The LFD “Free Critters and Ponies” Controversy

There was an announcement last night about the addition of the Call to Arms for vital roles (read: tanks and healers) to the LFD tool. And Twitter went nuts. Twitter goes nuts several times a day anyway. The WoW Twitter community went nuts. In other news, I found out there’s random goodies at the end of Oculus. Yeah… I never saw anyone go to the chest. People just dropped group as soon as the boss was dead. So how was I supposed to know?

And that right there might be an indication of how much difference this change will make in the long-run. My prediction is that this won’t work as well as Blizzard hopes, there will be much QQ, and then it’ll all die down as tanks and healers stop caring about their extra goodies and things will go back to… well, pretty much the way they are now.

On one side, you have the debates (ranging from reasonable to outrageous) about how this may or may not affect dungeon groups. On the other side, you have the debates (ranging from reasonable to outrageous) on whether or not tanks and healers should get an extra shot at these pets and mounts just for being tanks and healers, and whether or not this is an indication that dps is getting screwed.

I love pets and mounts. I wrote a Breakfast Topic for WoWInsider once about my love of pets. I could start leveling one of my healers while all my other alts collect dust so that I can queue for the extra shot at these pets and mounts. I could take Protection as a second spec and let die eleventy times because I have no clue how to tank and no interest in learning just so I can queue for an extra shot at pets and mounts. But I’m not going to. It wouldn’t be worth it for me.

I do believe the journey is more important than the destination. I can wrap that attitude up in a few other clíches. I believe things worth having are things worth working for. I believe one shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about how many people will remember them… just live a life worth remembering. While WoW is not real life, I take a lot of my attitudes about real life into the game with me. Treat people with respect. Even if they prove themselves to be a person who doesn’t deserve it, do your best to treat them with respect because it’s about the person *you* are… not they person *they* are. Don’t expect to be carried through things, but be willing to help someone who really could use an occasional helping hand. Take responsibility for your own preparation and cooperation when you work in groups. Remember that your behavior reflects on whatever group you are a member of, so be a good representative of that good. Don’t stand in the fire. (That really is good advice for the real world, as well as in-game.)

For me, it’s not about simply having the pets and mounts. It’s about how I got them. My Dun Morogh cub was a gift. My husband bought it with the Champion Seals he earned and rode all the way out to Coldridge Valley to give to me as soon as I rolled my hunter. My troll druid has a Ravasaur Hatchling that was also a gift from my husband. She’s just now getting to quests in the Northren Barrens, but has a baby raptor to follow her around because I adore raptors. My husband and I have made a tradition out of giving each other Prairie Dogs (even on Alliance characters) because of the way real-world prairie dogs “kiss” each other. I had to earn my Fox Kit. My Moonkin Hatchling was a Christmas Gift. I had a friend willing to help me kill Kael’thas as many times as it took to get a Phoenix Hatchling, and I was REALLY lucky to get it the first time! Parrots from the Deadmines are momentos of two-manning it at the level for it and living to tell the tale.

I solo’d Stratholme over and over… and over and over… and over… to get the Baron’s horse. I never got it. But I’d rather never get it at all than get it in the random goodie bag just because I was the healer. I learned during one of those trips through Stratholme that my bear could solo Baron Rivendare at 80. Yeah… my hunter pet bear. I thought maybe I could avoid his shadow damage aura by standing just outside the door, since it fills the room. I didn’t know the door would slam shut once I shot him. The bear ran in and I was left standing out there watching health bars and thinking what a waste this was since I’d have to do the whole thing again for this shot at the mount. The door opened again, and the Baron was dead on the floor. The bear came running back to me. I might actually like having that story to tell more than I would like having the mount.

The closer I got to 80, the more I wanted the bronze drake. I have some personal reasons for being especially fond of the Bronze Flight. I hadn’t really enjoyed doing Culling of Stratholme on normal, so I wasn’t looking forward to doing it on heroic. (This always gets me some weird looks from people, but my favorite Northrend dungeon is Halls of Stone. Normal or Heroic. I’ll do it again and again. I cheered out loud every time it was my random dungeon.) I did it on heroic as soon as I could… and lost the roll on the drake to someone else in the group. The next day, the same friend who helped me get my Phoenix Hatchling found a healer and dps, and my husband agreed to come along as the third dps. They all did a run with me so that I wouldn’t have to compete with anyone else for the drake.

I could get a mount out of bag, but I couldn’t get four people like that out of a bag.

Okay, so I just don’t particularly care about getting free critters and ponies that way. But there are people who will want them, and DPS IS GETTING SCREWED! Why? How? Yes, this means healers and tanks (and it’s going to be tanks usually, I’m betting) are getting an extra shot at them. There’s no guarantee they’ll get them, though, unless I read this wrong. It’s just an extra chance. It might be in there. It might not be. It might be stored in an extra room inside the Dance Studio. You don’t know.

And they aren’t exclusive critters and ponies that you can only get this way. Go get them the hard way if you’re dps. You’ll get a better story out of it. “I farmed for months and then a friend who knew I wanted it helped me get it,” sounds a lot better than, “It fell out of a bag.”

As for what this change means for dungeon groups… As I said before, I don’t think it’ll really change much of anything. Queue times will get shorter for a while, maybe, but if groups are getting ret paladin tanks and feral druid healers because of this it’ll just lead to other problems. Eventually, those problems will, I think, die out as tanks and healers stop caring about the chest at the end of Oculus…um… random bag of goodies for answering the Call to Arms. Things will just be the way they are now unless some other change is made to address it, and the Drama Llama will go back to the drama farm feeling pretty satisfied over how there was a bunch of upset over something that didn’t change anything in the end.

It’s been pointed out that the tanks and healers (you know it’ll be tanks) answering the Call to Arms will have to actually finish the dungeon to get the bag. And that they have to queue individually for this. So if you get a ret paladin tank or a feral druid healer, you just kick them… right? But a counterpoint to that is the problem with people’s wait before they can kick someone going up and up. And that’s where I think Blizzard is going about this backwards. Yes, there are people who will abuse the power to kick someone. If they queue with their buddies, they may all stand around and laugh while kicking someone just because they play a draenei and “spaec gaotz suXX0r”, or whatever. But I suspect it’s more common that people who should be kicked don’t get kicked because A. no one can kick them yet, or B. if you kicked everyone who should be kicked, your wait time on being able to do that would start to get really long. And as things stand, asshole tanks and healers don’t care if they get kicked. I’ve been in groups where the tank wanted to be kicked and started being an asshole so that we would kick them. I’ve been in groups where a healer got pissed that a tank wouldn’t “pull bigger” and started pulling things themself while telling us, “Just kick me.”

There’s a penalty for dropping group. There’s not a penalty for being kicked. If you have fast queue times, you’re better off getting kicked if you don’t want to do this run. Be an asshole, get kicked, get a different group/dungeon real quick.

Maybe what we need is a system that can track how often you get kicked in relation to how often you run dungeons through LFD. If you do 20 dungeons in two weeks and get kicked from 2 of them, that may or may not have been your fault. If you run 20 dungeons in two weeks and get kicked from 18 of them, is it more likely that you are a problem, or that you got into 18 groups that had enough “kick happy” people to vote you out when you did nothing to warrant it?

If the LFD tool would lengthen your wait time, taking a certain number of other people queued in your role before you, then we would likely see even longer queue times. But might we start to see better groups? Groups that complete a dungeon by working together and not being abusive? And if the only way to get your queue times to go back down would be to go through a certain number of dungeons without crossing a “number of times kicked” threshold, then might this start encouraging assholes to clean up their behavior at least long enough to do a dungeon?

It’s not a perfect idea. But there’s a real problem when we are given a tool to help us get rid of the people who make dungeon experiences so terrible, but then we’re punished for using it while they are reward for having it used against them. And no amount of free critters and ponies can make that okay.

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