PUG Done Right

So I was in a good PUG the other day, awesome actually and I felt the need to share. First off “good” and “PUG” are two terms that aren’t often used together. Normally PUG = UGH or PUG = /facepalm.

Not this time.

Why? Because despite the fact it *was* a PUG – the people in it knew not only *what* they wanted – but knew how to go about looking for it.

Skychaser was hanging out in Thrallmar the other night and had been alternately questing and running Ramparts with pick up groups in order to build rep and snag gear. I’d already munged through on successful run with a miserable group that included a 70 warrior tank. Poor communication, completely incomprehensible target marking, and craptastic threat generation from the tank (amazing) were all highlights. We wiped at least three times in what I consider to be one of the easiest and most entertaining instances in Outland. The only thing that managed to pull the group through to the end was the fact that the tank had just an insane amount of health. He didn’t have to be good – he just had to survive. Too bad no one else tended to.

Well – I was still smarting after that run, but wanted to go back since I really hadn’t snagged anything useful. While I was grinding through a kill quest I saw the following pop up in general chat:

“Looking for more, Ramparts – Beast Master Hunter or Enhancement Shaman DPS”

A little more specific than I’m used to seeing in a /LFM. Intrigued, I sent a tell and volunteered. Moments later I got an invite – seconds after that I was summoned to the instance.

Nice…they were ready to go! (One point for the PUG – Preparation!)

Upon entering I looked at the group and was somewhat surprised by the composition. Normally – the average PUG run seems to be filled with shadow priests, fury warriors and hunters of indeterminate spec. Everyone wants to dps – no one wants to tank – and everyone expects everyone else to heal. Not here.

We had a holy priest…an Orc tank…a Tauren Fury warrior OT…a feral/resto hybrid spec druid – and me – an enhancement shammy. Roles were quickly delegated and I found myself cheerfully filling the the primary dps slot for the team. Once everyone else was sorted into a role, the druid took on the role of marking targets and explaining the precedence. This was nice, as it’s far easier to manage aggro when you and the tank are working on the same target.

With the basics out of the way, buffs done and loot agreed upon, we jumped into the first pulls and started killing. I tell you, a lot of folks complain about Ramparts and the ugly multi-pulls that come along with it, but our tank was allowed to initiate the fights and cement aggro with not only one target, but *all* targets. No one jumped in and started beating on stuff right away. By the time we did wade in, he already had a great head of steam going and could easily manage the odd onsee twosee that peeled away to go after the healer. If a dps class grabbed aggro for a moment, they immediately stopped pounding the target and allowed the tank to regain control. If he was unable to, the OT would move in and pick the target up and drag it back over to the tank for him to manage as time allowed. All the while our healer conserved mana and easily kept us alive.

I know this is pretty reasonable stuff that any competent group would do – but come on folks – this was a *pug*. Pug’s are famous for ZERO aggro management, poor healing, and spectacular wipes caused by poor aggro radius awareness. I was thrilled to say the least, but kept figuring that our progress thus far was a fluke…The PUG monster would obviously show its head at any moment.

So it was with a sense of excited anticipation that we cleared the first corner of Ramparts in order to create the battle-space for Watchkeeper Gargolmar and his pocket healers. Pulls were consistent and dps applied with precision as we tore down the packs of orcs that surrounded the area. With just enough time to rest and recover a little mana, the tank pulled Gargolmar and the rest of us went to work on his healers. In very, very short order the two clothies were dropped and our group focus fired on the boss. Moments later, the big guy is calling for his (absent) healers and shortly thereafter he’s on the floor.

Not bad.

The rest of the instance pans out in much the same way. Careful pulls, precision dps, and a superlative hybrid druid that always seemed to know when she should DPS and when she needed to pull out of cat (or bear) and help the priest with heals. Even those nasty rings of casters that normally wreck unprepared groups were rounded up and summarily executed. No runners – no unexpected tank death and no adds. The rest of the instance dropped as easily as the trash mobs. We scarred Omor up and took his stuff – and both Vazruden and Nazan were tanked and spanked with little to no fuss at all. Skychaser managed some boss loot and walked away with the nifty Garrote String Necklace, a nice change of pace for me as I rarely win contested loot rolls.

All in all I was just overwhelmed at how well the PUG had run. The players were obviously all well versed in group dynamics and it was a truly pleasant change of pace to see how all of us simply and almost instinctively knew how to support each other. I give the greatest part of this runs credit for success to the tank for knowing his business and to the druid who managed our group, the targeting, and her support role with aplomb. To be clear – everyone in the group knew their job – but the two stars were without a doubt this pair.

In a way, I almost hate that this run was *so* good. When you find a PUG that just clicks, it always leaves the hope that the next PUG you’re a part of will be just as good. Sadly, this is rarely the case. Like a junkie looking for a fix and hoping to get hooked up with “the good stuff”, Skychaser immediately jumped in with another PUG forming for the Blood Furnace. The crew looked good – an old school hunter in full pre-BC epics, a reasonable looking tank, a priest, a warlock and me. As we stood about the instance entrance, buffing and having a bite to eat, the priest suddenly went shadow and said:

“So, who’s healing?”


  1. says

    “So, who’s healing?”

    There’s your /facepalm moment in pugging. I ran SLabs last night with a PUG. We died repeatedly. In rather epic fashion. As a clothie, I should never, ever, ever see an 8g+ repair bill. Alas, there it was. And we were only done with half the instance before I’d had enough headbashing.

  2. says

    ROFL on that last line.

    My favorite is when the PUG is clicking and the mobs are falling nice and steady. Mana is under control. No one is dying. It’s almost on autopilot. People are confident.

    Too confident.

    Pretty soon everyone starts maxing out their DPS, rushing ahead of everyone (to speed things up), starting fights before everyone’s ready and so on. Then the wipe comes fast and furious. I remember on time our high level tank called us all “noobs” and left the group in the middle of the instance. I have NO idea why.

    Never underestimate the power of stupidity in large groups.


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