10 Things I’d Rather do Than Heal PuGs

A great part of WoW’s healing base has foresworn the dungeon finder tool ever since Cataclysm, avoiding PuGs like the plague, running away and screaming in terror. And we all know why of course: a lot has changed in the mana business and also, heroic dungeons require a lot more cooperation, tactical approach and CC than they used to in Wrath of the Lich King. Blizzard’s promises in that department have come true.

Now I’m probably not your best candidate because I’ve been a PuG-misanthrope ever since… ever. Sometime through my late level 50ies of vanilla WoW, I did one sucky corpse run too many or heard a stupid comment too often from a random lol-DPS in Stratholme, Diremaul or Scholomance, to put me off anything public or pickup in WoW permanently. Which is probably good to highlight in this context: Yes, there was stupid back in the “good old days” too.

I’ve stuck to my own raid guilds for dungeons ever since then and I’ve been so fortunate to always have more competent groups of players at hand. Yes I’m a spoiled holy priest – but then, I’ve also done a great load in order to keep the guilds running I’ve been in. Nothing comes for free in the World of Warcraft.

I’ve still pugged a handful of 5man runs, especially in the later stages of WotLK as Blizzard was so cunning to make pugging an achievement that comes with a pet (ugly as it might be). You got me there! And it wasn’t even the worst experience; in fact it’s showed me that not all PuGs are completely horrid, even if I still considered them a waste of my time.

But that was in WotLK. You know, “I can get free badges while walking my dog puppy”-WotLK, the expansion of free rides and blissful matters-not-just-AoE-olol. The era of pretty dead party chats too, so dead in fact that exceptions of the rule almost felt outrageous.

That doesn’t work so well in Cataclysm: The new heroics make the best team of guild mates facepalm after 2 hours have passed. And you only really stick around for that long because you actually know these people and enjoy their company. Alternatively, you can be openly grumpy and abuse them in party chat for being blind as a bat, without them going into an emo-fit which makes up for a little at least. I still luv my tank mate despite the fact that he made me run heroic Deadmines for 3 hours on launch week.

Those saints among saints

Healing Cataclysm heroics is a challenge and having to do so in a group of complete strangers who are likely not nearly as vocal, cooperative or forgiving as guild mates , doesn’t make things easier. It has a good chance of making things hellishly frustrating, in fact.

Some healers however, are still bothering. They are still healing PuGs and going in fully prepared to supervise the party and make it succeed. They have the sort of patience that I’m not sure whether to call noble or slightly nutty, but in any case I have big respect for them to put up with the risk. It’s not just the whole coordination part after all: PuGs are time-consuming. The chance for these runs to take longer than usual is high, already due to limiting factors such as party chat. It is a lot of extra playtime to put into something that has a high risk to go wrong. And while in times of precious mana, DPS and CC have probably become more important than ever, the high pressure on healers and tanks is unchanged and so is the blame-factor. Not everyone has switched boat from WotLK yet.

In her most recent blog post, Ophelie tells us why healing PuGs can work out and how healers can contribute to that success. I’d never have the willingness or dedication (and I secretly suspect her to create her own WoW hard modes that way, things are not yet hard enough for Holydins it seems!) but it’s definitely a great guide if you’re a healer and looking to PuG heroics without wanting to throw yourself off a bridge after the first 30 minutes.

I raise my hat to all who try and risk their sanity and self-confidence in the progress. What many people do not know: a bad PuG can make any healer feel shitty. You can know that there was nothing you could have done differently – still: SHITTY!

Before you call me out for speaking without experience, I’ve in fact blundered into 2 PuGs in Cataclysm myself. Number one ended at the first boss, after approximately 10 wipes of the exact same fashion and loads of “GOGOGOGO!!!”. A chronic case of Speedius Nubicus. The second PuG lasted exactly 3 minutes before I pulled the plug – and you’d have done the same. Let’s just say it doesn’t bode well to enter a heroic Stonecore where the rest of the group is already in the process of corpse running, because their last healer fled in terror. Not the finest act to leave them mid-combat, but then…who among us to cast the first stonecore?

PuGs like these aren’t only plain painful, but I simply don’t have time for this. My gametime is more limited than ever these days and what I need in order to be ready for my guild’s raids asap, are efficient runs. I love the new dungeon difficulty, just so there are no misunderstandings here: challenging doesn’t have to equal mind-numbingly long though. I’m more than willing to admit that I don’t take the lead in PuGs usually and that’s probably a wrong perception of my role. It is certainly not by default the MT’s. Furthermore, I don’t actually make use of vote-kicking. Why not? I just CAN’T BE ARSED! If I need to kick and replace five people first before I can start a run, I rather go do something else. By the time we’ve finally found “teh perfect tank” the first person who got replaced is probably already so bored that he decides to bugger off by the time we look halfway ready.


My contribution to a serious topic

I’d still like to contribute in a more productive or rather creative way to the whole PuG-healing thing and since I’m not a saint who can tell you how to make it happen, I’ll tell you what I’d rather do instead of making it happen!

When starting to think about this, the first spontaneous things come to mind, were:

· Running a screwdriver through my left eye. Real slow.

· Jumping off an airplane with no parachute on. Working as intended.

· Entering a den of rabid wolves in a meat skirt.

But….that’s not realistic, I know! So, I’ll be good and limit myself to things that are actually there in the game, painful and annoying and… still so much more preferable to healing PuGs right now!

10 things I’d rather do than heal PuGs

I would rather…

  • Get exalted with Silithus. Again.
  • Repeat the entire Argent Tournament daily jousting-grind to buy all available pets and mounts.
  • Travel from Bloodmyst Isle to Booty Bay. Via Northrend. By foot.
  • Give gold to every lvl 5 beggar in Elwynn Forest.
  • Run guild alts through Gnomeregan 5 times a day. Make that 10 times.
  • Re-skill both my professions up from zero.
  • Follow the public channels. Yes, that’s general and trade chat.
  • Change my holy priest to worgen female…./gasp. Okay, for one week.
  • Read the quest texts of all new Cataclysm quests. No word skipping.
  • Hang out with THIS GUY!

This list was originally a lot longer, but I forced myself to keep it short, just like the rest of this post. And with that, I’ll wish the saints among you who are still out there facing their PuGs good luck and hold on to that halo! You’ll need it.


Adrenaline, Stormrage EU

P.S. No random pugee was vote-kicked or otherwise harmed in the process of writing this article.

32 thoughts on “10 Things I’d Rather do Than Heal PuGs”

  1. 😀 Great post! I’ve had the agony of being the absolute opposite of you. My old guild pretty much fell apart before Cata, so I switched servers to be with a friend. Thus, as Cata came out I had no guild. So pugging is my only option… I’m excited to one day do a guild run and have it go flawlessly without any bigotry, caps-lock cursing and time to drink (without spamming my “YOUR HEALS NEEDS A DRINK!” macro!)

    ^_^ Thanks for the fun post

    • I’m glad you enjoyed my article! =)
      and switching guild / servers in time such as these – not fun!!! as much as I like to moan about things sometime, I feel lucky lucky lucky when it comes to experiencing WoW from a longtime guild perspective.

  2. I must confess I have pugged heroics but I did chicken out and waited in the queue patiently as a Shadow Priest and I have been pleasantly surprise by how well they have gone.

    There are still some idiots out there but I have recently levelled my warlock and the experience in pugs has been much better than the first few weeks of Cataclysm which makes me believe that the real idiots have either joined/formed guilds or given up.

  3. I stopped too. And trust me. I sticked to pug healing for a long long time. Hell, I did it through whole Wotlk, without problems, just ignoring the one dipstick a week I would fall over. I mean, I can deal with that for 30 minutes.

    And I even tried for the first period in Cata. My guild has a tendency to run heroics on times I am doing something else , so if you want your stuff/points I figured, just use the LFD tool. It’s there for it right?

    Last weekend I stopped. I could just not take it anymore. Granted, my own guild members also stand around like lemons with half health while I’m drinking between pulls, or seem to think that CC is only for people who don’t can’t play, but at least the run will end (semi)quickly and I will only be mildly annoyed by the end.

    But I can get over the part that the instances are hard. But that they are so agonizing long. I just can’t dedicate 1-2 hours a day to ONE heroic.

    Then I won’t get my points to quick. Too bad. If my guild objects, they can take me through my daily heroic. =)

    • As far as I read, they have at least removed some of the extra long trash packs in some of the 5mans now (for ex. DM was just nuts) – not that this solves the entire issue! ^^

  4. A couple of my guild’s other healers don’t have off specs yet this expansion, so I have to switch out of healing whenever I run with either of them. To get my healing fix I’ve been resorting to pugs with mixed results. Maybe I’ve been luckier than most, or maybe most people only bother telling their horror stories so the community makes pugging sound like hell, but I’ve been having fun for the most part.
    Last night’s H Stonecore was a hoot. There’s a rush in kitty dashing back from the graveyard after getting blindly one-shot during the worm’s submerge phase, watching the tank’s health trickle away, lay on hands, trickle away… Getting back just in time to Rebirth the tank and triage the two living dps. With players from 5 servers, there’s a little extra satisfaction in seeing the last boss go down after a single wipe to Ozruk’s shatter.

  5. This post made my chuckle more than a few times. I can’t say how it is as a healer, but as a Tank I still fully agree with the above. Even with 4 guildies and 1 PUG I tend to get goosebumps with every bossfight. It’s like playing russian roulette really.

    So yes, Guild runs > PUGs 🙂


  6. Unless you’re in a top-ranked guild, the difference between the PuG group and those people in your guild likely isn’t skill–it’s care and patience. Your guild’s quirky rogue who accidentally pulls 2 additional groups and chortles about it over vent = funny. The PuG rogue who does the same = baddie. The only difference is that you/ cut your guildie some slack, he steps up his game because he’s embarrassed, and you move on.

    A little perspective, and a little humility, can go a long way.

    • I’m hardly in a top ranking guild. At 10/12 normal, I think that’s middle of the road. The difference between pugs and guild runs is huge. Guild heroic runs are 30-40 min, aoe trash, fast and painless. The two times I pugged both ended in me quitting the group. The abuse and incompetence of the group is just unbelievable. Like Sylvara, now I’d rather afk in stormwind than go and torture myself in heroic pugs. We play this game to enjoy ourselves, isnt it?

    • Those factors definitely matter, yeah. I wouldn’t agree that my guildmates are on par with every random puggee out there mind, we’re rather selective about whom we recruit – but in the end ‘skill’ is not really something required to beat 99% of WoW’s content probably….if all people had common sense, patience and CARED enough to play well and cooperatively, that would already solve most of our issues. 😉

  7. I don’t know if it’s just me but I’m starting to think there might be something wrong with me. I mean seriously wrong. It’s because I run heroics quite often (it used to be every day but now I’m a bit busy IRL so I simply don’t have time) and don’t really mind them. (I’m even leveling another healer, my main does not need to run them anymore and I don’t raid every day.) And most of them are quite good – there’s no doubt they’re better on average than the WotLK PuGs.
    Of course, there are rotten apples, but they’re of a very little consequence: A swift quitter? I usually do not have time to finish my cooking daily before the group’s full. Are they unbearable? A couple of push-ups or pages from a book and the debuff is off so I can join the queue again – what a great difference to pre-RDF it is. (Back then, even a person or two who left meant the rest failed their daily HC.)
    I admit, they do take a bit too long – with my guildies, it’s 30-60 minutes, with PuGs, it’s longer because of wipes, deaths, OOMs and other delays but I don’t think that’s the point of most of the people.

  8. I have almost exclusively PuG-healed, in order to level, from 60-something to… whatever I am now. 76, I think. I intend to continue doing so until 80 – take a quick break to quest and then level to 85 this way.

    It doesn’t take the willpower of a saint. You just have to treat members of a random PuG like an enthusiastic dog pack. Don’t look them directly in the eye, go about your business, and make sure they get lots of exercise. If one of them snaps at you, do not encourage the behavior – a simple “no”, and go about our business. If they are plainly dangerous, they may have to be put down.

    Remember; spay or neuter your PuGs!

    • Oh, and to be clear – I have every intention of never, ever healing a PuG heroic. Ever. I also don’t smoke near open containers of gasoline, eat uncooked pork or tongue-kiss strangers on the street.

  9. I did have a few questionable experiences when I jumped into LFD. More often than not, they usually turn out okay. And yeah, they do take much longer than normal. The time it takes to communicate intentions and strategy via text, it adds up compared to speaking on Mumble. I’ll face on average 1-2 wipes more than I would with a guild group.

    But not all guild groups are the same. I’ve had some experience with guild players who just weren’t quite there. And they either learned slower (way slower) than the rest of the group or just refused to learn.

    … I should probably clean house sometime soon.

  10. Well said Slyvara. I recently quit the game due to the reasons you listed, most importantly the Time issue. Blizzard has some idea in their head that 5mans should be a “destination”. Most people I know view 5’s as farm content. Farm for gear, rep, mats, xp, etc., so they can raid. I don’t think we will see very many press releases from them espousing how many subs they have for quite some time, if ever again. For those of you sticking it out and pugging your way through the game as a healer I /salute you!

  11. I think my highlight so far was the tank who, when asked to please kindly move out of the fire, told me to quit bitching because ‘healing is easy’.

    I don’t think I’ve pugged a heroic since.

  12. I refuse to PuG. To the point where, if faced with the choice of going with a PuG or not running, I just don’t run.

    To be honest, I dislike the LFD tool immensely. Not so much for the part about casting you off into some random dungeon and allowing me to lazily transport out whenever my little bear heart desires, but because it goes across the whole battle group. I loathe that with a passion that burns like something you might come home from Vegas with.

    It may have been a hassle to sit in trade all day, hollaring for people to fill the open spots in your heroics, but at least you had people that you could hold to some level of accountability. If someone was a complete jerk, you could talk with someone in their guild about it. Most guild leaders and officers I’ve encountered don’t like a bad representation of their guild. It was also a great way to fill up a friends list with people you could later use to fill a few raid openings or even find some folks who would eventually decide to join your guild. But as it stands now, there’s no accountability, you can’t make any sort of reasonable connection with the people you run with, etc.

    But, then, that’s just a small sampling of my issues with PuGs and the LFD tool.

    • @Arkom
      that and don’t forget we also had the serverwide meeting stones later on which worked well enough too imo. it was random but at least limited to your own server, so people did not have the same anonimity they have now that it’s battlegroup-wide.

  13. I pug all the time in Cataclysm, and I do fine. You do run into some pretty silly stuff now and then, but I think you make up for it in what you learn about how and why groups fail in PVE. This really helps when it comes to diagnosing raiding problems: you know what it feels like when things are going wrong. You also learn how to compensate regardless. In healing, whatever kills your groupmates makes you a stronger healer.

  14. Its always fun to share silly stuff too. I did a Heroic SFK run on my tank in a pug, only to discover that the healer (a Holy Paladin, figures) was not using any frames whatsoever beyond the party frames (you know, the long bars on the left with pictures and stuff?), and did not know how to cleanse. He had a pretty good set of heroic gear too, I don’t know he managed so long without ever cleansing.

    Anyway, once I taught him how to use the default raid frames we were able to kill the boss. I just saved *thousands* of pugs from his non-cleansing-ness.

  15. Please answer me a question that I have been wondering forever. “By the time we’ve finally found “teh perfect tank” the first ”
    Why is it the sole responsibility of the tank to know and lead the group in to every instances?

    There are always and I mean ALWAYS articles complaining about tanks, but then why is it our responsibility to wipe the droll from the other four players mouths, and change their diapers for them ?

    during BC it always seemed like Healers/Tanks were in it together Mom and Dad of the group, but now its like everything depends on the Tank if he/she doesn’t walk everyone through the instances(short of clicking their buttons for them) then he/she is a “fail tank”

    Level 85 pally tank since BC.

    • @Javier

      Like I already wrote in the article, I don’t think this should be by default the tank’s role at all. it’s a great onus and expectation laid on tanks nowadays and is indeed, unfair to you (I believe Blizzard tried to counter this by adding the ‘dungeon leader’ option for LFG, but it doesn’t seem to work out).
      my reference to ‘teh perfect tank’ was basically just one example of waiting for the right partymembers. i simply don’t have the time to vote-kick several times before we can set off, but that could be for tank, dps or healer – doesn’t matter.

  16. Some pet peeves about healing PUGs.

    My mana is made of time AND money. Those mage biscuits are free.
    I saw that stack of embersilk you just looted. bandage yo’self.
    The only spell interrupts are from my psychic scream.
    I life-gripped you out of that puddle for a reason. Now stand still, I’m bandaging you.

    And some class based ones so no one feels left out:
    Did you really just lifetap to 10% health?

    Death Knights:
    Just because you’re wearing plate doesn’t make you a tank.

    Mages and Druids:
    Cure curses. I can’t.

    Shadow Priests:
    Mind control is actually really powerful. Glyph psychic scream. Silence is a mandatory talent.

    You really didn’t get Repentance… Really?
    Retribution aura isn’t always the answer.

    Fan of Knives breaks crowd control. Stun locks are beautiful things.

    Using demoralizing shout, disarm, and interrupts will make your healer love you.

    I honestly have nothing bad to say about all the hunters I’ve PUG’d with. They trap, misdirect, feign death, and sometimes even change pets to better match the group. Did they institute an aptitude test in the starting areas?

    Let’s face it, if you’re not a good player, you’re probably not playing a shaman.

  17. Speaking as a tank who finds pug cata heroics to be a faceroll, I would say pugging cata heroics is fine aslong as you bring a sexy tank friend.
    It seems the problem stems from bad tanks, and kick anyone who misses their cc target after two pulls. CC however is only really required in Halls of Origination due to people’s gear now.

    • Y’know, Spell – I completely disagree. There is nothing – and I mean /nothing/ – I hate more as a PUG healer than getting a tank that, no matter how overgeared, won’t mark and set CC.

      Even one mob CC’d has such a positive effect on my mana pool – it’s not that I don’t have enough mana or skill to heal you if you pull the whole pack, it’s just that rather than leaving me a nice padding of mana to work with, you’re forcing me to burn into my pool heavily to keep you alive.

      If you cc one or two targets? I don’t have to drink until after bosses. Don’t CC? Drinking every pull and it’s a frantic mess, with missed interrupts all over the place, DPS pulling aggro because they can’t be arsed to focus fire, AoE enemy abilities chipping at the whole group…

      Why not just make life easy on people? What’s so hard about a couple marks?

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