I miss the pug

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Wait, hear me out. I am not missing the pug that made you weep and run to Guru’s cursing out that stupid player that over agroed everything, cursed in chat, and then quit right when you were about to finish causing all those minions he had up to go wild and attack you along with those last 4 groups he pulled on to the group. I also wish that I was making that up.

Raeya Sun and the Lich

Raeya Sun and the Lich

No, I am missing the group you found in Vizunah Square, and you stuck together working as a team until you found yourself at Gyala Hatchery running the mission the front way because no one knew about the back way yet, and you found yourself finishing with expert because one turtle died, and you are proud of the great work you did. The pug you hated to leave but well you had been playing for way to long and your wife is giving you that look that if you try and continue you will be sleeping on the couch. And for a moment you think one night way be worth it. That is the pug I miss and the pug I am afraid I will never again see in my beloved Guild Wars.

And here is why:

Up until a few weeks ago I hated factions, when the chapter came out I had given myself a 5 day weekend including the head start to play the game and just have fun. My wife and kids were going to visit the in-laws and I had been given a pass, play as much as I wanted. I wish I could say I enjoyed those 5 days, but alas I learned to hate, I cursed Arena Net I cursed the new classes I cursed the new henchies which seemed to be worse than the ones we had before. Basically I cursed a lot. I did get my first character through the game that weekend and in the months that followed I got my two original characters as well as a second Canthan born. The day Nightfall came out I swore to myself I would never set foot in Cantha again. Recently I broke that promise when I rolled a Rit to get survivor. I played as little of the factions content as I could and as soon as I got to the point I could leave, I left for Elonia and to the Eye of the North.

However, after seeing stuff from Fan Day and the little tidbits of information on Winds of Change, I just felt I need to have enough of Factions done in order to enjoy that part of the story. Now I was really worried my Rit is working on true survivor; not a single death and at the time just about 700k XP, and I am planning to take her though missions that I remember wiping on time and time again. And the first one I was going to do was Nahpui Quarter, I told myself I would go slow and at the first sign of trouble I would map out. I finished the mission in 12 minutes. Now mind you masters is 25 minutes. At that point I was feeling really good, I must be a lot better player than I was before. After doing Tahnnakai Temple in just over 10 I figured it must be the build; I must be way over powered (mind you I am using an SOS build so I am a little over powered). Few missions later I figured the game must be easier now than was before. This is partially true when hard mode was introduced, Arena Net did make Factions a little easier. But is wasn’t until I beat Factions and Night Fall with almost every mission on masters I realized what was different. I was running with 7 heroes that I had made builds for to go perfectly with my play style. With only minor changes in the line up I can take on almost anything the game has for me, without worry and very little risk. I didn’t have to worry about another player with a bad reaction time, or a lag spike killing us all. In fact I have hit lag spikes and come out of them not only ok but my heroes have continued the battle and all I have to do now is pick up the loot. In short Guild Wars is no longer a challenge because I don’t have to worry about other people. The other day I was playing on my ranger and talking to someone, and they made a comment that I am so good I don’t have to look at my screen. It was at that point I realized I had just cleared out 25+ mobs on auto pilot. And it is for this reason I miss the pug, but even if I wanted to pug no one really wants to pug with me. It isn’t because they think I am not good it is because they think I would add a risk they are not willing to take when they have spent time equipping 7 heroes to fit the play style they want.

The good news is Arena Net has seen that these are issues and are addressing them with Guild Wars 2. No more making a group feel like they need a certain player to be competitive. No more worrying about find a group in town to play with, instead just join people out on the field. No more auto pilot play, we as players are going to have to pay attention or end up taking a dirt nap. Once again we will be challenged inside the world of Tryia.

To the readers: Do you have any pug stories you would like to share?

About the author: Tagon has been a Guild Wars fan since the release of the game, and is now eagerly awaiting the release of Guild Wars 2. He is also very bad at writing about himself. Follow him on Twitter, if you like!

Further reading:

  • I feel the same way as you do, to a large extent. I used to PUG from time to time in SWG (had a guild so almost always had players to pull from), and even more so in EQII where I deliberately went solo as a sort of escape. The PUGs in EQII were legendary if nothing else, and I miss that feeling of being around players who have honed their skills, and contribute to the success (or in rare cases failure) of the group. I am so glad Anet has had the foresight to consider the community building aspects of GW2. I may actually look forward once again to running PUGs as the need arises, and going solo when I just want to explore the world.

    Great article!

  • Anonymous

    Oh man. I can barely remember the days of the pug. But there are 2 instances that stick out in my mind. Both of them were quests, too. 

    One time way back in the days of yore, I had a monk in Prophecies. We were trying to get to or leaving from PIken square. We kept getting lost and being lowbies, we were dying over and over again until ultimately we all had 60% dp and couldn’t get far without dying. So we all sat on the shrine and talked for an hour before we finally gave up and left. That was fun.

    Another pug I remember is that horrific quest on Shing-Jea isle over by the lagoon, where there’s like.. 50 bandits and a boss in that one area in the north by the ocean. Similarly, we wiped repeatedly until we finally were just stocked up on DP but we REFUSED to give up. We literally spent about two hours picking off the mobs one by one until we got the quest done. 

    I think 2 people left but the rest of us were determined and we eventually did finish. 

    Stuff like that makes me so nostalgic for the days before the meta and heroes kind of took over.

    • Anonymous

      Afterthought: although having guilds are great, the fact that I spent most of my time in Guild Wars either guildless or in my own empty one proved to make my experience better, I think. I made a lot of old friends simply pugging or waiting to get into alliance battles.

      Sometimes I’m still nostalgic for those days. 

  • distilled

    Nice article Tagon. I also miss the pug , and yes even the bad ones! I remember my first pug (no, really, I do!) It was for the Northern Wall mission; we had battled our way through the devourers, the Grawl and the small groups of enemies leading to the denoument of the mission: the escape from the charr. The only experience I had of charr was from the few which get through the wall (and caused widespread panic in green ol’ ascalon), the ranger boss you fight just before the searing , and the ones I’d seen in the cut scene who burned my home to a cinder. So, as you can imagine: to find 50 slavering charr bounding towards me was terrifying!

    We ran as fast as our little sub-lvl10 legs would carry us, but they just kept coming. They were snapping at our heels when the warrior I was with turned and faced them: “go on ahead! Ill hold them off!!” Such bravery! Such courage in the face of certain death! Ill never forget the sacrifice that warrior made on that day so many years ago.

    Of course, at the time we didn’t realise that if even one of us made it to the city we’d be fine. But still! I remember thinking “wow! I am going to like this game”.

  • Johnny Q. Public

    To be quite frank, no, I don’t miss PUGs.  I’ve played GW since the days of the beta, and my absolute favorite thing about the game is, and always has been, the ability to play *without* people.  Heroes and Henchman are what makes Guild Wars unique, and are by far the best feature of the game IMO.  People are stupid.  People are unreliable.  People get distracted, fall asleep, go AFK, get bored, fail at running builds, and make mistakes.

    AI, while always inferior to good players, is always consistent.  They execute a simple strategy with remarkable alacrity, and can be depended on to behave at the same level every time.  They cannot judge, they cannot make remarkable strategic decisions, but they can be told what to do and will do it the same way over and over.

    I have a few friends/guildies that I play with from time to time, and the rest of our party is, and always has been, H/H.  And before you get terribly up-in-arms over it, yes, I’ve played with hundreds of PUGs over the years, too.  One of my guildies prefers PUGs to H/H parties, and to oblige, some of the time  we’ve done that.  Sure, I’ve gotten into great groups.  Sure, we’ve cleared HM vanquishes or dungeons in record time.  But the lion’s share of the time, I think, “man, I sure do wish these were Heroes, because by golly they’d be consistent instead of making the party wipe repeatedly.”

    There are certain areas of the game that H/H groups just aren’t as efficient.  When I was getting my Slayer of All title (Max Norn Rep.), it was in the golden days of Ursanway, and the standard team build was pretty much 6x UWs and 2x HB monks.  That’s something that really wasn’t popular with heroes, as cast order and speed was important.  The groups were sometimes fine, sometimes mediocre, occasionally brilliant, and typically pretty poor.  It’d take 30-45 minutes of starting, wiping, dropping out, and re-PUGing to find a group that wasn’t a complete waste of time.

    You make several very good points in your article – one of which is the ability to play “without worry and with very little risk.”  That’s an important point, and for me, that’s something I very much enjoy.  I like challenges, but once I’ve completed a campaign with a character, the opportunity to play and seldom fail missions/quests is quite important to me, as I have a limited amount of time.

    • David Scott

      I completely understand, I had to put on some rose colored glasses to right this article and forget all the times I ended up weeping after attempting a mission. THK before they made it easy was a living nightmare. I can not count the times I tried and failed that mission

    • Anonymous

      Interesting point of view.

      I don’t mind that many people prefer H/H, personally. Even I always run H/H when doing VQ’s and such, but mostly because I can go at my own pace. If i need to go bio, grab a snack, chat with friends, there’s nothing stopping me from taking a 10-15 minute break.

      But when it comes to other things like missions or or quest chains, I just prefer the company of others. AI is efficient, yes, but it’s boring.

      People are unpredictable. Sometimes this means failing. But part of the game for me is the excitement of the unknown. I like having to try. I like those moments where I’m struggling to stay alive or keep others alive. I like discussing plans, tactics. Learning with each encounter, regrouping to tackle a tough area in a different way. Creativity.

      When it comes to grinding for titles, I’m more than happy to SoS and let my heroes do all the work while I watch something on netflix. Anything that repetitive is just a pain.

      But sometimes I do want the company of others. That’s why I play MMOs. If I wanted to be by myself all the time, I might as well pick up a single player RPG.

      H/H is good for times where good people are hard to find or instances like the above where you don’t want to have to be relied on or rely on others. But it’s sad that it’s 80% of the the better choice and discourages people to try and group.

      • Johnny Q. Public

        It’s interesting that you mention single-player RPG’s vs. MMO’s for players who tend to play solo – a conversation that’s quite familiar to me (and to you as well, I’m sure).

        And it’s funny, I’m typically a single player RPG gamer much more than an MMO player.  I play RPG’s for the story, predominately, and that’s precisely what made me fall in love with Guild Wars.  It’s an amazing, beautiful world with myriad fantastic stories woven throughout, yet it allows players to experience an MMO world in a way that most MMO’s can’t or don’t.

        To put it a little differently, GW supports MMO cities and outposts, with a party-based, co-opable single player thread that ties them all together.  That’s a really familiar concept to everyone that’s played the game, but a very unfamiliar one to players who play most other MMO’s.  It’s unique, it makes GW stand out from the rest in a very tangible way, and it adds value.

        I do indeed understand many players wanting the company of others, and I’m certainly glad that’s possible – after all, that’s what an MMO is (traditionally) all about.  I’m also thankful that it’s possible to experience and enjoy the game without that.  For me, being around other players when I’m in town is usually enough interaction for me.  I want to play the game by myself, and enjoy sharing my rewards, my armor and costumes, and special occasions like holidays with others.

        As for people failing to group because H/H is an easier, faster, more efficient alternative, I don’t necessarily disagree.  Age of the player community and number of active players certainly plays a significant role these days, combined with refined AI, better henchies, and many more Hero options than ever before.  On the flip side of that coin, though, are the many other MMOs that force/require grouping to complete anything significant (WoW, Aion, CoH, just to name ones I’ve actually played).  GW is a rare breed in the way it’s set up, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that it holds its head high and stands out from the crowd.

        Guild Wars offers a rich, story-driven campaign in a strikingly beautiful and diverse world, while allowing players opportunities to engage other players as much or as little as they choose on the way.

    • Johnny Q. Public

      To rip off Izziebot’s idea of an afterthought:

      If I had one “counterpoint” to this well-done article, I think it would be that I don’t lay the blame for the general disappearance of PUGs at the feet of better AI and more competent H/H parties.

      I would suggest that an aging game and a lack of significant new content for nearly four years have brought with it a decline in the player base, and that the lack of people have driven players to H/H, rather than a refined H/H experience pushing players away from PUGs.

      • David Scott

        To counter your counter I offer you Nightfall. When the game came out there was never an issue with people being around at the very least most mission outpost where multi-district. But you would seldom see LFG spam in chat. No reason to all you need was you and the heroes and henchies. At most you and 1 other person from your guild (and I never considered guild group a PUG group) There were exceptions of course those missions that at first you really needed a ful group due to AI issues, but as much as I hate to say it I seldom group in NF. And it was because of the Heroes. 

  • I’m looking forward to PUGs in GW2.  Even if a couple are slacking off, I or others will be able to pick up that slack with greater ease because of the professions changes.  I think, because of the changes, PUGs will be more fun than they were in GW.

    PUGs in GW, I’ll always have interesting tales of.  The only times I enjoyed PUGs, really, was after the release of major content (SF, Campaigns, EotN, etc.)  No one had a big idea on what to expect and it was all new to the majority of the group so it was fun and a learning experience for all.  Even then, some PUGs strained my patience.  Like this one time, my dad and I got into a group for THK with no monk.  We were informed not to worry as the Elementalist told us they would be healing.  Needless to say, there were rages, laughs, and sadness all around.

    Mostly sadness.

  • my one instance was after purchasing the trilogy in 09 I spent like a month in Pre- Searing. I never knew you could leave the area so I was attempting to find the last quests even put the game down for a bit cause i had thought I was done with the prophecies campaign.

    Then one day I logged on and started playing again and found a guy looking for help to get out of the area so we both sat around looking for a bit and found out about the academy and went on from there. After that little fiasco, me and him ended up doing quests/missions and caught on with a few others to do the first mission. We ended up doing the first mission up untill Glint’s challenge in one run… it was something like 32 hours, but the most fun I have ever had in guild wars. Mainly because it made the character(me) actually develop and feel apart of the storyline in a sense.

  • Oh man, my greatest Pug ever had to be in the Crystal Desert.  We had all failed like right outside the first portal, because content really scaled up in the Desert and we weren’t familiar with the pops yet.  I ran into these people in the Amnoon Oasis, and we all grouped up to take on the desert!  It was still a struggle, but we made it to Augury.  We had so much fun, we then took all the quests available, completed them, and did Dunes and the Reach in one run.  We would have gone to Thirsty but it had already been several hours.

    Also, the first victory at THK with a Pug…I screamed so loud…

    • BigCat72

      Was I with you during this run? sounds so familiar lol, I know I wasnt there for it but man those were the days. The days where THK was quite possibly the hardest mission to complete even with a full group of guildies on ventrilo. Ah the good old days

  • Astpresnall

    I remember very early Prophecies. There were no monks at the Ring of Fire and my Ele/Mo had little choice but to serve as healer. Our PuG did all three missions with very few deaths.

  • Anonymous

    I started playing GW too late to really have experienced PUGs much (I started in late 2008), but the few I have had just put me off of it entirely. It just wasn’t fun. People doing stupid things, raging at each other for not being perfect, etc. When I do missions I like to get them done quickly, when I’m vanquishing I like to be able to park my character in a safe spot and go do other things if need be. I also like to experiment around with builds and trying out new setups and hero combos. None of which can be done with PUGs.

    Like I said in a comment on a previous post, I’m not a social gamer; that’s why I don’t play MMOs. I much prefer to hack through things on my own and do things my own way without anyone yelling at me for not standing up to the highest standards of meta at the moment. If I do play with others, it’s guildies, or a group that we formed before for a specific task (like when I did UW right after Dhuum was added). But PUGs? No thank you.

    • You do realize that I’m going to have to fix that when Guild Wars 2 comes out! >:3
      Us sylvari have to stick together after all! <3

  • The part about PUGs I miss the most is meeting new people. Especially when Proph just came out, I had no idea how to play the game and I had a lot of fun getting lost with strangers in the land of Tyria. As time went on, we all became better players (most of us). Joining PUGs just became a bad idea. Even in a guild group with one or two spots left, we’d rather take Orion.

    Before I gave up joining PUGs for good, I had a lot of fun helping people on my monk. But just a few horrible incidents and I didn’t care to put up with all the: arguments that result in the party leaving, racial slurs, women bashing, and weapon flaunting.

  • Jesse Wan

    Considering how difficult dungeons are supposed to be, I don’t think I’ll ever make a PUG. Trying to mesh/coordinate/synergize/etc with 4 people I don’t know, while they (hopefully) are trying to do the same while Mesmers are making me cry in frustration just sounds like a total nightmare, especially if we don’t have an in-game voice chat program, or one in common.

  • I miss pugging so much, and not because of the fact that I’m a monk and everyone wanted one on the team. I miss it because I got to have fun playing with other people, and isn’t that the point of playing Guild Wars? To play a video game with other people online?
    I miss having the whole pug rush the last celestial creature in Nahpui Quarter, and having almost everyone but one person still alive after we the thing died; I miss trying to remember the back route for Gyala Hatchery, because no one wanted to go the right way; I miss accidentally having three minions masters on board in Vizunah Square, because one of the  group leaders wanted to make sure we had at least two; I miss having to fight my way through the Droks run because the runner failed, but everyone still wanted to get there; I miss going through the last few missions of Night Fall for the first time with random strangers and freak out with them at the creepiness of it all; and I really truly miss starting on a missions with a pug and ending up doing six more with them!
    I miss this aspect of Guild Wars so much that it hurts a bit to think about all of those fun times I had in-game. Even when most of those memories involve overextending warriors, assassins who thought they could tank three mobs at the same time, and everything else that was stupid about some pugs. I miss it all actually, even the annoying parts! I miss the random conversations I’d have with people while waiting for the second monk, or the nuker, or the mm, or whatever was needed! I met a lot of nice people that way (even the random married couple).
    I really hope Guild Wars 2 can bring back that spark that pugging in Guild Wars had. The community as a whole is filled with a lot of fun and interesting people, and I’d love to met them once more.

  • Nox

    I was the monk, my friend was the necromancer with 40 minions. We did exactly what you described at the start. Everyone’s gotta troll sometime right?

    • David Scott

      It was you! Honestly when ever Arena balanced skills I would just shrug and move on, but when they limited the number of minions to 10 at max I almost went on a nerd rage. 

      • You could have more than ten!?!?!? D:
        WHY WASN’T I PLAYING THIS GAME AT THAT POINT!?!?!?!?!?!!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I WOULD HAVE LOVED PLAYING MM EVEN MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Aly

    I can honestly say I’ve never done a pug in GW.  I wonder if that’s part of why I retained most of my enthusiasm.  The only people I played with, I wanted to play with.  Otherwise it’s all h/h, all the time.

    “No more making a group feel like they need a certain player to be competitive.”

    Eh, some people will still feel that way.  They’ll just be wrong. 😉

  • ArcherAvatar

    This article (very well done btw… enjoyed it!) reminded me once again of what a tremendous transition lies ahead for veteran players of GW1 and for MMO vets in general.
    The systems and game mechanics of GW2 are innovative and brilliant in my opinion, please don’t get me wrong on that… it’s just… I worry about the capacity of the average MMO vet to take in all the new quickly enough.
    The first few months after GW2 are released will be a very interesting time, as we see how the community of MMO players react to the opportunity to actually really learn something “NEW.”  Personally, I’m looking forward to it but, I wonder just how “stuck in a rut” most players are…

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