Where Have All the Good Men Gone?
The Ups and Downs of Pick-up Groups
At one point in time or another during your illustrious career as a MMO gamer, you’ve had to resort to looking for a PuG or Pickup Group. Pickup Group. To some it’s one of the dirtiest words that you’ll ever utter in context to a MMO.
“But wait Brokain,” you say, “aren’t MMO’s supposed to have people banding together to conquer harder content, build relationships, a sense of community, and in the process get phat lewts?”
Yup, you’d think that. Even still, saying the word “Pickup Group” tastes like ashes in peoples mouths. Today we’re going to explore the nature of the pickup group and why, to some, it has a bad connotation associated with it.
Lvl 69 Shadowknight, LFG
You’ve gotten to a point where soloing just isn’t cutting it. You’d like to hit level 70 before your grandkids graduate college while schooling you at EQ2000. So, with no guildies or friends online, you decide to get into a PuG. Here is the first part of why some people dislike PuG’s. The idea of grouping with people you don’t know can be daunting. Now, meeting people is part of an MMO, so why does this make people wary? I like to call it the “Random Idiot” factor. Through many University studies and testing, it’s come to be known that if you join a PuG, you will usually have no less than one but no more than five, random idiots (in some instances, you actually get no idiots in the group, and this turns out to be a profitable and thoroughly enjoyable experience but we’ll look at that later).These “random idiots” tend to bring a decent group crashing down using a variety of tried and true methods.
Dude, where’s my legendary fabled loot?
One of the worst things that can happen in a PuG is commonly referred to as “loot stealing”. Here’s how this works. You’re in a group running through Halls of Fate. You’ve spent hours running through there, killing named and you finally get to the Doomlord at the end. After a pitched battle, your group wins and is rewarded with a master chest drop! Now, the item in the chest is usable by only certain classes, for example Shadowknights/Paladins. The group declines the loot for the group Paladin who has worked his tankin’ little butt off to get you this far. One person lottos for the loot and wins… and he’s a WIZARD!!! He can’t use the object, hell it’s not even tradable, but he can sell it, as it is legendary/fabled gear, for a hefty sum to the vendor. After three grueling hours of tanking, what does our hero now have to show for it? Experience debt and a sizable armor repair bill. This can make the Paladin think twice about entering another PuG. Why bust your butt for people you don’t know just to have them screw you in the end? Better to go with people you know and get the Golden Fleece at the end of the voyage. These people are sometimes hard to spot as they sometimes wait until the master chest drops before they strike. One way to combat this is to designate the group leader the only person to loot… yeah, I didn’t think so. I wouldn’t go for it either. You just have to trust you don’t have any of these guys in your group and most the time you won’t, they’re rare as multiple occurrences of this can get them blacklisted in the community and that’s no good for them.
OMG! U R SUCH A n00b!!
Ever been around one of those people who knows it all? “No, you’re doing that wrong, it should be this way” is almost a mantra for them. These people can spoil a group experience faster than a free copy of Vanguard disappearing at a gaming convention. Nothing is worse than a person telling you that either your class sucks or you suck at playing said class. Now imagine this person doing this… THE WHOLE TIME YOU’RE GROUPED! That’s exactly the response that most people have, but putting that fork in your eye won’t get rid of the pain so drop it!! These type of people have the ability to take over most groups due to their sheer pushiness and do it their way. However when they run your group into a pit of hungry 72^^^ chimps with banana squish AoE, you find out that “that wasn’t here before”. Unfortunately, there is no known method of combating this type of idiot in group without causing a major fight and losing precious time on your quest. Possibly the best thing you can do if you’re not willing to put up with it, is to just drop group and start over.
SCREW YOU GUYS, I’M OUTTA HERE!!!
Wait, wait, wait. These are just a few examples of what you can find in a PuG. While on the average, 7 of 10 PuG’s turn out to be lame, the three out of that ten can make it all worthwhile. You can meet some good people, grab some sweet loot, and level faster. I managed three good PuG’s this weekend, one of which was my first raid. I learned a little more how to tank, was encouraged that my tanking skills were good, and managed to jump from 67.0 to 69.85 AND got a draconic deflector out of the raid. So pickup grouping isn’t always a bad experience and although one of those three groups did go bad at the very end, when we got the random idiot who stole a legendary shield from the group Paladin (see? I wasn’t just blowing smoke! I did my homework for this article!), after it was agreed that the Paladin should get it, and then dropped group and teleported out before any questions could be answered, I still considered it a successful pickup group. Why? Well, the group prior to the inclusion of the random idiot was great. Lots of help, a veteran leader, people just having fun, it was a good group and I don’t like the idea of one small incident spoiling the whole thing… of course, I’m not the Paladin.
Ultimately what makes PuG’s work is perseverance. You have to take the good with the bad, just like you do in real life. In my experience, most of the PuG’s you get are going to have issues. You’re going to have the one guy who doesn’t pay attention or thinks it’s funny to steal your aggro during a named boss battle and cause things to be much harder than they are… or maybe, just maybe, you’ll meet a group of people that you put on your friends list because grouping with them was enough to make everything bad that led up to that, worthwhile.
Note from Savanja: Congrats to Brokain who has FINALLY hit level 70. Noob!
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