What started as one giant blog, I now split up into two parts, so the next post will be the guide to the dungeons of Northrend. If that goes well, I may go further back, but truthfully, not many people will stay at the level where the loot from the dungeons is all that important, since it will be replaced right quick. This guide will look at the finder as a whole, and what you can do as a mage (and some points will benefit all classes) to help make your time as enjoyable and profitable as is possible.
You are going to set the environment of the run in the first 30 seconds after everyone ports into the entrance, so say hi to everyone, offer everyone that can use it food/water/strudel, and make sure no one has any questions about the instance. I cannot stress the last point enough, if you are in some old school instance (Wailing Caverns, Stockades, etc) the people in there with you might never have seen them if they skipped them on their mains and/or if this is their first character. It might even help you to get some feedback if you haven't ever been to this specific dungeon, or at least for the last year or two. This also goes for the current Wrath dungeons too, especially ones like Oculus, where many people haven't had a successful run through it yet due to people dropping it the moment they port in and whatnot.
If nothing else, it will give those unsure about it an environment to ask questions, which will probably save you a wipe or two later on. Also, doing this prevents the one guy with five 80's bullying everyone into rushing through Sunken Temple, and therefore getting loss and the subsequent wipe that inevitably follows, which transitions nicely into the next point.
When you are with a random group where no one is from your server it is very easy to give into your frustrations, you are never going to see these people again anyway, so who cares, right? And while this is true to a point, the chances you will run into these people again are very little (and that drops to nothing if they ignore you, or you them) but still, this will influence your outlook on the dungeon finder as a whole. Speaking for myself, I have definitely had a few less than great dungeon runs (one in particular just happened this weekend where one guy tried to get everyone to follow him through the convoluted path through Old Kingdom so you don't need to fight any bosses. We wiped twice as people fell in the wrong spots let alone the extra time it took to wait for 4 people, myself included, that had never done it that way before to time their jumps and walk on ledges that were never meant to be walked upon. By the time the group fell apart, it would have been quicker just to do the instance the regular way, but I digress), but the ones where you and other people are still having a good time never seem as bad as those where everyone is losing their minds after a wipe, even if you wiped twice as many times in the group where everyone was civil.
So take a deep breath, say you need a bio (even if you just need to pet your puppy instead to let the hackles come down), then come back at the encounter with fresh eyes. I promise you, it will got much smoother after everyone can calm down and talk about what went wrong without dropping eff-bombs on the poor noob (and I mean that in an endearing way) who didn't get out of the fire.
Lastly, be mindful when you are in these groups. Pay attention, by signing up you are promising these people 30-60 minutes of your time, so don't click 'Enter Dungeon' if you know you have to be to dinner in 15 or if you are watching your favorite movie ever. If that is the case, maybe you would be better off doing a daily or two instead. Yes, the rest of them can find someone without much trouble if you need to bail, but it breaks the rhythm of the group and puts everyone else out a bit, so try not too.
Likewise, by being mindful, I mean watch your surroundings in the game, don't stand in the fire, watch for adds and do whatever you need to to help the group, like kiting mobs to the pally's consecrate if he is having trouble getting them there on his own. It also helps if you wipe to know why you did, lot easier to change what went wrong, and help others understand what went wrong, when you saw it for yourself.
So that is about it, do these three things and all instances will be yours to curbstomp and take the loots, assuming you are geared enough of course. The next post or two will look at the dungeons individually from a mage's perspective. I will start at the Wrath instances and go backwards from there. This will be things like what loot to hope for, and anything specific you need to know. So until then...