I remember how impossible it was to find a tank in the Burning Crusade. And I remember how hard it was to find healers early in Wrath of the Lich King. I remember how long the Dungeon Finder queues were for DPS when the Dungeon Finder was first introduced.
I remember how we worried that the Dungeon Finder made us too anonymous. That it encouraged players to behave like jerks. And that it was ruining the sense of community that you can just barely feel right now on your own realm.
Now I’ve almost leveled all the way to 80 on my Mage using the Dungeon Finder. And I’m starting it all over again on my Warlock. And I think like all things, the community will balance out all on its own.
ps. Lath is super excited and asked me to include this message: Vitare are currently looking for a second Resto Druid to join our raid team!
I could see a light at the end of the tunnel towards the end of the level 60-70 bracket. It wasn’t so much that my wait times as a Damage Dealing Mage were faster. They weren’t.
I remember how desperate we were for a tank when Pixii and I were stuck around level 50 running Sunken Temple. Not only were the tanks terrible tanks but everyone kind of put up with it simply because the time to replace a tank was horrendous. Thirty or forty minutes. This wasn’t much of a surprise, we had been inevitably waiting for tanks since we started way back in Ragefire Chasm through to Gnomeregan. Scads of damage dealers, quite a few healers and just not enough tanks to go around.
Around the time we started queuing the Burning Crusade dungeons, and as we got further towards level 70, there was a noticeable shift in available classes/roles. There wasn’t enough healers to meet demand. No longer did the tanks have absolute power over the group.
A part of me wonders if this drop off in available healers can be attributed to healer burnout courtesy of terrible Death Knight tanks that plague the level 58-65 bracket.
I remember running one of the Auchindoun instances, Mana Tombs perhaps, with a Shaman healer that just wasn’t coping. We barely got through the first half of the instance alive. I felt that every pull we were flirting with death. I think the tank did die a few times. Most interestingly of all, to me anyway, was that not one person complained about it. That is, not one person said anything until the healer typed “got to go sry” and left the party.
Even though we were stuck in a fairly long queue waiting for a replacement there was a silent sigh of relief going around the party. Eventually someone said what we’d all been thinking:
He wasn’t a very good healer anyway.
In the same way that we handled our Sunken Temple tanks with such care, treating them like special snowflakes, careful not to upset them in any way, we now treated our healers the same!
When we lost the majority of pugging players to the Random Wrath Dungeon queue at level 68 the pool of available players for Steamvaults, Shadow Labyrinth, Shattered Halls and the Tempest Keep instances shrunk significantly. The pool of available players was so small that every single member in every single five man dungeon I joined from level 68-70 was valuable. Tank, Healer of Damage Dealer: each was important. And not just to me – almost every single player in the group valued their teammates.
I joke to others that I sweet-talked my way to Outland Dungeonmaster. But the truth is, I’ve never been treated so nicely by my PuG teammates.
I spent almost 2 hours in a cross-battlegroup party that had fallen apart one pull into Shattered Halls. The healer left – this would normal force a group to disband. But we all teleported out of the dungeon, too reluctant to lose our group and requeue as individuals. And we chatted while we waited. I think I’ll always think of that party when I’m picking Fire Leaf (how I spent the queue time).
I remember the healer that I found in an unsuccessful Steamvaults run. I remember that we requeued at least six times in that night, slowly picking up extra party members until the final group of 5 of us ran about three BC dungeons back to back working on each other’s Outland Dungeonmaster achievement.
I remember the level 70 tank that was determined to replicate his old Druid’s reputation and gear set (Sunwell gear and all!) and ran Shattered Halls with us back to back. When the third DPS dropped out we just kept going. It took almost an entire SH run – 20 minutes perhaps – before we were able to find another Damage Dealer using the Dungeon Finder. Because even Damage Dealers for that instance are rare and valued.
The sense of community, that human connection, was definitely coming back into my Dungeon Finder runs.
I have stumbled across two or three Barthilas players in my runs that have made it onto my Friends list. Whenever we can Pixii and I try to invite them before joining the Dungeon Finder queue. And there are times that I really really wish I could friend players on other realms and even group up with them before joining the queue.
When I first joined the queue on my level 17 Warlock I was surprised at how fast I was matched with a group. 20 minutes? Hell no. 6 minutes? (about the time Cassandri would get into a level 80 heroic queue as Shadow) Hell no.
Try 1 minute.
A 1 minute queue at level 17 for Damage Dealers. I’ve queued and completed about five or six dungeon runs since as my Warlock and the longest that I’ve waited has been 5 minutes. We had one player drop out of the group in Shadowfang Keep and had to wait a good 5 minutes or so for a replace. And they were DPS.
I think this is a sign. Way back before I started playing the introduction of battlegrounds forced faction population balance. Back when only world PVP existed players talk about the faction imbalance as though Alliance out-numbered Horde 2 to 1. When players, Alliance and Horde, joined the first battleground queues the system matched them up 1 to 1 (or 10 vs 10, 40 vs 40 etc). This meant that Alliance players had almost double the wait times of Horde players to PVP.
The Horde PVPers got twice as much game time, twice as much honor and twice as much gear in the same amount of time. So what did all the Alliance PVP lovers do? Rerolled as Horde of course!
I think we’re seeing the same effect in our dungeon groups now. If your chosen class can tank or heal why wouldn’t you? And classes at level 15 aren’t too difficult. It’s much easier to pick up how to tank/heal at level 15 than waiting until level 80. But even more than that, I think players are rolling alts in order to power level as a tank or healer.
A tank that Pixii and I played with in Zul’Farrak had reached level 80 about a week after our ZF runs together. While we were waiting for a group for Sunken Temple. Getting to max level so quickly is a strong incentive.
Give it another few months – perhaps around the time the first Cataclysm raids have been well and truly cleared and players are rolling new alts yet again – and I think the waiting time in queue for all three roles: Tank, Healer and Damage Dealer will be near evenly matched.
Perhaps it will take a minute or two to match up a good class composition (mixture of different armor types, different classes, some cleanse ability, some crowd control ability) but I think it will be that fast.
- 20% of players will queue as Tanks
- 20% of players will queue at Healers
- 60% of players will queue as Damage Dealers
And the more players who choose multiple roles (say Damage or Healer), and collect gear for multiple roles, the more likely we’ll find that perfect balance. Remember, once you reach level 40 you can purchase Dual Talent Specialization for your alts. That makes multiple roles even easily to fulfill. And it’s about at that point where you might find it difficult to heal with Shadow talents as a Priest, or tank with Fury talents as a Warrior etc.
What this means for end game I’m not sure. If 10 man raiding is the way of the future (and I believe it is) the balance is more like:
- 20% Tanks (2 out of 10)
- 30% Healers (3 out of 10)
- 50% Damage Dealers (5 out of 10)
We might be in for a slight healer shortage.
That said, I remain convinced that the next wave of players will be better hybrids and more knowledgeable about tanking and healing than I. And that’s exciting!