As the dust settles, a retrospective on heroics in 4.1 and CTA

So, 4.1 has finally dropped, and the dust is slowly settling on wow’s latest content patch. While its still early days on CTA and the long term effectiveness of blizzards attempt to get more tanks and healers into LFD, I think we can start to look at the trends coming up and have an interesting discussion about it all now. Be forewarned, This is probably going to be a very subjective post, relying heavily on anecdotal evidence.

First of all, a little history
CTA is a new feature in 4.1 whos sole purpose was to attempt to bring more tanks and healers (or DPS when all the planets align, a blue moon rises, the earth splits in 2, pigs fly and there are less DPS than tanks/healers) to LFD to run heroics. It essentially bribed them with money, flasks, and shiny mounts. Many people predicted this would end in disaster, with anyone who could hold a shield and queue as a tank, queuing as a tank. So today I’m going to stop and reflect on my weekend in LFD practically chaining heroics. But wheres the fun in making horrible claims about how a feature will fail if we don’t go back and take a look at if it did work and so on.

Unexpected outcome of 4.1, DPS quality goes down?
I think its safe to say now, that people are starting to see a trend in heroics of the quality of DPS players (in terms of sheer output) going down. And I’m not just talking by a few thousand DPS, I’m talking a smite disc priest can expect to take spot 1-3 on the damage meters

I'm the priest. No I'm not shadow. Yes this is L85 heroic. With the 15% buff. On a boss.

While I will say theres been a drop in the tank quality (Like that normal I did with a full pvp gear (+epic crafted shield) tank), it hasn’t been nearly as bad as people were predicting or expecting. I can’t comment on the quality of healers though (I was running on my disc priest alt (yes, yes I am open to being bribed by mounts by blizzard >.>)).

Queue times for DPS?
But what about CTAs goal, has the queue time for DPS gone down significantly? Thats what this feature is all about. As far as I can see, DPS queue timers are running at going between as low as 5 minutes to as high as 25 minutes. Even at the high end this is a huge drop from the 40+ minute waits for 4.0. Granted we’re still at very early days of this patch, with tanks and healers still deciding if its enough to make them want to run heroics.

All the ‘capable’ DPS (and a few that aren’t I’m sure) are running halls of troll?
So, DPS queue times are down somewhat, we have some competent  tanks in LFD, and hopefully competent healers too, so where are all the capable DPS who can push huge amounts of DPS in a heroic without to much hassle? Is this simply (mostly) unrelated to CTA and are they all busy of running the new heroics (also known as halls of zul, halls of troll, Magister’s Zul or pit of zul) for more phat epics and a shiny mount?

Or are we just all on our healer/tank alts gathering some shiny rewards
Are the capable DPS simply now on alts, collecting shiny mounts on our tank/healer alts, through CTA? I mean I did it, and I’m sure others have too. I think when we look at this, we have to ask if its a bad thing. A large number of new people are getting through heroics now, far more than before.

Is this just ‘all in our heads?’
I (and others) went into heroics post 4.1 looking for a difference, looking for CTA’s impact, is it possible we’re only seeing what we want to see? Was DPS before CTA just as bad as it is now? We have no actual data to say one way or another, and our impressions can be horribly biased by our personal experience. Even pre 4.1 was it that rare to get all horrible DPS? Would it be so horribly rare if a few people got a bad group several times in a row? Those that have the negative experience will be more vocal (as opposed to those who have a good experiance

Quirks of CTA
A slight annoyance myself and others have found with CTA. You don’t get your bag if your queue pops without CTA:Healer up, even if you queued when CTA:Healer up. With these sometimes turning on and off every few minutes this can get to be a huge annoyance. If your queuing specificly for CTA then this could result to healers and tanks simply declining groups en mass if CTA isn’t up when it pops. Really this will likely be a small QoL change, but one I hope happens soonish.

4.2′s longer term impacts
But what also interests me is the new tank BOA set (which coincidently is what I was farming heroics for JP for) is the tank BOA set. I think this speaks volumes about blizzard want to get more tanks into LFD. Lore (of legendary, the weekly marmot and PST fame) said at some stage, I can’t remember where, that a bit of the problem for tanks was that you would level with BOA gear, and could tank for the first 60 to 70 levels with those fine, but then it slowly become harder and harder, resulting in people just stop tanking with DPS BOA gear, and when they got to 85 they essentially had NFI what to do and very little gear to lead them into tanking. Well now? Thats going to be fixed (I hope).

I think the combination of the new BOA gear, and the added incentive to simply roll a tank if you know at max level you’ll be able to get CTA will encourage more people to tank. For now? Lets just enjoy the short term wave of tanks smacking the mount pinta.