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Patch 4.1 Part 1 – Major Changes on the Horizon

April 24, 2011

There’s a new “Release Candidate” on the Public Test Realms (PTR), and Blizzard just re-posted the patch notes, so it looks like Patch 4.1 might be released this Tuesday.  Now, I always follow the PTR changes, but Blizzard continues tweaking things right up until release.  I wanted to wait until things were closer to being finalized before blogging about them.  I guess that means that I should start writing now.

I’ve been looking forward to this patch.  It seems like there’s a lot of good changes coming our way.  However, there’s also changes that I’m not looking forward to, and a few that I’m not sure how I feel about.  I am not going to write about PvP changes, because I’m no PvP expert and PvP is not a high priority for me.  This topic is pretty long (even by my standards), so I’ll continue with Part 2 tomorrow.  I’m also putting the rest of this post behind a cut.  (Ooh, fancy!)

Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms

This has been a hot topic in the WoW community.  For anyone who doesn’t know, Blizzard is trying to change the Looking for Dungeon tool to reduce queue times for DPS.  The problem is, unsurprisingly, that there are too few tanks (and to a lesser extent healers), queuing for random dungeons.  So, in the tradition of bribing players to run Oculus, Blizzard will be detecting the least represented role in the queue and offering a goodie bag to players that queue for that role. The goodie bag will contain:

…some gold, a chance at a rare gem, a chance at a flask/potion, 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.

Originally the goodie bags were going to be BoP, but now they will be BoA, so you can get them on your tanking alt and send them to your main, if you so wish.  Please note: the bags are BoA, the contents are still BoP.  Do not loot the contents of the bag if you wish to send the items to an alt!  Just mail the entire bag to the alt of your choice.

From evidence on the PTR, it also appears that the Call to Arms can apply to more than one role at a time.  This means that healers may have a greater chance at getting a goodie bag than at first predicted.

Unfortunately, in order to be eligible for a goodie bag you have to queue completely solo – if you queue with a friend you will not get one of the bags.  Personally, this is one of my biggest issues with the new system.  Are there two or three guildies online, but not enough for a full guild run?  Well, you still have to pug a couple of people, and assume all the attendant risks of pugging, but you don’t get a goodie bag for shortening the pug’s queue time.  I know many tanks and healers who will only queue if they have at least one friend along to ease the burden of pugging, and this restriction is going to keep those tanks and healers out of the queue.  It might also screw guilds out of a full guild run, (and the associated guild XP), if they happen to have a greedy tank/healer who refuses to run with a group because they want to queue solo for the goodie bag.

Will the Call to Arms reduce queue times?  Possibly…  This change is an attempt to get three things to happen:  to get geared tanks back in the queue after they no longer need gear/points; to encourage people to tank on their alts (or add a tanking spec to a hybrid class); and to encourage people to level a tank when they may not otherwise be inclined to roll tank.  (Also to do the same for healers, but to a much lesser extent.)  However, there are several problems with this idea:

  • While tanking may be fun, tanking for pugs – especially anonymous pugs from other servers, can be a frustrating, keyboard-breaking, experience.  There’s a lot of pressure on tanks, and a huge number of idiots and assholes in the LFD tool.
  • All of the geared tanks of my acquaintance refuse to queue solo and have said that the goodie bag is not sufficient incentive to make them change their behavior.  Admittedly, this is a tiny sample of WoW tanks, but I believe it is representative.
  • Judging from the QQ on the Blizzard forums, this change makes a number of DPS increasingly resentful of tanks.  These DPS players are already upset that tanks can insta-queue and then act like prima donnas – and now those tanks are going to be rewarded even more?  That pisses some DPS players off, and I can just imagine how they’ll treat tanks even worse than they already do.
  • The goodie bags are going to encourage some people who really shouldn’t be tanking.  LOLRetTank?  Yeah, he’s going to queue more often.  People with the gear to queue as DPS but with a really low ilvl tank set?  Yeah, they’re going to queue as tank too.  Sure, there may be shorter queues, but will you have a smaller chance of a successful run?

So, I’m not entirely enthusiastic about this idea.  I have three level 85 toons that I could tank on, but I’m terrible at tanking, and I always end up hating humanity after attempting to pug tank, so this is not sufficient incentive for me to respec my toons.  I do solo queue as a healer quite frequently, so I might have a chance at the reward sometimes.  I don’t think the reward will get me to queue more often than I do already, but it might be a nice perk for something I’m going to do regardless.  However, if there’s a sudden influx of really shitty pug tanks, I might be disinclined to queue.

Looking For Guild

Blizzard is introducing a new Looking For Guild tool to try to make the recruiting process easier.  As a recruiting officer, I am obviously interested in this development.  Unfortunately, there are a few problems with the tool as it’s being released:

  • Only the guild leader has access to the tool and can view applicants.  Blizzard hasn’t thought this one through.  Guild leaders often delegate recruiting tasks to officers in order to reduce their workload or just because they aren’t the best recruiter in the guild.   I know Blizz has received a lot of feedback requesting that guild leaders be able to grant access to other officers or guild members, so hopefully this will change in the future.  But for now, I’m going to have to get my guild leader to set up all the recruiting notices, and I won’t even be able to check to see that he’s done so, or be able to view potential applicants.  Very, very irritating.  (Maybe I can convince him to promote me to guild leader?  Excellent… so much closer to my hostile takeover!  Muahahaha!)
  • Only unguilded people will be able to search for a new guild using the tool.  This is such a bad idea.  Who leaves their guild before they’ve found a new one?  Very, very few people.  Those people who do leave a guild before finding a new one are usually those who have /ragequit or been /gkicked.  A very few people may be unguilded because their guild fell apart, they are returning from an extended WoW vacation, they have server transferred, or because they have never been guilded.  Otherwise, this tool is going to be useless for the vast majority of players.
  • There aren’t enough ways to customize the guild recruitment advertisement.  For example, you can choose to list your raid times as Weekday or Weekend.  Really?  That’s it?  We can’t set specific days and times?  How is this supposed to be useful for people looking for raid times that suit their schedule?  What if a guild raids Tues, Thurs and Sat?  This is beyond stupid.  There is a space to type additional info about your guild, but from all accounts it has about as much space as a Twitter message…
  • Because of the limited options for customizing availability, a person searching for a new guild cannot sufficiently limit their search.  Are you available for late night raiding on Friday and Saturday only?  Well, guess what – you will have to say that you are available both weekdays and weekends and you will get a list of every single recruiting guild on your server.  You will then have to go through the list and look at each one of potentially hundreds of guilds, hoping to find the few that might work for you.  Fun times, amiright?

I think the Looking For Guild feature is a good idea, but it’s not going to be very useful in its current state.  Until the problems have been worked out I think guilds will mostly be finding recruits the old fashioned way – through word of mouth, the forums, and Trade chat.

Guild Challenges

This is one change that I am wholeheartedly excited about!  Blizzard is introducing Guild Challenges, which will give guilds extra XP, gold and achievements from for running guild dungeon groups, killing raid bosses, and running rated battlegrounds.  (At max guild level the Challenges will provide extra gold instead of guild XP.)  Extra stuff for doing the things we do anyway?  Yes, please!

The extra XP in particular is going to be totally awesome for my guild – we’re currently level 16 and could use a boost.  Since the XP from Guild Challenges is going to be on top of the weekly guild XP cap we should start leveling a lot faster.  It would also be nice if this encourages people to show up for guild rated battlegrounds.  All our attempts at rated bgs have so far fizzled.

Originally Blizzard had restricted the earning of rewards from Challenges to groups composed of guild members that had at least Honored rep with their guild.  This was problematic for leveling guilds because guild reputation is earned very slowly at low levels.  It was also an issue for guilds deciding whether or not to bring recruits to guild runs.  Thankfully this restriction has been removed.  Now, as long as your guild is at least level 5, completing Challenges will provide rewards regardless of the guild reputation of the contributing members.

The Daily Random Dungeon will now be the Weekly Random Dungeons

Good news for anyone with a life: The first 7 random dungeons you run each week will now grant you Valor Points.  Currently, only the first random you run each day will grant VP, which means that if you can’t run one every day of the week you lose out.  Well, no more!  Instead of having to make time every day to run a random you can round up a group of friends and knock out 7 dungeons in a row and be done with it.  Huzzah!

Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman Return as 5-Man Dungeons

I am also very excited about the return of Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman!  Since I’m a “Wrath Baby” I didn’t get to fully experience these raids at appropriate level, but now I can.  Many people have complained about Blizzard re-hashing old content, but I think those raid instances were among the most beautiful in the game, and I’m so glad that other new players will be able to experience them.  Blizzard has also updated the mechanics of the encounters, so veteran players won’t feel like it’s the same old same old.  New mounts and pets are going to be available too, so those of us who never managed to get the Swift Zulian Tiger mount to drop will be somewhat comforted.  (Note: From here on ZA and ZG will be collectively referred to as “the troll dungeons”.)

The troll dungeons form their own tier above the current Cataclysm heroic dungeon tier.  An average ilvl of 346 will be required in order to queue for them.  By all accounts from the PTR, the fights are pretty difficult, but the rewards are going to be very welcome.  The bosses will drop epic ilvl 353 gear, much of it designed for those hard-to-fill slots like bracers and wands.  (Since Chimaeron and Atramedes are refusing to drop my bracers and helm, I’m looking forward to finally replacing my blues.)

Queuing for the troll dungeons will also grant more Valor Points than queuing for the other Cataclysm heroics.  The reward for running a daily heroic is usually 70 VP, but each run of ZG or ZA will be worth 140 VP.  Those of us who still need Valor gear, (in my case for off-spec), will greatly welcome this change.

It’s not entirely clear to me how this will work if you are running both the troll dungeons and the lower tier of heroics…  Say you run one of the troll dungeons and then run one of the normal tier, will you get VP for both of them?  I think so, but I’m not sure.  Regardless, the maximum amount of VP you will be allowed to gain from running heroics each week is 980.  Running 7 of the troll dungeons will give you 980 VP anyway, so I imagine there will be some people who will just stop running the lower tier completely.  (At least until they get bored sick of the two troll dungeons.)  What effect will this have on the queue times for the lower tier?  Will it negate the effect of the Call to Arms?  Only time will tell.

There are also going to be new quest chains in Stranglethorn relating to the troll dungeon storyline, so be sure to check them out.  (OMG, this reminds me that I’m still working on the raid quests for ZA!  I better see how much of it I can get done this week before the patch drops!)

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 and a discussion of the Druid patch changes, as well as an overview of all changes that will affect Cataclysm raiding in Patch 4.1.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2011 12:38 pm

    Wow, the news about the old dungeons alone is enough to make me want to come back to the game. Maybe I’ll reup in June when we don’t have chorus anymore.

  2. April 27, 2011 12:35 am

    Just got done killing the first two bosses in ZA. It was a blast! The fights are the same yet different. (I don’t want to give anything away). We stopped after the first boss, to many patch day “bugs”.

    Love the blog, very informative. Being a resto druid myself, I’d love any all the help I can get.

    • April 27, 2011 10:07 am

      I was home late last night, so I couldn’t run with a guild group. I queued for a random and got a group on the last boss of ZA, so that’s the only boss I have experience with yet. I can’t wait to kill them all!

      Thank you for the kind comments!

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