The Worst Kind of Scrub

February 6, 2009

1145062Undeterred by my previously failed attempts to find a challenging PUG, I joined the LFG channel again. This time I thought I’d try Azjul Nerub, a slightly more challenging instance. My guild is currently working on Sarth +1 drake. The last boss encounter in AN involves many of the same mechanics. Move out of the bad stuff, pick up multiple adds spawning from all directions, keep the boss faced away from the group. Perfect opportunity to practice.

It wasn’t long before I got an invite from a mage whose name was vaguely familiar to me. This is always a little disconcerting, because I can never remember if I know the name because they made a really good impression, or a really bad impression. Regardless, I accepted the invite and all we were lacking was a healer. At this point, the mage began spamming LFG channel “LF healer, have an over geared tank!” I started to look around, wondering who on earth he was talking about. Then it occurred to me I was the only tank … ergo, he must mean me. I was a bit nonplussed. I guess I’m not used to being used as a bargaining chip and I don’t think of myself as particularly over geared. But … ok … this was all part of the PUG adventure.

spell_magic_greaterblessingofkings1 I suppose this is as good a time as any to admit a little secret of mine. I have found that 99% of the time, all a PUG looks at to determine the value of a tank is their hit points. They have no clue about avoidance, block cap, non-crit cap and all those other extremely important caps we tank types work so hard to reach. They want to see a ton of HP. So, I oblige them. Whenever I join a PUG, I equip my max stam set and buff myself with kings. Once they are sufficiently impressed, I switch to my regular tanking set and throw up sanctuary. They never notice the difference, and it avoids a whole lot of annoying questions.

So anyway, back to my PUG. We got a Pally healer in short order, and it turned out to be an old friend of mine. We exchange warm greetings, and off we went.

The first two bosses were fairly uneventful. The dps completely failed at targeting the web wraps, but no one died and we approached the two pull immediately before the final boss. I marked them and charged the skull. The mage immediately pulled agro on the X, whereupon he began shouting, in all caps, for me to taunt.

Now, my inclination was to let him die. After all, he completely disregarded the kill order … and I guess I was still a bit piqued at being used as a bargaining chip.

However, this whole “run with PUG’s” kick was instigated by a blog post from Vene of TankingTips.com in which he suggested running with PUG’s as a means to keep your skills sharp. In that same blog post, he recommended trying to save everyone, even the annoying dps’ers. He maintained that by trying to save everyone, you will be forced to learn and maintain the techniques so that you can save everyone.

Biting my tongue, I taunted and we finished up the pull.

Now for the good fight.

I explained about the frontal nature of pound. Never stand in front of the boss.

I explained about the spikes that come up from the ground during the tunnel phase. Never stand in the bubbling earth.

I explained about the Venom spiders nasty aoe poison volley and the importance of focused dps burning those down.

I charged.

The kitty druid died in the first pound.

The hunter died in the spikes.

The mage dps’ed everything except the venom spiders.



We ran back and I explained again, very patiently, about the frontal nature of pound, about the necessity of moving out of the bubbling ground that denotes spikes about to rise, and about the importance of focused dps burning down the venom spiders.

I charged again.

The kitty druid died again from pound.

The hunter died again from spikes … so did the mage.

The holy Pally and I focus dps’ed down the venom spiders, but the boss overcame us.

We ran back and I explained, again, not quite so patiently.

I charged a third time.

The kitty druid ran out of pound … only to die in the spikes. I don’t think he had ever lived long enough to actually see them before.

The hunter did not die from spikes, but didn’t dps the venom spiders either. Actually, I don’t think he was dpsing anything … but at least he didn’t stand in the spikes.

The mage, who at a whopping 1600 dps declared himself to leet to be bothered with moving out of spikes, died.

Upon wiping this third time, the mage declared,

“We can’t do this with a Pally healer.”

I am a patient person. It takes a lot to make me angry, and few people have ever seen me in a fit of temper. But, in all my WoW playing days, I have rarely been so angry as I was at that moment. Even The Angry Raid Leader would have been proud.

Yes, the druid failed at moving out of pound. Yes, the hunter failed at moving out of spikes. Yes, the whole group failed at any type of coordinated movement. But this didn’t bother me. After all, this was exactly why I was here, with a PUG, instead of tearing up instances with my uber leet guildies. This presented a challenge. This gave me the opportunity to practice my skills in a setting where what I did actually mattered, where the group needed me to succeed. So, it wasn’t these players lack of skill that bothered me. It was the mage’s attitude.

death_is_pretty_by_bdchan1For most of us, becoming a skilled player isn’t something that just happens. It takes time, and it is a painful process. Because it involves a lot of mistakes, and a lot of embarrassment, and a whole lot of frustration. And there are times when you fail so badly that you think you’ll never be able to face your friends, or yourself, again and you want to give up.

But you don’t. Instead, you get back up and you try again, and again and again. And, gradually, you find the things that used to be so difficult are now a little bit easier. And one day you realize that you are doing things now that you once thought impossible. And that gives you the courage to face the next failure, and you get back up a little faster this time, and in this way you grow – not just as a player but as a person.

What this mage wanted was to skip all that. He wanted to be carried by better players. He had no intention of working to learn the skills necessary to become a contributing player. He was the worst sort of scrub.

You show me a player who fails miserably and takes responsibility for his failure, and learns from it, and gets back up and tries again and again, and I’ll show you a player who has what it takes to become great. You show me a player who fails miserably and whines, and blames the healer, and quits after a wipe or two, and I’ll show you a player who will never be more than a scrub. It’s not a lack of failure that separates the great players from the scrubs. It’s how you handle failure, what you learn from it, and whether you have what it takes to get back up and keep trying.

I didn’t say all this to the mage. I did tell him exactly who was the problem … and it wasn’t the healer. I was prepared to stay with that group all night while they worked on developing some skill. Not surprisingly, the mage suddenly remembered he had to get up early the next day and needed to log … right now.

I ended that run with a renewed appreciation for my guildies. We may not be the most skilled players in this game, but we are always trying to better ourselves, and not one of us expect to be carried. Sometimes I need to run with PUG’s just to appreciate the high quality people I run with every day.


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