Since I was very enthusiastic about getting back into WoW, I threw myself into a bunch of pugs last night, and - as if through a miracle - there was at least one aspect about each of them that made me happy.
Things started in heroic Stonecore with my hunter. The run wasn't exactly amazing, but we actually had a tank who was friendly and talked to the rest of the party instead of just silently ploughing through things. When we wiped on Ozruk, nobody got mad and instead we discussed what went wrong. When we wiped a second time, the dps death knight said, "okay, can someone explain to me how I avoid getting killed here because clearly I'm not getting it", and everyone piped up with helpful explanations. People being happy to teach others and willing to discuss strategy? Be still, my heart.
Then I decided to tackle my biggest challenge for the evening: since I was home alone and had plenty of time, I was going to tank a Zul heroic pug on my druid. Lady RNG decided to put me into Zul'Gurub. Admittedly the run didn't start out too great: we had a couple of wipes on trash and people kept dropping out. However, I had pretty much expected this and wasn't really fazed by it. I was the tank, I knew this place, and I was going to finish the instance. I didn't care if other people chickened out at the drop of a hat, after all I could always requeue for replacements. (My favourite was the healer who rage-quit after I pulled a named trash mob that most of the party - including the guy himself - needed for their quest but that he didn't want to kill for some reason. I mean, seriously?)
As we approached Mandokir, the group finally started to settle down. We now had a paladin healer who confessed that it was his first time in the instance but who did a fabulous job anyway, a dps warrior from my server with whom I bonded quite quickly ("Earthen Ring pug power!"), a hunter and... I forget what the last dpser was, either a warlock or a shadow priest. We killed the next couple of bosses without any major problems and I got a nice pair of new healing leggings.
Jin'do was where things eventually got hairy and we had a couple of wipes. They didn't feel too bad to me though, if that makes sense, as we always got pretty close to beating the encounter and there didn't seem to be anything fundamentally wrong with what people were doing. We only had to reset phase one once, after the paladin had stood outside of the deadzone and died, which he sheepishly explained with a friend distracting him at the worst possible moment. Most of us just laughed it off.
The hunter however started to get increasingly cranky, always blaming the healer for everything that went wrong. Finally he declared that the next attempt was going to be his last one and that the paladin should better not mess this one up. Then the hunter himself botched it by standing in the wrong place and wasting a body slam, and we wiped again. He raged some more, but I just said, "Wasn't this going to be your last attempt?" He responded by shouting "fine, do it without me then" and left the group. We got another hunter as replacement, and downed the boss easily on the next attempt. Funny how it's always the pompous gits who end up holding everyone else back. Jin'do rewarded me with a nice new tanking weapon as well, which was welcome as I had had terrible luck with heroic weapon drops and was still using an ilevel 333 blue.
Still, that run had taken over two hours and I wanted something more relaxing now, so I decided to tank one of the old heroics on my paladin next. I got dropped into heroic Throne of the Tides, with the rest of the party already zoned in at the entrance, which gave me the impression that their previous tank had left as soon as he saw where he had landed. What is it with tanks dropping from that one as soon as they see it? I've definitely noticed that one happening quite a lot. And it's not even a particularly hard instance or anything... When the rest of the party started chatting, I noticed that they were all in the same guild. I commented on this as a positive fact and they joked that I should wait with getting too excited until I saw their dps. I didn't care though, I was just happy to be playing with a group of people who were bound to be interested in working together.
We killed the boss that most pugs skip since one of the guildies still had the quest to save Erunak, and he was very pleased. I had fun educating the mage about the wonders of spellsteal when applied to the swell buff. On the last boss things got kind of messy when I died just before the last sapper was killed (not sure whose fault it was really) and at least one of the dpsers had trouble targetting the giant squid. In the end everyone was dead except for the warlock, who easily took care of Ozumat's remaining health and stayed alive through massive self-heals. I also got rewarded with a new chest for my healing gear, which was a nice cherry on top of what had already been a very pleasant run filled with friendly banter.
Up next I ran a quick normal with my shaman. We got Grim Batol and it was a pretty smooth and uneventful run. What impressed me at the end however was that there were two need rolls on each of the two drops from the last boss, but then both winners traded the item to the other person because "it's your main spec" and "I think this is better for you than for me". Quite a change from the usual greed and selfishness that has people needing on stuff they don't even want just for the gold.
I decided to finish up the night with a random heroic on my death knight. (Fun fact: I started gearing up my shaman and my death knight at the same time, but while my death knight has been running heroics for some time now, my shaman is still stuck in normals because even though I'd technically be allowed to queue her for heroics, I'm still having such massive mana issues that I simply don't dare. The joys of being a tank or healer vs. being a damage dealer...) I got Stonecore again, and while this run wasn't as good as the previous ones, it was still alright. I got another upgrade and saw the Reins of the Vitreous Stone Drake drop for the third time or so, though I didn't win them.
There was one funny moment when we managed to get nearly everything in the hallway behind Corborus at once, everyone but the tank and healer died, and mere moments after the healer had resed the warlock afterwards, the poor guy got killed again by a bunch of Rock Borers that spawned right on top of him. He started swearing in all caps and for a moment I wasn't sure what to think since it sounded pretty angry to me, but then everyone just started laughing like crazy and eventually I couldn't help it either. Let me tell you, it's a pretty strange feeling to sit in front of your PC and giggle at your screen like a lunatic...
That concluded my night of pugging and in all honesty, I was pretty damn satisfied. It's good to have that kind of experience every now and then, considering how much doom and gloom about the state of the WoW community is going around, just to remind you that it's actually not all that bad.