WoW Discussion

Called to Arms – On Target or Miss?

Recently Blizzard announced a new implementation coming in patch 4.1, Called to Arms.  Not since the Real ID fiasco, of using real names on forum posts (which was later squashed) have I seen such an uproar from the World of Warcraft community over something that has not been implemented either.  Blizzard posted the implementation and I am sure their first thoughts were that the design would have people cheering what they were doing, and while some have, many folks are not happy.  Though I feel it deserves a moment to review over what Blizzard is implementing, because I feel some folks may have prematurely judged it too harshly, however it does deserve some criticism.

Below is what Blizzard has posted:

In patch 4.1 we’ll be introducing Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms, a new system intended to lower queue times. Call to Arms will automatically detect which class role is currently the least represented in the queue, and offer them additional rewards for entering the Dungeon Finder queue and completing a random level-85 Heroic dungeon.

Any time the Dungeon Finder queue is longer than a few minutes for level-85 Heroics, the Call to Arms system kicks in and determines which role is the least represented. In the case of tanking being the least represented role, the “Call to Arms: Tanks” icon will display in the Dungeon Finder UI menu where class roles are selected, and will also display on the UI when the queue pops and you are selected to enter a dungeon. Regardless of your role, you’ll always be able to see which role currently has been Called to Arms, if any.

OK so this first part explains the mechanics.  When the LFD is taking too long, the system determines the most under represented role will be able to queue up in the new “Called to Arms” scenario.  Currently and a majority of the time this will be tanks, but I think the hope is more tanks will jump in on this and eventually the Called to Arms will switch to healers at times, and even DPS (though not likely), at least that is how I read the scenario.

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/elixir (determined by spec), a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount. The pets offered come from a wide variety of sources, and include companions like the Razzashi Hatchling, Cockatiel, and Tiny Sporebat, but the mounts are those specifically only available through dungeons (not raids), like the Reins of the Raven Lord from Sethekk Halls, Swift White Hawkstrider from Magister’s Terrace, and Deathcharger’s Reins from Stratholme.

So here is where Blizzard identifies how they will be compensating those who queue in LFD under the new Called to Arms system.  Essentially the under-represented class who completes a heroic (defined as killing the final boss of the dungeon) will receive a satchel that will contain some extra gold, and here is where things have gotten sticky.  Each bag will provide a chance to get rare gems, flask/elixir, and it sounds like an even better chance to get a non-combat pet, and a very rare chance at getting a mount.

Now the mounts are where there seems to be the most outrage.  Where many DPS minded folks are feeling they won’t ever have a shot at these mounts.  Now to be clear, that is true in the sense of this system in its current implementation.  But these mounts are available to anyone who runs the instances, where they currently drop.  However the problem is all the mounts offered, outside of the Deathcharger’s Reins are only available to try once per day due to heroic dungeon lockout.  Where as the folks in the role needed in Called to Arms will be able to have multiple chances at the mounts each day.

This system is meant to address the unacceptable queue times currently being experienced by those that queue for the DPS role at max level. The long queue times are, of course, caused by a very simple lack of representation in the Dungeon Finder by tanks, and to some extent healers. We don’t feel the tanking and healing roles have any inherent issues that are causing the representation disparity, except that fulfilling them carries more responsibility. Understandably, players prefer to take on that responsibility in more organized situations than what the Dungeon Finder offers, but perhaps we can bribe them a little. While this system gives tanks and healers something extra, the incentive is being provided so that we can help players in the DPS role get into more dungeons, get better gear, and continue progressing.

While the gold, gems, flasks, and elixirs are OK incentives, we knew we needed something more substantial. We had briefly considered Valor Points and epics, but decided that wouldn’t be working toward the goal of helping DPS players progress, and ultimately wouldn’t keep tanks and healers in the Dungeon Finder system for very long. We settled on pets and dungeon-found mounts as they’re cosmetic/achievement items that players tend to try to get on their own, so why not change that up and offer them a chance to get some of those elusive pets and mounts in a way that also helps other players? Even if they don’t get a pet or mount, or get one they already have, the gold and other goodies still feel rewarding enough that it won’t feel like a waste of effort.

We think it’s a pretty solid incentive to get tanks and healers queuing, give max-level players another way to collect the pets and mounts they so desire, and above all, to improve wait times for DPS players sitting in queues. In the case of lower level dungeons, it’s actually not uncommon for DPS to be the least represented role, and so if this new system works out and we’re pleased with the results, we may consider applying this same mechanic to lower level dungeons as well.

Now I thinking that because they are offering the mounts to folks, and these mounts are something that many folks have been trying to get over a very long time with limited success, however their efforts are being trivialized by a system that rewards anyone who can fill the needed role, and in most cases, it will be someone who can tank.

Now recently Blizzard just posted a clarification to this original announcement:

We’ve been following discussions and reading feedback on the Dungeon Finder Call to Arms feature, and appreciate everyone’s opinions on the topic. We wanted to share a few items though that supplement the recent announcement:

The additional reward for completing the Dungeon Finder Call to Arms (called the Satchel of Exotic Mysteries) will be Bind on Account; able to be freely sent to other characters on your account once you receive it.

An error existed in the announcement regarding flasks and potions being picked based on your spec. This is not the case. If someone earns a Satchel of Exotic Mysteries, and if it rolls the random chance to provide a potion or flask, it will be a randomly selected. This helps ensure a broad array of available flasks and potions for all characters.

We also wanted to clarify, mounts that have a possibility to be found in a Satchel of Exotic Mysteries are found with the same rarity as if you had slain the dungeon boss that normally drops them.

Now this clarification seems very interesting, the satchel is bind on account, also the flasks/elixirs will no longer be based on spec.  So I suppose the role (most cases tank) will be able to send the satchel of goodies to an alt?  Sounds like it, does this help the situation, probably not, because the people who play tanks in most cases are getting a perk that the other roles are not.  This seems to be the biggest point of contention.

Lets look at the pros of the system:

  1. This type of incentive should get tanks to queue up more, and reduce queue times for DPS
  2. DPS should gear up faster as their queue times should become shorter
  3. Tanks are getting provided a perk for providing a service to the over represented classes in the current LFD system
  4. Those with a tank class can provide non-game changing perks to their alts

Lets look at the cons of Called to Arms:

  1. Non-tanks will have little to no access to earn the special perks
  2. Non tanks will be forced to continue to farm the mounts, pets like they have done in the past
  3. Providing these pets, if they remain BoE as if they were found in the wild, could seriously impact the non-combat pet market on auction houses
  4. Does not solve the long term issue of less people find playing tanks, and healing classes enjoyable (now some love playing these classes, but it is a lower population than DPS)
  5. Exposes the issue of non-geared tanks, using their other spec’s gear to queue up for heroics, creating a poor experience for those queuing
  6. Encourages tanks to queue for heroics without their guild, which directly conflicts with some of the guild enhancements being put in with 4.1

OK so what things can be done with regards to the Called to Arms system in order to meet the need of lowering queue times, but also providing proper incentive to the under-populated classes.

  1. LFD needs to identify item level of the spec people are queuing for, instead of best gear per slot.  This would ensure having a tank that is geared properly to tank heroics, increasing the success of the dungeon run, of course this would also help for healers if their role also came up in the Called to Arms system
  2. Provide a means in game to judge the performance of DPS, damage meters, not standing in bad, etc, and those who “score” well will also earn a chance for bonus items.  This rewards good performance instead of handing out bonuses to DPS who may not understand how to play, but also providing an incentive to improving their play
  3. Provide a way that would allow all guild groups to benefit from the satchel, where if an all guild group queues, allow for each member to get the satchel, but a lower chance at receiving the pets and mounts than if you queued solo, this would help promote guild running together

I am on the side that I am glad Blizzard is doing something, I feel there are faults with the system, but feel it does provide a short term fix.  There is a lot of work to be done, and I am all for giving the system a shot, but I think the community at large needs to see a system that provides fair and equitable rewards for time spent.  Just like in the real world those, people who are more specialized are paid higher than those who are not, they are rewarded for that experience and expertise.  So I do feel that tanks and healers should be provided an incentive to performing their services in heroics, but only provided those perks if they are experienced, as in geared, and know what they are doing.  But also like the real world even those who are not in a highly specialized role, if they stand out (like point number 2 in how they can fix the system) should be compensated fairly.

Check out some of my fellow bloggers’ posts on this topic:

Redhawk’s Gaze

Psynister’s Notebook: Post 1, Post 2


Dwarven Battle Medic


World of Matticus

To end the post here is a comic by the Daily Blink:

8 Comments on Called to Arms – On Target or Miss?

  1. It does give everyone an equal chance to the rewards, since everyone has the possibility to roll a tank and get the stachel. Then just send the satchel to whatever char you prefer and voila. The only ones that are left out are the people who refuse to tank and that is their choice of course. It’s not fair to say that it only benefits some people, since everyone can tank, and I think that’s the point of this system – to encourage people to try out tanking. At least that is what I am hoping. Hopefully it might also give more people insight into the work that tanking is at times. We’ll see how this turns out, but I think there is potential.
    Zinn´s last blog post ..Call To Arms – Adressing the right issue in the wrong way

    • Ceraphus

      @Zinn, I do agree with you, in that I do hope it gets people who haven’t tanked to tank. I would prefer though if people who queue as tank, the LFD system looks at the tanking set and not just the best item level they have in their bags. I am hoping for good things of the system.

  2. Z

    Hi all.
    First – a very good summary of the situation.
    The problem is that neither Blizzard nor the post tackle the main cause for lack of tanks in LFD.
    I have a DK dual specced Blood tank / Unholy DPS.
    I have taken this toon and others to Heroics as DPS.
    As long as I run with guild I have no problem trying things out.
    In LFD I don’t think I’d run it as a tank for the simple reason that too many DPS cause problems.
    I am talking about the DPS who pulls, the DPS who never stops saying “gogogo”, the DPS who says “we don’t need CC”, the DPS in a mostly guild run except for tank who initiates a tank kick before last boss so that he has a better chance to get certain loot, etc.
    To be fair I have also seen tanks whose behaviour can be improved, like it’d be nice if they made sure the healer had mana, say WHERE they were going to tank a boss (turns out different ppl do it differently).
    There are rude DPS and rude tanks, but the DPS outnumbers the tank 3:1.
    I have not tried it (and probably will not), but I suspect if I bring my Blood DK (tanking gear iLvl over 340 with 2 PvP 339 items that were better than my 318 and 325 items) to a Heroic and tell ppl to be patient since I have not tanked it before (and I DO feel honesty is best) I’ll get kicked as fast as possible unless they already kicked someone.
    I’d like to see the best in ppl but so far LFD shows me too much of the worst.

    I’d like to hear responses.

    • Ceraphus

      @Z, DPS is a big issue many of the times, and something I called out on The Sundering podcast episode 24, is that many of the issues are DPS being pushy and make people not want to perform the roles as you describe above.

      However I also think part of it is that Blizzard needs to make tanking and even healing more accessible.

      DPS needs to learn their role and do it well, which is why I am all for rewarding them, but Blizzard needs to update their system to better track DPS not doing dumb stuff.

      Also a voting system to vote on how well people performed in a group similar to people voting up and down forum posts in some fashion might be something worth exploring as well to weed out the “Bad”

      • Z

        As far as DPS goes …
        A part of the problem is that at this point a lot of the DPS gave gear that is beyond the heroics so anybody who has lower iLvl or less experience (like a new tank) is derided by SOME of them. No, NOT ALL DPS ARE LIKE THAT.
        Those DPS players go to the heroics only for the valour or in order to get fun by making other people’s lives miserable.
        I see nothing that Bliizzard can do, and if they try a points system – the DPS outnumbers the healers and tanks so the measurement will be skewed to begin with.
        Bottom line – guild runs would be a lot safer and more fun than Pugs until further notice.
        LFD is OK as DPS even if you have to wait. The chance of being mentally destroyed is not worth it.

      • Ceraphus

        @Z, Very true, I think this is to tackle the issue of peoples’ alts, so those who are geared and have been raiding, feel heroics should be easier than they are, especially if you get a tank/healer thats new to all this

        I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that it will lower queue times and be a positive change, though I think early on we will deal with a lot of undergeared/inexperienced folks

        Being nice and helpful to fellow gamers usually goes a long way to improving one’s own experience as well as the community at large I feel

    • Ceraphus

      @Z, hmm, good catch probably a coding issue on the comments.php will have to take a look at that, thanks for pointing it out!

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