The Vengeful Polyglot

The Novice Player’s Guide to the Dungeon Finder

Posted on: August 20, 2011

 

I’ve been meaning to do a full write up on the “ins and outs” of the Dungeon Finder system since its inception, but I only recently found an impetus (a school assignment!) to follow through. Without further ado…

 

Overview: What is the Dungeon Finder?

In patch 3.30, Blizzard introduced the new Dungeon Finder system to World of Warcraft to facilitate quicker grouping for 5-man dungeons (also called “instances”). Even though the intent of the system is to make grouping easier, many players who are new to World of Warcraft may not find its purpose or use entirely clear. Hopefully, I can shed some light on how you can best use this new system for your instancing adventures!

Put broadly, the Dungeon Finder system is a mechanism for grouping with friends and/or random players from the same Battlegroup in order to complete either random or specific dungeons. The Dungeon Finder can be used to find a suitable dungeon for a full group of friends from the same server, or to first help in filling out a group with missing members. The system will fill in any holes in your group so you wind up with a group of five players, each of which will have an assigned “role” to fulfill in the instance: one tank, one healer, and three damage dealers (or “DPS”). All members of the party will have selected a class- and spec-appropriate role before being listed as available within the system (generally referred to as being put in “queue”). Currently, this “classic” distribution of roles is the only group composition the system supports (so even if you and a friend really adore two-healing, one of you will have to list as DPS in order to make a group using the Dungeon Finder).

While using the Dungeon Finder, there are two “modes” in which the system can operate. Either it can find a random dungeon for the group, or the person queuing can select one or more dungeons from a provided list to queue for specifically. Player level and gear determine which dungeons the “random” option will pull from and which show up on the list of specific dungeons.

 

Benefits: Why should I use the dungeon finder instead of manually grouping?

There are four  specific benefits I’ve found to using the Dungeon Finder over manually grouping: speed, greater chance of completion, extra rewards, and ability to fairly remove unwanted players.

Speed and Ease of Use:

One of the core features of this system is that it allows you to easily and quickly find groupmates for a level-appropriate dungeon. For some people, finding groupmates may have never been an issue — some always had guild players of the right level online, or had a group of friends they were leveling with. For the vast majority of players, however, especially those who play solo, finding players to group with was a time sink and a monumental hassle. Even having friends in game, I can’t stress how hard it was to find four other players on the same server who wanted to do the same specific dungeon as I did, especially lacking a true “world” chat.

Prior to the implementation of the Dungeon Finder means of finding and communicating with like-minded players were sparse outside of the city-linked Trade chat, and having to waste time sitting in a city to find groupmates when you could have been questing or otherwise progressing was always an annoyance to me, and to many other players I came into contact with. It could take a serious time commitment, too. I remember calling up the list of players in each level-appropriate zone with /who and individually whispering people to see if anyone was interested in grouping up. Especially if my group-in-progress was missing a tank or healer; tanks and healers were and are particularly sparse.

Possibly in response to player complaints about the difficulty involved in properly setting up groups, especially for newbies who might not even realize that group content existed (I didn’t, on my first playthrough), Blizzard opted to trade the server-only system described above for the convenience of automated group formation drawing from a much larger pool of interested players across many servers.

A secondary speed benefit is that you no longer need to waste time running to the instance or summoning other groupmates. Prior to this system, at least two group members had to be willing to run out to summon the rest using a meeting stone located at the site of the dungeon. This was time consuming not only because of the travel time involved for the two players, but also because no one ever wanted to do it; groups could stagnate forever in want of someone to step up to the plate. The new system, however, teleports the whole group inside the instance immediately upon gathering all the members, saving all of that valuable time for the slaying of internet dragons!

Greater Chance of Completion:

The second, less obvious benefit to using this system is that it’s very easy to find replacement players if someone drops group using the same matching system that found them for you in the first place. Groups which are looking to replace a player who has dropped or been removed from the instance are given some level of priority over newly forming groups, so wait times for replacement players, even the ever-wily tank player, tend to be short.

This is, I think, the unsung hero of the Dungeon Finder system. Instances almost never go “wasted” any longer. The benefits of killing any bosses now tend to outweigh the hassle of maybe missing out on one you were looking for, and if even one remaining player in the instance wants to continue, they can queue up to find four replacements. This is one of my favorite features of the system, and since players drop group so frequently, it can be a massive time-saver.

Extra Rewards:

Aside from the convenience of the system, there are tangible rewards, or incentives, provided to those who use the system. The first seven random runs in each tier (regulars, Heroics, or any other tiers of 5-mans which may be introduced later, such as the Troll Heroics in the game now) a week on a character provide extra rewards upon dungeon completion. Among other rewards, from level 70 on you are rewarded with points to spend on max-level gear. These “Justice” and “Valor” points are extremely valuable for purchasing gear which serves as a buffer against the increase in difficulty between different tiers of content; the points you get is a “tier” above what you get in the dungeon itself. Generally speaking, regular dungeons, where bosses seldom drop Justice Points, give Justice Points upon completion; Heroics at 85, where bosses do drop Justice Points, give Valor Points on completion (the only other source of Valor Points being end-game raiding). This 5-man reward structure allows you to gear up for the next “tier” of content without having to already be in it.

These completion-based rewards are a big factor as to why people don’t mind tackling in-progress dungeons anymore, as previously discussed; some players who already have gear from the content they are running prefer partially completed dungeons, since it’s that much faster to get the more valuable end rewards they’re after. Even given the value of these extra rewards for the first seven runs, it’s worth noting that completing instances after these first seven still provides rewards — they’re just not as significant and no points are given.

A more recent addition, the Call to Arms system provides additional rewards for fulfilling Battlegroup-wide needed roles (generally, tanking) through the Dungeon Finder at max level. If you queue alone at max level for a role that is currently being Called, you will receive a Bind-on-Account satchel (meaning it can be sent to any of your characters on the same server) which can drop rare vanity items, like non-combat pets and mounts. The Call to Arms feature was added due to complaints about long DPS queue times, generally due to a lack of tanks. The extra rewards were Blizzard’s way of incentivizing the more “challenging” roles, thus hopefully reducing queue times for all, without providing a reward which gave an unfair gameplay advantage. It has provoked a lot of contentious debate, but generally response has been favorable. As a side note, the Call only counts if you queue for that role without any players in your party; this was done to encourage tanks to not only tank for guild groups.

If you do group with guild members, another situationally available reward for using the Dungeon Finder is guild reputation. If you group with two or more guildmates for a random dungeon run, all monster kills will grant some measure of guild exp in addition to reputation you would otherwise gain (i.e. from any tabards equipped, or because of a faction bias for the dungeon). You get 75% of the reputation for a kill as guild rep in a 3-man guild group, 100% for 4-man, 125% for a full guild group.

Removing Unwanted Players:

While this system is very convenient, it is not without its flaws. The same issues which can happen in manual grouping (such as players stealing loot or griefing other players) can also happen in random groups. While dealing with these problems often fell to a the party “leader” prior to the implementation of the Dungeon Finder, in order to reduce abuse of the system removing, or “kicking,” a player from the group.

If a player is not following the Terms of Service, has been disrupting group play, is excessively AFK, disconnects, or is otherwise a detriment to the group as a whole, a group member can initiate a vote to kick the player from the group. The person initiating the kick can additionally specify a reason in case it may be unclear to other members. A majority of the players must agree that the person should be kicked in order for the player to be removed; if the kick fails, the player in question is not notified that anything ever happened and no action is taken. If it succeeds, the player is removed.

There are limitations in place in order to prevent using this feature to grief players. Players cannot be kicked during an initial grace period just after joining the dungeon group, while in combat or shortly following combat, or during loot rolls or shortly following loot rolls. Additionally, players who frequently abuse the vote kick option will find their ability to use it curtailed (the specific algorithm for determining how much is “too much” is obfuscated).

If you come across a player that you never want to see again, you also have the option of adding them to your ignore list with the /ignore command. You are able to ignore players from other servers as well as your own, and ignoring a player guarantees that the Dungeon Finder will never put them in a group with you in the future.

 

Detractors: Does the Dungeon Finder do more harm than good? If so, when?

While the above benefits stand on their own merits, there is certainly one well-noted drawback to the system. That is, the social ramifications of taking an already anonymized game (where modifiable character names are used instead of real names, barring the RealID feature) and further removing accountability by grouping players from different servers together. The benefit of the server-only system prior to the advent of the Dungeon Finder, while it was difficult for planning purposes, was accountability. A reputation for being a poor groupmate could ruin a player’s chances of taking advantage of people in the future; unfairly distributing loot dropped from bosses in dungeons or raids could cause a player to be labeled a “ninja” in public channels (such as in Trade chat or the official forums), thus causing other players to be less likely to invite them to groups.

With the new system, an increased pool of potential players from all the servers in a Battlegroup more or less eliminated the currency of reputation; a player who behaves selfishly or unfairly in a dungeon can leave, despite groupmate protests, and never run into those same players again. Since very little, if any, 5-man grouping is done without the Dungeon Finder, this currency is almost nonexistent outside of more organized raiding. A frequent complaint about the Dungeon Finder system is that it has eliminated personal responsibility for one’s behavior in a group setting, especially given 5-man instance runs are much more common than raiding (and the latter is generally in a guild-only capacity, with no random members involved). Without accountability, or server “shaming,” players are free to be selfish, rude, and inconsiderate, thus making social interaction much less pleasant for those players willing to abide by social convention.

These complaints are often drowned out by enthusiastic pleasure about lower wait times and quicker dungeon groups, and countered with the suggestion that players who want a good behavior guarantee should group with friends or like-minded guildmates instead of random players. Even so, there is definitely a trade-off which should be noted. Blizzard has also not been blind to this social issue, and the Dungeon Finder has been tweaked recently to bias same-server groups — that is to say that if you are looking for a DPS to round out your group, the system will pair you with one from your server, if a suitable one exists, before finding a cross-server option. While this has hardly returned the issue of reputation to its former importance, it is a step in the right direction.

 

Wrap Up

I hope the aforementioned Dungeon Finder analysis and tutorial has been of some use to any novice players out there intimidated by group play. Instancing is my favorite part of WoW, and something I hope I can encourage more players to take advantage of. (Not just for the benefit of my own queue times!) Overall, I think the system is a solid addition to the game, despite its social ramifications, which makes finding groups and running dungeons far more user-friendly than they used to be. Try it out, you may find you like it!

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6 Responses to "The Novice Player’s Guide to the Dungeon Finder"

[…] The Vengeful Polygot presents the novice's guide to all things Dungeon Finder. […]

Nice read! I’m not exactly a newbie regarding the Dungeon Finder, but this was most certainly a good intro.

I think you forgot to mention that, there is still a way to prevent being grouped with certain people, if you /ignore them. Besides reputation, ignoring people makes sure you’ll never be grouped with them again through the Dungeon Finder.

Thank you very much for reading. 🙂 My younger cousin is going to start playing soon, so I’ve been thinking about writing some introductory posts for her benefit, this included.

You’re absolutely right, I can’t believe I forgot to mention /ignore! I will edit that in.

[…] In particular, the social ramifications of cross-server grouping I briefly addressed in my previous Dungeon Finder post have been pushed to the […]

[…] Dungeon Finder, despite them not being as streamroll-friendly as Wrath ones were, and as I’ve previously discussed this has had a lot of social ramifications. Is adding a tangible reason for all discussion to be of […]

Nice Work. I raise my hat.

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