Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When Random Says "F U"

I think it's pretty clear at this point in time what NOT to do in 5-man heroics if you don't want to look like an ass. We've seen story after story of failpugs take the interwebs by storm and leave them rocking back and forth in the corner, muttering things like "gearscore" and "aggro drop" and "Halls of Reflection".  We've debated about whether Oculus has one or two c's ad nauseum (which is the magical Latin term for "makes me want to puke").  We've nerfed, buffed, and triumphed.  In short, we get it (for the most part).

You pull it, you tank it.  You pull it, you feign death, everyone else tanks.  (I mean really, aren't we just splitting hunter hairs?)  Thou shalt not expect to ever successfully PuG HoR.  Tanks still have yet to discover that there can be a queue.  To them, it's only something that's a part of BGs.  All of these things and more have become common place in Today's WoW.

But what about those "in-between" moments.  What about those dilemmas that don't really have a rule of thumb to follow?  How do you handle those?  I submit to you, dear readers, examples of real-life situations that have befallen me a few times.  But before I do, let's get the backdrop set.

Show of hands, how many of you feel entitled to a quick and painless heroic instance run?  A few?  Great.  Now look to your left, look to your right.  Two of the people you just looked at define "quick" and "painless" differently from you.  Still, there's got to be some middle ground we can share, right?

I'm going to come out of the shard bag here: I love the LFD tool.  It's everything I wish that I could be.  I could fly higher than an eagle, and it is the wind beneath my wings.   Why so much warlockerly love?  Because 75% of the time, I just want to pop in and kill stuff.  I don't have quests to do (I've never felt the siren's call of Loremaster).  I don't prefer to PvP in WoW.  My professions are where I want them.  In short, before the the LFD tool, if I wasn't raiding, I wasn't on.  There was no calling for me.  I don't have altitis.  I have one main, one alt, and no desire to collect them all.  My pokeball is as full as I want it to be.  (Really, did we ever need more than Pikachu?) 

Let's ask ourselves, where does WoW shine brightest?  Sure it has a lot of really bright spots, but isn't it really the quality of the dungeons that first brought us together?  Questing has always been more of a solo activity in WoW, and PvP tends to make enemies more than friends.  Dungeons are what taught us to work as a team and seek out other players.  If there weren't dungeons, would there even be a WoW?

Say what you want about the current difficulty, the past difficulty, etc... dungeons, whether they be raids or five mans, are really the Succubus's Pajamas.   They're sexy and have the potential to bring a lot of folks together to do the bad thing.  Besides, Blizz has really worked with us, the community, on their dungeon design.  They've tried to make them shorter, more manageable, more accessible.

So is it a bad thing that some of us feel entitled to a quick and painless heroic dungeon run? After all, there are plenty of opportunities that will fit the "quick and painless" bill, by design.  There are only a few that don't.  A lot of the consternation I see seems to stem from differing expectations of these runs.  When the guy who's gearing up, wouldn't mind a challenge, and has set aside an hour or more gets put into a group with the Frost Emblem collector, looking for their 4p10 bonus and having thirty minutes to kill before a raid, friction can happen.  After all, it's likely that both of these people have completely different definitions of what quick and painless will be.  And neither of them is wrong.

Seriously, is it wrong to just want to run an instance in a half hour and then get a bit peeved when it starts pushing the one hour mark?  In vanilla WoW, sure.  But this isn't your Grandpappy's WoW.  This is Wrath, bitches, and half hour instance runs are the reality.  Yes, the disgruntled folks need to work on handling their disgruntling better, but the expectation that led them there isn't necessarily a false one, though I feel some might argue that.  It's just not.  Expecting a quick run in a PuG is the new reality, not the old Emerald Dream.

My point here is that I log on every day, and one of the things I enjoy doing is steamrolling an instance.  My two raiding toons are more than geared for it, and I like tackling random dungeons.  It's fun even if it's not really a challenge, per se.  You sort of make your own challenges by pulling gobs of mobs (with the healer's permission) or seeing just how close you can get to pulling off the undergeared tank (without actually doing it and causing deaths).  It's okay to have fun in a game.  (No way!)  Just don't do it in such a way that it ruins everyone's fun.  It's really not that hard.  At least, 90% of the time it's not that hard.

What about those times when you're faced with a social challenge, though?  There are three particular uncomfortable issues that I've had (usually at the same time, compounding on each other), that I'm not sure how to appropriately deal with.  Let's take a look, shall we?

First up is the you're-crunched-for-time-but-drew-HoR dilemma.  Or the "damnit, I wanted anything but this one" dilemma.  How many times has that happened to you?  You've said to your self, "Self, I'm just going to jump on and run a quick one before I go terrorize the neighborhood kids in my demon form".  I mean we all have responsibilities!  You hit the random button as your bad self, expecting that if you have an average tank and average healer you can easily roll through any heroic in.... wait, not this one.  This one's going to take FOR EVAH!  But you don't have forevah.  You've got 30 minutes, tops.  What do you do?

Should you not have queued up in the first place, even knowing that if you had gotten almost any other instance, you would have been fine, had fun, mission accomplished?  Do you drop group quietly, sending your poor mates back into the dreaded queue with naught a word?  Do you speak up: "Sorry guys, I don't have time for this one," and risk social critique of your time management abilities?  Is there a good way out of this situation?

Or how about this second situation.  Say you're a dual specced DPS/tank, but you normally like to queue as DPS (hence, "Killing 'em Slowly").  You wait patiently for your 15 minutes, then get in a group.  Upon your glorious entrance, Mr. Time Guy (also the tank) from dilemma one drops with naught a word.  At least, I'm hoping he had a good reason for leaving you all in the lurch.  It could be that he just didn't like the instance, and that would be bollocks.  However, as the Right Reverend Miss Medicina pointed out to me in vent: maybe he just knows he can't do it and wants to save y'all the pain (I'm pretty sure she said y'all, with a twang too... "you can take the girl out of the south...").  Or maybe he did just have somewhere he needed to be and recognized the futility of staying.  As much as it sucks, that's not really a bad thing, to save the rest of you certain pain, right?

Well, in any case, you're faced with waiting for another tank, which sometimes is quick but often isn't.  You have a tank spec.  You group is in the queue again, waiting patiently.  Do you step up and offer to tank?  I mean, you've done the instance before, you know you are capable of doing it, but you just didn't feel like it at first.  Do you take one for the team so that you can finally get on with it?  Are you obligated to do this?

Finally, let's say you did go tank.  Then, let's say you start the battle and it becomes apparent, glaringly apparent mind you, that the other folks aren't really ready for this instance.  Perhaps the DPS are all off making a cheese toasty or the healer is dancing with butterflies and fruit smoothies in a corner while listening to Owl City.  Not that they're necessarily purposefully failing, just that they are either not very good, not very geared, not very attentive, or a combination of the above.  I'm not trying to be judgmental here... it just happens.  Sometimes the random thingy puts people in instances that they don't really overgear (which is fine), and maybe they're not ready for that sort of change of focus. (Ya know, from the other other 90% of the time).

In other words, this is not going to be painless and actually has very little chance of succeeding.  Do you drop?  Do you say "sorry guys, not feeling it" or some lame excuse and exit stage right?  Do you pretend your router freaked out while quickly donning your demon suit?  Do you try to work with them on the extremely (and by extremely I mean f-in extremely) off chance that some sort of magic might happen and you live through the first pull.  I mean, we've all been a part of The Miracle group before, when you were totally sure you were going to die repeatedly, only to snatch success from the vicious jowls of defeat at the hands of the Communist Raid Boss.   It happens, but it's not likely, which is why it's so cool when it happens.  What do you do?

So that's the big three I've struggled with.  I think it's not unreasonable to expect a quick and painless run.  I also think anything is worth trying once.  I have a real problem with tanks dropping just 'cuz they didn't like an instance and, "hey, there's no wait for me".   But when does tolerance, understanding, and patience become stupidity, denial, and futility?  When is it "okay" to draw that line, and say "sorry guys, but I'm out"?

And, finally, the most important question: How long does it take them to nab the dude running around in a demon suit for some sort of crime?


  1. As a tank, I feel responsible, almost motherly, to this rag-tag group of individuals. 99.99% of instances I could most likely do with 1 DPS that is awake and maybe a healer that doesn't mind distributing heals when she so chooses.

    If you treat me with a little respect and not act like a total Wanker the whole time, I will try my damndest to achieve that "Quick & Painless 15 minute Heroic".

    I've found that if you are in the "tank" position, you have a lot of control over how things move a long. You pick the speed, you pick the group sizes, you pick when the boss starts. Yes, I know that you really wanted to DPS but things aren't going the way that you like. What other choices do you have?

    Switch your spec, throw on your tanking suit, and grab the instance by the balls!

    Maybe you can DPS later...

  2. You get to pick when the fight starts? You should tank with Gil, he will pull everything for you and with his 10k dps you can work on rounding everything back up and saving his little mage ass.

    But what an interesting post. As a tank I will stay until I realize I am with a bunch of idiots. I will try any place, I just can't be a jerk and leave. The first time I got heroic HoR, trust me I was scared to death, but I stayed and we did fine. Being a tank is the only time I want to leave, but I never do. I just can't unless there are real issues with the group. Even when everyone is doing 1500 dps, I will stick around b/c I can't be mean! Surely I can heal anyone through anything, unless the tank can't keep heal aggro, which really pisses me off. Seriously I am not generating that much threat!

    But I agree, everyone in every role goes through this. But you signed up, you should at least stay and try. If they wipe you once or twice then you can give up.

  3. Looking from the not so great a tank but enough gear that WOW thinks i can do HoR with no problems. If I do a random on Furbut and get HoR, I basically tell the group "I dont think I can hanlde it sorry".
    Whats better wiping 2 or 3 times and seeing there is no way its going to happen or knowing up front that you are going back to the 'Q'. At least you save the repair bill.

    Also interesting I like going through randoms at a fast pace, but when I dont have time to loot, take a sip of Tea as a healer, the tank better have some real good gear and be able to heal or wait for the healer, sorry, I am playing the game for my fun also.

  4. Last time I pug'd HOR, we had it done in 15, ok maybe 20 minutes. Never a wipe, tank did his job and I got to rock my locky-bits. I say, stick any random out and see what happens. You may get what you think is the longest possible dungeon, but you have a tank you moves faster than you can type 'oom'.

    On the other hand, the last time I ran HOR with my guild, we wiped 3 times and never got past the first bosses. Excellent tank, we were running with a undergeared healer and some inexperienced dps.

  5. Yeah, in all honesty I think they key to any awkward situation is communication. If you're honest with a group, the worst that'll happen is ridicule (which will make you feel indignant enough to drop group with a clear conscience)... but more often than not I think you'd be surprised by helpfulness and understanding. As eric said too, you might be surprised by success. :-)

  6. My resto druid and disc priest can heal many tanks through HoR, yet I remain afraid to tank it on my warrior. I loathe AOE tanking on him. I have glyphed OUT of it so that I might better MT ICC 10. I am pretty sure I could clear it, and I know, one day, that it will pop up on my queue and I will have to bite the bullet. My GS is over 5k,so I'm sure that Blizz would think I'm qualified for it. I also know that if my healer looks up to it that I would stick it out.
    Reading your post Ful, I felt the dread I have creeping up on my. /shudder

  7. I'd wager a guess that the vast majority of the time, the tank that insta-dropped had no intention of running the instance, and was just helping some dps buddy hop the queue. Look around the group and see if one of the other 2 dps is whistling and shuffling their feet.

  8. That's an interesting notion... I'd never thought of that.