Follower Dungeon Thoughts

Folks, I am still gobsmacked at this whole “follower dungeon” thing. Gobsmacked.

Naturally, as I haven’t been playing regularly in a while (I was last tinkering in Season of Discovery with my brother and his eldest son), I had no idea that there even were follower dungeons.

I ended up running Uldaman: Legacy of Tyr as Kurn, just to check it out and I was impressed with the NPCs. I pulled, MDing to the tank… and everything was fine. I tried pulling without MDing to the tank. And still, everything was fine. I tried pulling aggro off the tank and I couldn’t. I tried pulling multiple groups to see if either the tank or the healer would get taxed. Nope.

Mind reeling, I then decided I had to do this as a healer on Madrana.

You should watch it. It’s pretty funny. I also confuse this big shiny yellow spinny effect on the ground for something a mage does. No, no, it’s something a trinket of mine does…

Anyway, the NPC tank was fucking amazing. Like, no shit, my hand to God, amazing. Tanks of the world (or, perhaps more accurately, wannabe tanks of the world) should take a page out of Captain Garrick’s book. She is GREAT. The one nitpick I had (I healed Neltharus) was that at one point, the tank was at the top of some steps, the hunter (Austin — I hate him, but the other characters are fine) was at the bottom, and I was in the middle, having a bit of trouble with line of sight for a minute. But aside from that, this tank was great. This tank cast Lay on Hands on the shammy. I would have 100% let that shammy die while I cast LOH on the mage (which I did) because a shammy can rez.

So now, I’m like… how did the tank know to LOH the shammy? Is there a piece of code in there that says that a real human behind a paladin healer would have saved the character who couldn’t self-rez and that’s why the LOH went to the shaman?

(PS: I have a battle-rez, now? What?! I mean, it’s on my bars, so I must have known about it at some point, BUT WHAT?!?!)

So yeah, I’m really interested in understanding how the NPCs are programmed. These are not the dumbasses who were in the proving grounds. These are much more sophisticated. Slow to pull (but considerate of the healer!!!) and the DPS is somewhat weak (but they’re normals), but still. They sort of play their classes well? (Austin has pulled extra mobs on me at least once, so he’s on my shit-list.)

What comes next, I wonder? Heroics? Mythics? LFR bots to come in when there aren’t enough tanks or healers?

Part of me kept thinking about these “fun” dungeon runs some of us had together in Burning Crusade. It was like a bunch of night owls. Me on Madrana, with Tia (warlock), Fodder (DPS warrior) and Cennathas (rogue). And sometimes Fodder would actually tank if we, you know, couldn’t find a tank at 2am. And Cenn would always be the one tasked with finding a rando DPS. So we’d all be on Vent or something except for the rando and I’d be stressing about mana and Tia would get lost in the instance and the rando must have always been like “who the fuck are these people and what are they even DOING???” It was vaguely stressful for me as a healer, but it was usually a good time.

And like… that wouldn’t necessarily have happened if we had had the ability to do follower dungeons.

Hell, if the gang of us had been able to find a tank back in the day, like the Vanilla days, we may never have done a 39m Baron run without a tank. It was me on Kurn, with my cat, Whisper, tanking, Crypt healing the crap out of Whisper, and Tia, Tan and Maj doing insane caster DPS while I pulled. (This was prior to MD, btw.)

Now, obviously, doing a dungeon without a tank is, in a word, stupid. But that’s sort of what we liked about it. We liked challenging ourselves to use all the abilities at our disposal. We liked learning things. We especially liked forcing Majik to drop enchanting and pick up engineering and power-levelling it all night so he could drop repair bots and try to rez Crypt with jumper cables, when Crypt’s darkmoon card wouldn’t proc (which was, you know, often).

I wonder if we would have still had the fun adventures we did if this technology had been available to us. My gut says no, because necessity is the mother of invention. And if we hadn’t needed to find ways around not having a tank, would we have? Probably not.

So while I do love this follower dungeon thing as it is, where you can do normal-level dungeons with 3 of your friends and a bot or by yourself with 4 bots or anything in between, I hope it doesn’t go further than this.

I do think it’s sort of a band-aid to the whole lack of tanks situation.

The way to get more tanks is to open them up to more specs and to make it more rewarding to be a tank (and I’m not talking a goodie bag out of LFG) and to require more hybrid role encounters in raids. In a 25-man raid, we needed like, 2.5 tanks in Cataclysm. Usually 2. Occasionally 1. Sometimes 4. (Heroic Halfus, anyone? God, kitties who could be bears were amazing.)

So yeah, still gobsmacked. Still very curious as to the how. And now curious about the why and the how far this will go.

What are your thoughts?

4 Replies to “Follower Dungeon Thoughts”

  1. A tank problem will likely only be solved when the community stops giving tanks the business in groups.

    I even saw that in TBC and Wrath Classic, where DPS and Healers were ragging on the tank because they weren’t doing well enough for them in instances, and it takes a certain amount of think skin to handle that.

    Is the follower dungeon a technical solution to a people problem? Yes. Is it here to stay? Likely yes.

    The side effect is that it will make a game that already struggles with the perception of being mostly a single player game even so, to the point where you can now do almost everything that’s not a raid or a Heroic/Mythic instance solo.

    1. It’s a really odd place for this MMO to be, you know? Back in the day, you needed tanks and healers for everything once you reached the point where you really started to want to do dungeons, like Scarlet Monestary, Zul’Farrak, or Sunken Temple or BRD and so on.

      Meanwhile, tanks and healers had a heck of a time questing. Their DPS was crap, even if their survivability was good. (Take it from me, using bubble THREE TIMES while trying to take down a single Kurzen Medicine Man when your only interrupt is Hammer of Justice shows that holy paladins can deal something like six damage per second. If that.)

      So then in comes dual spec, but then most people spend their time in their DPS spec and then tank up or heal up for a dungeon, but they’re not necessarily used to it…

      People are, in a word, awful. It takes time and practice to break in a tank. And one of the bonuses we had in the Vanilla days was that on some encounters, you needed multiple tanks. Garr, anyone? The only thing we had less of in our guild than tanks was warlocks. So we’re using two warlocks to banish 2 rock adds and tank 2 rock adds with their voidwalkers, then we have four tanks who are tanking the other four adds and then we have the MT on Garr. Five tanks on a single fight. Not all were prot warriors, some were DPS warriors in prot gear. We had a hybrid prot/holy paladin, too.

      But like, if you’re able to adequately tank boss adds in Molten Core, you are probably not squishy enough to be terrible in a level 60 dungeon. So bigger raids (and bigger guilds) led to more tanks (and healers) going out into the world.

      This dropped dramatically when we got to BC with only 2-3 tanks required for most raid encounters, and only 25 raiders in the largest raids. And it only got worse.

      The older days were not necessarily better, for a lot of reasons (herding 40+ cats is a goddamn nightmare!), but I do believe the higher-end guilds, those doing raid content, were doing a LOT for the community by getting their off-tanks and off-healers some valuable experience.

      And now… let’s see, we have prot warriors, prot pallies, blood DKs, guardian druids, brewmaster monks… and some flavour of demon hunter. That’s 6 specs made for tanking. And we have holy and disc priests, holy pallies, resto druids and shaman, mistweaver monks and some kind of evoker. That’s 7 specs made for healing. Meanwhile, all classes can do damage. So we have 13 classes, half of which can heal and half of which can tank and still, most people choose DPS. We have more viable options than ever before and yet fewer tanks and healers who know what the heck they’re doing.

      At the same time as we have expanded the viability of all classes, we have lost some of the more important group and social ties that led to people learning how to play their classes better or in a different way/spec.

      I tell you what, I would pay money to know how many people would voluntarily choose to main a class that only has tank or healing as specs. No damage spec. Like tank OR single-target healing OR multi-target healing. Or something like that. I tend to still mostly level as holy on the paladin and she wanders out into the world as a holy paladin, but I suspect I’m among the incredibly few people who do that.

      1. I remember my first toon in original Wrath –a Holy Pally– getting all sorts of crap from people when I tried to heal instances. I was brand new to WoW, learning the ropes, and I was getting the business all the time. I eventually gave up and switched to Ret permanently somewhere in the mid-L70s. Even back then, crapping on tanks and healers was kind of baked into WoW’s DNA.

        It’s one of those things where people are always quick to respond with a “don’t waste my time” without any visible consequences, but how many of those same people sit around and bitch that they can’t find healers or tanks?

        1. People doubted holy paladins could do anything back in Vanilla, too. I mostly healed my guild as I levelled Madrana, and then I ended up pugging a Strat UD. The mage was like “lol can you even heal?” And we had a perfectly good run. So it’s always been around. If it’s not complaining about the class, then it’s complaining about the player. It’s not that hard to be NICE. I always try to be nice when pugging. Sometimes a tank isn’t gonna cut it, though (or wouldn’t be able to, back in Wrath/Cata/etc), and I would try to explain to them that cheesing ilvl isn’t useful to get them into the run if they have hardly any health, etc, etc.

          Taking on a tanking or healing role is absolutely thankless. People really have to do it because they love it, in terms of pugs. When LFG launched at the end of Wrath, I would queue up as a tank or healer and did pugs daily on Madrana. I did it for me, but I also did it for the community. Halfway decent tank. Good healer. And I’d still get shit on sometimes, especially if I (as the tank, even!) didn’t want to cheese Halls of Reflection with the corner/AOE “strategy”. I’m like “no, you’re a priest, you shack this, hunter, trap this, I’ll fear this, kill this dude first, run to me/my Consecrate if you get aggro on anything.”

          “lol y not corner???”

          “Because I’m not a baddie,” I’m sure I answered once or twice. ;)

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