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WoW Rookie: Pro tips for lowbie dungeon runners


New around here? WoW Rookie points WoW's newest players to the basics of a good start in the World of Warcraft. For links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's, visit's WoW Rookie Guide.

When you really need to know, turn to the hive mind. Readers had plenty to say last week about their trials and tribulations (and triumphs!) running the older instances of vanilla WoW and Burning Crusade. Thanks to speedy reader comments, we were able to update readers with a resolution to the looting mess that left most groups unable to complete the staff required to summon Ironaya in Uldaman. (Any other issues with tradeable objects inside instances? Let us know about them in the comments.) As the discussion wound through page after page of observations and frustrations and advice, a veritable gold mine of tips for running low-level instances emerged. This week, we'll recap those tips for new players who are making their way through the old instances for the very first time.

Are we there yet? Older instances tend to be long. Very long. Very, very long indeed. In fact, most early WoW instances were designed to fill your entire evening. If you fully explore these places, you'll discover lore-soaked narrative, vicious packs of trash mobs (with respawn!), doors locked by puzzles and keys, bosses galore and twisted, convoluted maps. These dungeons come from an entirely different mindset than today's shotgun instances, which are designed to be run in an hour or less. Even divided in two today by the Dungeon Finder, Blackrock Depths (BRD) stands as monument to the traditional dungeon crawl. Other notoriously lengthy instances include Wailing Caverns, Shadowfang Keep, Maraudon, and Upper and Lower Blackrock Spire.

Our advice: if you don't enjoy this kind of play, don't use the random queue feature in the Dungeon Finder. Read and talk to other players to find out which instances are shortest, then queue only for those places. Hours of "torture" is fun for neither you nor the groupmates who have to suffer through your boredom and impatience. Forewarned is forearmed!

No instance maps There are no in-game instance maps inside pre-Wrath dungeons. As a new player, you probably won't miss what you haven't yet experienced -- but a lack of instance maps tends to throw Wrath-experienced players for a loop. Find maps of vanilla and Burning Crusade instances on sites like, or install a map add-on such as Atlas. Or, you know ... explore.

The trading blues You can trade blues and conjured items with Dungeon Finder groupmates from other realms, but you can't trade greens, whites or greys. It's all related to keeping the economies between different realms balanced ... But the restriction becomes annoying when you'd like to give that thirsty healer the stack of looted water that's building up in your bags. Sorry.

I needs me some greens! [UPDATED] Once you get to Burning Crusade content, you'll be limited to rolling on armor from within your own armor class, even if another type represents a sizeable upgrade for you. Sorry.

The unknown quest-giver We love, love, love thoughtful groupmates who share instance quests we haven't yet picked up. But finding quest-givers we've never seen before for the turn-ins afterwards? Not so much. Simple solution: liberal doses of

Where am I in BRD, and who do I kill? The Dungeon Finder splits the notoriously sprawling Blackrock Depths into two sections, BRD-Lower City and BRD-Upper City. It's a helpful way to shorten the instance for more accessible pickup grouping -- but which version did the DF put you in, and which bosses are your objectives? Beyond the confusion, we've heard reports that killing the wrong bosses first, even if you go back and kill the correct bosses afterwards, prevents you from receiving your Satchel of Helpful Goods.

To complete BRD-Lower City, kill High Interrogator Gerstahn. To complete BRD-Upper City, kill Emperor Dagran Thaurissan -- but whatever you do, don't let the Princess die during the encounter. A current loot issue prevents players from receiving their Satchels of Helpful Goods if the Princess gets killed.

Those unhelpful Satchels of Helpful Goods Every instance you run using the Dungeon Finder's random feature (not only your first random of the day) rewards each group member with a Satchel of Helpful Goods. What's confusing to players is that the reward is not tailored to their class and spec and sometimes doesn't appear to be appropriately tuned to their current level.

Here's how it works: your satchel will contain one of two items selected for the level bracket of the instance you're running. (This prevents players who run lots of random instances from building complete sets of armor that trivialize quest rewards and boss drops; these rewards are meant to be sweet treats, not complete armor sets.) Again, the rewards depend upon the level of the instance, not your character. Once you reach Burning Crusade content, you'll find that the level of the average green quest drop far outstrips the item level of satchel rewards.

We found this chart from player Maliander in the comments at While we can't verify its complete accuracy, we think it's obviously close enough to offer you a good idea of what to expect from your satchels. See the chart for full details.

Range | iLvl | Item 1 | Item 2
15 - 25: 25 Cloak Belt
26 - 35: 35 Necklace Gloves
36 - 45: 45 Ring Shoulder
46 - 55: 55 Boots Bracers
56 - 60: 60 Cloak Waist
61 - 64: 64 Necklace Gloves
65 - 70: 70 Ring Shoulder

The breakup of requeuing If a player declines the group invitation during a Dungeon Finder ready check, the DF resets everyone at the front of the queue without preserving the group as a whole. Tanks and healers (who are in heavy demand) often make it into the next available group, while DPSers have a longer wait. Ouch.

Premade disappointment Trying to use the Dungeon Finder with premade groups (say, when you're grouped with a friend or family member and using the Dungeon Finder to fill the group or for the random feature) is a disappointing failure. Even one level's difference between players can cause the Dungeon Finder to turn up its nose. Blizzard bug-hunters are investigating. Sorry.

Those unpopular optional bosses Players who want to kill every boss in an instance may have a hard time with so-called "optional" bosses that fall off the beaten path. Impatient players often shun out-of-the-way bosses and drop out of the group as soon as they've killed whatever they deem is "enough." Unfortunately, you won't find many players who'll want to join a group that's already killed some or most of the bosses in the instance. While we think that the expectation going into any pre-80s instance should be for full completion, it may be easier to let the majority decide. Don't be rude and /kick players who're in the minority; give them the courtesy of deciding whether to come along anyway or leave the group on their own.

Respawn happens Once you kill a boss, it stays dead. Once you kill the stuff leading up to the boss ... well, in older instances, it comes back to bite you in the arse. Instance respawn is usually something on the order of two hours, but it can be shorter, depending on the instance design. Running back to your group after a corpse run through respawning trash mobs can be interesting. Many respawn. Handle it. (Link NSFW).

Lost in space When players who've died have to run back to an instance entrance they've never seen, chances are good that chaos is imminent. Smooth recovery pro tip: Get everyone to use the Dungeon Finder to teleport out and then back in again. You'll all meet up outside the instance entrance. (Don't simply step outside the physical entrance, or you'll be sent back to wherever you were before you began the instance.) Corpse-runners can rely on your map icon to navigate in (they'd have to resurrect at the Spirit Healer to use the teleport function, thus gaining Resurrection Sickness -- your call on whether or not that's a good deal), and you'll all be together as a group to handle any respawn once you get back inside. (Of course, if you have a warlock, don't forget about summoning!)

Dead or alive When you die inside a Tempest Keep (Netherstorm) instance, you respawn fully alive with no Resurrection Sickness on the ground at the Cosmowrench graveyard. You will need to fly back on your flying mount or use the Dungeon Finder's teleport feature.

Quest/instance level mismatch We talked a little last week about the mismatch between level ranges of instances and the level ranges of the quests associated with those instances. What's the deal? When Blizzard lowered mob levels and cranked up the loot quality in old-world dungeons in order to attract post-expansion players, quest levels remained unadjusted. Today, you'll find dungeon quests that are green or even yellow long after the dungeon itself is grey and long gone from your Dungeon Finder list. Hit quests you're especially interested in completing the moment you become eligible in order to keep from outleveling them in no time flat.

Where did all the mid-60s go? Players must successfully complete both a prequel quest before doing Old Hillsbrad Foothills, which in turn unlocks The Black Morass (a lot of unlocking to do for an entire Dungeon Finder pickup group). Both CoT instances tend to fall by the wayside, leaving all the mid-60s chain-running Mana Tombs ... or sticking with quests.

Where have all the 69s gone? Why can't you find anyone to run Tempest Keep and other high-end Burning Crusade instances with? The Dungeon Finder's random feature tosses players into Wrath of the Lich King dungeons once they've hit level 69. Specify which BC instances you're queuing for (don't use the random feature), or head to Northrend, friends.

Thanks to all the readers who shared their leveling instance experiences in the comments last week. If you come across any problems that have already been updated or find new issues to address, please leave a note in the comments.

Hot links for fresh 80s

Moving on to those of you who've already reached the end of the leveling road, let's wrap up with the week's best posts at aimed at freshly minted level 80s.

Class Skills 101
Learn the basics of effective level 80 play for each class.
Skill versus gear
Exactly how much does gear contributes to DPS? Let's define skill, as opposed to mere competence, with a mix of hard numbers and philosophy.
Shadow rotations
Basic shadowpriest rotations for soloing, leveling and raiding.
How to tell if that's a GM whispering you
Is it really someone from Blizzard who's in your /whispers, or are you the target of a scam?
Macros and add-ons for holy pallies
These amazing addons and macros allow paladins to focus on keeping people alive.
Five tips for DPS
From the way you carry yourself to the very mechanics of your class, make the most of your instance runs.

Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's. WoW Rookie walks you through all sort of new-player concerns, from game lingo for the beginner to joining your first guild as a mid-level player and on to what to do when you finally hit level 80.

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