Instance level 201 – a deeper look

Yesterday I made a post about leveling characters through instances. I touched on professions, gear and a suggestion of how to make the most of your time. There are a few additional factors which can come into play, which will be today’s focus.

Heirloom Gear

As stated, heirloom gear is king when leveling alts; often two or more alts can share the same gear, depending on class and role. The most basic gear can be bought from Emblems of Heroism. Since these are no longer available, this means downgrading from Triumph to Valor to Heroism, which can be a bit costly.

Alternatively, heirloom gear can be obtained with Stone Keeper’s Shards, which are quite easy to get with the random heroics. This heirloom gear will have resilience on it, but other than that is still very good (and offers the 10% xp bonus). This is also a good source of, for instance, Paladin healing shoulders and the only heirloom gun I know of.

The third way of obtaining heirloom gear is through Champion’s Seals at the Tournament.

One of the often overlooked features of Heirloom gear is that it has no Durability. It never breaks, saving you repair bills no matter how many instances you run. Especially on weapons (which can get damaged when attacking or casting spells) and chest/shoulder armor this will make quite a difference. This makes “tank training” in instances less of a problem as well, since a lot of your gear will remain servicable.

Learning instances

Many of us have done classic dungeons in the past, but we generally skipped over them when leveling alts. Some used to level exclusively through instancing, but this could get time-consuming with waiting for groups and moving to the dungeon, a drawback which was removed.

Take the time to learn the layout of the dungeons, since some can be damnably confusing (Gnomeregan, Dire Maul, Sunken Temple) and you will encounter them in your random dungeoneering even if you avoided them in the past. No escaping them, except by accepting the debuff and leaving the group, which can happen a lot if you are unlucky. The dungeon system is relatively forgiving, and won’t put you in a dungeon that is orange to you (that is, you being at the bottom level range for it) very often.

Using the Dungeon Finder

Default, hitting the “i” button will open the dungeon finder. You will have a drop-down menu where you can choose whether you want to run a random dungeon, or a specific dungeon. If you want to run a specific one (or more) check the boxes of all instances that apply and hit “Join Queue”. You can do any dungeon you qualify for, but will not receive a Satchel of Helpful Goods at the end. If you queue for a random classic dungeon, you will get the satchel.

When you have queued, you will see a green eye icon appear next to your minimap. You can mouse-over the icon to see the estimated time left before you have a group assembled, and can see by the icons (shield for a tank, green cross for a healer, red sword for a dps) what members have already been found.

Hitting “i” again or right-clicking the green eye icon will also allow you to leave the queue again. Once your group is ready, simply hit the button to be teleported into the instance. If you need to leave the instance for any reason, simply right-click the eye icon and select “teleport out of dungeon”. You can also teleport back in this way. Except when you wipe, then you’ll have to run of course.

Once the dungeon is completed, you will receive the Satchel of Helpful Goods in your inventory (the icon is identical to the TBC Halaani Bag) or in your mail if your bags are full. Done!

Tips for healers

At levels below 50, your heals will be powerful enough even with little spellpower to get the job done. A simple rule of thumb is that you could go for about 1.5 spellpower per level of your character. With talent bonuses and heirloom gear you should be able to make that. Mind you, this is a rough guideline, really rough.

This allows you to focus on gear that has a little more Stamina and Intellect, which will give you more spells to cast and allows you to take a beating when grabbing aggro (more of a risk at lower levels because tanks are still learning). If you are a priest or druid you will want some spirit, but unless you have the appropriate talents to get mana regen in combat or extra spellpower out of it, I wouldn’t get overboard yet. Remember, these are random dungeons, not raids.

You will have to get a quick measure of your tank – does he take a lot damage or not much? How is his aggro? Does he keep pulling more mobs and not waiting for you to drink? Educating “young tanks” now can help avoiding a disaster later, so be assertive and do say it when you need to drink. Then drink. If the tank keeps pulling more mobs, he either believes he can survive until you return, or he’s a moron. Nothing like a few deaths to teach the morons.

Grow a thick skin, healers get blamed quickly, especially in classic dungeons. Make sure to point out if it was not your fault, but don’t go cussing at others – you might see them quite often in your dungeoneering as all groups are drawn from one battlegroup. Fortunately, if you start early you will find healing to be quite easy and enjoyable. Each few levels you gain a few new tricks and you grow up as a healer.

Tips for DPS

First off, make sure you have DPS gear. I know that tanking piece may have better strength, or that your mana regen benefits from that cloth item as a hunter, but don’t get tempted! Better to have slightly lesser stats than being seen as an idiot and kicked before the group even started.

Allow a tank 2-3 seconds before you start DPS. Especially at lower levels tanks have much fewer tools to keep aggro, and you may overwhelm them if you keep pulling different mobs to you. Don’t pull for the tank – the tank has to learn to do it himself. Misdirect pulls and the like are a different matter, it shows the tank has read up.

Do not link recount every pull – yes, your 60 dps is stellar, but consider that other people are not interested. And being top dps but dead for half the instance is a one-way ticket for the fail train leaving vote kick station. It’s okay to link it at the end of the run, anybody who cares might stay for a second to listen.

When you DPS, make sure to make the tank’s target your primary target. Even if the tank’s not very good, he will have that mob on target, meaning he will notice it if you pull aggro. Don’t AoE unless you see some Thunderclaps, Swipes or Consecrate go off – you might be eating dirt otherwise.

Remember that if you have dispel or cleanse buttons, that you are doing the healer a favor by using it now and then – this will give you a good reputation and makes groups much easier to deal with.

Tips for tanks

At levels below 40 you are going to struggle; Paladins lack a few mandatory talents, warriors lack plate, druids have not yet built up truckloads of health and dodge, and Death Knights don’t exist yet. The only solid base advice I can give you is to look up a basic tanking guide at Tankspot, Maintankadin or BigBearButt – they usually give good guidance in making the most of your meager defensive skills. Most times you will barely have more health than the DPS, so consider tanking a lesson in skill rather than gear.

You don’t need to be Defense Capped to tank – but a bit of Defense will help. Some of the Defense blues that drop from the Satchel of Helpful Goods go a long way. Bears ignore this, of course, and go for…of the Bear gear, mostly. You will want to have a health pool that is about 5 times your level. A tank with 2k health at level 40 is a really good start and easily manageable with heirloom gear.

One of the things that was hardest for me to learn when I tanked back on my warrior years ago is spreading your threat. You will want to have some AoE abilities on the mobs, taunting whatever goes loose, but make sure you switch your normal attacks between mobs as well. Your threat per mob will usually be enough, but if you fail to spread it, that one forgotten mob will make a beeline for your healer.

Speaking of healers, you want to stay within line of sight of them. When you pull casters and hide around a corner (forcing them to run to you – the infamous Corner Pull) you want to make sure the healer can see the corner you are in. When the healer is below a set of stairs with you on them, make sure to check with him whether his heals land. And don’t run off when he’s drinking, that seriously pisses them off (or amuses them, if they’re evil).

Conclusion

That will be all for now, if you have any additions please drop a comment! Low-level instancing can be really fun, if you keep some basic bits of wisdom in mind and forget the high-end raiding stuff.

Next post will be about some of my personal experiences in classic PUGs and some anecdotal moments of fail.

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6 Responses to “Instance level 201 – a deeper look”

  1. These are some really great tips.

    Another tip that I would direct towards DPS, especially melee or maybe even Hunters is that at early levels one of the things that can lead to a wipe is when one mob in the pack drops to under 10% health and they start to run off (presumably to escape). It’s more important that you stun/slow or kill that mob very quickly – if they’re heading away from a group it’s very likely they’ll go and get some friends to cause a riot.

    Rogues are really good at finishing off low-health enemies. I imagine Hunters and other melee would do a really good job at it too if they notice before the enemy has run too far away.

    Alternatively if you have an instant spells, this is the perfect situation to use them.

    • Hunters can use Concussion Shot for runaway enemies, which also dazes them. Warriors can Hamstring, Mages and Warlocks generally just blast them with instant cast spells.
      A less used trick is for a Healadin to use Hand of Reckoning (I believe, the Paladin taunt), since it deals damage on targets that do not attack you – and runaways target no one. This is usually enough to finish them off.

  2. Clearshot Says:

    I have always been shy of dungeons, unless I go with people I “know”. I’ve always felt I’ve missed out on some things, but didn’t want to deal with small-minded people who believe in placing blame. Deserved or not. It’s not my fault, therefore it’s yours.

    I suppose I’m the one being small-minded with that attitude, but I’ve lived with it. With Dungeon Finder, now I feel like I’m REALLY being left behind. -sigh-

    I suppose it’s time to stretch a bit. And this post will help me do it, thanks for the info!

    • Blizzard has provided some real benefits to make sure that your random heroic/dungeon experience is smooth. The kick feature for AFK/Fail players works really well. It requires a majority vote and can now be done multiple times per instance. The only downside to it is that retards will hit any “ok” button to see, and will vote to kick more often than think a moment longer.

      Heirloom gear is a means of seeing that a person has at least some experience (since either PvP or dungeon emblems are required) and has a max-level character. You can expect more from a player wearing this kind of gear than someone who does not (albeit marginally).

      Lastly, you will gain a buff granting 5% healing, 5% damage done and 5% extra health for a while inside the instance; long enough to get to know each other and usually enough to make even dangerous pulls an option.

      A lot of effort went into making the dungeon tool a fun experience, obviously, and in my opinion it worked very well. Of course, there’s always the safety of getting some people you know together and joining as a group. I personally prefer to have either a tank or healer I know, just to make sure one of those angles is covered.

      We do something similiar when we pugged people to make sure our 10man raids went through – I wanted to make sure the tanks and healers were mostly ours or known people, and some of the DPS. These people would already be practically enough to clear the raid. Then all you need to do is fill up the slots and up your success chance.

      You can use the same philosophy in random classic dungeons – have yourself and a friend tank and heal, and you already avoid a lot of the common hassles.

  3. Clearshot Says:

    Hey, thanks for the encouragement to a random stranger! Altho I don’t play my SP much anymore, I always enjoy reading your posts.

  4. Clearshot Says:

    As a follow-up, I did run my first Dungeon Finder instance last night. No, the tank slowed for nothing so my DPS dropped as I stayed behind picking up stuff. It went fine until the end when I got called a “lying bitch”. Nice, right?

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