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Dungeon Finder Tanking Inecentives

April 7, 2011
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Gosh, it must suck to work at Blizzard some days.

For months, forum posters have been complaining about “unacceptable” queue times for DPSers trying to do their daily heroic.  Last night, Blizzard unleashed their plan to deal with this problem in the form of a “Call to Arms” system for the already-established dungeon finder.  The full details are available on Blizzard’s official blog post, but here are the major bullet points:

  • “Any time the Dungeon Finder queue is longer than a few minutes for level-85 Heroics, the Call to Arms system kicks in and determines which role is the least represented. In the case of tanking being the least represented role, the “Call to Arms: Tanks” icon will display in the Dungeon Finder UI menu …”
  • “Call to Arms is meant to lower wait times by offering additional rewards for queuing as the currently least represented role. To be eligible for the additional rewards you must solo queue for a random level-85 Heroic in the role that is currently being Called to Arms, and complete the dungeon by killing the final boss.”
  • “Every time you hit these requirements (there is no daily limit) you’ll receive a goodie bag that will contain some gold, a chance at a rare gem, a chance at a flask/elixir (determined by spec), a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount.”

When I first read this last night, I had three basic reactions.  The first:  “Huh, that’s an interesting incentive.”  The second:  “Whelp, healers are never going to be the ones who benefit from this.”  And finally:  “Hoo, boy, people are going to be riled up about this one.”

As expected, the Twitterverse pretty much exploded into a debate about whether this was a Good Idea or a Bad Idea.  Several people raised concerns that this was only a “band aid” that would temporarily helped the problem.  There was also a question of whether it’s fair to only reward one specific role, and if the rewards available should be so extensive as to include rare mount drops.

Frankly, I’m not sure what anyone else expected Blizzard to do in order to counteract the lack of tanks who solo-queue for random heroics.  In order to give people any sort of incentive to queue at all (and especially to queue alone if they have the option of going with a pre-made group), the rewards would have to be something pretty steep – and yet not game-changing.  I’ve seen bloggers posing the idea of additional valor points, and while that would certainly be incentive to queue and help new tanks gear faster, I think we’d see a lot more accusations of Blizzard being “unfair” or “discriminating” against DPS classes if that were the case.  Aside from that, gearing tanks faster essentially means gearing them out of the system faster, and that’s really not going to help solve the probelm long-term.

Choosing vanity items as the rewards for this system is actually a pretty smart idea because it ensures that even fully-raid geared tanks might have a reason to start queuing for heroics again.  Sure, not everyone cares about rare mounts and non-combat pets, but I know at least one Pink Kitty who’s planning to run some heroics as a Pink Bear in the hopes of obtaining a few more pets for his collection.  As I said above, if Blizzard is going to make a system that is really only going to reward one role, then the rewards cannot be something that make it easier to gear that class and they also must be something that will remain attractive to people who are already fully geared through current content.

I’ll admit to being a little sad that healers are never going to see any of the perks from the Call to Arms system.  In theory, I suppose it’s possible that there are points during the day when maybe there are less healers in the queue than tanks, but I’ve never found that to be the case.  During Wrath, I almost always had an instant to >1 minute queue time for my random.  Since Cataclysm, the shortest I ever see is around 3 minutes, with most queues averaging from 5-7.  While those numbers probably change slightly across the different battlegroups, the bottom line is that healers are not the bulk of the problem.  Unfortunately for us, we have to deal with the same increased gear standards and responsibilities that tanks do in PuGs, but we won’t be seeing the same rewards for our efforts.  But hey, we’re healers; we’re used to being under-appreciated.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Physed permalink
    April 8, 2011 9:19 am

    I like the overall concept, but they’re ignoring one other problem: The imbalanced role requirements of 5man vs. 10man vs. 25man. The game is based on the 5man, which requires 1 tank, 1 healer, and 3 DPS. Then you step up to 10man, which is (generally) 2 tanks, 3 healers, 5 DPS. Then you move up to 25man, which requires (generally) 2 tanks(infrequently 3), 7 healers (infrequently 8), and around 15 DPS. As you can see, the need for tanks stays stagnant as groups grow, while the need for healers grows.

    This leads me to believe that the dungeon finder incentives might fix the 5man problem, but it will leave a lot of well-geared tanks out in the cold as they have no raid slots available. Meanwhile, healers will always be in short supply for raids.

    • April 8, 2011 9:33 am

      That’s definitely a good point, Phys, though I think it would be an extremely difficult problem to solve. Can you imagine a 25m fight that required 5 tanks and only 5 healers? Do you really want to?

      I think that the majority of the problem you mention is eased because of dual specing. Part of the issue is that classes that are capable of tanking simply aren’t queuing as tanks for one reason or another. Blizzard’s tried to make this easier by removing the def cap problem, so that having entry-level tanking gear for heroics isn’t so hard to achieve.

      On top of all that, today’s announcement that the satchels won from Call to Arms quests will be Bind on Account makes me think that maybe we all didn’t understand Blizzard’s plan for this. Having those rewards be BoA makes me wonder whether they’re not banking on players who already have geared DPS or healers logging on to their neglected tank alts to level and gear them. This may be a call for people to actually use their tank alts as much as it is for DK/Warrior/Pally/Druid mains to actually use their tank specs.

    • Physed permalink
      April 8, 2011 5:36 pm

      If they had gone the route of 5 tanks/5 healers in 25 or 2 tanks/2healers in 10, they probably wouldn’t have arrived at the “massive spike damage” problem that they attempted to correct in ICC and have continued to work on in Cata. The problem is: How do you balance 10man vs. 25man if there are the same number of tanks? Making the boss hit harder or faster just adds a random feel and forces the healers to pre-heal. Requiring more tanks spreads the damage out. Their solution in Cata has been to add more raid damage and require more awareness from the non-tanks. I guess it works.. but it doesn’t feel good to me. You end up with too many fights that have no room for strong players to do something to pull the group through. Too many fights have mechanics that are basically “Move out of the void zone in less than .5 seconds or you die instantly.” That’s a little too binary for me, and it takes away the potential rush of saving someone’s ass that I used to like about healing.

      I don’t know what the solution is, but I do believe that it’s part of the problem.

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