Call to Tanks

A few days ago Blizzard announced a new feature called “Call to Arms” coming in patch 4.1. The intent of this new feature is to finally fix the problem of the Dungeon Finder role inconsistency. Currently, when queuing as a DPS you’ll face a 30-45 min queue and 1-5 min queue as healer, but as a tank you’ll get into a dungeon instantly.

What does this tell us? People don’t want to tank. Why is this? This is something many bloggers such as Zinn at Jinxed Thoughts has tried to get to the bottom of before. I think it basically comes down to this:

  1. Psychological pressure – You are supposed to lead the group and handle every situation, if you don’t succeed then it’s ultimately your fault or your duty to point out who is at fault.
  2. More difficult- You need to fully concentrate on each task and never get a chance to relax and eat a sandwich while dpsing from afar or throwing some HoTs around while jumping
  3. Less fun – There’s no DPS meter for tanks, you’re not competing for the “#1 dps” spot.
  4. Less rewarding – Very rarely does a good tank get recognized for his or her skills. However, when you screw up, you can be sure that you’ll get scolded for it. Whereas a DPS can point to the DPS meter and get recognized for totally blazing off “imba deeps”. The same applies to healers to some extent who have their HPS meters, even though it doesn’t really matter all that much in dungeons since there’s just one healer.

However, all of the above could be reasons why you actually like to tank and not reasons why you are shying away from it. “You mean there’s an extra difficult task out there that gives no rewards and people will hate you for it if you fail? Sounds like a challenge! Sign me up!”.

Blizzard’s solution

Blizzard is attempting to address the fourth problem here and actually reward tanks more for their task in a random dungeon (Source).

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. The pets offered come from a wide variety of sources, and include companions like the Razzashi Hatchling, Cockatiel, and Tiny Sporebat, but the mounts are those specifically only available through dungeons (not raids), like the Reins of the Raven Lord from Sethekk Halls, Swift White Hawkstrider from Magister’s Terrace, and Deathcharger’s Reins from Stratholme. This system is meant to address the unacceptable queue times currently being experienced by those that queue for the DPS role at max level. The long queue times are, of course, caused by a very simple lack of representation in the Dungeon Finder by tanks, and to some extent healers. We don’t feel the tanking and healing roles have any inherent issues that are causing the representation disparity, except that fulfilling them carries more responsibility. 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. While this system gives tanks and healers something extra, the incentive is being provided so that we can help players in the DPS role get into more dungeons, get better gear, and continue progressing.

While the gold, gems, flasks, and elixirs are OK incentives, we knew we needed something more substantial. We had briefly considered Valor Points and epics, but decided that wouldn’t be working toward the goal of helping DPS players progress, and ultimately wouldn’t keep tanks and healers in the Dungeon Finder system for very long. We settled on pets and dungeon-found mounts as they’re cosmetic/achievement items that players tend to try to get on their own, so why not change that up and offer them a chance to get some of those elusive pets and mounts in a way that also helps other players? Even if they don’t get a pet or mount, or get one they already have, the gold and other goodies still feel rewarding enough that it won’t feel like a waste of effort.

We think it’s a pretty solid incentive to get tanks and healers queuing, give max-level players another way to collect the pets and mounts they so desire, and above all, to improve wait times for DPS players sitting in queues. In the case of lower level dungeons, it’s actually not uncommon for DPS to be the least represented role, and so if this new system works out and we’re pleased with the results, we may consider applying this same mechanic to lower level dungeons as well.

A day later Blizzard clarified some details (Source):

The additional reward for completing the Dungeon Finder Call to Arms (called the Satchel of Exotic Mysteries) will be Bind on Account; able to be freely sent to other characters on your account once you receive it.

An error existed in the announcement regarding flasks and potions being picked based on your spec. This is not the case. If someone earns a Satchel of Exotic Mysteries, and if it rolls the random chance to provide a potion or flask, it will be a randomly selected. This helps ensure a broad array of available flasks and potions for all characters.

We also wanted to clarify, mounts that have a possibility to be found in a Satchel of Exotic Mysteries are found with the same rarity as if you had slain the dungeon boss that normally drops them.

Quick summation of facts:

  • The least represented role for a random dungeon (usually tanks, sometimes healers, never dps) will recieve a satchel of goods.
  • The satchel is BoA (Bind on Account) and therefor can be mailed from your alt to your main.
  • The satchel will contain:
    • Gold
    • A chance at a rare gem
    • A chance at a flask/elixir
    • A good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets),
    • A very rare chance at receiving a dungeon-dropped mount (no raid drops).
  • The mounts could be any one of these and possibly others:
  • The drop rate of the mounts will be equal to the drop rate where it’s originally found. This means 1% chance (1 in 100) for most mounts but 4% (1 in 25) for the Hawkstrider for example.

The fact that the satchel containing the rewards is Bind on Account makes all the difference in the world in my opinion. This means everyone and their uncle’s niece’s cat will have a tank alt and get into those dungeons.

At first this will mean we’ll be flooded by inexperienced (and as an effect; horrible) tanks that will cause many wipes in many dungeons. Eventually though this will lead to a better understanding of the tanking role across the entire WoW population and could have a very positive effect on this underrepresented role in the future. If more people tank themselves, they’ll be slower to judge and rage on other tanks that fail (addressing problem number 1)

When more people actually have played as tanks and know what it means to tank then maybe the core problem of why there’s a lack of tanks finally could be addressed. With more experience comes more opinions and those opinions will be on the WoW forums, with those opinions, maybe Blizzard can alter the design of tanking so that more people find it to be fun (addressing problem number 3).

All in all, I look at this new feature as an overall positive change and I’m hoping we’ll see a shift in the attitude towards tanks after this.

The opinion around the blogosphere

My fellow bloggers are not in agreement with me.

Dreams of Iso’rath takes a very negative stance and points out all the current problems with the dungeon finder and says that this change will just make these problems even worse.

While I think Aeliel is right that some of these problems certainly have a good chance of becoming enlarged I also think it’s the wrong approach to this situation. All of these problems are already present in the game and they should be addressed, but keeping tanking as the least desired position in a group isn’t helping.

Aeliel says: “But it won’t do anything to fix the real problem with the dungeon finder – the attitude of people running heroics.”

And I say; it could! If more people try out different roles they’ll have better understanding of them and hopefully won’t be as quick to judge others at something they fail at themselves.

The Noisy Rogue says we should punish tanks for being tanks instead of offering them rewards for doing things they don’t want to do.

    I don’t see Adam’s “solution” as very fair or reasonable. It sounds more like spiteful comments based on not being able to reap the rewards himself.

    If we were to apply your solution and make it more horrible to be a tank, by forcing tanks to run heroics they don’t want to run, several times a day, I think we’ll see such a tremendous drop in interest in the tanking role that we might as well remove it.

    Not gonna work.

    Jinxed Thoughts does a nice summation of other blogger’s opinions on the subject and adds herself that she thinks that while this is nice, it’s not fixing the core issue of tanking which is that it’s a more difficult and thankless job (that really feels like a job rather than a game).

      Zinn links to seven other blog posts that all thinks this isn’t the right solution or a good idea at all and only one that thought this was a positive change. Well, Zinn, here’s another positive one for ya.

      I do agree with Zinn that this isn’t addressing the core issue of why tanks is the least represented role in dungeons but I do believe that this change could lead to that problem being resolved in the long term.

      I also do think this will have a bigger impact than a lot of people are willing to believe because the rewards are “just mounts and pets”. Since the satchel is BoA, every achievement hunter and collector (there’s a lot of us out there) will learn how to tank on at least one alt.

      Cheers,
      Gav

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      About Gavendo

      I write a World of Warcraft blog called "Rapid Fire" on the topics; hunters, pets and achievement hunting.
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      13 Responses to Call to Tanks

      1. Zinn says:

        I definitely agree that this is better than doing nothing. My hopes are too that this will be the incentive people need to at least give tanking a shot, and who knows, some people might actually stick with it. I think you make a good point in that having more people experience tanking might make people respect the effort a player puts into it more, I know that it’s how it has worked for me. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

      2. Isee says:

        Heroics are already faceroll a la Wrath now. This coming from a new tank who only rolled a tank because I hated 45 min q times on my main. CC isn’t required anymore for over 90% of the pulls.

        Since the challenge is gone already. Just add 2 more Dps slots to the 5 mans (7 man groups) and cut the Dps q time by 40%. retune boss health as necessary.

        The extra competition for loot will still suck, but I find in LFD now everyone is sharding 80% of the gear already.

        Also, having solely levelled through LFD, my experience of the douchebaggery level makes me think it’s highly exaggerated – maybe 1 out of every 10/15 groups face any sort of challenge or jerks in today’s Cata heroics.

        I’m at the gear stage now (even as a non raider) that I only need VP to progress – so I only run 1 per day. Give me more VP and I’ll run as many times per day as I have for time. This would make tanks gear faster, but wouldn’t that solve slot if the perceived headaches undergeared or inexperienced players claim to have in LFD anyway?

      3. I pull 12k single target on my Prot Pally. I topped meters when I ran heroics, and I’d be willing to bet I’d top meters if I did so again. It’s so much fun to watch the rogues get flustered.

      4. Gavendo says:

        @Isee: That’s an interesting idea! It sounds pretty good but consider the extra weight it would add on the healer. In effect it would be 40% more healing needed in any AOE damage situation for the healer. This would require a lot of re-tuning of healing which would also mess up the current tuning of healing in raids. Or they could go the easy way out and just add a big buff to healing in dungeons, but that doesn’t seem very elegant… Also, there’s another cap on healing than just throughput… There’d be too many targets for one person to heal! Healers without good AOE healing spells would be helpless.

        Also, that closes the gap of difference between a dungeon and a raid, making raids feel a bit less epic, don’t you think?

        @The Renaissance Man: That is some nick name :p
        I agree that it can be fun to win the dps meter as a tank, but usually when you are winning it, it’s not really a sign of you being awesome more than it is a sign of your group being terrible. Which isn’t as fun of a situation…

        Also, that’s not really the job you’re there to do, that’s not what you’re supposed to excel at… There should be a TPS (Threat per second) logger and website where you could upload it to and compare with other tanks. It would be very cool for example if you could have statistics for each pull in every dungeon and compare them to other local tanks or tanks all over the world. There could also be statistics of “least damage taken” or “fastest dungeon clear” (I absolutely loved speed-running heroics as a tank in Wrath!).

        Cheers,
        Gav

      5. Pingback: Dungeon Finder CTA update and addendum « Dreams of Iso'rath

      6. Lujanera says:

        From the original post:

        “The Noisy Rogue says we should punish tanks for being tanks instead of offering them rewards for doing things they don’t want to do.”

        I don’t think this is an accurate description of what NR was saying. Rather, he seems to be saying that if the goal is to reduce queue times, implementing a hellish change like the one he describes would be more effective. As a tank, I’d hate to see NR’s idea actually used, but I can’t disagree that it would get me back in the queue. Contrast that with the changes announced by Blizzard, which will get me in the queue maybe once or twice solely for the novelty and never again.

        Basically, Blizzard’s change doesn’t do anything about the reasons why tanking in LFD can be frustrating. NR’s idea doesn’t fix this either, but the bonus is too big to ignore on nights when I expect to be tanking a progression boss.

        • Gavendo says:

          “I would make it such that tanks had to use the LFG system on a daily basis to even be able to compete in the top level raids.”

          Then he goes on to say that there should be a stacking buff that lasts 12 hours and if you go into a raid without it then it’ll be very difficult to raid. The end effect would be that all tanks in all guilds would be ordered to gain the highest possible stack every day to actually have some smooth raiding going on.
          Maybe we’re splitting hairs on word choices here but to me this seems rather “punishing”. You’re a tank? Oh ok, you’ll just have to do all this stuff that is super annoying and time consuming that no one else needs to do.

          While I think that change could lead to more tanks in dungeons at first, it would ultimately lead to even less tanks being around and willing to raid / do dungeons.

        • Aeliel says:

          To be perfectly honest, to me what he’s saying looks like whiny entitlement.

          Here’s why: because the only tanks who would care about the stacking buff he proposes would be raiding tanks. A stacking buff used for raiding would provide absolutely no incentive to tanks who don’t raid.

          Considering that currently tanks who raid don’t really run heroics very much (if their guild is in any way successful, they’ll hit the weekly VP cap through raids) and if they do, they don’t do so alone (but rather with their guildies), this smacks of the following sentiment:

          “I want a tank to get me through heroics, but I don’t want one of those scrub tanks who just hit the right ilvl for heroics and I don’t even want one of those slightly-less-scrub tanks who have almost all the gear they need for heroics and only run one a day for VP. I want raid-geared tanks and I want them now.”

          Never mind that while I absolutely love tanking; if such a change were implemented I’d respec all my tanks to DPS and never look back.

      7. Pingback: Patch 4.1: Easy Livin’ | Rapid Fire

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