The dungeon finder has changed many things over the past weeks. One thing that I found particularly interesting is that it made it official that a lot more people want to play dps than tanks or healers. I mean, we always knew that it was harder to find a tank for your instance group than a random dps, but just how much harder it was could be difficult to qualify at times. Now, if the queue times in my battlegroup are any indication, I feel confident in saying that for every tank there are about three healers and thirty dpsers.
There's been some talk about how this will make tanking and healing more popular now, but I'm not so sure. I mean, we've always known that it's easier to get groups as a tank or a healer, so what's different?
In fairness, the new system has made the benefits of playing one of the more sought-after roles more obvious and more tangible than ever. With the way things used to be, even a much-needed tank could find himself in a position where he couldn't get a group going occasionally, for example because he just couldn't find a willing healer at that particular moment. And of course group-building in general was more of a hassle. If you use the new dungeon finder on the other hand and you are a tank, you will get a group immediately, guaranteed. Whereas if you queue up as dps only, you'll be forced to wait in line for a comparatively large amount of time. So there's definitely an added incentive to queue as tank or healer if you are able to fill either of those roles.
The dungeon finder has also made life for tanks and healers easier in general in some respects. During the first week after 3.3 release, I remember running heroic Culling of Stratholme with a massively overgeared raid tank who happily chattered away about how tanking random instances had become an amazing source of income for him: cash rewards, loot to sell, enchanting materials, and since he didn't need any of the badge gear anymore, he could use all of his emblems to buy crusader orbs and epic gems and then sell those too. It's basically the equivalent of daily quests designed specifically for tanks and healers.
Don't get me wrong, we are quite capable of doing normal daily quests too, and some of them don't even require you to kill anything... but let's be honest: most of them do, and then you'll always be faster doing them on a dps character than on your healer. Compare that to being teleported to an instance where you can do what you're specced for and then get paid for that. So much easier.
Still, the reason that I believe that we won't see a massive surge of tanks and healers any time soon is that the actual acts of tanking and healing themselves haven't changed at all, so if you hated performing either of those roles before, the new dungeon finder isn't going to change that. Being able to get a group faster might make it a little more beareable, but not much.
This is even more true since the finder strongly encourages you to only play the role(s) that you like. In the past, how many times did a dual-specced dpser agree to do something else just to get the group off the ground, because he was worried that the run might not happen at all otherwise? On the other hand, if you join the new LFG as dps only, then you'll be guaranteed to get a group in which you're allowed to dps, no questions asked. It might take a little longer than if you queued as a tank or healer, but it will happen.
I found that this has strongly encouraged me to give my hunter alt more playtime again for example. She's the only one of my alts at eighty who can't tank or heal, which used to make finding groups quite difficult and there was always this nagging voice at the back of my head telling me that I could actually get things done if only I switched to another one of my toons. With the dungeon finder - no more! If I feel like doing some pew pew on my hunter, I can do so and I know I'll get into a run even if it takes a while.
I think that this will encourage a lot of people to stick to their preferred dps playstyle and that way a potential influx of new tanks and healers lured in by shorter wait times will be balanced out, leaving us with the same inequality of roles in the end. Regardless, a World of Warcraft where we can all get instance groups more easily regardless of spec and role is still a much better one than we had before.
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