Why the WoW PUG scene is so great now

EZmode = happy masses.

It really is that simple.

The reason your PUG group today does not implode halfway through an instance like before is because short of getting the five absolute worst players on the server in one group, you will likely no-wipe clear any instance. Given that, and the fact that you don’t actually need to talk to your group (who needs strategy talks when the strategy for EVERYTHING is AoE and loot, and who needs to correct a poorly playing player when you will win regardless), its a magic formula for PUG happiness. Even the ninja-looter has to try extra hard to get noticed because everyone gets a token for much better loot anyway.

And lets face it, if you wanted a challenge, and you wanted to still play WoW, you would not be PUG’ing instances. You would be in a progressive raid guild and wiping to learn a new boss (it’s still possible to wipe on a raid boss in WoW, right? Or has that been ‘fixed’ and made more ‘accessible’ too?), or at least running instances above your level with a set group to make things interesting (but then even noobs can do that now).

Personally I don’t understand what is fun about steam-rolling everything at all times (which is partly why I find Torchlight to be just an ok game that can’t really hold my interest for long), but clearly so long as you are being rewarded and called a hero, many love it. Puzzling to me, but whatever works right?

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Combat Systems, MMO design, Rant, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Why the WoW PUG scene is so great now

  1. Darren says:

    oh boy…someone needs a logic class.

    1. Who says they aren’t wiping in PUG groups? Do it all the time. Does this make PUG groups as progressive as raid guilds?
    2. Who says PUG groups aren’t talking? Have you been in one lately?
    3. Who says all the strat for everything is AoE?
    4. Who says the loot in the PUG dungeons are even remotely usfull for it to a strategy.

    I find this article to again…be highly trollish, but whatever works right?

    • Adam says:


      Looks like you need a rhetoric class.

      What are you saying about any of these issues?

      I just see equivocation ,flubber and then an accusation of trolling… but then whatever works right?

    • Billy Hicks says:

      You can’t deny that 5 mans are a hell of a lot easier than they were in the past, both in terms of time and difficulty.

      While it is still possible to wipe its a hell of a lot harder to do so compared to old instances. I am not saying this is a bad thing, but it is the current situation.

      In the past small mistakes could cause a wipe. Today even pulling multiple packs isn’t too dangerous. Aggro has been made much much easier to control and all classes now have a lot more CC.

      In the past PUGs fell apart because it was taking too long and wipes were very common. Today things go much faster and wipes are much much less common.

      Making things easy does keep the masses happy. Again I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, but it is the current situation.

    • Broseph Stalin says:

      Darren, seriously if you are going to comment please read into syncaine’s sarcasm. Do you honestly believe he thinks PUG groups don’t wipe, don’t talk, aoe everything, and always receive useful loot.

      Your attempt at labeling his pejorative post about your game as trollish is a bit hypocritical methinks.

    • notageek says:

      @ Darren

      So what you’re saying is that you kinda suck in WoW?

  2. Adam says:

    From the outside of WoW, but having survived a few pugs back in the day, the LFG system improvements seem like they are merely smoothing the process of starting the nightmare that is a random pug.

    Now you can have more of that wonderful feeling of horror as random pulls and spastics take over.

    Is everyone just so purple geared now that all the 5 mans are trivial? That’s kind of how it became when the raid/pvp lootz saturated the game at 60 and 70…

    Is everyone filtering players with achievments/gearing or something (is this possible in the interface)?

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  4. Mig says:

    “Everywhere I travel, tiny life. Single-serving sugar, single-serving cream, single pat of butter. The microwave Cordon Bleu hobby kit. Shampoo-conditioner combos, sample-packaged mouthwash, tiny bars of soap. The people I meet on each flight? They’re single-serving friends”

    The new cross server LFG system just creates single-serving dungeon crawl friends. Each server in wow used to have an identity and a great sense of community. The only reason they have anything resembling that now is because some of the same people are still around and keep it up. After a few years with all these new systems it will cease to exist.

  5. Wilhelm2451 says:

    Well, my worry, per your link, is that we aren’t really noobs any more, that we might have gotten a handle on this whole five person group thing.

    As for not PUGs not imploding… well… you should have been in the PUG with me last weekend. It was me healing with a druid and 4 deathknights doing ramparts. It was comically bad. It will be a post at some point.

    • Adam says:

      It’s not just everyone is good at WoW these days is it?

      Asking over the cube wall to someone still playing WoW his response to this article was –

      “””there’s no need for cc in most dungeons…it’s mostly fail…AOE AOE AOE…bleh…it’s ezmode unnecessarily”””

    • SynCaine says:

      I read your post, and I agree you guys are not noobs (hell you are a pre-planned pre-made that is on vent, that’s the direct opposite of a PUG anyway).

      But you blog is called TAGN, hence noob in the link.

  6. Bhagpuss says:

    I’ve done three WoW PUGs since the patch. The LFG Finder itself is, I think, a good idea and I wouldn’t mind seeing it in other games. I bet EQ2 ends up with something similar one day.

    The people in the groups have been fine too. The problem for me is the dungeons themselves, or rather the way they are played. It’s the exact same problem I had with EQ2 dungeons five years ago, which was when I pretty much gave up on grouping for dungeons.

    I did five years of PUGs, guild groups and friends-list groups in EQ and DAOC. It involved going slowly, breaking rooms and corridors, moving ahead of respawns, controlling roamers and negotiating awkward maps. Individual fights lasted minutes, recovery lasted as long, the pace was measured, the approach was thoughtful and there was much conversation.

    In WoW, everything happens on fast-forward. There are no breaks, fights last seconds, almost everyone has not only maps but add-ons and guides so the whole,thing feels like going on a guided tour. Almost nothing respawns and if it does it’s no threat. Some bosses or events have scripts that need to be followed, which I absolutely loathe, and that passes for depth.

    It’s not WoW’s fault. All MMOs of the last five years seem pretty much that way. I wouldn’t call it “easy mode” so much as dull mode.

    That’s why it was so refreshing and so much fun last night when Mrs Bhagpuss and I joined a full group to attempt the Castle in the middle of Darkwater in Allods Online. Even with a tank and healer three levels higher than the mobs we were fighting, every fight was a huge battle. No individual mob took less than a minute to kill and a three pull, which the group could barely survive, took well over five minutes to put down. After every fight we had to rest and recover. Every pull had to be careful and measured. Everyone needed to be ready and paying attention.

    We got past the first boss but the second was too much for us, although we took several tries at him. How far it goes on after that I have no idea. We were in there for over an hour, we got no loot, completed no quests and ended up defeated. I had more fun in that dungeon group than any I’ve done for years, and certainly more than in the recent WoW runs I’ve done.

    Slow, long, steady, hard, simple to understand yet requiring constant care and attention is how I like my dungeoneeering. Hard to find, nowadays.

  7. Carson63000 says:

    I usually disagree with Syncaine’s barbs at WoW, but no, pretty much everything written here about the easiness of WoW pugs currently is true.

    I’ll concede that I may have a skewed perspective since I play a healer, with gear that far outgears what heroics require, and (if I may be immodest) rather more than enough skill and experience to make them easy. So I’m never going to experience the “pug fails because the healer sucks” situation.

    But seriously, I’m sitting at something like a 98% success rate – one solitary pug failure out of 50-odd runs, and that was with the Halls of Reflection, the newest and hardest 5-man, which can challenge even a reasonably solid group.

    But do I have a problem with this? Nope. I AM in a progressive raid guild and wiping to learn a new boss, and yes that is still possible (we got Festergut down last night after two sessions of learning wipes, and then spent another hour or so wiping on Rotface); dungeonfinder pugs are something I do for fun and relaxation – and, I’ll concede, a few badges. ;-)

  8. Bristal says:

    Nobody can say “this is how WoW is”. All you can say is “this is how WoW is for me now”.

    PUG heroics are mostly ridiculously easy for me, too. I’m geared to the teeth. I play my class well. Heroics aren’t for us anymore. They are for the undergeared or new 80’s to get better geared for raids.

    They are a bit more challenging when I get paired with 2 DPS doing only 1k DPS or lower. but if there’s another >4K it’s cake. I’ve wiped 10 times on Loken in the past. When he doesn’t even have time to move down the stairs, it’s just a BIT easier, don’t you think?

    The instances haven’t changed. YOU have.

    You’re an adult going to a little league ballpark and bitching about how easy it is because your opponents are so freaking SMALL.

    You are USING the LFD function to game the system and get easy rewards. And then complaining about how easy it is.

    Dude. Go find tougher competition and stop beating up on the 10 year olds.

    • SynCaine says:

      Well no I can’t say “this is how WoW is for me now”, I don’t play it. The post is just an observation based on reading about the game from numerous sources, and an overall commentary about the average PUG group in a game like WoW.

  9. sid67 says:

    It’s easier, no doubt about that, but not to the degree that you are making it out.

    In my mind, the only thing that has changed the ‘difficulty’ of these encounters is aggro management.

    Tanking is just easier. Most classes have ways of shedding some aggro and Tanks have better ways to maintain aggro.

    The result is that individual people don’t need to worry as much as they used to about the consequences of doing something stupid.

    The rest of it (timing, boss difficulty, etc) is all the same. People still die when they stand in the stand in a void zone or get flame striked.

    The aggro thing IS certainly a big change but it’s not deserving of this troll post. As Darren points out in the first comment, most of your points aren’t really true.

    I will say that I ‘do’ think this aggro thing is a shame. It certainly has taken much of the strategy away from the 5-mans. The AoE and no CC comments are definately spot on.

    • SynCaine says:

      Its almost two different things though, between current end-game heroics and pre-80 instances. Part of why people are hailing the fix to LFG is because they can experience the older dungeons now, and in that same line are saying how most of their PUG experiences are enjoyable. All of THOSE instances are much, much easier for a long list of reasons.

      That end-game heroics are even doable in a random PUG with sub-par players is another issue entirely.

      • sid67 says:

        Ah.. stop being a killjoy and let people leveling up enjoy the older content.

        When you consider that the older dungeons were totally inaccessible because they had become obsolete, this is a good change for people even if they are on EZ mode.

    • sid67 says:

      I should clarify by saying that this it’s mostly trash pulls that are less difficult. Bosses are pretty much the same.

    • Carson63000 says:

      Most of SynCaine’s points aren’t really true?

      But it IS true that you would need a highly unlikely conjunction of bad players to fail to clear an instance. The no-wipe clear is an exaggeration, I have had a few wipes with groups that weren’t horrible due to carelessness.

      It IS true that you don’t actually need to talk to your group – there is no strategy for trash in any instance other than HoR; and for bosses, everyone either knows what to do, or if they don’t, it can be compensated for by brute force.

      Is IS true that you don’t need to correct a poor player because you will win regardless – I’ve certainly torn through instances at blinding speed despite one dps doing 700-800 dps.

      It’s Darren I can’t agree with.

      1. The PUG groups I’m in aren’t wiping. As I said earlier, I’m at one failed run from 50+, and the vast majority of those 50+ have been zero-wipe clears.

      2. The PUG groups I’m in aren’t talking: the most common occurence is zone in, “hi”, “heya”, “howdy”, chain-pull for 20 minutes, collect loot, “cheers guys”, “thanks for run”, “seeya”, leave group.

      3. The strat for everything IS AoE. Plenty of dps are even AoE’ing on pulls of one or two mobs. Bad play, but it doesn’t matter.

      4. I don’t think point 4 was actually an English sentence, I have no idea what it means.

      • sid67 says:

        *YAWN* The implication is that people DON’T talk, DON’T wipe and AoE everything.

        That’s not true. People DO talk, people DO wipe, and not everything is AoE’d.

        Perhaps they talk less, wipe less and AoE when that previously would have been taboo — but the troll post is written to be antagonistic ‘as-if’ all those things happen during every PuG.

        Life’s not black and white. It’s gray.

        • Anne says:

          Ummm, what he stated as clearly a generalisations. And for the most part, one that was spot on.

          Syn never stated that people never talked and never wiped, he was referring to the overall shape of things when he stated that. So ironically you were implying that was what he meant while accussing him of an implication that was off. My point (and syn’s, I’m guessing, can’t speak 100% for him), most groups will NOT need to talk and will NOT wipe, doesn’t mean there are exceptions to the rules of course.

          Out of all the new instances released in WOTLK, only one was hard. But mostly because many of the mobs just hit too hard, even though the end boss was well designed and was an actual challenge from my POV (I believe that instance was HoL).

          Either way, even if people do wipe, they can easily kick the bad ones out without any risk of losing much time. WoW seems more like MW2 now days, entering a combat area with randoms you don’t know and will never meet again in a highly controlled format. This isn’t a MMORPG.

        • sid67 says:

          You meant hasty generalizations, right? Half truths about what your experience will be like if you use the Dungeon Finder in WoW.

          The reality is much more gray and doesn’t fit the picture he paints.

        • SynCaine says:

          How can the picture not fit when even here multiple people have confirmed that on average, what I wrote is what is happening in a typical pug? You are majorly reaching if your counterpoint to the post is that sometimes, in some pugs, people do talk/wipe/use strategy. Of course sometimes it happens, but is it the norm? Are 75%, 50%, 25% of your PUGs talkative, have a tough time at parts and work through those tough times, and beat a boss by executing the strategy to a T rather then using some brute force thanks to level/gear?

          And if I’m off on the typical PUG experience in current WoW, what DOES happen then IMO?

        • sid67 says:

          The issue is half truths:

          1) you will likely no-wipe clear any instance

          This is the big one. People do still wipe. People still die. Many boss fights didn’t get less difficult. Do they wipe less? Yes. So this is a half-truth.

          2) who needs strategy talks when the strategy for EVERYTHING is AoE and loot

          This is a textbook case of a hasty generalization. Is AoE the strategy for EVERYTHING? No. Do people AoE more often now that aggro management is easier? Yes. Another half-truth.

          The AoE (and lack of CC) is also NOT the sole reason why people don’t talk as much.

          For the most part, we are talking about year+ old instances. It’s hard to find people who have never done HoL on at least Normal difficulty. And most people considered that to be the hardest instance from the WoTLK release.

          Steamrolling something because four out of five group members have done it dozens of times in the past is not the same as steamrolling it because it was made “easy”.

        • SynCaine says:

          The key word in the first part is LIKELY. As in, its more likely you WON’T wipe than you will. What % you assign to it is not the point. In vanilla WoW, it was almost a guarantee you were going to wipe during a PUG run of anything at-level. Odds were decent you might not fully clear an instance. Likely is not the same as ‘every single time, 100%’, which you seem to be trying to apply here.

          And that’s what I mean about reaching. Who read the “AoE EVERYTHING” part and actually took that as me saying that everything in any instance can, in fact, be AoE’ed? Come on now.

          As for the final part, I don’t care how many times someone ran Scholo, a PUG group was going to wipe in the instance, almost 100% of the time. The place was just simply tough in the early days. When we were clearing MC and working on BWL we still had wipes in Scholo with our guild runs, short of bringing in our top 5. So no, knowledge of an instance is not the main reason PUGs are successful today, which was the overall point of the post. The reason PUGs seem like happy successful groups today is because the games difficulty has plummeted, and now you need special circumstances (five terrible players) to really struggle and bring out the ‘bad side’ of PUG mentality.

        • sid67 says:

          You argue like a woman, lol. Denying correlations, making correlations where there are none and attributing all things to a single cause.

          First, I never said that people wipe less because they know the instances well. I said they don’t TALK as much because they all know the instances. Secondly, I *do* agree that instances are easier today than in vanilla WoW or even BC. I just don’t attribute AoE as the sole cause of things being easier or that all parts of each dungeons were made easy. A group will still wipe if the healer/tank stands in void zone during a boss fight.

          Also, the Scholo comparison isn’t a very good one as (at the time) that was some of the top-end content in the game. In current WoW terms, I think Scholo/Strat/UBRS are all more comparable to Naxx10, Maly10 and Sarth10. All of which require communication and are frequently ran by PuGs. Yes, these are Raids, but this is one of the subtle changes you’ve missed not playing the game for years.

          The corollary to 10-man raids becoming more accessible is that 5-man dungeons are a BRIEF stepping stone. Even joe blow casuals can get into a Naxx10 Raid as easily as you could form a PuG for Scholo in vanilla WoW.

          I’ve said this before, but these are the types of nuances that eat at your credibility when talking about WoW. It’s not that you can’t conceptually understand the differences, but that you don’t understand how these changes have impacted the majority of WoW players. Raiding becoming more accessible to casuals has had a MAJOR impact on the game – and it’s not all bad.

        • SynCaine says:

          Talking, wiping, strats, whatever. We still wiped/talked/used strats a TON on those Scholo runs, and that was when they were NOT the high end stuff, as I said we were running BWL and farming MC at the time. For harping on details you miss/ignore a good amount yourself.

          But you agree that instances are easier, which is the base that the REST of the post is built upon, so we can move on.

  10. rulez says:

    Check out the 3 new ICC 5 mans, especially the last one, if you want to have some challenging and fun encounters where CC matters again.
    Of course the majority just out gears the other over 1 year old heroics now, they are merely supplies for Frost Emblems and mindless AOE fun for off times.

  11. Dblade says:

    It’s because people don’t like dealing with the drama a challenging raid can bring. When you wipe multiple times on a mission (a friend in FFXI wiped over ten times on one COP mission, spending weeks doing it over and over) it gets old, fast.

    There’s challenge, and there is frustration, and you need to keep in mind that the end result is just virtual pixels.

  12. Gurney says:

    Syncaine’s description is spot on. WOTLK Heroics are easier than BC ones, many characters outgear them, you receive a +5% buff to damage, heal and hitpoints if you use the random LFG system. Blizzard is cleverly forcing raiders to use the system by rewarding 2 Emblems of frost that are needed for the new T10 set and other top level gears which means that you’ll often have several characters with top gear in your group. So most runs are smooth … and boring.

    Talks happen on rare occasions when there is some unexpected downtime (the tank is afk, waiting for mobs in Violet Hold) but most of the time everybody is silent (you can’t talk when you’re chain pulling trashes).

    With this LFG system Blizzard has turned a group activity into a solo activity. The four other members of your PUGs are just NPCs to you and in most cases you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

    • Bhagpuss says:

      “The four other members of your PUGs are just NPCs to you and in most cases you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference”

      I think this puts the finger on my problem with the system, except that I feel like there are four other players and I am the NPC.

      SOmeone further up the thread said it would be hard to find 5 players who hadn’t done HoL many times. I don’t even know what HoL stands for. I’ve been playing WoW for 6 months and I never even did a dungeon with a full group before the dungeon finder. And right now I don’t feel like I missed much, either.

      It’s true as far as my very limited experience goes that most players have done all this stuff to death before. There is absolutely no chat or banter. All the things that make grouping more interesting than soloing are absent.

      I have absolutely no problem with an interface tool that matches groups and takes them to the dungeon. That’s useful. It’s the content of the dungeons vis-a-vis the experience and capabilities of the players that I take issue with, and on this point Syncaine, even though he hasn’t used the new system, seems to me to be making a fair assessment of it.

  13. Wyrm says:

    If y’all (always wanted to write this) want some fun and challenging dungeon crawls, get a group of friends and play DDO Unlimited one evening a week.

    This is good specially if you don’t know the game that well so you’ll have plenty of exploration and challenge. And if you find you are breezing through the dungeons just start doing the ones one or two levels above. While the mobs in DDO aren’t quite as the ones in Darkfall they will still give you a run for your money.

    Yesterday 5 lvl 5’s ran The Pit and we took three hours to clear it while chatting, having fun, discussing pulls (there are some level 10 mobs there that hit hard) and getting lost in that freaking maze. But boy, that was fun.

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  15. Remastered says:

    And here I thought this (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,582317,00.html?test=latestnews) was why the PUG scene was so great in WoW right now…

    • SynCaine says:

      That story is so lovingly loaded. I’m sure she really had to twist the arm of a 16 year old boy to have sex with him after SHE flew up to see him. Because as we all know, if there is a female in an MMO, everyone stays away and avoids talking to her… God the MMO space is like a feel good story for any fat chick with a phone sex voice.

  16. Ponder says:

    Totally agree with you Mr HCS.

    The problem with current WoW is tanks doing AoE aggro. We didn’t have that in TBC.

    I think the source of the problem is when they did a major reform of Paladins. Maybe this occurred when they let Horde play Paladins.

    If you want challenging fun play Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup…

  17. Sean says:

    I’m not going to spend the time arguing with your post SynCaine but it is amusing that your criticism of the new LFG system and WoW in general is anecdotal and for the recent past, second hand or worse. Yet, you don’t find it an equally valid response to point to one’s first hand, anecdotal experience as evidence to the contrary. That Sid67 or I find our experience using the new LFG system to be far different than what you have portrayed here is irrelevant because you have the better measure of the game and its players, not having played it for more than a year.

    Oh, and the snide bullshit about PvE raiding in WoW is tiresome even if it is largely sarcastic. The PvE endgame of WoW, if anything, is its defining feature. It is around those raids that most of the content and story is developed. The mechanics are challenging, particularly if you play with people who are not extremely skilled and coordinated as a group. Sure the best guilds in the world might be able to stomp through the latest, normal-mode content in a way impossible when Blizzard artificially gated content in Vanilla/BC WoW but for everyone other than that top 5% the content is still just as satisfyingly – and I would say interestingly – difficult as ever. If I had more time, I would play WoW purely for the PvE endgame and EVE for the economy and pirate pvp but lacking that WoW on my backwater server is still, again, satisfying.

    • Adam says:


      Have you read any of the comments agreeing with Syncaine Sean or do you just really really want to believe you are still having fun and being challenged in your game of choice?

  18. Argon says:

    Yeah, this is a pretty accurate description of 5 man PUGs on my raid-geared tank. I do find a bit of amusement from trying to pull as fast as possible, but pretty much it is boring, and I only do it (once a day) for the rewards that will help me with the content I do enjoy, which is the new raids.

    The new 5 mans provide a challenge (and gear upgrades) for the average group of players, but there are only 3 of them, so you don’t encounter them often if you are just doing random dungeons.

    Anyways, this is really the result of massive gear inflation over the course of the expansion. The new dungeon finder is still a really great thing. The only bad part about it is that it makes it more obvious that the WoW endgame is a series of instances and not really a world, but I can live with that for the ability to spend my time actually playing the game instead of sitting around waiting for a group.

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  20. skurm says:

    On this – “it’s still possible to wipe on a raid boss in WoW, right?”
    The new content is challenging. Plagueworks is legitimately hard. Look, outgearing starter content – those 5mans that were there from day1 WotLK – does not mean the game is easy. It just means time to learn and time to gear makes old content easy. Your rant is akin to complaining about how going back to kill level 1 boars in Elwood is too easy. the only difference is that Blizzard made going back and killing those boars lucrative again. No Emblems of Triumph and no Dungeon Finder? No-one would be going back to Heroic NExus for the exact same reason that nobody farms Scholomance any more.

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  22. WOW isDEAD says:

    WOW is awful now. You don’t even need to travel, they should just make a Yahoo Messenger type application to join a dungeon. Game is an easy mode joke.

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