Warlords introduced the new Group Finder feature. It’s Blizzard’s response to the old oQueue addon. With cross realm raiding here to stay (Mythic being the exception), we look at how guilds are utilizing pickup players to help supplement their raid.

In this episode we discuss…

  • Establishing loot rules
  • The ethics of reserving gear
  • Managing and coordinating raid efforts
  • The 3 R’s (Repeat, reinforce, and reassure)
  • Enforcing voice communication

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The Show Notes

  • Blood Legion Cooldowns – An addon for tracking loot and player attendance.
  • Thogar Assist – An addon displaying which trains are coming next during Operator Thogar.
  • Thogar Helper – An alternative to the above addon.
  • Angry Assignments – An addon that can keep messages displayed in the screen. Useful for healing cooldowns or interrupt orders.
  • Open Raid – A website for organizing your own cross-realm raids.
  • Mumble – A voice client.
  • Ventrilo – A voice client.
  • Raid Call – Yet another voice client.

The Transcript

The transcript has been edited for clarity and grammar.

Matt: Welcome to the Guildmasters Podcast, the companion show to the Guildmasters blog for both players new to leadership and veterans who want to brush up on their skills. My name is Matt Low, but everyone knows me as Matticus. So here’s the premise. Every week, we tackle one problem or one challenge related to in-game leadership. We’ll offer you points of consideration and possible solutions. Now before we get started, I’d like to take a moment to thank you all for listening and subscribing to the podcast!

Matt: And tonight, let me tell you about my fellow host. In West Philadelphia born and raised. In the playground where he spent most of his days. Chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool, and shootin some b-ball outside of his school. When a couple of guys who were up to no good, started makin’ trouble in his neighbourhood. He got in one little fight but his mom got scared, and he was movin’ to his aunty and uncle in Bel Air.

Oh, no wait, hang on! That’s not Will Smith.

Will: Haha. That has to be the best, longest introduction ever. But I am here, and an enigmatic Will nonetheless. I’m certainly happy to be back on Guildmasters with you this week, Matt.

Matt: Do you like pugs Wil? And I don’t mean those cute, furry dogs. It’s no secret these days that many guilds are resorting to Group Finder, and to a lesser extent Open Raid to try and fill out their raids for normal and heroic raids. 

Will: I must say one of my favorite pets in the game is the Perky Pug. We actually had one of the aforementioned cute and furry ones in our house for many many years. But on topic, I do occasionally pug out myself on an alt in world of warcraft.  So whats our pug related question for this week?

Matt: I’m glad you asked.

“Good morning Masters,

“I have a few questions regarding pugs and raids. Namely, how does it work for your guild?

How do you manage the players you bring in with regards to tactics and getting them coordinated with your guild members? Do you get them on Ventrilo or Mumble? How would you do loot?

(Matt: I don’t know why I’m doing this voiced as Sean Connery, but I’m gonna keep going with it.) 

I’m looking at going down this road with my guild as we’ve just lost a few key players to a more progressed guild on my server. As it stands right now, we have half a raid team. But our GM has reservations with it which is why we haven’t tried it out before. After all, we all know how bad random pugs can be.

Any tips on how you make your runs go smoothly will be much appreciated <3“



 Matt: It’s funny he raises such a topic because last night my guild fielded a normal mode run outside of our normal raid times and these were all questions that I had to quickly cycle through my head. Let’s go ahead and move forward here and tackle his questions in sequence. Will, do you ever pug players in any of your raids? Past or present?

Will: In the past, most definitely.  Sometimes, that is just what you had to do to field a raid given fixed raid sizes.  23 manning a 25 man raid just wasn’t working out back in MoP and Wrath, etc. etc. That’s just what you had to do. But, these days we’re working through heroic BRF, as many people are I’m sure, and with its flexible sizing, it was all good. Even when we were working with Mythic Highmaul, we had a generally stable roster, so we really haven’t had to check out pugs or do anything like that. We’ve been really lucky in DNA because we’ve had a big set of friend of the guild type people we can bring in to fill in for spots here and there. That said, most definitely I’ve pugged in raiders for MoP and previous expansion raids. 

Matt: Right on, Will! I know the first thing I need to is establish loot rules. Is there gear that’s on reserve? Are we using main spec over off? Will there be a limit or item caps? Most of my team no longer needs any loot at all from the bosses. Even most weapons and trinkets are up for grabs. Pugs are encouraged to just roll for anything they’re interested in. BoE’s are assumed to be used and immediately equippable. If any of my guys win a BoE, it actually goes towards the guild to be auctioned off or distributed for loot council if it’s needed. We’ve gotta pay for repairs somehow.

Will:  Oh yeah, Loot is always the first thing to settle.  If you don’t, it’s going to get messy.  In fact, one thing you can do as a raid leader that helps more sophisticated pugs feel comfortable right away is put the loot rules in chat along with voice comm information. We’ll get to the voice comm stuff in a bit.  And sometimes depending on the situation, you may need to call out reserve items ahead of time in chat too.  If you know you’ve got 6 raiders who all need that trinket off of this boss, you can reserve it for the guild.  Just be sure to state that ahead of time before you get too far with pugs.  It’s their decision if they want to tolerate that or not.  In general though, I feel like reserving is kind of frowned upon.

Matt: Ok, I’m going to take a second here and disagree with yo. Personally, I think it is and it isn’t. At the end of the day, it’s your raid, your run, and your rules. An agility trinket might be on reserve, but if I’m a Retribution Paladin who wants a weapon, I’m not going to care about an agility trinket. That’s someone else’s problem.

Will:  True, I guess it all depends on what you need and what they might need.

Matt: Alright, let’s move on to the second question. How do you manage and coordinate everyone’s efforts? When it comes to the healers, I take full command of them all using Blood Legion Cooldowns and will call for them as needed. If it’s a more demanding encounter, I’ll use macros and lay out the exact precise order I need abilities to be used at (I Have to assume that not everyone uses Angry Assignments). So put that macro on your bar and use it every so often so that it’s on the chat box. Verbally call upon and prep players before their abilities. Better be safe than dead. Also, I encourage everyone to use Thogar Assist or Thogar Helper.

Will: Thogar Assist, aka how to not be run over by trains. That thing is so perfect.  And this may be an obvious thing, but make sure the pugs are in on your voice comms server.  If a pug says they can’t get on, their headset is broke, their pet llama ate the cord, just boot em.  You at least need them on to receive your instructions and call-outs.  The things to watch out for here are if you get some chatty guy who annoys the crap out of your guild.  But then again, thats what admin controls are  for, so mute away if necessary.

Matt: Exactly, be prepared to manage player expectations and behaviour. Ultimately, as I said before, it’s your run which means its your rules. When I join other pickup groups, I tend to mute players who can’t seem to stop talking about the most mundane of topics like their pets or their day. Look, I’m here to raid and kill bosses. I don’t have time for your introspection whatsoever.

Respect everyone’s time and keep the raid flowing. If things are getting rough, it’s okay to stop and take a quick breather to get everyone back on track. Be encouraging. Constant dead air is not cool. Your guild might be used to all the abilities and attacks, but you’re also running with players who don’t know how your guild operates, or maybe it’s their first time seeing a boss. Repeat, reinforce, and reassure people. For example on Thogar, if there’s a train coming on green, say so and repeat it. If you want an Aspect of the Fox up at a set time, plan ahead. For example, Wil, get ready for that Aspect in 5 seconds! Reinforce your plan. Even if your raid wiped, reassure them that certain parts of it did go well and that it’s time to shore up what didn’t go well. “Hey guys, you did a terrific job bringing down those wolves together that none of them respawned. We need to work on spreading out a bit more because we’re killing each other with those Blazings.”

Will:  That’s a great point! You may feel like a walking, talking BigWigs or DBM, but it’s going to get you through this with these new people that maybe don’t know that they’re doing. Another thing to consider with pugs is your method for getting them.  Fortunately there are so many ways that come with differing advantages.  OpenRaid is a great site and tool that lets you setup your raid ahead of time and gives you the ability to fully vet people that you might be inviting. There’s the LFG tool that Blizzard put in WoD with varying degrees of success. And of course trade chat pugging, etc etc. There are a lot of ways to get people into your raid.

Matt: Exactly, those are all excellent resources. Make sure you set the message of the day in your guild to reflect the days and times of your pickup run. I mistakenly set the wrong time in one of my recent runs and whoops! Not many people were pleased. If you’re using group finder or looking for group or OpenRaid or whatever, set class restrictions or loot restrictions in the text. Mention how long the raid is expected to go until. If you have item level or experience requirements for the bosses, say so.

Okay, last point. Voice communication. I like to Mumble on Mumble. What’s your chatter client of choice? 

Will:  Honestly, they’ve all seem to come a long way since the early years of me raiding. My raiding years are certainly younger than yours, but… We all thought Ventrillo was the best, then I played some Minecraft with some people on Mumble and thought it was amazeballs.  I had always thought of Teamspeak as the one that was sort of behind on the times but my guild currently uses it just fine, so whatever works for you.

Matt: Right, and there’s another one out there known as Raid Call. I believe it’s a little smaller but seems to be gaining some more traction. I personally have not had a chance to use it. How do you encourage players to come join your voice server? I’ve seen all sorts of excuses.

I don’t have a microphone.

I’ve already done this and I know what to do.

No, I don’t want to connect.

Will: I think, mainly the threat of no loot if or getting the boot are the only options. For myself, I really don’t care too much about people who say they don’t have a mic.  I can usually deal with that if its a dps or maybe even heale.  If its a tank, I really really would rather they have a mic to at least call out when they are taunting off or stuff like that.

Matt: Absolutely, for tanks it’s practically a necessity.

Will: Gotta have it. And really, overall, pugging gets a bad reputation. Our question here even had a connotation like that.  It can sometimes be awful, but it can sometimes lead to better things.  I know I was the beneficiary of a pugging situation.  I was playing my pally at the beginning of MoP doing 25 mans with my main guild.  I had geared a hunter at the same time and got it ready to go but it didn’t really see much action in that first tier.  However, near the beginning of Throne of Thunder, I was bored on my hunter doing LFRs and other random thing when I saw a pug looking for ranged for a fresh ToT.  I thought what the heck, its late night and I got a few hours to be up. Nothing else to do.

The group was fun, joking around with each other, poking fun at the asian raid leader a bit (no it wasn’t Matt, that would be too coincidental of a story. Sorry Matt.).  We downed 4 or 5 bosses in that first night and they said they would have a need for ranged the next night and asked if I wanted to come along. Sure, why not. So I did and after that night the raid lead asked if I wanted to sub in for a few weeks as they had a mage out on vacation. Eventually that raid group actually turned into a 2nd main raid group for me. I had my hunter running in there, and it surpassed my pally’s group in terms of progression at the beginning of Siege and sure enough, as seems to always happen for me I ended up as the raid leader there. So the lesson is, you never know what you might find out there in the pugging world, but there’s always room for another huntard like me.


Okay, we’re about to reach the end of our show here so let’s recap the points!

  1. Go over your loot rules repeatedly. State them before they get invited, state them before you pull, and state them when a boss is taken down.
  2. Use macros for designated cooldown use. Spam them throughout the fight so that they are present in the chat box.
  3. Three R’s: Repeat, Reinforce, Reassure.
  4. Enforce no loot or boot for voice.


Matt: Thanks for listening to the Guildmasters Podcast! If you want to contact us and leave us your feedback or have a question that you’d like us to help answer, email us at hi@guildmasters.org.

If you enjoyed this episode, if you enjoyed this episode, if you enjoyed our previous episode, or if the Guildmasters has helped you in any way, we appreciate a rating or a review on iTunes!

Remember to regularly visit Guildmasters.org. We have a small growing community of leaders and we want to connect with others who listen to the podcast and who read our content.

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow us @GuildmastersOrg and you can follow the hosts. Matt can be found @Matticus and Wil can be followed @GitErRaid. If you’re interested in the show notes for the episode or want to drop a comment, head on to the Guildmasters website at guildmasters.org. You can also find the video and accompanying slides there as well. See you next time!