Monday, March 23, 2009

Of PUGs, flight, and de-cursing...

Yes... this is probably the internet's five-millionth, PUG-rant WoW post. Sue me.

My raiding friends decided to put together and alt-based Naxx run on Saturday night. They don't really allow for alts to rotate into their main raiding group -- for pretty good reasons, actually -- so the way they get their alts geared is with 10-mans and the occasional "alt night".

My druid has been collecting dust for a while. I can't seem to get any momentum for in-guild 10-mans, so he's just been sitting in Icecrown doing the occasional daily and trying to complete the various Icecrown quest series. I haven't even been requested for 5-mans lately, so he's pretty dusty.

This alt night was a good excuse to dust him off and maybe pick up an item for him. Mostly I wanted to see how bad my DPS was and hopefully get a decent cat-DPS rotation down. (More on this in another post... maybe.)

So I sign-up and show up on time. There are about 12-15 people signed up or pulled in from the various guilds that make up the raiding group, but there don't seem to be any more online or wanting to go or that aren't already locked to another Naxx25. The raid leader goes the PUG route. This is fine. You can meet some people this way. You can show them how you do things. Sometimes you find that diamond in the rough or you find alts from other guilds with similar policy. Sometimes you get people that know what they're doing and just haven't done in with a particular class before.

*This* was not one of those nights. :)

The first sign that things were going to be rough was that 3 people didn't have flying mounts. Not just epic flyers. Flyers at all. Ugh. You know you're going to wipe a few times with 10+ PUG members in Naxx, it's just a question of how often and how many people you lose after each couple of wipes. Frustration thresholds tend to be very low with many of these folks, even if they are the ones causing the wipes.

Now... I'm not exactly a great WoW player. I know this. I'm fine with this. I don't play as much as some people. I don't have the time to invest in getting every last item and trinket that I can to improve my character. I do try hard, but there is only so much time I can devote to WoW and still be a decent husband and father. Family first. That said, I have 2 80s and a 71. All of them have at least flight. Both 80s have epic flight and Northrend flying. Thinking about that is a little scary, actually. 12,000g! Jeez. That's not counting the intermediate riding skills along the way, the mats for the Warlock quest (which I did do past 60, but still did), and all the other things you have to spend money on in WoW.

So... the comments start in Vent. Most of the raid is not in Vent because the server requires registration and passwords and they're not going to stop the raid and make 10+ PUG accounts. We'll do it the old-fashioned way. A few comments are made (by other PUG'ers):

RM1: "how can you not have a flyer?"
RM4: "dude..."
RM9: "nub"

The answers...?

RM8: "this is my 2nd 80..."
RM3: "how do you make that much gold?"

Wha-huh? Really?!? See the above paragraph. I have 3 flyers and 2 epics. I play a couple of hours a night maybe 3-5 times a week. I raid. I buy consumables. If *I* can have a flyer, you can do it, too. I have no idea what you're spending your gold on, but I can make enough doing daily quests and general at-level-80 questing to earn a basic flyer in a week. Easy.

Anyway... a few wipes ensue as we all knew they would. The warlocks are nearly run out of stones to make "demon flashers" but we manage to clear the Spider wing and head for Plague. This is where it gets really good. We lose two people in the raid and have to find two more PUGs. Wanna guess? Yup... *neither* one has a flying mount, so we're up to 1/5th of the raid now that needs to be summoned into Naxx. I wonder to myself if these people wonder why they have to PUG Naxx. (Yes... I was PUG'ing it, too, but on my second character.)

We seem to have just enough DPS to get the gargoyles down, so we're probably OK for Noth. Seem to have a good class mix. Should be fine. We explain to the off-tanks how we do the pick-ups for the Noth adds, the raid leader gives the mages the heads-up for de-curse, and the rest of the instructions go out.

Pull #1: Curse goes on. Curse does not get removed. Wipe. In about 45 seconds... if that.

Raid leader re-explains to the mages that it's *really* important to get the curse off. If we don't, we wipe. It's not that we might wipe or that it's really healer intensive if you don't de-curse. WE WILL WIPE IF YOU DON'T REMOVE CURSE! (My caps, not his.)

Pull #2: Curse goes on. Curse gets removed from 2 people. Wipe. We might've lasted more than 45 seconds this time. Maybe.

So... in Vent:

Me: "Hey... I'm a druid. I can de-curse. Should I help out?"
RL: "You're feral, right?"
Me: "Yeah... but I think I have that button somewhere... Lemme see... Oh, yeah... that's what it looks like..."
*** I get a couple of chuckles in Vent ***
RL: "Better to have you help out than to wipe, I guess..."
Me: "I'll do what I can..."

Now... I don't have Decursive or anything like that. I just don't use it. I'm Feral, remember. I know -- barely -- how to make stuff mad and smack me in my bear's face. I'm not that good at that, nevermind trying to de-curse a bunch of people. Hey... I have a humanoid form? Cool! :)

In raid chat:

RL: "OK... I'm going to ask the Druid to step out of cat form and help de-curse. We really shouldn't have to do this with TWO mages, but it's better than wiping."
RM1: "He shouldn't have to..."
RM2: "huh?"
*** Other generalized grumbling, mostly from the PUG members ***
Mage1: "what's a curse..."
Mage2: "i'm supposed to do what?"

Remember... we're on our third try now. Raid leader re-explains FOR THE THIRD TIME the importance of de-cursing to the mages and we pull again....

Pull #3: Curse goes on. I frantically mash my de-curse hotkey and we manage to get through the first phase. I was still getting hit by something -- I'm not sure what as I was playing whack-a-mole and watching the curse cooldown and not much else -- but we managed to live. Second curse goes on, I get it off 4 or 5 people, but it's not enough. Blam! Wipe.

Someone's getting testy and posts the "de-curse meter" from the fight:

Me    -- 9 removals
Mage1 -- 3 removals
Mage2 -- 2 removals

OK... that's pretty sad. Again... I know I'm not good, but this is sad. If a guy who didn't know where the de-curse button was on his taskbar can get 9 curses removed without Decursive or much else, what exactly are the mages doing?

*** More generalized grumbling ensues in raid chat ***

Pulls #4 and #5: At this point, the Vent channel is in stitches laughing at the mages. Each time the curse goes up they're calling for me to "Save me!", "Save US!" or "Go, Annai, go!" We manage to live through at least two curses on each pull but I think a few people are still blowing up and the attrition is killing us. After the second curse of the last two pulls, I think I was taking two much damage and before I could heal meself I went down. As we were running back from the 5th or 6th try, the raid leader decided to call it. Without enough de-cursing, there was no way to get past Noth. If we couldn't get by him, neither of the other two wings would have allowed us to fare much better.

The meters for the last two fights were pretty much a mirror image of the above. The mages might have gotten off a couple more desurses, but not many. I thanked them for having me along and they laughed and thanked *me* for trying to nearly single-handedly keep the raid going. At least I managed to get a cool idol and two upgrades for a guild member. It was still absolutely amazing the sheer number of 80s who didn't have enough gold for flying and/or didn't know how to decurse. One of these players was a double-whammy. He couldn't fly *and* couldn't decurse. If I bothered to remember his name, he would have gone on my /ignore list.

I logged off and downloaded Decursive.

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