In which WoW finally starts bribing the tanks

Announced as an addition for the next patch (and this is not an April Fool):

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 <…> Regardless of your role, you’ll always be able to see which role currently has been Called to Arms, if any.

Call to Arms is meant to lower wait times by offering additional rewards for queuing as the currently least represented role. <…> 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.

They go on to discuss why they decided on these incentives, and note also that the pets and mounts come from a variety of sources, but (this is the main thing) they are already in the game.

Understandably, players prefer to take on that responsibility in more organized situations than what the Dungeon Finder offers, but perhaps we can bribe them a little.

My thoughts:

It will be an interesting experiment on a scale that only Warcraft can organise, so I’ll be interested in hearing how it goes.

I know enough people that quit running heroics in any role because they didn’t enjoy them, even with the gold and tokens that are given as rewards, to wonder how many tanks can be lured into LFD with a few random shinies. I’m sure it will improve the number of tanks queueing, but I wonder by how much.  It certainly wouldn’t have enticed me to tank if I wasn’t in the mood. I don’t need the gold and I don’t care about the pets or mounts – if it was a tank specific mount that might have been another question :)

Also, to get the reward you need to queue SOLO for LFD. That means you can’t bring your favourite healer with you (or favourite dps player/s) and really do have to take what the random generator provides.

There is a whole other question about whether it’s really a good idea to reward people explicitly for playing needed roles. It tends to attract the people who are most interested in the rewards rather than in the role. Plus it’s generally unfair and if the game is that dependent on unpopular roles then it’s time to look at why they are so unpopular.

In this case: why is tanking instances so less popular in Cataclysm than it was in Wrath?

I’d suggest that it isn’t because tanking is harder than it used to be, it’s just that the dungeons are longer and less popular than they used to be. And the easiest way to get dragged through a dungeon you dislike (esp. where you don’t want to learn all the pulls) is in a dps or healing role. Also, it’s far easier to gear as a dps first in instances and then work on the tank gear  – so even a lot of keen tanks will want to do a lot of runs in dps mode on hitting 85.

My other issue with the bribes is what happens if one role is least popular, and another is just a little bit more popular, and the third role is massively over subscribed? Surely there should be some reward for healers even when tanks are most in demand? Or should we just penalise dps even more than long queue times for LFD would imply, pour encourager les autres?

Ancient roles, and non-negotiation in instance groups part 2

Back in the day, some character classes were known as group friendly classes, and others were solo friendly. The group friendly ones were typically tanks, healers and support classes and they usually had fairly poor dps and were slow at soloing. The others were the dps classes. Group friendly classes asserted their importance in groups because … they couldn’t really do much outside groups. Their whole game depended on being needed in groups. A solo archer could happily knock out the odd level or two, a solo healer was a joke. People used to take pity on their guild healers by helping them ‘solo’.

It’s worth noting this because the idea that tanks and healers are group oriented and dps are solo oriented is rooted very deep in the history of MMOs. This didn’t stop them all being able to work together as a group when needed, older games also had group content that required this. On the other hand, older games also had more downtime so people had time to talk, to discuss their roles, and so on. Plus groups used to go on for hours – it was more a case of camping a location until people got bored rather than going through a directed instance.

So what does this all mean today? Just that if no one wants to talk in a group, then the default position is for people to fall into traditional roles. Tam argues that tanks have some kind of divine right and the only way for dps to assert themselves in groups is to do something dickish. (I would argue that using phrases like divine right is encouraging people to feel oppressed when it’s really just a stupid instance group that doesn’t want to talk to each other.)

But how should decisions be made in a group where the majority don’t care, don’t want to talk and (presumably) just want to get on with it? Standing around trying to decide while the people take the opportunity to each express their own individuality by pulling random trash mobs is probably not going to please anyone. Although who knows … maybe that’s the way the genre is going?

A more pressing issue is simply that some people really do prefer to run instances at different rates. There are definitely players who would be more comfortable chatting for a couple of minutes before each pull and who feel disempowered by the whole LFD/ PUG experience. You won’t see them much in LFD because they either avoid it (probably the correct answer — much better to go with friends who use that style) or sit through the whole thing uncomfortably cowering in terror.

Thought of the Day: Getting rid of the dps role

People do commonly say that the main issue with the ‘holy trinity’ is the tank role. It’s unintuitive, unwieldy, and greedily snags a lot of the actual gameplay from PvE (ie. setting up pulls, et al).

But what my tank would really like for Xmas is a pet dps. I’m happy to run with player-healers, they’re usually pretty cool. But my game would be so much more fun if I could have NPC dps instead of players. Imagine not having to fight with your group all the time. Or people yelling at you to gogogo. Or people jumping straight into fights before you have threat because that 0.5s at the beginning is oh-so-important for dps.

Plus since your base character is a tank, it’d be tough enough to solo comfortably anyway. (And same applies to healers since they can self heal.) So really, if you have to remove one role from the trinity, it’s the dps that should go.