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Shifting Perspectives: How to be a good PUG druid

Allison Robert

Every week, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week, everyone discovers (as I have been saying for years, but who listens to the bear tank with an ass the size of Cincinnati? No one, that's who) that PUG's are not so bad.

Moore returns with a ukulele. I'm going to pull out one of the big guns on the folk scene in the Americas -- Richard Shindell. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a high-quality version of this song available anywhere online, and I highly recommend listening to the versions off Shindell's Sparrow's Point or (more especially) the live album Courier. Yes, it starts off slow, but give it a chance. On A Sea of Fleur-de-Lis is a very odd, albeit poetic, song with esoteric lyrics, although they make a little more sense once you know they were written while Shindell was considering leaving Union Theological Seminary. Otherwise, as with many of Shindell's pieces, BYO subtext.

Beat that, Moore.

Anyway, after reading Archmage Pants' article on the new LFG system for mages and Daniel Whitcomb's guide on the same for death knights, I decided it wasn't fair letting a bunch of smelly DPS have all the fun.

"But some death knights tank," you object.

That's just a widely-disseminated myth, as all those of us on the Retaliation battlegroup know. You have tried the new LFG, right? Allow me to be the Virgil to your Dante in this new, more lucrative version of hell. Concerning tanks, by the way --

1. You can queue for dungeons as anything, but the process is a lot faster if you do so as a tank or healer

If you're geared to do whatever you like and simply want to enjoy LFG for its own sake, you'll be fine queuing as anything. However, if your priority is amassing a huge pile of badges to get yourself equipped in full Tier 9 for your preferred spec/s, the most expedient means of doing this is to go as a tank or healer.

Of these, the barrier to entry for a tank is considerably higher, and the group much more likely to be a punishing experience if your fellow players outgear you. Of the two "I can't even finish swigging my Pepsi before the queue pops" roles, it's easiest to start off healing, not least because you don't have any loot competition for a Need roll on leather +spellpower gear unless there's another druid in the group.

Admittedly, the barrier to entry for a DPS player is lower than that of a healer, but on my battlegroup I see 3-second waits as a tank (no joke), 5 to 7-second waits as a healer (score!), and 4 to 17-minute waits as a DPS (consolation; you can finish your Pepsi).

2. Only queue as a tank or healer
if you can tank or heal.

People have already noticed a rash of hybrid players popping into groups through the tank or healer option while not actually being specced or geared to do either. Don't lie about your toon's actual capabilities -- despite the queue times, only go as DPS if that's what you're comfortable doing. Otherwise, you get situations like the one I had last night after wiping on a Drak'tharon Keep trash pull and then finally inspecting the tank:

Me: Um, I'm sorry to ask, but are you Prot full-time?
Paladin "tank": No.
Me (eyeing his Mark of the War Prisoner and unenchanted, ungemmed "tanking gear"): I don't think you're defense-capped in your current gear.
Paladin: (silence)
Me: I'm pretty sure you need 535 +defense to tank this place.
Paladin: F**k no I don't.
Me: (discovers she is out of schnapps)
Paladin: Hey, can we do Better Off Dred?

3. When you queue can have a big impact on the group you get

If you're still gearing up and worried about running into players who massively outgear you, try to use LFG during typical raid times. Most raids span a period from roughly 7:30 pm to midnight, and that's a decent chunk of time to avoid the majority of raiders if you're apprehensive about being in a group with them.

Now, it has to be said that most people are perfectly friendly and this may seem like it's overly paranoid, but if you're queuing as a tank or healer, you are much more vulnerable to the problems that result from getting matched to a group with significantly better gear than yours. An outgeared tank will go prematurely gray trying to keep aggro against people in 245+ gear. An outgeared healer may not have the healing throughput or mana regen for a group that's chain-pulling dungeons. While most reasonable players will adjust to a tank who's doing as much threat as their gear allows, and will wait for a healer to drink between pulls when necessary, some won't.

Queuing during your own server's raid times isn't foolproof -- not all of the servers on your battlegroup are on the same timezone -- but you are much less likely to run into players with high-end raid gear between, say, 9:00 and 11:00 pm server time. Conversely, if you want the now-archetypal silent-but-deadly group that mows through pulls with brutal efficiency, you are more likely to find overgeared players outside of raid times.

4. Doing Halls of Reflection? Remove Curse and Abolish Poison are your friend.

Icecrown's three new 5-mans have some nasty damage in store, and Halls of Reflection trash has all of its keys mapped to Cursed Arrow, Deadly Poison, or Level 5 Death to Tank. On heroic, the failure to dispel these can result in a wipe due to the sheer amount of damage that can build, particularly if your healer gets CC'd in the interim.

Moonkin: A well-played moonkin can singlehandedly drop the difficulty of HoR trash. If your healer is a priest and struggling keep up, help them out by dispelling poisons (particularly if on the tank). If your healer is a paladin or priest, remove curses. On all 4 healing classes, keep an eye out for the healer Cowering (a magic debuff from the Ghostly Priest mobs that we can't do anything about), getting Kidney Shot by the Shadowy Mercenary, or being ice-trapped by the Tortured Riflemen (which we can't shift out of). In all three cases, that's 2-4 seconds where your healer is effectively out of the game.

As a tank and sometimes healer, I normally despise Typhoon and other knockback effects in dungeons (bonus points to the players Typhooning or Thunderstorming mobs into the next pull in Pit of Saron!), but here it can be a godsend. Use it to interrupt the Ghostly Priest's heals and/ or force some of the ranged mobs into a better position for the group. If your group needs the CC, Root the Spectral Footman or Shadowy Mercenary before they can reach the group (the Footman is probably a better target because the Mercenary is likely to shadowstep to the group anyway). Or, you can Root any of the mobs if the group has effectively LOS'd the entire pull (which they should be doing anyway).

Cats: Feral cats will point out that popping out of form all the time to dispel is a crippling DPS loss that may wind up impacting the group more negatively than if you'd just let the debuffs stay up, and that's entirely correct. However, that still leaves you with the problem of multiple enraged mobs doing a ton of damage, and one of them (the Priest) attempting to heal. If your healer or tank is in desperate need of some breathing room, consider using Maim as a finisher on one mob and burning Predator's Swiftness for an insta-Cyclone on another. The ability to shut down the damage output of two mobs should not be underestimated, particularly near the start of a pull. Don't forget to Innervate the healer on cooldown; there is very little time to drink between trash waves.

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