I kind of feel like I'm copying Spinks here since she made a post very much like this only a few hours ago, but to be honest I intended to write something like this long before I saw her entry - and I hope that many more people will do the same, because I'm very keen on hearing what experiences other people are having with the new dungeon finder.
First off, you can shake your head at people who take the day off work when cool new content is released on WoW just to be able to play more, but today I really wished that I could have been one of them. As it was, I was on afternoon shift at my workplace, which meant that I had just enough time to patch the game and see the servers come up before I had to leave for work, and that I didn't get a chance to actually log in until very late in the evening.
I knew that I'd want to turn my attention towards one of the new instance-related features first, so it was either pugging a random dungeon using the new dungeon finder or trying to get into one of the new Icecrown five-mans with some guildies. Seeing how I had found some unpleasant guild drama on the forums immediately upon logging in, I ended up preferring some distance from my guildies for the night and tried my luck with the pugs.
Random heroic #1: Azjol-Nerub on my priest
I started off by adding myself to the random heroic queue on my main, a healing priest. I got a "Your group is ready!" popup literally instantly, then got a loading screen for what I recognised as Azjol-Nerub, then found myself in a party but back in Dalaran. The name tags quickly made it apparent that it was indeed a cross-server pug and that we could chat just fine, but we were confused by the instance teleport apparently not working. Our tank then dropped group so we got thrown back into the queue, but found a new one within only a couple of minutes.
Someone in the group suggested that the tool was likely just buggy and that we should try making our way to the instance portal the old-fashioned way, as we should be able to meet up inside. I was the first to arrive at the Pit of Narjun but the instance portal acted like a solid wall to me. To make things worse I had accidentally got myself flagged myself for PvP by getting too close to Wintergrasp on the way, and before I could even grasp what was happening, a night elf druid had ganked my bewildered self as I was vainly trying to gain entrance to the instance.
While corpse-running back I realised that I had actually been greeted by an unpleasantly familiar error message: "Additional instances cannot be launched, please try again later." Argh, I thought we were past this! However, my party decided to valiantly try banging their heads against the instance portal for a few more minutes and eventually managed to snag a free instance ID. An interesting thing to note was that I could see their little dots right beside me on the mini-map, even though they were on a different server; I thought that was kind of cool.
I clearly wasn't the only one having ganking problems, as one hunter stumbled in and managed to die from an enemy dot a second later and right in front of me, which we both thought was kind of hilarious. At this point we had four people in the instance, but the fifth group member, a retribution paladin, was still sitting in Dalaran and apparently AFK, since he wasn't responding to chat and hadn't in fact said anything at all since the party got assembled. So we immediately got to try out the vote-kick feature as well, which worked nicely and we got a new dps from the queue instantly.
Happy to finally be ready to go, we proceeded to have a very fast and smooth run. Someone in the group must have been a disenchanter as the disenchant option came up and we got to try it. About half the group still selected greed though, more out of habit than anything else I suspect. I was also surprised to see the disenchant option pop up for bind-on-equip greens as well, I guess I can save my boyfriend's enchanter alt some work in the future then.
A guildie had warned me earlier that I should need on the frozen orb at the end because the other puggers were sure to do the same. Not wanting to be so cynical I hit greed, as did three of the others... but the fifth hit need and that was enough. Considering the low value of frozen orbs these days and the fact that it had been a nice run otherwise I decided not to say anything about it though.
Random heroic #2: The Nexus on my hunter
I decided to try my luck on my hunter next. Unsurprisingly damage ended up being a lot less in demand than healing, and despite of the tool's predicted wait time of two minutes, I spent a good ten minutes in the queue before a full group for heroic Ahn'kahet popped up. Still not too bad when you're a huntard I guess.
We ended up having the same problem with getting an instance ID, but I happily told my party that it shouldn't be a big deal if we just went to Dragonblight and poked the instance portal a bit, however I got no response. I still flew to the Pit of Narjun on my own and managed to get inside Old Kingdom after only a few attempts. Proudly I told my party that I had managed to snag an ID and if they'd only come over now... at which point several people went "meh" because clearly actually flying to an instance is too much fucking work, and quit the group. The remaining ones disconnected simultaneously, making it impossible for me to add new people to the group in the meantime (cause the tool wouldn't let me), and then disbanded the party as soon as they came back on without saying a word. I felt very sheepish as I stood there all alone on the ramp right behind the instance entrance.
When I complained about these events to my guildies, a couple of them helpfully pointed out to me that there had been no need to walk to the instance myself, as you can just click on the little eye icon next to the minimap and select "teleport to the instance". D'oh, if I had only been able to tell that to the other guys earlier... then again, I can pass on grouping with people that uncooperative and lazy anyway.
Nonetheless I was undeterred and hopped back into the queue. After another five minutes or so another group had been assembled for me, this time for the Nexus. Again we couldn't get an instance ID right away, but spamming the "teleport to the instance" command got us there after a few minutes.
Everyone was there and ready and we set off towards the dwarf mini boss. The resto shaman kept running ahead and pulling in place of the tank (What is it with the Nexus and annoying healers doing that?), complaining that we were going way too slowly. One of the dps responded with "quit your whinging", at which point the shaman decided that he didn't want to deal with "such attitude" and quit the group right in the middle of the boss fight. Fortunately we lived, and upon rejoining the LFG tool we got a priest healer as replacement immediately.
We plodded on happily, but only a few pulls later our mage messed up and brought some adds, causing us to wipe. In the Nexus, yeah. Still, it didn't have to be a big deal, but the mage "mystery-DCed" right afterwards, and the tank said that he had seen him log off on purpose outside the instance entrance (they must have been on the same server). So before I could even type out my suggestion to give the guy a minute or two to come back, the rest of the group had kicked him and got a replacement dps.
The rest of the run continued smoothly, though we didn't have a disenchanter and thus clicking on the "disenchant" option for drops did exactly nothing.
On a side note, I absolutely loved the revamped misdirection, even if the animation for it appearing over my head instead of that of my target confused me at first. Being able to transfer the threat of an entire volley salvo is simply amazing.
After Keristrasza's death we once again had just that one guy who rolled need on the frozen orb, and this time I couldn't resist at least asking about it. As it turned out he was quite apologetic and said that he'd only done it because he thought that's what everyone else would do too. Apparently people are only becoming cross-server ninjas if they are too scared of others ninjaing stuff from them. There was a happy ending though as we just ended up re-rolling for the orb and the priest won it.
Random heroic #3: The Oculus on my paladin
Once I was back in Dalaran, I decided that I had enough time for one more random heroic left, this time on my paladin. I queued up as both tank and healer and once again got a group instantly, though I was surprised that I had been assigned the healer spot. With the constant talk about tank shortages I was pretty sure that I would have to tank.
Once again a new instance couldn't be launched right away, but it didn't take us more than two or three tries to teleport inside. Also, for all the talking there's been about cross-realm LFG making it impossible to meet players repeatedly and to befriend them properly, I was amused to see the AFK pally from AN in my group again. He wasn't AFK this time but still didn't really talk - I think he said one sentence during the entire run, and that was in some nordic language that I didn't understand.
In fact at least three of my four temporary allies were Scandinavian, and happily chattering away in party chat in their native language throughout the whole run. To be honest I thought that was a bit rude - Earthen Ring has a large nordic population as well, but in mixed company it's generally considered polite to speak a lingua franca.
Performance-wise I really couldn't complain much about this group, except that it was maybe in a bit too much of a hurry. I barely had time to loot anything before the tank had once again rushed out of range and into the next group of mobs. The upside of this was that I got both the Experienced Drake Rider and the Make It Count achievements without even intending to. Oh, and nobody rolled need on the frozen orb this time.
The only other thing left to say about this run is that the Oculus really has been nerfed hard. From what I could make out, one of the Scandinavians actually asked if we had accidentally entered on normal mode, because it was just that easy. This was just as we were approaching Mage-Lord Urom, who died before he could even teleport once. Still, up to that point it might have been that we just had really good dps, but the last bit with the drakes had really changed quite noticeably.
The drakes have been scaling with gear for some time now, but as far as I recall that used to mean about a quarter more health for them if you were in top-end epics. Now on the other hand, not a single drake had less than one hundred thousand hit points, and I think the strongest one had nearly twice the "default" value of seventy-five thousand. There also seemed to be considerably fewer whelps around, and everything was just... weaker. I was riding a bronze drake, the one colour that I'm still not entirely comfortable with, and just hitting buttons randomly, yet we never got even close to dying. Also, I was making sure to save my time-stop for Eregos' enrage but it took ages until it actually happened and then we only had that one enrage during the whole fight. I couldn't help thinking of something my friend Scorch predicted when we were discussing what the incoming Oculus nerfs might be: "They removed all the dragons. All of them! You enter the dungeon and there's a mage there with a very big chest. The mage says: I will you give you my big chest, but about twenty minutes after I die, so you have to sit on your hands till then." That seems less and less unrealistic now...
So what's my verdict on the new dungeon finder so far?
Overall I'm happy to say that the quality of the players from the other servers in the battlegroup didn't strike me as any worse than that of Earthen Ring's. The over-sensitive shaman from the Nexus was a bit silly, but then I've had worse than that on ER too. The need-rolling on the frozen orbs and carefree chatter in a language that half the party can't understand struck me as signs of some servers simply having a different pug culture, and we'll see how things will develop in that regard now that we all have to find a common middle ground for the whole battlegroup.
The main advantage of the new tool is simply that it's incredibly fast. Being ported to and back from the instance instantly saves a lot of time (when it works), and things like getting a near-instant replacement for someone who threw a huff or disconnected are simply amazing.
The "additional instances cannot be launched" thing really annoyed me at first, but I have to cut Blizzard some slack. Considering just how many people were likely trying out the new tool they didn't do too badly, and as I said we were always able to snag an ID after a few minutes at the latest.
The few minor downsides I can think of is that not having an actual daily quest to hand in feels a lot less satisfying, plus it makes it impossible to kill two birds with one stone and do both the normal and the heroic daily at once, like you used to be able to on some days. Also, with the daily dungeon being unpredictably random, planning your runs will become harder to an extent. I used to be able to do stuff like run the daily heroic four times in two hours when I knew that it was Azjol-Nerub and thus really quick. When I queue for a random dungeon on the other hand, I might get Trial of the Champion and be done in fifteen minutes, but I might also get Old Kingdom and have to calculate for about an hour of run-time. Still, those seem like small trade-offs for the extreme increase in convenience.
At Loose Ends on the Fantasy Front
10 hours ago