First, a confession. Despite having used the dungeon finder in World of Warcraft as a part of my arguments for the erosion of quality social interaction in games, I had never actually used the dungeon finder myself. I’d read tons of impressions and reviews, and made educated assumptions. While my worgen is designed to play with the wife and the rogue is designed to play the game awkwardly, I also made a priest specifically to play with other random people.
The priest, Hrogammon, is a human (of course) and because you pretty much can’t group with people even if you pay them before level 15 I spec’d him out for shadow. I plan to keep a shadow spec for soloing, but I’m also going to do a healing spec later in order to play in groups better. (Besides, and I know people will argue with me, a shadow spec’d priest should be able to heal a normal dungeon just fine as long as he has decent gear.) In any event, I figured that until the mid to late 20s and beyond there really isn’t much difference to the three trees anyway as the bonuses are small. I could be wrong, and I’ll do more research later, but as I said, I’m going to have two spec’s eventually, so I’m not worried much.
Anyway, so I made it to level 18 by doing dailies and running quests up to and through Westfall. When I completed Westfall and they sent me off to Redridge, I decided to head to Stormwind instead and try my hand at the dungeon finder.
I queued up as Healer and DPS, even though I knew full well that I was going to be plugged in as healing every single time due to the over abundance of DPS players. The very first group I was thrust into was a perfect example of why playing a DPS stinks. It was me as the healer, a paladin as tank and three warriors as DPS. That’s right, three warriors had spec’d and gone into the queue as DPS only (has to be, because if they’d gone in as tanks, they’d be tanks and not all in the same group). The only advantage here was that when the paladin had to leave, the warriors were actually able to tank and we kept playing until a new paladin showed up. By the way, you’ll see a theme here in a minute. The group lasted for a little while in the Wailing Caverns but then the paladin and two warriors disconnected, the other warrior and I wanted for a moment staring at the party portraits with disconnect lightning bolts for about five minutes then we both left the group. During this time, the warrior and I talked, the most talking that had occurred the entire time, but sadly he plays on another server, so I’ll probably never see him again because I’m not about to give out my RealID to a random stranger.
The next group I had was in the Wailing Caverns again. A paladin tank, warrior DPS, rogue DPS and a druid DPS. Things were going along swimmingly, except I noticed that the other party members were leaving everything short of a green on the bodies. If it wasn’t rolled on, it wasn’t looted. Being a cash poor player, I started looting things, especially the occasional mana potion and beverage (to recover mana between fights). The paladin said, “keep up”. Which I did. I continued looting, especially the quest items, and the paladin would randomly say, “keep up” or “go”. Eventually I guess he got fed up with me because I was kicked from the group. Now, keep in mind, at no point did anyone die, at no point did I miss a heal, at no point did they slow down (even the time or two when I told them I was out of mana), he simply didn’t like the fact that I was looting I guess. Boot. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all, right? Wait, I haven’t won any yet… maybe next group.
So I queue up as healer and DPS again, and instantly I’m healer in another group. Some castle with werewolves, I don’t recall the name. We all grab the quest at the door, head in and fight the first boss who is literally right around the corner (okay, he’s around the corner, up some stairs, down a hall, and then down some stairs, but he’s really close). While we fight, I take note of the group: paladin tank, warrior DPS, mage DPS, druid DPS. The paladin, warrior and mage are all in the same guild. We win! Quest turn in! Next quest! “brb” says the paladin. “be back” says the mage. “afk” says the warrior. The druid and I dance. We tell some jokes. We chat. Around ten minutes later, no one is back yet. They aren’t sitting down either, which means they are “active”, maybe chatting with the guild. I try to get their attention. The druid does too. Eventually we give up and leave the group.
Back into the queue, Wailing Caverns again. I still have the quests from before because we never get far enough to finish them. Paladin tank, warrior DPS (have you noticed the pattern yet?), mage DPS, rogue DPS. After a couple minutes, the paladin leaves. The game makes me leader which I immediately pass off to the mage since she says she knows the dungeon. The mage is a great leader. Tagging mobs with stars for killing, skulls for sheeping, and more. And she explains all this in chat, so we know what is going on and it works. During this time we force the warrior to tank. After a little while we get another paladin who takes over the tank duties. The rogue leaves and we pick up a druid in cat form almost instantly. The warrior leaves and we get another warrior DPS within like three seconds. The new paladin is a great tank, the mage is leading us well, and I’m doing a bang up job on healing. I’ve also decided that even though warriors probably should also tank, the fact is that self healing paladin tanks are awesome. The tank and I get into a good rhythm of trading healing duties to keep her up and keep me from being out of mana so much. We kill all the bosses we need, everyone has their hides and serpentblooms and we head back to do turn ins. This is, of course, all going too well, so it needs to fall apart. Apparently there is a second phase or something, in that we killed the bosses and it triggers an NPC to run through the caverns and you have to keep up and protect him. At least three of us in group didn’t know this. The mage says, “afk a sec” and the paladin triggers the NPC. *sigh* So it’s just 4 of us running wildly after the NPC, and the rogue, thinking he’s helping (or possibly sabotaging us on purpose) starts running ahead to fight mobs before the NPC gets there. This results in two things: 1) I now have multiple heal targets, and 2) the NPC runs past the rogue who is fighting and goes deeper. See, on escorts you need to make sure the NPC stops to fight when you do so that he doesn’t get too far ahead. Pretty soon we are all fighting. The mage catches up just in time for us to be fighting about 6 enemies at once. The rogue dies, I die, the paladin dies, the warrior dies and the mage goes from full health to zero so fast I almost miss it as all the enemies attack her. We respawn and run, but not fast enough, the NPC we were escorting is gone. The paladin informs us that the dungeon cannot be completed now and quits. The mage apologizes for being afk, I tell her she did great regardless, and she leaves. The warrior drops. And finally the rogue says, “healer u suk” and quits. I quit too.
I’ll keep playing with the dungeon finder, but at this point I’m pretty sure my earlier assessments will stand. It’s mostly anti-social, and when you do find good people, you find out they don’t play on your server and you aren’t likely to ever see them again. However, I do see the value of a tool like this. In a one shard world this would be awesome since every single person you played with would be someone you could continue playing with, and being a dick might end you up on enough ignore lists that it hampers your ability to use the tool.