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Drama Mamas: Friends like these

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

This week's letter tells the story of friends in the physical world who aren't playing nice in WoW.
Hello Lisa and Robin,

I have two friends that I play WoW with. I'll call them Bill and Bob. Bill is kind of a rough-around-the-edges type in real life, and in WoW he typically makes abrasive comments in groups, needs on items for all his specs without any consideration for the rest of the group, and a bunch of other behaviors that I'd normally look down upon in a pug. I've had a few times where I've butted heads with him over this and other issues in both WoW and real life, and while he's gotten better about not treating me as badly, he hasn't learned to play nice with others quite as much, and I don't think he ever will, despite my repeated insistence that his behavior is not productive.
Bob is an older friend of Bill's that I met through WoW and have subsequently developed a real life friendship with. He is much nicer than Bill, but is a bit of a slow learner. He often makes very obvious mistakes (standing in fire, gearing incorrectly, spamming AoE on three mobs, etc), but doesn't quite seem to ever improve much despite repeated attempts by me to correct his mistakes. While Bob is much more friendly than Bill, he can sometimes get defensive when people call him out on his mistakes, especially with Bill around.

Both Bill and Bob are below average in whatever role they're performing (typically DPS, occasionally healing or tanking), and by their own admission they both appreciate me "carrying" them through the content (I'm almost always either the tank or the healer). The problem, if it wasn't obvious by now, is that this is quite stressful for me. I would normally just avoid grouping with them, but WoW is one of the few games we all can play together (the only other game besides WoW we have to play with the three of us is Rock Band), and we don't have very many activities to do together besides videogames and the very rare night out. They're also on my Real ID, so there's not really any way of escaping them.

I like the new content that 4.3 has brought, but Bill and Bob are making it very difficult to enjoy said content, to the point where I'm almost considering taking a break against my will. Any advice would be appreciated.

-- Trapped by Friendship
LisaDrama Mama Lisa: Trapped, it's time to strike out on your own a bit -- and strangely enough, this is going to involve turning to your friends rather than away from them. It's time to enlist them in the excitement of taking your character to a new level.

Your strategy here is to network your way into another level of gaming. Press all your Dungeon Finder and Raid Finder contacts into service. If you already belong to a guild, move into position for deeper raiding involvement. If you don't belong to a guild, start those apps rolling! Then (and only then), once you have some momentum, it's time to unleash the enthusiasm on Bill and Bob. Confide in them the excitement of the new opportunities that are landing in your lap -- and be sure to point out amid your whispers that you're trying to figure out what nights are best to reserve for grouping with them.

In all likelihood, Bill and Bob will want you to help them ascend to the same level. Be noncommittal. Make it clear that you have no inside pull in your new situation and that they'll have to make any applications under their own steam and on their own skill and merits.

In the meantime, tread carefully but clearly with any new guild contacts. It's not necessary to denigrate the skill of your friends or warn potential guild or raid leaders away, but you should make it clear early on that you're currently playing with a few casual friends and you're specifically seeking to take your gameplay to a higher level. You can let them know the score without putting down your buddies; most savvy GMs will catch on to the implications.

The key in all of this is honesty. If you stay open and above-board with all of this, you can explore new horizons without dumping or alienating your buddies. Sure, things will be different ... But that's what you're hoping for, right?

Best of luck on your new gaming path!

RobinDrama Mama Robin: Lisa is exactly right about this. To be clear, you are going to put your priority on raiding or dungeoning without your friends. But you will still be playing with them on off nights.

I think it's important that you find a WoW activity with them that does not involve anyone else in your group. As long as they believe you will just carry them through group activities without their having to adjust their behaviors, they honestly don't belong there. You are not the only person having a bad time with them in dungeons. Is it really fair to keep inflicting these two on strangers?

I recommend Battlegrounds. They are a lot of fun, with the right attitude, and don't require a precise knowledge of how to maximize your class. Also, etiquette is pretty lax in Battlegrounds. In fact, there are a lot of Bills there.

If none of you enjoy PvP, you might try a trio of leveling characters. Or you could grind up some reputation/exploration/quest achievements together.You could also run through older content to try to get rare drops like the Baron's ride. There is so much to do in Azeroth that doesn't require more than the three of you, and it's time for you to explore it.

I also suspect that they aren't actually all that into dungeons. Their lackadaisical attitude toward their characters and irritation with other people leads me to believe that it isn't their kind of fun. I bet they will be very open to not having run current content with you. If they aren't, however, it's time for you to have a serious talk about them sucking your fun. Maybe they don't realize that while they lack class and people skills, they are among the buzzkill elite. Tell them that allowing you to play non-dungeon content with them (but still pursuing it with others) is the only way for them to stop harshing your mellow. If they truly are friends, they'll understand that.

Good luck and tell us how things turn out.

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at robin@wowinsider.com. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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