Last week's discussion on how (and how not) to offer advice to underperforming Dungeon Finder groupmates garnered hundreds of comments and reader e-mails. Whether you choose to kick underperformers or to press on, it's how you handle the situation that makes the group (and you) worth being around. We aren't alone in feeling that softening the barrage of criticism that seems to be going around is the real matter at hand.
"I was so pleased to read your last column about PUG drama with the new Dungeon Finder," wrote in reader Necrodancer of EU Terokkar, "but I was really disappointed to see that most of the commenters were discussing what DPS and gear requirements are required for this or that Heroic, rather than how we behave towards casual or less experienced players in PUGs. DPS and gear requirements may well be up for debate, but what isn't up for debate is that we should be treating each other in a friendly and respectful manner.
"The reason I'm writing is this: please, please stick with this issue for just a little longer. A worrying attitude is spreading through the community that it's perfectly ok to be rude, abusive and cruel to players whose only crime is playing WoW less frequently than the hardcore set. A good hardcore player should recognise that not everyone is going to play the game the same way they do. They can't expect every PUG to be full of power-players decked out in Tier Bazillion gear and pumping out 5K DPS in every fight. To them I say have patience, be nice and above all, remember that it's all for fun."
And so we come to this week's question from a Dungeon Finder fan who's feeling a bit "Abused and Confused."
Dear Drama Mamas: Last night, I was running H CoS on my mage, gearing her for frost PvE (I know it's not optimal, but it is viable -- and my favorite). The group I was in consisted of a hunter, death knight, shaman (healer) and paladin (tank). The pally tank was fully geared in at least ToGC gear (if not ICC), but the other DPS were obviously just graduating to Heroics. The tank was upset that my DPS was only slightly above his and that the hunter and DK were well below him. He proceeded to insult and belittle the DPS for being below him and started swearing, because he thought we would not be able to get the extra boss (and therefore the extra badge). I told him to stop being so rude, that the DPS were here to gear up and he should lay off; he just told me I was a scrub ...
I can understand his frustration. He feels like he is missing out on a chance to get an extra badge. However, I don't think it is necessary to verbally abuse other players just because of their place on the meters. If we had been in ToC or one of the new five-man heroics, I think he would have a point. But CoS is a lower-level heroic than those instances, and the DPS were par for the course.
... I don't think it is fair to mock someone because their toon isn't as geared as you would like it to be. Isn't that why they're here? I guess my question is, who was right? I get that the general rule is for the DPS to be above the tank. But how is that fair when your tank is pulling near 3K DPS? How can he ask that the DPS be competitive if he isn't willing to run low-level heroics with them? Do they (we) deserve to be made fun of because our alts are not as geared as their mains, because we are here trying to gear them? Signed, Abused and Confused
Drama Mama Lisa: Let's scrub up for a little PUG surgery -- but it's not the bad players who deserve the knife. Rather, it's the social scrubs we need to excise. These are the players who believe it's their place in the world to "school the n00bs," turning every group into an ugly display of selfish, egocentric lecturing. These are the players who play not with their groupmates but despite them.
Let's be clear: You will meet players who are utterly unqualified for some of the more difficult instances in the game. It's perfectly appropriate to suggest that those players to try again another time: "I've run this instance quite a bit, and it's tough. I'm not sure we'll be able to succeed with your current output. I think we're going to have to ask you to step out until you're a little stronger." You can always vote to kick if they refuse to leave, or you can drop the group yourself -- after all, the wait for the debuff to wear off will undoubtedly be shorter than the time spent beating your head against the wall in a doomed group.
I hope it goes without saying that the tank from Abused and Confused's letter was a social scrub of the highest order. Making a spectacle of yourself by pitching a fit when others aren't serving your personal ambitions is ... embarrassing, to say the least. Still, let's consider a few observations about situations in which your groupmates' abilities seem especially mismatched.
- If you feel a group is too weak to complete specific achievements or tasks that are important to you, drop out of the group. Again, what's a better use of your time: waiting out a 15-minute debuff (while doing something else productive), or wasting time in a group that's not on the same page? Your best bet would be to rely on guildmates and friends or to assemble your own group via the LookingForGroup channel.
- Remember when we were all tearing up the Wrath Heroics with 1k-1.5k DPS? Yeah, people really and truly did that. Your group can, too. No matter what your own performance looks like today, it's completely unnecessary to boot a player simply for producing that range of output in those instances.
- Think a level 80 player ought to be on top of his or her game? Think again. Times have changed. WoW's design slingshots players up through the levels in no time flat. Yes, players should get their sea legs in the regular level 80 instances first -- but that doesn't mean they'll be polished players by the time they hit Heroics. Adjust expectations accordingly.
- The mark of a good player isn't the sum of the numbers flashing by on Recount or GearScore -- it's how well he can contribute to the group. If your group is struggling because you can't tone down your pulls for a slower healer or because you keep yanking aggro away from your tank, then you're clearly failing as an effective player. A failure to adjust is exactly what it sounds like: failure.
- Should you be forced to carry groupmates who are truly unsuited for the task? Absolutely not. Ask them politely to leave the group (see above), vote to kick them or drop the group yourself.
- Are you sure you're really annoyed at having to "carry" a weaker groupmate -- or are you actually worried about having to perform if you don't have four overgeared groupmates capable of carrying you?
What's the difference between the player everyone wants to group with again and again and That Guy everyone puts on /ignore? It's really not terribly complicated. Stay chill, be friendly and have fun out there.
I think that together with last week's Drama Mamas and Lisa's reply here, as well as Allison's feedback in her defense of ignorance, we have wrestled this topic to the ground and are waiting for the count. So here's a summary:
- To the complainer: We really think you would be happier if you stopped running Recount and worrying about whether you are carrying people -- but I guess that is part of your fun. Try to be kinder about giving your unsolicited advice.
- To the complainee: It's up to you as to whether you want to continue the run; it's only a 15-minute debuff. Two wrongs don't make a right, though, so being rude back is not going to win you any friends.
- To the observer: If you are witnessing the incident but not actually participating, try to kindly stop the advice giving/receiving and move the instance forward. Good or bad, PUGs are better when they are quick and involve less friction.
- To everyone: Whether you are confident in your skills and well-geared, just working your way into non-solo activities, or somewhere in between, the best thing you can do for your PUG experience is make sure you are the best you can be. You are the only player you really have any control over. You should make sure you know your role, have donned the best gear available to you (have you gone faction vendor shopping lately?) and that your gear is at least cheaply gemmed and enchanted. Also, save the Heroics until you have had lots of practice and gear upgrades in the regulars. (This applies to you hardened raiders trying out a different class/role, too.)
Drama Buster Tip of the Week: As desperate as you may feel to escape from overwrought holiday festivities and get back to your game, make sure you're not going to be called away in the middle of something that's hard to quit. If you're not certain that friends and family will leave you in uninterrupted peace, it's probably best for everyone if you don't get sucked into something that will keep you away from the gang for too long. Enjoy friends and family, and build a little faction offline. WoW will still be here later!
Remember, your mama wouldn't want to see your name on any drama. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.