I often read people’s horror stories of their terrible PUG experiences in just about every online game I have played. I am regularly shocked by the alleged atrocities committed by seemingly average players on other seemingly average players. We all come to the dungeon entrance with the same goal. So, what goes wrong in the intervening 30 to 90 minutes? I have no empirical data to answer that question, so I am going to agree with the masses – it is the DPS’s fault.
I base my hasty conclusion on a personal observation and a stereotype. Who could find fault in those? First, the observation. I have had very few bad PUG experiences in my game-playing career. While I play less often then most, I probably spend a greater than average proportion of my time PUGing. I almost always queue as DPS, and I think that I am a somewhat better than average DPS player. Assuming that I am not consistently PUGing with great, wholly rational players, I have to assume that being good at the DPS role has a significant impact on the enjoyment of my PUG experience.
Second, the stereotype? Your average player queuing as a tank or healer is better than your average player queuing as DPS. Why do I make the blanket assumption? First, tanking and healing are perceived as harder than DPSing. Second, the tanking/healing skillset is different than the leveling/grinding skillset. Obviously, this is not universal, and there are bad (or poorly specced/geared) tanks and healers that queue for PUGs, but I have to think on average, if you are brave enough to jump into the queue as a tank or healer, you know something about what you were doing. On the other hand, while there are certainly good DPS out there, you are more likely to find the lowest levels of skill and maturity taking the “easy way” and going in DPS.
Thus, based on very little actual analysis, I conclude that queuing as DPS means that you are more likely to take a spot in the group from an underachiever than you are to take the spot of an good player.
So, what does it mean to be a good DPS. In other words, what rules should you live by to make your PUGing more enjoyable as a DPS player and what impact can you have?
Never Talk, Ever.
My first rule actually has nothing to do with how you play and everything to do with how you conduct yourself. As DPS, no one cares what you think about anything, how awesome you are, or that speed at which you should kill things. You will not have a smooth trip through a dungeon if you start talking, because everyone in the group assumes that you are a dumb, loud-mouthed, entitled jerk. Oh, and you are the most easily replaceable member of said group.
With that said, the following are acceptable in small doses:
- Hi! (exclamation point may be a little too pushy)
- Ready (but only if asked, unsolicited readies make it seem like you are dictating pace)
- R (better than ready, you show you are efficient)
- Nice tanking (only if said following an actual display of nice tanking)
- Nice heals (see above)
- Thanks or TY (after rez or port)
- Good Job or GJ (usually reserved for the end of the dungeon)
Finally, on a slightly more serious note, it is also acceptable to say at the beginning of the dungeon “My first time in here, any tips would be appreciated.” That shows that you are willing to learn, but not so willing that you would actually read up on an encounter beforehand. It also gives you an excuse if you die (you will).
But do Interrupt
It’s the tank’s job to interrupt, right? It sure is. When the tank misses the interrupt, you can curse said tank out, blame him for the wipe, and shame him until he drops group. It should only be a few more hours before you get another tank, right?
News flash, even given my singing the praises of tanks and healers above, tanks in PUGs always forget to interrupt. On top of that, some encounters have more interruptable abilities than the tank can keep up with. As DPS, you usually have some tools to take that job on yourself. Next time, instead of being resigned to the big damage that will result from a missed interrupt, do it yourself. If you have a squishy tank or noob healer, you will make a nice impact on their ability to keep up with the damage from bosses and are much more likely to survive.
Remember the Basics, and Live by Them
Kill shit, don’t die, amiright? Those four little words, however, are the key to making a dungeon run work. If you can’t kill something before it kills your group, it’s game over. This is why so much of the success you encounter in a PUG is dependent on good DPS. No matter how strong a tank is or how leet the heals are, they cannot make up for the inability of your killers to kill things. Good DPS, on the other hand, can help make up for shortcomings of any member of your party.
First, kill things quickly, in the right order (whatever the tank says), without pulling hate. What impact does being good DPS have on the group by killing shit fast and right? First, if you have other, really bad DPS, you serve as a counterbalance. If your other DPS is closer to average, you help to shorten the fight and take pressure off your maybe undergeared tank or healer. Again, participating the interrupt game further assists your tank and healer.
Second, stay out of the bad. We all know that dead DPS is no DPS. Moreover, the more damage you take, the less time the healer can spend healing the tank. If you are doing your job and staying alive, you can get by with a fairly weak tank or healer.
In Summary, I am Awesome
Actually, not so much. There are plenty of players who are better than me who have sworn off PUGs due to their horrible experiences. The major difference I have seen is that they often play the tank or healer role. Assuming my assumptions are correct (double-assumption, FTW!), by queuing as DPS, I have increased my chances of eliminating a very bad or very immature player from the group. I also have the benefit of being one of the least likely in the group to be yelled at when things go to hell, unless it truly is my fault.