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Udonn Thanii
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PostSubject: Grouping Guide   Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:24 pm

The path to getting good groups is to be a good grouper; it’s as simple as that. If you’re new to a game and just getting to know the community, the one sure way to win friends and influence people is to prove yourself a class act while grouping, and know your place in the group so you can play your part effectively.


On Being a Class Act
When it comes to being a good grouper, Sigil’s Nick “Glip the Gnome” Parkinson probably said it best in his rules for behavior on the official Vanguard forum: “Don’t be a dink.” Can it really be that simple? Yeah, it can be. Even if you make mistakes and perhaps aren’t the strongest player in the group, your group members are going to cut you some slack if you’ve scored points in the Nice Person department. I’ve played with many a player who wasn’t technically the most skilled, but whose attitude, generosity and sense of humor made me want to group with him or her again.

When it comes to being cool, you might argue that some people have it and some people don’t. But I actually believe coolness can be cultivated to some degree. There are some traits that make some players cooler than others and although in most cases these traits are probably innate, you may be able to earn yourself a +10 Badge of Coolness if you work the following skills:

Patience

No one’s happy with a groupmate who’s constantly pushing the rest of the group to go for the best and fastest experience--if you’re looking for fast exp, make sure you state that up front so that you end up in a compatible group. You also probably won’t win anyone over if you can’t handle the delays that are sometimes inherently involved with assembling a group and getting everyone to the same place at the same time. If there’s a wait, you might consider using that time to chat with the people in your group, not to grumble about what’s taking so long.

Humor

If you’re fun to be around, then people are going to want to be around you. Makes sense, doesn’t it? If you have the gift of funny, and you can ply it without doing so at anyone else’s expense, then put your talent to good use. You’ll be remembered for it.

Generosity

No one’s going to want to group with you if you’re a loot hog. Let’s say you’ve just scored the Uber Sword of Righteousness on a roll. Your class can’t use it, but the sword sells for decent money. Still, the sword is a significant upgrade for the pally in your group, who just so happens to be a nice guy. By winning the roll, you’ve earned the right to keep that loot for yourself, it’s true...but if you consider selling it to the pally for a reduced cost, or even giving it to him, your act of generosity will likely be returned to you in kind when something that you can use comes along. I’m not asking you to give until it hurts--there’s no reason to give a nice item to a real asshat if you happened to win the roll for it--but if someone you’re grouped with seems deserving, it’s certainly one way to score points. By the same token, if you work hard to be a deserving person (see my comments about patience and a sense of humor), you’re more likely to be on the receiving end of loot that you need, even if someone else won the roll.


On Knowing Your Role
The best players in any group know the capabilities of their class and what it was designed to do. If you know your place in a group and you’re able to play your class effectively, you’re much more likely to make friends who’ll want to group with you again. That doesn’t mean you have to show off or draw attention to yourself. Show offs tend to attract criticism rather than positive attention. If you think you’re all that, it’s simple human nature for other people, particularly the competitive types that most gamers are, to want to prove you wrong. Play your part with style and humility and you’re much more likely to find yourself getting repeat invites.

By the same token, it helps to know what other classes can do, too. Here’s an example from my EverQuest days. I was a druid, and as a druid I had a decent hitpoint buff. However, the cleric’s buff offered a player even more hitpoints than mine. My buff, on the other hand, offered the benefit of some mana regeneration. When there was a cleric in my group, it usually made sense to have the cleric buff the melee classes, but I always offered my druid buff to the caster classes that would benefit from the additional mana, and they appreciated it. They didn’t always realize that my buff blessed them with a bit of mana regen, so I took a little time to educate them.

The best advice I can give with regard to knowing your role is to make certain that you play your class to its fullest, yet don’t try to be a hotshot. If you’re a pure caster, don’t try to prove to everyone that you can melee, too. If you’re a tank, don’t make a point of showing everybody how well you can take the hits by pulling more mobs than you can handle. When you’re doing your job well you won’t be calling much attention to yourself at all. Sure, there’s always the big critical hit that makes you look like a superstar, or the powerful AoE that saves your group’s bacon when they’re in over their heads, but there’s no need for you to create those moments...they’ll find you eventually. In general, people tend to pay more attention to you when you’re not doing your job than when you’re doing it well, and you’ll just have to learn to accept that fact. The best players don’t necessarily get all the accolades...but they do get repeat invites!

I played a both a cleric and a ranger for a while in Dungeons & Dragons Online. While I was a bit of a showoff with my ranger and tended to obsessively check my kills and measure them against everyone else’s (I was a killing machine!), I tended to play my cleric with far more subtlety. I would do my best to keep my groupmates buffed, protected, and alive. There was nothing all that flamboyant about my job as a cleric--nothing like my racking up the kills with my ranger--and yet it was for my cleric that I received compliments. I remember one conversation in a group after a particularly long and arduous quest.

“Thanks for the heals,” said one of my groupmates.

“Just doing my job,” I replied.

“Well, you do it excellently,” he answered. The rest of the group chimed in to say that they’d appreciated having me in the group. I can tell you that no one ever commented on my ranger’s kill count...except maybe me.

A good group is its own reward--you’ll gain experience, earn goodies, and have a fun time. It honestly doesn’t get any better than ending the night after a great grouping experience and having your groupmates tell you that they’d like to add you to their friends list and hang out with you again. If you’re getting those kinds of invitations, you’re doing something right. Keep it up!
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