Wednesday, December 23, 2009

3.3 – The greatest tank patch ever

While the individual changes for most tanks this patch were either fairly minor, or non-existent (depending on your viewpoint), there was one feature this patch that has had a greater impact on tanks than any other feature, ever.
And I’m not talking about the annoying mob pathing bug.

No, I’m talking about the instant queue in the LFG system – or as it’s been come to be known in our group – “The obscene free loot system”.

First, I want to say that while the system is a huge step forward in helping close the gear gap between raiders and non-raiders, alts and mains, etc. – it’s also lacking a few features that I hope to see fixed in the next major patch. These issues certainly aren’t game breaking, but they are minor annoyances that do detract from the overall usefulness of the system.

The Good

My favorite thing about the LFG tool is the ability to simply queue and continue my day, much like the current Battleground queue system. I’m sure most of us can remember the days of camping out near the Battlemasters, wasting long periods of time for the BG to pop. Even if you left the major city, you would be transported back there at the completion of the BG, further reducing the time you had to complete dailies or other tasks.

Another plus is the system performs a basic gear check before dropping someone into an instance. While a gear check can’t guarantee a high performance (we’ve all heard of T9 players doing 1k DPS), it does at least help prevent a tank in crafted blues and greens from being dropped into H-HoR. While it’s certainly possible to tank the ‘easier’ heroics in lesser gear, some of the new heroics can be quite challenging to freshly geared tanks and healers. Poorly geared DPS doesn’t help either, as the longer it takes to burn down the boss/trash, the greater strain on the tanks and healers.

The Bad

The inability to queue for battlegrounds, join the Looking for Raid, and queue for LFG simultaneously is one of the biggest flaws in this system. Due to the nature of a queue system, it is impossible to know when your number will be up in the queue – thus preventing you from joining BGs or Raids. Additionally, not being able to continuously run heroics while listing yourself as available for a raid, reduces the overall functionality of the LFR tool by lowering the number of players who actually use it. Given the fickle nature of the raid-beast, waiting for the random ToC/Naxx/Ony raid can take a good long while. Time that would be better spent running heroics for extra badges.

Another drawback to the LFG system, and one that I am admittedly guilty of as well, is the innate judgment that happens 15 seconds into the group. As I’m sure most of you have noticed, there’s a minimal (if any) conversation at the start of the run. I have a quick “I am not stopping for anything short of the healers needing mana” type macro I hit after my buffs go out – and then I’m off to the races. When the initial trash pull is down, my eyes glance down at recount to see how the group is doing DPS wise. I cringe when I see DPS below me (as the tank) on the meters. Forget that I’m pulling 3k+ DPS in any heroic with undead.

Do any of us remember when 1500 DPS was all that was needed for heroics, and 2k DPS was great for Naxx? A year later and anything less than the tank is still a problem, but the tank DPS has increased exponentially. This puts ungeared and new players at a disadvantage (more in a second), and can lead to some unfriendly runs. I don’t mind carrying someone who’s doing the best they can (from my standpoint), but I’ve seen some pretty ugly comments. This is, unfortunately, not a problem with the LFG system – but a problem with the players themselves.

The Ugly

Most heroics I run average at right around 20 minutes to complete. The notable exceptions to this are CoS (with the non-skippable RP section) and HoS (stupid dwarves). Other than those, must heroics are quick burns that end shortly after my debuff timer falls off. Even in a lower geared group, the heroics are quickly handled, with most players knowing what they’re doing (or at least faking the funk well). The problem lies in the mass exodus that I have seen from some instances – namely Occulus, AN (seriously?), and OK (again, lolwut?).

First, I can’t understand the reluctance to run AN. Three bosses, almost zero trash, and it is (in my opinion) one of the fastest heroics around. With the bonus badges, I’d put AN as one of the top 3 best for badges per hour. When I’m DPSing I love getting OK, because (if I can get the tank/heals to agree) it’s a total of seven badges, and still fairly quick.

Occulus holds a special fear it seems, but with the nerfs to that instance I can’t understand why. Drakes now scale with gear level, boss damage has been reduced, and the overall player base knowledge of how to handle the instance has grown. I still seem to see a mass exodus from this instance, which is extremely frustrating if you’re DPS.

What needs work

Instant queues for tanks, minute (maybe) queues for healers, and ten to twenty minute queues for DPS. I don’t see this changing anytime (ever), but it is something that could use some work. Unfortunately, the only answer I can think of is more players rolling tanks.

Removing someone for not doing 3k DPS has got to stop. We all started somewhere, but using the Vote Kick for this doesn’t help anyone. This is the one reason that this feature didn’t land in my Good section.

Need/Greed/DE – This system is so close to being perfect, but the holes are still there. Watching an item you could use, but can’t Need on, is disheartening. Yes, it beats having things ninja’d (really, Shaman who ninja’d a Christmas hat?), but there’s not getting something back once it’s been DE’d. This of course goes back to communication with your group, and letting them know before hand that you’re looking for a certain item. While this doesn’t guarantee that said item won’t be DE’d (or held ransom), it is a start – and it’s something the player can do now for themselves.


As my title states, this is the best patch ever for tanks. With instant queues throwing us into dungeons, it’s very easy to get the badges we need for upgrades, offsets, or gems. I know that even though I would like my warrior to be a MS PVP machine, I’ll gear him for tanking, and buy my PVP gear with the badges. Same goes for my DK (if I ever take them off the shelf). I just wish I could tank with my mage.

Without a doubt the new LFG tool is amazing. It just needs one or two more tweaks to make it great.


  1. I finished AN in 9 minutes the other day. If LFG is free loot system, AN must pay you to take its badges.

    I tend to get into groups in Oculus that begin but then once the drake riding starts it falls apart. Everyone goes different directions and people die, then leave. One time I had someone who refused to leave but refused to continue. And one person refused to vote kick because "we need a healer". I left that one.

    I don't mind people doing less DPS than me as a tank, because as you said tanks can pull some pretty nice DPS. I tried out a Seal of Cleave spec with Reckoning, etc, and was pulling 4.7k in spots.

    I dislike those who are well geared and don't perform either because they don't care (half paying attention) or are clueless. I was with a Rogue 4600 GS who was pulling 900 DPS.

  2. Aye - a low DPS in low gear is fine. Low DPS in great gear is unacceptable.

  3. Tanks everywhere might want to think a little about the 'I don't stop for anyone but the healer' frame of mind, before ragging on anyone doing low dps. Ddon't get me wrong I love a nice quick tank. However, a lot of tanks pull groups regardless of where their dps are in the instance, or the status of their mana. Not suprising that sometimes dps isn't as good as it could be....

    Funnily enough I've only had decent oculus runs - some smoother than others but no major problems. However yesterday I zoned in to Nexus to see our tank go 'I hate this instance' and leave the group! I was livid that he probably was in another group in seconds while we had to wait at least 10 mins for another tank.

  4. You're absoloutely right Len - it's pretty tough for the DPS to keep up sometimes. I'm generally more concerned with them afking through a boss, or standing in the fire.

    As far as the tank leaving Nexus - he still had a 15 minute debuff. If he'd just sucked it up, he probably would have finished as the debuff timer wore off.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.