PUGs: The Magic Recruiter


This is a guest post by Thespius, a raiding Priest and blogger of Healer By Nature.

We’ve all had moments and ventures with guilds that are struggling to get their membership up. I’ve 19-manned a couple bosses in Ulduar; I’ve accomplished the "Less is More" and "Dedicated Few" achievements only because we had no choice. Although there is something to be said about the pride that swells when you hear that magic "DING" sound and seeing your newly-minted bragging rights displayed, it’s hard to go into a raid night after night with low numbers. As people have stated in a variety of mediums, there are many resources out there to help build up your team. The recruiting forums, various websites, etc. all have ways of finding what you want. However, think maybe about a resource that few people ever tap because of how much we’ve grown to hate it.

Yes, I’m talking about the PUG. *shudder* *cue horse outburst and lightning from "Young Frankenstein"*

We’ve all been there. Remember? Guildless–finding your place in this crazy MMO. I joined because of my brother (and I curse him every day for it). He was already locked into a guild that wouldn’t accept friends and family, or alts, so playing with him was a no-go. Even his alt guild wasn’t accepting new people. I was forced to solo pretty much everything, until I started getting quests for Zul’Furrak. It was the hurdle that I needed to pass to get enough experience to get the next level so I would feel comfortable moving on.

In general chat, I saw a hunter named Frostyman looking for people to do ZF with him. I joined up.  Things went wrong, wipes ensued, repairs bills went up.  Despite all that, I had fun.  The tank we had showed and explained to me about kill orders, asked me to chain-fear (this new idea to me called "crowd control") a mob, and when to DPS.  They were helping me.  This was awesome. 

"Hey, Thespius, are you looking for a guild?"

"Umm… sure?"

-Thespius has joined "Sword Through the Horde"-

I found myself surrounded by people JUST like that.  If I had a question, they could point me in the right direction.  Another warlock helped me with my spec.  If I wanted to do something off the beaten path, there was always someone up for joining me.

Since then, I became…well…hooked.  I started researching more about my class, more about raiding, about PvP, whatever I could get my hands on.  I wanted to get better, and I wanted to feel part of the Team. 

My philosophy about my playstyle is entirely based off of that first encounter in ZF.  We’re all here because we enjoy playing this game.  It provides an escape, an adventure, a different world than we’re normally used to.  Yes, I even try to implement this philosophy when it comes to PUGs. *thunder/lightning*

I’m well aware of the initial global trepidation when it comes to PUGs. *thunder/lighting* Sometimes it’s plagued with ego and infected with fail.  A tank that chain pulls without the dps/healers at the ready.  DPS that have delusions of being the tank.  Healers that wand the boss while the tank is on empty.  Here, however, is where you can turn this all into your favor.

First, make a suggestion in a calm tone about how adjusting the strategy could vastly improve the result.  This is designed to see if the person is willing to listen or not.  If they’re not willing to listen, then you just hold on and hope you reach that Orb at the end with your sanity intact. If they are willing to listen, then keep your tone informative and supportive:

"Hey X, you’re doing a good job doing Y.  If you don’t mind, could you do Z so we can all ABC?"

This is much more warm and helpful than:

"Dude WTF!!  Put up CURSE OF ELEMENTS R-TARD!@!@!!@"

In most cases, you’ve just earned a spot on their ignore list by responding with the latter.  It’s easy to lose your cool, but it’s even easier to prevent your raid membership or guild membership from growing exponentially.  A lot of players I know want a friendly environment to raid in.  In my opinion, there can really only be a minority of players that like to be brow-beaten into success.

Fundamentally, you want the PUG *lighting/thunder* player to feel included and part of the process.  Here’s a couple tips to facilitate that:

  • If you’re doing chain heroics, ask if there’s anything in particular they’d like to run.
  • If in a raid and explaining a boss fight, ask if there’s anything they’d like to add.  If they don’t know the fight, make sure you take your time explaining and making sure they understand.
  • When it comes to loot, make sure they feel comfortable with rolling on something they need.
  • Be open to the idea of letting them roll for Abyss Crystals or other enchanting mats from unused gear.  They’re a part of the team and deserve as much of the reward as everyone else.

In a good portion of cases, you may find that this player has never been treated so fairly before.  Maybe they’re unhappy with their old guild and are looking for a place with like-minded people.  Instead of torturing them to get better, you’re nurturing them to get better.  What you’ve just done is encouraged somebody to want to play this game better. 

What happens next?  Just keep doing the same thing.  Maintain a fun supportive environment, keep inviting that person along when you have the room.  As long as you and your group/raid feels comfortable, start treating that person like an applicant/guildie, without saying, "Come with us and we’ll give you 1, 2, and 3."  Bribery only attracts the gear-hungry guild-hoppers. 

I know the counter-argument to this: "But then everyone knows we’re giving stuff away!" Maybe, but by giving yourself the reputation of being open and equal, you can build a big base of people to choose from.  People you know are there to do well, have a good time, and who won’t take advantage of your kindness and generosity.  It affords you the ability to exclude those bad apples that are detrimental to raids and guilds worldwide.

This method, of course, isn’t a guaranteed 100% recruitment outcome, but it can definitely increase your chances.  You can find and cultivate some pretty amazing raiders this way.  Not to mention it ups your status as a "great guild to run with".  All while simply doing dungeons or raids, which is what we PvE’ers love to do anyways.

By the way…. PUG!  *thunder/lightning/horse*

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.


  1. I couldn’t agree more. When running heroics or Naxx raids, I like to fill one spot of our guild run with a PuG member. We have picked up quite a few members over the past few years this way. Its no guarantee, but it is one of our more effective ways of recruiting.
    .-= Tiis´s last blog ..The Hallowed =-.

  2. I love this post!

    I’m currently a member of a new guild looking to shift up to full speed. One of the biggest mistakes that we have made is overrecruiting. We recently kicked several members for “bank robbery” — a level 17 hunter who was routinely taking and selling Saronite and Northrend gems from the guild bank, and a midlevel priest who ninja’d a guild instance run by setting himself as master looter and then trying to sell the resulting loot to the other guildies.

    The new rule for the guild is ALWAYS pug first. We’ve gotten so many quality members through good pugs… in fact, it’s how I joined the guild – through pugging with the Co-GM and one of the officers. We don’t want any more boost beggars, bank robbers or ninjas. We don’t need the numbers that badly. Pugging is a quick and easy indicator of whether somebody’s a competent and courteous player, and it’s served us very well.

  3. The Nasgoul says:

    PUG’s are my guilty pleasure of WoW. Everyday people complain about this pug or that. How the wiped until they had to stop in a heroic. Or how they got saved to VOA 25 and they cant down the last boss. Why this of course has happened to everyone, one of my favorite parts of the game can only happen when your in a PUG. You get to be the hero.

    I am a priest. Disc/Shadow. 2500 sp/30 crit on both sets. In either spec, although as a healer it happens more, I can single handily change the outcome of the event. In the olden days of CC it was even more fun as a bad tank or an inexperienced dps pulled more than we were supposed to. The PUG should wipe. It should. But it wont, because I am here. Whether it is off healing better than the healer or whether it is managing the entire group with no one holding aggro. One of my favorite parts of the game is when everyone is expecting a wipe, and then… it doesnt happen. And not because you are with your guild, are on vent, and everyone is experienced at the fight. No. It is because I am saving this stupid group. lol.. It is my guilty pleasure of wow.

    While I am in an endgame guild I rarely run with my guild. Mostly because my schedule doesnt allow me to block hours of time away in a row, but also because they use DKP. As I cannot raid on a consistent schedule I cannot use my raid ID without getting a free roll on the gear. So PUGs are how I have progressed. And while sometimes you can get stuck, sometimes you can win the entire event because of the skill of one.

    i am the nasgoul

  4. I do a lot of PUGing too. One thing that helps here is to slowly learn who is on your server. Add the players you gel with to your friends list for future PUGs, and make a note of who consistently rage quits on runs when things go all pear-shaped. It’s usually the occasional terri-bad run that leaves the bad taste in one’s mouth for running PUGs, I think. Overall, they aren’t as unpleasant as some would make them out to be.
    .-= LordHuggington´s last blog ..The Gear Score Debate =-.

  5. I totally agree that pugging is a great recruitment tool. We discussed this at our last guild meeting on how guildies can help the recruitment officer recruit; being positive and keeping an eye out for guildless (and talented) players during a pug goes a long way. Great post!
    .-= Napaeae´s last blog ..Goodbye to a WoW community pillar =-.

  6. Charles G. says:

    Most of this article seems to be common sense, it’s a shame it needs to be written. And it’s even more of a shame that the players who need to read it the most will probably never see it.

  7. Frau Blücher!


  8. Yay! Love this post! I’m a pug-addict and I often drag friends/guildies into the pugs too when they have an available raid id or aren’t currently saved to the instance. I’m the evil temptress “c’mon lets do it and not wait for XYZ to log on”. Sometimes they’re win and sometimes they’re not, but because of all my pugging I’ve met a huge portion of the server population that plays at the same times as me. Sometimes now I can form my own ten mans and get volunteers to join and help simply because they know my style of play and they know I keep my cool in past pugs (raids, heroics, whatever). I play this game to be social, and I loathe farming. To me, even a pretty bad pug is more fun than farming for pretty much anything, even junk I need for consumables. It’s improved my reactions to unforseen events hugely. In short, I love it. And a bad pug may set me back for a week to settle back and focus on the dreaded farming, but next week I’m ready to go again.
    .-= @valkyrierisen´s last blog ..Practice for roleplay =-.


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