Newbie instance guide
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Characters typically experience their first instance between the levels of 10 and 30. This guide is written specifically to help newer players of any level prepare for their first instance experience, and to make it as enjoyable and trouble-free as possible.
If you are a more experienced player wanting to learn how groups work together, make sure you check out the Instance grouping guide.
- 1 About Instances
- 2 Gameplay Differences
- 3 Group roles
- 4 If you are asked to tank, heal, or DPS
- 5 Pre-instance preparation
- 6 Real Life issues
- 7 Finding a group
- 8 Loot Rules
- 9 General Guidelines
- 10 Class-specific tips
- 11 The Level 15-30 Instances
An "instance" is a dungeon that the game creates just for you and your party, so that you are not intruded upon by anyone else in your realm. This personal instance starts when you enter a blue† instance portal, which is often already located inside a cave or dungeon. Almost all of the mobs in an instance are elite, and the drops, loot, and quest rewards are better than those obtained through solo play, though they are somewhat more difficult and require teamwork to achieve.
For some players, World of Warcraft is all about instances, whereas some players only do them when the mood strikes them, or when they have dungeon quests. Since doing an instance is not a requirement for leveling a character, some players go all the way to 70 without setting foot inside one. Still, if you want to try one out, it is suggested to try the low-level ones first, as that is when all party members are learning how to play their class (in group settings, at least) so you may feel more comfortable.
Just for your party. Instances are large, multi-room areas (sometimes with scripted events) that the game has generated only for the use of your party. You will never find another party already in the instance ahead of you, because walking through the portal creates a special run just for the party.
Death is also handled differently. When you die in an instance and release as a ghost, you release to a graveyard out in the zone the instance is located in. You then run back to the instance portal as a ghost. You are brought back to life the moment you step back into that portal—not to where your body was lying. It is for this reason that you should not release until you are sure no one will resurrect you. Because of this, you should pay attention to the way to the instance portal as you go with the group, so if you do have to run back from the graveyard as a ghost you don't get lost.
A note about running away: Your natural instinct when you cannot shake a mob is to run away; however the mobs in an instance are designed differently than their outside counterparts: They never give up the chase until you are either dead, or have zoned out of the instance altogether. Counterintuitive as it may seem, your single best tactic is to run towards the tank. (There's more on Tanks in the next section.) This lets the tank pick up the loose mob, and off of you. Once you get to the tank, stay in one place to make it easier for the tank to target the mobs attacking you.
A balanced party typically consists of:
Damage dealers or "DPS"
Damage dealers or "DPS" are those players who focus on dealing damage. This is everyone else not healing or tanking. The trick is to deal a large amount of damage per second but not so much as to get the mob more interested in themselves than the tank. Any class can choose to spec for the damage-dealing role.
More knowledgeable groups can also assign crowd control tasks for multi-mob fights. These tasks usually fall to one of the DPS members like a mage to (also known as "sheep"), a hunter to trap, or a rogue for . The plus of doing this is if you are attacking a group of four mobs, and the mage polymorphs one into a sheep, you only have to worry about attacking three mobs for 20–30 seconds. Damage breaks most of these crowd control methods though, so don't use abilities that attack multiple opponents while using crowd control.
Note: The skills used to tank and heal are counterintuitive to solo play. It's an entirely different experience to try to keep things attacking you (and it's not as easy as it would seem), and it might seem dull or unimportant to stand in the back of the party to keep people alive. However, tanking and healing are the two most important tasks for a successful instance; if either is missing, the group cannot succeed.
Because the party limit is five players (low instances will accept raids of ten, but in those cases you cannot complete quests), there is usually one tank, one healer and three DPS. However if any of the other three have the ability to switch roles, they should be prepared to tank or heal in a pinch should the need arise.
If you are asked to tank, heal, or DPS
If you are asked to be the healer, stay back, far behind the tank—but close enough you can reach the tank with your healing spells. Use skills that heal over time to keep people topped off and save big heals for when health bars go very far down. The healer, more than anyone, realizes how important it is for the tank to attract attention—it means only having to worry about healing one person most of the time. Tell those in your party to try to keep in range and in sight so they can get your heals. Learn to use your defensive (like Bear form for druids or for priests) or threat-reducing abilities (like for priests) for when a mob turns its attention from the tank toward you, since healing can generate a large amount of threat from mobs that are unhappy at seeing the health of their target (the tank) continue to stay up.
If you are asked to be the tank use any skills you have that increase your armor and cause a high amount of "threat" (usually listed in the tooltip; also known as aggro or hate). You may have never used these abilities before because in solo play you don't have to worry about keeping mobs on yourself. Make sure to keep in range and sight of the healer.
If you are asked to provide DPS try to wait a few seconds for the tank to build up threat. Learn any good defensive (, roots, shields, or snares) or threat-reducing skills ( in druid Cat form, for hunters, or for rogues) you might have for when a mob turns its attention from the tank toward you. If you use mostly ranged attacks, try to keep as far-ranged as possibly. Rogues should use to reduce threat or (if they have it) if their cooldown is up.
- Buy or cook food – one stack of 20 should do. This will speed up the down time for you between pulls. If there is a mage in the party and they give you conjured food, eat that over the food you bought, since theirs are conjured and disappear after you log out of your character for 15 minutes. Best of all are some of the foods you can make from the cooking profession. Many of these types of foods provide temporary buffs that can give you that little extra boost in health and something else.
- Buy drink – two stacks of 20, more if you wish. Again, if there is a mage in the party and they give you conjured water, use that before the drink you bought. (Note: Warriors, Hunters, and Rogues do not use mana, so this is not required for them.)
- Repair – when durability gets to zero (red armor), armor loses all armor value and stat bonuses, and you are no longer contributing to the party. Starting a new instance at 100% will often avoid this issue. There is no player skill that will repair armor - this includes characters with the blacksmith profession.
- Empty your bags – there's plenty of loot in the early instances, so make sure you have space for it. Sell all of your gray level items before you start. If you haven't checked it out yet, ask a guard in a capital city where the bank is. You can store things there for free then pick them up when needed. Making sure you're using all of your bag slots is a good idea. You can visit a bag vendor in any capital city, but you can usually get cheaper bags in the Auction House, because many players will loot or craft more small bags than they can use.
- Buy reagents – For every spell or skill you have that requires a reagent, try to make sure you have a few just in case.
Real Life issues
Before you go about finding an instance group, try to make sure to set aside about two hours of undisturbed time, which is typical for a normal party (it may take shorter or longer depending on your particular situation). Few things frustrate other players more than someone agreeing to run an instance and then getting called offline for something they knew they had to do. If you do start an instance with a limited amount of time, tell the group right away. Also keep in mind that it can take a varying amount of time to gather a complete group in the first place, then get everyone to the instance portal.
Most party members are understanding if you have to step away from the computer from time to time for real-life issues. If you do need to briefly step away to get a drink, use the restroom, change the baby, and so on, make sure you let the group know by typing "AFK" or "BRB", so they don't go back into combat a person short. If you find yourself repeatedly getting called away during an instance to the detriment of the party's progress, offer to leave so the group can find a replacement.
Finding a group
The Dungeon Finder
The best way is to use the Dungeon Finder tool. In the past people had to ask in the Trade Channel in major cities or ask their guild, but since December of 2009 the dungeon finder has made it easy for everyone to find a dungeon group.
What the Dungeon Finder does is assembles a group and teleports them into the dungeon. These people are not limited to your own server, but to your specific server's battlegroup (which is a group of about 15-20 different servers), meaning there is a much bigger pool of players to pick from. Prior to the dungeon finder, it wasn't unheard of to spend longer looking for a group on your server than to actually run an instance.
To use the Dungeon Finder:
1: Select the role(s) you wish to play.
- Some classes can select more than one role at a time. You will know which role you have been assigned when the popup to enter the dungeon appears.
- You cannot select a role your class are incapable of playing (ie: Warriors can't heal, Priests can't tank, Mages can't heal or tank.)
- Don't worry about the leadership role. If no one selects the role, it will be assigned randomly. If you're it, you have the power to enact someone else as leader if you want (right click on their portrait).
2: With the pull-down menu, you can select a random dungeon in your level range, or choose one or more specific dungeons.
- Choosing a random dungeon gives you extra rewards for being flexible: money, XP, and usually a Satchel of Helpful Goods or some or . It also means a shorter wait, since you can be grouped with people who have queued for specific dungeons of your level.
3: When you are satisfied with the options you have selected, press "Find Group"
4: A green "eye" icon will be on your minimap now, letting you know you are in the queue.
- You are now free to go quest, do some cooking and fishing dailies, or whatever. You will be informed when your dungeon is ready.
5: When the dungeon is ready you will get a pop-up.
- You have 30 seconds to enter the dungeon before the Dungeon Finder gives your spot to someone else in the Dungeon Finder queue, so if this pops up while you're AFK you may be out of luck.
- Your role is listed prominently so if you opted for more than one role, note what you are.
- Note the "number of bosses" listing. Some groups have people leave during the run, and use the dungeon finder to locate a replacement. Less bosses means less loot, but also means a quicker run.
- When you choose "Enter Dungeon" you will automatically be teleported to the dungeon you're going to, from wherever you are.
There are a few things that will remove you from the queue. If this happens, when you requeue you will be "sent back to the end of the line", and anyone who queued up after you did will get precedence. These happen automatically - you do not get an "are you sure?" option.
- Going back into the dungeon finder and selecting "Leave Queue"
- Joining ANY party outside of the one the dungeon finder eventually puts you into (or the group you have already queued up in the Dungeon finder with).
- Logging out of the game or being disconnected.
SO, if you have a long wait ahead of you, remember that you are in the queue before joining a group!
A few things to know:
- If you are a tank or a healer you will get groups much faster.
- If you are a damage dealer, expect waits of 20 minutes to an hour.
- Remember, damage dealers are everywhere (damage is easy to do), but people who want to tank or heal are more rare, plus there are three damage dealers per group as opposed to one tank and one healer - if you play a class that can tank or heal learning to do so will speed up your instancing!
- You can also queue up as a group of 2-4 and fill in any missing roles!
Previous to the Dungeon Finder players had to ask/beg in chat channels and zones, get a group together and then travel to the specific instance. When a player left in the middle of a group, someone had to go out and locate another, then bring them to the group. It was a real pain at times, especially for players with limited time.
When there is loot of green quality and above in a party, the rolling window comes up:
|Need: This will only come up if this item is specific to your class. If you see you can need it, open up your character pane (Press "C"), and see if it is better than what you already have. If more than one person chooses need, the game will generate random numbers between the needers - high number wins.,|
|Greed: Everyone gets this option, however anyone who rolls need takes precedence over greed. If you win on a greed roll you get the item to use, sell or whatever. If you want to disenchant the item, and you have an enchanter of appropriate level in the group:|
|Disenchant: This is only available if someone in your group has the Enchanting profession, and enough skill in it to the item. If no one rolls Need, players rolling Disenchant and Greed roll together. If someone who selected Disenchant wins, they get the dusts, essences, shards or crystals produced from disenchanting the item. These are often, but not always, worth more than the item itself. A mod that lists the expected value of disenchanting the item may be useful.|
|Pass: If you don't want the item, click the cancel "X" button and you will 'pass' on the item.|
The high-roller among those who roll is awarded the item, and it goes in that character's backpack. If their backpack is full, that person, and only that person, may loot it by clicking on the monster's corpse after first clearing up space.
Most loot from bosses is Bind on Pickup, though, and this tends to be the best loot. Always roll greed or disenchant on items from bosses you have no way to use for yourself. Pay attention to if an item is more of use to the healer, tank, or damage dealer than yourself.
Be aware that other players will expect you to specialize in your chosen role as much as possible, even if that makes it almost impossible to do quests alone. Once you reach level 15 and can use the Dungeon Finder, you can level steadily without doing quests at all, and many players get most of their XP from dungeons. If you have Dual Talent Specialization and want an item for the spec you're not currently in, ask the other players for permission to "need off-spec".
Most of these are laid out in the Instance grouping guide, but here's a quick version:
- Never use fear effects in an instance unless decided on beforehand for a well-understood situation.
- Don't use any clickable "cog" or "gear" icon () objects without asking first, as this may trigger a battle when people aren't ready. This also applies to containers or treasure chests, which should usually be rolled on first.
- On death, do not release to the graveyard unless agreed upon by the party and never rez at the angel unless you've cleared it with the group or you're planning on leaving the group.
- Warrior – try to get a one-handed weapon and a shield. Your job is usually to tank in an instance, and having a shield allows you to take a lot more damage. Don't worry much about dishing out huge amounts of damage, your primary task is to simply grab and keep the mobs' attention so they are not distracted by the other members of your party. As the tank, stay in defensive stance and use taunt and . Keep applying Sunder Armor—it stacks to five (keep using it even if the mob already has 3 Sunder debuffs on it; the threat from each Sunder Armor will help you keep aggro even if you don't put another stack on the mob)! Know who the main healer will be, as it is your job to taunt that mob off of your healer. If you are not asked to tank, stay in Battle Stance and use a two-handed weapon, if you have one. Try not to use Thunderclap or if you are fighting near a crowd-controlled mob, as it may remove that crowd control.
- Warlock – Offer everyone in the party a . Never put your on yourself; it should go on a Shaman, Druid Paladin, or Priest so that they may then resurrect the rest of the party members should everyone die in a wipe. Let the person you put the soulstone on know that if they die they ought to wait until all combat is over and then use the soulstone—and that if they release to the graveyard they'll have to walk back anyway, as the soulstone does not stay through death. For your Pet, use your imp so everyone gets the Buff, meaning more health for the whole party. It is usually preferred that your imp be set to passive mode (the right-most settings on your pet's action bar) and not casting any fireballs. If you are at least level 12, turn on his ability so he takes no damage.
- Mage – When you arrive, you should conjure plenty of extra water, and even food sometimes, so that you can give it to your teammates. Let them know to use the food and drink you give them first, as they disappears when they log out of the game for over 15 minutes.
- Rogue – Have your poisons ready, and keep your lockpicking skill up to snuff—instances usually have locked doors or chests inside.
- Paladin – Be sure to cast your blessings on your teammates at the start of the instance, and reapply them whenever they wear off. Do not assume the other classes know what blessings you can cast, and be aware that different classes and roles have different needs.
- Druid – Be sure to cast on all of your teammates at the start of the instance, and reapply them whenever they wear off.
- Hunter – Have an ample supply of pet food (your pet might die often). Set your pet to either defensive or passive, the right-most settings on your pet's action bar. Never put your pet on aggressive, and always turn off Growl so that your group's tank doesn't have to compete with your pet for attention.
- Shaman – Put down your totems near where the tank is intending on battling.
- Priest – be sure to cast on all your teammates at the start of the instance, and reapply it when it wears off.
The Level 15-30 Instances
These are the available instances for the 15-30 character.
|Instance Name||Zone||Type||Level Range||Bosses||Notes|
|The Deadmines||Westfall||5-man dungeon||15-21||, , , ,|
|Ragefire Chasm||Orgrimmar||5-man dungeon||15-21||,, ,|
|Wailing Caverns||Northern Barrens||5-man dungeon||15-25||, , , , , , ,||A jump from one ledge to another is required to get through this instance. You will not die if you miss but will have to backtrack a little to get back.|
|Shadowfang Keep||Silverpine Forest||5-man dungeon||16-26||, , , ,|
|Stormwind Stockade||Stormwind City||5-man dungeon||20-30||, ,|
|Blackfathom Deeps||Ashenvale||5-man dungeon||20-30||, , , , , , ,||Early on in this instance a series of jumps along ruins are required. There isn't much backtracking if you miss, but it can be difficult for those who aren't expecting it.|
|Gnomeregan||Dun Morogh||5-man dungeon||24-34||and , , , , Mekgineer Thermaplugg|
|The Scarlet Monastery - The Graveyard||Tirisfal Glades||5-man dungeon||26-36||,|
|The Scarlet Monastery - The Library||Tirisfal Glades||5-man dungeon||29-39||,|