Neo’s Guide to Good Pugging

I’ve always been very reluctant to PUG. This is probably because of bad experiences early in my WoW playing days. Most of you will have been there too – ninja looters, mage tanks, melee hunters, tanks who can’t … the list goes on. My own experiences have been quite mild, simply because I I’ve avoided PUGs as much as possible – to the extent that if I couldn’t run an instance with a guild group I just wouldn’t bother running it at all. (I’ve been very lucky to have a group of friends who are also a good class mix for running instances, and we’ve played together so long we’ve reached the point where teamwork is easy).

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I kept seeing my guildmate, friend and fellow medic, Neombra doing really well in PUGs – getting the special achievements and all that. I asked him for his advice on minimizing the chances of joining the PuG from hell, so he wrote a quick guide for our guild website. The rest of this post is basically Neo’s article, with a few edits here and there by me. Thanks for the advice Neo.


NOTE: This is not a definitive guide to successful PUGing. This is just a list of things that have helped me PUG successfully in WotLK. So remember that these are guidelines and I am in no way responsible for your bad PUGing experiences (we all have them).

1. Make sure that you belong in the instance. If you are not properly geared you might get laughed out of the group, but more importantly you could miss the opportunity to group with some great players. Your gear directly reflects your effort (for the most part, excluding people being run through instances by friends). I’m not saying that you can’t walk in with a couple greens. Just don’t expect to walk in with all greens (mostly important for heroics). People have an easier time inviting other people they do not know if they are in proper gear, i.e. NO tank necklaces on dps casters. Also have most of your gear enchanted. Don’t sweat it if you can’t afford the highest level enchant, many of the lower ones are just fine (to a point, you should have level appropriate enchants).

This is sort of the pre-audition phase, many people don’t make it through just because of simple things like this. And the people forming groups who take the time to do a gear check before inviting you are the people you want to be PUGging with, because they are most often the people who know what they’re doing.

2. Know who you are running the instance with. Whenever I get an invite the first thing I do is do a /who on them. I know which guilds I want to run with. If I have never heard of the guild before I am taking a chance. Most of the more established guilds expect a certain code of conduct from their members. Most have a no-ninja-looting policy which definitely helps out in that department. I also use or The Armory to take a quick look at their gear. I don’t auto-decline on these factors, they just help me to understand what I’m signing up to. 

This is a double-edged sword, people can look you up too. And remember you can see achievements on The Armory, so you can easily check out someone’s claim that they’ve cleared Naxx.

3. Talk to the group when you get invited. Don’t be annoying, but don’t just sit there. Whenever I group with a PUG I throw a simple hello out there just to let them know I’m paying attention. And watch the party/raid chat for a while to get a feel for it what sort of people are in the group before you say too much.

Tinuviel’s favorite was someone who started telling sexist jokes about 2 minutes after joining the group – not the best way to impress one of the few women who play WoW 🙂 .

4. If you are still in the “forming” phase, help out with looking for people. Don’t expect them to find the group, but don’t bend over backwards to get guildies/friends to come help you. (And, if you do invite guildmates, make sure they realize you’re inviting them to a PUG).

5. Try to keep communication up, but leave the unimportant things unsaid when in a boss fight. The worse thing anyone could do to me is keep talking about their gear when the tank has something important to say. 

6. Be aware of what is going on around you. As a healer I mostly look at Grid and don’t pay attention to the big guy with the whirlwind coming right at me. This is bad. You have to know fights coming up, but it’s not 100% necessary if you are aware of what is going on and have some sort of boss mod. Notice I did not say you don’t have to know the boss fight. 

7. Know when to call it. No-one wants to keep slamming their face into a wall if it just isn’t working (healer can’t heal, tank can’t tank, dps can’t dps). Don’t give up early, but don’t stay just because you want a particular drop. And if you do decide its time to call it, don’t just drop out without saying anything – unless you really never – ever – want to group with those same people again.

8. BE POSITIVE!!!!!! I can’t stress this enough. I hate it when people go into an instance and are negative the whole way. I understand that you don’t think we can make it, but keep it to yourself. I am a firm believer that if one person says we can’t make, the rest of the group will start to believe it and give up. Having a negative attitude is a thousand times worse in a PUG than among friends who already know you.

9. Do your best. Don’t push yourself (no one likes it when the Mage steals aggro), but don’t just expect to be pulled through. I can easily tell if someone is trying. Also don’t always believe the dps/healing meters. They are a great tool, but they don’t always tell the full story. I play a Discipline Priest which heals very differently than a Holy. We are all about damage reduction and that doesn’t show up on Recount. And don’t be so proud about out-DPSing that hunter if they were on CC duty the whole fight.  

10. If the group was good and you had fun, add the group to your friends list. You never know when they might need you, and you never know when you might need them. I’ve gotten an invite from the same tank 2x after our initial group because he liked my healing.  (Conversely, if you really hated grouping with someone, add them to your friends list too – with a note saying why you hate them. Its easier to find someone on your friend’s list than your ignore list 🙂 ).


This ends my guide and I hope that you learned a little about PUGing. Again, this is not a definitive guide. This is just some guidelines I follow when I turn on LFG. I invite you to add anything that has helped you with PUGing in the past.


And just for fun – I invite you to describe your worst ever PUG experience in a comment to this post 🙂 .


7 responses to “Neo’s Guide to Good Pugging

  1. My worst pug experience is Heroic Gundrak with 4 death knights and Neombra. Not only did the tank dk not know how to tank, the others kept stealing aggro from him. We couldn’t down the snake boss after 6 trys. We finally get it done and the tank has to leave after 2 trash pulls. Leave 4 dks and a healer in Outlands. 🙂

  2. Probably a run in heroic uk with actually a nice mix up of classes but the tank has 0 gear and died almost instantly on the first boss causing the healer to blow all mana on him in the first 20 seconds to keep him alive. Then the two other dps where morons telling bad jokes and spamming the chat, (and haven’t ever even done heroic uk so they dident know the fight) and would not listen to anyone when we said to get us out of ice blocks (i was on duty but because they weren’t worth anything i had to do cc duty as well) anyway we made 4 attempts on the first boss and on the 1st and 2nd neither one dps’ed until after the tank died (not to long maybe 15-20 seconds into the fight) because they were dancing and talking to each other. btw i think the tank dinged 80 on the flight there.

  3. If you ever get in a group that can’t tank, just get out of there as soon as you can. You can carry a bad dps or even a bad healer sometimes, but never a bad tank. You’re either going to run out of time or money for repairs – whichever first!

  4. I pug loads and most of them are fine. There is no CC in WOTLK so there is less chance of of a bad pug! If Blizz ever brought back CC it would be a different story! Most people are wary of DK’s with good reason.
    My worst most recent pug was AC on my DK. There were 2 other DK’s who new each other and insisted on charging at mobs shouting Leeeeeeroy. Needless to say we wiped but that didn’t stop them. After 3 wipes of repeating this I left as did the others.

  5. Good Pugging? What is this foreign phrase you use?

    Lol, seriously though, good guide.

  6. Worst PUG – I get invited to run H Nex by a guildie (now former guildee). I alt hop, and fly to the Coldera, only then to hear the group leader say a friend logged on. Next thing I know, I get kicked. Second worst PUG. Again, an invite from a guildee (different one), also to H Nexus. Two pulls in, the guildee says “gtg” and bails the group. We spend 10 minutes finding then waiting on a replacement, then wipe 3 times on the first boss. By this time, everyone is fed up and drops (though I guess that was the best part of the run, that it didn’t las any longer)

  7. I am so put off by the nightmare stories of pugs, and am such a bad sufferer of fools that I rarely pug. There’s one other reason too – I hate the comments you sometimes get when you reveal you are a real live female gamer. My worst experience was actually a 5-man group quest in Shadowmoon. My friend asked me to help out. I turn up and they are on game chat. I usually say I can hear, but don’t have a mic to avoid revealing the English girl accent, but I had been talking to my friend a min before. He asks me why I am not talking, and I reluctantly say something. I immediately get an explosion of expletives from two rednecks in the group around the fact that I am a F**ing wench. I made a curt reply, helped my friend and then got out of there as fast as I could.