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WoW Rookie: The inner workings of instances


New around here? WoW Rookie points WoW's newest players to the resources they need to get acclimated. Send us a note to suggest a WoW Rookie topic.

Maraudon or Blackrock Depths, anybody? Instances are your opportunity to meet and work as a team with other players in the World of Warcraft. You'll combat pack after pack of minions and defeat unique, memorable bosses on your way to some of the most enjoyable play in the game. Instances, also often known as dungeons, offer your group (and later, your raid) your own personal copy of a dungeon. No players other than your own group members are able to enter an instance with you. Instances provide some of the most rewarding and well designed content, challenges and loot possible for your character.

The teamwork and cooperative effort required to down the elite mobs and tricky bosses within an instance require a new level of teamwork from your rookie character. We've touched on the basics of finding your niche within a group. Today, let's cover the mechanics of managing instances – becoming "saved" to an instance, resetting them, understanding respawn and more. (One note: this week, we'll discuss five-man instances designed for single groups along the path to level 80, not raid instances requiring 10 or more players to complete. We'll introduce raid instance concepts for fresh level 80 players next week.)

The spawning pool Understanding how and when mobs spawn, or are generated and appear in the game world, helps you control your risk vs. reward within a given instance. If mobs are available, there's loot waiting to be had; if they're not, though, you've wasted a lot of time and effort getting a group together.

Most (but not all) instance trash mobs are on a two-hour respawn timer. Instance bosses do not have a respawn timer at all. They only return on instance reset.

There are two ways to reset an instance:
  • A soft reset happens when all group members leave the instance, dropping out of combat and forcing the mobs to drop aggro and run back to their original places. When the players re-enter, mobs that were dead will still be dead, but everyone will be safely out of combat. This allows a fresh start if things were going a bit awry.
  • Another type of soft reset occurs when all the party members leave the instance for at least 30 minutes, forcing any trash mobs that have been killed to respawn. This tactic can solve a situation in which a boss becomes bugged during the encounter, and the players would like to attempt to "reset" him and try again.
  • A hard reset occurs when all group members leave the instance and the group leader physically resets the entire instance. By right-clicking his own character portrait and selecting Reset Instance, the leader can restart the entire instance and respawn every mob inside it. This is a good choice if you'd like to repeat part (or the entire) dungeon again immediately. You cannot reset an instance more than five times per hour, in order to prevent players from farming the content.
Becoming heroic Running instances in heroic mode becomes an option in Burning Crusade content and beyond. Heroic mode is much more difficult than the normal version of an instance, but heroics award significantly better loot. Your group leader should set your group's difficulty to heroic before anyone enters the instance (another right-click option from his character portrait).

Because heroics offer such high-quality loot, heroics are on a special lockout timer and can only be run once a day per character. Heroics cannot be hard reset by group leaders. The timers are reset automatically every day at 11 a.m. server time on U.S. servers and 8 a.m. server time on European servers. If you are inside a heroic instance when it resets, you'll be teleported to the nearest graveyard.

Instance timers Instance timers (often called raid timers, since they're used more often for raid content) prevent players from farming high-end or heroic instances (and raids) over and over to repeatedly get multiple loot drops in a short period of time. If you re-enter a timer-limited instance, you'll find you're in the original instance where you've already killed things. Bosses stay dead until the instance timer resets. This also means that you have a finite amount of time to kill everything in a given instance before it resets and all the mobs respawn. Bear this in mind if you are revisiting an instance with different raid members, as they might not always be "saved to" the same instance as you.

Your Raid ID is a number that identifies which instance you are saved to. If you enter an instance that could provide you with a raid ID, you will receive a confirmation box that allows you to accept that ID or leave the instance. Type /raidinfo to see your raid ID and compare it with other players in your group.

Armory instance calendar According to Blizzard's page on instancing, instance timers for raids and some regular group instance reset times can be viewed in the Armory's Player Calendar feature, which replicates the in-game calendar feature. "Every player can access their calendar from the Armory via the Calendar tab on character profiles. You can browse your calendar in the same way that you can in game. In addition, you can respond to events through the Armory's calendar interface, which will then become effective in-game. To view recurring events such as raid reset times, select the event type from the drop-down menu on the calendar page."

WoW Rookie feeds you the basics to get you off to a good start in the World of Warcraft, from game lingo through joining your first guild and even what to do when you finally hit level 80.

Filed under: Tips, Instances, Features, WoW Rookie

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