Why Bribery Won't Help — Much

Today, Blizzard announced that they would essentially be bribing tanks and healers to queue up for random, heroic dungeons in the 4.1 patch, by rewarding the least-represented role with special rewards, which may include rare mounts and rare non-combat pets.

(I won’t even talk about how one of those rare mounts is the Baron’s mount out of Stratholme. That’s someone else’s QQ fodder, but I can imagine people are going to be pissed if they’ve done 500 runs over the years and not gotten one, but some random tank gets it for running heroic Vortex Pinnacle.)

Tanks and, to a lesser extent, healers, are the least-represented roles when queuing up for a random heroic dungeon at 85. You can tell because DPS has the longest queue (30+ minutes for me on my hunter, typically), healers have a much shorter queue (about 8 minutes) and tanks have a damn near instant queue.

In a dungeon group, you have 20% of the group that heals, 20% of the group that tanks and 60% of the group that’s DPS, right? 1 and 1 and 3 makes 5.

In a 10-man raid group, you generally have 30% of the group that heals, 20% of the group that tanks and 50% of the group that does damage. (This can also be 20/20/60, so your mileage may vary.)

So far, that all seems pretty logical, right? The dungeon group percentages mostly match up to the raid group percentages.

Then we have 25-man raids. In a 25-man raid group, you drop from 20% of the group being comprised of tanks to, in most situations, 2 people tanking. That’s 8%. On some occasions, you get 3 tanks, that’s 12%. It is a lot less than the 20% in your standard random groups. You also generally go up from 20% healers to around 25% healers (6 or 7, up from 5, one per group.).

My hypothesis: Tanks are in high demand in dungeon situations because there are not enough tanks needed in raid situations.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking for 5 tanks, 5 healers and 15 DPS for every encounter. Or even ANY encounter. But my theory is that there are more healers than tanks and more DPS than healers because there are more spots required of DPS and healers than there are of tanks. Yes, having death knights be able to tank since last expansion has added to the number of possible tanks. Yes, more raid groups (thanks to the legitimacy of 10-man raiding in Cataclysm) will mean more geared and skilled tanks who are available.

However, what will bribing tanks (and, to a lesser extent, healers) into solo-queuing do to the random dungeon finder system?

Fox Van Allen tweeted: “you’ll wind up seeing a lot more bad, unready tanks,” although he rather likes the idea apart from that.

I tend to agree — tanks are going to be awful. This isn’t going to convince the good/experienced/geared tanks to go out and start pugging. Since they don’t need much out of heroics (once they farm ZG and ZA with mostly guild groups, at any rate), the only added incentive is this “Call to Arms” reward. Why do your daily random (or seven weekly randoms) with not one but four puggers if you can easily do it with at least a partial guild group?

I don’t think the experienced, good tanks will do this very often.

What I think this will do more of is convince that idiot ret paladin to choose prot as his dual spec and fail miserably. Or convince the moonkin that he doesn’t need ALL feral gear to use in a bear spec; after all, who’s going to actually take the time to inspect the bear?

I did a lot of daily dungeons runs in Wrath on a lot of different toons. I did them on my pally as a tank and a healer, I did them on my druid as a tank and a healer, I did them on my mage and hunter as a DPS and I did them on my priest and shaman as a healer.

Oh, the failure I saw, the lack of knowledge I witnessed, the common sense that I realized was not remotely common at all. I KNOW I’ve blogged about these experiences on this very blog before.

Oh, look. April 9th, 2010, “Yet another fail ‘tank'”.

April 6th, 2010, “OMG.”

There are more, but I digress yet again.

I have no reason to believe that Cataclysm random heroics are any different from Wrath random heroics except that they’re longer and more difficult to begin with than the Wrath ones were. Thus, based on my WotLK dungeon finder experiences, I do not foresee a lot of experienced tanks solo-queuing to get these rewards; I see a lot of DPS posing as tanks who solo-queue for the rewards, without any kind of real understanding of how the encounters work.

That’s going to translate into more groups being formed, yes — but will they be more successful? I’m sure some will be, but I would imagine that the success rate will drop, overall, at least after the initial ZA/ZG farm fest.

I really believe that the key to alleviating the dreaded DPS queue problem is to make tanks more needed at the higher levels of content. More demand for tanks should lead to more tanks being rolled, no? That said, I don’t have a good idea as to how to make tanks more needed without requiring 5 tanks on all 25-man raid encounters. I just don’t think this is the way to go about fixing the queue problem. I am actually afraid to see those DPSers in “tank” specs who will probably spec 41 points in their tanking tree and still miss out on six crucial points…

Time will tell, I suppose!

13 Replies to “Why Bribery Won't Help — Much”

  1. To an extent I think you’re right — there will be some don’t-really-know-much-about-tanking people queue up with lousy gear, few skills and insufficient knowledge. You get a few of those already, but perhaps there’ll be more.

    What I think you’ll also get, which will be the good part, are the people who’ve been a little undecided about tanking, or undecided about PUG tanking. Because I suspect what we have is not so much a shortage of tanks as a shortage of people willing to tank. I know that’s semantics, but bear with me.

    It’s possible that the extra incentives available for the “call to arms” role might be just enough to persuade people who *already* have a tanking/healing offspec, or a tanking/healing alt — which they rarely use outside guild groups — to consider/reconsider using it in randoms. People who either found the experience a little too stressful when they were learning, or had a couple of back-to-back bad experiences with random groups and swore off pugging as a tank or healer might find this just enough incentive to give it another go.

    Here’s hoping…

  2. Gah: that should have read “not so much a shortage of tanks as a shortage of people willing to tank in pickup groups”.

  3. “I don’t think the experienced, good tanks will do this very often.”

    You could not have said this any better. I agree 100% with everything you’ve said here; it’s gonna be a blood bath :(

  4. Although I understand your perspective, I disagree with the premise that any tank motivated to queue based on LFD perks will be a bad tank.

    First, it’s not as if the tanks in the queue currently are elite tanking machines, so let’s not pretend that this new enticement will open the floodgates. (For the record, I’ve been LFD queuing on my newly 85 spriest for the past couple of weeks and I’ve yet to come across a truly horrible tank. Inexperienced, yes. But flat out evil/horrible/stupid? Not a one.)

    Second, the perk system is all about balancing the cost of participating in the underrepresented role with a suitable motivation. The complaint I hear more often than not from random tanks and healers is that going solo into an LFD group is very stressful. (I agree, it can be). So a reward system simply tries to offset that stress by offering a reward for participation.

    Lastly, while I do agree that there is a definite disparity between the tanking population needed to reduce queues and the tanking population needed for raids, the fact remains that there are a ton of players out there with a tank offspec who simply don’t put it to use. (I’m guilty of this on my druid and my pally). These players collect “offspec” tank gear in raids and never don a piece of it in LFDs, for simple lack of motivation. I think we need to remember that the potential pool of tanks out there isn’t just limited to players who are tanks and only tanks; there are plenty of players out there who collect the loot for the role “just in case”.

    In the end, if the system encourages more tanks into the queue, that’s fine by me. Adequate tanks will be rewarded by finishing the run and maybe getting a shiny or two, and the bad tanks will queue with dreams of rare mounts and wind up with a vote kick or group disband.

  5. theanorak – It’s an interesting distinction you bring up. When the dungeon finder tool came out, I queued up as a tank and healer on my paladin. I’d already tanked most of the heroics, though not all, and knew my way through the dungeons easily as a healer and a DPS. I knew what the tanks needed to avoid in addition to what the DPS and healers needed to look out for. I made sure I was defense-capped and using a decent heroic tanking spec, with appropriate glyphs and knew what seal to use. And that was late in the expansion. At that point, EVERYONE should have known to run away from Dark Smash in Utgarde Keep or Pound in Azjol’Nerub. EVERYONE should have known that the heroic defense cap was 535. EVERYONE should have known a multitude of things that I made sure that I knew before hitting the queue button as a tank.

    The tool allowed me to flex my tanking muscles and take on an aspect of the game I had rarely really engaged in quite some time. For the first month, I think I got called in to heal twice when I queued as a tank and as a healer.

    But time and again, at the end of Wrath and into the start of Cataclysm, I see people who have no business tanking/healing/DPSing. There’s simply no check to make sure people even have a CLUE as to what they’re doing before they’re allowed to check off whatever role their class is capable of.

    While I certainly hope that the newer tanks (and healers) using the random dungeon finder tool will be aware, as I was, of the basics of their class’ tanking (or healing) abilities, past experience warns me that it ain’t gonna happen. :/

    I really do hope it does encourage those who want to learn the roles to actually learn them, though.

    Ozolin – Well, as theanorak said, it’s possible there are others who will come in and enjoy running heroics as a tank (or healer) even though they’re not particularly well-experienced or well-geared. I don’t care about gear or experience as long as you have an idea of the boss abilities and an idea about how your class works. :/ I’m just gonna cross my fingers now and not uncross them for a few months, I think…

    Vixsin – Obviously, this is just my take on things. I hope to be proven wrong, but I kind of don’t think I will be.

    Clearly, not ANY tank motivated to queue based on the new rewards will be a bad tank. However, I think we can agree that Blizzard recognizes there is a tank “shortage” because there aren’t a lot of tanks in the queue. Thus, they are reaching out to all specs of DKs, druids, paladins and warriors and going “hey! SHINIES! You want the shinies, don’t you? Yeah you do!!!”

    Blizzard’s targets are those people who play classes capable of tanking who are not normally in the queue as tanks. Logically, those who play classes capable of tanking who are not normally in the queue as tanks are those who are not tanks. These people will generally have less tanking experience and gear and overall knowledge than those who tank every time they run a dungeon or are in a raid. God help the poor people who end up with me when I get around to getting a tanking set together! I haven’t tanked since pre-4.0.

    I fully agree that healing or tanking alone in a random group is stressful. It’s why I try really hard not to do it, even as a fairly well-geared, well-experienced and pretty knowledgeable healer. I had this one tank in Lost City a couple of weeks ago that just made me want to tear my hair out. So yes, I agree that tanks at the moment in the queue are not elite tanking machines by any means, but I have to say I’ve seen my fair share of horrible tanks. Just yesterday, I dropped group in Throne of the Tides because the tank could not get the hang of getting out of Dark Fissure. I mean, really? Three wipes and no improvement each time.

    More tanks in the queue is a good thing, I completely agree — but I worry that the quality, which is already nothing to write home about, is going to plummet. While I hope it doesn’t, while I fervently hope that people like you and me (who might know what we’re doing but just haven’t gotten around to tanking stuff yet) get into the queue, I know I’m going to see idiot ret pallies, stupid DKs, moronic warriors and dumb druids. :/ I just hope I don’t see a huge increase in them, ’cause I already see some pretty nutty stuff.

  6. Consider the flip side of the 1-1-3/5-5-15 ratio. Isn’t it possible the only reason that we’re not experiencing a shortage of tanks for raiding is because we only need two or three? I can’t imagine the difficulty involved in trying to keep 5 active raid tanks.

    I’ve thought a bit about the tank shortage and it comes down to a few factors. Its one of the few things I’ve actually written about in my little-used blog.


  7. Merk – I think you put it best in your blog post when you said: “When you tank, you have to pay attention. All the time.”

    It’s so true. I know you’ve tanked at all levels of the game — dungeons, 10m raids, 25m raids — so I know you know what you’re talking about, but even if I didn’t, that quote would make me sit up and take notice.

    Just in dungeons, you need to know everything to be a good tank, from patrol routes and timing to who can CC what, plus watching the mana of your healer, etc…

    Tanking was never relaxing for me as someone who’s naturally a healer (I say this due to the fact I have 4 healers vs. 2 DPS) but there was a certain something to it. Sometimes, I just WANTED to tank because I did have the confidence that I knew everything I needed to know. But, without question, if I wanted a “relaxing” run, I would heal it. Excellent point.

    With regards to not having a tanking shortage at the raiding level… that’s a valid question, although I suspect that if we really needed 5 tanks for each and every encounter, we would HAVE those tanks available. Possibly with varying degrees of aptitude, mind you, but if it had always been this way, where the ratios were exactly the same through all group situations, I think we’d see a lot more tanks. I know we’ve come a long way from Garr and Sulfuron and Majordomo, where more tanks was definitely better, but even Rag is a one-tank fight. If it had been built-in, from the start, that 5 tanks were needed in 40-man, then 25-man content, I think it might have drawn in more people to tanking and instilled in us this expectation that “oh crap, guys, we need 3 more tanks”.

    That said, tanking isn’t for everyone. I CAN do it, but I don’t particularly enjoy it and I’m certainly not overly skilled at it. I know you’re great at it, but you say yourself that it’s not relaxing (and I agree!). And yet, there are some people who live for it, love it and are amazing at it. Lots of different people in the world and that translates to lots of different people in Azeroth. :)

  8. You’re right, there are *some* people who are irredeemably bad. And we all know that by the end of Wrath, it was so easy to outgear heroic 5s that it all but encouraged people to ignore the mechanics of various encounters: the “heal through it” mentality was popular because lots of people *could*, although it made life miserable for alts/new players (albeit briefly).

    Personally, I think we’ll get more of the same of mix of competence/incompetence that we currently have, but perhaps with more of a bias to “inexperienced” in the experienced/inexperienced mix. I just hope that we all do our best to work with the “inexperienced” and help them learn, and not be too quick to dismiss them as incompetent.

  9. I’ve thought about this a lot … even before the incentive that was thrown out there (cop out, imo, but I’ll take it if it helps people get some sort of lower queue).

    WoW has been an amazing MMO because of its innovation and ability to “adapt” good ideas from other sources (be it addons, other mmos, etc). In a few of the other MMOs I’ve played I’ve experience 6 person dungeon groups. 1 tank, 1 healer, 4 dps. I have to wonder – would this be a tragic thing for WoW? It doesn’t bring us to the exact ratio for 25 man raiding but it would allow groups to include an extra dps which in turn makes dps go through the queue at a quicker pace and reduces the queue time. I honestly can’t figure out why this isn’t a great “fix.” You can adjust current content with a math formula to increase AOE damage or increase trash/boss hp to compensate. I think it might turn into more “micromanagement” work for the tank and healer but after a period of adjustment I doubt we’d notice much.

    Just a thought. Would be neat, imo. :)

  10. I’d like to comment on one line from the original post:

    “I really believe that the key to alleviating the dreaded DPS queue problem is to make tanks more needed at the higher levels of content.”

    If this is correct, we should already be seeing a reduction in dps queue times. At least on my server, many of the old 25 man guilds have converted to 10s while several new 10s guilds have sprung up. But even with substantial 25-to-10 conversion, however, queue times seem largely the same in my battlegroup.

  11. I’m not quite as certain that there is an actual shortage of tanks. Most of the raid tank I know have either no interest in doing heroics anymore (like me) or they refuse to pug people (also like me).

    Heroics…I’ve run them enough. The same old thing isn’t fun and there’s no challenge left in them. At all. And I don’t need the valor points. So why bother?

    Pugs…I hate pugs. Hate. There’s always some window licker who pulls other groups, says “gogogogogo” over and over, and does 7k dps. It’s not worth the frustration. Or I get a plain horrible healer.

    I think that combination has done more to remove tanks from the LFD queue than just about anything else.

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