I’ve been playing my Paladin a little more the last few days. I really do love Ret, and I decided to see how much trouble I could get into if I just pretended I only had the one spec.
I ended up, two nights ago, getting invited into this wildly successful group that pounded three heroics one right after another, and let me buy the Emblem of Conquest neckpiece for Ret. MmmmMMmm, yummy! This might have had a hand in getting me a little excited too, not that I got an upgrade, but that I got to play! And not in right field, either.
Okay, the prejudice, it felt like it was still there. I was prepared to expect not to get groups as a Ret Paladin.
A group was advertising in Trade channel that they were looking for one DPS for Azjol-Nerub, and it was NOT the daily.
I immediately offered to come DPS… and I got a long, long, long pause before an “okay” and an invite.
Were they throwing down some Pally Ret prejudice? Omigod, should I be all offended?
Nah, I don’t think so, but judge for yourself.
When I joined the group and arrived at Azjol-Nerub, I found out that three of the other four were all from the same guild, the fourth it turned out was a real life friend, and they were all in their own vent. A group that were going to be tight together.
It was a healing Priest, a Death Knight tank, a feral cat Druid and a Fury Warrior.
That’s right, they already had all melee DPS. So, by inviting me, they had to have discussed if they wanted to deal with all melee DPS in Azjol-Nerub before saying “let’s go for it.”
I think that’s a good lesson in not reading too much into a situation, or looking for reasons to be pissy or get offended. I know some folks that would have been so irritated at not being quickly invited they would have gotten on their high horse and refused the group.
But flip it around… have you ever needed one more for an instance or a raid, and used the current composition of your group to decide that some classes would be preferred for the challenge than others?
I know I have. Heroic ToC, forming a PuG, already have a healer, tank and two melee DPS? Sure, I’ll take a ranged DPS from LFG before a third melee, thinking ahead to the Faction Champion’s warrior whirlwind and rogue poison. I’ll still take whoever happens to be in there, but if given a choice, I’ll have a preference, and act on it.
I was invited to group, and we went into heroic AN. I like that instance, btw. Very fun encounters. :) The scope of the encounters always feels like a good balance between all out fury, and fast response and movement.
The second thing I did after beng invited, was to scope out my team. Inspecting them, I found that, as to be expected, Warrior is sporting the Edge of Ruin, everyone has solid epics in the 200 – 226 range, the tank has the Onyxia tanking weapon, everyone is very well geared.
And then there’s me, still in mostly blues. Sigh.
Well, first, everyone knew the fights, and there was no discussion. It was pull, fight, win, next, but the tactics used clearly showed that everyone else did indeed know about Skirmisher priorities, poison and Pound and all the rest. They started by using marks, but by the time we were at the first boss, that stopped. We knew who to go after and why.
So it all came down to doing your job, to the best of your ability, with what you had.
I pulled down a consistent 2.3k DPS on every fight… and I came in third behind the tank and warrior. A very, very close third. I was chasing the warrior every step of the way. And I came in way over the Druid, who was running at about 1.7k dps.
We got the achievement for killing the last boss in under 4 minutes (Gotta Go), had a perfect fast clear, and afterwards went and blazed through Nexus and VH, too.
I know I’ve been told that Retribution DPS sucks compared to other classes, and the reason for it is to compensate for a Paladin’s survivability in PvP. I’ve been told that I should just accept that people aren’t going to want a Ret Paladin in their runs, because we don’t, ahem, “put out”.
Well, can I throw out there that, if you decide in advance how a player is going to perform based on looking at their spec and gear, you deserve exactly what you get.
It just keeps getting driven home for me, over and over. Gear and spec, even achievements do not mean a player WILL perform to a certain level, it only means that it is possible that they CAN perform at a certain level.
Skill and knowledge still matter. At least, reading expert advice from other people, and trying to implement it in your own gameplay matters.
Attitude also pays a key part.
I wanted to do the best I could. I was trying to get my flow smooth and respond fast.
Did everyone else who was there have the same attitude? Was everyone else trying to kick ass, or were some of them phoning it in? Could the Druid have put out far higher damage, and been a more vital part of the run by off-tanking or using stuns or Innervate when possible, but was actually on his cell phone for most of the night and just going through the motions?
Were the other four chatting and joking and doing a nice, relaxed run, while I was trying to prove I could contribute my fair share towards our joint success? I still had fun, darn skippy, but I was definitely trying to step up and do my best.
Doesn’t really matter. We played, we had fun, we won. I got to practise various things in the real world, and found a few things that were stupid mistakes.
Like, oh, having my Taunt button next to my most used attack button. That was simply brilliant.
Nothing is quite as much fun as thinking I’m the Druid tanking badass, and having to apologise to someone for pulling aggro because I taunted off the tank.
And now, to move from that simple story of an evening’s fun, and on into the true topic of discussion.
It’s funny, but it seems like I see more people using Gear Scores these days, while I want to go in the exact opposite direction.
What do Gear Scores and other related websites or addons really do?
In nuts and bolts terms, they provide someone with a means to judge the potential of a complete stranger, to determine if they will be an asset to your group.
They serve as a replacement for judgment and personal experience with other people.
What you really want to know when you are trying to build a group, is “Does this player have the gear, knowledge and skill to help us win, or will they be ignorant and full of fail?”
You cannot accurately measure someone’s knowledge or skill from spec, gear scores, or achievements. You can’t tell what their attitude is like, or how focused and driven they will be to help the group succeed.
You can demand that people have certain achievements, in the hopes that this will prove they know the fight already and are good enough to have earned it. But all that really proves is that their character was there when it happened.
As an example, what if they were there as a DPS spec the last time, know the fight from that point of view and only that point of view, and now you’re bringing them into your pug as a healer? Sure, they have the achievement, but they might still know nothing about the healing aspects of the fight.
You can also demand that a player’s gear reach a certain value to prove that they have the potential raw brute power necessary to overwhelm the content. That’s not going to tell you if the person knows to get the hell out of the fire, or that they’re concentrating on your raid instead of splitting their attention watching an episode of Bleach on the TV in their dorm room. No matter how precise the algorithm used to determine gear value against class and spec, you can’t get into the player’s head.
And I think that’s why I, along with most of the people I play with, think that raid leaders who keep lists of who has been good in pugs, and who wasn’t, and try to only reinvite the players that they know from personal experience can play with skill and determination will always eventually enjoy greater success than random pugs.
But that doesn’t stop them forming, all the time.
I still think it’s funny, but also a little sad. There will always, it seems, be people that want to win or to succeed, or get their raid on, but don’t want to have to put forth personal effort. People that want to shut their brain off and let something else make the decisions for them, even an automated addon, so they don’t have to take the time or make an effort to do it the right way.
I wonder… how many of these people then bitch, piss and moan when the raid isn’t successful?