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Officers' Quarters: PUGs are people too

Scott Andrews

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available this spring from No Starch Press.

As Wrath of the Lich King winds down, interest in the current raiding scene will wane. Members will play less, attend less, or even quit the game until the next expansion draws them back in. More and more guilds will have no choice but to invite PUG players to fill their remaining slots. When PUGs join your raid, loot can become an even more sensitive issue. This week, one player is fed up watching PUGs win loot over fellow guildies.


I'm writing to you Scott to request assistance or advice with an issue i seem to be having. I'm the offtank for my 10 man ICC guild, we only have 1 wing down, but we are extremely casual. Usually during our runs we will take 1-3 pugs with us as not everyone who signs up for a raid makes it. Here is where my issue comes in. The pug's get to roll on the gear that we guildies have been bashing our heads into a wall to get for the last month, and they WIN!! The GL/RL just hands it right on over like it's a piece of candy. I'm tired of it Scott and I don't know when to put my foot down as an officer and say "enough is enough" and "It's time for a change".

I do hope there is some advice that can be given on this situation because i feel it is unfair to our guildies that have worked hard for what we have while some pug comes in and just mops up. How do i bring this forward as an officer to our GL/RL without him just shrugging it off as me crying about not getting loot? I feel if things don't change soon i'm going to be leaving the guild (which other than this issue I LOVE) for another one that has more stern loot rules.


DK Tank is sad :(

Hi, DK Tank. I'm sorry you're sad. But the question I'd like to ask you is this: When a PUG player wins a roll, what is the alternative to giving them the item?

You could tell them they haven't earned it and give it to a guild member. As a result, they'd leave the run, most likely furious about the situation, and you'd have to replace them. They would never run with your guild again. Given that there's a finite amount of PUG players on your server good enough to run ICC, you'd run out of players to fill those empty slots pretty quickly, especially if word of your injustice spreads. Then what would you do on those nights where your guild is short a few players? You wouldn't be able to raid that night, and no one would get any loot at all, or even badges.

Likewise, what if you implemented "sterner" rules? I'd ask you what those rules could be. It sounds like you don't really want "sterner" rules, but rather rules that skew the outcome in favor of your guild members over PUG players. Any system that automatically favors your own players over PUGs will simply discourage PUGs from raiding with you. So that's not going to work.

Let's examine some systems that would be more formal, but also fair. You could plug your PUGs into a zero-sum DKP system where they automatically start at zero, putting them above some guild members and below others. Well, if you do that, you'd have to let them know upfront. Most of your PUGs aren't going to like being at this kind of disadvantage. They're coming to your runs to get loot, not to sight-see. If they know they can't even roll for certain items because someone else in the raid could have more points, why would they stick around?

What about Suicide Kings? It's more fair in theory, but since you'll have PUGs you'll have to start a new list each time. That isn't much better than rolling for each item. With SK, you've basically already rolled for priority on loot for the run as a whole. If your guild members are high on the list, that's great for you. However, if the PUGs roll high, your own players will be raiding that night already knowing most of them won't get loot. That can be pretty demoralizing -- even more so perhaps that losing the rolls each time loot drops. On the other hand, if the PUGs roll low, they may just bail on your run rather than get saved to a lockout where they aren't likely to win any loot.

Does your raid use loot caps? If so, they are handy for spreading loot among multiple players rather than the same person winning every item. Most PUGs have no problem with loot caps. Most people expect them and are grateful for them.

You seem to think your fellow guild members deserve the loot over PUGs because they've "been bashing their heads against a wall for the past month." It's certainly true that your players have done the work of mastering those encounters. And it's also true that most PUGs probably have not, and that they are taking advantage of your hard work by receiving loot from those bosses.

But what you have to understand is that those PUG players haven't been part of that history. They are there to make it possible for you to earn some ICC loot on that given night. You can't hold it against them that they weren't there for all those failed attempts. If anything, you should be more upset at your guild members who are signing up for raids and no-showing. They are the ones who are forcing you to bring in PUGs, and thereby making it very likely that some of the loot will go to players outside the guild.

Also, if one of your members has been losing a roll every week for an item they really need, the PUGs haven't been part of that history, either. It's not fair to hold that against them and deny them an item due to lost rolls in the past. You could announce at the beginning of a run that an item is "reserved" for a certain player, but you'll have to make sure everyone is comfortable with that before proceeding. Any PUG who also wants that item probably won't be very comfortable passing on it.

The only time you're justified in denying loot to a PUG player, in my opinion, is if that player was

  • AFK without notice at the start of the fight,
  • offline for the vast majority of the encounter, or
  • so terrible that you beat the boss in spite of them rather than because of them.
The last one is tricky to determine. Here's an example: If a melee player runs in front of Marrowgar at the pull and dies, they probably don't deserve loot from Marrowgar. If a healer was distracted by a Dukes of Hazzard rerun on TV and heals for only 50,000 health against Festergut, they don't deserve loot from Festergut. But these are extreme cases.

You could certainly set ground rules for what is acceptable. I've seen PUG runs where the raid leader will tell people before the first pull, "If you don't put out at least 5K DPS against a boss, you won't get loot from that boss." If you institute a rule like this, you need to tell people upfront. Such rules can be a double-edged sword, though. Players who are fearful of not hitting the benchmark may veer from the strategy to make sure they put up better numbers. They may only DPS Deathwhisper in Phase 1 or "forget" to run with the empowered flame spheres against the Blood Princes.

Be grateful to your PUG players when they know what they are doing and help you to beat bosses. They are the ones who are allowing you to continue raiding in the face of poor attendance.You might have worked to learn the encounters, but they still have to execute that strategy correctly in order to win. As such, they deserve the same chance at loot as anyone else in the raid.


Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!

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