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WoW Rookie: Gearing up with the LFG feature

New around here? WoW Rookie points WoW's newest players to the basics of a good start in the World of Warcraft. For links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's, visit WoW.com's WoW Rookie Guide.

Plotting your path from zero to hero? "Last night, I got my alt mage to level 80 (woop) and thought I'd set about doing some heroics to get those 'phat loots' and a have a bit of fun," writes reader Hedwinkle of EU Daggerspine. "However, I was disappointed to see that I couldn't queue up for any heroics using the new tool, as my gear level wasn't high enough. I mean, it's all blue gear from the later instances, so I guess I have two questions ...

"1. What is the gear level required to allow me to queue up for random heroics using the new tool?

"2. What is the best way for me to go about getting my gear level higher? People on my server have very little interest now in finding a group the 'old-fashioned' way."

As it turns out, Hedwinkle's not the only one who's been puzzling over the details of how the new Looking for Group tool matches and places group members. Luckily, blue poster Zarhym had some answers that should reassure all of WoW Rookie's fresh level 80s.

First, let's look at how the dungeon finder works (with information straight from Blizzard):
All dungeons possess a minimum and maximum level range. These ranges are displayed within the Dungeon Finder window just to the right of each dungeon's name. If your level is too high or low for a specific dungeon, it will not populate as an option when you switch to the "Specific Dungeons" option from the drop-down menu.

Some dungeons also require attunement to enter, often in the form of a key or quest, and many of the more difficult dungeons (like Wrath of the Lich King Heroics) possess a minimum gear requirement. If you meet the level requirements of a particular dungeon, but not the additional requirements, a lock icon will replace the check box next to the dungeon's name. To see which additional requirements were not met, simply hover over the lock icon; a window noting that "You may not queue for this dungeon" will appear and any missing requirement(s) will be listed below.

This icon will also appear for group leaders if a group member does not meet all dungeon requirements (level, gear, and attunement), and the list of missing requirements will also specify to which group member they apply.
It's important to note that the matching system does not work the same for raids. Blizzard presumes that raid leaders will assemble their raid groups using their own screening criteria.

Now, on to your questions.

What is the gear level required to allow me to queue up for random heroics using the new tool?

The debate over exact numbers associated with the dungeon finder system is just beginning to heat up. A determined search on the internet may uncover some educated guesses, but it's still conjecture at this point. It's fairly certain that there are different gear average thresholds for specific instances and levels of content, but the numbers have been neither revealed nor discovered. Nor do we know if certain item slots (trinkets, rings, etc.) are excluded from the averaging.

What we do know is this:
  • According to Zarhym, "There are circumstances however where, say, a player in dungeon or questing blues or greens will be unable to use the Dungeon Finder to queue for Heroic Trial of the Champion, Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron or Halls of Reflection."
  • Blizzard considers the dungeon finder tool (and the associated gear thresholds) "fairly forgiving." It probably won't take you long at all -- a day or two of regular level 80 instances -- to bring your gear up to par to begin doing Heroics.
  • Similar to the gear checks in Battlegrounds, the dungeon finder system will check all of the gear in your inventory.
What is the best way for me to go about getting my gear level higher? People on my server have very little interest now in finding a group the "old-fashioned" way.

Zarhym suggests that some of the tougher Heroic dungeons are best reserved for more "appropriately geared" players. If you're locked out of Heroics, that would indicate that gearing up in non-Heroics is in order. Zarhym recommends using the random instance option for the instances you can run or creating a pre-formed party on your realm without using the Dungeon Finder.

Unless you're playing at very odd hours, we think you should give the dungeon finder another shot. An informal survey of WoW.com friends on Twitter shows both EU and US players are having very good luck using the dungeon finder to get into regular, non-Heroic instances.
  • @jameswallis I misclicked the new LFG options and did two non-heroics before I realised. No shortage of non-HC random PUGs in EU, it seems.
  • @ryankinsler No the new LFG is helping me find non heroics. It totally changed the game for me. I enjoyed WOW before but now I LOVE it!
  • @Dlangar My son has run well over 20 or 30 5-man normal's in the last 3 days, all pugs, all through the LFG tool, almost none heroic. FTW.
  • @arras I've found a few regular runs on my recently 80 DK, maybe have to wait an extra minute or two
If you'd still like to enter one of the harder instances, however, it's certainly possible. Simply form your group on your own realm using the Looking For Group channel. (You'll need to manually port into the instance.) The LookingForGroup chat channel is not associated with the Dungeon Finder, so you may use it not only for instance groups but also for questing partners, Battleground teams and outdoor PvP raids. To join the LookingforGroup chat channel, simply type "/join LookingForGroup" (capitalization and spacing matter!). To leave this channel, type "/leave LookingForGroup."

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Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's. WoW Rookie walks you through all sort of new-player concerns, from game lingo for the beginner to joining your first guild as a mid-level player and on to what to do when you finally hit level 80.

Filed under: Tips, Instances, Features, WoW Rookie

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