The Joy of Pugging

This past weekend I took some time out of my Saturday evening to do something I haven't done much in a while: pugging. I tanked story mode Dread Fortress and veteran Hammer Station on my Vanguard and ran my Guardian through a whole host of story mode uprisings.

Also pugging again: my perpetually pugging Merc
I learned that Landing Party is better avoided right now, as the last boss is bugged, and finding out at the very end that you can't actually complete the instance is quite a bummer. I also realised that Trial and Error, the one with the rakghouls that I declared my favourite of the second set on release, is actually quite a pain on story mode due to what I can only assume is a tuning error. Dulfy has noted that story and veteran mode have the exact same damage and mob health numbers, and after trying both I'm inclined to think that those numbers are the ones that were intended for veteran mode. In my first pug for story mode that evening, which had no healer, my entire party simply melted on the first boss before we could even do much of anything, which caused the group to disband very quickly. I only managed to complete it later when I just happened to get a group that had an actual trinity setup. Now I really don't want to do it again, not until they fix those numbers anyway. But hey, at least the achievements work now. (Not long ago, these were bugged too and didn't tick off several of the uprisings when you completed them.)

Anyway, while none of these runs were super special (people were reasonably competent and didn't talk very much), I was kind of ridiculously happy to be out there among random players again. I'm coming to think that pugging is the perfect antidote to too much negativity.

And I have been struggling with the latter again for the past couple of months. I can't blame people for grousing about Galactic Command, but the regular old "Bioware sucks" and "dead game" I can do without - yet sadly these sorts of complaints just seem to be everywhere nowadays. "Just don't go to places like the official forums or reddit," you might say, but sometimes I do want to keep up with the news and see what people are saying! Where can I still engage in conversation about the game without seeing bland declarations of doom and gloom everywhere? Every game has its detractors, but where are the SWTOR community's happy places these days? (Actually, my Twitter feed is a pretty good place, as the SWTOR players there find a lot of joy in the game. But the format just has limited use for discussion.)

Anyway, what does pugging have to do with all this? To me, it's like an antidote to forum whining. When it feels like everyone but your guildies seems to hate the game (based on what you see in online comment sections anyway), there's nothing like joining a group of random strangers and seeing them actually have oodles of fun. In one of my uprising runs, two people said that they had never done it before, and one of them got super excited about everything; it was really cute. Recalling the bugs I mentioned above, not everything was sunshine and rainbows of course, but annoyances like a bugged encounter are very specific criticisms and not at all at odds with one's overall love for the game.

The other day, I read an article on Contains Moderate Peril, in which the author mused about "the average LOTRO player", and I couldn't help but think that if you replaced hobbits with Jedi and LOTRO with SWTOR, it would ring just as true for my own online home. The gist of it is basically that for all the loud complaints you see about any MMO online, the majority of the player base pays no attention to any of that and just sticks to playing the game itself, having plenty of fun in the process. Sometimes I really need to be reminded of that, after seeing enough people just hang out in comment sections and spout about how much they hate the game. And even though people daring to use the group finder are probably yet another sub-section of the player base that isn't necessarily representative of the average, pugs can be pretty great at reminding you that lots of people are still out there, having plenty of fun.

(Also, speaking of strangers providing you with a good time, you still have several days left to enter my companion giveaway!)


  1. I love pugging. I do it almost every day. Mostly on my main, a jedi-healer. The few times, when there are major mistakes, i can outheal them. When i pug with one of my dps, it is sometimes not so easy. And sometimes i want to bash my head into a wall. :)
    But...a long time ago, i gave up, to list random with my tanks. Every once in a while i return, just to be instantly remembered, why i gave it up.

    1. Why is that? Honest question, as I haven't really had any bad pugging experiences on my own tanks. Just yesterday I tanked a veteran Esseles where the healer for some reason kept running ahead and pulling... but to be honest I was more amused than annoyed by that; it was just silly as it didn't really speed us up.

    2. When you main a healer, you gain so much insight into the game-mechanics. You notice why things are shooting at you, why guard doesn't help you. You instantly spot a good tank, bad dps...i really enjoy staying behind and see a good group perform their respective duties. I can just relax and do some damage, with some occasionally heals.

      When i enter the groupfinder with other roles than healer, i try to play, in such way, that „my“ healer will think the same. Following killorder, or set off my defensive cooldowns at appropriate times. Just ensure a smoothly run. Everybody here knows what i am talking about.

      I don't know what i have done wrong, but when i list with my tanks, i never ever get such a group. In the leveling stage every max-level dps ignores you pretty much. Because it's only tactical, right?! When i hit max-level, healer crying about my guard-choice. Every uber-dps is tunneling the goldmobs, and i stand there, with all enemies on me, praying for an dps-aoe, to take the weak ones immediatly down, so that the healer doesn't need to heal that extra-damage, that should have been gone a long time ago.

      Every Flashpoint has at least one tough trash-pull. Even when up to this point all is fine, exactly at this particular moment a dps pulls the group, not noticing i was waiting a little bit, because the healer wanted to regenerate some energy.

      Most of the time i get things under control fast, sometimes i'm amused as you are Shíntar, but...and i don't know the reason...i'm just annoyed. I'm much less forgiving as a tank, than as a healer. I love these „crazy“ groups as a healer, but stay away from me, if i tank. Maybe it's because i'm not so familiar with my tanking-alts.

    3. Funny that you mention Guard, that could almost be a post of its own, how weirdly dogmatic people can be about that. I've seen people get really angry on the forums while arguing that it must be placed on either a dps or the healer, and that doing it the other way round is totally wrong. Of course the truth is that either can benefit depending on the circumstances, but that would be too complicated, now wouldn't it? :D

      My own experience tanking in levelling flashpoints has actually been that (unless there's a well-geared, sturdy max-level character who wants to take the lead), people are generally grateful for someone willing to jump in first and get all the aggro. Without a tank there is often a lot of uncertain milling about as nobody wants to be the first to get nuked. :D

    4. A good tank doesn't need guard at all. :)

      About jumping in first: i observed this myself. The people are grateful for it, but not when i list with my tanks. It is totally weird.

      In tactical FPs i like to jump in first with my healer, because i know, what i can take or what i can heal. And in a worst case scenario i have my god-bubble. Especially when you have some lowbies in your group, it is better, that the aggro is on yourself.

      I really do like healer-tanking. Just for this occasions i have a set of gear with tanking-stats. :)
      Just kidding of course...

  2. Due to the nature of my work and my time zone relative to my server, my main way of enjoying group content is still pugging for the foreseeable future.

    Last year, I was in a guild (and to date, still the only guild experience I've ever had). The initial experience was fun, I was actively involved in conquest, and managed to do a couple of story mode ops and one HM EV. I was very careful not to be rude to anyone and being a good team player...reading up on Dulfy guides before each op.

    Then suddenly after 2 months without warning, my GM struck me out of the guild. He stated in the mail that he suspected I was smearing his name behind his back. I was sad and disappointed because I was pretty sure I never did such a thing.

    Needless to say, that experience has soured me a bit of ever trying to be a part of a guild ever again. Plus in retrospect, I was not a power-gamer and competitive anyway. Being in a competitive guild meant that sometimes I felt forced to participate in group activities...and when you "felt forced" or "have to do" some activities, while you might want to do other activities..it is not fun anymore. So maybe being guild-less is the best thing for me.

    Coming back to the topic of pugging, I was lucky that for the most part, my pugging experience has been nice and courteous. Only experienced 2 rage-quits so far, and generally if people dont know about things they will not be shy and ask for help. The only thing that "weirded" me out if it's occasionally pugging with a totally silent group and only me that was trying to chat. But hey, if every member already know the fights and their roles, you can all be silent lol.

    I would really like to be in a nice social guild, but currently trying to find a suitable one seemed to be too much work. And I dread that I might encounter another negative guild experience again.

    Just my 2 cents Shintar lol.

    1. Sucks that you had such a bad experience with that guild. I can understand how that would deter you from joining another, but your odds probably aren't as bad as you might think. People like to say that guilds create drama, but of course players only talk about the bad stuff , while only very rarely mentioning how they've been having a good time with their guild every day for the past year.

      That's not to say that I think you should join a guild, there are perfectly valid reasons to fly solo, I just think that fear of people being mean shouldn't be one. :)

  3. When I want to talk SWTOR with someone who has a fairly positive outlook, I'm going commando! Forum/reddit hate isn't a SWTOR only thing though. If you visit the reddit/forums for {insert game name here}, you'll find that {insert game name here} is also a raging dumpster fire that's going to close by the end of the year. What a coincidence!

    About queuing: I think throwing 4 random people in is a stop gap solution to content that scales to your real group size. If you're solo, you should be running a solo version of flashpoint. If you're a couple, then have a two person version. Basically, let the players form the groups and the game should adjust.

    True group content is still best experienced with voice chat software and true "teams".

    About guilds: Most guilds are either a silent chat channel, or a mega-guild that demands you be hardcore about things like conquest. A fairly small guild that still does things like flashpoints/uprising and the occasional OP together is actually rarer than it should be. When most people say they want a guild, what they really want is either 3 or 7 people of exactly the right trinity mix who group up at exactly the right time, for exactly the right duration. And of course there should be no drama...

    1. Yeah, sometimes I go to other MMO subreddits to cheer myself up by seeing how they are all full of complaints. It helps to maintain perspective, but it's no replacement for actual constructive discussion.

      I disagree with your definition of "true" group content. I mean, I spend a lot of time doing that myself, but I also like pugging with strangers. Similar to the sort of public events you find in other MMOs, where people randomly pile up together to defeat a world boss for example, it's just a different level of engagement and I think it's nice to have options. I don't always feel like doing the same things either.

    2. Enh - there are also "social" guilds, and/or "casual" guilds. I'm in a couple on JC right now, where guild chat is peaople hanging out, and some group content is done, but nobody's sreiously "progression-raiding."


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