Bear with me for a few minutes while I digress from all things DDO to talk about an unrelated but relevant topic: wrestling.
No, not those pay-per-view guys who break chairs over their opponents’ heads. REAL wrestling. I spent quite a few years as a newspaper writer and editor working primarily in sports. For about five of those years, I covered the high school wrestling beat, and I knew my stuff – there’s a first-place Keystone Press Award hanging on my wall for my coverage of the 2006 Pennsylvania high school wrestling championships. Many people would probably consider wrestling to be much more of an individual sport rather than a team endeavor, but it’s really not. A wrestler who wins his match nets between 3 and 6 points for his TEAM as well as his personal victory. The team with the most points after all matches have been wrestled is the winner.
So you might think the kid who gets a lot of pins (aka “wins by fall”) is the biggest asset on the team, as a pin is worth 6 team points. The thing is, in a lot of cases, getting a pin involves taking some risks that could easily end up in having the tables turned and the OTHER guy winning the match.
Ask most wrestling coaches (having talked to hundreds if not thousands of them, I feel very confident in saying this), and they’ll tell you that while the “superstars” who can rack up 30 pins in a season are great, the ones they really want are the kids who are willing to take one for the team. Sometimes in a close match, a coach sends a kid out onto the mat with instructions only to not get pinned, even if that means losing the match. If a team is up by, say, six points going into the last match, the only thing that matters is that the last kid to wrestle doesn’t let himself get pinned, because even if he loses the individual match by technical fall, the TEAM still gets the victory. Unfortunately for the guy in this situation, this usually means not taking ANY risks. He may well be capable of beating the wrestler he’s up against, but his job is to NOT wrestle his best individual match. It’s to get the win for his TEAM. I’ve interviewed and written about countless kids who deliberately did NOT wrestle their best match so that their team would be assured of a win – and they were happy to do so.
You’re probably wondering what this all has to do with DDO. It’s pretty simple, really – when you join a PUG, or any other group, your responsibility is to the TEAM. Sure, maybe you can zerg solo through all the Vale quests killing everything in sight. That may – MAY – mean you’re a good INDIVIDUAL player (or it might mean you’re lucky and have great gear). It does NOT mean you’re a great TEAM player. In fact, it may mean just the opposite.
Take this cleric that Baz and I have grouped with a few times. First time was a Tor run. He zerged, didn’t listen to anything anyone said, voice or text, threw out blade barriers like crazy even when there were only one or two mobs, didn’t throw a cure or heal as far as I could tell through the whole quest. We get through it anyway and head for the optionals in hope of scales, and – though this guy was NOT the party leader – he started ordering everybody around. “I’ll solo the dragon, the rest of you take the giant,” etc. Lots more blade barriers and implosions, still no heals, he was yelling at us that we weren’t killing the giant fast enough and so on. We wiped… and then he moaned because he used two mana pots. Hey, nobody told him to blow all that mana on unnecessary blade barriers – he wasn’t getting any sympathy (or pots) from me. We ran into him maybe a month or two later in a Xorian Cipher favor run – same thing. Zerging, BBs, little or no heals, didn’t listen to anyone. And the next night, Baz and I found ourselves in ANOTHER group with him, and STILL the same deal.
So recently Baz and Mara and some Montys were thinking late-night Shroud. There was already a Shroud LFM up, with this guy leading. We chose to put up our own LFM instead of joining his. Ours quickly filled except for the last spot, and we needed a healer. The guy still didn’t have anyone joining his, so he requested to join ours. Baz, with a lot more tact than I probably would have been able to muster, declined and sent him a tell that went something like, “Sorry, I wish you the best but I’ve run with you several times and you zerg, waste mana and don’t listen.” The guy’s response: “I can solo almost every quest in this game, even a lot of the epics.”
WRONG ANSWER, dude. If I want someone on my TEAM, I don’t give a flying fig what they can solo. I want to know that they’re going to help the TEAM get the completion. Being able to solo a quest doesn’t mean you can complete it with a group. Aside from difficulty scaling, the whole dynamic of a quest changes based on the party makeup. If you head into elite Jungles of Khyber with two melees, a rogue, one healer and an archer, your strategy is going to be a lot different than if you have three melees, a rogue and two healers. When you’re in a party, you don’t just need to worry about keeping YOURSELF alive. You need to worry about keeping the PARTY alive. Just like the wrestler who’s told that his only objective is not to get pinned, sometimes it’s good to be the one who takes the fall so that the party can go on. If I’m leading a group that has six deaths in Phase 4 of Shroud, I’m going to want people who CAN’T rez others to die before the ones who CAN rez.
Too many PUGgers I’ve encountered seem to think that groups exist only to give them an audience to show off for. Instead of listening and contributing to party chat, they use it to show off their gear, brag about their kill count, talk about stuff they can solo… or they ignore party chat altogether and just run off and do their own thing.
I’ve been planning this post for a while and just hadn’t been inspired to finish it, but last night I found myself in a PUG with the absolute worst example of a team player I have EVER encountered, and that’s saying something. Chartreusia had been in a group that ran elite Tear and had a great time, so she and the other two party members who weren’t signing off decided to do an elite Pit run afterwards and put up an LFM to fill the three remaining spots. We got Sap, a third-life lvl 7 barb who joined and immediately went into the quest even though we still had two spots to fill and the rest of us weren’t even in House D yet. We tried to tell him that the rest of us might suffer an XP penalty for arriving late and got no response for several minutes, but eventually (and reluctantly) he recalled and we reformed the group so that we could all enter together. Mini, a sorc and the party leader, was one of those rare people who can have the star and still be comfortable allowing someone else to share control. He hadn’t run Pit in ages and asked everyone to follow Char and listen to her instructions. For Flop, our healer, and Yan, our amazing monk, this was no problem. Sap was another story, and we had a fighter/ranger/sorc who was sticking with Sap.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Sap zerged through much of the quest and made things hard on Flop as far as healing went. I went through three Cure Serious wands on Char trying to help out. Mini was using wands as well. Among the three of us, we managed to keep Yan healed/rezzed through the main breaker room, as he was the only one with evasion and had a great attitude about taking a ton of damage from the electrical traps in there. Everybody died a few times; Char got critted by the force traps for 144 points (since she only had 102, that did her in), but made up for it by collecting Sap’s stone from high above Furnace Room 2 after he decided he could run through the acid traps.
We made it to the final fight with five of us left; our fighter/ranger/sorc DCed in Furnace Room 3 and didn’t make it back. Neither Flop nor Mini was very familiar with the quest, so I explained in some detail about how to trigger just a few mobs at a time so we didn’t have to fight the whole room at once. Sap immediately ran down and triggered EVERY FREAKING MOB IN THE ROOM. The ones on the stairs, the ones on the ledges, the ones by the levers, the ones at the end valve. It was UGLY. We died… we died a LOT. But we somehow got them beat down. Sap was dead down in the main room; Flop died at the top while out of mana what with solo healing and having to do a LOT of rezzing, and he’d already used all three shrines, plus he had a hire to bring in to replace the guy who DCed. Instead of running his stone back to one of the shrines and then back to the entrance so he could call the hire, I suggested that he just recall, go to Anvilfire and get his mana back, and then we’d finish off the last mobs and the Avatar. The party – well, the four of us who WEREN’T zergers – talked about it for about 2-3 minutes and were all in agreement. So Flop recalls while Mini, Yan and I wait at the top, and Sap’s stone sits in the end room.
But apparently Sap had a spirit cake, at least that’s all I can figure, because all of a sudden he was alive… and he ran right to the valve and turned it to end the quest.
With Flop still outside.
Yep. Flop went through three shrines and I don’t know how many pots keeping Sap’s sorry zerging ass alive, and what does Sap do? Completes the quest without Flop so Flop got NO XP, NO FAVOR. And Sap also looted both end chests before Flop was back in, so Flop got no loot either.
I don’t tend to show anger a lot. I hold things in and vent about them to friends later. But I unloaded on Sap. His response? “I wasn’t going to take the XP penalty for a re-entry.” Nearly TWENTY THOUSAND FREAKING XP and he’s worried about losing 10%? Flop got NO XP at ALL thanks to him.
There have been a few players who’ve tempted me to contact their guild leaders about their lack of sportsmanship, but I’ve never actually followed through. Last night I made an exception. I got this response from Sap’s guild leader:
ty for the letter and for ur concern, its apriciated and noted.
however, i know sap in RL.. she usualy isnt like that and a decent player.
what’s more, i was around her when u were doing that certain dungeon crawl – i say crawl because to her it was as slow as a snail. now, i heard u giving out orders as to where to go (im pretty sure it was u, could be wrong) and it sounded like u’r more experienced as a tabletop DM, guiding the folks through the encounters.
now, that in itself isnt a problem, but she’s used to a faster pace…
add that to the fact that english isnt her strong side (u might’ve noticed the lack of her saying anything) as its not her mother language.
i apologize for her behavior and ill tell her to be more careful what groups she goes into next time.
a small tip as well; if u havnt specified it on the lfm, its recomended to say what kind of group ur running like ‘BYOH’ or ‘learning run’ or something… could help screen players u dont want to play with 🙂
So… *shrug* Make of that what you will, I guess, but I’m still not grouping with her.