Call to Arms: my predictions

So I woke up to the big news today that Blizzard is finally implementing a suggestion that I've seen people make on various blogs many times by now: that tanks and healers should get greater rewards for using the dungeon finder in order to shorten queue times for damage dealers. In practice, the system will "only" reward players for filling the role that is the most needed to create a max level heroic group at any given point in time. In 99% of all cases this will be the tank.

I'll be honest, my first reaction was: "Cool, I guess I'll have to go back to tanking heroics on my druid and paladin once the patch comes out." However, then I spent a minute remembering all the things that have pissed me off about my heroic pugs in the last couple of months and quickly amended my thoughts to add "...but probably not for very long". I strongly suspect that this is what will happen on a large scale as well.

In other words, I do think that this new system will work in the short term, as players will queue up as tanks whenever possible simply out of curiosity, to see what this new extra loot bag is all about. Once the possible rewards become widely known, people will still make a point of queuing as tanks for a while, in order to chase that special mount they always wanted or what have you.

However, in the long run, I predict that people will quickly realise that

1) whatever the reward, tanking itself is still the same as before and if they didn't enjoy it already, they are still not enjoying it now.
2) they really prefer tanking for their friends and guildies, but the Call for Arms system only rewards them for queuing alone. Wasn't this supposed to be the expansion that encourages playing with your friends again?
3) they've got everything they wanted and whatever special rewards are left for them to attain aren't worth the effort. (Flasks and gems are useful, but unless the system gives out massive amounts of them for each run, running heroics is hardly going to be the most efficient and painless way of acquiring them.)

And thus the queue times for dpsers will get longer again and we'll mostly be back to where we are now. Eventually more people will choose to tank again simply in order to get the shorter queue, as heroics become easier again - just like we saw in Wrath - but this might take a while and will happen independent of the Call to Arms system.

I'm not annoyed with Blizzard for implementing this and will be curious to see how it pans out. I'll be happy if I'm wrong and it works as intended, but I just don't think that will happen. Bribes are not useless, but they only go so far. Not to mention that I believe that they are what caused this whole queue problem in the first place. How many damage dealers that are clogging up the heroic queues actually dislike instances and group play and are only in there because it's the only way to progress your character past a certain point and the dungeon finder allows them to participate without actually having to talk to anyone? I think it's very telling that Bashiok revealed at the end of his statement that lower level dungeons don't suffer from dps overload in the same way - it's because people have alternatives while levelling, and the Satchel of Helpful Goods you get for running low-level randoms is not so great that it's worth getting if you don't care for instancing in the first place.

The bottom line is that I think that the developers need to take a step back from making everything about item incentives and think more about making sure that players actually enjoy what they are doing. Yes, you can lure them into doing things that they don't actually care for - see all those damage dealers in the dungeon queue. But the only reason that works is because a lot of the time, dpsers can get away with playing in a group in the same way as they do while soloing (or even worse, because the tank and healer are there to protect them), so they still get to play the way they want even with other people around. Tank play is quite different on your own compared to in a group though, and when it comes to choosing between extra item rewards and playing in a way that's fun, players won't be willing to chase the carrot quite so readily.


  1. I agree, and probably won't take long until we see justice or valor points added to the bribe sack.
    For me the current loot isn't attractive enough to start tanking or healing pugs. Flasks? I got an alchemist at max level and several herbalists. Gems? Same deal, got a jc at max level and several miners. Pets and mounts? come on...
    As you pointed out it's about enjoying the content while in a group of unknown people, not getting such bribes.

  2. As much as I would love the mounts and pets I would love them on my Hunter, which means this does nothing for me.

    40 minute wait, 10 minute wait, I don't care. Just give me a group that doesn't suck and I don't care if you give them all glow in the dark drakes that you can only get that way.

    They need to fix the runs, not the wait time. The runs are why there are no tanks. Make the runs better and the tanks will come back.

    It will not get me to tank a random. Those days a long behind me. Been there, done that, not making the same mistake again.

    Where you give credit to blizzard for trying something I will only go half way, they tried something, but I will not give them any credit for trying something bad.

    There are most likely 100 reasons that first popped into mind as to why this will not work or why this is a bad idea but one that you said stands out as a leader of the pack.

    "whatever the reward, tanking itself is still the same as before and if they didn't enjoy it already, they are still not enjoying it now."

    Nice post.

  3. This is only an ice breaker. (I think) They will add more important rewards later.

    - more VP for tanks
    - VP only for tanks
    - a third kind of points. Let's call them "bitch point". BP can only be used to buy tank gear from a BP vendor.

    The sky is the limit.

    > that lower level dungeons don't suffer from
    > dps overload in the same way

    Are there actually people leveling a pure class? I, for sure, wouldn't level a pure class these days.

  4. The law of unintended side effects will kick in, unfortunately. Think about all the substandard tanks you see --or the DPS queuing as a tank-- and multiply that by a factor of 10. That's what I think will happen to PUGs. I've been in enough lousy groups as DPS where the tank is the culprit that I can easily see this getting much worse.

  5. @Grumpy: It's interesting that for all the complaints people have about bad players and rude behaviour in dungeon finder groups, the problem that Blizzard decided needs the most attention is... queue times.

    @Kring: I have a hard time seeing them add extra VP for tanks because that would feel counter-productive to their goal of getting more of them to queue up. More VP just means that tanks gear up even faster than everyone else and are "done" with heroics all the sooner.

    @Redbeard: I do think that will happen, but I'm hoping that the fact that getting the reward requires you to actually complete the instance will teach people quickly that they won't get anything if they can't actually perform.

  6. Things are getting worse, it seems:

    If the rare mount was the biggest hook to get more tanks we can then assure this feature won't help in shortening the queues. If drop rate is the same, why have to deal with a group of gogogoers when you can solo the instance where the mount drops?
    Call to Arms: Dead Before Birth.

  7. I dont belive this will help one bit. At this point Heroics are little more than a place to gear up alts. I for one tank on my main and have no need of anything a heroic can offer. For me a heroic run on my main is either soemthing i do for friends or basicly a waste of time.

    Then there is all my alts. As it stands now im at 5 level 85's and a couple more in there 80'ish. Not one of them is a tank and non om them ever will be. I belive that many main spec tanks feel like i do and do spec there alts dps like me. Taht is the reason why i just dont see this will work past the first 2 weeks as Shinny is talking about.

    So that leaves us at the question. What can Blizzard do to get more tanks in to heroics?

    Should they make heroics insanely easy again? and thereby catering to the lowest common denominator in tha game?

    Should they give out flasks left and right even though they dont matter much to many guilds as the get higher guild levels and get the better perks?

    Should they give out JP or QP to lure tanks in? Jp or QP that most tanks dont need anymore.

    I dont have the anwser. Besides huge over powered bribes not much would get me back to random heroics. But doing nothing wont sovle anything in regard to the long wait time for dps.

    To be honest i dont think there is a solution to this. One can only hope that as time goes by enough DPS'ers get sick of the wait time and starts tanking. Untilthat happens we can only wait for 4.2 where there will be a new need for raid tanks to run random heroics...... Even though we will more than likely run these with Guildies or friends.

    In the end.. Instead of criticizecing Blizzard for comming out wiht ideas to fix the problem. We should give feed back and constructive ideas for even more ways to fix the problem i think.