Loving and Hating World of Warcraft’s Random Dungeon Finder

When it was introduced, World of Warcraft’s Random Dungeon Finder might have been the greatest feature that Blizzard introduced to the game.

World of Warcraft Random Dungeon Finder

Even on high-population servers, finding a group for an Instance could be an hours-long chore that ended with hurt feelings and antisocial tendencies, but the dungeon finder removes much of the hassle.  And even rewards players for grouping with strangers, which is never a bad thing in an MMO.

The system is not without its flaws, but overall, more good has come from the dungeon finder than bad.


  • Incredibly fast queuing.Healers and tanks never have to wait. As a healer, the longest queue I’ve sat in was 4 minutes, which is still crazy low when compared to DPS queues that can approach 30. For someone with limited playtime, this system is a Godsend. I used to loathe trying to get the daily Heroic quest done because of the old, cumbersome LFG system combined with travel times. I could spend two hours in chat before the group ever even started. Now, I queue up, get teleported to the instance, and get my heal on and over with in under half an hour, which is the number one reason I fell in love with World of Warcraft five and a half years ago—quick, casual gaming that gave a sense of accomplishment.
  • Incredibly fast gearing.Dungeon finder runs often take 15 minutes or less. And if one chain runs randoms, those items that cost 30-50 Emblems of Triumph can be bought in no time flat. If I have enough time, my characters can often get a new piece of armor every two or three hours of playtime. The Emblems of Frost add up, too, but at only 2 per day, non-raiders have to wait a long time before they see any Tier 10 pieces. The dungeon finder really helps (finally) balance out those who can raid hours on end and those who can play half an hour. Sure, my T9/10 isn’t 25-person or Heroic, but it’s enough to let me stay competitive and see any content I in the game. To me, that’s enough.
  • Better, more efficient leveling. I’m a healer. Always have been, always will be. So when I leveled my Death Knight as my first level 80 and started raiding with him, I made a big mistake. When the healing bug hit me like it always does, I had a buddy who wanted to play WoW, so he leveled my Shaman when I was offline simply because he loved the class. I, however, did not. I wanted a Priest. So when the random dungeon finder was implemented, I took my level 73 priest and alternated between random PvP battlegrounds and random Instances because I hate leveling through Northrend. I did no quests at all during those final 7 levels. Even sub-80, the healing queues were 4-6 minutes at their longest.

World of Warcraft Random Dungeon Finder


  • Tomb-like silence. I’m a pretty social guy. I’m a talker. The people are the entire reason I play MMOs in the first place. In random dungeon groups, however, it is all business. No one talks or communicates because we should all know our jobs and do them, because talking affects speed, which means fewer Emblems of Frost/Triumph per hour. The most conversation I’ve had with a group is when the Tank called one of the DPS a name and tried to get us to vote him out. If you’re looking at the random dungeon finder as a way to make friends, I’d look elsewhere.
  • Easy to burn out. The pool of instances at level 80 in World of Warcraft is fairly limited. If players run even two or three random dungeons a day (30-60 minutes), it won’t take long before the same Instances keep coming up over and over again. The Heroic dungeon lockout does not apply to randoms, either, so it’s possible to run the same place multiple times per day. Because of the quickness and utility of the Random Dungeon Finder, it’s very easy to hit saturation and throw your hands up and walk away from the game, especially if you use the system for leveling up as well as gearing at 80. It’s easy to burn out on running the Culling of Stratholme or Drek’Tharon Keep seventeen times a week while trying to grind out a full set of gear. Just remember to take everything in moderation. Even awesomeness like the dungeon finder.
  • Skipping bosses, missing Emblems. Because the dungeon finder has now become an efficiency machine where human error is not tolerated, lengthy sessions of doing things like killing bosses has also become passé. It is a time vs. reward situation. People can be so dead-set on getting to the finish line that they couldn’t be bothered to play the game. If you’re a player who wants the most Emblems in as little time as possible, skipping bosses and powering through the dungeon may be the best route. However, if you’re looking for a leisurely session of actually getting to enjoy being in an Instance group, think again.

All in all, the random dungeon finder does its job and does it well. None of the detriments I listed above are enough to detract from the ability to finally log onto WoW and have something to do even if all you have to play is half an hour or so. The feature is worth its weight in gold for that alone. The badges and gear are just icing on the cake.

Zygor WoW 1-85 Leveling Guide

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.


  1. I just posted a tongue-in-cheek survival guide based on experiences like what you’ve outlined. I had forgotten to include the “type in Hi or something” because they cold, calculated efficiency of good runs really offsets the social value I take away from the game. And skipping bosses is a pain. Yeah, some of them just want the Frost for the daily. But some of us (like you Beej!) are way happy with the Triumph. Have you run across the final loot issue? A few times someone has bailed the second the boss is down, and even after rolling Need/Greed on the orb and purple and waiting around for he loot timer, we get nothing. Very irritating, since I’m burning through enchanting mats like crazy upgrading everyones’ new lootz!

    Good read. Thank you!
    .-= Real Big Kitty´s last blog ..3.3 Random LFG Survival Guide =-.

    1. Heading over right now to read it, RBK. 🙂

      No, I haven’t had that loot issue at all. I’ve had people bail, but after we waited around, the loot eventually defaulted to the 4 who were still in the run. I hate to hear that’s happened to you. Come on over to Ner’Zhul, and I’ve got a ton of Frozen Orbs and shards sitting in my bag just waiting to be thrown on some T9/10 you can have. 🙂

  2. I still think this feature puts too much focus on dungeon running.

    World of Warcraft or Dungeons of Warcraft? What do you play, and what do you want to play?

    This does not mean I think this feature is bad – it is awesome. I just see some dangers in this development.

    1. I dunno, WoW had already put so much emphasis on dungeon running, this only smooths out the process. 5 years ago, Blizzard decided that the “world” aspect of WoW needed the instancing because of the camping problems the original EQ had with public dungeons. I just see 3.3 as a refinement of the system instead of a detriment.

      To me, there’s not really a lot more “world” feeling by clicking a flight path and tabbing out while I head to the dungeon than there is with just teleporting there. Sure, flight paths were neat and I watched every dip and dive of the gryphon 5 years ago. But that newness has worn thin, and I just want to play my game.

      But then again, I come from an Ultima Online background where we could easily recall across the world from the beginning as long as we had marked runes. So I’ve never had a huge connection to the “feeling” of a world through travel.

      1. Do you remember UO players doing any dungeon runs? There were some, but they were not all that mattered. There was a whole world, even if we could basically teleport around like crazy.

        The dungeons were a part of the world, and you could enter them alone, in a group, all that. Now we need to have them instanced so that only the party has to worry about loot distribution?

        Tank & Spank in multiples of 5 was not what brought me to MMO gaming.

        1. I did love how they were part of the world. But I would also go get groups (usually me and two others) and go hunting ancient wyrms in Destard or Balrons in Hythloth.

          They really started trying to make it a group game with Champion Spawns, which were great fun in a group, actually.

          But I see your point. The idea of a dungeon being a social thing between friends may be on the way out, with guilds raiding being the main place that kind of socialization takes place. And that puts people like you and me out because I can’t make a whole lot of raids.

          1. Bingo, you got my point. You also reminded me of something else. Due to Moongates, Recall and all the many other options it was so much easier to form a group anywhere or call for help. In fact so fast that using instant messengers like ICQ was forbidden on some private servers. 😛

  3. It’s great for tanks or healers. For DPS, however, it’s a little slow. We’re talking 7-9 minutes even off prime time, and even longer if you want a specific instance (13 minutes+ for Halls of Reflection T_T).

    That being said, I like it. I agree with the burnout. I’m doing at least one random on each of my three 80’s per day, and anything more feels like ‘oh god kill me in the face’. Still, it’s a great system for what it does. I can’t argue with free T9 or free crusader orbs to craft ilvl 245 gear with.

    1. Yeah, I haven’t even tried to do it on my DK yet. I have thought about it, but keep feeling the “this time would be better spent gearing my Shaman” and always do that one more.

      I’m only 14 badges away from T9 4-piece, so once that happens, I might be able to start saving for Orbs to get some off-set gear crafted.

  4. I agree with all of this. Since I heal and Patrick tanks, we get groups in a split second. Some other guildies and I queued up as dps and waited 20 mins and gave up. I guess it didn’t really fix the problem of no tanks and no healers 🙁
    But, since I know my and my tank’s strengths, we chain pull huge groups and finish just after the dungeon debuff wears off. It’s nice.
    Oh, but I have been put in the same instance more than once, and SURPRISE there are no bosses. That is balls.

    1. No bosses? That’s very much a bug because the RDF is supposed to override any lockouts you’ve accumulated during the day. You still get saved by using random so you can’t specify that dungeon again, but you’re supposed to be able to do it again if it’s random. I’d submit that one to Blizzard.

      1. Yeah, it isn’t supposed to do that, but we got put in the same Gundrak instance 3 times in a row! This was last weekend (I don’t have time to really wow during the week because of work ‘n’ such), and surely they fixed that on Tuesday. If not, I’ll definitely be GMing in the next few days.

        1. try leaving group then get back together. it sounds like you are just teleporting back into the same instance

  5. Have you tried the new 5 mans yet? They’re not as good as the system but at least HoR has an epic feel to it.

  6. I hate the thing. I can’t use it because it includes hard, non-heroic dungeons that you need to be geared for in the regular random dungeon list and doesn’t tell you. So I caused a whole lot of groups to not work out without even knowing it was my fault! And now I can’t use the thing, not knowing whether I’ll be able to even DO the dungeon it gives me. Not impressed at all Blizzard.

    1. I thought they implemented something in the code to make it so that each player in a group had to be geared well enough to enter a dungeon. But I suppose that could be for just the max level Heroics instead of non-Heroics, which would kind of make sense.

      I hate to hear that it caused you so much problems, though. I would have thought Blizzard would’ve planned better than that.

  7. tbh, i love this thing i farm the randoms all the time, i love running dungeons, i do all the heroics everyday to grind the emblems. its an amazing feature gj blizz

    1. The more I’ve played with it, the more I agree with you. I do have a major problem with burnout, though, and I seem to be unable to prevent that whether I’m PvPing or running Heroics to grind gear. I think that turns out to be more of an endgame fault more than a dungeon finder one since the problem seems to plague me in any playstyle.

  8. Very good summary – I have totally come across this double edged sword problem in my time as a casual WoWer. I dont have as much time to play the game as others and when I do I hope to have fun while doing it… Although the leveling goes super fast with the dungeon finder I’m tempted to avoid clicking it sometimes owing to the number of complete A holes I have met while running dungeons. Like I said I am not a pro with 6 lvl 80 mains hell bent on getting my Worgen to level 80 on the third day of the expansion release – I play this game to have fun, and it is sad to see that the social and interactive elements of this game fall into ruin when a system like this is implemented. I feel almost like I am doing Baal runs in Diablo 2 sometimes – I grew tired of that game long ago, was hoping the same wouldn’t happen with WoW but looks like its heading that way…. to each his/her own I suppose but I think I’ll just stick to reading through quest lines in cold and empty Northrend — maybe I should start playing the Elder Scrolls instead 😛

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