Well, yes, but in the feeling-good ledger of life, we are rich indeed!

I found myself logged into WoW last night not quite sure how I got there. We did the obligatory Christmas food shopping trip in the afternoon and a very busy supermarket filled with searing bright lights and screaming children did not fill me with the Christmas cheer. I nearly passed out before we reached the car, the trip home was agony and after a brief hello, I’m home but afk on msn, I crawled into bed and slept. Nine o’clock rolled around and I woke up to find Chris keeping my seat warm at my computer, happily chatting away on msn and making me feel almost redundant. I booted him off, hi-jacked the conversation and seemingly seamlessly got pulled into wow by darling husband to quickly heal his daily random. He has his title ‘the patient’ and now maintains that as long as you have either a good healer or at least a reasonable tank, the rest of the PUG can be awful and the run will still be quite painless. I’m not sure if I agree with his philosophy, in my opinion, one or even two good players aren’t enough to prevent disaster, it’s all about collective skill/gear, but I’ll humor him.

I have heard plenty of complaints about the new system and most of the people I play with still don’t PUG. They form a 5-man as per usual and then use the system to find them a random heroic. Personally, I love the new system. I’ve never had issues with playing with strangers, in fact, I’ve always preferred pugging the daily as it’s usually quicker and less work than trying to pull together a group from my friends list and/or guild chat. Also, I worry less about stupid mistakes. I don’t care what a stranger from a different server thinks of me. I don’t have any difficulty leaving a group if it starts to go very badly and seem irrecoverable and I don’t hesitate if I feel pointers, tips or comments would be helpful. Mostly, however, I just don’t really care. It takes 10-20 minutes these days to complete a heroic dungeon run and I rarely just play.

The first thing I do when I log in outside of a raid is change my WIM settings to not hide my chat box in combat and turn up my music or put on something funny like The Family Guy. The whole point of logging in and playing for a while most days is to catch up with friends. I don’t talk much in guild chat, I’ve always been more of a one-on-one conversationalist, but I make sure to check in with a few friends. It’s the biggest reason why I’m playing WoW and not Batman or Brutal Legend or something else. As a result, I don’t pay much attention to PUGs. I don’t talk much in party chat, I don’t mind how well players are geared and as long as at least three people are competent, I don’t mind the little mistakes. I’m a pretty forgiving player. I don’t have recount turned on and I don’t inspect other players.

I’m happy to help someone gear up, we had a hunter in the party who last night who was gearing his first character and was giddy with excitement when two suitable epic items landed in his bags. I’m still learning how to tank and I know my healing gear is less than perfect. I still enjoy playing WoW, but I’m still mostly not quite there yet. The N52 and mouse combo is just not as comfortable as GlovePIE and my xbox controller. I would hope that other players are at least as forgiving as I am. I’m impatient, but when I get annoyed, I yell at my screen, not at other players. There was a time when criticism unnerved me, but I’ve learned to shrug it off. This time last year, I was doing my very first 5-man and it was one of the most exhilarating and stressful things I’ve ever done. The silly hunter last night got his achievement Dungeon & Raid Emblem and I didn’t yell when he died rather then feign death on more than one occasion. I remember what it’s like when you fumble the keys because you’re nervous. The gap between him in dungeon blues and the other players in ToC and shiny new ICC gear can be a little intimidating.

Personally, I love the new LFG system. It’s made grouping with other players that much easier and painless. Yes, there’s the occasional surreal experience of landing in a group with a bunch of people who seemingly all bought their characters on ebay, but most of the time, it all goes well. My average waiting time for  a group to be assembled is less than thirty seconds and although I haven’t quite gotten around to feeling comfortable tanking dungeons, at least I’ve started to do so. Maybe all that’s required is a little Christmas cheer, eggnog or some alcoholic beverage and a few hours and I’ll finally realize that I do have a viable off-spec. And it’s okay to use it for more than soloing Sethekk Halls which I think will never ever drop that annoyingly elusive mount. Inflict new off-specs on unsuspecting players, now that’s making good use of the pick-up group.