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Filed under: Instances

What effect does the Dungeon Finder have on smaller servers?

For a few days now, I've been mulling over a point raised by Spinksville in a blog post concerning the Dungeon Finder's impact on smaller servers. It was her contention that, although the Dungeon Finder makes getting 5-man runs faster and easier for people on underpopulated realms, the new tool was contributing (or likely to contribute) to the depopulation of realms without a lot of options for raiding. It's never been easier to gear up a character, she observed, and someone with a geared character is increasingly likely to want that toon raiding. However, smaller servers rarely field the array and depth of PuG raiding opportunities offered by larger realms. Her conclusion? "Being on a smaller server has never been less attractive for a casual player."

While I go back and forth on that point -- lots of people will just gear a toon for its own sake without necessarily planning to raid on it -- I don't think she's entirely wrong, and I also think the larger point concerning the Dungeon Finder's potential impact on server communities is probably accurate.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Instances

Reminder: The Crimson Halls open tomorrow

As you heard earlier today, tomorrow morning we're being hit with a maintenance period from 3:00 AM PST until 11:00 AM PST. While we're not expecting a patch tomorrow morning (that's next week), tomorrow's maintenance does herald the opening of another wing of Icecrown Citadel, the Crimson Halls, assuming all goes as planned.

The Crimson Halls highlights the San'layn, the undead blood elven lieutenants of the Lich King. We'll be facing off against the Blood Princes Valanar, Keleseth and Taldaram as one cohesive unit as the first 'boss' before facing down the Blood Queen Lana'thel. Knowledge of these encounters is currently extremely limited, but you can check out our impressions of the Blood Queen encounter as it was on the PTR.

The opening of a new wing also means we'll be getting 5 more attempts at the major bosses in the zone (Deathbringer Saurfang, Professor Putricide, and the Blood Queen) which brings us to a total of 15.

Filed under: Instances, Raiding, Bosses, Wrath of the Lich King

Raid/PuG habits should be kept separate

I want my frost badges. At this point, I'm working on completing my T10 set (so close) and waiting for the gates to come down in ICC is so slow and maddening, I basically run the daily random every single day on my three dedicated Alliance side 80's (my Horde toons are again in a neglect cycle, my tauren cries at night when no one can hear) for primordial saronite and of course, that annoying Tier. Then of course the non-set gear that has crazy high armor on it to switch in for specific fights. And of course after that there's DPS gear for offset. So basically, I need a lot of emblems and ICC just doesn't provide enough running it on 10 and 25 weekly. Imagine me as a bitter old man sidling up to the emblem bar and yelling "Hit me!" at this point.

Last night I and a couple of guildmates signed up for a frost run and we ended up with two DPS and popped into Azjol-Nerub. I'd got myself a new fist weapon on my shammy and wanted to punch things in the face. Half way through the run, the healer sent me a tell asking me to inspect the DPS warrior we'd picked up. And yes, he was DPSing in Prot, with all of his talent points in the protection tree, in a mix of tanking and PvP gear. Yes, his DPS was low (I believe the proper phrase would be 'ridiculously low') and yes, he ran and pulled Hadronox instead of letting the person signed up to tank do it, and brought all the adds over as well. I was all set to blow a gasket at him, when I realized that this was a PuG. I'd never see the guy again. I was putting out enough DPS to cover for him, as was the hunter in the group. We burned down Hadronox, I briefly explained to the guy what the adds did, he apologized as this was all still very new to him and it was his first 80.

This led to a brief discussion while we were heading down to kill Anub'arak.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Raiding, Leveling, Wrath of the Lich King

Scattered Shots: Hunting heroics and PUGs

Welcome to Scattered Shots, written by Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast. Each week Frostheim uses logic and science mixed with a few mugs of Dwarven Stout to look deep into the Hunter class.

We all know how painful PUGs can be. The DPSer doing less damage than you could do naked; the retadins and mages that open up immediately and pull aggro on everything; the tanks that still degroup the instant you land in Oculus or can't hold aggro on anything and ignore the mob eating the healer's face off; and of course the foolish healers that don't prioritize healing your pet above all else.

We talk a lot about optimizing our hunters for raids, and we're going to continue to do so. However a lot of hunters don't have raid access and are taking advantage of the new Dungeon Finder to run heroics until their feet are bloody and their gun barrels melt. So today we're going to take some time to talk about the facets of doing good heroic DPS, and about being a good heroic group member in general.

So join me after the cut as we take a look at how your shot rotations change in heroics, examine mana conservation, and generally discuss how to be a good group member.

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Filed under: Hunter, Instances, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

Arcane Brilliance: Mistakes mages make

Welcome to another edition of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that would like to say to warlocks: Look... even when we're alone, we outnumber you.

We belong to the best class in World of Warcraft. I know this because I have a checklist. Do you want to see it? Too bad, you're going to see it anyway:
You see? Mages meet every criteria on the checklist. The fact that I just made the checklist up is unimportant; the important thing to take away from this is that mages are, indisputably, the best class in this game.

But we aren't perfect.

We make mistakes. Five of them, to be precise.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Instances, Features, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Destroyer


The Care and Feeding of Warriors is WoW.com's weekly column for all things angry and clanky. Matthew Rossi writes it, when he's not busy being angry and clanky.

Dev Chat Update: While today's post is about fury, it's worth mentioning that in addition to nerfing Shield Block's contribution to Shield Slam, we will supposedly see a threat buff to the ability. Hopefully it's a scaling, and not a static, threat buff, something that adds X threat for every Y block value or something. They'd also supposedly like to add sustained damage to prot for PvE without PvP burstiness, which would be nice if it happened..

Lately I get plenty of tanking action in raids, to the point where I honestly don't want to do it in PuG's. When musing about it the other day I realized that I'm too used to hard modes and progression when tanking: I demand perfection of myself to such a degree that I get tense and stressed over the smallest error in execution. This is possibly admirable (when not taken too far) in a raid setting on a new boss where strategies are being tested and modified constantly and everything's on the razor's edge between being able to pass the checks inherent to the content.

It's not when you're PuGging Halls of Lightning for a couple of extra Emblems of Frost.

In fact, what can help you get past Rotface is downright madness causing when heading down to Loken. At this point, Loken holds no surprises, and neither does the trash. Being a tanking perfectionist just leads you to tend towards freaking the heck out over stupid crap bored people do, and that's turning the game from fun to a drag for yourself. (It probably does for them, too, but they can look out for themselves.) Lately, I've taken to running the random daily and any 10 mans I PuG on my own as DPS, just to get a break from my own self-imposed desire to try for flawless execution. (I'm not saying I ever accomplish that, by the way, just that I want to.)

And I have to say: fury got good again when I wasn't looking.

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Filed under: Warrior, Instances, Raiding, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors

Drama Mamas: Spoilsport speed demons

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.

What happens when the Dungeon Finder matches up a group of players with the right mix of roles but the wrong mix of goals? Who "wins" when veteran players want to speed-run a lower-level instance, while the new players want to savor every surprise and puzzle over every trick? Lisa and Robin are on different sides of the fence this week. No matter which philosophy rings true for you, it's something worth agreeing on with the rest of the group at the beginning of the run.

Dear Drama Mamas: Having played a mage for the last 18 months, I decided to level my first alt, a priest. I ran into unexpected drama problems running my priest in the entry level instances using the random Dungeon Finder. You've offered excellent commentary on issues arising in endgame instances. I am soliciting your insight on conflict unique to the low-end random instances.

In contrast to endgame instances, where gear issues arise, random entry-level instances are mixing highly experienced players with people who are new to World of Warcraft. The principal conflict that arises is the first group wants to get geared and leveled as quickly as possible. The new players are there to experience what the instance offers. The first wants to run the instance quickly, the second need time. Regards, Anonymous

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Instances, Features, Leveling, Drama Mamas

WoW, Casually: Instance leveling guide

Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player with limited playtime. Of course, you people with lots of playtime can read this too, but you may get annoyed by the fact that we are unashamed, even proud, of the fact that beating WoW isn't our highest priority. Take solace in the fact that your gear is better than ours, but if that doesn't work, remember that we outnumber you. Not that that's a threat, after all, we don't have time to do anything about it. But if WoW were a democracy, we'd win.

Before the Dungeon Finder Tool, leveling through instances just wasn't possible for those of us with limited playtime unless we had 4 friends with similar schedules and an appropriate selection of classes. But now, we can take advantage of the speedy XP, better gear and grouping practice.

More importantly, dungeons are fun. In order to research this guide, I dusted off a level 18 paladin I hadn't played for at least 2 years. I picked up skills that were new since the last time she trained, redid her talents and tested the Dungeon Finder waters. It was an absolute blast running through Deadmines with an appropriately leveled group. I've also had a great time leveling a priest in her 30s and a mage in her 60s using the Dungeon Finder. If you too want to try some instance leveling (and I bet most of you already have), here are some tips to make the most of it:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, How-tos, Instances, Leveling, Guides, WoW, Casually

WoW Rookie: Leveling a paladin tank

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.

Want to level your paladin as a tank? You got it! Before the Dungeon Finder tool was launched in December, finding level-appropriate instance groups was well nigh impossible. Occasional knots of newborn death knights might putter about in a favorite Burning Crusade instance to scoop up some gear. The rest of the pre-Northrend instances remained ghost towns, populated only by speed-running level 80s who were farming or running low-level buddies through some quick levels. But the Dungeon Finder has re-invigorated the instances of Azeroth, Outland and beyond. What does that mean for leveling players? If you love to play in groups and instances or if you're looking ahead to raiding and want to lay down your skill base now, you can.

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Filed under: Paladin, How-tos, Instances, Features, Leveling, Guides, WoW Rookie

Drop chance probability

Probability is a greatly misunderstood area of math that impacts most areas of WoW gameplay, but none so intensely debated as drop chances. You don't have to be a math expert to want to know how many times you need to kill a boss to have even odds of seeing that drop you're seeking. Unfortunately everyone seems to be saying something different about how probability works.

If you hope to get the rare Deathcharger's Reins mount from Baron Rivendare for example, we know that it has a 1% drop chance. That means that every time you kill the Black Baron you have a 1% chance of getting the mount. 1% on the first kill, and 1% on the 100th kill. However, over the course of 100 kills, you have a much higher probability of getting the mount. But not 100%. Never 100%.

Join me after the cut where we take a friendly and gentle look at understanding probability, and give you a cool tool to automatically calculate drop probabilities for you!

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Filed under: Items, Instances, Raiding

Breakfast Topic: The all-DPS Group

Oh, you know what I mean. There's five folks in your Dungeon Finder random group. One is signed up as a tank, one is signed up as a healer. Only, the 'tank' is in full DPS plate with nary a shield nor a ghoul in sight (nope, that there's a ret pally/arms warrior, sure enough) or the 'healer' is in full PvP gear and has Flametongue on his healing weapon. You all stand around, waiting for someone to equip gear that would allow them to tank the instance (preferably the tank) but he seems as content to wait it out as everyone else.

Often in these situations I'm unfortunate enough to have decided to DPS on a character that can tank, but luckily (or unluckily as the case may be) yesterday I was on my shaman and so could simply sit back and wait. It was mentioned to the 'tank' that, as the person who had signed up to tank the instance it might behoove him (or possibly her, hard to tell who's behind the keyboard) to slap on a shield and some tanking gear, but only the grim silence of the truly disinterested was our reply. Was he even at the keys? Hard to say. The wait extended to the point where we could safely kick him, and kick him we did. but that's ten minutes or so of my life I'll never get back. (And no, my shaman couldn't tank HHoR, I didn't even try).

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Instances, Wrath of the Lich King

Abilities I usually wish didn't exist in 5-mans

Most tanks are control freaks. As a matter of fact, you should hope that your tank is a control freak, because the ones who shrug off a mob running around loose are the ones you probably don't want tanking your run anyway. With that in mind, there are several player abilities that, while great for soloing or PvP, don't make the transition to a 5-man very well. Either they make life a real nuisance for your group members due to inherent design, or they tend to do so in the hands of a player who doesn't deploy them in a particularly helpful fashion.

Not all tanks will have the same degree of irritation with all of the following skills (for example, I play a druid, and because bears don't have a ranged silence, a knockback on a caster mob is much more likely to annoy me than, say, a death knight tank), but I promise you that they've all been mentioned by my tanking colleagues as abilities with a high chance of blowing a pull.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Instances

Lichborne: A death knight primer for tanking 5-man dungeons

Welcome to Lichborne, the weekly death knight column. This week, your host is in a bit of a tanking mood. Those Emblems of Frost don't earn themselves!
So when the Dungeon Finder came out, it was pretty cool even for DPS. A 10 minute wait for a DPS slot for a 5-man dungeon is pretty insanely awesome. If nothing else, it was certainly faster than the old way of sitting in Dalaran for 2 hours picking your nose and watching the LFG channel.

Now that the dungeon finder has been around for a while though, things are getting a bit stickier for DPS. My server averages around 15-20 minutes for a level 80, and I've heard some battlegroups are up to 30-45 minutes, even at prime time. To make matters worse, tanks and healers can continue to boast instant or near-instant queues almost everywhere, leaving the poor DPS green with envy.

Now technically, this is how it's almost always worked. Tanks and Healers get groups pretty quick, DPS has to wait around. And all told, the dungeon finder system is still pretty cool, and you still get a group faster than the old way. That said, now that we've had a taste of true power, I'm sure we're all loathe to lose it. Luckily, death knights have an out: We can go tank.

Whether you're a DPS DK considering going tank for shorter queue times, or a 5-man DK tank newbie looking to up their game, this column's for you.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Instances, Guides, Talents, Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Upcoming Adjustments announced for Old Kingdom, Nexus, Culling of Stratholme

Zarhym popped into one of the many official forum topics complaining about the seemingly inordinate amount of times Old Kingdom pops on the Dungeon Finder to offer some welcome news for exhausted dungeon runners: Old Kingdom and Nexus alike will be receiving some adjustments meant to bring the dungeons in line with other Wrath heroics.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Instances, Bosses

Blood Pact: Leveling a warlock, 40 to 60

Blood Pact is your weekly warlock digest brought to you by Dominic Hobbs. "Closer! Come closer... and burn!" ~ Keli'dan the Breaker

Once again Blood Pact turns its gaze towards those up-and-coming warlocks; those who are learning the craft, battling foes to hone their skills and sharpen their minds. I've said before that leveling a warlock is great fun and part of this is due to the diverse ways in which you can go about it. By the time you start getting a decent pile of talent points to spend you can shape your lock in many and varied forms. There's the unstoppable train of death that is the affliction lock, cursing and corrupting all around it as it passes smoothly through the world. The demonologist, pouring their power into their minion and pushing them into the fore while sitting back and calmly picking off their foes. And of course, the destruction warlock, blazing a trail of raw power in an explosive display of mental prowess over physical frailty.

Let's see how these locks in training are getting on.

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Filed under: Warlock, How-tos, Guilds, Instances, Leveling, Guides, Classes, (Warlock) Blood Pact

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