Daily Archives: December 22, 2009

2 Hunters, 2 Strangers, and a Bear

I have been a bit skeptical about the who Dungeon Finder thing that got introduced with WoW patch 3.3.

For starters, I have yet to see any sort of “Looking for Group” tool that seemed workable to me.  They all end up looking like complicated solutions that do not address the basic problem, which is that we’re all suspicious of strangers and cannot really stand each other in general.  Or maybe that is just me.

An early LFG tool prototype

Anyway, for me, there has always been the air of “not joining any club that would have me as a member” about them.

And then there is the whole “too damn convenient by half” aspect of being magically transported to a dungeon, avoiding all that travel and bother.  And this was confirmed by experimentation with the Saturday night instance group.

We found that we could form up our group of five, use the dungeon finder, pick where ever we wanted to go (within an acceptable level range) and be teleported there without any risk.

Here I was worried about travel to Gnomer the other week when it turned out we can be whisked straight to Stormwind Stockades, five horde players on a PvP server, without getting a hair out of place.

So I can see where some people are coming from with their dire predictions of the Guild Wars-ification and death of non-instanced Azeroth.

Well, I certainly wasn’t going to be party to any of that.  I like the fact that the world has size and presence.  I have been enjoying running around “classic” Azeroth both as a horde player on Lightninghoof as well as with some of my alts that are still working their way to the expansions.

And so it was on Sunday with my daughter, my mom, and myself all online and running around.  Our characters are on the cusp of passing through the dark portal and hitting the Outlands.  In fact, I am holding things up a bit.  Their hunters are both ready or a fraction of a level from being ready while my druid is lagging behind.

We were on and talking about what to do when my mom asked if we couldn’t do an instance together.  She reads the blog (Hi mom!) and has seen all the instances I’ve been through with the regular group and is keen to experience a bit of that herself.

Stuck in my old ways, I started doing the mental calculation about what the three of us might be able to handle.  I started saying that maybe we could manage something well below our level since we lacked a real healer.  Something where we would be facing all grey mobs.

Then my daughter, in the tone of voice that expresses exasperation with the parental generation said, “Dad, just use the dungeon finder.”

Hrmm…

Well, why not.  I pulled up the dungeon finder window.

Then I got us all in a group and put us in the queue, flagged as three damage dealers, two hunters and a feral druid, ready to take on a random classic dungeon.

After a bit of waiting, I thought better of that.  I backed us out and change us to a tank and two damage dealers.

Choosing to be the tank

While I have not played my feral druid in bear form for more than a few minutes (I had all of two skills on the action bar for the bear) I figured that DPS is common, but that tanks and healers are rare, so we might be waiting a long time if we needed to fill both of those slots.

With that small change we were offered a dungeon within a minute.  Go us!

Our group was a 58 hunter, a 57 hunter, a 56 druid acting as the tank, an 53 paladin as  the third DPS, and a 52 druid coming in as the healer.

So there I was busily pulling bear form skills onto the action bar while trying to figure out what they all do, but feeling okay because what are the odds that we’ll draw an instance I’ve never even set foot into?

And our instance: Dire Maul East.

If you go back to the post Three Years of the Instance Group, you’ll see there are but five standard instances we left undone.  Dire Maul East is one of them.  (Dire Maul North is another.)

So here we go, I am the group leader, the tank, and in an instance I have never before entered and cannot recall the story behind.  Something about trees I am going to guess, given the initial bad guys.

What could go wrong?  I’ll figure out tanking and how likely is it for me to get a non-linear instance in WoW?

Dire Maul East Layout

Hrmm… not so linear I guess.  It is a good thing I had Alpha Map loaded or I would have been completely lost.

And the whole thing started linear.  Sort of.  We started killing things in any case..

My mother, daughter, and I were all on Skype together, so we were talking.  And it was a good thing too.  It turned out my daughter had been here before, though had never completed the instance.  So she pointed me in the right direction for a while.

Meanwhile I tried to educate her a bit on group etiquette and  best practices.  Things like not opening up on mobs until it looks like I have a bit of aggro established and not running way out in front of the rest of the group.

We wound around the instance, going this way and that, until we had made our way to just about all of the bosses.  We had done pretty well too, with only one death up to that point.  It helped that the three of us were a bit over level.  I’m glad we didn’t pull Statholme or Scholomance.

Anyway, we killed bosses, chased the imp, and were wandering around trying to figure out how to get down to the last boss.  There is a courtyard below the area where you enter and in our meandering about the instance, we didn’t run across a way to get down there.

So as we hemmed and hawed about if there might be a safe place to land if we jumped, my daughter lept down, leaving us to follow her in.

We had our second death due to a badly placed landing, but managed to clear off all of the surrounding mobs and get to the center of the courtyard where you talking to an ancient protector who literally walks over and kicks down the door keeping you from getting to the final boss.

The door down, our was was pretty much clear to Alzzin the Wildshaper.  Just a couple or trash mobs in the way and we stood before the last guy.  I let everybody get back their mana, did a /readycheck, and when everybody clicked “yes,” in we went.

Victory in Dire Maul East

The fight went our way.  We made it.  I managed to play the tank and survive.  Having a pair of beast mastery spec’d hunters and a paladin for DPS meant that off-tanking was had lots of options.  And we all ended up with the experience, extra cash, and the goodie bag for doing a random dungeon, which tossed us all a nice blue item.

I’m still not totally convinced the dungeon finder is the best thing ever, but it certainly has its place when you have a partial group and want to do the dungeon crawl thing.