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Bringing in PUGs

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In all of the work that Tipplesplitters has done on ICC, we have had PUGs. Our Lich King kill had a PUG, our Halion kill had two PUGs, our 3 heroic kills had PUGs.

Prior to Ulduar/TOC, Tipplesplitters was primarily a group of good real life friends — and several of the people in the guild were strongly opposed to pulling in anyone outside the guild for anything we did. Our first kills of Northrend Beasts and Jaraxxus — long before any of us overgeared it, and long before those instances were ‘faceroll’ — were with 9 players. Before Ulduar was released, the group would occasionally 6-man Sarth, in mostly gear from heroics or 10-man Naxx.

For a short period of time, I joined another guild to raid 25-mans. (Specifically, I did this from the time of mid-late TOC into ICC Lower Spire and Plaugeworks.) I wanted to be raiding 10-mans with Tipplesplitters, but a tendancy to under-staff rather than PUG meant that many times, we simply wouldn’t run the raid, even with 9 online, because we couldn’t do it and didn’t want to bring a PUG in.

Around the end of January, I grew tired of 25s; they were never really a goal, just what I ‘had’ to do in order to get what I wanted in game. I left the 25-man guild, and pushed to get Tipplesplitters actively raiding again, despite the loss of 2-3 people. At this point, we were down to a core of 5 or so — two tanks, but only one healer. (At the time, I was pretty much exclusively DPS: I had an 80 priest, but healing was not something I was good at.) When I rejoined the guild, I brought our tree druid (who had followed me to the 25-mans) back with me, bringing our core healing to two.

At this point, we had two tanks, two heals, and 2 dps who were able to show; not enough to have a good time of it, but enough to start making a dent with some PUGs. (Note that this was pre-ICC buff, so going into ICC was much more of a challenge.) Because it wasn’t a ‘guild’ event, we didn’t record a lot of this, but it seems like we basically did Lower Spire reasonably well for the first couple weeks, and grew our group. Two weeks in, I was asking How do you protect tanks on Festergut?

We had another DPS (Shadow Priest) come back to the game around this time, bringing our in guild numbers up to 7, but we were still regularly pugging a healer — which leads to a lot of variability. After a couple weeks of this, I started bringing my Disc Priest with us, and asked Epic Advice How to Learn To Heal Better, so that we could push further. I didn’t heal Festergut that night, but we did *kill* Festergut that night.

Over time, our guild group grew — we’re now at 9 people regularly raiding, and we just invited a 10th to join our guild, bringing us back up to potential full strength for the first time in almost a year.

As we were doing this, we did it all by picking a couple good people every time, and growing that group. From Herrman, a Balance/Resto druid who was great all around, and ran with us for a month, to Noixi, our Arcane/Frost mage who can never pick which spec is best. From Minikloo, a DK DPS/Tank who I remember as a great PUG from Naxx days, to Addor, a holy paladin who only ran with us twice, but who still gets auto-invited to anything I run that he wants to join.

There have been some bad players in there, but they don’t stick out like the good ones do. From these players, we have been able to grow ourselves a team. 3 months ago, we didn’t have a raiding group — now we’re the #3 casual 10-man guild on the server. 3 months ago, it was a surprise if people even signed on on one raid night; now, we’ve got a team on every Wednesday without fail.

Some of this is the result of the ICC raid buff: By giving every player who comes in a passive boost, it is possible to consider walking in with PUGged players, when in the past, that wouldn’t have even been a consideration. I learned this the hard way this week: doing Ruby Sanctum on an ‘off’ night, we were suffering pretty heavily because our PUGged tank — who would have been fine in ICC — didn’t have the health buffer that a fully geared ICC tank has. I haven’t had to worry about tank death from being undergeared in too long… and with a 25% buff, we wouldn’t have even blinked an eye at it. (We did down the dragon eventually, but it was a struggle.)

Finding good PUGs isn’t easy. A combination of sites like pugchecker, the armory itself, and Elitist Group’s website are helpful in evaluating the dozens of whispers you get over the course of trying to PUG someone. However, the most helpful thing is the people themselves: chatting with people for a couple minutes, asking them about their experience, and so on, has led to many a surprising and happy discovery on the potential quality of players. For example, in our most recent Heroic attempts, Noixi had to step out, and none of our other regulars were on, so we fell back to finding another PUG. (I left this one up to another leader.) When the person came in, I was worried; gear was okay, but not heroic-level great, and the toon in question only had 6/12 achievements. However, over the course of the night, the performance of the character outperformed many of our guildies, hitting buttons at all the right times without missing a beat. The player joined us for our Halion kill as well, and I couldn’t be happier.

Overall, finding good PUGs can be a challenge. When you do, however, the rewards speak for themselves. While I’m thrilled with the progress that we have made as a guild, I’m almost equally thrilled with the progress that our non-guild regulars have shown in everything from attendance — showing up every time, even when there’s no promise of a slot — to numbers, to awareness.

Of course, in the end, it’s nothing that you wouldn’t expect from a group of people who’ve downed the Lich King.

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Written by wowthoughts

July 6, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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