It's finally time: you've been leveling on your own but now you've been lured into your first dungeon by a quest or the promise of gear. But running dungeons with a group of four other players is a lot different from soloing -- different enough to seem like a whole new game. When you enter a dungeon, you need to work as part of a team, and take careful consideration of the rest of your group before you make any moves. It's a very different mindset than what you're accustomed to as a solo player.
Even if you feel like you know your stuff in World of Warcraft, the switch from soloing to grouping can be bumpy -- so how do you make the transition without looking like a newbie? Fortunately, we've been around the block a time or two and have some advice to help you get started, no newbie moments required.
Start dungeoning as DPS
If you've never healed or tanked before, your first runs will go smoother as DPS. Dealing damage isn't that much different in a group than it is when soloing, so you can get used to working with a group and following the tank without also having to learn a new style of gameplay. And while it's important for DPS to do their best in a group situation, they also have a bit more leeway than tanks or healers, where a misstep is more likely to cause big problems for the group.
If you're interested in tanking or healing, try making the change after you have a few dungeon runs under your belt -- that will give you a better idea of how the dynamics of a dungeon group work in practice when you do try to heal or tank your first dungeon.
Head to lower level dungeons
No, we're not saying you should to a dungeon that's so below your level you don't get useful experience or gear from it -- but there's a whole world of difference between a dungeon that's a level or two below your level and a dungeon that's a level or two above your level. When you're learning the ropes, opt for a less challenging experience: less of a challenge gives you more room to make mistakes and more room to make mistakes means more room to learn. As you become more familiar with how to work with dungeon groups, you can (and should!) head to more difficult dungeons, and eventually to heroic dungeons and raids.
Go in a group with friends
Friends will likely be more forgiving than strangers: if you can, run your first dungeons with at least a few people you know. If they're more experienced players, they can help show you the basics and get you out of dangerous situations if mistakes are made. But even if your in-game buddies aren't World of Warcraft experts, they'll understand that you're just getting started and will go easy on you if accidentally mess up.
If grouping with friends isn't an option, then explain to your group that you're just starting to run dungeons. Asking for help or just understanding can go a long way -- and may mean that players who might have cursed you for making mistakes will help guide you through the tricky parts of the dungeon instead.
Know what you need and come prepared
We can't stress this one enough: being prepared is what will always separate the newbies from the pros. Because it's very inconvenient for you and your group if you have to run off mid-dungeon to run some urgent errand, it's crucial that you show up for a dungeon run ready to go. This means you have everything you need to do your job in the dungeon, whether you're tanking, healing, or dishing out damage. Here's a good checklist to run through before you head into a dungeon:
- Is your gear is repaired?
- Do you have the right gear for your role equipped?
- Do you have the right spec for your role activated?
- Do you have any potions you need (if nothing else, a few health potions in case of emergencies)?
- Do you have bandages (again, in case of emergencies)?
- Do you have food and drink to heal yourself and replenish mana between rounds of combat?
Be polite to your fellow dungeon-crawlers
Etiquette in any WoW situation really boils down to the golden rule: don't do to anyone else what you wouldn't want done to yourself. Politeness is something you can't have too much of, so mind your pleases and thank yous, ask your group if you have any problems or questions, and make sure you know the loot rules before you take anything (even skinning corpses, collecting herbs, or mining). Respecting your fellow players means they're likely to respect you back. And if not, well, at least you tried.
Also, if you're a class that can give buffs or other useful conjured items, it's polite for you to do so even if no one in your group has thought to ask.
Learning to tank or heal
Jumping from solo play to tanking or healing is, we think, one of World of Warcraft's most difficult challenges -- because the only way to learn is on the job. Once you have some experience with running dungeons as DPS, if you're interested in tanking or healing we recommend that you get started by:
- Reading all you can about tanking and healing, especially as it applies to your class -- you can get started with our newbie-centric tips on healing and tanking.
- Making sure you have the right specializations and talents to tank or heal. With dual specs, it's easy to have more than one specialization, so all you have to do is make sure you've set up your tanking or healing spec and activated it before you've head off to your dungeon run. Also make sure you have your button bars for those alternate specs set up properly.
- Making sure you're geared to tank or heal -- you can start collecting gear for these roles in quests or on the auction house before you set foot in a dungeon.
- Researching the dungeon in advance. We know we said this already, but it bears repeating: this is especially important for tanks and healers so they know the strategy of each fight and how to deal with it. Knowing what you're getting into can be the difference between walking away with loot and doing a corpse run.
Just because you're a newbie doesn't mean you can't bring your A-game to World of Warcraft! Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from the seven things every newbie ought to know to how to get started as a healer or as a tank.