Patch 4.1 Dungeon Finder Call to Arms, Lodur’s thoughts

Patch 4.1 Dungeon Finder Call to Arms, Lodur’s thoughts

Unless you missed it, Blizzard has announced an idea that they wish to implement in an attempt to shorten queue times and address the tank and healer shortage that has been plaguing the LFD for a while now. Here’s the actual blue post for you,

Source

In patch 4.1 we’ll be introducing Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms, a new system intended to lower queue times. Call to Arms will automatically detect which class role is currently the least represented in the queue, and offer them additional rewards for entering the Dungeon Finder queue and completing a random level-85 Heroic dungeon.

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 where class roles are selected, and will also display on the UI when the queue pops and you are selected to enter a dungeon. 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. 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.

Well there it is. Since it was first announced, people have been going crazy about it and from the general reaction you’d think the sky was falling. Well, it’s not. Lets look at the proposed rewards,

Vanity Pets: These look to be ones that can be obtained easily on your own if you decide to put the time into it. So DPS aren’t really losing anything there, it’s just a simple cookie to offer Tanks and Healers. If you’re really so worried about these pets, go ahead and get them yourself. I did, and I’m a healer.

Mounts: A lot of people are bitching about this, I can understand why, mounts are a pretty big status symbol at times, but you know what? The mounts they’ve discussed aren’t anything you can’t get by yourself, or anything DPS isn’t already soloing. Hell I’m a healer with a DPS offspec and I can solo all of the old heroics and have been in an attempt to get the mounts.

My main issue with the incentive is that it won’t really fix the problem so much as shift the issue in another direction. In the last week, I’ve queued for about 15 heroic dungeons solo. 10 of those times, I got a DPS that strapped on a shield and a sword and decided they were going to tank. Those were fantastic runs let me tell you. What I think will happen is that we’ll see more of that. People that will want the mount or pets and will try to cheat the system. So for a bit queue times may go down, but then there will be sub-par tanks and healers that people will complain about. And even then if there’s nothing you want from the random dungeon bonus, those same folks will stop queuing once they have the items they want, giving the incentive a finite amount of time. While I like the incentive idea and as a healer appreciate the thank you, it’s not a fix, it’s a bandaid. Tanking and Healing are thankless jobs lets face it. Healing and Tanking are pretty hard when you’re first starting out, and people like to criticize you often for any deficiencies you have at the role. Giving us what amounts to a Chotchkie doesn’t really help all that much as a lasting incentive.

The other problem is the additional changes to how the LFD works in terms of Valor Points. The first 7 random dungeons you do will award you the points, meaning that you will no longer need to queue once a day, but can knock them all out at once if you want to. Personally I think that change will encourage more people to get random guild groups together and just knock out the heroics all at once. This then removes a whole set of potential Tanks and Healers from the pool.

Is there a better fix for the queues? I don’t know, I’m not one of the guys in charge of things over at Blizzard and I’m not sure I can really come up with a better option. Do I think it’s worth calling out that the sky is falling over the change? I don’t think so. Personally I’m enjoying the fact that Blizzard recognizes there is a problem and is looking at ways to fix it. I hope they find a happy balance, and I hope that the fix doesn’t produce a series of under-geared Tanks and Healers flooding the queues. It’s a fine line to walk, but I’m confident that Blizzard will find the fix, that they will figure out a good enough cookie to offer under represented roles without completely unbalancing the system. In the meantime though, I do not think that it’s something we should be seeing the amount of QQ we are in the last few hours, lets give them some time to see how it actually works out. Besides, it doesn’t really hurt you, it’s not taking anything away from you, and it is a slight thank you to a set of roles that is normally criticized and never thanked. That’s my opinion on the matter at least.

How about you? What do you think of the idea? Do you think there’s a better way to improve queue times?

It Came From the P.U.G.!: Why I Hate Gundrak

It Came From the P.U.G.!: Why I Hate Gundrak

For those who might not know yet, my gluttony for abuse knows no bounds. As a result I find myself in a rather large number of P.U.G. groups. At the end of the day I bring you, my readers, the stories of my travels in the random grouping of Azerothian adventure!

I really really hate heroic Gundrak. Not because it’s hard or that there is loot there I want but can’t seem to get to drop, but because it seems like every time I queue for a random, I get it. I’ve done it at least 40 times, and the vast majority of those times have been through the LFD tool. It’s not a bad instance I’m just tired of seeing the insides of it, and I think this last time my group was agitated as well.

It started out pretty normal, warrior tank, ret paladin, mage a boomkin and me. Pretty solid setup, everyone had gear that hovered around at least ICC10 so I figured it would be a nice, quick run. In and out of Gundrak, I’m all for that! Down the first boss like normal and we’re moving onto the second boss when something odd happens. The boomkin pulls threat off the tank on a trash pull. Tank re-establishes aggro and we move onto the next one. The boomkin pulls aggro once again but this time the tank doesn’t grab aggro. I heal the boomkin like crazy and keep him from dying and everyone stops after the trash is downed.

Boomkin: What the hell man? I wasn’t even doing anything to pull aggro! Did you forget how to tank?

Warrior: If you learned how to manage your aggro this wouldn’t be an issue.

Boomkin: Yeah but you just sat there while I was dying! WTF is wrong with you? Learn how to tank

The warrior runs forward and pulls ALL of the trash leading up to the second boss and then shadow melds as the boomkin is in the middle of AoE. All the mobs go hell for broke after the boomkin. I toss an Earth Shield on the druid and nuke heal until the pack is down.

Boomkin: Seriously? What the hell is wrong with you?

Warrior: Shouldn’t try telling me how to tank then

Me: Fine, fuck it. If you two are going to fight, I’ll just tank.

I switch to my PvP gear, run in and ES myself while frost-shocking the boss. I nuke heal myself and keep shocking and lava bursting on the boss.

the DPS starts in slowly and I’m holding aggro pretty well and eventually the tank runs in and grabs aggro off of me. I let him take it and switch back to healing. The boss is downed and we are all sitting there.

Me: So, we done fighting? I already hate this place, I just want to be done.

Ret Pally: Dunno, but watching a healer tanks was pretty funny. Think you could do that again?

Me: Sure, unless mr. tank and mr. boomkin want to play nice so we can just be done.

Warrior: Fine, proved your point.

Boomkin: Fine.

Rest of the run is done without any hiccups, no one is openly aggressive to each other and the rest goes smoothly.

The sad thing about this isn’t that the fight happened, but the fact that it is not the first time something like this has happened. I’ve seen players go at each other’s throats for seemingly small things or mistakes. It boggles my mind how people playing a GAME for FUN can have such a stick up their arse and be so aggressive. This has happened at least 3 times this past week, not me tanking (although I do threaten it from time to time), but the bickering. If you can’t play well with others, you shouldn’t be playing a game that relies on OTHER PEOPLE to do part of it, or just avoid that part of it.

So how about you? Any good pug stories this week? Any horror stories?

Well that’s it for today, until next time Happy Healing!

Why It’s A Problem That Healers Don’t Communicate in PUGs

The end is nigh.

Healers don’t communicate properly in PUGs. It’s a can of worms waiting to explode in Cataclysm.

WotLK minted many new practices, including PUGing raids. While the level and quality of communication in PUGs has always been unpredictable, there’s been decline in healer communication since the LFD tool was introduced.

People don’t seem to want to engage in communication unless pushed. I rarely see anyone bring up the topic of healing assignments. I usually wait to see if anyone else will initiate communication to sort tank and raid assignments and then organise it myself. The favourite responses vary from “sure”, “just heal ffs” and the particularly fine “lol Apeorsa tht healing setup is so naxx”.

Considering how players might feel these days I’m not greatly surprised at this lack of communication. As the root of group play, random 5 mans are largely to blame. They tend towards brief and impersonal affairs at best and arenas for bullying at worst. Sure, nice runs do happen – but for some there’s little incentive to be nice with strangers they’ll see once. There are no seeds of trust and friendship, and that dearth puts cracks in the foundations we build bigger PUGs on.

I’m sure some healers think communication in PUGs is unnecessary. From their POV, they’re kinda right. Think of a tree – call him Furtree. He’s used to raiding with his guild. Perhaps PUGs just don’t feel the same – he doesn’t get the mutual comradeship and pride he does with his guild. Perhaps VoA25 isn’t the challenge he’s used to in his guild’s ICChardmode runs. He has no reason to show loyalty or effort; he’s only here for a handful of badges to put a minute edge on already spiffy gear.

As a seasoned raider he might have a lack of patience with less experienced healers, or anyone inclined to ‘overtalk’ the situation – he just wants to get through the fast content as fast as possible. Many of us – including me – have been guilty of these at times. We’re slightly bored by now. I’ve even seen healers hiring themselves out as one-man-band progression healers, effectively amputating dialogue and shared learning.

At the other end of the spectrum we have new, struggling, healers. Imagine Timmy the timid priest who’s hit 80 and has blues and 219s. He wants to PUG for kit and badges, but PUGs can be harsh. Timmy’s more likely to be laughed off than invited to PUGs. When he does get an invite to his first ToC25 and the raid wipes to Burning Inferno because the healers didn’t communicate on Incinerate Flesh, Timmy’s may well get the blame.

Healers not talking mean that new healers don’t learn their own versatility in encounters or specifics behind healer setup. Sure, Timmy can read and watch tactics, but there’s an equation for learning encounters you’ve never seen plus how to heal in the first place which doesn’t necessarily = 2, for new healers.

equation2

A lack of teaching and support from other healers could have several effects. Timmy might get bored because the other healers have it covered. Or Timmy may believe all wipes are his fault and he can’t heal. Or he’ll have been given the easiest job and will think he’s brilliant – then he joins a guild and his lack of knowledge sticks out like a sore thumb. All of these can turn a new healer off of healing. There aren’t many of us to start with!

It adds up to a vicious circle in which there’s no incentive to communicate in PUGs. As in random five mans you’re unlikely to see these people regularly. As in random five mans it’s easy to believe you needn’t be loyal to anything but your character’s gear, for various excuses from improving it for guildruns or because you have something to prove. As in random five mans the atmosphere can be of distrust, which increases the chances to wipe when no-one’s healing the tank, and then snipe at each other with Blame Bullets. Frankly, I’ve found that people are grateful and relaxed if you run groups saying there’ll be oodles of communication.

Communication is the foundation of relationships. By not engaging in it any more than necessary healers distance themselves from possible ‘relationships’ in game – be they new friendships or just networking for team members. We should never, ever forget how to socialise in a game we play with other people.

If that’s not incentive enough consider this. Cataclysm is going to challenge us in ways Wrath wasn’t meant to. Healers may face changes to mana and even role setup. We’re going to need to communicate. It may come as a shock; falling into apathetic and uncommunicative habits now is signing our characters’ – and WoW’s – death warrants.

Crucial tweaks to the LFD system – like cross-realm friends lists – would encourage us all to communicate better. Whether or not that happens we can all take responsibility now, in content we might be bored of. Take fresh interest in ‘healing’ the foundations – just by putting a bit more effort in. For The Cataclysm!

I’m not whining; there are positive cases and it’s not all bad. I’m genuinely concerned. Question is -what do you think? Have you noticed a difference in communication or has it not been too bad where you are? Do you think this could turn into a longterm problem or am I doomsaying? Do you think we’ll be flexible enough to adapt out of bad habits?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my twitter feed here.

Article image2 originally by Tim Trueman @ Flickr