Grouping in WoW – PUGs, Guild Runs and Queues

The dynamic of forming groups has shifted
throughout World of Warcraft’s history. There’s a recurring complaint from players
trying to get into pick up groups, or PUGs. It’s a common complaint with a common response
– One side says there’s no good reason group leaders should have conditions to join that
are far above the minimum requirement. The response: if you can’t find a group,
make one yourself. Makes some sense. You can’t get kicked if you’re the leader. You set the conditions. You invite or reject who you want. But you are the one sitting there, taking
the time trying to put the group together. Also, depending on what you’re doing, you
set up the strategy, performance monitoring, callouts, raid size, composition, marking,
positioning, player expectation and in the end, the blame. if things mess up. Suddenly that control turns into the weight
of responsibility, and not all players can overcome that anxiety, regardless of even
their skill and gear. Between inflated requirements and the fear
of failure, where do we go from there? Hey it’s Soul with news opinions and analyses. Today we’re going to take a look at the
dynamics of group building from a few different perspectives, like the leaders of pugs, its
members, and mine too as the raid leader for my guild. Group building is one of the core foundations
of the World of Warcraft. We’ll focus on what it’s like today, and
why the premade group tool made grouping both easier and more frustrating. Let’s get this complaint out of the way
first. It isn’t entirely fair to have high requirements
that greatly exceed the content itself, because that leaves out a lot of players, but we’ve
got to understand the goals and attractiveness of such a group. This type of group is probably short on time
and or patience. They want results, and by results I mean a
fast and uninterrupted run with no deaths. To meet this there’s obviously an incentive
to take players with high gear and related achievements. It’s no guarantee of success, but there’s
a much higher chance otherwise. Many players in this scenario don’t have
immediate time on their hands and need a predictable timeframe that ends with their goals accomplished. PUG leaders of these groups don’t have the
time to listen to your case of having a high aptitude, being an alt or any excuse for that
matter. So these groups typically are the ones that
attract powerful characters with strong knowledge of dungeon and raid mechanics. Experienced groups want experienced people,
and expect a performance that reflects that. This leaves other players struggling. They wade in the premade group pool with hope
for a merciful leader looking to just fill a group with warm bodies, join a progression
based group, or make the group themselves. Joining a group can be hard for an undergeared
toon or for a player who lacks experience. Unless they lie. But making a group can be hard for any player. Skill, gear and progression might be reflected
on your character sheet, but the ability to lead a group on your own isn’t something
so easily tracked by the game. Knowing where to stand, what mobs could be
skipped and the optimum rotation during a burn phase is, for argument’s sake, an easy
skill to learn. It just takes some memorization and practice. By contrast directing a group is an entirely
different monster, as this often involves the handling of people, and that takes a separate
set of skills. It’s why some group leaders demand ahead
of the curve, or AOTC achievements, on top of a high item level. This helps filter out possible scenarios of
the player not knowing what to do, but in another way, avoid situations where the group
leader has to accurately explain what to do or what went wrong. High requirements are presented in such a
way that the group expects a smooth experience that relies on everyone knowing what to do
despite meeting for the first time. Coordination and communication shouldn’t
be needed because the group ought to simply fall into their roles. Basically it’s equivalent to creating an
LFR-like experience, with the bar raised higher. Many successful groups are made this way. Many more though make it only so far. It’s because this methodology to group building
is one of expecting overpowering flawlessness. It creates toxic situations for many players
after a mistake is made and a wipe occurs. Some of this may seem familiar. Whomever made the mistake is kicked without
explanation. Someone leaves because their faith in the
group is shaken. Someone insists that this encounter strategy
is poorly planned, but didn’t want to speak up till now, to make a point. Members insist on how “easy” the encounter
is, and wonder why underperformers can’t get it together, condescend and so on. The group lead is called out on poor management
of invitees, probably by the top performer of the group. And there are innumerable other scenarios,
including the collapse of the group. I’m oversimplifying when I say there are
two types of players in WoW, leaders and members. PUG leaders have it tough, with little question. In the situation I described earlier, a PUG
member simply leaves and finds another group, or logs off. Their responsibility is limited to their individual
execution and contribution. Meanwhile the group leader is burdened with
rebuilding a damaged group or starting from scratch, which is never easy because patience
isn’t infinite. The responsibilities of the PUG leader greatly
outweigh that of the member. It’s a natural assumption that the group
leader knows everything that needs to be known, even if it doesn’t pertain to their role
of tank, healer or dps. And they may have a strong grasp of the concepts
in their head during the thick of an encounter, but the translation of instinct into thoughts
into coherent words used to coach, correct and train is a different skill to hone. And then there’s of course, patience and
having a thick skin, among other social traits. Not every leader possesses these. We see some demonstration of this when members
are kicked without warning or when the leaders themselves rage on the group. Leading a group is often a thankless job but
at the same time personally rewarding. A good leader is remembered just as well as
the group’s top performer, sometimes moreso. Successful group leaders are rewarded with
friend requests and the like but it’s less common than it probably should be. Many players who see themselves as small,
faceless cogs in the Warcraft machine treat other players the same way – people they’ll
never see again, so there’s no point trying to build bonds. That aloofness is what makes PUGs feel flimsy
after even one wipe. And it’s that which makes group leaders
more hesitant, even fearful to build groups in the first place. No one likes to fail, so why try? Couple this with systems of convenience like
the premade group tool. Its purpose is to facilitate groups regardless
of realm, which is terrific. At the same time, its promiscuous nature allows
players to leave groups at the first sign of trouble and join another. Let’s talk about groups based on a guild
or a close coalition of players, and I’ll use myself as the example. These groups by nature include players who
already know each other. They group together for a number of weeks,
months, even years. I hear and often say to myself that if it
wasn’t for this guild, I probably wouldn’t be playing the game. My psyche as a player personally demands a
semblance of familiarity in part of my team. For me it’s not just my co-tank, healer
and a bloodlust. It’s Shaddux, AJ and Xero. They’re more than just the instruments I
as a raid leader use to accomplish the raid’s goals. They’re friends. We have a relationship to satisfy similar
interests and when that’s not being pursued at the moment, we hang out. Chat. Talk about our families and jobs and Taylor
Swift. Well I do. But these tightly knit groups aren’t without
their own kinds of problems, like the development of cliques, a feeling of xenophobia or elitism
towards pugs and just about any other social conflict you can think of when you’re going
to see the same people day after day. Unlike a pug, leaving a guild or team means
risking the relationships you’ve built up to that point. There’s a sense of emotional loss that isn’t
felt when you’re only grouped with a band of strangers for a few hours and may never
meet again. For a pug, tomorrow is a new day. As the guild raid leader, it’s not as easy
for me to purge my team of underperformers because once the raid is over, we’re all
still under a single banner, and I have to deal with the consequences afterwards. In a way my role doesn’t end when the raid
is over. Same goes for the other members of a longtime
group. It’s not enough to improve ourselves; we’ve
got to help the other members improve too. I can’t just swap out guildmates and bring
in better performing pugs unless I want to risk the integrity of the guild’s values. We don’t try to be the best guild, but I
expect us to want to do our best. As a plus, for me at least, we progress as
a guild, meaning there’s less pressure to know fights in advance, have a certain item
level or have consumables always at the ready. I may be the raid leader but I don’t expect
any one person, including myself, to know everything. I have a team I can trust well enough to delegate
certain tasks and formations. From there I analyze, make some tweaks, and
execute. Communication between key members is critical. Watching the team grow and succeed is as rewarding
as any piece of gear. Arguably the biggest advantage to an organized
group is a schedule. Players undoubtedly like an assured victory,
and it’s all the more sweeter when they know they’ll be there for it. Even during progression when victory is all
too distant, it’s reassuring to know that in the face of a bad run, there’s always
the next night. Of wiping. But I have fears, too. I’ve led the guild’s raid team for nine
years and I take to heart all the mistakes and bad calls I’ve made. I’m thankful that most guildmates have forgiven
me each time. But even now if I happened to be leading a
pug, I’d be upset if I screwed up, let the raid down and caused it to collapse. This feeling of guilt is not shared among
all PUG leaders. I share sentiments with players feeling the
burdens of running their own group. Apart from being familiar with dungeon or
raid mechanics, one solution is to dissolve the feelings of human empathy and treat players
merely as a means to an end, and tools to trade out and discard. If that doesn’t suit your tastes though,
finding or building a regular group may be your answer. It’s hard. Maybe harder. If none of this works for you, you may need
to admit something to yourself. You’ve might have become part of the majority.

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14 Responses

  1. mogoyogo says:

    At the time of HFC, I was pretty much guildless after rage-quitting my server and since I was a month or so behind when everyone had their legendary rings so I couldn't find a pug or guild that would let me in. I did want the hell out of the moose mount however I was not arsed on learning on how to do 12 bosses that I don't give a shit about just to get to him. So what I did was just get high-ilvl gear from pugging mythic dungeons and sometimes farmed N-Arch for the ring upgrade. When I finally met the ilvl requirements of some pug group I just linked a faked AotC achievement and essentially one shot the boss, getting my AotC achievement only killing 1 boss in the entire instance (LFR not included).

    Sometimes you just have to work smarter, not harder.

  2. Zach ODiesel says:

    i havent watched video yet but just from title. yes it is so hard. i try to make groups for mythics and raids its so frustrating

  3. Arth says:

    It IS a great thumbnail. I'm with you on that.

  4. joseph repp says:

    Great video, also a very calming voice, I'm new to your channel and don't comment on a lot of videos, just wanted to see keep it up

  5. Ryan McQuarrie says:

    I could swear i recognise your voice lol, did you do video's before? Great vid though, i find the premade group finder for mythics tends to yield a better/calmer/patient/friendlier type of player from random dungeon finder and personally had no issues.

  6. Genoloss onLeague says:

    Love your videos. You're slowly becoming my favorite youtuber for WoW 😉

  7. Brandon Strauss says:

    Well thank goodness my transmog was on point. I've said it before but as someone who has played wow since vanilla who has had to pug for most of the content, it's been great to finally have a spot in a guild where you truly feel appreciated. Thanks for having me Soul.

  8. David Perrelli says:

    I don't see any issues with wanting what you want as the person putting together the raid/mythic. The only area that has at the least made me angry once or twice is having the feeling i didn't get the invite simply because i an a Frost DK. I understand if you saw my DPS and said its not a good fit then make that decision, but ignoring me simply because of forum posts about the class is a bit overboard IMHO.

  9. Willem Voogt says:

    The ending was EPIC! Well done
    The pug leaders Are underestimated Yes.!

    I am saving this video to link in future mmo-champ discussions. Glad i subbed few days ago 🙂

  10. AcerbusZeitgeist says:

    Busted my ass for 11 hours last night in Karazhan with 855+ iLvl base, 48 wipes on Viz'aduum as the Pug leader churning out between 10-20 people that ragequit within a short while.

    Had to call out so much on Attumen and people refused to assist to call out their Ghost for the Healer to dispel.

    And then I log on today to realize that you can't get back in where your lockout is, and there is potentially some quasi-exploit shit to get you back to the Upper Library.

  11. Ithila says:

    The toxic attitudes in the group finder apps is really ugly. It is far too easy to vote people out for reasons that have nothing to do with performance.

  12. Shawn price says:

    Idk I make a lot of groups and there's a lot of people trying to join. it's never just one person so maybe if you're declined it's because there's someone there with a higher ilvl, or maybe I have enough melee and need a ranged or something. I'm not saying there aren't jerks out there but a lot of people play the game and people are naturally gonna go with the "better" choice. It's never personal for me. As for making your own group unless you're a tank than you can make a group and try to get a higher tank, they typically lead the way anyway.

  13. nux says:

    Truest fucking video I've ever seen, and this is why I don't find myself enjoying Legion. No guild or friends to play with, trying to pug produces a miserable outcome, even after successful runs. All I've craved from WoW was accomplishing tasks as a team with friend or guildmates. I tried making my own guild, but no one wants to join guilds anymore, especially on a dead server like mine. Good video, I'm going to be sharing this with friends, especially when explaining why I probably won't be playing much anymore.

  14. Lindy Benson says:

    As the Assistant Raid Lead and Co Tank in my Guilds first Progression Raid Team, I honestly love it. Our Raid Group leveled up together through Legion, we ran each other through dungeons, World bosses, and quests to gear up and Raid when the Nightmare came out. We already had everything set up and I've never felt more proud. We progressed through 3 of 7 bosses in one night, and had 4 out of 7 the next. Then we hit our plateau. Our group was great with mechanics and we never broke up through six weeks of Ilginoth beating us to dust. We tweaked our strategy and geared up together through the week so we could try again on Friday.
    It was our mdps heavy group that required higher dps and a third tank that was holding us back. Many people lost faith and left to PUG the nightmare, but those of us who stayed loyal kept pushing and helping one another until on the 6th week we not only beat the Nightmare, but downed two bosses on Heroic in one night. Seeing that Guild Achievement along with spamming Guild chat with 14 Nightmare achievements was worth every second of our hard work.
    The people who PUGGED ended up creating their own raid groups and sadly we have seen the decline of morale in our guild as a whole because of this. It's sad when even your friends become part of the majority and ragequit after one wipe…

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