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What makes a good dungeon run for me versus a bad one

Now that I’m getting back into running dungeons once in a while, I was thinking about what thrills me about a good run versus what aggravates me about a bad one.

A good dungeon run…

  • …will clock in at 30 minutes or less
  • …will have a team that’s at least friendly and works well together, if not downright jocular
  • …is easy to navigate in both 2-D and 3-D space
  • …will progress through a visually interesting locale at a fair clip
  • …will result in at least one gear upgrade or tokens that can be used for upgrades
  • …will feel like a great experience and memory
  • …will have bosses that are challenging with mechanics that are understandable
  • …has the right amount (or no) of trash mobs
  • …is a heady rush

A bad dungeon run…

  • …will go on for so long that I start to get physically anxious about wanting to leave
  • …will have teammates who are selfish, impatient, incompetent, condescending, immature, or completely silent
  • …gets us lost from the first few minutes and has ample opportunities to split up the team via falling and a confusing layout
  • …will get bogged down in a slog through a dull-looking building
  • …will net me no loot but rack up a repair bill
  • …will be a complete waste of time
  • …will have bosses with confusing mechanics that result in wipes and misunderstanding
  • …has too many trash mobs to where it just gets silly
  • …is a stressful disappointment

11 thoughts on “What makes a good dungeon run for me versus a bad one

  1. “…will clock in at 30 minutes or less”

    Lost me right there. I can see that if all you do is run Dungeon Finder groups, which I guess is all most people ever do these days. But when you run dungeons with a fixed group it is a lot different. Going from investing an evening in something like Sunken Temple or Uldaman to being able to zip through three or four dungeons and get to bed early was very much a let down to me.

    I’m just glad that Blizz at least redid some old raids to be big, sprawling, five person heroics, like Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman, so there is something out there you can get invested in still.

    Given your list, I can see why you chose the Munchkin graphics.

  2. I can understand and mostly agree to all but the timing requirement. I mean yes, in my Cabal group we managed to do the weekly achievement of 5 elite dungeons in under an hour, but that’s only since most of us massively outgeared the dungeon. Also, wouldn’t there have been the usual chat we have, doing this would’ve outbored me and would have been no fun any more.

    Also, I think “will clock in at 30 minutes or less” very much conflicts with “will feel like a great experience and memory”. I have great experiences and memories of dungeon runs, including beating a dungeon with my Cabal the very day it was introduced to the game, thus with no beforehand knowledge and no guides available, which could spoil the fun of figuring out things.

    But this came at the cost of spending some hours in there. Once you can rush through a dungeon in 30 minutes or less, it’s more like routine. The fun is not from the dungeon any more, just from playing with friends, no matter what stuff you do.

    So all in all I very much agree, the Munchkin graphics match well to your list and i am a bit conflicted, as a part of your list seems to be ironic, while a big portion is very understandable and reasonable.

  3. I agree with both you and with Wilhelm and Sylow. If you’re doing a dungeon with people you know then a couple of hours just flies by. For PUG dungeons, though, half an hour is probably about right.

    For me, though, the issue is over instancing. Instanced dungeons aren’t proper dungeons. The best dungeon experiences are always in permanent, respawning open dungeons, where you might bump into other players or groups at any point and where the length of the dungeon run is defined purely and simply by how long you want to stay there.

    I’ve never really seen any reason for dungeons to be treated differently to open-world maps.

  4. Pretty good list. 30 minutes as a hard cut-off may be a little overly strict, but definitely a dungeon never needs to be more than an hour, and I do think 30-40 minutes is probably the sweet spot. There’s no good reason to take any longer. If you want more dungeon gameplay, just run more. You can even make multiple, self-contained wings with a coherent story and aesthetics to simulate a longer dungeon experience for those who have the time to do them all at one go. Everybody wins.

  5. Bhagpuss, I can understand the appeal of a larger open-world dungeon or cave system (open-air locales are good, too). But you know as well as I do that dungeons became instanced in MMOs for a reason: Hell is other people. Given node/spawn thieves, “train conductors,” and straight-up griefers, I prefer running a dungeon in private with my little group. (Naturally, consensual PvP is a different story.)

  6. Personally, if it starts stretching longer than 30 minutes — particularly with group difficulties — I start to feel “trapped” and my enjoyment starts declining big-time.

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