So. The new Dungeon Finder tool. It’s actually not bad at all, is it? As a consequence of getting extremely drunk yesterday afternoon (Christmas drinks in the Chief Petty Officers’ Mess) I was in no fit state to raid last night and after a few hours rack time and several gallons of coffee I decided to give the Dungeon Finder another go.
There are actually a couple of instances I’d always wanted to clear on various alts but couldn’t ever get a group interested in doing them, mainly because they were the Oculus. Both Galadan and Sithica needed the Oculus for the Northrend Dungeonmaster, Dungeon Hero and Champion of the Frozen Wastes achievement/title. Yes, it was easier to get a raid to kill Malygos than it was to get a group together for a 5 man instance. Life sucks. So, bearing in mind the fifteen minute wait it took me to get my 3000 spellpower 900 haste Mage into a group for anything on patch day, I logged onto Sithica the Deathtard and queued myself for Oculus as tank/dps.
Approximately fifteen seconds later, my group is ready to go and I’m tanking. Okay, this is significantly better than queuing as dps I’ll grant you that, but that’s pretty much always been the case with tanks. Now I was peripherally aware, in an abstract “heard it on a forum somewhere” kind of way, that the Oculus has been nerfed since I was a fresh level 80 mage. But I don’t think I was aware of just how serious a beating with the nerfbat it had suffered until I said “I’ll kite Mage-Lord Urom in this direction” and the dps had nuked him down to a wet stain on the deck before he even had a chance to do his first teleport. Mage Lord Urom got buttsexed. Without the benefit of lubricant. Less than five minutes later Sithica has her spanky new Champion of the Frozen Wastes title and a slightly bewildered feeling that there should have been slightly more of a challenge involved. Let’s try this new-fangled Dungeon Finder again, this time for a random Northrend Heroic.
Half a second later I’m being invited to confirm that I’m happy to tank Halls of Lightning. Half a second! Twenty minutes later I’m the slightly bewildered owner of another rack of Badges of Triumph and half a bag full of assorted enchanting materials.
Time to step this up a notch. Let’s see what happens with a healing-capable character. Step forward Askara, spacegoat shaman extraordinaire. I’ll just queue myself as dps or healer, but we all know what that means, so I’ll make sure I’m in Tier 9 Resto gear and spec and… they want me to dps???
Somewhere there are four dps and a tank wondering where all the healers are. Answer: In my group!
So this group is led by some Bear tank or other with 45k health unbuffed who proceeds to grab the first trash pack in Halls of Stone, kite them to the second trash pack, kite them to the third trash pack and bounce on the spot spamming Bearwind while we scramble after him and start hitting stuff at random. I know he had 45k health unbuffed because he didn’t even wait to be buffed. Maiden of Grief is down in 28 seconds. The entire instance is cleared in 15 minutes. “Champion of the Frozen Wastes“, “Winds of the North” and “The Kirin Tor” pop up out of nowhere for Askara, too.
Throughout all of it, it suddenly strikes me what’s wierd about this whole procedure is that from start to finish, no-one has uttered a word in party chat. It’s actually quite eerie. Like you’re watching a video of a dungeon speed run with the sound down and off your face on Crack and Wild Turkey.
Next group is Culling of Stratholme, same format except this time I’m healing. A slightly more talkative Paladin tank at least, who wants to know if I consider myself a good healer due to some bad experiences he’d had with other healers that day. It’s a fair question given my woes healing Halls of Reflection the other day, but I’m glad that someone’s actually broken the silence for once. I reply by linking him Askara’s I’ve Gone And Made A Mess (10 man) achievement from Deathbringer Saurfang which restored some of my confidence and satisfied his curiousity and then off we go at the usual breakneck pace.
So what did I take away from all of this other than enough badges for my Tier 9 offspec chest? Well what this Dungeon Finder tool has actually done is three things.
1. People are actually doing “old” instances again. And by “old” I mean all the regular level 80 instances that aren’t Trial of the Champion. Blizzard painted themselves into a corner with patch 3.2. They introduced a 5 man that rendered every other 5 man in the game obsolete. you either hit 80, got some crafted gear and Argent Crusade rep items together and farmed Toc5 until you had the gear to do Toc5 Heroic, or you hit 80 and got your friends to twink you through Heroic. What you didn’t do was bother with any other instance unless you were some sort of achievement junkie or, you know, you wanted to play the game. What they’ve done in 3.3 is actually quite clever from a design standpoint. The random grouping reward and the Badges of Triumph dropping from 5 man bosses are the single fastest way to gear your character up. You won’t get boots, weapons, offhands, shields etc from doing old 5 mans (or you will but they’re going to suck in comparison to the rest of your gear) but that’s where the new 5 mans come in. With level 219 gear dropping in the normal versions and 232 gear dropping in the heroic version, with the incentive to farm them coming from the chance to loot an item that will grant you a level 251 weapon of your choice.
Except, no-one’s seeing the old instances. Not really. You can’t see anything that zips by that quickly. And you get teleported into them from where you queued, so you don’t even know where the old instances are. This is fine if you’re a junkie like me, gearing up your tenth level 80 after doing it all “properly” the first three times. New 80s on their first toon aren’t going to know where they are or what they’re doing. This is a shame, because… oh hey, look, purple pants!
Where was I? Oh yes, Point #2.
2. Dungeon runs are now nothing more than anonymous badge farm sessions. “But Calli!” you cry, “They always were!” Not so, gentle reader. They may have been badge farm sessions in the past, but that’s not all they were. They were exercises in social interaction too. In order to get people into your group to farm instances you had to actually talk to them. Through the wonders of technology you don’t even have to do that anymore. And what I’m noticing above anything else in these speed runs is that if people don’t have to expend energy on something as unproductive as speaking to each other, they won’t bother. Chances are, if anyone’s speaking they’re the guy who just dinged 80, don’t have a clue what they’re doing or where they are and want to, you know… interact.
3. People are far less forgiving of “noobs” than ever. Back in my day, when all this were nowt but pixels, well-geared tanks did heroics with 24k health buffed. No don’t laugh, this is historical fact. Actually, back in my day tanks did raids with 6k health, but don’t get me started. Now I have dps characters and healers with that much health and more. But these “old” dungeons that people are supposed to zoom through at warp factor 9 en route to the next Tier 9 badge upgrade are designed to be moderately challenging to people who tank with 24k health, heal with 1.5k spellpower and push out 2k dps on a good day with a following wind. You show up for one of these Dungeon Finder runs geared like that and you’re either with friends, you get /votekicked or half the group bails on you. I’m hearing some absolutely horrific stories about the treatment of noob 80s getting groups via this Tool.
Of course, there was really nothing else Blizzard could do without inventing a time machine that would allow them to go back and erase Patch 3.2 and the precedent that ToC Heroic set, and to be fair to them, I’m not sure I’d want them to. I’ve got one stupidly well-geared mage, eight very well geared to reasonably well geared assorted tanks/dps/healers and one noob huntard. Patch 3.3 is just a loot fest for me. I’ve got so many epics I have to shard lesser epics just to make space in my bags for the new epics I’m going to shard later. This patch had ME written all over it. No more do I have to sit around Dalaran wondering what to do when I’m not raiding. Go fishing for a bit in Sholozar? Finish off the Ogri’la reputation grind? Do some cooking dailies? Screw that. Hop into Dungeon Finder and amass more phat lewtz and then do Pit of Saron with my Quel’delar farm group.
Sure must suck to be new to the game, though.