Friday, August 06, 2010
Level 80 heroics starting guide
I received a reader request from Najitaka for a guide on how to get started with level 80 heroics in World of Warcraft. He writes:
I had the idea of coming back this time to do dungeons since I've never done much on the PVE side before. I'm finding it hard to get started. Everyone I talk to says I must learn rotations, the fights, etc etc because everyone else has gone through the learning curve and now just expect to do the dungeons as quickly as possible.As I guess that this sort of information could be useful for others as well, here is my level 80 heroics starter guide:
My suggestion for the article is to take a level 80 who has never been into PVE and has only done classic dungeons up to ZF, and give me a plan for getting into level 80 dungeons. I haven't decided which class is going to be my main this time so how about doing an article for a healer, tank, and DPS. Any other role is fine too if there are other roles.
Here are some of the things I've been thinking about:
1) Do I have to join a guild or will PUG groups work, back in the day a PUG couldn't get anywhere in the tougher dungeons
2) Which dungeon should I start with, I'm just looking to get tokens for better gear and/or some faction with the wyrmrest accord tabbard, I don't have to nor expect to fight the lich king day one
3) I have normal quest gear, a few faction pieces, or full PVP gear only should I bother getting some other gear somewhere before starting dungeons, if so where?
4) What role is the easiest to start in so that I can figure out what is going on
5) What the rules for getting gear, what is the appropriate etiquette
6) Is it worth going back and doing any other non-80 dungeons if only for the story line or the "you've got to see this" experience, like I heard Cavern of Times had some good stories in it
The good news for people who haven’t done level 80 dungeons yet is that getting *into* a group for a heroic dungeon is extremely easy since Blizzard introduced the Dungeon Finder and cross-server dungeons. Just click on the Dungeon Finder button (the green cat eye one), select “Random Lich King Heroic”, and queue up. After some waiting time you will get into a random pickup group and this random group will be strong enough to beat the randomly selected dungeon, as the Dungeon Finder only lets you enter dungeons you are strong enough for. You don’t need a guild, although playing with friends might be nicer than playing with strangers. The bad news is that while every Dungeon Finder group is theoretically able to finish the heroic, not every group actually does, because people can give up and leave, or even kick out other players through a vote kick.
The behavior of other people is by definition unpredictable, there are no absolute rules, and you can find yourself grouped with everything from the nicest players to complete jerks. The behavior I am going to describe in the rest of the post is what I have observed as typical behavior in heroic groups, a kind of average observed from doing hundreds of heroic random pickup groups.
The first random heroic you do per day gives two emblems of frost as a reward, of which you need between 50 and 95 to buy an epic with an item level of 264 with, which is equivalent to the epics you can find in Icecrown Citadel, the hardest raid dungeon in the game. Because of this even players with very good raid gear and lots of experience in doing raids and dungeons still do heroics with the Dungeon Finder. Thus when you start out doing heroics, you will inevitably find yourself grouped with people with much better gear, who often already did that heroic dozens of times. Most people want to finish that heroic quickly, and have little patience. Thus if you underperform horribly, there is a chance that the other players will either leave, or kick you out of the group, especially after a wipe.
In spite of an endless discussion what is more important, skill or gear, it is self-evident that your performance in a group always depends on both your skill and your gear. But as your skill is only visible after playing for a while, many people have a strong tendency to judge you on your gear. Thus before starting your first heroic you should have a look at your gear and get it to a point where other players aren’t tempted to already vote kick you out before the dungeon even started. Fortunately that isn’t very hard. What you should avoid is still wearing green gear, that is items whose name is written in green. What you can do is to go to the options panel, interface, display, and turn on the display of item levels. Starting from level 78 you can wear item level 187 crafted blue gear, which is available very cheap on the auction house, and there is really no excuse to not wear at least that before starting out on your first heroic dungeon. If you have a little more money, you can also buy item level 200 blue and crafted epic gear. In total you can get fully equipped with adequate gear for starting heroics for less than 1,000 gold, which is just a few hours of doing daily quests or any other reasonable money-making activity, like gathering ores and herbs, or even just fishing. Many players use an addon called Gearscore to judge the gear of other players, so you might want to install that to look at your own gear.
How your experience of random heroic dungeon goes very much depends on whether you are a tank, healer, or damage dealer (dps). The worst case scenario for a player starting in heroics is playing a tank. Tanks are most gear-dependant, and are in practice setting the pace and leading the group through the heroic, as it is them who should pull. At the very least a tank needs to be “defense capped”, that is have 535 is defense, and he should have both high armor and high health. As a starting tank you already need to spend more than other roles on your starting gear just to reach the defense cap with gems and enchantments, and then you still might meet people who take one look at your health and leave the group. And if it is your first time in a dungeon and you are moving carefully, you will get a lot of comments along the lines of “gogogo”, or impatient dps players pulling and then blaming you when that pull causes a wipe. If you haven’t done level 80 heroics with other characters before, I really do not recommend starting with a tank. If you want to play a tank class, you should at least consider switching to a dps or healing spec, and gaining knowledge and gear with the other spec before trying to tank heroics. On the other hand tanks are always in short supply, and usually have to wait the least amount of time in the queue before finding a group, so once you feel comfortable tanking, this role also has significant advantages.
Healers are the medium case in random Dungeon Finder pickup heroic groups: They also get into a group quite fast, nearly as fast as tanks. And they need less gear to succeed. But as there is only one healer in a group, the healer tends to be blamed for every death, even if objectively the death was caused by other players playing badly. In consequence your experience as a healer in a heroic depends a lot on the skill and gear of the other players. A highly skilled and overgeared tank can make your life extremely easy, up to the point of boredom, while bad players can make your life rather stressful and unpleasant when you get blamed for other players’ faults.
The easiest role for heroics is damage dealer. There are three of them, and those three share the responsibility of dealing enough damage. In many cases the total damage output isn’t even critical for success. As the Dungeon Finder tries to balance groups, mixing highly geared with less geared players, having at least one undergeared dps player in a group is considered normal, and rarely provokes a comment. At worst somebody is going to post a damage meter result at the end of the dungeon showing you having dealt less damage than the tank, but there is next to zero risk of getting kicked out of a heroics group as a dps if you appear at least to be trying. The downside of that cushy job is that everybody wants it, thus queue waiting times for dps are significantly higher than for tanks or healers, and you might well wait 20 minutes for a dungeon to start. Nevertheless this isn’t a bad place to start if you haven’t done level 80 heroics before.
Loot rules in heroics are simple: Most players are there for the emblems, thus you rolling need on anything you would wear, even for another spec than your current one, rarely provokes a comment. The only time you’ll hear people complaining is when another player visited that specific dungeon for a specific piece of gear, and you rolled higher than him on the need roll. As long as you don’t roll need on some item which is unsuitable for your class, I’d say you shouldn’t be shy about using need.
Other than for random heroics, you might also want to use the Dungeon Finder to find a group for specific dungeons. Especially for starting level 80 players, the Trial of the Champion and Forge of Souls dungeons on normal difficulty are good, because they drop better loot than heroics. Once you did the quest you get at the start of the Forge of Souls, you will be allowed to enter the Pit of Saron, and after that the Halls of Reflection, all of which give good epic loot as well on normal. Run all of these a couple of times until you have most of the loot for your class from there.
You might have read some horrible stories about pickup groups. Most of them are true, and there are really some abominable jerks out there who can really make a group unpleasant. But these bad pickup groups are a lot less common than you might think. The typical heroic group is efficient, and a bit boring. Over 90% of the random pickup groups I joined managed to get to the end of the dungeon. We just tend to remember the bad ones more, and they make for better writing material. Overall the Dungeon Finder has much improved the experience of doing PvE group content, and I can really only recommend trying it.