N.B.: Let me say right up front that although the guidelines below apply in all cases, I am only okay with boosting when it’s for a legitimate purpose and does not add to the idiot-pool stagnating in the LFG. Far too many of the whining, selfish, greedy, lazy, no-idea-how-to-play-this-game people that keep finding their way into my PuGs have been boosted through the game.

Please boost responsibly, and remember: only you can prevent fail!PuGs.

Ah, boosting. Never has a practice been more reviled and, simultaneously, partaken of than boosting. Most of us have done it at some point – especially those of us with multiple 80s. Either boosted or been boosted.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. You’re working on your third druid – one for each spec, you think – and you’ve hit that awkward stretch between 35 and 50. The game’s been coasting along ‘till now, boring and stale, maybe, but quick enough, and with enough questing options to keep you from going completely insane with the monotony of playing through vanilla-WoW for the 673rd time in the last five years. But now, where do you go? You sort of burned through Hillsbrad, thanks to your schmancy OP heirlooms. Not quite high enough for Tanaris yet. Maybe you really hate STV and are reluctant to do anything for Nesingwary for fear of eventual reprisal from D.H.E.T.A..

Sure you could LFG through the instances around this level, but, really, who’s got forty-two consecutive hours to sink into Mauradon? And even though you know you’re really only in it for XP – not like you can take those heirlooms off! – the thought of running ZF only to get absolutely no gear off half the bosses is just wrong.

You think to yourself, why did I ever begrudge Northrend its twenty-minute instances and its super easy Watch-The-NPCs-Be-Cool questlines? The land where epics fall like rain, and XP and G flows like wine.

I could be doing Hodir dailies, you tell yourself.

I could be grinding emblems.

I could be doing any of a thousand things that I completely lost interest in which is why I decided to make an alt anyway, only now that seems kind of foolish of me.

And then, like a beam of light from above, you see it. There in the guild chat. One of the over-geared, uber raiders in your guild announces that he is bored. This is it. This is your opportunity. This guy could wipe Zul Farak in fifteen minutes. He could pull the whole damn instance in one glorious, graphics-card-killing go.

He could boost you like you’ve never been boosted before.

And it’s not like you haven’t already played the game a gazillion times. And it’s not like you don’t know your class – it’s your third druid, remember? And it’s not like either of you have anything better to do.

So you do it.

[Guild]: [Thisisanalt] says: wanna come run me through ZF a fropopapillion times?
[Guild]: [Ubraidr] says: k

And as easy as that, it’s done. Next thing you know you’re dinging faster than a winning slot machine, spitting out its payload.

Alternatively, you might have been happily ensconced at 80, doing the awesomely euphemistic Hodir dailies, when the following conversation happened:

[Guild]: [Ubraidr] says: man, we really need a healer for our raid groups. PuGging is bullshit.
[Guild]: [Thisismymain]: well…I could roll a pally if you help get me to 80…

It’s not something to be ashamed of – provided you’re not hindering your own chances of learning your class and how to be a productive member of the community, and both the booster and the boostee are on board and willing. But there are some things to keep in mind, in both cases, as you do so.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not as simple as pulling the whole instance in one go.

The Request

Do

Lowbie

If you are the one requesting the boosting, make sure your request is polite, low-pressure, and specifically at the other person’s convenience. You are asking for a favour, and that’s something you need to keep in mind.

Accept a negative response – be it an open shut-down or a simple ignoring of the request – with grace. Nobody owes you anything, and nobody is required to boost you. Understand this inherently before you make a request.

If the offer is made to you, accept or reject it with equal parts appreciation and politeness.

Be ready to go when the booster is.

Highbie

If you are the one offering the boost, understand that not everyone wants to be boosted. Some people like questing and grinding and doing Nesingwary quests forever (D.H.E.T.A. be damned). You may not understand it, but you have to respect it. A rejection of your offer is not a statement of your value or worth as a human being. In the same way that you are not required to boost anyone, there is no requirement for a lowbie to accept a boosting when offered.

If a request is made and you accept, be clear on any conditions or timing for doing so. Indicate when you’ll be willing to help and for how long. As the lowbie made the request, you are welcome to indulge it at your convenience, but to a reasonable extent. The lowbie has their own schedule to work around as well.

Don’t

Lowbie

Arrogance and/or whining will offend and alienate the very people you are hoping will help you level – do not indulge in these, or include them in your request.

Do not expect others to drop whatever they’re doing to help you on your schedule, at your convenience. You are asking them for a favour, not the other way around.

Do not throw a temper tantrum, apply guilt trips, or act sulky and petulant if your request is refused.

Do not enlist help, have the booster get all the way to ZF, and spend the next hour running around to pick up the quests, repair your gear, and clear your bags.

Highbie

If the request is put to you, do not drip arrogance when you accept it. The unfortunate fact of the matter, my dear, is that any high level character, regardless of gear, could faceroll these instances. Level 60s used to do it. There’s very little skill or epeen involved. You’re doing a favour for a friend and that should be the extent of it. You are not a special snowflake.

Do not forget that your lowbie owes you nothing except a roughly equivalent favour in the future (probably in the form of reciprocal boosting). Certainly not their life, their levels, or their first-born child. Do not expect anything more.

Do not expect that just because you’ve offered – of the goodness of your own heart – to run a lowbie through multiple instances to boost them, that they are required to accept your generous offer, or that they are required to get down on their hands and knees and worship you for the duration of the boosting. More likely they are going to spend the entire time between looting alt-tabbed and reading warcraft blogs, or plucking their eyebrows while you kill everything in sight. A certain degree of appreciation for your time and efforts can be expected, and you are welcome to feel offended and put out if you sense they are being ungrateful – but anything beyond that is gravy, and should be regarded as such.

The Pull(s?)

Do

Lowbie

Be very clear right off the bat whether you wish to participate in your own boosting or not. Perhaps you are looking for a safe way to figure out your abilities or level your weapon skill or something else that involves you being in the thick of things. If so, your highbie needs to know this, and know this early. It changes the way the pulls can happen without dramatically increasing your risk of death.

Heal your highbie if necessary, when it is safe to do so. If it is not safe to do so, let your highbie handle it. You being dead defeats the entire purpose of this escapade.

Let your highbie know immediately if (s)he is too far from you and you are not receiving XP.

Listen to any instructions your highbie may give you (“stand here”, “follow me”, “don’t touch anything”).

Highbie

Pay attention to and respect your lowbie’s desires for the run. If they wish to participate, keep that in mind when you pull. Know that they will be in combat and account for it. If you want to be really nice, know whether they want to actually feel like they’re helping and slow your own DPS accordingly (as much as possible).

Pull Responsibly Part 1: If you die, your lowbie gets swarmed by everything you were wailing on, and they are not level 80 and wearing T9. If you’re lucky they’re level 40 and they’re wearing the Scorpashi “set”. Be sure you can handle what you pull.

Pull Responsibly Part 2: If your lowbie dies, they get no XP from anything you kill from that point forward, rendering the effort null and void. Be sure you can maintain threat on everything you pull (including ranged mobs that may not stand helpfully in your consecrate or blizzard).

Pull Responsibly Part 3: Ensure that your lowbie is within range of everything you’re killing, otherwise refer to negative effects of “Pull Responsibly Part 2” above, and add the fact that they won’t even get the gear.

Be clear on your expectations for your lowbie. If you expect them to heal, tell them so. If you expect them to follow or to sit tight, tell them so.

Don’t

Lowbie

If you have no expectations regarding participation, or in fact, no interest in participating at all, don’t help. Stand way at the back – preferably so far you do not even enter combat – and do absolutely nothing. Don’t drink a potion. Don’t heal. Don’t throw out a moonfire because you can. If your highbie has missed even a single caster at the back, they will instantly aggro on you and you will die. Horribly.

Don’t run in, pull, or aggro through your own idiocy and expect your highbie to save you. The mere proximity of a level 80 to your own low-level self does not bestow invulnerability upon you or weakness upon your foes, and you die faster than you think.

Don’t follow your highbie if they tell you stay put. Don’t stay put if they tell you to follow.

Highbie

Don’t wear thorns or similar, non-passive retributive damage buffs. If a mob dies because it wailed on you and your thorns killed it, your lowbie gets no XP and no gear. Non-activated abilities such as the warrior’s passive damage shield don’t have the same affect. You may need to experiment to see which of your retributive damage shields do and don’t count.

Rebirth does not make up for getting your lowbie killed.

Don’t forget about pats. They might not be able to kill you, but they can kill your lowbie!

Don’t assume a level 40 healer can actually do anything about your health bar if you are taking significant damage (usually due to an overly large pull). They’re healing for 400 a pop. You really think that’s going to make a difference in your 40K pool?

Never assume your lowbie is right behind you. Never assume your lowbie is where you left them. The mini-map is your friend.

Don’t miss side-mobs or patrols if you’re doing a running pull. They’ll see your lowbie miles before they see you.

Don’t pull the entire instance just to see if you can unless your lowbie indicates they are okay with this plan and the possible negative consequences.

Don’t pull so many mobs in one go that your lowbie will be unable to loot them all before the bodies despawn, taking their loot with them.

In General (a.k.a., stuff I could have said up front instead of rambling on for pages)

Do

Both

Keep in mind that boosting through an instance is no different than running it legit – in both cases you have to be aware of what each member is willing and able to contribute and handle and not exceed those limits. Effective strategies are required to ensure no party members die (though the strategies may differ wildly from the usual).

Be aware of the potential negative consequences of boosting – if you’re the lowbie, your level may eventually exceed your ability to play; it’s very difficult to learn your class when being boosted. Your gear, owing to the fact that generally boosting involves a single instance in a given level range, may actually fall far behind what it would be had you quested/ran the instances legit (causing horrible things to happen to you when you hit the next map/expansion). If you’re the highbie, you cannot escape repair bills. Your epic awesomeness won’t be so shiny after the entirety of the Scarlet Armory wails on you for a minute or so. And if you pull too much and die? Ouch.

Appreciate the favour being done in both cases (which, in effect, amounts to relief from boredom whether you’re a lowbie or a highbie).

Don’t

Both

Don’t take credit for shit you didn’t do. Lowbie, you didn’t actually “win” vanilla-wow if someone boosted you the whole way through it. Highbie, you are not solely responsible for your lowbie’s character.

Don’t take each other for granted – the highbie doesn’t have to help, and the lowibe doesn’t have to worship.

Don’t play like douches just because one of you is 50 levels above the content.

In the end it comes down to making sure each side is clear on what the other wants, and is okay with it. As long as everyone’s happy, or at the very least okay with the potential negative consequences, we’re good.*

Boost away.

layteknight notes: “Sounds like sexual experimentation.”