Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dungeon Finder Redux

So I happened to get sick over the weekend, leaving me bedridden for the better part of two days and then even afterwards, not quite up to par for going to work, but well enough for messing around with WoW for short stretches at a time to alleviate boredom before lying down for another stretch of bedrest. (You guys in that random heroic Nexus? Your healer was healing through the power of holy germs.)

Between the period before I got sick and my recovery period, I've now used the Dungeon Finder for at least a dozen instances. Despite the fact that Blizzard originally touted the Dungeon Finder as being so fast you won't have to worry about questing during the downtime, I haven't found that to be true. If anything, my original assessment with my warrior alt might have been generous.

The two battlegroups I spend the most time in are Reckoning (home of my 80s), and Shadowburn (home of my feral druid and warrior alts), just in case queues differ much depending on battlegroup. While my warrior alt found groups relatively quickly, even allowing for the 15 minute late night SM Armory queue, it hasn't been the case for Darkker, my feral druid, even though they're in the same battlegroup. Even though she's in Northrend, where one would think more groups would be running, she's had to wait just as long for her instances.

Darkker has had 15-minute waits even during the early evening and she's had to wait for every single one of the three instances she's run since the new system was put in. I usually ran around and got partway or completely through with a quest during the wait. Though granted, I did not queue as a tank. She's specced PvP kitty (holdover from her BG days) and I'd learned from the time that I tanked UK that kitty spec was not going to hold up long term for tanking in Northrend. Too squishy.

But she did get a Shadow Lab group just as easily and in the same amount of time as a her Old Kingdom group, even though it was a Burning Crusade instance. She was the only 73 in her group, but oddly enough everyone except for the one DK was over level 70. Apparently some people are still interested in Burning Crusade instances, and it's easier to get groups through the Dungeon Finder with them.

My druid main has only signed up for queues as a moonkin, largely because I'm fearful of randomly being assigned any of the three new 5-man instances. I hate tanking unfamiliar instances and I don't consider my two runs of FoS and PoS and one run of HoR to be enough to be able to tank with authority. My only chain run through the three was also disrupted by having a potential guild applicant come chat with me so my mind was definitely not on what was happening in the 5-man.

So the wait comes out to about 8-11 minutes as dps for a random heroic, in Reckoning in the evening hours. Still, it's not quite so bad, because I actually don't mind getting a daily or two done while waiting. (My guild pokes fun at the fact that I'm still not done with the Argent Tournament, and I would like to get around to finishing that sometime.)

As a healer, the queues are easy though. I can hop on my paladin Gillien and less than a minute later I'm off. If the tank looks decent, I just let him know to chain pull and not to worry about my mana.

(As a humorous aside, one pug had a tank called Swiftpally, who was one of the slowest pullers I'd ever seen. I just couldn't resolve his name with the pace the run was moving and how slow he would be to notice any adds. I ending up "tanking" a few of them just because he wasn't paying attention.)

Oddly enough though, queuing as a solo healer seems to be substantially faster than queuing as a healer and one dps. You think it'd be the same or faster, because one of the dps is already there and as a healer I'd be a cornerstone of the group, and yet when my hunter friend and I queued together we waited for several minutes for a tank and the rest of the dps to queue.

Yet when we queue as a group of four guildies we launch very quickly. I guess it might have something to do with the "shape" of the group. It's easy to fit a single player into a pre-existing group of four, but if a lot of people are queuing as duos, trios, or foursomes, it can be harder to fit them together, especially if they're trying to slot them with existing groups.

Or maybe I'm totally off-base. I don't know. It just seemed weird to me. Maybe that night there were a lot of tanks running with personal healers.

But the thing that seems most remarkable to me as a dps is that the wait isn't really that bad. If you already have something else to entertain you in the meantime, that group is going to pop. It'll just take a while and you won't have to sit in LFG hoping someone will notice you or spamming that you're available in Trade. Probably the worst that could happen is that you're in the middle of doing some tournament jousting and have to decide whether or not you want to finish the match, but even that isn't too bad.

I feel a little bad that both my druids have been running as dps only (ah, that hybrid guilt), especially because one has a tank spec, but it's been a nice change to pace to 5-man dps on my moonkin, and to finally dps on my feral. I feel like I never got an honest crack at kitty dps until the new Dungeon Finder came out and let me sign up as dps without any requests to go bear.

Kitty dps is known to be difficult, but I've been quite happy with my performance given that I have no mods set up for it. As a level 74-75 feral I'm pulling almost 1100 dps in my blues and greens, which doesn't strike me as too shabby, and I've been the top dps on the last two pugs I've gone on. The hardest part of being a cat is definitely the combination of debuff and energy management. I've heard it gets better as one's crit rate goes up, so combo point generation is smoother.

I'm considering making Darkker's second spec PvE cat since I'm having a lot of fun as a kitty and I have no aspirations of joining a raid guild with her (oh noes... greedy druid has no tank or heal spec?!), but bear might be good at some point if I want to do any pug raiding. I suppose I could always give up on the PvP spec since I haven't PvPed with her since she left the 50-59 bracket, but I'd like to start up again once she hits 80. We'll see how it goes.

Overall, my experience with the Dungeon Finder continues to be positive. The vast majority of groups are successful, and the only heroics that had any wiping were the new 5-mans which arguably everyone was learning. There was one warrior tank though that couldn't AoE tank to save his life and eventually dropped group because he said he couldn't handle it (we were doing the waves of adds before the first boss in HoR, and yes we were LOS-pulling), but the tank was easily replaced through the new Dungeon Finder and we were on our way again with less than a minute's wait.

Oh... and if you're in Northrend but not 80 yet, you can still earn Emblems of Triumph by using the random regular dungeon finder! Definitely an option for giving your alt an early start on his or her level 80 gear.

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