Most of my dungeon experience – well, about 95% of it, in fact – has been in PUGs. They are easy to find, if not always quick, and the dungeon finder neatly dodges the problem of there having been not too many leveling people in my last guild. I did do one run through Magister’s Terrace with them, but the rest of the group were mostly 80s, and a level 70-odd messing things up by accidentally body pulling wasn’t really an asset to the group. After that, in general, I’ve left things well alone and simply PUGged my way through the various instances…until now.

This new guild, as I think I have mentioned, actually does things together. We’re all a little bit disoriented with the new patch, and were discussing the various class changes and so forth, when I discovered that my baby disco priest was now locked out of Wailing Caverns since 4.0.1 hit. Apparently you’re now supposed to discover it before you can queue for it; clearly this is a change I’d missed! I like the idea, but it was a bit confusing at the time. In any case, three of us (a paladin and two priests) trundled off from Azuremyst to the Barrens…and, roughly half an hour later, we all arrived at the Wailing Caverns and picked up the quests. We were a little bit apprehensive, all things considered, since none of us was all that familiar with our class changes yet and we were at level for the dungeon, but one way and another we decided to give it a go.

I’ve always loved Wailing Caverns, in spite of its length and tortuousness, but there is no denying that it can be hard on a PUG. The number of times I have failed to finish it for one reason or another probably exceeds the number of times I’ve successfully got through it by a fair margin. This run, though – despite the fact that we were 3 manning it and that the group composition (ret pala, holy and disco priests in the level 16-22 range) was perhaps less than ideal, was absolutely smooth as silk. Bosses keeled over at our feet, adds and accidental pulls were managed with barely a slip below 50% health, and nobody got lost or fell off anything (unintentionally). Although it’s tempting to ascribe this to our amazingly l33t skillz and adaptability, I think it’s probably more accurate to give the credit to the very fact that this wasn’t a PUG.

Voice communication, for one thing, makes life indescribably easier. By the time you’ve typed ‘another druid’ and then added ‘and I’m slept’, and someone has typed ‘where?’ and someone else has typed ‘behind you’, half the unfortunate victim’s health has probably gone. Saying it is, of course, much faster. Also, voice communication seems to allow for more accountability; not that any of us was trying to ignore the others, but it fosters working in a team and actually listening to what each other say.

Also, of course, I think everyone is more relaxed in a guild run simply by virtue of knowing the others in the group. You can be reasonably confident that no one is going to ninja things or pull half the dungeon and then drop group (or that if they do, there will be consequences). Then, too, a lot of the difficulties around trading things cross-realm are of course removed. And, shock and horror, it’s all just more fun in a group where you can mess around a bit and chat, and where you know any mistakes aren’t going to be met with an instant kick. We ended up having so much fun with this one that plans are afoot to set up more dungeon runs in the near future, which is an alien experience for me but one I think I like. Isn’t this, after all, the definition of a massively multiplayer online RPG?

Of course, PUGs also have their advantages, and I doubt I’ll ever completely abandon them. Sometimes it’s nice to be anonymous and not expected to be on teamspeak or to socialise, particularly at the end of a long day. Likewise, though it’s fun to have friends around, you do sometimes end up on detours that you might not have with a random group. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep doing both, if only to keep my perspective on what’s good about each!

Are you a PUG person or do you prefer guild or premade groups? Honestly, I’m not sure I could decide…