Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How do I take the command over the random PUG?

I rarely try to take the leadership when I’m doing group activities in WoW. It isn’t because I’m afraid of leading other people; I think it’s rather because of my lack of deep knowledge in other classes and game mechanics. I’ve always thought I would make a poor instructor to tanks and healers what to do, whom to heal or which mob to charge, taunt, whatever, so I’ve happily left those decisions to others, more experienced players.

This first week with the new LFG tool has made me change my mind completely. I see no other alternative but to step up and take the command, or my sanity level will go down in the drain, the same way it has for Tamarind at Righteous Orbs

Every time I start looking for a random dungeon, I also tick the box for “willing to lead”.

One reason for this sudden interest in taking the lead is of course that I nourish a little hope that this somehow will shorten my waiting time; being a pure dps:er it tends to be longer than for tank- and healing-willing hybrids.

But the major motive is another one; I’m desperately trying to make the run a bit smoother and save myself some repair bills.

Ready checks removed?
Even though I’m generally pleased with the new feature – which facilitates group play even at the most odd hours – there is one nerve-wracking aspect I’ve encountered every single run I’ve been into so far. It’s the crazy rush at the beginning of every instance.

What is it with those tanks who feel compelled to charge whatever they see without even looking at their fellow players once?

I don’t expect the group to be a social club, especially not since we’re not likely to ever meet each other again, but this hasn’t got to do with socializing, it’s a matter of efficiency. You don’t really save any time by not letting people buff up and fill their mana bars before the first pull!

Now, don’t get me wrong. Once we’ve started I’m the first one to enjoy keeping a good speed, chain pulling trash mobs, only stopping to drink before boss fights. I was always a big fan of gauntlets and timed runs, such as the one in Shattred Halls once upon a time, Black Morass, Violet Hold or Zul Aman. And I just love the new gauntlet and the final chase in Halls of Reflection. Speed = fun.

But it’s fun only if everyone is prepared for it and you’re on the track from the beginning. It’s not fun if you’re running after the tank, desperately trying to catch up, while you’re trying to get in range of the others long enough to inspect their specs and figure who would make best use of a focus magic.

As far as I know of Blizzard hasn’t removed the Ready Check function in 3.3. But some people seem to think they have. And that’s the reason why I tick the box. Always.

How to take the lead
The only problem is that getting the formal leadership of the group isn’t the same thing as being the one who actually leads it. While I in real life without any problem whatsoever can grab the attention and silence of a big audience if needed, it’s not the same in a PUG. It doesn’t matter how much I clear my throat or step up on the imaginative soapbox so they can see the smallish gnome. They just don’t listen.

I don’t know why. Maybe the tanks are so used to taking the lead that they won’t notice when someone else has it? The new colour in the party chat obviously isn’t enough to pull their attention.

And now I’m asking out of curiosity: has anyone else found a miracle cure that works, some way to gain control over the group? A healer can just refuse to heal. But a dps? What can you really do? How can I frost nova or at least snare them so they’ll spend one minute on the buffing and ready-check procedure?

Tamarind shared a macro he has made to clarify his healing philosophy to his party:

/p Hello, I will be healing your PUG today. Please note these three simple rules for your comfort and convenience:/p If we wipe, we all run, including the tank. If you pull aggro I won’t heal you. If you stand in bad stuff I won’t heal you either. Enjoy!

Perhaps I should make my own version of it:

/p Hello, I will be leading your PUG today. For your own convenience don’t start this run before we’ve buffed up and everyone’s ready. Tanks who insist on not checking the mana bars before a boss fight will be vote kicked. Dps who pull aggro from the tank will be vote kicked too. Don’t stand in bad stuff. Greed on Frozen orbs. Enjoy!

Would it work? Am I too harsh pulling the "vote kick card" too easily? I'm not a natural born jerk, I just get the impression that in the world of PUGs a bit of jerk jargong sometimes is necessary if you want to claim some kind of authority. Or does anyone else have a better suggestion for how to make you listened to and make the tank at least do a ready check before charging in?


Magma said...

Macro sounds like a good idea to me actually. And as long as they are honestly trying, they wouldn't be kicked out of my or your groups. (Assuming)

Klepsacovic said...

/p Hello, I will be leading your PUG today. For your own convenience don’t start this run before we’ve buffed up and everyone’s ready. Tanks, please check the mana bars before a boss fight and DPS, watch your aggro. Don’t stand in bad stuff. Greed on Frozen orbs. Enjoy!

Flex said...

I ran SM Library last night on my lowbie warrior, with my wife healing on her lowbie priest.

The experience got me very hot under the collar. We had a warlock who kept pulling his own trash mobs and which I (stupidly) kept picking up. DPS who wouldn't focus fire or stop runners, so they regularly aggroed the next group, pet users who allowed their pet to run off and tank a mob in a corridor when I'm trying to LOS pull.

What should have been a completely stress free run was a three-wipe fiasco.

I didn't try the vote kick, but honestly I think it wouldn't have been much good. The real risk there is that the other DPS would be simply too wet behind the ears to recognise there was a problem and agree to kick the bad player. And while instantly getting a group as a tank/healer combo is great, the 15 minute deserter debuff I'd get if I ragequit the instance makes me feel like I'm incarcerated with these idiots against my will.

But then, that's just pugging, I guess. If I really wanted a stress free 5-man I'd just hop on my main and faceroll heroics with my guild.

Maybe I'll try the macro idea though next time we do a lowbie run, but regardless of whether I'm leader:

Hello, I will be tanking for you today.
Please focus your damage on the skull.
Please do not pull targets, I will do that for you.
Please use your abilities to prevent mobs running away when they are low on health.
I'm up for a quick and painless run if you are. And if you're not, it'll be quicker for me to drop group, wait 15 minutes, and join a new pug than to wipe while you learn to play.

Ok, I don't know how well that'll go over. But it's certainly what I feel like saying.

Elnia said...

/p Hello. I am insane. No, not The Insane. Not the title. Insane as in cuckoo, nuts, bonkers. I actually chose to use this feature....again. Here is my actual physical location. Please send some to take me to the mental hospital. Or just shoot me.

Kiseran said...

I'd say taking lead as a DD is pretty much impossible, because nowadays tanks kinda see it as their privileg to lead the group. If you try to hard to lead your tank might just get pissed and you will find out that a group is usually led by the guy who is first in the line to the next mob. And threatening to kick them will just make them laugh because they know fully well that they will be jumping instantly into their next group while you might wait 15 minutes to go on.
I really know no way of you taking lead, but that might be because my usual partner is a really hotheaded tank who would give you hell for trying to take the lead (he is fully capable of handling) from him.

Kromus said...

I love the tanks that charge forward with no remorse for his other players, it makes it go so much faster!

HOwever, whether they leave the healer or make him run out of mana by this, depends on the judgement of the tank, but depending on that judgement it can go awesomely, which is where us awesome DPS(like yourself) come in to solo the elite mobs before they get close anyway :D

Stabs said...

Yes it will probably work sometimes.

It wouldn't work on me if I were tanking. If I'm tanking I go at my speed unless someone types something different. Even there if someone types "wait" I'll ask "for?" and if I don't get an answer I'll start pulling unless they're the healer.

From doing a lot of pug tanking I've realised that many players are kinda anal about missing any of the action so they'll ask you to wait in easy content just because they're answering the front door even though you don't need them to kill stuff.

Stabs said...

@Flex "I didn't try the vote kick, but honestly I think it wouldn't have been much good"

You absolutely can do that. Stop pulling ask your wife to stop healing and vote kick the warlock telling the others that if they don't vote you'll both leave. 99% of the time you'll get the votes, no one wants to see the tank and healer hearth out.

Carra said...

Hey, kick the tank if DPS gets agro from a mob.

And of course: roll a tank. You'll be the natural lead and can keep an eye on the healers mana bar.

Gevlon said...

Whoa! Larísa is pissed enough by the M&S to threaten by vote kick! Way to go!

BTW I can answer your question easily: regardless spec or gear give the focus magic to the healer. Even to a tree.

DPS with focus magic = +3% chance to pull aggro. Healer with focus magic = +3% chance to keep that 50K stamina 0 dodge 0 parry 0 block idiot alive.

Issy said...

Hmm we have actually had problems with the *ready* part, because while /readycheck does still work.. it only seemed to be the party leader that could do it.

Also we were using raid warnings before *Pulling Now Be Ready* which no longer seem to function in party.

Koch ( Dwarf) has resorted to yelling *Charge* just before he does :)

Though (biased as I am) he is one of the more polite tanks around and says hello to people and explains things if needed - and he even lets me take mana breaks :P

spinksville said...

I'd laugh if any leader tried telling me that I had to wait for buffs when I know I don't need them.

It wouldn't bother me if someone else wanted to mark, but I'll just mark over them. It's not personal, just I have the marks bound and I do use them sometimes and I don't trust other people's marking.

Christian said...

I think macros work for healers or tanks because, while they sound kind of pretentious, they are also coming from someone who is not easily replaced, and presumably has some preferences that are important for the run's flow.

"I'm your party's healer, hi!" is vastly different from "I'm your party's leader, hi!" Especially if it comes with vote-kick threats.

I have always gotten positive responses by just being somewhat talkative. Open the run by saying hi, how you doing, etc. Acknowledge when people respond and transition to forward movement, like "Rockin, okay, let's kill monsters and get some phat loots!"

Oftentimes, by coming off as friendly and "intelligent enough to use full sentences," I find you have a little more leverage when it comes to talking about boss strats or pulls or whatnot.

Flawlless of Kul Tiras said...

This is mine:
/p Hello, I will be tanking your PUG today. If you don't drink, you don't want a mana-break. Follow the Skull. Don’t stand in stuff. Melee from behind. Focus Magic on Healer if you are an Arcane Mage. Greed on Frozen Orb. BUFF UP & Enjoy!

Larísa said...

@Magma: Yeah, I really think I’ll make some kind of PUG-introduction macro. Even if I haven’t got the lead, at least I can make a one-button-push effort to try to make people to stop up and listen for a second.

: this sounds nice. Without any threats. Wonder if it will work.

@Flex: nice little rant there! Maybe too long for a macro and an overkill for experienced players. Still I think you could save one corpse run or another if you gave the fresh players a short lecture on how to play like that.

@Elnia: You’ve must have had some REALLY bad experiences in the new pug-system. I’m just a little bit grumpy about the initial rush. But apart from that I actually think it’s pretty cool.

@Kiseran: ouch. Tough luck for me then trying to take the lead. Only way to get it is to roll a tank? Depressing.

@Kromus: I don’t mind quick tanks and chain pulling. What I do mind is a silly start where they don’t check that everyone’s ready. That’s not cool at all. Just childish and stupid.

@Stabs: Again I don’t mind a high speed and yes, if the instance is trivial, everyone doesn’t have to be active in every single fight, you can push forward even if someone has to go afk for a minute. But the START of the instance run. I can’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be coordinated.

@Carra: ”roll a tank”. Yeah, that would be the solution… I honestly don’t think so. To be left out of endgame raiding for a year or more, which it definitely would take me to learn that kind of stuff, isn’t anything I’d do voluntarily.

@Gevlon: Yep, I can get a bit pissed too, even though it takes a lot before I get there! Always giving FM to the healer in a PUG sounds like a good advice tbh. I’ll think about that.

@Issy: that sounds like a polite tank indeed!

@I haven’t seen any marking in the pugs I’ve done. Not once. I don’t think people bother much about marking these days, those instances on farm. Maybe it’s different in pugs on lower gear level. Buffs isn’t just about what the tank needs, it’s about what everyone in the group needs. Why not wait for people to get ready? I just fail to see the reason.

: When I’ve said ”hi” I’ve never gotten any replies. People just don’t talk at all. Which is all nice with me, as long as we’ve established the rules in the beginning. That’s why I think a macro would come handy. I don’t know if it would just sound pathetic if I would make one, being a dps. I think I’ll give it a try though.

: Nice macro. So you’re actually using one? I wonder how long it will take before those will become common.

Underbridge said...

This is a little bit off topic here I think but the person you took the idea from strikes me as having a terrible attitude. If I saw that macro I would probably leave the instance on my own to avoid getting saved to it then having the healer quit or kick someone after a wipe because he didn't heal anyone.

I mean if you read the macro he is basically saying "if you take damage I am not healing you." Why the hell would you roll a healer if you had no intention of healing? It's like tanks who say they wont save you if you pull aggro, I mean god damn! Your the fricken tank, it isn't hard to taunt. I have a tank and a Healer, I also have 4 DPS all max level and geared through raids I know how it works and how frustrating it can be. Threatening people with kicking, or letting them die is the worst kind of attitude in WoW right now and will net you more resentment and ill will than you might think.

Control through threats is terrorism btw.

lonomonkey said...

Tanks are leading. No matter what you say or do in the end most tanks know that the run will move at their speed. I know when I'm tanking that I'll move at the speed I feel comfortable with and if it's not good enough I can always get a new group. It take 5 seconds getting a group with a tank so the kick-vote card doesn't have much weight.

timejumper said...


You can also lead without actually declaring yourself a leader with a macro such as:

"Welcome all. It would be great if the tank would wait for mana and buffs before engaging. DPS should be sure to not pull aggro and no one needs to stand in the fire. With your cooperation, this can be a fast, easy run."

This way, you won't appear to be bossy, but you've cleared the way to offer additional instructions if needed.


Ron said...

I've had almost a complete opposite experience as you. I started off using the Dungeon Finder on my DPS ( ret pally ) those runs went well enough.

I recently completely switched to using my DK tank. She's not very geared, but is def capped. I usually will put out a "Hi", I'll usually get a "Hello" back from almost everyone. I wait 10-20 seconds and put out a "Ready?". I then will chain-pull until someone calls out for mana. If we hit a boss, I'll wait a few secs until everyone seems topped off and make the pull. This has worked well for me.

When my gear was quite a bit lower it seemed like people needed more time to buff up and get situated. But as I've gotten more gear ( and the DPS i've been grouped up with have been more and more geared) people are ready almost instantly. Sometimes dps have even "encouraged" me to go faster.

As for your macro, I really doubt it would work. A DPS threathening to kick a tank is almost silly, since whenever I've queued up as a tank the response is almost instant. Plus, in my opinion, in 5-mans, unless you're running one of the new ICC ones, or aren't well geared, it doesn't require a leader. As long as the healer is keeping up with the tank, if the DPS take a little extra time, or aren't at peak efficiency, the mobs will still go down. That's just my opinion though.

G-Rebel said...

If you want to take lead, more power to ya! That's great. Maybe instead of threatening to vote kick you could threaten with an extensive lecture on the dangers of pulling aggro, with graphs and a slide show.

I would be more afraid of having to listen to somebody rant for 5 minutes than get kicked and just find a new group to mess up.

Bristal said...

I've always felt that healers should be leading groups. Leaders need to be tacticians, watching and keeping the team focused, reminding about enrages, warnings, noticing things going wrong.

That's what the healers do. Sit and watch everyone. I love hearing "Bristal fire!", it makes me feel like I'm on a team and not just pushing buttons.

Tanks of course "lead" the charge and are responsible for the timing of a pull, but when they're on a boss they are totally focused on the micro battle in front of them. Keeping track of everyone else is asking a bit much.

And we all know that healers are kinder, gentler, and have a better temperament for communicating, right? Tanks are cranky jerks looking to pick a fight.

I think your verbage IS a bit aggressive, but you could certainly tone it down a bit and I'd certainly welcome that kind of communication & leadership in a pug.

mike said...

I dunno, anyone who starts a PUG with a set of rules and threats simply because they have decided they are "in charge"...that immediately wouldn't sit well with me.

Don't get me wrong, the things you and Tam's macros describe are no-brainers and I agree with them absolutely, but it's not like a PUG leader has earned my respect simply because they checked the "willing to lead" box.

I think starting a PUG off by TELLING and not ASKING is just asking for trouble. Timejumper's friendly greeting and gentle leadership is much more appealing to me.

Inno said...

I don't really use any kind of introduction beyond "Hello everyone, looks like we have everyone here, are we ready to go?"

As a somewhat tank I have the following macro on standby.

/p Kill order : {skull}, {cross}, {square}...Any questions?

I've found that if I'm not the leader and use the "r?" question in party chat that I don't get many responses, but people do respond to the handy dandy macro button /readycheck if I'm the leader.

The one thing I don't like is the inability to whisper players from cross realm play. I would prefer to be able to kindly ask somebody to settle down or what-not without having to air it out to everyone in the party.

When the run is over I tell everyone something along the lines of "It was nice meeting you all, have a good one". If there was somebody in the group that I just can't stand I have the ability now to use the /ignore feature and I don't have to worry about grouping with them again.

Klepsacovic said...

@Larisa: It's best to avoid having to use authority to get things done. When people can just ignore you and leave, all you accomplish is getting bumping back into the queue. Ideally you can instill some amount of sense without having to beat it into them.

But I acknowledge that there does exist a tiny minority of players who are the worst combination of stupid, lazy, and inconsiderate. It is because of that type of player that I mourn the loss of my ability to unilaterally kick people.

Boleuge said...

I had so much fun tanking one group...honest. After asking they focus fire the add I marked up, they discovered that oh so fun new feature that anyone in a 5 man party can mark mobs, so proceeded to mark the mob they as individual dpsers had decided to attack rather than the one that I, as the tank, had decided to attack first. Combined with a healer who refused to move with the group I was happy when I got vote kicked and whispered 'Learn to tank noob'

One bad run the rest have been great but sometimes that one bad experience can put you off.

Kring said...

The concept of leading should be to improve to group as a whole and
not to make the group go your way.

If you want to lead me you have to have power over me.

Things that give you power over me are:
- You ask nicely for a reasonable thing. I'm not a dick, after all. (A hunter who demands a mana break for trash is NOT a reasonable thing :-)
- You are the tank. Ultimate power in a group.
- You are the healer (If I have to. In most dungeons I can get my two
EoF without any heal as DD. So if you're a bitch I'll ignore you and
happily pay my repair bill if I'll die once or twice in unavoidable
damage. I have more money then I need so the threat of a repair bill
will never give you power over me.)
- Anyone explaining a new boss or different strategy they think would
be better.

Things that do not give you power over me:
- You have been elected by a random algorithm because you checked a
- Threatening me.
- Threatening me with something you can't even do. Everyone in a group
can ask for a vote-kick, not only the leader. And you would need two
more persons in the group to get a kick through.