For a list of instances in World of Warcraft, see Instances by continent or Instances by level.


Dungeons, keeps, and other confined areas can have sub-areas called instances (aka instance dungeons). These instances are special areas in the World of Warcraft where your group or raid party is able to interact with a dungeon privately; that is, without interference from other parties or raids. It is also a respite from the global PvP environment on a PvP server. The term instance has been often conflated and interchanged with the term dungeon.

Instance dungeons tend to feature the most difficult and rewarding content, both in terms of enemies and items, but also in terms of level design. Most mobs inside the instance are elite, with the exception of some mobs, and perform well above their level. Instances feature multiple bosses, all with special abilities and immunities. Getting through an instance normally requires a well-trained and well-balanced group of players who are of an appropriate level for the challenge.

Lower level instances can be soloed by a higher level character. While an interesting challenge, the drops will not be particularly useful anymore.

Farming for gearEdit

Instances are often farmed for gear by having a high level character tank a low level character through the instance; either a friend or for a fee. Boss drops typically BoP, so the lowbie has to be present.

The lower character is going to get a lot of XP in the instance. If building a twink you will need to plan for this; start farming as soon as you are able and be selective which instances you farm. XP is not your friend (twinks); you want as little as possible so that you can continue to farm without dinging past your goal level. You should focus on specific gear and bypass kills you don't need.

Game mechanicsEdit

Because instances are in effect separate from the actual main World of Warcraft maps such as Azeroth, Kalimdor, Outland, and Northrend, much like the Battlegrounds, players too are literally moved from one part of the map to an artificial creation of the main map sections. However this is not to suggest that Blizzard did not go to the effort of re-creating instance geography and terrain within the main maps. Areas like Zul'Farrak are fully constructed within Tanaris though it is impossible for players to enter this area without any way to climb over the hills. This is a rarity since in order to save processing power and make the world smoother to run without rendering useless features that no one would ever see, Blizzard creates a "false" portrayal of the instances such as Shadowfang Keep where only what the player sees is worth rendering. Another difference worth nothing is that within instances, the corpses of boss characters will remain intact for 1 hour to ensure that players do not miss out on loot.

Because map viewers allow players to see everything there is within an instance, it is revealed that instances will include the sections before the instance gates itself to give a feeling of authenticity that they are leaving one world and can look back to see where they came from. Such is the case with all instances. Some bugs can allow the user to see what actually is available, for example, Mages can Blink past the instance portals in many places and see what is beyond, like the entrance to Stratholme on the dead side.

Faction specific instances Edit

Deadmines, Wailing Caverns, and Shadowfang Keep Edit

  • The Deadmines: There are only alliance quests available for this instance.
  • Wailing Caverns: There are horde and neutral quests.
  • Shadowfang Keep: The only SFK Alliance quests are class specific for the Paladins and Warlocks only. Also it should be noted that as of BC there is a Horde Paladin quest that involves SFK.

Ragefire Chasm and Stormwind Stockade Edit

  • Ragefire Chasm: This instance is located in Orgrimmar, and as such it is very difficult for Alliance characters to get to the entrance at an instance-appropriate level. However, if they get there, they can enter through the portal.
  • Stormwind Stockade: As above, except that this instance is located in Stormwind and so Horde characters will find it very difficult to get to at an instance-appropriate level. Again though, they can enter through the portal.

The Classic Dungeonmaster achievement requires doing both of these. This would typically be done at near max level. While the instance will be trivial, getting in will not be. A group of max level characters can race past the guards. Fighting your way in is an option, but you are then essentially raiding the opposing capital, so be prepared. Rogues or druids can stealth in; and there are summoning stones near the entrance, so a small stealthed group can summon others.

See also Edit

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