Saturday, 31 May 2008

To Group or Not To Group?

Aurik at /hug posted an article on his blog about boosting or PUGing 'old skool' (pre-Burning Crusades) instances. I thought the topic was interesting and wanted to put my own thoughts without bombing the poor guy's comments.

Why Do People Get Boosts?

Many people I know who get boosts do so because finding a group for a given instance is hard, because no one wants to do it. They fail to see the chink in the armour of their logic here. If they take themselves out of the availiable pool of people looking to do the instance, then there's fewer people looking and so getting a group becomes harder. Not many people need to decide to get a boost before a tipping point is reached where most people get boosts because a given instance has a reputation for being hard to pick a group up for.

Another reason people get boosts is because they're sick and tired of people who can't play their class making the instance harder than it needs to be. The mages opening with Pyroblast? the healers who actually can't? The rogues stealthing ahead of the group and pulling? The tanks only even trying to hold agro on one target? The groups who don't want to use the Lucky Charms, or seem incapable of following kill orders? I am talking to all of you guys. You, and people like you, make those of us who have seen what a competant person playing your class at your level can do, not want to continue PUGing low level instances. You guys make it too hard to be fun.

Why Are There Problems With Boosting?

I have already somewhat covered why there are problems with people getting boosts from my first point - they add to the problem of too few people wanting to run a given instance.

People who don't run instances because of point two have a similar effect. They remove the number of competant people from the pool of available PUGers. If you're noticing people doing things outragiously stupid, chances are you are not doing those things yourself. Chances are also good that you are raising the general group competance just by being there, doing your thing. Taking yourself out of the pool means that future competant people will find the same situation you have, and do the same thing you have done.

Why Should I Care?

Well, most of the points I have raised have been about your decisions impact on those who come after you. The general disintigration of the PUGing community for the pre-Burning Crusades instances isn't something that's going to get people protesting in the streets of Stormwind and Orgrimmar, or indeed, caring very much at all. But it's worth bearing in mind the next time you bemoan how crap PUGing lower level instances is, you can either become part of the problem, or part of the solution.

Also, I disagree with Aurik's assessment of the potential experience benefits of not getting a boost. I have always found that a run with people of the right level is of benefit when learning my class. I may not have all of my killer abilities, but I will have my staple abilities (generally, probably exception being Ragefire Chasm) which I can learn to use well. As a tank it's less stressful to learn how to hold multiple targets' worth of threat when you have some give with regards how fast people die to rampaging mobs. If you were to wait until level 70 to learn this stuff (because that's when you'll have all of your killer abilities at their max) then chances are you'll be labled as the worst tank in the world and ditched fairly quickly. Unless you are on a server with a massive lack of tanks, of course, when you will still be fed caviar and told how awesome you are.

Final Thoughs?

Boosting is here to stay. As are losers who ask over trade for a boost for 5g. I play a feral druid, which is possibly the best boosting class in the game (prot/holy paladin might be better, case dependent). I have boosted people through Blackrock Depths, soloed Lower Blackrock Spire, and two manned Upper Blackrock Spire (with the hinderance of a third person we had to call in to activate the first boss) without a healer. But I get nothing out of boosting some little scrub who asks over trade. It's not a profitable thing to do. In the time it takes me to boost them in Shadowfang Keep (20 minutes in and out), for example, I could do three or four daily quests and get about 30 gold and not have the hassle of them pulling agro.

I'd like to not have to boost or be boosted in any instance, but the fact is that I have friends who are going to get frustrated (and am going to get frustrated myself) and ask me for a boost. I will almost certainly help these friends, because that's the sort of person I am, and it can be fun to boost someone who is cracking jokes over the party channel every now and then and isn't trying to help out. 'Helping out', in my experience, often leads to running around like a loon trying to stop them from being killed.

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