I am in the enviable position of being one of the better geared players in my guild. Before that would have meant dutifully attending the weekly raid, passing on loot to less geared players, and carrying on as a good little soldier. But in the exciting times that we’re in right now, especially on a raid-crazy server like Cho’Gall, pug raids for high level content are easy to come by, and I’m able to get into ICC 25 without fear of being saved to content that my guild is going to want to hit later in the week. And I have to say, it’s very interesting to see how these groups have evolved since I first started playing.

There is definitely an underlying benchmark of experience that the WoW raiding community has collectively risen to in the past year or so. Before, pug raids were rare; now they are more than commonplace. Where Ventrilo was once scoffed at by some, it’s now compulsory, and you will *NOT* win loot without being present to at least listen. Before, I would have thought setting your sights on Illidan was impossible without a solid, hard working guild. Now, I have to lay even odds on whether my first Lich King encounter will be with my guildmates or with perfect strangers. We all seem to be getting better at adapting to raiding situations where none of us know each other.

However, there are still clear gaffes that happen to remind you with a smack to the head that you are in a pug. Like the ICC 25 run I attended this evening, where a large portion of the group earned achievements off downing Sarufang, thus announcing for everyone to see that this would be the watermark for them, and that any further was unknown territory. The raid leader managed to keep everyone from leaving after what was seen by many as a logical stopping point; we then ran inside without any advice as to the methods for dealing with the Vel’kyr Herald and the dozens of Shattered Essences that appeared. The knowledge gap was death: casters AOE’d instead of focusing fire, we wiped, everyone rage quit because we wiped on trash, and my raiding was done for the evening.

Because of this mixture of improved groupthink and unpredictable chaos where the trap door of stupidity could open at any moment, 25-man pug raids carry a weird air of excitement and alertness that make victory that much sweeter. I think it would be a hilarious addition to the achievement system if Blizzard could somehow track the world first pug kills. What title would you get for that? Would you ever wear another title for the rest of your character’s existence? I think not. I downed the Lich King with a horrible raid composition and a leader screaming on vent because people kept randomly coming into our channel. I have been *there* and *back*. Do NOT screw with me.