in-jokes, shared histories and relaxed nature of gaming together with close friends. In large measure I think our runs are better because of two things. Firstly we’re patient with each other and do not follow the widespread tendency among MMO-players to speed run everything.
Secondly, we choose roles for a static group and stick to them. These games, for the most part, are designed around having a trinity (or equivalent) group for instanced content. If the tank doesn’t bother tanking, if the healer focuses on damage not healing, or if the damage dealer(s) feel like they should be pulling groups of mobs, then that messes up the group synergies inherent in the game design and it makes everyones’ roles that much harder to execute.
When I play a role, I want to play that role. Sadly it seems like playing in premades is the best way to meet that fairly basic expectation of the group gameplay experience. Maybe I’ve been unlucky with pugs in the past, or I expect too much of random strangers..
I like that you deduced that it must have been pugs that frustrated me so, when I said nothing of the sort in my actual post… because as it happens, it was all guildies that drove me up the wall in this particular instance, haha! That’s what made it so bad, having it done to me by people who should really know better and whom I expected to be a bit more considerate.
Given the amount of pug-related posts you have written, you’ll forgive me for making this assumption 🙂
From reading Shintar’s many posts on pugging I think she may feel, as I did back in my grouping days, that pugs are a form of entertainment. Even now, a decade and a half after the event, some of my clearest memories of grouping are of pugs and the crazy or amusing things they do.
I remember the necromancer who decided it would be a fine idea to cast fear on the first mob we pulled, which of course sent that mob fleeing into the depths of the dungeon, only to return with a couple of dozen of his closest friends. I remember the barbarian shaman who refused to wear anything below the waist because it was out of character with his chosen race. I remember the infuriating cleric in Netherbian Lair who insisted on only using Complete Heal and only at the very last possible moment so the poor tank was perpetually on the verge of death.
I also remember the determined battle in the Molten Furnace in GW2, when five people who’d never met before spent two hours running around a flaming platform reviving each other and dying over and over and yet no-one gave up or left until we finally prevailed. And the two hardcore raiders who plucked my cleric’s name out of a /who all cleric search to dragoon me into heling for them in some of the most difficult and terrifying content I’d ever seen.
I actually think the best grouping experiences come when there are two or three people who know each other well, friends or guildmates, mixed in with two or three complete strangers. Sending whispers to each other about the bizarre behavior of your new groupmates is one of the greatest pleasures grouping has to offer!
I have very mixed experiences of pugging over the years. LFR in World of Warcraft has never been better than a tolerable experience for me. The early years of dungeon-queueing in WoW were wild and pretty depressing in just how awful the groups were. I had better experiences in SWTOR when I pugged content years ago (after my launch guild fell apart), but it was of the rushed variety still. FFXIV gave husband and I very mixed pug experiences, and that game forces it on players a lot. Mostly they were of the quiet but very fast variety. Some were of the chaotic and flock of headless chicken type. Nothing is that memorable though, other than having to skip all the cutscenes in both SWTOR and FFXIV to avoid lots of angry retorts in chat. Probably my biggest problem with pugging, and in particular the emphasis on speed in such groups, is that it leaves so little room for chat – there’s no downtime and no banter to speak of. I don’t count “heal more n00b” as being banter. That’s why I prefer premade groups, I want my gaming to be a social experience, much more than pugging has ever provided me, at least that I can remember.
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