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Shifting Perspectives: How to be a good PUG druid, part 2

Allison Robert

Bears: All 3 of the new Icecrown 5-mans contain pulls full of caster mobs that, in Forge of Souls and Pit of Saron, can't be LOS'd effectively or otherwise forced to move without assistance from your party (seriously, what's up with Wrath 5-mans and the lack of LOS nooks? OK, Oculus, Pit, and Forge seem like they're tailor-made to drive bear tanks up a wall). Warn the group that you will not necessarily have amazing aggro on each mob because you're going to be moving between them fairly frequently. On the plus side, this does tend to give you range for a Feral Charge on any caster you're not currently hitting, and that'll come in handy stopping a certain amount of the damage.

If you outgear the group, marking probably won't be necessary from a threat standpoint, but can still be desirable because splitting DPS on 5 casters mobs who are just continually unloading on you is not a great idea. In the Pit of Saron, mark and kill the Ymirjar Flamebearers first.

In Halls of Reflection, we are mercifully able to LOS most mobs by using the small alcoves located beside Falric and Marwyn. In general, I like to start off in Marwyn's alcove (the one on the right) because you fight Falric first, and it takes him a few seconds to get over to Marwyn's side of the room after he does his introductory bit and aggros the group. This buys your healer and DPS several valuable seconds to eat/drink after finishing the fourth trash wave. Immediately after you get Falric down, have the group switch to his alcove across the room so that Marwyn will have to cross over after the ninth trash wave. If the group has high DPS and regen, switching alcoves won't be necessary by any means, but with a pug group don't bank on people having the gear to make this easier.

There is a tremendous amount of incoming damage on these trash waves. Pop Barkskin and trinkets when you can, Bash mobs on cooldown, enlist a DPS' helps in interrupting the Ghostly Priest's heals, and -- one small trick that's usually helpful -- pop Tranquility between trash waves. Not only will this give your healer a few seconds to drink while the group is healed up, but you'll also have a fairish amount of threat on the next wave as it aggros. Due to Tranquility's cooldown, this is obviously only good once, but don't get caught outside of bear when the mobs finally reach you.

With pug groups, you should be somewhat strict about what you are willing to tolerate. Constantly pulling aggro on the trash waves (assuming, of course, that you're putting out as much TPS as your gear allows) is not acceptable. Consistently failing to interrupt mob heals is not acceptable. Refusing to stop a rotation to pop a defensive cooldown for themselves or another player in the event it's needed is not acceptable. The dungeon is oriented towards more intelligent play than the "AoE everything" mindset that dominates other Wrath 5-mans, and the group will probably fail if it takes that approach.

Trees: In healing all of the new content, one of the things I've noticed is that groups tend to come in two varieties:
  1. Those who interrupt and CC the mobs, and:
  2. Those who don't.
#1, as you might expect, is considerably easier to heal. There is a great deal of tank damage in the new ICC 5-mans and HoR more particularly, which is made more dangerous by the fact that many of your GCD's will be devoted to decursing and dispelling poisons. Under the circumstances, it's especially maddening to see an oblivious group attempting to AoE down HoR trash packs while the Ghostly Priest heals without interruption and the mage Flamestrikes your group. You will have a much easier time asking specific DPS to keep an eye on particular mob attacks.

In decent gear and with a well-geared tank, it's more than possible to brute-force your way through the trash packs with massive healing throughput, but you are much more prone to a player gib in the event that you get CC'd for a few seconds. Because trash packs aggro within a few seconds after the last mob from the preceding pack dies, it's usually not possible to get a Revive off on a fallen party member; your only opportunity for a regular resurrection is going to be directly after defeating Falric. Consequently, DPS need to be very careful with their threat, because once you burn Rebirth, it's not going to be up again before your group finishes the trash/bosses.

5. Make sure your reagents are well-stocked

While groups are still learning and gearing in the new 5-mans, you will be battle-rezzing a lot (incidentally, it's usually the only resurrection spell that has a prayer of going off between trash waves in HoR), and you may also be in the position of having to rebuff Mark/Gift of the Wild constantly. If you run a lot of 5-mans, a Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth can save you a lot of gold in the long run. If you're constantly rebuffing Gift and burning through a lot of expensive Wild Spineleaf, you can cheap out by simply buffing Mark, especially because most competent groups will burn through an average dungeon in less than half an hour anyway. Use a mod like SmartBuff or HealBot Continued to make sure your group is buffed at all times (and Thorns is on the tank).

6. If you are the leader, freaking lead.

Do not assume that everyone in the group has done the dungeon previously, and you should ratchet that paranoia by a factor of 4,000 if you've landed one of the new Icecrown 5-mans or Oculus. Without exaggeration, almost every single Oculus run I've pugged through LFG has had at least one player who was completely new to the instance and wanted to leave it before the group convinced them to stay. These dungeons are straightforward if someone takes 20 seconds to explain what a new player can expect.

Every week, Shifting Perspectives treks across Azeroth in pursuit of truth, beauty, and insight concerning the druid class. Sometimes it finds the latter, or something good enough for government work. Whether you're a Bear, Cat, Moonkin, Tree, or stuck in caster form, we've got the skinny on druid changes in patch 3.3, a close look at the disappearance of the bear tank, and thoughts on why you should be playing the class (or why not).