On Saturday, I ran a Warcraft dungeon called Razorfen Kraul with Ben, Lynnea, and my mom. We have been doing this off and on, once every 2-4 weeks or so, for several months. Ben (who is seven) started playing the game a long time ago, but only dabbled with it until he finally brought a particular character, a druid, all the way up to level 16 because he loved playing in animal forms.
That's when the fun started, because I had been explaining to him about dungeon fighting and he wanted to try it. I was hesitant to take this step, because Ben has kind of a short attention span, and I didn't want to ruin the fun of any strangers we might add to our group. But when I ran the idea by Lynnea and mom, they were both willing to join us, and I know them to be very kind and patient with Ben. Normally dungeons are done in groups of five, but the other three of us had characters that were higher levels than Ben, so we thought we might be able to handle it.
So I promised we'd try a dungeon that weekend, and I drilled three rules into his head repeatedly:
1. The tank (me) is the leader. Stay BEHIND the tank at all times. Do not wander off on your own, under any circumstances.
2. Attack only what I am attacking. (For you non-WoW players, this is important because tanks have to work to force individual opponents to attack them, and not the more lightly armored and vulnerable players.)
3. Be nice to everybody. Say thank you. Congratulate them when they get something good.
I repeated these rules, and made him repeat them back to me, many times throughout the week.
We ran the Deadmines dungeon. To everyone's surprise, it went off successfully. It took us two trips on separate occasions to beat VanCleef. But even on the first trip, what was amazing was that Ben followed directions. Oh, I think he had to be reminded of the rules a few times, but he always apologized for his mistakes and corrected them. And more importantly, we all had fun.
That was a few months ago. Now our team of four is more experienced in dungeoning together, we're all in the range of 25-30, and we still try to team up on a semi-regular basis. We've done some character switching, and at this point we have gotten into a nice groove with a very good mix of characters. You can click on our names below to see their current information.
- Russell: Maddow. My character is still the tank, although I let Ben try tanking in bear form one time. She is a female human protection warrior who is named and styled after a certain TV and radio host.
- Lynnea: Geighdayr. She is our healer. Her character is a male human holy priest. It's pronounced, um, "gaydar."
- Ben: Siaindiss. Damage dealer. He's a male night elf feral druid. He used to specialize in spell attacks, but since he reached level 20 and learned to transform into a cat, he's been a feral-focused melee fighter. The named is pronounced "see-AIN-dis"; the random name generator picked it for him and he decided how to say it.
- Sheryl: Gleeful. She is a female gnome warlock who takes care of our long range spell casting damage.
It was a long, tough instance. It's populated by pig-men who have an annoying tendency to run away and gather reinforcements when they are injured. As a result, we had a lot of difficult fights that turned out to be much longer than we anticipated, and required a lot of split second decisions by everyone.
We went into it mostly blind, without reading a guide on WoWWiki. I just kept an eye on the dungeon map and guessed which way to go. We had to backtrack a few times.
Ben saved the day on more than one occasion. As a druid, he can temporarily turn into a bear and substitute tanking if I die, or turn into an elf and substitute healing if Lynnea dies. He won't necessarily think to do this on his own, but if we shout instructions then he'll remember. Both changes kept the team from wiping out at different times. I think we all died twice in several hours of play.
Three of us play from the same house, while mom is on a long distance connection from Santa Fe. She and I keep in voice contact during gameplay over Ventrilo.
Anyway, we all had fun, and all gained multiple levels before calling it an afternoon. We didn't quite reach the last boss, but we all felt we had seen plenty of RFK.
Now we're high enough to do Gnomeregan, so that's coming up next time.