Cataclysm tank shortage: will 4.1 fix it?April 9, 2011 at 2:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Blizzard has recently announced some changes to the reward system for LFD in 4.1 that they hope will reduce the shortage of tanks. I offer my thoughts below, drawing on what I have written previously and what others are saying now.
Here are the details:
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/potion, a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount.
This is a subject of great interest to me. My main, as you might suppose from the name of this blog, is a tank. I’ve also written about the tank shortage before as well as possible solutions. In that latter post, I suggested five serious suggestions (and one unserious suggestion — allowing the use of Bladestorm on group members) for tank incentives. Blizzard’s solution is fairly similar to my first suggestion:
More gold/badges for the fifth member of the group
When the LFG system forms a group, usually the missing component is the tank. Once a tank arrives in LFG, composing a group happens quickly. For tanks that need money and prefer not to farm or run daily quests, this could be a good incentive for running heroics instead. Further, it helps to balance tank/healer/dps populations over time in each battleground. If tanks are suddenly in oversupply, the needed roles will automatically reap the rewards.
That said, I’m a little disappointed with what they’ve proposed (this includes the recent clarification). The reward does not scale with the degree to which tanks are in undersupply. I don’t think an inelastic reward system is appropriate to a situation like this where there can be substantial variance in the tank supply. I think my second suggestion — the creation of an LFD-based market for selling tank services — is a lot more flexible and, more importantly, rewards tanks in proportion to the value that other players feel they provide. To make a caricature of the difference between Blizzard’s reward scheme and my own, it’s like the difference between soviet planned economies and market-based systems.
Unsurprisingly, others have also written about this announced change. Tobold has described this as bribery, which is a term that I don’t think quite fits. If I give somebody a bribe, it is usually done in the expectation that the recipient does something for me. But in this case it is Blizzard “bribing” the tank to do something for the dps (and, to a lesser extent, the healer). That’s weird. Terminology aside, though, I think his assessment is correct that Blizzard had a responsibility to do something about the shortage.
I’m not convinced, however, that this change will significantly improve queue times. I tend not to tank in LFD not because they rewards are too low (though they are), but because tanking in LFD is a long series of frustrations and annoyances. I love Rhidach’s description of a potential LFD tank’s motivations:
If we’re not running randoms with random people, it’s not because there isn’t a compelling reward for us to do so, it’s because tanking a random is akin to sticking your hand in a beehive. All Blizzard is telling us now is that there’s some honey in there as well.
In other words, the problem with LFD isn’t the rewards, it’s the people. This latest change is striking because of its lack of creativity. In the current Cataclysm environment, a couple hundred gold isn’t a sufficient incentive to spend an hour on something where the reward is far from guaranteed. I want to give the game masters some credit for at least taking action on the tank shortage, but this is the most timid and uninteresting change I could have imagined.
Edit: I wanted to link to a great post reviewing the changes to LFD since its release ~16 months ago. In particular, the addition of a goodie bag in H Oculus might provide our best comparison case to the upcoming change.