Friday, September 17, 2010

Whispers in the Dark

Have you ever had that feeling where people are talking about you behind your back?  Perhaps you developed that sense in middle school, when rumors could sweep through your classmates before you even knew what happened.  Or maybe you were clueless then, but in office politics you have to keep an ear to the ground, lest you be swept aside by some conniving young punk a few cubicles down.

In real life, that feeling is often accompanied by the looks you get from others while they're huddled together.  WoW, however, doesn't have that visual cue.  You have to rely upon actions or words instead.

Before you ask, I don't intend to talk about guild drama.  There's enough posts out there on the subject by other bloggers that you don't need me to chime in.  And to be honest, I avoid guild drama like the plague.  Sure, I like to know the whys behind a move within the guild, but that doesn't mean I want to inject myself into the drama.

What I meant was in relation to instances.  In raids, you have Vent (or equivalents), but not in a regular old 5-man pug.  Maybe in a heroic Northrend instance you expect silence, but in the lower level instances you expect people to talk, to say they need to drink, and to discuss strategy.  Unless the entire group is composed of people at the high end of the level range, you simply aren't OP enough to wing it.  And if people start doing some bizarre behavior, you can bet that there's some discussion going on behind the scenes.

Take a recent experience in Maraudon, for example.  Thankfully, Blizz cut Maraudon into chunks for LFD, which makes it easier to run.  This particular run was the Orange Crystals wing, which ends at Razorlash, and the party consisted of three guildies from another server (tank, healer, and hunter DPS), a lock, and Tomakan (me).

The first sign of trouble was when the lock and hunter died a couple of trash pulls in.  From what I could tell, the hunter pulled aggro on some of the mob, and that subsection of the mob killed both of them.  I kept expecting the Warrior tank to yank the mob back, but he instead he pressed on.  I rezzed the lock, the healer rezzed the hunter, and the two guildies ran on to catch up with the tank while the lock and I drank.

I expected something to be said in party chat by then, but it was eerily silent.

We got to the oozes and dispatched them without much issue.  The tank headed left to the next trash, and I engaged just as I realized that there was nobody else behind us.

The other three had engaged the oozes on the right instead.

By the time we got back to the others and finished off the oozes, the lock had died again.  The healer rezzed the lock and then ran on ahead with the rest while the lock and I drank.  I don't know what was going on in the lock's head, but I was detecting a pattern.  The healer was behaving more like DPS, and I was spending some of my mana keeping both myself and the tank upright.  I checked the roles, and yeah, the healer wasn't me.

What was more worrisome was that the tank seemed blissfully unconcerned about trying to pull back aggro when someone else acquired it.  I know all about the "you yank it, you tank it" concept, but this was different.  At one point, I got aggro and I popped Hand of Salvation and stopped hitting, but I kept aggro.  I bubbled, and I still kept aggro.  Standing there in the middle of the mob with nowhere to go and waiting for my threat to go down was an exercise in frustration, especially when the hunter was also pulling aggro, the tank seemed to be on auto attack, and the healer was jumping around and popping Holy Nova.

Somehow, we made it to the end and defeated Razorlash.  I was typing in my standard "thanks for the group" when the tank and hunter ran onward, obviously going to Celebras.  Whatever, I thought, and followed along.  I could use the extra XP, after all.

Well, Celebras wasn't the end.  The tank and his guildies kept going, and it was obvious by now that they wanted to take out Theradras herself.  I hadn't signed on for this, and the only time party chat was used was when the lock died for the third time and the healer said "I'm not rezzing you any more."

"Send me a heal now and then," the lock replied.

I grimaced and kept going.  I could have taken the easy way out and dropped, but I wasn't going to leave the lock alone with these clowns.  Besides, their asshatery hadn't really risen to my "I'm dropping group" threshold.  The mobs got tougher, and they started getting silence effects.  The way the healer was jumping around and attacking meant he was well within range for being silenced, and I knew it was a matter of time before the mobs got big enough for us to wipe.  Right at a choke point that happened; the tank pulled two groups, and about 20 seconds later that was that.

Almost immediately the three guildies dropped.

Maybe they just did it on a spur of the moment, but to the lock and myself it sure felt like they were leading us on until we both bit it.

"They had to be on Vent together," I told the lock.

"How so?"

"There was no way they were working all this without there being a chat going.  And since nobody paused to type, they had to be on Vent."

"I think they had it out for me.  The priest hardly healed me at all."

"He hardly healed anybody.  I was healing the tank as much as he was."


I now know why some people cringe when they see several people from the same guild in a LFD pug.  If they're talking on Vent, doing their own thing, then they're not really participating in the group.  This ain't exactly a formula for success, especially when you're one of the people being ignored.

How do you fix it?  Be more open.  Don't play like this is a private club.  If it were, you wouldn't need extra puggees, right?  On the flip side, don't ding and drop.  People hate that, and it gives your guild and your server a bad name.

In short, don't make a pug run into all about you.  It's a team, remember?


  1. I read your blog post yesterday morning, then had this exact thing happen to me later in the evening. It was so annoying, because it was obvious they were talking/chatting somewhere else, as the DK kept typing random stuff in party... as if he were responding to something not typed out. And like you pointed out, they all moved in sparatic unity, as if they all understood what they were doing, but left me (the heals) and the other dps running along in confusion. Sucks.

  2. @NaturalGamerGirl: Yeah, it sure does. I was on a run in The Nexus today with two other guildies and a pair of random puggers, and we got split up in the middle of the area leading to the crystal boss. The tank and I were unaware that one of the mobs had aggroed on people behind us until we'd engaged another mob, so we couldn't really stop what we were doing. I'm sure to the puggee he must have been thinking that we were on Vent coordinating this, but for 5-mans our guild rarely gets on Vent at all. It was pure chance that this happened.

  3. To be honest i dont think the problem is ppl being guildies, but being complete jerks sometime like the ones on your run. they treated the rest of you really lousy and there's no excuse for this, ppl on vent or not they still gotta work together with the group.

    I usually always 'pug' with 2-3 guildies accompanying me and we're fairly often on vent when we do. but if there's anything concerning the run, we'll make sure to also use partychat or even tell the extra person that we're chatting on vent (though most of the time pugs are dead silent anyway).
    from my own exp, ending up in a pug with some guildies is more beneficial than not, if people know each other they're likely to make for a smooth run. we often had guys thanking us for the 'fastest run ever' etc. so yeah, it really depends on who you get.

  4. @Syl: Oh yeah, they were asshats. No doubt about it.

    I've discovered there's a huge difference between the L80 Heroic runs and the lowbie runs, as far as guildies in a group goes. I typically don't see issues with a bunch of guildies in a Heroic run, but that's because we really don't need to talk to each other. The lowbie runs that I've been on with multiple Guildies haven't exactly been stellar. I couldn't tell you what the batting average is like, but it surely can't be good.

    On the flip side, I know what it's like being the non-Guildie in a pug, so when I run with fellow Guildies I consciously try to accommodate the fellow puggees more than usual. Besides, I've got a responsibility to Soul and Sat to not be a jerk, because I'm representing this space out there when I'm online.

  5. I think it's pretty easy to forget that that other people exist when you're a group of guildies in a pug - I mean you're all friends and the other guys are just the other guys. I'm not saying this okay, just understandable, while being hugely frustrating for the "other guys." It doesn't matter so much in Northrend since everybody knows those instances backwards and chatting on Vent is a good way to stop your brain dribbling out your ears but you actually need to communicate in low level instances.

    If I am running with guildies though I shall definitely remember to be more communicative - mainly I've noticed pugees think we're nuts, since we'll be chatting away (in chat) and licking each other and they'll be all "..."

  6. @Tam:

    Licking each other?


    And here I thought you were just kidding around when you mentioned that in your posts. Well, that explains the robe, I guess. ;-)