Saturday, April 9, 2011

Call To Arms - Adressing the right issue in the wrong way

Of course I am going to have to jump on the train and talk about the new Call to Arms change. Even though I said I was going to slow down my posting and not post anything today, it is difficult not to mention some thoughts about a bomb like this. I will admit, when I first read it I had to check the date it was posted to make sure that it wasn't yet another april fools joke. And then I couldn't quite decide whether I thought it was a good or bad idea.

The bloggosphere basically exploded upon these news in a way I've rarely seen any other kind of information affect us players. Maybe because it really affects us all, and not just a specific class, and because most of us didn't really agree with how Blizzard had decided to "solve" this. Here is a wrap up of a couple of posts on it that I thought were interesting.

Pradzha at Piercing Shots thinks this actually is a good idea (the only one I've found who thinks so). He argues that if it would interest bad tanks, then why wouldn't it interest good tanks?
Orvillus, guest posting at Oh my Kurenai says that this "solution" doesn't actually solve the existing problems with tanking, that of tanking being a rather tedious and ungrateful job. It only makes something most people think is too horrible to do slightly more worth it, but not necessarily more fun.
Rohan at Blessing Of Kings compares to Age of Conan where you actually use two tanks. By sharing the responsibility between two people it actually made the role more fun to play, and finding tanks in AoC was way less of a problem than it generally is in these kind of games.
Ohken of Shifting Nature also thinks that what the tanks really need is less responsibility or an easier way of tanking.
Rhidach of Righteous Defense means that this won't have him tank more instances, because the problem isn't (as mentioned) that it isn't rewarding enough, but that it isn't fun enough.
Jar of Rank 4 Healing Touch also talks about what makes people want to, and not want to tank today, mentioning gratification and responsibility as many others, and whether this really could solve that problem.
Ironyca over at Ironyca Stood In The Fire gives us a wrap up of the history of the lfd-system and shows us that it is pretty much covered in Band Aid solutions by now, this is just another one in the heap.
Mhorgrim at the Rusty Blades says that what the lfd-system really needs is some common decency between players. Does it really have to be too much to ask for?

I am a really nice person, believe it or not. I always have a hard time complaining at something someone does when I feel like they're at least trying. Whenever I do random pugs with Love and someone in the pug is just miserably bad, I always say "nah, leave him be. He's at least trying". Honestly. Trying their best is all I ask from people, as long as it still gets the job done. I don't care if I am boosting them, if they're nice I will leave them be and maybe give them some pointers on how they can improve. So in a way I feel the same thing about this. Blizzard are trying, and I just feel bad when I have to say - I am glad you're trying, but it's not the right way to go Blizzard.

So what is the problem? There are too few tanks. As Rohan pointed out, that is an issue in nearly every holy trinity based mmorpg. But why? Why does no one want to tank? I wrote a post about it a couple of weeks ago. The conclusion I had is the same as many others - tanking is too much responsibility and not enough gratefulness. Alot of responsibility doesn't have to be a problem, if it wasn't for the constant whining you get thrown at you. Ungratefulness doesn't have to be a problem either, if you didn't have to bust your ass off to get it. To sum it up tanking often feels like a job. This is coming from someone who has played 3 prot warriors to max level because I sincerely love tanking. I still prefer to level prot warriors because of the fun of tanking. I enjoy tanking with my dk and paladin too (my druid not so much). But there is no denying that it is alot more trouble tanking an instance, than it is to dps or to heal it. That is part of why I enjoy it so much. When the challenge has gone out of healing and dpsing heroics, the challenge of tanking them will always be there. Because you are fighting the players rather than the mobs, it never becomes easier (not when compared to healing or dpsing). I don't say this to whine about it - like I say, I enjoy it. But it is still something that scares most people off. And it is a fine balance. Even though I love tanking it only takes a particularly annoying ass hat for me to drop off. He is not worth my time or effort.

These issues have limited the people interested in joining the lfg-queue for tanking to two types of players;

Either you have the people who really enjoy tanking. I used to be one of them. Back in Wrath I always did at least one heroic on all of my tanks, just because I really enjoyed tanking. The same with early Cataclysm. Recently, the fun of tanking has gone out of me somewhat, especially warrior tanking.

The other group are those people who have the choice between going as a tank or healer/dps, can't be arsed to wait and go as tank just to get it over with. To them, the instant queue is incentive enough. I belong in part to this group as well. A big reason that I love tanking so much, is because I can just log onto WoW and get an instant instance. I don't have to wait around, it's there whenever I feel like it. If I have the option to tank on a char, I nearly always choose that option (except on my druid), just because I don't want to wait, and I don't mind tanking.

So who will the new system lure in? The people who already tank because they enjoy it will get a bonus. But will it have arms warriors decide to polish their prot spec enough to give it a go? Will it have resto druids get their bear gear in shape? Maybe, but I doubt that it will be enough. For those people to whom the instant queue isn't enough of an incentive already, for all those people who right now prefer to wait 20 minutes in queue over having to tank even though they could, I don't think that these rewards will be enough either. I know it wouldn't be for me. Because most people prefer the wait time only if they really hate to tank, or don't have the option to. Since the satchel is BoA I can only see that it could encourage some people to dust off that alt tank they have laying around. The positive thing I see in this is that it might be incentive enough for people to actually try out tanking at all. But it might not have them stick around with it since it's still not adressing the right problem - the fun (or lack thereof) of tanking.

Personally I'm rather going to look at this as confirmation about the fact that I am doing the tougher job in the group. I really don't think that tanks get enough recognition as it is right now, and I could tell you horror stories about how dpsers treat you like dirt under their nails just because you weren't doing the run exactly like they wanted to, even though the bastards have waited 20 minutes for you to join the queue. Yes, tanking has made me bitter. Tanking is extremely ungrateful, and in most random pugs you're not lucky enough to end up with 4 people who won't try to make your tanking experience miserable. I might sound cynical, but that is the sad truth. I won't decide to tank more because of this, simply because mounts/pets and other stuff like it rarely has been much of an incentive to me overall. To some people it might be, question is if it will be the right people. I might decide to tank on my paladin instead of heal, even though I feel more like healing, and I'm not sure that's right either. Blizzard recently changed the way dailies worked because you never should have to do something you don't feel like just to get the full reward. I know it's up to me in the end, but it still feels wrong that Blizzard hangs a goodie bag in front of my eyes and says "do the boring thing and you get this". Couldn't they try to make the boring thing more fun instead? Mhorgrim is absolutely right, tanking would be no trouble at all if people just had a little more patience with eachother. Unfortunately that seems as possible as asking a pig to fly. A possible solution could definitely be what Rohan suggests, in getting tanks to share the responsibility with another tank, kind of like how it works in a raid environment. It would require a complete redesign of the instancing system, but why not?

Maybe this shouldn't be seen as an incentive to join the instance as much as a "thank you" for doing the job no one else wants to do, but that everyone needs. When I do decide to tank, I will definitely feel like I've deserved those extra goodies at the end of the instance.


  1. I think the question "So who will the new system lure in?" is the right one. There are a lot of tank-capable classes that are perfectly willing to suffer through long queues in order to avoid tanking. What evidence is there that a goodie bag will be enough to tip the scale for them?

    I used to wonder why some of the older, more experienced tanks I knew were kinda grumpy. Then I found out. As you note, the new system doesn't do anything to address the things that can make tanking in LFD a frustrating experience. Overall, this feels like a very tentative modification when a more creative solution was needed.

  2. I know I'll probably only do this if the end bad of goodies is enough to cover my respec and reglyph. I know the price is fairly low, but it's still something like 120g each time (for glyph changes and the respec). Somehow I doubt that the bonus pouch will have 250g plus something extra. If it does though, I can certainly see a weekend of nothing but dungeon zergs.

    Even though my tank gear is all 346+ (the dregs I get from our tanks), I still just prefer healing. I'm pretty sure I'll be waiting to see if that LFD Call to Bribe ever switches to healers...

  3. Hah yeah, the blogosphere definately exploded, everyone had something to say about it. I'm not a tank myself so I've enjoyed reading everyones opinions. Oh and I changed my blog name a while back to become more WoW-fitting, so now I'm "Ironyca stood in the fire", fits my playstyle ;)

  4. @Lujanera
    Yeah tanking really does make you grumpy. I turn into turbo-bitch when I tank sometimes, but when I heal or dps I'm always laid back and relaxed. Interesting really...

    No exactly, people will probably only dust of their tank alts. If they haven't fixed their mains for instant lfd-queues already, they probably won't for this either.

    /facepalm. I knew that! It's still the old name in my reader, that's why I got confused ;P

  5. I honestly don't know what to make of this change. It won't make me do heroics everyday like I used to, it'll just be a bonus should I decide to do one. If the mounts in the bag were more akin to the blue drake that we got for H Oculus I would be more apt to do it for the mount. The mounts in that bag are easily farmable at 85 (with some patience) and have the same drop rate as they do from the bosses they drop from. I would much rather do a 20-30 minute solo run than deal with the dregs of LFD.

    I'm going to say that even a goodie bag is not going to make it worth my time or my frazzled nerves to tank again. I'm with Adgamorix, I'll wait until it turns to healers before I try it.

  6. My tank is sitting at 82. In Wrath, I spent the first 6 months primarily tanking.

    So far in Cata, because I had not had the time to thoroughly familiarize myself with the instances - and because tanking pretty much requires that you be on top of things (not required of the DPS) - I have only tanked Throne of Tides. Quite a few of the instances I've done only once or twice on DPS, and I think there are one or two I haven't done at all yet.

    Yet this new pronouncement has already driven me to watch several video walkthroughs of instances in preparation for tanking more frequently when I'm back from my current travel.

    The objective isn't to incentivize everyone to tank - they just need to make a difference at the margin, and my bet will be that this shortens queue times considerably.

  7. I main a tank.

    I do it because, well I like the sacrifice, and knowing that I'm the one busting my ass off.

    I have a DPS and a healer alt because it's true that tanking is stressful, and people tend to tell you you're not going fast enough and blame you if they wipe.

    I don't give a rat's ass about pets and mounts, so this will in no way make me wanna use my tank more. Only exception might be the gold, if it pays for the repairs and you're left with a more than substantial amount.

  8. Mhorgrim is correct. Some common decency and curtesy would go a long way in WoW. Since its no longer really an issue on how you treat others in groups since they are from another server ppl are complete heels for the most part.

    This goes for DPS, healers and tanks. I have been in groups where the tank is moving like a bat out of hell and then bad mouths the DPS and healer for not keeping up, not healing good enough, and not killing the mobs fast enough.

    There are not enough tanks to run groups through 5 mans at the rate all ppl woudl be happy with thats a fact. How ppl act and how they play is part of the reason, but a major one is the fact that there is no reason for ppl to make a tank.

    Where are you going to go with it? Raiding guilds only need so many of them. I mean in a pyramid setup they are the smallest tier up top in a raiding guild.

    Thats the main spec tanks. Then you have the OS tanks that get gear after the MS tanks have it. Again no need to create new tanks.

    If you are a MS tank you have already run the 5 man runs so many times it makes you shudder to run the damn things again. Hell I am a healer and I HATE to run the current heroic 5 mans. I skip valor points on days because I cant motivate myself to join one, even with guildies.

    As a matter of fact we are at a point where a 5 man random group is generally out of balance. You have a tank way over geared just after his valor or maybe a healer who is OP for the run. Or lord forbid a couple DPS that are OP for it. Whatever the combination is, you have 1-2 ppl trying to rush through and if it is nto at the speed they want then its gonna be ugly for everyone else.

    I hate healing more than one tank per say in an instance, but I can tell you for a fact, sometimes the best geared and most experience tanks are the issue. If the healer cant heal through the damage intake and the DPS cant kill them fast enough....slow down damnit. People get sloppy when they get in a hurry.


  9. I can't more agree with Solaril. Out of my own experience I know that a less geared but deliberate and marking tank is (much) easier to heal than a rushing IMBA one. And indeed 1-2 steps slower improves the fun for everyone while in the long run you finish an instance faster. Less MB time, ress time or even wipe time save a lot of time, that's for sure.