Note: I wrote this post only a couple of days after Patch 3.3 came out. These were my initial impressions. I’ve put an addendum at the end to sum up any changes in my opinions.
The blogosphere is full of posts gushing about the new Dungeon Finder feature. It has received an overwhelmingly positive response from the majority of players.
Let me put my own spin on it, from the perspective of (1) someone who doesn’t like to pug, (2) a guild leader, (2) a well-geared player with some lesser geared alts, and (3) someone who plays the game as much for the social aspects as for the in-game rewards.
Don’t Like to pug
Despite my aversion to pugs, I’ve done several using the Dungeon Finder to get the daily Emblem rewards. Every one of them has been smooth. No deaths, quick runs, no problems. I’ve been on runs with well-geared players who knew their roles. Pugs have never been so good.
However, I really don’t have much choice. Most of the runs happening right now are pugs, and the Dungeon Finder is the fastest way to get Emblems of Frost. If I don’t pug, I’m going to fall behind in gear. I am hoping that the novelty of the pugs will wear off soon and I’ll be able to queue up for random dungeons with an all-guild group to get my Emblems. I could get my frost emblems by doing a random dungeon with a guild group, but that’s not really happening.
The guild leader in me sees good and bad. On the good side, players will probably do a lot of instance runs, which means more badges and faster gearing. Also, there is always that one player in the guild who begs and begs for instance runs to places that no one wants to go, like Oculus or Old Kingdom. Now that player can get into pugs quickly and won’t spam guild chat.
On the bad side, since the patch came out three days ago I don’t think I’ve seen more than a handful of all-guild heroic runs, other than the new Icecrown heroics. Everyone is hopping into pugs. I’m not even sure that I could put together a guild heroic run if I wanted to because people are occupied elsewhere. I see this as a negative. It could detract from guild cohesiveness, and it gives us less practice playing together in a team.
Geared main, undergeared alts
As I said, in every pug I’ve done through the Dungeon Finder, the general gear level of the group was high and the run went smoothly. However, there was sometimes that one player in the group who was either undergeared or simply not that good. We had a DK who did 950 dps, but the rest of the group was so good that we just carried him. We had a tank once with the same health as my rogue, but the group dps was so high that nothing lived long enough to kill him. It hasn’t been a problem, but I’ve never been in the situation where I was the low-end player in the group.
What’s the flip side?
The groups have been of such high caliber, that I am completely intimidated about the thought of bringing in my paladin tank or priest healer to a pug.
My paladin tank is not well-geared, but I am pretty good at tanking. Even so, I’m not good enough to speed-pull through a heroic in 12 minutes. I’m not sure if I could hold aggro from ToGC-geared dps. As of the time I wrote this, I have yet to run a pug on my tankadin. And since my guild isn’t doing many guild-only heroics, that means that my paladin is not getting new gear until I get up the courage to pug with him..
My priest is in a worse situation. He’s actually fairly geared (about Ulduar-10 level) but I’m just not good at playing him. If I got thrown into a pug with similarly-geared players that wanted to chain-pull an instance, I doubt I’d be able to keep up. I can’t imagine putting him into a pug. So, again, his gearing process is at a standstill until my guild starts doing more heroics again.
I didn’t need to run heroics on my main before the patch. My gear is pretty good. Still, I ran them as a nice way to hang out with my friends in the guild. I enjoy the banter in party chat or in vent. I look forward to playing the game with friends.
For the moment, that is largely absent from the game. My pugs have so far been silent, clinical speed runs with little or no chat, with people I don’t know. I guess that for people who do a lot of pugs that’s nothing new. For me, though, its boring.
For players who like to pug, this feature is incredible. The runs get pulled together quickly, the players in them (for now) are good, and the system is working smoothly. The teleportation to the instance is incredibly convenient.
For players like me, it makes pugs… tolerable. And that’s saying a lot.
Addendum, one week later.
I am still doing few pugs. The number of guild runs has picked back up, mostly because the people in my guild mostly share my dislike of pugs. A ot of players are still making use of the pug system with random groups. We still make use of the Dungeon Finder for its teleport feature.
I don’t pug every day for the social reasons. I’d rather find other things to do than run with people I don’t know. So I stand by the initial assessment that it makes pugs tolerable.
And I still haven’t done a pug with my prot paladin or disc priest.