Updated Sun, Nov 18, 2012 by Xerin
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Instances are World of Warcraft’s dungeon system. Dungeons are not in the open world where people would have to fight over the bosses. They’re instead in self contained “instances” where the instance gives each group or raid their own copy to play in. This prevents outside intrusion and allows the game developer to hone the battles and the rewards for a set number of people. There are two types of instances. 5-man instances and raids which can come in 10 or 25 man versions (archaic instances sometimes allow different numbers inside).
Are you looking for a guide to instances? Sometimes we all need a helping hand in figuring out where to go or what to do in various instance encounters. Click here to see a list of instance guides available here at Ten Ton Hammer.
There are two types of instances in WoW. Group instances (collectively called 5-man instances) and raids. A 5-man instance is called a 5-man instance for a simple reason: they only allow 5 people inside. Those 5 people are given their own dungeon to fight in and no one else is allowed in. The groups generally consist of a tank (someone to take damage), a healer (someone to heal the damage taken), and three damage dealers (to deal damage to the enemies) in order to defeat the enemies and bosses inside. The enemies inside are considered “elites” who give more XP than normal and the bosses are guaranteed to drop superior quality items or better. So there is good XP and loot inside of instances. Not to mention a plethora of quests that are often associated with each dungeon that often give superior quality loot and large sums of money. You can run 4 regular instances an hour and reset them by having the group leader right click their profile and choose “reset all instances”.
Raids follow the same logic, but cater to larger groups (usually 10 or 25 players instead of 5). They feature better loot (epic items almost always drop from bosses), tier gear (often the best set of gear for a class), and a higher level of difficulty. They’re usually run by guilds seeking to get some of the best loot in the game and also require a hefty bit of gear before you can even attempt them. They also have “lockout timers” that save you to that instance for a certain period of time. This means that anything you do in there will stay saved until the lockout timer resets, unless the raid leader extends the timer and you agree to resave to that saved instance. Raids cannot be manually reset and you can only save to one type of instance per lockout period.
Heroic versions of normal instances and raids also exist which give superior loot over the normal versions. There are different ways to toggle heroic mode depending on the instance itself. Most heroic instances require you to set the group to “5-man heroic” while raids are a bit different. Raids like Ulduar require you to engage a boss a certain way to “unlock” their heroic mode. ToC requires you to change the group to a “10/25 man heroic raid”. Icecrown allows you to toggle each encounter between heroic or not.
Heroic 5-mans have a 24 hour reset timer that resets at your server reset time each day. So you can only do one of each regular heroic per day, unless you use the LFG random system introduced in 3.3.
Heroic versions of regular instances are level 80 only and generally require a good bit of gear from normal dungeons before you can successfully run them. Heroic raid encounters often require a substantial amount of gear from the regular raid before you’re successful in attempting it.
Entry into an instance can be a daunting task so it’s important to prepare properly. First ask yourself if you have enough gear to run the instance. Any pre-max level instance can be run in almost any kind of gear so you don’t have to worry about that. Max level instances do require you to have a certain amount of gear and it changes from instance to instance. For example, a raid will often want you to be epic’d out in gear from the previous raid. Naxxramas requires epic’d out gear from heroic, Ulduar requires epic’d out gear from Naxxramas, and so on and so on.
You’ll need potions, food and drink, and reagents too. You don’t want to run out of arrows or raid wide buff reagents in the middle of an instance. That’d be inconvenient and time consuming to stop the instance while you run out and resupply.
Be sure to read a guide too. We’re full of guides around here so this is an excellent resource on finding out what to do inside of an instance. There is usually a lot of ‘em and tricky boss encounters so it can be worth the time to read a quick guide before you hop in.
Instances can run anywhere from half an hour to 10-12 hours+. No, no, you don’t do the 10-12 hour ones in one sitting. If you remember, you’re often saved to a raid, so you can do ‘em in 4-5 hour chunks to make them more manageable. Regular instances often last an hour to half an hour. Raids can be fast (as quick as an hour) or long (the whole 12 hours+). It all depends on the raid, skill, and gear of those playing.
You’ll often be expected to perform a singular role in the instance which is either healing, tanking (or offtanking), or damage dealing and may have to do additional things depending on the encounter. That’s why it’s a good idea to read up on a guide first so you can be sure you’ll know what to do beforehand. During the instance you’ll have to fight trash on your way to bosses (these are easy elites). Each boss in the game works a different way with different abilities. When you defeat a boss you’ll get some shiny loot (superior quality armor/weapons or better) and the ability to continue on. Some bosses, who are optional, won’t block your way but will give you additional loot if you feel like taking them on.
We’ve got ten tons of guides here at Ten Ton Hammer. Below you’ll find a list of all of our guides in one easy place. Why not bookmark this page so you can easily find it in the future?
|Original WoW||The Burning Crusade||
|Cataclysm||Cataclysm||Mists of Pandaria|
|13-18||Ragefire Chasm||Located within Orgrimmar, it's one of the easiest instances for lowbies to do and one of the first.||Orgrimmar|
|17-24||Deadmines||The first lowbie Alliance instance, inside of Westfall, and rather lengthy.||Westfall|
|17-24||Wailing Caverns||Located in the Barrens, the Wailing Caverns have a large number of quests but it is also a very lengthy instance.||The Barrens|
|22-30||Shadowfang Keep||A short instance inside of Silverpine Forest that is primarely for the Horde.||Silverpine Forest|
|24-32||Blackfathom Depths||A watery themed instance that most avoid these days.||Ashenvale|
|24-32||Stockades||A Alliance instance located in Stormwind, the Stockades is a good wool farming location.||Stormwind|
|29-38||Gnomeregan||Gnomer is full of gnomes and is a very long instance with a ton of a quests (for the Alliance at least).||Dun Morogh|
|29-38||Razorfen Kraul||RFK for short, Kraul is short and sweet.||The Barrens|
|34-43||Scarlet Monastery||SM is good for a lot of excellent gear and some very good level 40 quest rewards.||Trisfal Glades|
|37-46||Razorfen Downs||RFD is short and easy, and has a very good plate helm off the lich.||The Barrens|
|41-51||Uldaman||Uldaman is rarely ran these days, but it's an interesting instance.||Badlands|
|44-54||Zul'Farrak||ZF is a "must run", fun, quick, and with a lot of quests there is little reason not to pay a visit to this troll city.||Tanaris|
|46-55||Marudon||Marudon is long and scary, often avoided, but does have a good bit of interesting gear in it (with lots of nature resist).||Desolace|
|50-60||The Sunken Temple||The Sunken Temple is in SoS and your average instance.||Swamp of Sorrows|
|55-60||Blackrock Spire||BRS is broken up into two parts lower and upper. Upper has better loot than lower, but both sides are great for loot and quests.||Blackrock Mountain|
|55-60||Dire Maul||DM has some of the best pre Outlands loot out there, an awesome storyline, and some fun encounters.||Feralas|
|60 (Raid)||Zul'Gurub||ZG is a raid instance in STV that provided a lot of pre-MC purps in the day.||Stranglethorn Vale|
|58-60||Scholomance||Scholomance is in WPL and is rather short with a lot of loot in it.||Western Plaguelands|
|58-60||Stratholme||OLD Stratholme is pretty good for loot, but has two sides. Undead and Alive, both which are usually ran apart from one another.||Eastern Plaguelands|
|60 (Raid)||Molten Core||MC is an old 40 person raid.||Blackrock Mountains|
|60 (Raid)||Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj||AQ20 is an old raid in Silithus.||Silithus|
|60 (Raid)||Temple of Ahn'Qiraj||AQ40 is an old raider in Silithus.||Silithus|
|60-62||Hellfire Ramparts||Hellfire Ramparts is the first instance you can run in Outland and is short, easy, and full of loot. Groups still regularly run it.||Hellfire Peninsula|
|61-63||The Blood Furnace||The second instance you can run in Outland. A decent instance with some fun bosses.||Hellfire Peninsula|
|62-64||The Slave Pens||The first instance in Zangarmarsh, rather lengthy, but does have some good loot (with lots of sockets).||Zangarmarsh|
|63-65||Underbog||About the same as The Slave Pens, more fish people!||Zangarmarsh|
|64-66||The Mana Tombs||A very difficult instance, but well worth it for the quests.||Terokkar Forest|
|65-67||Auchenai Crypts||Not as hard as The Mana Tombs, but with a lot of good quests going to it.||Terokkar Forest|
|66-68||Old Hillsbrad||Rescue Thrall! This is located in the Caverns of Time.||Tanaris|
|67-69||Sethekk Halls||A very hard instance that's for higher level players. Usually skipped at this level.||Terokkar Forest|
|68-70||Black Morass||Another Caverns of Time instance, you have to run Old Hillsbrad first.||Tanaris|
|69-70||The Mechanar||A very easy to run instance in Netherstorm.||Netherstorm|
|70||Magisters' Terrace||A HARD instance that isn't used for leveling. The heroic version has some interesting rewards.||Isle of Quel'Danas|
|70||Shadow Labyrinth||Usually only ran as a heroic now for some pre-WotLK leveling gear.||Terokkar Forest|
|70||Shattered Halls||See above.||Terokkar Forest|
|70||The Arcatraz||See above.||Netherstorm|
|70||The Botanica||See above||Netherstorm|
|70 (Raid)||Karazhan||Medivh's tower in Deadwind Pass. A level 70 raid for 10 players. Good entry level epics were obtained here, but now it's mostly about the Mongoose enchant and achievements.||Deadwind Pass|
|70 (Raid)||Magthridon's Lair||An old defunct raid.||Hellfire Peninsula|
|70 (Raid)||Serpantshrine Cavern||An old defunct raid.||Zangarmarsh|
|70 (Raid)||Zul'aman||An old defunct raid. The bear mount is no longer obtaintable.||Ghostlands|
|80||Halls of Lightning||HoL is where you fight off Loken, a really powerful dude left by the Titans.||Storm Peaks|
|80||Halls of Stone||Help Brann discover the history of the dwarves.||Storm Peaks|
|70+||Nexus||Really good for heroic badge runs.||Borean Tundra / Coldarra|
|80||Trial of the Champion||Partcipate in the Trial of the Champion! Stacked ilvl 200 epics drop in the normal and heroic version.||Icecrown|
|80||Utgarde Keep||A rather short instance in WotLK. The heroic is good for badge runs.||Howling Fjord|
|70+||Utgarde Pinnacle||One of the first instances you can run in WotLK. Pretty easy going.||Howling Fjord|
|80 (Raid)||Eye of Eternity||Malygos drops ilvl 213+ loot in this fun raid instance.||Borean Tundra / Coldarra|
|80 (Raid)||Naxxramas||Naxxramas returns! Entry level raid instance that drops ilvl 213+ items.||Dragonblight|
|80 (Raid)||Onyxia's Lair||ilvl 245 weapons? Onyxia returns better than ever with some excellent loot.||Dustwallow Marsh|
|80 (Raid)||Trial of the Crusader||A very hard raid that drops ilvl 245+ items.||Icecrown|
|80 (Raid)||Ulduar||A hard raid that drops ilvl 232+ items.||Storm Peaks|
|80||Throne of Tides||An underwater adventure||Vashj'ir|
|80||Blackrock Caverns||A return to Blackrock mountain||Burning Steppes / Searing Gorge|
|82||The Stonecore||Explore the plane of elemental earth||Deepholm|
|82||Vortex Pinnacle||A journey to a castle in the sky||Uldum|
|85||Grim Batol||An ancient Dwarven stronghold||Twilight Highlands|
|85||Lost City of the Tol'vir||An outdoor instance in a jungle temple||Uldum|
|85||Halls of Origination||A huge instance with many bosses||Uldum|
|85 (Raid)||Dragon Soul - Part 1||The final raid in the Cataclysm expansion||Dragonblight|
|85 (Raid)||Dragon Soul - Part 2||The second part final raid in the Cataclysm expansion||Dragonblight|
|85||Help the Jade Serpent get back into her temple by defeating the Sha of Doubt||Jade Forest|
|85||Stormstout Brewery||This should be a great place to get a drink, but first you need to clear out the enemies||Valley of the Four Winds|
|87||Mogu'shan Palace||A stronghold of the Mogu||Kun-Lai Summit|
|87||Shado-pan Monastery||Home of the ancient Shado-pan order||Kun-Lai Summit|
|90||Gates of the Setting Sun||Face a huge Mantid living battering ram||Dread Wastes|
|90||Heroic Scholomance||A great update to a classic instance||Western Plagulands|
|90||The Mogu'Shan Vaults LFR version||Kun-Lai Summit|
|90||Heart of Fear LFR||The first part of the Heart of Fear when done with LFR||Dread Wastes|
|90||Nightmare of Shk'zeer LFR||The second part of the Heart of Fear when done with LFR||Dread Wastes|