We see a lot of horrible, no-good, very bad PuG stories. They pretty much range from atrocious to mildly irritating. Yet, good PuG stories seem few and far between. After all, it's not all that gripping to write: "Pugged last night, tank held aggro, healer healed, CC did their thang, bosses all died." Wahoo, right?
I'll be the first to admit: I don't pug a whole lot. I wouldn't say I'm scared of it, I just put a premium on my own time. It's sort of an extension of the if-you-don't-have-anything-nice-to-say-don't-say-anything rule for me. Basically, I know I'm going to be impatient and unforgiving in a pug. I don't really want to show up and deal with people playing sub-optimally, wasting time, and wiping often. It drives me nuts when someone stands in the fire and dies, or when DPS don't drop aggro or properly use their abilities.
In short: On my toon, "the patient" title is a lie.
So I don't put myself in that situation. I don't pug unless I'm in a really good mood and prepared to be patient with people. Which means I don't pug often. In fairness to others, I can't be throwing myself into situations where I know I'll behave like an asshat. I'm not judging right or wrong here, when it comes to playstyle. To each his/her own. If you enjoy playing sub-optimally and floundering around, more power to you. It just drives me nuts. I'm an engineer. I prize efficiency and pulling your weight in a team. It's a personal thing.
However, this is something about a successful pug experience that, in my mind, makes it all worth it. It's not about gear for me. I'm skilled enough that I can hold my own on a DPS meter without the best gear out there, and gear will come eventually. We're not on the bleeding edge. Heck, at the rate we're going right now with RL intrusions, we'll be lucky to get any of the raid content down before the next major patch.
To me, those times when you zone in with completely low, rock-bottom expectations, and are pleasantly surprised... those are special moments.
Take last night. It wasn't a true pug, but we were short a healer. So four of us went in and pugged a healer. Normally my self-imposed rule is "no pugging of healers or tanks" for obvious reasons. But I said "chuck it" last night. I was in a good mood. Our tank wasn't my precious Fuu, it was our newb tank (former healer) who recently switched for the guild and is still learning the ropes. It was a less than ideal situation, but I was with four good people I knew, and I figured we could deal with a sub-par healer.
Turned out, the healer we drew was pretty solid. There wasn't a whole lot of chatter. We threw out quick strats for the bosses, and lined them up and knocked them down. We even lost the tank halfway through one fight, but recovered and finished off the boss by ping-ponging with the remaining DPS. The pulls were messy, but not one lost their head and we never wiped. Not once. The run was the picture of efficiency. We knocked out the entire thing in 45 minutes (it was the wind heroic).
When the last boss fell and the little pop-up appeared, letting us know that we'd been rewarded our VP, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction at a job well done. I remember the feeling from my days spent involved with organized team sports. It's that same feeling you get after a solid win against a good team, when you're high-fiving each other and giving the ubiquitous butt-slap. I love that feeling (Yes, even the butt slapping).
We did not win the championship. This was just a regular season win. A good one, but a win all the same. And that feeling is a large part of why I still play this game. You can't get that from a single player game. Say what you want about how the social aspects of MMOs are dying. As long as there's still a way to attain the feeling of a successful PuG, they're offering something special.
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