Once you have hit that upper level cap of 85 there is generally very little to do as a solo gamer. So there comes a time in everyone’s warcraft career where you must group together to take on content.

In an ideal world we’d all have 10 (or 25) like minded friends who would all have exactly the same idea and all want to be slightly different classes and jobs.

Sadly this doesn’t happen and there are times when we all decide to….. start a PUG.

This guide aims to give you some practical advice on running pugs. I am not saying I have all the answers but I have done a fair few in my time and usually achieve good results. This information is also relevant if you are a guild raid leader.

The most important thing in a PUG is… You
The most important thing about whether a PUG will start and fail is the leader. A successful PUG leader will run the group as close to a guild group as is possible. Some people are good at this and some are not. If you do not have the confidence or in game knowledge to pro-actively run a raid then find someone who is good at it and shadow them. Get them to make you an assistant in some raids or maybe explain the tactics for a few bosses. That way you can get into it slowly and allow your confidence to grow.

Classes & you

Now certain classes make being a raid leader’s life easier. Here are the pros and cons of the different general raid jobs:

Pro: You have the ultimate say when the raid pulls. You know that when you go in you are confident that you and the raid are ready. Tanks also have an odd sense of authority. People will often listen to a confident tank and feel better about the raid ahead.
Con: Your face is normally buried in a boss’s crotch which makes it difficult to get an overview of the raid going on around you.

Melee DPS
Pro: very few.
Con: Your face is normally buried in a boss’s bottom which makes it difficult to get an overview of the raid going on around you.

Ranged DPS

Pro: You have a good view of most things going on around you. This should allow you to see what is going on so in the event of a wipe you should have a reasonable idea of what went wrong.
Con: There are often fights that involve the ranged doing a specific job that may take your attention away from the raid.

Pro: You have a good view of most things going on around you. This should allow you to see what is going on so in the event of a wipe you should have a reasonable idea of what went wrong.
Con: While having the same viewpoint usually as a ranged your focus is normally more on life bars and your general raid overview may not be as focused. As a dps you can afford a small drop in dps, but a few less heals might wipe the raid.

Before you start

You know all the tactics for at least the bosses you reasonably expect to get to. (it always helps if you have encountered and downed these bosses.)

Have things like fish feasts. It is always a sign of an organised raid leader if they have fish feasts (or the current equivalent) ready to go.

Make sure that you aren’t wearing gear other people can whine about. Make sure your gear is gemmed, enchanted and everything is in tip top shape.

When the time is right
The time of day you run your pug at is as important as the day you do it.

Most guilds run raid nights on a Wednesday and as is the case on my server most follow ups seem to happen on a Monday. Try and choose a night when people with decent raiding experience may be able to come along on a well geared alt on your server.

Time of day is important as well try not to run a raid just before dinner or lunchtime… you will get people being told to leave the computer by their parents… yes even if everyone in the group is 21 I have seen it happen. Here are the basic times of day and the pros and cons of them.

Midday midweek:
The type of player here varies depending on whether it is the school holidays or not. If it is the school holidays you will have a slightly younger average player base to draw from but in the same respect you may also find it hard otherwise when most people are at school/work.

Midday weekend: I personally find this time the hardest time to run a successful pug. Most people don’t have a decent window of time and people leaving mid raid is a real problem. You will also find a lot of very young players on at this time. A possible bonus however is there will usually be a large amount of players online.

Evening: Evening raids are normally the soundest to run. Make sure you start after dinnertime (or you’ll have people leaving after boss 1). Also ensure that you give people joining the raid a realistic time you expect them to stay till. Make sure they can stay until this time. If they cannot they can go on the blacklist so you know they are not reliable in the future. You will normally find a decent mix of players on at this time and if it is not a general guild raid night you may get some experienced players on alts.

Middle of the night: This is an odd one. Provided you are confident people will not all disappear off to bed quite often the best pugs are to be had in the early hours. Generally most people on at this time are sleep starved wow addicts and very often you will get a decent group of people. The servers are generally emptier but if you can find the people then excellent.

Finding the right people

useful thing when running pugs regularly is you can start to build up a friends list and a blacklist. This ensures over times your raids can improve.

The Super Pug This is the name I give to a pug made up of people I mostly know that come from guilds that aren’t mine. An ideal situation is to invite a few people from your friends list you know as good players and then get them to invite someone. This will ensure all players are known to be good and are known by others should they turn out to be rude. This type of group I refer to as the super-pug.

The blacklist This is almost as important as a good friends list. Build up a list of names as you play. This includes people who are rude, ninja leavers, ninja rollers, trolls and flamers. Overtime this list will start to weed out the bad apples.

Note! By all means if you see someone being a bit of a dick in trade add them to the blacklist. Who you don’t take is almost as important as whom you do.

Those randoms in trade

If you have exhausted your friend list and everyone else in your raid’s friend list then sadly you must venture into the veritable flame-fest that is the trade channel.

Be as concise as possible with what you shout and make sure you shout it regularly but not too often. About 3 minutes between shouts is more than enough.

Something like: Need 12 more for ICC25. Need 3 healers, 1 tank rest dps. Must have till 23:00. Meet in centre of dal for inspection. Using vent.

Try and get all bases covered buff wise and do use something like Raidbuffstatus to ensure that everyone is buffing the correct buffs.

When someone does ask you for an invite check their gear and if possible look up their raid kills on something likewow-heroes or Pug-Checker. This should help. Sure gearscore is not more important than skill….. but tbh it’s a pretty good thing to go on when it is your only thing. Anyone who tries to debate about it with you isn’t worth taking anyway.

Most importantly chat to them for a little bit. A couple of lines of dialogue is normally enough to see the sort of person they are.

People to avoid

Opening whispers to avoid
Good Group? – This sort of person obviously sees himself as an uber hardcore raider. He also doesn’t seem to realise gauging how good a pug is at the start is almost impossible. Probably a reasonable player but will also probably give you headaches if anything goes wrong.

Full Run? – see above same kind of person

Fast Run? – A good pug will never be really quick plus how could you possibly know this info…. Not worth your time or there's.

Invite me – this person has failed to read that you would like to inspect them so obviously will not listen to tactics…. Don’t bother.

Other things to watch out for

• While a bit harsh I have also learnt to be wary of people that belong to guilds with stupid names. Chances are <Is NoT ScArEd of BuMs aNd MoNkEyS> may not be the sensible guys you would like. Obviously this is not a diehard rule but works fairly often.

• Same goes for people with stupid character names... anyone with a name like Bighugeballs is prob gonna act like a bit of a nob in chat channels

• Look for people who behave well, if someone starts mouthing off in the first 5 minutes before the raid has already started you can probably do without them.


Perfect groups don’t need vent but a pug is far from perfect. Even if people do not have mics ensure all are on vent so they can at least hear the voice of the raid leader if nothing else. Obviously Warcraft has a built in voice chat function but get people to download vent, downloading it only takes a few minutes and a lack of willingness to download it often is an indication of either someone very uncooperative or someone without control over the computer. Vent is great because people can get so focused on watching bars and timers they forget simple warnings. Most guilds shout these warnings over vent so let’s do it in pugs as well.

Vent is also useful for quickly calling out on-the-fly changes that typing just isn’t practical for.

Another great aspect of vent is the personal touch. People are infinitely less likely to act a jerk on vent than they are in chat. Vent tends to keep raids calmer and less idiotic. It also gives you info as to who you are talking to. If you are playing a 10 year old child you’ll be able to guess that from their voice.

Must Have Addons

Raidroller – This lets the loot process happen a lot smoother than it otherwise would have been.

DBM - Ensure everyone had DBM (deadly boss mod). Most will have this anyway but if they do not the need to download it. People without DBM shouldn’t really be in raids.

Raid Frames (eg Grid) - These keep you updated on your raid. You can see if they have aggro, a, are out of range of things, injured, dead, debuffed etc

Combat Log analysis (archeron death reports, recount, ensidia fails etc) – these allow you to find out what happened after the event. See dps, see who was not dispelling, and see what people died to. You will hopefully have a pretty good idea why this all went wrong but this is where you can gain any evidence needed. Keep these for your eyes only and don’t start linking whole walls of text in raid chat.

Headcount - This tells you who was in your pug and is really useful at a later date finding "that really good mage who was awesome against the boss we are on".

Loot rules

The first thing I do at the start of every raid once I have everyone is clearly lay out the loot rules. Now you can change these as long as you say what the rules are anyone who wants to debate them can so then and this should greatly reduce any problems further down the line. It also makes people feel comfortable in your raid from the start and reaffirms your job as the raid leader.
Here are the ones I use:

• Need rolling priority is Main Spec > Main Spec off gear (druid rolling on cloth) > offspec. Otherwise it will be raid rolled and sharded if possible. Master looter will be on at all times. While it is possible for a different person to the raid leader to do this it is usually a sensible idea for it to be the job of the raid leader.

• Main spec is what you are doing in the raid NOW... this eliminates a lot of arguments later.

• Orbs (or crafter equivalent mat) will be raid rolled for.

• Anyone who roles twice will automatically be kicked and banned from all future pugs.

• BoE items will be rolled first for need for main spec and then raid rolled. You must equip the item if won and then allow a raid leader or assistant to check you have equipped it.

• This is a controversial one but this is what I use: Tier tokens have priority for those who can link the item they intend to upgrade in chat and have it equipped. Alternatively if you have enough badges you can purchase the item to upgrade now and then win the item.

Then leave the loot threshold on uncommon so greens will just be picked up by whomever.

A very good addon as already mentioned I use is raid roller. This allows you to raid roll where it shows everyone’s number beforehand to eliminate any doubt in raid rolls.

Most importantly make your rules and stick to them. Changing your rules on the fly will lose your faith and credibility as a raid leader. In the case of something which everyone wants (eg a mount) sometimes putting the loot system on Group loot for 1 boss can be a good idea.


Generally you should expect people joining your pugs to know tactics but I would always suggest running through all tactics beforehand in order to ensure that everyone knows the same tactics. This is often one of the biggest problems when perfectly good players both do the correct but different tactics. Resulting in a wipe and lots of arguing.

TIP : Do not explain every single mechanic of the raid but make sure you explain the important elements. Break these down into roles if possible.

My suggestion is make yourself a little bank of tactics for different fights you can draw on before all bosses. Even when using vent I would generally suggest that you type in raid chat as well.

Here is an example with a well known boss:

Lord Marrowgar
Tanks need to stand on top of each other. Marrowgar’s damage is split. Stand in the middle and taunt at the end of bone storm. He will cast bonespikes that will spike people. ALL dps focus on these. Do not stand in blue flames. All ranged and healers stand on diamond (giving people easy to see markers like this are useful). During bonestorm spread out.

While I understand that these are not perfect tactics it is simple. Do not start a 2 page essay in a pug especially where most will already know the tactics.
Make sure any marked players are either yourself or someone you know and trust to do the correct tactics.

The Inevitable

At some point the inevitable will happen and you will wipe. This is where many pugs can blow apart. But at this point it is up to you to take charge and lead the raid forward.

It is important to give a morale boost at this time. Try and say one thing that was positive and then one thing to improve on. Shouting and bitching at this stage will get you and the raid nowhere. Quell any behaviour outbursts quickly and keep everyone’s eye on the prize.

For example say something after a failed marrowgar attempt like...
“Our overall dps was very good but we need to take down the bone spikes much faster. Try and make a /target bonespike macro to switch quickly. The tanking was very good. Lets rez fast and get him down this time” This does not point any fingers, gives some good things to work on and praises for what went well.

Try and manage any kind of breaks. Before the raid says something along the lines of “we will take a 5 minute break at the end of every wing”. In the case of a few wipes say something along the lines of, “We will take a 5 minute comfort break after the next attempt”. This will ensure everyone takes breaks at the same time and they do not go off in drips and drabs.

After the next wipe I would then suggest you say something along the lines of, “Ok we will now take a 5 minute break. Go and get a drink or go to the toilet but spend a few minutes doing something that is not looking at your screen. Refresh your eyes.” This is a surprisingly powerful tactic. It should allow anyone frustrated and annoyed to calm and come back to the fight ready to go again.

It is important to be confident. Also communicate your confidence. It is important that the raid sees you are confident this boss will be down. Confidence carries and many people will jump ship at the first sign of an unsure raid leader.

At this point it is often that you will get people who will cry, shout blame and start a flame war. Be polite and constructive in your response. If someone is being impatient ask them to be patient. Anyone being rude kindly ask them to be polite. If this continues give a warning and then kick. This will hopefully stop any mass walkouts before they happen. Most rude players will leave anyway when given a warning by a raid leader.

Gaining new people after leavers.
One of the hardest things you will have to deal with is what to do after one or a number of players leave the raid. Try and deal with this swiftly and quickly. If you have a replacement invite them (keep someone in mind if you can). Otherwise ask the people in the raid if they have anyone who would like to come.

At the end of the day you do not want these people in your raid in the first place. Make sure you add them to your blacklist to ensure they do not turn up again. This will then gradually improve your raids. It is much better to have the 9 happy raiders that will make your raids fun and rewarding rather than the one bad apple.

As well as criticising and troubleshooting wipes it is really important to praise success. If someone does something good tell them. If there was good healing praise it. This will make a good atmosphere to your raids and hopefully get repeat decent puggers coming back.

The End

with success
There is nothing more satisfying than a successful pug. Tell everyone how well you have done and if there needs to be a follow up then put it on the calendar and ensure to give out invites. Thank everyone very much for coming. If you have done a good job you will normally find people will say some nice words and give you thanks in return. (Remember these people as these are good polite people to have in your raid)

After many wipes....
If sadly you feel that there is no more that can be done and the raid is not going anywhere then you may need to call the raid. Try if possible to end on a positive note. Say how well everyone has done to get as far as you all did and praise individuals if appropriate. Praise how far you did get in the raid. Put a follow up on the calendar if you feel it could succeed with a little more time.

To Sum Up

As I started by saying the most important thing in the raid is the leader and you will be the person who keeps the raid together through the one shot and the wipes. The important thing is practice. A lot of things in this guide are relevant in guild raids as well as pugs and over time you will find your own groove and develop your own techniques.

I am actually a guild leader and will often use pugs to try and find un-guilded players that we can add to our ranks.

At the end of the day do not give up on it. The fact you are even reading this means you are interested in improving and that is the sort of person we need across our servers running our pugs.

Virulina <Avatar> - Doomhammer