Today, Blizzard announced that they would essentially be bribing tanks and healers to queue up for random, heroic dungeons in the 4.1 patch, by rewarding the least-represented role with special rewards, which may include rare mounts and rare non-combat pets.

(I won’t even talk about how one of those rare mounts is the Baron’s mount out of Stratholme. That’s someone else’s QQ fodder, but I can imagine people are going to be pissed if they’ve done 500 runs over the years and not gotten one, but some random tank gets it for running heroic Vortex Pinnacle.)

Tanks and, to a lesser extent, healers, are the least-represented roles when queuing up for a random heroic dungeon at 85. You can tell because DPS has the longest queue (30+ minutes for me on my hunter, typically), healers have a much shorter queue (about 8 minutes) and tanks have a damn near instant queue.

In a dungeon group, you have 20% of the group that heals, 20% of the group that tanks and 60% of the group that’s DPS, right? 1 and 1 and 3 makes 5.

In a 10-man raid group, you generally have 30% of the group that heals, 20% of the group that tanks and 50% of the group that does damage. (This can also be 20/20/60, so your mileage may vary.)

So far, that all seems pretty logical, right? The dungeon group percentages mostly match up to the raid group percentages.

Then we have 25-man raids. In a 25-man raid group, you drop from 20% of the group being comprised of tanks to, in most situations, 2 people tanking. That’s 8%. On some occasions, you get 3 tanks, that’s 12%. It is a lot less than the 20% in your standard random groups. You also generally go up from 20% healers to around 25% healers (6 or 7, up from 5, one per group.).

My hypothesis: Tanks are in high demand in dungeon situations because there are not enough tanks needed in raid situations.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking for 5 tanks, 5 healers and 15 DPS for every encounter. Or even ANY encounter. But my theory is that there are more healers than tanks and more DPS than healers because there are more spots required of DPS and healers than there are of tanks. Yes, having death knights be able to tank since last expansion has added to the number of possible tanks. Yes, more raid groups (thanks to the legitimacy of 10-man raiding in Cataclysm) will mean more geared and skilled tanks who are available.

However, what will bribing tanks (and, to a lesser extent, healers) into solo-queuing do to the random dungeon finder system?

Fox Van Allen tweeted: “you’ll wind up seeing a lot more bad, unready tanks,” although he rather likes the idea apart from that.

I tend to agree — tanks are going to be awful. This isn’t going to convince the good/experienced/geared tanks to go out and start pugging. Since they don’t need much out of heroics (once they farm ZG and ZA with mostly guild groups, at any rate), the only added incentive is this “Call to Arms” reward. Why do your daily random (or seven weekly randoms) with not one but four puggers if you can easily do it with at least a partial guild group?

I don’t think the experienced, good tanks will do this very often.

What I think this will do more of is convince that idiot ret paladin to choose prot as his dual spec and fail miserably. Or convince the moonkin that he doesn’t need ALL feral gear to use in a bear spec; after all, who’s going to actually take the time to inspect the bear?

I did a lot of daily dungeons runs in Wrath on a lot of different toons. I did them on my pally as a tank and a healer, I did them on my druid as a tank and a healer, I did them on my mage and hunter as a DPS and I did them on my priest and shaman as a healer.

Oh, the failure I saw, the lack of knowledge I witnessed, the common sense that I realized was not remotely common at all. I KNOW I’ve blogged about these experiences on this very blog before.

Oh, look. April 9th, 2010, “Yet another fail ‘tank’”.

April 6th, 2010, “OMG.”

There are more, but I digress yet again.

I have no reason to believe that Cataclysm random heroics are any different from Wrath random heroics except that they’re longer and more difficult to begin with than the Wrath ones were. Thus, based on my WotLK dungeon finder experiences, I do not foresee a lot of experienced tanks solo-queuing to get these rewards; I see a lot of DPS posing as tanks who solo-queue for the rewards, without any kind of real understanding of how the encounters work.

That’s going to translate into more groups being formed, yes — but will they be more successful? I’m sure some will be, but I would imagine that the success rate will drop, overall, at least after the initial ZA/ZG farm fest.

I really believe that the key to alleviating the dreaded DPS queue problem is to make tanks more needed at the higher levels of content. More demand for tanks should lead to more tanks being rolled, no? That said, I don’t have a good idea as to how to make tanks more needed without requiring 5 tanks on all 25-man raid encounters. I just don’t think this is the way to go about fixing the queue problem. I am actually afraid to see those DPSers in “tank” specs who will probably spec 41 points in their tanking tree and still miss out on six crucial points…

Time will tell, I suppose!