The Dungeon Finder launched in patch 3.3 and has become an instant success.  It allows players from several servers to all queue together for instances making wait times for groups significantly shorter for many players.  It also allows players to earn additional badges that can be spent on items and a cool little Pug Puppy for those that collect pets.  It has some ups and downs though and requires a little bit of knowledge to get the most out of it. 

What should you know and how can you get the best experience when using the Dungeon Finder is what this guide looks at.

Expect a wait, unless you're a Tank

The first thing to know when you sign up for a group with the dungeon finder is to expect a wait.  How long the wait is really depends on a couple of things.  For example if you are looking for a random heroic I have experienced the following on my realm:

  • Tank – Instant
  • Healer – 1-2 minutes
  • DPS – 10+ minutes
Wait times can be long as DPS

If you are looking for a lower level random or a specific instance at any level, expect longer waits.  I have seen waits up to 25 minutes for non-80 instances, but have also seen instant groups even when joining as DPS in a sub-80 group.  So while anything can happen, be prepared for a wait and have something to do in the mean time, be it crafting, farming, etc.  Expect longer waits on DPS and almost no wait when tanking.

Be Prepared and be Respectful

When you go into an instance, be prepared for your role and the instance itself. 

If you sign up as a healer, make sure you have your healing gear with you and that you have mana potions and water.  If you are a class that requires reagents for buffs, make sure you have some.  No mater your class make sure you have some food / water with you so that you can replenish your own health and mana in between fights.  Know that not everyone is going to be prepared, so it may be worth while carrying an extra stack of each, even if you do not use water, to hand out as needed.  When you do though, explain to players that they now owe someone in a future group and should pass on the food / water and a reminder to bring their own in the future.

As for the instances themselves, make sure you have a basic understanding of the instance, or if you don’t be sure to ask what you need to know before you start.  Most importunately make sure you have time for an instance.  Do not sign up for a run if you only have 10 minutes, you are not going to get anything done. When you leave you will make it harder on the other players to finish.

Remember when you enter a group in any game you are committing not only your time but other players’ time as well.  Do your best to make sure you are ready and prepared to go and survive.  If you are not sure you can stick around for a whole instance, don’t join.  If you are not sure you are geared for an instance, ask around before joining.  If you get into a hard heroic or instance that you know you are not ready for, leave the group and allow someone else to join in.

Learn to Lead

Knowing that you spend some time reading about WoW means you are probably more prepared than most WoW players already.  This also probably means that you know more about the instances than the other players do. If this is true, make sure you select leader when you are picking your role on the dungeon finder and make use of your knowledge.

When you enter an instance with a group, ask some simple questions such as:

  • Everyone know this instance?
  • Anyone have any questions?
  • Does the tank want lead to mark (assuming you are not the tank)?
  • Anyone need any of the fights explained?

In many cases everyone will know the instance, especially when running heroics, but you may find some players that don’t know them.  Taking a few minutes to explain something can save you a significant amount of time running back from the graveyard. 

If you see someone doing something wrong, explain what they need to do and why.  In general, people will listen to a polite, organized leader.

Help others learn


Select the roles you can fill

For many players instances and group play are not something they are used to doing, especially if they just finished levelling to 80.  Knowing that this could be the case  going in to a PUG be prepared for it and when you see someone that doesn’t know what they are doing try to give them a hand.

I ran into a great example of this when running a heroic daily with a guildie the other day.  I was tanking and he was healing, the group we got put into was a pretty solid group and by doing a quick look at my in game gear score mod I was thrilled, it looked like we would have all DPS over 3k pretty easy and it would be a fast run.  Then reality set in.  There was a Warlock that had really good gear (all level 232 and higher) but was only pulling 1200 DPS, worse he was pulling aggro from my Pally tank, huh?

Luckily the guildie healer plays a warlock as well and pulls huge DPS, so I asked him to look at the meters and see what was up.  He found that the player was using almost every spell they had, not any kind of rotation at all.  We asked the player what was up, and they said they had just switched to a new build.  The healer then looked and explained the rotation for that build (and corrected them that you never put 71 points in one talent tree).  Taking 5-10 minutes, while still fighting trash, to explain some basics to the player took them from 1200 DPS on the first boss to 3000 DPS on the second.  Once the player uses a proper build, which was also shared with them, their DPS will go up even more.   

Another less drastic example but a great way to improve a player’s experience is to teach players that they do not need to fill gem slots with the colour gem that the slot is.  Since using the Dungeon system I could not count the number of players that I have run into that still do not understand that the colours of the socket are just to get the socket bonus.  Many players are giving up a lot of their primary stat by following the colour of the socket instead of going for what they need.

There are many other things you can do to help others out.  If it is something simple and can be done quickly there is no reason not to.  Don’t feel you have to teach them the whole game, but a few pointers here and there can greatly improve how they play, and hopefully make your 20 – 60 minutes with them in the instance smoother.

Imagine how much more they will enjoy the game once they understand it a bit better.  Imagine how much better the ‘lock that almost tripled his DPS will feel about the game and how much more he can contribute to a group now.  Even jumping 200-300 DPS will give a player a huge advantage over what they were doing, and it really doesn’t take that much time.

Get used to filling a required role

If you are like most players you have a favourite role to play in a group and don’t like to change out of it.  For most WOW players that role is DPS.  For many DPS is simply more fun, after all you get to charge in and kill stuff.  Being a tank or a healer just doesn’t cut it for most players adrenaline needs.  However, what do you always see being spammed “Looking for tank [or healer] for group for [instance or raid X] then ready to go”.  How often do you see “Looking for DPS”?  Didn’t think so.  DPS is replaceable, but that’s the next section, so we will leave it for now.

What this means is that if you want to find a group, learn to be flexible.  If you play a character that can either tank or heal, have one of those specs as your secondary spec.  Better than just that, get a set of gear and learn to use it.  Just signing up as a tank but not knowing the mechanics doesn’t do yourself or the group you go with any good.

Probably the worst example of this happened to me in the week after the release of the Dungeon Finder system.  The example is given here to warn players what they could look like if they go in unprepared.

I signed in on a lower level (level 74) alt to try out the random group finder at something other then level cap just to see how it worked.  Playing a hunter I expected a long wait but was pleasantly surprised to find a group in less than 2-3 minutes.  Having gotten into the group we started through AN with a Death Knight tank, awesome!  After the first pull, I noticed something wrong, the DK had low health, even for only being level 75.  Worse, he took way to much damage for a normal instance, what was going on, we almost wiped to trash.

I did a quick inspect and found the DK using unholy aura and mainly Pally healing gear!  HUH?  I promptly asked the DK to please put their tanking gear on as they must have forgotten their levelling gear on (politely ignoring the fact that they should have never been in that gear).  I was then told it was their tanking gear, they were using it since it had more armour than their other gear.  Double Huh?  When I tried to explain that it was Pally healing plate I was told to “#@*&% off, you are not the tank, I know what I am doing”.  I responded asking him to at least keep up Frost Aura for the extra threat, and was told “Leave me the hell alone, unholy allows me to attack faster meaning they die faster”. Triple wow! The healer was well geared and said, ok, let him try maybe I can keep him up regardless. Needless to say, we wiped and everyone left. Thinking about it afterwards I was even more shocked as WOW, this was a DK, meaning he already had a high level character and was still this clueless?

All this comes down to a simple point, don’t go into an instance and attempt to do something you don’t understand.  The DK may well have been a good DPS player, but as a tank he was literally clueless.  All you are going to do is waste yours and four other player’s times.  Take the time to learn these other roles with friends or try them on your own.  Read some of the basics on the class and spec you are trying, then get the gear ready, then practice in solo combat to get ready.  Once you are prepared try to find a group for an easy instance to try it out, preferably friends.  Once you have the hang of it, then jump into the random group finder and learn some more!

Remember, even those of us that understand a lot that goes on in the game don’t know everything.  The more you learn and understand, the more you realize there is to learn and understand.  This is a constant in WoW just as it is in any other part of life.

DPS is replaceable

Don’t get me wrong, good DPS is hard to find and even harder to replace.  DPS in a heroic or instance though is almost always replaceable.  What this means is that as a DPS player you should always go into an instance with something to prove. 

Play smart and surprise the tank and healer, make them count on you.  Remember any buffs you have, watch your agro, stun or slow down anything that gets loose and goes after the healer, and anything else you can do.  This is not typical DPS behaviour though, it should be, but tends not to be.  Strive for excellence to be your normal and it will make you irreplaceable.

Get rid of the bad apple

As much as it pains people to be mean, sometimes it is ok to be.  After struggling in a group for a while, if it really is obvious that someone just can not be there, use the vote to kick button.  This usually will come up with an under geared healer or tank, but can occasionally be a DPS. 

While it seems to fly in the face of the above statement that DPS is replaceable, you can generally get through an instance with low DPS.  If your tank or healer are not geared or capable though, you will never, ever finish the instance.  Give them a chance, sometimes a good player can pull it through even if under geared, but once it’s obvious lay the boot down on them.

While some players consider it rude to kick someone, I find it far worse that a player ruins the experience and wastes the time of four other players simply due to their lack of gear, skill, or knowledge.  I would however warn them and be as nice about it as possible.  Something like “Sorry but I just don’t think we can survive here with your tanking / healing.  We are going to try to find a replacement”.

The same can be done for DPS but really low DPS can still get you through.  Replacing DPS comes down to how fast you want to get through and how generous you are with carrying someone.  If it is a heroic and they are only doing 1200 DPS you may want to replace them, then again maybe not.  By the time the 15 minute time is up and you can replace them, you are likely almost done with the instance anyway.  If all DPS is so low that you are having issues, then maybe it is an option. 

Learn to cut your loses

Sometimes it happens that everyone in the group is horrible. Blizzard seems to do a decent job and putting together groups, but I have seen a few random heroic groups that don’t have a chance.  This could be a bad combination of poorly geared or player tanks and healers, all three DPS being super low, or players constantly AFKing or DCing.  Whatever the case may be, sometimes it becomes obvious that the group just will not cut it.

For example once I got put into a group on my Death Knight alt and we were given Halls of Reflection as the heroic instance.  While my gear is not great on the DK, it is just good enough to do HoR (being a harder instance than most) if I have a good healer and decent DPS.  We started the instance and the first wave took forever and we wiped on the second wave.  I then took some time to look at the group, and they were all in blues and greens, with only the occasional epic.  Knowing that I would eventually slip up and let something hit one of them, and that I require a lot of healing in the tanking gear I have (being an off set) it was better to just cut all of our loses and  leave. 

If we had been given almost any other heroic we could have made it through given some time.  Since the whole group was under geared though, it was far better to save everyone some time and just abandon ship.  You will come to these situations, learn to recognize them and get out quickly.


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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.

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