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MMO Guide: WoW Pick Up Groups (PUGs)

I play WoW on a PVP server with a lot of my friends. Unfortunately, as I am lower than all their mains, I’ve been trying to get to 70 by myself. While one can get through the game soloing a large portion of it, there are those times when you need to group up. Specifically for Instances.

Instances, as we all know and love, are huge dungeons filled with elite mobs and bosses who usually drop really nice and rare items. Getting to them entails crossing huge contested territories and entering the area, where usually a couple of enemy (Alliance) 70s are ganking people as they help a lil buddy out, or just to gank for the lulz. Once you are in, it should be fine and dandy… SO LONG AS EVERYONE KNOWS THEIR ROLE. And with this guide, I’ll go over what everyone’s role is, and if you read this, hopefully you won’t get slaughtered by mobs because some idiot was trying to be an hero.

There are 3 main roles for any group under level 60 (60 and up instances have more people, more options, and more specs, and this guide does not reflect them, especially heroic and epic instances), and a fourth for everyone else. They are Tank, Healer, DPS, and Support. Every party needs 1 of the first three. They really don’t need the fourth, but when half the players fill up that fourth role, you’ll probably have to settle.

Tanks
If you can wear plate, congrats, you’re a Tank. That means you Mr. Warrior and Paladin. Your job, with your large amounts of HP and armor, is to attract the attention and damage of the mobs away from Healer and DPS, while in turn you get healed, and DPS kills the thing. Again, your job is to take aggro. If you see a mob gunning for the Healer or DPS, you better get its attention or you have failed your job.

If you have a choice of Tanks, I prefer going with a Paladin. They have blessing buffs, aura buffs, and can heal and rez if needed. Also, as they are fueled by Mana, they require downtime, which the Warrior does not. Do not be surprised when the warrior charges ahead and aggros a whole mob while the rest of the party is drinking. Make sure to tell any Tank when you need to take a water break, because they usually ignore everyone else’s situation.  Druids can also make nice Tanks, especially at higher levels, but low levels should be those listed above.

Healers
If you’re a priest, get out of shadow form, you’re on healing duty. Are priests the only class that can heal? No, but they are the best at it, and if they are doing DPS your party is in trouble. The Healer’s duty is simple: sit back and heal the Tank, and the DPS if they aggro. That’s it. Only fire off damage if there is one thing left and it’s got less than 15% health and the Tank isn’t dropping. At all other times you are wasting valuable mana that could be used to heal someone. In hopefully rare cases you may be required to rez. You might have a boring job, but without you there really is party.

DPS
There are two types of DPS: Melee DPS (the Rogue), and Magic DPS (the Mage). Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Both do tons of damage and both have a way to crowd control. The Rogue has the advantage that it can sneak past mobs, unlock doors and chests, and don’t have to worry about magic resistant enemies. But they have to be in melee with the enemies. While this does mean the Rogue is in front of the healer, it also means its going to get hit, and can take valuable heals away from the tank. The Mage has great DPS, at range. He can buff anyone that uses Mana (which is everyone except the Warrior and the Rogue), he can provide water for anyone that uses Mana, can sheep, and can counterspell. Unfortunately they are cloth, which means if they get aggro and the Tank isn’t doing his job, the Mage is going to drop quickly. Both are nice, but in my opinion the Mage can provide more for the party.

And really that’s all you need. I was once in a PUG of Paladin, 2 Priests, 2 Mages. We were completely self sufficient and never had any issues. The Mages were even speced differently and were having a friendly DPS competition (The Fire Mage beat me). And that’s all fine and good for those 5 classes (I actually prefer three), so what about the other half of the classes, what do they do?  Yes, Warriors can do good DPS, but seeing as how they are already acting as a tank, they don’t need to dual role.

Support
You guys are Support, which means you’re around to help kill things, but really serve no purpose. Now if a Druid wants to join your group, by all means let them. The Druid can do anything: Tank in Bear Form, Sneak/Melee DPS in Cat Form, Heal in Regular / Tree form, or Range DPS in Regular / Moonkin Form. However as the booklet says, the Druid is a Jack of All Trades: they can do anything, but there could always be someone better. If you already have a Tank, Healer, and DPS, bring the Druid with you, and if they are smart, they can figure out what role they need to fit and when.

Shamans also bring a lot to the table. They can melee, cast, and use totems which are very versatile. But again, only after you have everyone else. Hunters and Warlocks are basically the same thing: they send out their pet to soak up aggro and do weak damage, while one does weapon damage and the other does magic damage. Both also have crowd control techniques. But they can’t tank or heal, and a Mage or Rogue can out DPS them on a bad day. If you are one of these classes or you find them in your party, let them do damage, but make sure they know what they are doing.

Of course this is only for 5 man crawls where the purpose is to kill. When it comes to the higher level instances, be careful and make sure you listen to the party leader to know your exact role.  Lastly, always ask if you can Need, but make sure you actually NEED the item.  Yes Warriors, you can use guns, but if it is tailor made for Hunters, let them get it.

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2 Responses to “MMO Guide: WoW Pick Up Groups (PUGs)”

  1. *hem*

    Tanks:
    Druids…. And they don’t wear plate…
    Pallys have to be really good geared to be capable of being healed…

    Healers:
    “If you’re a priest, get out of shadow form, you’re on healing duty. Are priests the only class that can heal? No, but they are the best at it, and if they are doing DPS your party is in trouble.”
    Wow, two wrong senteces…
    First: A shadow DPS can deliver quite a powerful amount of single-target dps – so why drop him?
    Second: A shadow dps increases all magic damage on his current target by 5%. Oh, and Shadow dmg by another 10%.
    Third: A shadow dps grants you mana and health back – to the point of restoring tens of thousands of mp (several times your averaga mana pool!) in long encounters.
    Fourth: Whether or not priests are best or not is debated by a lot of people. However, they are talking healing specced priests. Any healing pally, druid, shaman can dunk a shadow priest w/o thought.
    Oh, and a healing pally with a shadow priest is one of the most powerful combos for healing and dps you can find for 5 man instances….

    “heal […] the DPS if they aggro”
    If dps aggroes – dps dies. Do not encourage horrible playstyles!
    When the dps aggroes in later encounters there is nothing left to heal! (Ever eaten a 15000+ hit and healed through that? On a 7k hp mage?)

    “In hopefully rare cases you may be required to rez.”
    Oh, wait, not all healers can rez. If you’re playing a druid you are essentially out of luck (actually, if your battlerez is free you can rez your 4 friends in just 90 minutes!)

    “There are two types of DPS: Melee DPS (the Rogue), and Magic DPS (the Mage).”
    And:
    Meelee: Off Warriors, Feral Cats, Hunter Pets, some warlock pets (fel hunter, fel guard)
    *in between*: Ret Paladins, warlock pet (succubus)
    Magic DPS: Warlocks, Shadow Priests, warlock pet (imp), boomkins
    Ranged Physical DPS: Huntards

    The usual distinction is between meelee vs. ranged.

    “While this does mean the Rogue is in front of the healer, it also means its going to get hit”
    A good rogue will get pretty much no damage at all.
    Sorry.

    “I was once in a PUG of Paladin, 2 Priests, 2 Mages”
    So, you had what, 1 tank and two healers?
    ….
    Or maybe, just maybe, was one of your priests not quite what you would expect from “the best healer”? So, maybe, just maybe, you needed to take and additional essentially useless person, because you did not have a real healer at all?
    Or was it just, that one of your evil priests might have been doing shadow dps after all?

    “You guys are Support, which means you’re around to help kill things, but really serve no purpose.”
    Wow. I am impressed. I never heard of this role.
    *ehm*
    Maybe, you just don’t know what to do with those people? Or maybe they just don’t get what to do with their class?

    Lets see what you got there:
    “The Druid can do anything”
    Yes. A druid can do anything – if he specced for it.
    “However as the booklet says, […] they can do anything, but there could always be someone better.”
    Sorry man, there is no one better capable of tanking meelee-bosses.
    Sorry man, there is no one better capable of smoothing out damage with hots.
    Sorry man, owls do more of their share of dps, if you acknowledge their 5% crit aura.

    “Shamans also bring a lot to the table. They can melee, cast, and use totems which are very versatile.”
    Yeah, so you have got an elemental shaman that does as much dps as a mage and increases the dmg of the mages by roughly 6-10%.
    Or you have a meelee-shaman that drops wind fury, increasing meelee-dps (rogues and warriors anyone?) by 10% and does a good amount of dmg – especially burst – themselves.
    What the heck makes them “support”?
    In may view, you got powerful dps roles?!
    Oh, and of course a healing shaman is arguably the most powerful class for healing 5 man instances…

    “make sure they know what they are doing”
    The one point I totally agree with you.
    Not the class makes a good dps-player, but the guy behind it.
    I know a ret paladin who does over 1000 dps in T4 – but most other ret paladins have problems keeping up with the tanks…

  2. First off, thank you for reading this blog and taking the time out to, well, inform me of many things I did not know.

    Also, my fault, I probably should have mentioned at the top this was primarily for PUGs below lvl 60. I ran through Scarlet Monetary-Cathedral 10 times in a row (I needed Library), and the majority of this research came from that, and my times with Black Rock Depths (my most recent encounter with 2 warriors, a druid healer, a lock, and my mage as DPS, had me die over 7 times, included numerous party wipes. The worst was against the Golem Lord, where after getting the go ahead to attack him, he charged straight at me, past the two warriors who were attacking him, and killed me. I also ended up running halfway back before the Druid asked if I wanted a Rez.)

    Right now, something that does 15,000 dmg would wipe the whole party, and pretty nicely geared out for my lvl, I’m no where near 7000 HP with my Mage. I think I just clear 3000 with my pvp gear.


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