Monday, April 16, 2012

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly - on classes and their pugging behavior.

Lately, I have been trying to re-establish myself on my new server. That doesn't just mean getting close and friendly with the locals, but to set myself up for independence. Back on my old server I had one alt for every profession, so that I would never have to pay anything but material fee for the most common goods (in the end I was too lazy to relogg for the most common items anyway, but that's beside the point). Anyone who knows anything about me knows I am a very cheap person however, and just moving two characters (and faction change them) was on the edge of what I am willing to pay extra for WoW. They've sucked plenty of money from me already (and more to come when D3 is released). I don't mind leveling alts, in fact that is what I spend the most time doing in WoW by far. Leveling lots of alts means doing a hell of a lot of instances usually, because I can't be arsed to do the same quests over and over (the same instances over and over is a little less boring). Doing instances means meeting people and in the end, after the 150th instance of the month (or so it feels sometimes) you will start generalizing things about those people. We all do it. Every hunter is a ninja looter, every paladin is just face rolling and so on. I like to think that in WoW, there is always a kernel of truth in prejudice. And here is my list regarding the classes in WoW and how they behave in dungeons.

Be warned, the following text will be filled with wild generalizations and ranting, maybe even more than my posts usually are.

Death Knight - Annoyance level 10
What better than to start off with the class that got me into this idea in the first place. There are so many things I want to say about Death Knight behavior in pugs, and none of them are good things, that I barely know where to start. I think the only thing that can be said in favor of death knights is the fact that they don't start pestering you with their presence until around level 58. Unfortunately, they somehow seem to think they have to make up for that fact by being about ten times more annoying than most other classes.

Here are some facts about death knights: they used to be overpowered one man armies and they used to be able to be either tank or dps in any spec. Used to be being the key words here. Dks seem stuck in a mindset that hasn't changed since they were introduced into the game. Few death knight tanks seem to bother with more than being in the right presence, for the most time "tank gear" is a concept that completely eludes them. Their lack of gear doesn't stop them in any way from doing pulls way bigger than any other tank, for some reason, and usually without any knowledge of how to keep aggro on all those mobs or use cooldowns to mitigate damage from all those mobs. At best, the tanking dk will use some runes on Death Strike.

But the tanking dk is nowhere near as annoying as the dpsing death knight. Normally, the tanking death knight is just very bad, and most of the time I am willing to overlook that since the instance is at least moving forward (also usually if I am not tanking I am instead the healer, and a bad tank does provide some challenge *positive thinking*). The dpsing death knight however goes into great lengths to be actively annoying. There are two factors here; the fact that Blizzard have designed dks to be very annoying in themselves and the fact that every player seems to want to play dks in an annoying way to add insult to injury. Seeing someone, who doesn't have the faintest clue about what is going on, basically facerolling their way onto top damage done, is the first annoying thing about Dks. Dks are not an easy class to master, yet similarly to paladins it doesn't seem to require any brain power to get a good result. The problem with this is that it prevents anyone who leisurely plays their dk to ever give a rats ass about what they're doing, because if anyone ever complains they can just point at the meters and say "well at least I am doing the most damage". Which is in no thanks to their skills but to Blizzards crappy programming.

The other part is that Blizzard has provided the dks with a skill like Death Grip. Remember now that people who play dks think they are one man armies who can handle anything on their own, and don't give a shit about what the rest of the group does. They are the ones who get a skill like Death Grip. It is mildly annoying that a dk death grips a mob out of my melee range to be able to hit it whenever he's not in range. Deep down I can understand that, it is lazy behavior and being a very lazy person I can empathize with it. It also only mildly annoying that dks seem to only be able to use DG on melee mobs and never caster mobs which would be ideal. But using Death Grip on a mob you're already hitting on only serves to give you aggro, which is completely meaningless for a dpsing dk. If a dps warrior does it I can think that he did it to get more rage or something, but the dk only does it because he just can't let that Death Grip button go unused!

Warrior - Annoyance level 3
I like warriors, they're usually silent and effective regardless if they're tanking or dpsing. Most warriors don't talk much, something that is common for many melee (except in fact, dks) and I can only imagine that bashing all those keys makes it difficult to type at the same time. People who roll warrior tanks usually take their job very seriously since in the general opinion warrior tanking is the most difficult and usually only done by people who have some previous experience in tanking. Warrior tanks are probably also therefore the stingiest of the tanks by far, sometimes on the verge of cranky divas. Warrior tanks can often be divided into those who have stopped caring and just tank on, and those who won't tank unless the rest of the group behaves exactly like they want to. Fortunately, the latter group often sorts itself out of the system, since few tanks actually ever get into a group where every player will accommodate their every whim, and so they end up warrior dps instead.

Although warrior and dk dps are similar in many ways, they're usually played completely differently. The dps warrior doesn't pull extra groups, rarely charges off ahead and seems to try to focus more on doing good damage rather than trying to pull as many mobs as possible.

Priest - Annoyance level 5
My biggest problem with priests, whether healing or dps, is that it seems that so few people have a clue on how to play them. Many new players probably choose to play healing priests because they think they'll be the easiest of the healing classes, they couldn't be more wrong. Discipline priests are easy enough, shield and smite away to do decent healing. In fact I rarely have a problem with discipline priests. Holy priests however, seem to only understand two spells in their arsenal, Renew and Flash Heal. No other healer ooms as fast as the holy priest, because all they do is throw Flash Heal at any damage.

The shadow priest is usually also bad, but for no fault of the player. Shadow priests have bad mana regen and non-existant aoe for a very big part of their leveling, which make them lose damage done to most other classes (except rogues who also lack a decent aoe for most of their leveling). Most commonly, you will see a priest run around oom for most of the instance, which probably is more frustrating to them than it is for the rest of the group.

Shaman - Annoyance level 2
Whenever I get a resto shaman as a healer, I know I am going to be in good hands. I have yet to encounter a bad resto shaman in a lowbie pug, and this is no exaggeration. It is probably partially because Healing Stream Totem and especially Earth Shield does half the job for them, but also because the resto shaman comes with so few skills for the first 70 levels that there really is very little confusion as to what to do when the tank is taking damage, something that many resto druids and holy priests seem to struggle with.

Most of the time dps shamans don't deal as much damage as most other classes. Enhancement because they don't have any good skills until later on and elemental because they're casters, and casters suck for the most part compared to melee until level 80ish. But on the other hand they don't cause any trouble either. Enhancement shamans can't charge ahead or taunt, elemental shamans can throw a chain lightning into the wrong pack of mobs at worst. None of them have procs that they feel a strong urge to use on the next group before the tank is even close, the way a mage does for instance. The only thing shamans can fail with really are whether they decide to use totems or not, and even then it's not something that is especially noticeable when pugging.

Mage - Annoyance level 2
Mages have become a lot better lately. They deal more damage than they used to and somehow they have become a lot less annoying than they used to. Because most mages get aoes early on, they're usually the ones that will try and nag the tank into doing huge aoe-pulls the most, just so they can one-button use their Blizzard/Flame Strike/Arcane Disco throughout the instance. A year ago I would've put mage at level 8 easily.

But that was the old mages, the new mages are behaving themselves a lot better. They will normally give you water upon request, they even sheep things sometimes, although that is rarely necessary in any instance before level 80. Fire mages sometimes have an OCD regarding using Hot Streak, but that is an urge I can understand and fall for myself quite often. I wouldn't want three mages in my group (which has happened), simply because as casters they still suffer from all the things casters suffer from (mostly running out of mana all the time), but otherwise I rarely have any issues with them.

Rogue - Annoyance level 1
I never thought I'd say this, but rogues are probably among my favorite melee to have in my group at the moment (except for one certain rogue, you know who you are Dazsh). They really never cause any trouble, and eventhough they rarely out dps any class who has a decent aoe, they still get the job done in a nice orderly fashion. Rogues used to be the class I had the most issues with in nearly any context, be it pve or pvp, mainly just because they have so much possibilities to be so very annoying. But most pugging rogues at the moment seem to just fully focus on getting their job done, and I am very greatful for that.

Paladins - Annoyance level 6
Having a generalized idea about paladins is difficult since there is a big difference depending on whether they are healing, tanking or dpsing.

The tanking paladin is usually among the best tanks to have in a pug, since they're so easily played that even a blind hen could get it right. Starting out with the IWIN-threat skill Avengers Shield they rarely have any trouble keeping aggro. The fact that they also have the best self healing abilities of all the tanks helps the matter further, and most of the time I just stand idle when healing paladin tanks. There isn't much the paladin tank can fail with snice they're truly a one man army in lowbie pugs (unlike dks).

Paladin healers are usually among the better healers. Paladins get a few, strong spells and probably have the least mana issues of all the healers at those levels which means most people can play them good enough.

Paladin dps on the other hand suffer from some similar issues to Dks. They're far too simple to play to warrant that good a result and I think the only reason they're not as annoying as dks is simply because they don't have Death Grip. I know this because back when Hand of Reckoning still did damage, every retridin would use it as a damage skill, which meant they'd taunt every eight seconds. Retridins still randomly choose to use Righteous Fury for no gain whatsoever, and trying to get them to turn it off is like trying to explain world economy to an iguana. Retridins and dps dks sometimes make me wish that tank specific skills were limited somehow to the tanking classes...

Hunter - Annoyance level 10
Almost every hunter is as annoying as every dk, because similarly to dks, hunters have so many things about them that give them ample opportunity to be very annoying. The fact that they have ranged, instant skills are among the worst, because most hunters seem to be dpsing by pressing the tab skill rather than any dps skills. Eventhough they aggro everything in a 100 yard radius, often by "clever" use of their pet, they still rarely get above third on damage done. How is that even possible?

The old joke that hunters need on every piece of loot they come across seems to have become a mentality of every hunter I pug with. It is as if they feel like they have to live up to that prejudice now, probably thinking "ah they're expecting me to ninja it anyway, so might as well" or "wouldn't want to disappoint them!". As a tank, hunters are the most annoying class to tank, they make a mess of every pull, can easily save themselves with Feign Death and don't even deal good damage, which I at least get out of most Dks. They more often forget to turn of Aspect of the Pack than they would ever start using any kind of traps other than Explosive Trap.

Warlock - Annoyance level 2
Warlocks are like good shadow priests. Eventhough they don't deal good damage until later on, they can at least keep up most of the time, and many of them will offer you a soulstone or healthstone or at least give you one upon request. A mystery I have yet to decipher is how the difference in pet handling can be so vast between warlocks and hunters, where hunters seem to have no clue at all as to what their pets are up to while most warlocks rarely see their pet come running back with three new packs of mobs in tow. That's not the only similarity between hunters and warlocks. Just like hunters, warlocks have many instant, ranged skills, yet they rarely pull ahead or pull extra packs in the way most hunters will.

Druids - Annoyance level 5
Just like their hybrid friends the paladins, how annoying a druid is usually comes down to what spec they are playing. I've never been very fond of tanking druids, and eventhough I must say I quite enjoy playing them myself at the moment, I still feel like most tanking druids are bad at what they do. They seem lost and confused most of the time, like if they were playing in close to first person view and their big bear ass was obstructing most of their screen. They lose aggro all the time, but don't seem to notice or just don't care. They're slow and don't seem to where they are even half the time.

Resto druids can either be really good or really, really bad. Their hotting healing style should suit a newbie healer well, because it allows you to keep several heals up on several targets and to heal while running. Instead it more often just confuses lowbie healers, leaving them to do nothing in panic. Resto druids also often have a tendency to wandering off aimlessly. Although I have no idea why resto druids in particular do this, and any speculation would just wander into crazy areas.

Dps druids aren't very noticeable, not on the meters and not in the group. They run around, using skills at random as it seems. Most druids suffer from the "hybrid" thinking more than other hybrids, meaning they tend to need on any kind of loot "for their other specs" more than paladins and shamans. Nonetheless, dps druids are almost always friendly and good humored and I enjoy having them in my group.

So my favorite group composition, if I was tanking, would be:
Shaman healer

And hey, that would be a good composition gear wise as well.


  1. I play a DK as my main and as much as it pains me to admit it, I see alot of DK's out there giving the rest of us a bad name.

    The sad part of it is Death Grip in particular can be so useful to help the tank out when for some reason there's a caster mob that he didn't pick up or something. You can pull it right to the tank, interrupting it's cast in the process, and then a few seconds later the tank will have aggro instead of the healer :) Really any mob that gets loose, you can get it back to the tank so he doesn't have to run all over trying to pick them up. Sure you'll have to take a couple of hits because of the taunt component but we're a plate class.

    Also, I see alot of DK's that don't seem to know that they have interrupts. :( Two of em plus DG will interrupt casting also in a pinch.

    I feel like the class has alot of utility and tools to help when a pull starts going pear shaped and it's sad to see so few us actually doing it.

    For me that's half the fun of doing dps is keeping my eyes open and doing anything i can to help out the tank / healer. When I'm on my hunter you can bet that if I see a loose mob it's going to be trapped / get a wyvern sting / or even taunted if I have to asap.

    1. Yes, I definitely agree with you. I have encountered plenty of good dks (and other classes as well), and nothing warms my heart more than to see any class go outside of their dps-tunneling and use skills that just make the run smoother for everyone. Players like this exist too of course, unfortunately they drown in the vast sea that are the Lazy-players (too whom I also count occasionally).

  2. I don't know if you've run into this yet, but it might bump Rogues up a little and Hunters up to 11...but I noticed in some PuGs that once Hunters/Rogues have their respective threat-redirect abilities then some players (often those in a hurry) decide to take it upon themselves to "help" the tank by rushing ahead and pulling. Ironically if the tank/healer aren't ready and the pull goes badly, both classes can drop aggro and laugh when the party dies.

    1. Yepp, some classes just have more tools to be annoying with... Feign Death and Vanish are rarely used the way they are supposed to, but rather the way you describe above...

  3. My main is a Hunter, and though I do feel some small instinct to get defensive, I understand that you're expressing a "High water mark", so to speak, of annoyance. In that sense, I agree with Clockwork in bumping up Rogues, and especially Hunters, for the reason he gives.

    Good Rogues and Hunters, though, can sweep in and save a bad pull very easily. Back when triple trapping was a thing, I would save lots of bad last-pack-in-VP pulls doing just that. It even got me a Guild invite cross-server once. When it came my turn to tank it the first time, a Rogue did much the same.

    I have several times had a cranky tank phase like you described in the Warrior section, and I think that it's an early indicator of burnout.

  4. As a life long hunter I feel the need to defend my class. Like all classes there are bad ones, I have tanked and healed and dpsed on other classes and I have seen them but over all the hunters I have seen are nothing like what you describe.

    Ever since they removed the aggressive pet and hunter auto targeting I've had no issues with hunters in dungeons.

    The days you describe are long gone, at least from my experience. If anything, I've noticed all tanks seem to have the "I'm tanking so I can need on everything attitude". I'll usually call them out on it after I see the 3rd need and they stop however.

    1. Maybe I've had a bad streak with hunters, but I definitely feel like the majority of them are more bad than good (in lowbie pugs mind you!). There are always exceptions, and far from every hunter is a bad player of course. But it still seems like so many people play hunter just because it's such an easy class, and don't really care about doing a good job or learning the class properly. It's become something of the "trash" alt (along with dk), which is giving a bad rep to all the awesome hunters out there.

  5. Regarding the differences between the two pet classes, I'd say the hunter is more likely to do the frantic pulling than a warlock for a few reasons:

    - Right-clicking on the mob can be instinctual if the player behind the hunter is usually a melee class, and boy is that ever a bad thing to accidentally carry over to your hunter. (I've recently been playing survival hunter when I am usually a DK, and I confess I've made four accidental pulls and counting.) Conversely, warlocks just stand there at range waving their staves if you toggle on that auto-attack by accident. As harmless as it is ridiculous to look at.

    - Hunter is durable. I've found that aptly-named survival hunter of mine can solo same-level instances, sometimes including bosses. If the hunter doesn't give a damn about the tank, they can multi-slow, CC, kite, pet-tank, misdirect at higher level, and feign death to control that pull they just went for. The warlock will die. Quickly and painfully. Moreso in one of the many undead instances, where the fear, it does nothing.

    - Only demo warlocks have melee pets. The imp just stands at the warlock's feet and casts, so its capacity to ruin all the things is far more limited than the dashing cat of death.

    - There are few warlocks. There are so many hunters. So... very many. My littlest warrior tank zoned into a Strath run the other day with three hunters and a feral druid (so the hunters weren't my only problem, but). With a much bigger pool of people who could be stupid, I suppose that means there are a lot more people who are stupid. While theoretically I guess that means if you ran into three warlocks and two of them happened to be terrible, that could taint your view of the class, running into two bad warlocks is never going to build up the same sort of blood boiling rage at the class as running into sixteen bad hunters.

    1. Hah yes, you've probaly hit the spot there, that does explain the differences pretty well.

  6. Hey that's funny how my experience differ vastly from yours.

    On my alt leveling frenzy of these days, I happen to:

    _Really like bears, as their players usually seem to know what tanking is about and it seems that keeping aggro as a bear is somewhat easy
    _Have been disappointed by how bad protection warriors are at keeping aggro (and my main being a prot warrior, I can only cry at this)
    _Cats! I've found cats always close to the top of the damage meters! Which actually surprise me a lot, as my past experiences were quite contradictory.
    _Hunters. This one I don't understand. I'm leveling my first hunter (Beast Mastery) and I'm always first or second in damage done (when the tank is not first). And I found my other fellow hunters usually high on the dps meters too (except for the bad players of course). I agree with the problem of tabbing target and aggroing the wrong pack of mob, but that's something that's true of every ranged class. Hunters are just OP!

    Agree on the priests having bad mana regen. The moonkin druids are a nightmare! Low DPS and they keep pushing back mobs! I hate moonking druids!

    No real problems with Shamans, warlocks and rogues, apart from the fact that their DPS really isn't that great at <80 levels.

  7. I found myself nodding to the most part of your post, with the exception of mages - too many bad experiences with mages who seem to think that their dps justifies asshattery like pulling mobs for the tank...

    Do you notice a trend - that the classes who give the most issues are fotm classes (cough pally, dk), while the ones who give the least are the less popular ones (eg rogue, warlock)?
    My theory is that as the ADHD crowd reroll to the fotm classes, they leave behind the more mature players who really love and work at their unpopular class. These are also the people who are less likely to screw things up.

  8. I agree with you for the most part, though I would add the following.

    Although Shaman are not generally annoying, Elemental Shaman have vast potential to anger tanks and screw up pulls by using Thunderstorm. Damaging knockback which they get as a level 10 specialization? Yeah, inexperienced or trolling Shaman use it all the time.

    Priests also love to troll people with lifegrip, though that's more a high-level annoyance. I can also confirm from experience that running dungeons on a Shadow Priest is an extremely irritating experience. I hated having to drink after every pull when even the healer was still at 90% mana. I gave up DPSing in dungeons and always queued as heals. (Perhaps Shadow design is a not-so-subtle way to pressure Priests into healing?)

    I also find rogues annoying because every one of them seems to feel the need to run ahead to the next pack, (probably so they can pickpocket or sap or whatever, and that part's fine), and then jump up and down impatiently or tell the tank to pull faster. The rest of us like to loot, so you can calm down, Mr. McStabbyface.

    I am primarily a Resto Druid, and I've been told that I'm a very good one. I have no idea why Druid healers would feel the need to wander off all the time. I try to stick to the tank like glue, so it's a mystery to me.