While the Dungeon Finder is a good replacement for Looking for Group at 80, most 80s care very little which instance they run as long as they get some emblems and it's not Oculus. Prior to 3.3 my choice in heroic was largely dependent on whichever heroic happened to be the daily, though it was nice to at least know which heroic it would be. If I was tired of that particular instance I might not go. But even so, being able to do your "daily" heroic with friends who have otherwise already done their dailies is nice, so you can still get your two Emblems of Frost if you show up late for the heroic parade that evening.
But I've rarely had an issue getting heroic groups even when it came to pugging. Both my 80s can tank and one is specced for healing as well, so if I was so inclined as to find a group it wasn't hard.
What has been hard at times is finding instances for my leveling alts. Getting a group generally means playing on the weekend when a lot of people are on during the day or just being around for the perfect storm on a weekday night where for some reason there are three, maybe four, other people interested in that particular instance.
I was most interested in the Dungeon Finder for my alts. So when I logged on last night, I decided I'd put the system through its paces with one of them, someone who'd previously had trouble finding a group. Initially I thought I might use my baby resto druid, who should naturally gravitate towards leveling through instances, but then I thought I should really use a problem alt, someone who I'd logged on and off multiple times hoping to find that right mix of people online that I might actually be able to do an instance.
Maybe I should have picked my much neglected Alliance warlock, but instead I thought of my troll warrior. I had once complained that I never got to dps anything with her because I was always tanking. I remembered I had last been trying to get into an SM Armory run with her and I had logged on several times for a period of a few minutes each hoping to see something before she completely leveled out of the Scarlet Monestary range. At level 37, she was getting a bit long in the tooth (tusk?) for the SM instances. A little more questing and she'd level out entirely.
So I logged on to my warrior and looked through her quest log to confirm that I hadn't done SM Armory, and then discovered that I was missing the quest Into the Scarlet Monestary. Had I actually finished all the SM instances and just forgot? No, my achievements still listed Whitemane, Morgraine, and Herod as having not been killed. I'd have to redo SM Library.
I grabbed the quest from the new NPC in Undercity (apparently even if you haven't done the Wrathgate event you will still get the new NPC instead of Varimathras) and then queued up for both SM Lib and SM Armory. I noticed that I was only flagged as dps initially, and after thinking about it for a few seconds I left the Dungeon Finder and changed my settings to allow me go as either a tank or a dps. I was a little curious. Just how likely would it make me a tank if I gave it the option?
Probably less than 10 seconds later, I didn't even have a chance to leave the UC throne room, the queue popped for SM Library and I was given the role of tank. Big surprise.
Everyone teleported in almost immediately. I barely had time to even register what classes my party had before we were underway. Nobody said anything. No "Hi," "Hello," or even a "Gimme a minute to buff." I just looked around, saw everyone was present, shrugged, and then started pulling.
Coming back to my warrior after having not played her for months was a bit difficult. The party was not very cooperative either. It was not uncommon for dps to be on two, even three, different targets, and one time the hunter even attacked enemies from a different room, causing us to get another three adds while I was tanking a different group. But the healer was pretty good, and gradually how to tank as a warrior was coming back to me. No one even died, even though I felt more like a TBC-style warrior tank than a WotLK one.
Seriously, by the second half of the instance it was Thunder Clap to get initial threat on a pack of mobs. Then sunder my first target, tab, sunder my second target, tab, sunder my third target. I'd weave in a Revenge when I could. But if I didn't do that Thunder Clap wasn't enough to keep someone from pulling, and my Taunt was on cooldown often enough as it was.
At the end of the SM Library run someone just dropped group and disappeared. No good-bye, no thanks for the run. Just gone. It used to be if you dropped group like that you were be teleported out in so many seconds and your hearth would be on cooldown. Did that still happen? How else would I leave? So I dropped group as well, just to see what happened, and I found myself back on my mount in the UC throne room.
Okay, that was quick, though a bit creepy with nobody talking, but what I really wanted to do was run as dps, because I'd never done that on my warrior. Tanking has proven itself a fast way to get a group, but dps-ing was that itch I hadn't been able to scratch. I wanted to actually use Berserker Stance for once.
It was past 11:30pm server, and being on the west coast, that meant most of the player base had already gone to bed. But surely across an entire battlegroup there would be at least five people interested in doing SM Armory? This would be a good test.
I unchecked the tank option and listed myself as only dps for SM Armory. Once of the nice features with the new Dungeon Finder is that you can see the progress of your group filling up by clicking on the icon by the mini-map. I could see there was a healer and a dps (me). Estimated wait time was 6 minutes.
Okay, definitely longer as a leveling dps during late night.
Time passed, the healer disappeared, but there was another dps and then a tank, then the tank disappeared and we got a third dps. I don't know whether the people were getting filtered into different groups because they'd signed up for multiple instances or because they got tired and left, but it was at that point that the estimated wait time had disappeared entirely. Bad sign.
I decided I'd go fly to Tanaris to pick up a cooking recipe since this alt hadn't taken advantage of the mass Thanksgiving cooking bonanza (though I did on three other alts) and if I didn't get into an instance by then I'd log.
Of course, as I took the blimp from UC to Org I heard the instance pop-up sound while I was on the loading screen between continents. I hopped off the blimp in a hurry and joined the group.
I think I'd been in queue for about 10-15 minutes before the instance had launched. It felt long, but only because I'd been watching the party add and subtract itself so much in between running around and doing AH stuff. It wouldn't have been too bad of a wait if I'd also been actively questing at the time, which I would have been if I hadn't been using the opportunity mostly as a test. But this does mean that if you're leveling, and you're not looking for a popular instance or you're playing late at night, that you might still be in for a bit of a wait.
The SM Armory group was a bit more fail, the ret pally wasn't a very considerate tank and we wiped once, but otherwise wasn't too bad. I even managed to snag the ever popular [Herod's Shoulder], which was a source of some rejoicing (this alt's on a server without an 80, so no BoA gear for her). I was also happy that I won it over the pally since I hadn't been very pleased with either his tanking ability or his ego.
This second pug didn't talk much either, other than the healer asking the paladin to wait for mana and the paladin linking dps meters to show himself on top. I suppose in that respect it was not so much different from any other pug. I still missed the old greetings and thanks for group at the end though.
One thing that's kinda nice for these pugs is the Luck of the Draw buff. I can't say it'll make or break anything, but it's little a pat on the back as if to say that the pug will be all right, here's a little sugar to help the medicine go down.
I do have to wonder though if people who can perform multiple roles will be less likely to do them with the new Dungeon Finder system. Ordinarily I'd offer to tank because waiting could be unbearable otherwise. I've been in leveling groups that get three or four people and just sit there. Last night I felt comfortable enforcing my selfishness in that I was going to dps and only dps. No doubt I could have gotten a group faster if I set myself up for tanking, but as dps it wasn't an unbearably long wait. I could have comfortably set myself up as dps and then quested while still being assured of getting a group before the end of my playing session. If I was playing during peak hours, would I have had to wait at all?
And given this knowledge, would this impact the population of would-be tanks and healers? In the past I've seen people say "Well, I could give it a shot." because the group has been sitting around for a half hour unable to find a tank. In a group with three feral druids one offered to heal so we wouldn't have to drop someone and look for a healer. I've been in 5-mans where we went without an official tank, just four dps and a reasonably alert healer. Again, I'm talking leveling instances.
Obviously at level 80 people are well entrenched in their roles and have to be reasonably specialized, but leveling is a time for experimentation, and it seems a pity that someone might not try healing or try tanking because there's no opportunity for them to be nudged into giving it a chance with the party understanding that they're giving it their first shot.
When I was leveling Hana in vanilla WoW I was fearful of being the only person with a heal spell in a 5-man. It was nice to be able to ask the shaman or the priest to be ready to toss out a few emergency heals just in case I got overwhelmed. It was a safety net I usually didn't need, but liked to have. Would I have signed up for instances as both heals and dps?
Probably, but I would have been more nervous about healing since it would have been expected that I shoulder all of the healing. After all, I signed up for it.
On the other hand, I really liked that I could join as dps. The Dungeon Finder is completely anonymous so the other party members have no idea just how long I've been sitting in queue as dps when I could have listed myself as a tank, and by the time we get going, we will have a tank so there's no reason for them to question me about my role in the group.
By the way… my warrior's dps is pretty crappy. I'm pretty sure I'm doing something wrong, but hey, at least I got to do it at all.
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