The Fable of Karma and The Naxx PuG

pauldronsofhavoc They say every piece of loot has a story behind it, whether it be an exciting tale or a more mundane one. Let me tell you my latest story then…

I am sure most of you know by now that due to scheduling difficulties, I PuG a good portion of my raids. And PuGs are like that proverbial box of chocolates– you never quite know what you are going to get.

So I was sitting around in LFG last night, watching with a rather unamused expression as nobody seemed to be running Naxx. Finally, after several long minutes of running in circles around Stormwind, a glimmer of hope: “LF1DPS for a partially-cleared Naxx.”

Now one of the side effects of my PuGging tendencies is that I have seen most of the starter bosses of Naxx a dozen times, it’s just the last few that I have yet to see. (In my experience, the main thing that prevents most PuGs from getting to those last bosses isn’t so much issues with the group performance, so much as people having to leave and constantly having to stop and find more people, which drags raids on for far too long and makes them end early.) Anyways, I was 100% okay with not downing all the bosses as long as there was a small chance I would maybe get to see the bosses I’ve yet to see, so I tossed the person a quick whisper, and after being informed “Yay, you win!” I was invited to the raid.

They summoned me in. Right in front of Four Horsemen. Not a problem, Four Horsemen is one of those fights I have pretty much nailed by now in terms of strategy and I actually rather enjoy the fight. I looked around at the people I was raiding with, almost all of them were in the same guild. They had a camaraderie to them and seemed to just be having a good old time. Good, gooood, I thought. Shouldn’t be too painful.

The raid leader began explaining the fight via a strategy that sounded unusual to me, but I was up for it. We got into position, and pulled.

…I’m really not sure how to describe how bad the subsequent wipes were. They were racecars careening off of tracks and exploding in a mess of fire and metal on a wall somewhere. They were people slipping at the top of the stairs while holding a bowl of soup and tumbling all the way down, making a huge mess. They were wipes on a fantastic scale. Every time we started again, we would try a different strategy, eventually settling on “burn down Thane”.

…have you ever seen the debuff on one of the Four Horsemen go up to six? Yeah, I didn’t know it could get that high either.

I pulled up Recount for the first time after the third or fourth wipe. I was the only member of the raid doing above 2k DPS. My pet alone was outDPSing someone. And that was when I looked around at these people I was raiding with. They were in blues and maybe a heroic epic or two. This was their first night in Naxxramas. And yet there was something about them, something that I couldn’t pin down…

We tried again, and again. As always, everything ended up in some sort of spectacular wipefest. We had to have a repair break and after yet another wipe the resto druid, who was not in the guild and had been pulled in as a PuG not long after me, began to despair over Ventrilo. “I get online and hope to get into a Naxx group tonight and we’re not even going to down Four Horsemen!” It wasn’t even a complaint or an insult or anything, just a pure sheer cry of sadness and frustration. Inwardly I found myself agreeing with him. And yet…

I thought I saw something out of the corner of my mind’s eye. My subconscious looked up and saw him there; the Deity of WoW Karma, a creature just as powerful and pervasive in this World of Warcraft as Elune, if not moreso. He was giggling at me, and there in my mind he painted a picture…

…a picture of a young group of friends all in one guild, sitting in Deadwind Pass trying to fill up our first ever Karazhan group. All of us excited and so full of hope. We pulled in a few unsuspecting PuGs, and told them right before we went in that we’d never done this before. We downed Attumen, we downed Moroes, and then we hit this wall with Maiden. Couldn’t down her. Pulled the plug on the raid having only downed two bosses. One of the PuGs was really frustrated with us. “You’re all terrible, you’ll never down Maiden!”

And yet we did, the next time we went. And every time we went we got a little farther and every time we went we had one or two PuGs with us.

There were the two people who did Curator with us. We had no idea what we were doing. Sparks were everywhere and we wiped and wiped and wiped. Patiently those two people told us what to do, over and over, until finally we downed that thing.

There was the priest who fell in with our little group and raided with us solidly for about a month, coaching us through Shade of Aran and Illhoof before one day saying goodbye to us and going off to make his own raiding group.

WoW Karma showed me all of this; the memories vivid in my mind. Suddenly a voice from Ventrilo shook me out of my reverie. One of the people in this guild.

“Don’t say that. We will down Four Horsemen. We will,” she said, her voice firm.

There was no room in that voice for uncertainty. I believed her.

We marched back in there for the… seventh, eighth?… time, and we did it. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because that’s how many people in the group hadn’t done it yet and we had to do it that many times for everyone to finally get it (for those of you who don’t know, Naxx bosses are largely “gimmick-based”… most of them have some trick to them that you have to “get”.) It was long and it was strenuous and there were six debuffs on us at one or two points but somehow the tanks tanked through it and the healers healed through it and the DPS was DPS’ing their quest-blue-clad hearts out and I felt like Wash and I had never before DPS’d harder in our life trying to pick up the slack, and we downed Four Horsemen.

We opened the chest; out tumbled some shoulders for me. I won the roll for them with some exorbitantly high number that I didn’t need to roll because I was the only one who wanted them anyway, which meant that I had officially wasted my one good roll for the week. I made a comment on this and was met with good-natured giggles from Vent.

This was followed by wiping on gargoyles and the longest Noth the Plaguebringer battle of all time, and then everyone conveniently deciding to be tired and ready to call it when we were at Heigan’s doorstep (a tad disappointing, I had FRAPS ready and everything so I could try to make a “Teach Your Pet To Dance” movie.)

And so I sat there with sort of a confused look on my face, clutching my new shoulders and my lone two badges, still a little bewildered at what had just transpired.

“I’ve added you to my friends’ list,” said one of the guild members. One who had giggled at my terribly dorky jokes I tend to make in raids. I glanced up at WoW Karma. He nodded at me. I nodded back.

“Thank you,” I said, “And thanks for the group!” and then I took my two badges and my clear conscience, and hearthstoned away.

35 thoughts on “The Fable of Karma and The Naxx PuG”

  1. At the risk of sounding clichéd…

    Pike, people like you make WoW a better game.

    There must be hundreds of “veteran” players out there would have chucked that group after a couple of wipes. You stuck with them, and they learned a fight because of it.

    And hey, at least they’d managed Razuvious and Gothik before you got there… my first Naxx PUG just could not get Razuvious down >.<

  2. Did a pug 10man run, got to Horsemen, we burned through Thane, but people forgot you still have to switch after 3 stacks…. Yeah, raid wipe with some having 8 or 9 Baron stacks. o_O

    There was the one pug run that someone had the grand idea to try and ‘kite’ the back two… That went great for about 6 seconds. The reset was at least ‘painless’. 😉

    Being told to MD the Instructor to a Rogue for the pull in a 25 was comedic gold. I’ve played a Rogue, I know what it’s like running for your life… but this guy made “Speedy Gonzalez look like Regular Gonzalez”. And we still wiped (Instructor caught him without Evasion and one priest had a resist.. om nom nom).

    If for no other reason I’ll join random PuGs from time to time just to see new and creative ways for things to “Go Bad”.

  3. Call me a softie, but I found that story quite touching. I’ve been fortunate to have people do much the same for me. The most recent example being a group sticking with me clear through a 2.5 hour Nexus run, suffering countless wipes all in the name of me learning to heal.

    Its camaraderie like that which keeps a smile on my face almost every time i log in.

  4. Nice story!

    I’d say Karma was there just to keep you in that fight.

    You earned those shoulders the old fashioned way!


  5. /salute

    Your point about their determination and attitude rings true. It’s hard to stick with a less experienced, less geared or less skilled PuG when their attitude is terrible. Sticking with good people is indeed rewarded with great Karma.

  6. A great story, well written. As a leader of an unexperienced raid group I know how things can go bad, and I know to value such pick-up-members like you. The only thing more discouraging than wiping is not being able to try again. Thanks for sticking with them.

  7. GZ on the shoulders, was a great story too!
    I am usually too busy going “YAAAS” to getting loot that I forget the stories behind them 🙁

  8. Nice story, I nearly got tears in my eyes imagining you and your pet in front of Heigan door, weaving goodbye to your one-night friends…

    I know what those Naxx runs are. I run a small guild and night after night, we struggle through Naxx bosses, getting then slowly down one by one. Thanks for sticking with this group until the end.


  9. Excellent post 🙂

    I’m also really looking forward to that heigan dancing for pets video you talk about- mine always dies seconds into the fight.

  10. I second (third? fourth?) what’s been said above. WoW needs more folks like you.

    I think some PuGs tend to forget that they once were the fresh raider, staring a new encounter in the face with a group of their buddies….

  11. This story was pure win.

    I caught the raiding bug while on BWR. A very generous guild, allowed me to join and raid during the interim between TBC and WotLK. I saw vast amounts of content in a short period of time. Then, I moved to Sentinels to run with some real life friends. Its been great. However, they don’t raid…but, I knew that I at least wanted to pug Naxx. The Raid Leader of was kind enough to give me a chance, and now I can say that I’ve seen both Naxx and OS, having downed all the bosses at least once. They were kind to me, explaining the events, even if I was the only one that needed it. They have been very kind to me.

    Kindness > Anything, imo. Thanks for showing that kind of kindness to the PuG you were in.


  12. That kind of attitude is refreshing to see. People on guild runs sometimes need to remember that. Awesome to see someone who was pugged have enough patience to give it a try!

  13. How do I appease the karma-gods? I’m decently geared except for two glaring holes: the blue helm from heroic UK and a Signet of Bridenband. I’d give my acid wasp of doom just to upgrade those things to shiny purples. I haven’t seen a helm drop in over a month 🙁

    The lesson of the story can be summed up in this simple phrase: “Never give up, never surrender.” 🙂

  14. I never experience a raid like that before. I’m currently at level 70 leveling those forgotten professions. reading your blog makes me want to hit 80. Pike your blog and stories encourage me to continue to play wow. I can’t wait until i hit naxx with my guild even if i need to pug. Thank you.

  15. Well, I hate to say what’s already been said 17 times before, but that’s a great story. Not often enough are people willing to give those learning a chance – everyone always wants to take the easy route.

    WoW Karma will surely be kind to you in days to come!

    (And poor Pike! I felt so bad for you, standing there clutching your new shoulders and two badges!) :<

  16. I wish more people would read this and remember when they, too, were starting out… when they, too, had wiped and wiped until they “got it”… that they, too, did not want to be judged because the fight is still being learned.

    A lovely story… more beautiful for the fact that the story is true (in all senses of the word).

  17. It’s so refreshing to see that there are still many real people, with rl values playing this game instead of juvenile twits who only care about loot, progression and dps, often at the expense of others. This game is to be savored and enjoyed. While the shiny purple things are nice, it’s the people and the encounters that can make this game so much fun.

    Sounds like you had a good group and managed to make a nice withdrawl from the karma bank. I had those drop for me once, but our Enhancement Shaman who kills me on DKP won them. They are some sexy shoulders for sure. Grats!

  18. Simply splendid job of story telling here. I was actually leaning into my screen closer and closer as I was reading it. That sliver of hope, the nostalgia back to very familiar experiences in kara. Good stuff!

  19. Now that is how I like to think WoW should be played. None of the stress, expectations, admonishments and rage over imperfection, over not getting it right the first time, over being less than the top of your class.
    A lot of people that play tend to forget that they had to learn too, that they once were new to the game lowbies without a clue. No-one was sprung into Azeroth from the head of Elune fully epic-ed out and with full knowledge of every fight.

    Learning is one of the greatest things in life and I think it’s nothing short of the equivalent of WoW sainthood that you stuck with those players, Pike, and helped them learn. As others have said, the game needs way more people like that playing.

    So, get a Hordie to 80 on Baelgun and come help our little guild!

  20. Holy crap pike! That post kinda hit me without expecting it. I’m sitting here at work idly looking for stuff to kill my time over the next 2 hours and I start reading this.

    It seems silly, but now have a lump in my throat. It’s kind of like I just remembered all the really amazing people I’ve met in this game over the years I’ve been playing it, but this time I remembered them all at the same time and it’s sort of a bit overwhelming.

    Thanks for a really, really great post.

  21. This reminds me of somehting oh so familiar to me. I’ve had almost the exact same experience the last two weeks. I was bored and a LFM for naxx 10 popped up. It was a guild and there first run. We wiped on Anub’ Rekhan 5 times before we downed him. This week I picked up with them again and even though wipes are almost gauranteed, it’s so much more fun than being in a 25 group with no wipes. I’ve always been the last one to leave b/ cof wipes in a pug, and I’m happy I am. With this group, I’ve gotten some great experiences already, including 8 people who have never done thad before take him down on our second try, out-living the other pug. We have yet to hit 4H yet…can’t wait to see what that will be like.
    Oh, btw, came here via BRK’s blog, and I think your blog is going on my favorites list. 😀

  22. it’s times like those that I feel the need to step in and take up the slack in leadership because of my photographic memory and me being in naxx so many darn times I wonder why I don’t have Gothic the Harvester as a ringtone by now. Oh and it is those times when the people who have any semblance of what is happening truly get to see how outstanding a player u are. There is nothing quite like being “that guy/or gal” that made a success out of a wipe through strange yet cunning strategy and skill

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