Warning: This is the story of my first Naxx PuG. It is a big post – sorry for the length – but I found the experience very personally instructive in PuG etiquette and raiding overall. Hope it keeps your interest and/or helps you, too.
Summer vacation is upon us and that means raid members jetting off left and right to go enjoy the sun and surf in warm bits of the world. This left my pally and I completely raidless on Sunday which we were enjoying by doing Argent Tournament dailies and Midsummer Fire Festival achievements.
Enter a fellow raid member (herein refered to as “FRM”) from our Sunday evening 10-man group, who invited us to a half-PuG 25-man Naxx that evening. After a quick discussion my pally and I agreed to go. We were told to show up at 7pm for the raid. Before we logged off for non-WoW stuff later in the day, I made sure that I was raid-ready, just as I would for our regular raids:
- Fish feasts in tow? Check.
- Armor repaired/gemmed/enchanted? Check.
- Non-fish-feast buff food? Check.
- Flasks – both mana regen and spellpower, as needed? Check.
- Reagents? Check.
- Bags clear of fishing detritus, unnecessary ore/skins, etc? Check.
When we logged on after dinner around 6:30pm, no one was online. Unphased, we galloped around working on various dailies and achievements, ready to roll if the call came through. 7:00pm. FRM was not on yet. We weren’t sure who was running the raid or if it was even happening. (Maybe they couldn’t find enough PuGs to fill out the raid?) 7:10pm. FRM logged on and a quick conversation ensued: “Is it happening?” “Yes, yes, expect an invite from X in a few minutes.” A few more minutes passed and eventually 7:30 rolled around and we were now in a raid, in a vent, and two of only a few actually inside Naxx. (Normally I would help with summoning but there was a bit of chaos outside and I decided I could be more helpful by just stepping out of the way.) Loot rules were posted, and they were different enough from ours that I jotted them down so I don’t forget them.
Once everyone was in the instance and buffed, I glanced around to see if anyone else had dropped a fish feast (they hadn’t), but before I could remedy the situation we were off and running. I chowed down on some buff food quickly and got to healing. “The name of the game is Full Clear,” our raid leader announced, and he headed into the Construct Quarter. It was now almost 8pm.
We got to Patchwerk pretty quickly. The main tank wasn’t pausing for breath, which was fine by me since my mana regen is good enough that I don’t really need breath between trash mobs. At Patchwerk healing assignments were handed out – everyone assigned to a tank but me. I got the job of “raid heal”. I was a bit confused by this since my experience with Patchwerk and everything I’ve ever heard was that the dps never needs heals – if they pulled aggro they were going to be instantly dead, but they should never have aggro anyway. I decided on a secret compromise – I kept an eye on the DPS but also kept rolling HoTs on the three tanks. We did, in fact, lose three DPS during the fight. I watched as the border around their names flashed red and they went from 100% to 0% in a split second. (In retrospect, I feel fairly confident that there’s nothing I could have done to save them.) We killed Patchwerk and moved on past Frogger.
The Loot Master stayed behind to divide up the loot, and I waited alone on the opposite side of the death-bubbles to make sure he survived Frogger okay. The Raid Leader gave us a moment between trash, and I dropped a fish feast for the raid. After we successfully downed Grobbulus, the Raid Leader asked for a healer to stay back and heal the two guys kiting the zombies around in Gluth’s chamber. There was dead silence for a moment, so I volunteered. I’ve always been up in front, so I thought this would be a new challenge. Plus one of the guys kiting was my pally, and I’m kind of attached to keeping him alive. The back of the chamber was surprisingly easy. I kept rolling HoTs on the kiters, who in return kept zombies off of me, and I used my big heals when Decimate hit. The Healer Leader decided that I alone would be responsible for the Main Tank in the next Quarter and switched her Holy Priest to Shadow to try out her gear on Thaddius. She whispered some very complimentary things about my healing, I tree-blushed and thanked her, and we moved on to the final boss of the Construct Quarter.
The fight was explained, we ran up on our respective sides, the tanks got to ride the “Tank-Throw-Fun-Coaster”, and we jumped the ledge to Thaddius. Only 80% of us made it. Once there, half the group got confused about where to go, and we started the bulk of the fight with 6 dead. While the rest of us mostly survived, there wasn’t enough DPS to down him so eventually Thaddius enraged, and we wiped. This happened two more times.
And that’s when the more unpleasant side of the PuG aspect started to really show up. I admit that I haven’t been in PuGs very often – never in a long PuG like Naxx. I’ve been lucky enough through friends and guild members to get involved in two very well-organized raiding efforts (one 10-man, the other 25-man) and have pretty much stuck with them. Not knowing the etiquette, I was simply trying my best to be as helpful and polite as I possibly could at this point.
Between each wipe half a dozen people went randomly afk without word. Sometimes they just disappeared from their computers halfway to the boss room and then suddenly showed up 5 minutes later. The Raid Leader and Master Looter were starting to get annoyed. Some people didn’t listen to instructions or got confused or distracted and things needed to be repeated multiple times. It was now almost 10pm. Our regular raid normally ends at 10:30, but I had told our FRM that we could stay tonight until 11pm. This turned out to be “leaving early” as far as the Master Looter was concerned, since one of our other regular raid members who was invited mentioned it in raid chat (as she was on a similar schedule). Minor drama ensued over people-who-don’t-tell-us-they-need-to-leave-early-and-inconvenience-everyone. By this time I had already informed the Raid Leader in whisper that my pally and I would need to go by 11pm, which he told me was “annoying :P”.
Eventually it all came together – people made the jump, mostly everyone stayed alive and on the correct side, and Thaddius died before smooshing us.
We headed into the Military Quarter and successfully got through everything (with only a few more afk’s slowing us up). At the Four Horsemen, I volunteered to go into the back with the two people who were tanking and another healer (a strong holy paladin). My pally was one of the tanks. A warlock was the other. I was a bit concerned about the squishy nature of the warlock, but I trusted that the raid leader knew what he was doing. The fight started. I had full (and I do mean full) HoTs up on the warlock and her pet, and I watched in horror, slamming every oh-s*** button I know, as her health, regardless of my heals, plummeted straight down to 0%. I called it out in vent, but the holy pally and my pally were unable to react quickly enough, and the raid wiped. I admitted my fault immediately after the wipe, explaining that I couldn’t keep the warlock alive despite my efforts. The holy pally defended me in vent, explaining that healing warlocks in the back is very difficult. A priest trotted back to help with heals, we all survived in the back, and we defeated the four guys easily.
At this point it was 11pm. The Raid Leader was talking about how Naxx can be cleared by midnight if we try hard enough, and my pally and I were ready for bed, especially as we had work the next day. I dropped a final “I’m sorry we have to leave now” fish feast outside the Plague Quarter for the gathered raiders, and we were off.
While the Master Looter was still clearly annoyed, everyone else was very gracious to us. I wrote an in-game letter the the Main Healer thanking her for her help and support and got a very nice reply the next day.
And so ended my first major mostly-PuG outing – going on a long raid where I didn’t know the leaders or most of the other members. Since I didn’t know what to expect going in, I approached the raid with a fair amount of patience and good humor. The afk’s were a little annoying, but I figure they are par for the course in most PuGs. The attitude about amount of time planned for the raid surprised me a bit (our regular 25-man usually cleared Naxx in 4 hours and scheduled the raid as such), so I know now going into my next PuG that I need to be up front with the raid leaders about how much time I have to give. Four hours seems like a lot to me, but it may not seem like a lot to them. As for healing assignments? I learned that if I do my job and look out for my fellow raid members, I may be rewarded with better jobs in the future. And even if I’m not, being part of the raid is the fun bit. Having to heal people who I’d never met and couldn’t necessarily anticipate was an interesting challenge that made me a better healer. Besides, I wasn’t looking for amazing loot, I was looking to have fun in a raid. And I discovered that just observing the basic raiding niceties (dropping fish feasts, automatically rebuffing, waiting/rezzing at Frogger, being ready to go and not disappearing randomly) gets you surprisingly far with people. Since my current raid schedule is rather full, I doubt I’ll be doing many PuGs, but I appreciate having gotten the chance to do one Sunday, as I’m a better player and PuGer for it.