Monday, April 11, 2011

Asymmetric challenge

Imagine the least complicated World of Warcraft boss mob possible, a simple tank'n'spank affair: The tank just needs to stand still in front of it and spam taunts between other attacks, the healer just needs to heal the tank, and the three dps stand completely still and use their best spell rotation without switching targets.

Now let's add half a dozen typical boss abilities to that fight: The tank now has to keep moving to not stand in the colored spots on the floor, the healer now has to deal with spike damage on the tank and the AoE damage on the dps, and the three dps stand completely still and use their best spell rotation without switching targets.

That is obviously a caricature, but not all that far from the truth. Most boss abilities are much more likely to increase the challenge for the tank (who is also the guy expected to have all boss abilities in memory) and the healer. DPS, especially ranged, aren't even affected by all boss abilities, and might at worst have to sometimes move out of the fire.

I am wondering if those people who expressed that they like the increased challenge of Cataclysm are playing tanks. I suspect not. To me it seems that the increased challenge isn't evenly distributed, but that there is an asymetric challenge with most of the burden falling on the tank. Which, due the theory of effort vs. fun I wrote about yesterday, leads to the tank shortage. Increased dungeon challenge means not so much more hassle for the dps, but a huge amount of increased effort for the tank, and some for the healer. Not only is the increased reward for tanks totally justified, if anything, as Big Bear Butt remarks, it isn't high enough yet.

The best method I could think of to solve the tank shortage quickly is to massively increase the availability of tanking gear. Besides the blue craftably PvP gear, there should be blue craftable tanking gear, so tanks can get a complete set of decent gear right when they hit level 85. Because who wants to group with a tank still in the process of collecting a half-decent set of armor? If the challenge is asymmetric, the loot distribution has to be as well.

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