March 5, 2010

Four > Five

Posted in Musings, Tales from PUGland tagged , , , at 8:52 am by Aduial of WrA

Logically, it should be easier to do something with 5 people than with 4, right? Gevlon made a post recently touching on people having a negative worth in groups. Now, I never thought I’d end up linking to one of his posts, and I don’t always agree with him but some of his insights into the economy are worthwhile if not amusing reads for me, but this one got me thinking beyond that.. Possibly because part of me wants to agree with him.

I’m not sure it’s so much a negative worth as being.. detrimental, to the group, for one reason or another, though I’m not sure if there’s a difference in that or if I’m just playing semantics. I’m fairly confident almost anyone who’s done enough PUGs, either before or since the LFD tool (that I still want to call new even though it’s not anymore), can testify that there just are those people that runs go better 4-manning without them than 5-manning with.

When I started reading his post, I couldn’t help but recall one of my more semi-recent runs. A couple weeks back I ended up rolling a new paladin on a different realm because my guy had rolled there with some of his friends and he wanted me to join him; I agreed before realizing I had 30 levels to catch up to him, and he was still leveling at his same pace of 3-5 levels a day. This led to me using the LFD tool almost religiously for run after run in an attempt to gain quick levels (and it is a bit quicker than questing for the most part, since I ended up being a tank.. again). So I’m in Uldaman, with a decent enough hunter who’d stuck with me from the previous random, a druid healer, another hunter, and a retribution paladin. Now, this is before I have Spiritual Attunement or really any of the mana-getting talents for tanks, so I’ve been going OOM, so I do have to stop and drink. An OOM paladin tank is not a tank, since we kind of can’t. The new hunter, Hunter B, pulls while both the healer and I are drinking… I ask him to stop pulling, and he does for a few pulls. He needs on the shaft when it drops, and when we get to the box with the medallion, Hunter A takes it thinking Hunter B could still get it for the shaft, only to discover, no, there’s only one.. We try to get them to trade, the medallion isn’t tradeable, only the staff is, and Hunter A keeps trying to get Hunter B to trade the staff… 20 minutes later, we can finally move on. The ret pally is urging us to hurry because he has to go or something, so we pull, few pulls later I stop to drink… Hunter B starts pulling again. At this point, I initiate a vote kick, which fails, and the paladin asks who did that. I just kind of roll my eyes and sigh (afterall, if a vote kick is deserved, does it matter who initiates it?), ask Hunter B to stop pulling again, and carry on.. For about 5 minutes, where I sit gazing over the edge of my drink in abject horror as this cat rushes one of the bosses, only for Hunter B to start shooting arrows over my shoulders a moment later. I lurch into combat and we beat the boss, thankfully, but that was the last straw. I’ve been sending my poor little tank into pack after pack of mobs for about four or five hours now, and I didn’t need this kind of stress that could easily be avoided. I tell the party, very plainly, that I am about to initiate another vote kick; if the hunter doesn’t go, I’m dropping. This time it passes, and I queue us up for another 5th, and the healer asks if we really need one.. We decide we don’t, and start to 4-man it. Second pull in, the paladin remarks, it really is easier without Hunter B. And he was right.

We finished that run with four people in less time than it’d took us to do less with five, even through a 10-minute break for the ret pally. We didn’t do anything noticeably different ourselves. In fact, the only noticeable difference was there was no hunter deciding to pull mobs to the drinking party members. Yet there was a noticeable difference in how much more smoothly the run went, how much quicker we somehow killed the mobs without someone trying to hinder us. Now, that hunter was obviously detrimental to our progress, comparing with and without him. But was he of negative worth?

Semantics aside, I do see a difference between “detrimental to the group” and “of negative worth,” though perhaps it is only in this context and in response to Gevlon’s post. Either way, the group would do better 4-manning without the person than 5-manning with, though for me, I suppose, “detrimental” is temporary. For that one run, they are a hindrance, for whatever reason. Perhaps they are too stoned or drunk to play right, perhaps they got randomed into an instance that takes several times longer than they have to play and they’re in too much of a hurry, perhaps there’s a language barrier that can be overcome in the future or under different circumstances but is a hindrance for that run. People “of negative worth” isn’t temporary in my mind; they wouldn’t get better under other circumstances. They would be just as harmful to the group if they were sober and clean as they would if they weren’t, no amount of language barriers or lack thereof would improve their skills, no amount of time; people who are of “negative worth” in the game bring no benefit in any context except more dollars in Blizzard’s pocket.

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