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Sunday, July 5, 2015

The glory of the Group Finder

In the past I have been very critical of Blizzard's automatic group finding tools, and being a socially awkward and shy person I am usually reluctant to try to form groups myself outside of my guild. So I was resistant to the idea of using the Group Finder initially, but after giving it a shot in Tanaan jungle my opinion has been completely changed.

While this new Group Finder tool has settings for traditional Raids, PvP, and Questing, it also has the "Custom" group tool which many players use to find reputation grinding groups, specific rare spawns, or apexis dailies. For example, I use the tool to find the "Hellbane" rares so that I can kill them for a shot at getting reputation increasing items or rare mounts. The thing is the Hellbane rares have somewhat long spawn timers, so in order to get them killed quickly I head to their respective spawn points then simply type their names into the group finder. It might take a few minutes of refreshing, but within fifteen I can have any individual one down; usually even faster. Now the catch is that they tend to die fast once the quest is posted, so one has to be close to the spawn if they want any hope of getting credit and loot.

After doing that, I can hop into a group for the group-oriented "Throne of Kil'jaeden" daily quest (if it's offered). All it took was looking up the quest by name (or a portion thereof) and cycling through the list until I found a group with openings. Usually the list is filled with them, so I just need to find one with an opening and hop right in. When I'm finished I can leave, and other players can take my place, creating a sort of cycle churn of group members.

Sample of the Custom Finder with no search filters in
However it is not without issues. Most of the flaws are with it's limited ability to filter results. The group finder does not allow you to dictate a size; so parties of 5 will still show up on the Guild Finder roster, even if players won't be allowed to join them because the group does not want to become a raid (and thus become ineligible for the 5-person activities).

There is another drawback; you can't specify the kind of server you are on or want to end up on. Meaning PvE players can end up dropped onto PvP realms. While this is not the worst outcome; for rares/outdoor bosses you are in a large group so you have plenty of protection from the opposing faction. However, it does mean in smaller groups grinding reputation or doing group dailies, you are much more vulnerable. For players that specifically chose PvE servers so as to avoid "World PvP" it can be unnerving to find yourself tugged onto a PvP realm because the group finder does not tell you what kind of server you are heading to. I'd love the information ahead of time, or the ability to filter for it.

Admittedly, that could create an issue where PvP server players find their groups not getting much attention and I have no desire to turn them into "second class" players, but I also don't want to be forced into PvP when I just want to do PvE quests.

All in all the tool is one I regret not trying out earlier; it's perfect for the shy like me. I don't even have to talk to a person to find a group...and oddly enough, in the frequently toxic MMO atmosphere that can be a welcome function. That is not to advocate a complete removal of human interaction from MMOs, but there are some situations in which it can be handy.

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