I hate to indulge in another World of Warcraft post, but I don't have a separate gaming blog. Maybe I should start one, but I'm already stretched thin across three blogs, so it's going here. For you non-gamers, feel free to skip this post, unless it captures your interest. It's got some philosophical bits about teamwork and interpersonal relationships, so there's that.
I like patch 3.3, which introduced the ability to join random groups across multiple servers. Running instances is a lot quicker in general, and especially quick if you happen to be a tank, which I am. (Here's Vinpricent, level 80 protection paladin.) Lining up for a PUG (pickup group) takes about 20 minutes or so if you're a damage dealer, five minutes or less if you're a healer, and two seconds if you're a tank. I have at least one of each at various levels, so I've seen this difference frequently. It's because tanking is a more demanding and stressful role that most players do not like, but it's a ton of fun when done competently.
At least half of the PUGs I join have competent and friendly players, run smoothly, and are a pleasure to play. But I encounter bad PUGgers pretty regularly, and I think I've identified a common theme.
Many of these people are highly skilled as individual players, but they have a play style which does not tolerate any less than perfection from anyone else in the group. Everyone is assumed to be a flawless player, and if they fall short of this ideal, it is always the team's fault and not theirs.
Anecdote 1: The super damage dealer
I am training up a friend who is new to the game. He started a paladin of his own, so I encouraged him to try tanking. I was playing a low level mage with him.
We grouped with a low level hunter who was loaded to the hilt with heirlooms. I'm a pretty capable DPS ordinarily, but this guy is outpacing me by about 3-1 according to Recount. This is a big problem for an inexperienced tank, who cannot hope to keep with that much threat. Monsters are attacking him constantly. To add to the annoyance, this is another one of those guys who will race ahead and attack more groups first, if the tank is not moving fast enough for his needs.
I say "Look, dude, you have great DPS, but our tank is inexperienced and you need to let him establish threat a little more." He responds by saying that he ALWAYS beats everyone in DPS, and it's never a problem. He also does not want to turn off Growl on his pet, since he knows his pet will need to keep monsters off of HIM.
This is actually the most frequent kind of bad player I see. Some DPS players believe that maximizing damage is their only job, and they don't notice or don't care when their personal style is hurting the team.
Anecdote 2: The bully healer
Mistakes happen. People die. Sometimes it's easy to identify who's at fault. Sometimes it's not.
I'm tanking Prince Keleseth, a boss who freezes random players in ice tombs, making them take damage and preventing actions. Ordinarily the DPS should attack the tomb and break it. Unfortunately, the healer gets entombed, and nobody helps him. We have solid DPS and I can survive well, so we survive, but the healer dies moments before the encounter ends. There is no wipe.
He starts cursing and yelling that it's MY fault (bear in mind that he was nowhere near me when he got entombed). He demands the shard I won as "payment" for letting him die. I give it to him, not wanting to jeopardize the run over his tantrum. As the encounter goes on, he starts barking instructions and acting frustrated when they are not followed, even though we move through at a fairly rapid clip with no other deaths.
Finally, another player and I shut him up. I say "Listen, chill out or quit the group. I'm a tank, I can have another group in 3 seconds. You died once, it is not worth the emotional response you're giving." He says that when he's done he'll go back and play with his top tier guild, whose members are much better than me. Finally I say "Yeah, but you'll still be a big whiner." As we approach the final boss I tell our shadow priest out loud: "Please be ready to off-heal in case he rage-quits in the middle." He doesn't quit.
Anecdote 3: The lunatic
Another healer here, the instant the instance is entered he starts saying "Start chain pulling, this is too easy for me." Gamely I start establishing aggro on a group at a time, moving ahead before a group is fully beaten. He keeps saying "Full mana! I'm bored! PULL FASTER!"
So I pull faster. When there are too many mobs on us already, the group gets feared, pulling even more. I can't get enough aggro, the healer is too far away to be useful. Wipe. I feel stupid for listening to him.
The thing is, even if you have skills which work effectively with perfect groups -- high DPS, big mana pool for healing, the ability to chain-pull as a tank without regard for how well your healer is keeping up -- stuff happens. Patrols hit you, healers go OOM, the tank can't pull the mobs back from your overpowered leather-armor-wearing jerk butt. And when unexpected things happen, if you were playing to the point where you were just barely not dying, that will quickly change from "only mostly dead" to "all dead" pretty quick.
That's why I'm a conservative player no matter what role I'm in. I don't pull more than we can handle; I let my healer mana stay near the full end and don't complain; I watch Omen and switch targets or STOP dealing damage if we have a weak tank.
I just can't believe that so many players have a hard time comprehending the fact that if you have a play style which increases the likelihood of a wipe, you will progress MORE slowly than a group that is cautious and survives.
Festina Lente -- the more haste, the less speed.