I was not going to write about the new Call to Arms announcements on Top Rosters since it is not that relevant for players who are currently raiding. However there has been so much heated debate over the past few days that I cannot resist giving my two cents.

For anyone who has been hiding under a rock for the past week, Blizzard has announced a change to the current Looking for Dungeon system. Here is the original post:

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.

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.

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. Source

They then clarified a couple of points with:

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. Source

Now personally I think this is a good change. But for you doubters I will try and break it down into what I see are the positives and the negatives.

First off the good:
  • It will encourage players who have stopped using LFD because they outgear the content to return. Many players decked out in 359 and higher will still want to get their hands on the mounts and pets. These players will naturally make runs go faster and smoother as they have better gear and in general more experience.
  • It will allow players who were soloing Sethek Halls and the likes for the mounts to group with other players and still receive the same chance at getting the mount. In fact they will get the chance to get the mount that they had been grinding PLUS a chance at a flask, pet or other rare mount. Grouping is in my opinion and I think for most people, more fun than soloing an instance.
  • The system has the potential to create more tanks and healers as these will be the roles that will be “called to arms.” This can only be a good thing as there are currently large imbalances in the playing population.
  • The loot bags are BOA (note not the contents of the bags but just the bags themselves.) This means that you can send the mounts to your alts. This will add to the longevity of the appeal of Call to Arms as you can run LFDs to get mounts for all of your alts.
Now the bad and the ugly:
  • The system appears to be quite easy to exploit at the moment. You will no doubt get a lot of dpsers queueing as tanks/healers to jump onto the rewards bandwagon. They will likely have sub-optimal gear, spec and experience in playing that role. It could be a very painful process for the first month or so as players try and learn how to tank and heal if they have not previously done so.
  • The system has a built in “sell by date.” Let’s face it – the main motive for doing Call to Arms will be for the mounts. Blizzard has stated that these will have the same droprate as they currently do in their lower level dungeons. These are approximately 1% each. This means that for every run you do, you will have a 3% chance of receiving a mount (3 rare mounts * 1%) Statistically this means that you need to do 33 runs to receive one of the three mounts. You will need to do 83 runs to get 2 of the mounts since after looting the first mount (33 runs) you have a 2% chance per run of getting a mount that you do not yet have, which adds on 50 runs. Therefore to get all 3 mounts you will need to run 183 Call to Arms Looking for Dungeon groups. Please bear in mind these are approximations.
    All in all this leads to a lot of people on your server having the mounts. Personally this devalues them for me. The whole point of a mount (in my opinion) is to make your character stand out from the crowd. In this case the crowd will be sitting on the same mount as you. Don’t get me wrong – I would love a Raven Lord mount (that never dropped for me in over 100 Sethek Halls runs…) but I just don’t want them to be two-a-penny.
    This relatively low number of runs per mount could be stretched out if you are getting the mounts for all of your alts, of course.
My Opinion

I like that Blizzard are recognising that there is a problem with the LFDs queues for dps and reacting to it. This solution could work well if players are patient for the first few weeks after it has been rolled out to allow players to accustom themselves to their new roles if they choose to try tanking or healing, as I am sure many will. I like that they have included rewards that are otherwise tedious and boring to get. I would have liked to see one flying mount in there – Reins of the Time-Lost Proto-Drake anyone? I like that it will bring more experienced players back into the moshpit of LFD to help smooth and speed up daily heroics. I like that it means I can queue with my lowbie dps alts without having to tab out for half an hour before getting in. I have some reservations about the possible influx of terribad tanks and healers trying to sponge off of the system but overall I am optimistic about Call to Arms and look forward to its implementation.

Here are some other World of Warcraft bloggers’ opinions on Call to Arms:
  • Adgamorix over at Divine Plea reckons it is a terrible idea but is willing to exploit it to make some nice gold.
  • Lodur from World of Matticus thinks Blizzard is doing a good thing by trying to fix the queues and does not see why there is so much hate for the idea.
  • Lissanna at  Restokin reckons it is a smart commercial move by Blizzard but also likes it for players.

Have you seen other posts on the matter or have an opinion of your own? Leave us a comment and we will get it included! Also look out for an introduction to our new resident rogue columnist Roark later this week!