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Instance Guide Portal

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Instances are World of Warcraft’s dungeon system. Dungeons are not in the open world where people would have to fight over the bosses. They’re instead in self contained “instances” where the instance gives each group or raid their own copy to play in. This prevents outside intrusion and allows the game developer to hone the battles and the rewards for a set number of people. There are two types of instances. 5-man instances and raids which can come in 10 or 25 man versions (archaic instances sometimes allow different numbers inside).

Types of Instances
There are two types of instances in WoW. Group instances (collectively called 5-man instances) and raids. A 5-man instance is called a 5-man instance for a simple reason: they only allow 5 people inside. Those 5 people are given their own dungeon to fight in and no one else is allowed in. The groups generally consist of a tank (someone to take damage), a healer (someone to heal the damage taken), and three damage dealers (to deal damage to the enemies) in order to defeat the enemies and bosses inside. The enemies inside are considered “elites” who give more XP than normal and the bosses are guaranteed to drop superior quality items or better. So there is good XP and loot inside of instances. Not to mention a plethora of quests that are often associated with each dungeon that often give superior quality loot and large sums of money. You can run 4 regular instances an hour and reset them by having the group leader right click their profile and choose “reset all instances”.

Heroic Instances
Heroic versions of normal instances and raids also exist which give superior loot over the normal versions. There are different ways to toggle heroic mode depending on the instance itself. Most heroic instances require you to set the group to “5-man heroic” while raids are a bit different. Raids like Ulduar require you to engage a boss a certain way to “unlock” their heroic mode. ToC requires you to change the group to a “10/25 man heroic raid”. Icecrown allows you to toggle each encounter between heroic or not.

Heroic 5-mans have a 24 hour reset timer that resets at your server reset time each day. So you can only do one of each regular heroic per day, unless you use the LFG random system introduced in 3.3.

Heroic versions of regular instances are level 80 only and generally require a good bit of gear from normal dungeons before you can successfully run them. Heroic raid encounters often require a substantial amount of gear from the regular raid before you’re successful in attempting it.

Preparation
Entry into an instance can be a daunting task so it’s important to prepare properly. First ask yourself if you have enough gear to run the instance. Any pre-max level instance can be run in almost any kind of gear so you don’t have to worry about that. Max level instances do require you to have a certain amount of gear and it changes from instance to instance. For example, a raid will often want you to be epic’d out in gear from the previous raid. Naxxramas requires epic’d out gear from heroic, Ulduar requires epic’d out gear from Naxxramas, and so on and so on.

You’ll need potions, food and drink, and reagents too. You don’t want to run out of arrows or raid wide buff reagents in the middle of an instance. That’d be inconvenient and time consuming to stop the instance while you run out and resupply.

Be sure to read a guide too. We’re full of guides around here so this is an excellent resource on finding out what to do inside of an instance. There is usually a lot of ‘em and tricky boss encounters so it can be worth the time to read a quick guide before you hop in.

What to Expect
Instances can run anywhere from half an hour to 10-12 hours+. No, no, you don’t do the 10-12 hour ones in one sitting. If you remember, you’re often saved to a raid, so you can do ‘em in 4-5 hour chunks to make them more manageable. Regular instances often last an hour to half an hour. Raids can be fast (as quick as an hour) or long (the whole 12 hours+). It all depends on the raid, skill, and gear of those playing.

You’ll often be expected to perform a singular role in the instance which is either healing, tanking (or offtanking), or damage dealing and may have to do additional things depending on the encounter. That’s why it’s a good idea to read up on a guide first so you can be sure you’ll know what to do beforehand. During the instance you’ll have to fight trash on your way to bosses (these are easy elites). Each boss in the game works a different way with different abilities. When you defeat a boss you’ll get some shiny loot (superior quality armor/weapons or better) and the ability to continue on. Some bosses, who are optional, won’t block your way but will give you additional loot if you feel like taking them on.