The Lost Opportunities of Small Instances

April 11, 2006

Instances are the primary way to get better gear in World of Warcraft. Actually, it is the only way. While you can craft gear yourself or buy from a crafter, the items are not as good as what you can obtain in an instance. Before level 60 it is easy to get crafted gear or dropped items at the auction house that are superior to what you get from grinding or through quests. But this is not true the last three or four levels before sixty. After hitting sixty, instances are the only way to upgrade your gear.

This is another drawback to Blizzard's insistence upon using instances for the end game. Crafting is pretty much rendered useless unless you are an enchanter or alchemist. As the server population ages, most people will get all the high end enchants for their gear. The market eventually evaporates. Alchemy remains viable in that the items are consumable and as long as people are running instances, players will be consuming potions.

In order to run instances, this means working in groups. This is not such a bad thing in theory, particularly if you are in a well run guild. However, most guilds are not well run, much less organized at all. As a result, guilds convenient for recruiting group members just before you start spamming the chat channel.

Even in a guild with one hundred players, I have yet to run a five person instance with more that three guild members. The guild does not organize instance runs beyond Zul and AQ20, and there is no system in place for group development. I don't see how a guild can aspire to running Molten Core without first developing a system for running smaller instances.

Obviously there is no glamour in running Black Rock Depths or Sunken  Temple repeatedly. But the skills necessary to run Sunken Temple with out any deaths are exactly the same it takes to run Molten Core. The only thing changes is the scale. A guild that cannot or will not put together a system for completing quest chains that prepare the guild for running Molten Core has little chance of succeeding in Molten Core.

What is amazing is that no one seems to realize this. I imagine even a small guild could achieve a great deal by putting together successful runs in many of the smaller instances repeatedly. A guild that can run five and ten man instances repeatedly as a group will not only have better equipped players, but they will develop the cohesion and the organization it takes to run twenty and forty man raids. What is startling is how few guilds are able to do this.

There are a large number of players who are level sixty on my server. Some players are sporting epics, but I haven't seen very few full sets of Tier 1 epics. In fact, I can only recall seeing three players with full Dungeon 1 sets for their class.

My experience with guilds is limited. Yet, I am constantly surprised that guild leaders are not aware of the valuable experience they could be gaining by using smaller instances as training grounds for the instances that everyone wants to run. They also don't understand that a great deal of success in the smaller instances can be a powerful recruiting tool. Imagine entering Origammar and riding up to the bank and seeing four or five players decked out in full sets of Dungeon 2 armor. Maybe that guild only has twenty players, but their numbers will certainly grow. I sure as hell would want to join.


One Response to “The Lost Opportunities of Small Instances”

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