4.1 and Call to Arms

It’s time for me to add to the growing group of voices in the blogosphere in regards to the upcoming change to the Looking for Dungeon group tool in 4.1 and the addition of the “Call to Arms” feature.  There has been a number of posts regarding this issue, and a number of different opinions about it.  From all the posts I’ve read and podcasts listened to, it seems people are pretty much split down the middle.

When the announcement first came out from Blizzard that they were adding in the “Call to Arms” feature for the LFD tool in 4.1, I have to admit I was a bit surprised that they would make such a move.  Since the tool first came out in Wrath, there have been average wait times depending on your class.  DPS players have long queues, healers are medium to short, and tanks are extremely short or instant.  People (mainly DPS – including myself) have complained about the wait times, but nobody has had any ideas of how to fix it.

Enter Call to Arms.  Basically, this feature adds an incentive for a player to queue as one of the roles that is lacking in the LFD tool at the time to help speed things up.  Lots of healers and DPS in the queue but lacking tanks?  The system will add CtA for tanks, and give that person an extra reward after a successful dungeon run.  Basically, it’s a new version of the grab bag added at the end of The Oculus from Wrath to convince people to do something.  It’s not a bribe, it’s incentive.

To break it down in a simple format, here’s what I think:

Good things about Call to Arms

  • Gives people a reason to want to tank – for example: making it a dual spec, rolling an alt.
  • Extra rewards are bind to Battle.net account, so the rewards aren’t just for that character.
  • (Hopefully) fills roles which are needed in the queue at the time, reducing wait times all around.

Bad things about Call to Arms

  • Throws money at the problem without fixing the overall issues – the tank is the expected leader of the group, whether they know the instance or not giving extra pressure.
  • Increases chances of getting tanks who aren’t ready for heroics – their item level might be high from other gear, no clue how to tank.
  • DPS will never get the extra reward – likely it will be tanks most of the time, healers rarely.
  • Encourages people to queue solo, as there are no rewards for queuing as a needed class with a group.

I personally have my second spec set up for tanking as a bear.  I tanked through Burning Crusade and Wrath, and enjoyed it.  The changes that came through in Cataclysm made things different, and I wasn’t comfortable with doing it again, but I would like to try.  4.1 has some good changes for bears, which will hopefully make keeping aggro easier for AoE groups.

Altogether, I think the Call to Arms system is a good one.  I just hope it works as Blizzard intended.

Timing is Everything

Time… there’s never enough time.  There can also be too much time.  Days can drag on for some people, while for others it goes by in a flash.  Timing the markets to buy and sell stocks is a common occurance, and many people can make or lose a whole lot of money if it’s done right or wrong.  Trying to set out content in an ongoing online game that has been around for over six years is a big gamble no matter what the outcome is.  Some people blaze through content so fast that it’s outdated shortly after it’s released, while others take a lot longer to catch up.

Recently, Blizzard announced that they were going to delay the release of the Firelands raid that was originally going to be included in patch 4.1, which is currently on the public test realms.  At first when there was no mention of a raid, people were confused since it was said that there would be one in the Firelands (announced back at BlizzCon).  This was even more confusing as through the usual datamining of content, a new model of Ragnaros was found along with other items and abilities.  It was said that the reason behind this is for the pacing of content.

New Ragnaros Model
From MMO-Champion

On a post in the official forums, Community Manager Bashiok said that they had learned from a previous mistake from Wrath of the Lich King, which was the time between Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader.  Our guild can attest to this, as we had progressed up to Vezax (second last boss) before ToC was released, and didn’t down him until afterwards.  The gear that we received from the new raid helped, but that’s not the way that it’s supposed to work – you progress within the raid tier that you’re in, not from gear from better raid tiers.

Back in Vanilla, there were many patches with smaller sizes that added things gradually over time.  In Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, there were fewer patches with more content within them.  In Cataclysm, we’ve been seeing a lot of updates through hotfixes and a couple small patches so far.  If we go back to smaller, more frequent patches, I don’t see that as being a bad thing.  There might not be a raid with each new patch, but if we have other things with them I can’t see it being a bad thing.

For example, if we have the odd-numbered patches have 5-man instances in them and the even-numbered patches have raids, then have the expansion go up to patch 4.6 instead of 4.3, is that so bad?  The biggest thing is timing.  If Blizzard can put the patches out in a decent amount of time, this won’t be a problem.  As long as there aren’t huge spaces between patches, I believe the player base will remain happy.

I’m quite glad that we’re being given (from what I’ve seen) two great 5-man dungeons in the meantime, along with the other changes being made… but please don’t make us wait too long.