A few days ago we got to look into the crystal ball and see the future of raiding in World of Warcraft. Developers released this announcement which outlines how they intend raids and progression to work in Cataclysm. Most of the changes left me feeling pensive about Cataclysm – I can’t help but feel that all the things I love about raiding are slipping further out of my grasp.
I was happy to hear that they intend to release a lot of raid content out of the box and include more than one, mid-size, raid instance in the first raiding tier. Finally! Perhaps this time they might get the raid length/time commitment right.
I loved running Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep in the same lockout week. Naxxaramas with a quick jaunt off to kill Sartharion in Obsidian Sanctum always felt more like a diversion and hassle than a proper change of scenery. And Naxxramas just went on forever. Especially in a PuG group.
One raid ID per guild, per week
Keeva over at Tree Bark Jacket has the unique experience of having run a 25 man guild, and then having run a 10 man guild only to return to 25s, all during Wrath of the Lich King:
Some people are upset about “missing out” – ie if you choose to do 25s, you’ll “miss out” on 10s. You’re not missing out on something that doesn’t exist anymore (a second lockout). We never had parallel 10 and 25 raids in TBC. There were 10man raids, and there were 25s. We didn’t have the same instance for both sizes.
I think at first, it seemed like a good idea to be able to choose; it seemed like it would give people the choice to be a 10 or a 25man raider.
It’s true. Wrath of the Lich King gave us the ability to choose the format – 10 or 25 man. And by choosing one, you weren’t locked out of running the other format.
Unlike many 25 man raiders I never felt obliged to run both raid formats at the same time. I think the experience you gain by wiping on new bosses in both formats does help you learn, and defeat, encounters a bit faster. But I’m concerned that the method they are choosing will force raiding guilds to have one raid ID per raid zone per week. Sounds good at first, and it may slow down progression a bit which is good news for Blizzard, the content lasts longer, and good news for us as players, more anticipation and more thrill when you get that first kill.
But I think it could backfire. I think it could backfire because they’re giving 25 man guilds the opportunity to scale down to the 10 man format mid-week. I can’t help but wonder what will happen if only 20 players arrive for the raid on the second raid night for the week – a common occurrence in many raiding guilds when players only turn up for “farm night” and mysteriously disappear when it’s time to wipe on progression content. In the proposed Cataclysm raiding model the guild has the option to switch down to 10 man mode on that exact same raid ID. So who get picked as the lucky 10 to raid that night when the numbers are low and who gets benched? That’s potentially 10-12 upset people, all saved to that raid ID but unable to raid for the night.
Furthermore, if the guild is struggling to recruit, or going through a poor attendance phase, with 22-24 players turning up night after night I can’t see many officers willing to keep going. They can pick and choose the best 10 players and turn it into a strong 10 man raiding guild.
Losing the “epic” experience
But giving us the choice steals some of the realism from the story environment. For me it cheapens the experience – loses some of that omg feeling you’re meant to get when you first see a boss.
Beru refers to it the “grandness” of 25 man raiding. Once when you’ve experienced the pure chaos of fighting Yogg-Saron with 24 other people - brain linked, feared to hell and back, and screaming at each other when someone steals their portal – coming back the next night with a team of 9 and succeeding seems just a little bit sad.
I’m always a little disappointed. It makes the boss less impressive in my eyes and takes away some of the satisfaction and sense of achievement.
Being able to switch your guild’s Raid ID from a 10 man one night to a 25 man the next night isn’t going to “fix” the experience. It may help with raider burnout. But it’s not going to make us believe that our enemy is all powerful, and near-impossible to defeat. And that’s how I want to approach every new boss I come across in World of Warcraft.
1 vs 25 means that the boss you’re facing is 25 times more deadly than you are as an individual. How can the Lich King triumph over the entire Argent Crusade but be defeated by 10 people? 25 mans make the bosses feel more powerful, the encounter more overwhelming and ultimately more satisfying when you triumph.
The convenience of 10 mans
I do believe that handing out the same rewards, in terms of gear, will be the death of 25 man raiding. Why? The raid weekly quest. When was the last time you got 25 people together to do the raid weekly quest? Never. You always grab 10 people to do it, why not? It’s easier to organise and the loot isn’t a deciding factor.
Coordinating 25 people to all show up is one thing. Coordinating 25 people to all do the right thing at the right time, produce amazing DPS, heal and tank perfectly and run out of fire, run together for brain links/pacts is harder. It’s just plain harder.
Even though I really, really enjoy 25 mans I know that most of my team, and even myself to a certain extent, are motivated by gear. And I can’t see myself being able to convince 24 other skilled players to raid with me without the lure of loot.
The truth is, some guilds will not survive this. Sure, the more solid and well established guilds will likely continue on about their way, but for guilds that are already struggling for numbers and/or progress it’s likely the signature on their death sentence. I mean…why continue to struggle to field 25 people when you can more easily have 10? — Beru
I couldn’t agree more. I think of how many nights we struggle to get just one or two more players to round out our 25 man team. It’s almost become a joke that Vitare can only down bosses when we have 24 players in the raid – almost all our ICC progression kills seemed to be with 24 players.
I can only hope that if any 25 man raiding guilds survive in Cataclysm, it will be because the 25 people in the team truly enjoy the 25 man raiding experience like I do. And, fingers crossed, those 25 players will be as skilled as the team I currently play with.
I just hope that brand new World of Warcraft players will get the chance to experience 25 man raiding before they are drawn into a steady 10 man team. I want new players to get the chance to experience both raiding formats. I want to show new raiders the madness and awe-inspiring sight of a perfectly coordinated 25 man raiding team and the tight-knit 10 man team. Before they make up their minds and join a raiding guild.
We talk about making raiding accessible, but I think it’s important to make 25 man raiding accessible too. Is the only time I’m going to be part of a mob when we raid Crossroads? When we compete for PVP zones like Wintergrasp?
How did the default raid size shift to double that of your regular dungeon run – 2 x 5 players – away from a 40 man army?
Guess what people? 10 mans aren’t easy. Furthermore, I don’t believe that the reason 25 man raiding guilds snipe all the 10 man raiding achievements and realm firsts is because they have higher gear scores.
Last year Lathere and I completed A Tribute to Insanity while wearing 10 man gear. I can promise you, the reason we got that achievement without wiping had very, very little to do with our gear. We got that achievement because our 10 man team was good at working together. Most importantly, our 10 man team had an excellent group makeup, with a fantastic variation of all the classes, providing all the buffs you could want – including Heroism.
A part of why we were able to get the 10 man realm first is because we were running the instance in both 25 man and 10 man. A lot of what we’d learned about Anub’arak came from completing the encounter on 25 man, I’ll give you that. But we’d only cleared Anub’arak perhaps three or four times when we completed the 0 wipe achievement – that’s not that many attempts or wipes.
I don’t think 10 man raid teams are inferior. 10 man raiding is difficult. But from my experience most 25 man teams are run more strictly and raiders are held to higher standards than the pure 10 man guilds I’ve seen in action.
A 25 man raid has it’s own balance but because the number of spaces is bigger, you can actually get away with overlaps in the raid composition. Our current 25 man team is far from perfect: we have 2 Shadow Priests, 2 Moonkin, 3 Restoration Druids, 1 Shaman and no Feral Druid. We juggle where we can to get all the buffs – one of our Warlocks will usually volunteer to be the caster buff bot for the evening because we don’t have an Elemental Shaman.
My 10 man guild group has changed quite a lot from what it was last year in Trial of the Grand Crusader. Last week we we attempted Deathbringer Saurfang Heroic with 2 Prot Warriors, 1 DPS Warrior, 1 Rogue, 1 Enhance Shaman, 1 Warlock, 1 Shadow Priest (me), 2 Restoration Druids and 1 Discipline Priest. Certainly not an even mix of the classes!
We couldn’t get it. Oh we did very, very well considering. The Warlock and I both had our own fiends to kill and we juggled threat with our tanks, kiting them back and forth until they died. If we got hit once – if a tank’s taunt missed, or the Warlock’s Demonic Circle expired – we wiped. We tried all kinds of things and to the best of our ability, came up with a bit of a stun rotation to bring them down to nearly half health before they got out of melee distance. It wasn’t an ideal strategy, but it was all we had, and we pretty much perfected it. On our best attempt I think we got him down to perhaps 10% or 15%. We had a lot of blood power accumulating and several Marks of the Fallen Champion.
I spent the entire time wishing for a Death Knight’s Death Grip or a Hunter and their Distracting Shot and slowing traps. Or I would have happily traded in my Shadow Priest’s slow and steady DPS for a bit of Mage burst DPS. I know that our healers were crying out, wishing they could heal both tanks at once.
A well meaning guild member came on Vent to ask us how we were going. When we tried to explain how we were managing the adds they sounded bewildered “oh in our 10 man kill last week we just used Hand of Freedom and Blessing of Protection on the ranged DPS”. Yeah thanks for reminding us that we don’t have a Paladin either.
However, I’ve read a lot of comments on various blogs and the general consensus seems to be that 25 man aren’t difficult to play, they’re only difficult to organise. I disagree.
25 mans are difficult because 1 person in a 25 man can ruin things for the other 24 people. It’s harder to get 25 people working together, focused, playing perfectly as one cohesive whole. Even excellent players have off nights, or trouble with certain boss encounters. If 5 players are making mistakes in any given attempt it just means that killing the boss as a team is more difficult and challenging. You have to consider the group as a whole, as one entity.
25 mans are difficult because you don’t have as much room to maneuver. Positioning in 25 mans is often very strict because standing a couple yards away from the ideal spot can get both yourself and your friends killed. 10 mans are much more forgiving.
25 mans are difficult because you often have to share duties – you might have 4 people in charge of keeping Kinetic Bombs in the air and you need to coordinate and check with those other players throughout the fight – not stepping on toes, but coming forward and taking control if they’re struggling.
25 mans are difficult because it’s nearly impossible to improvise over Vent. Conversation between 25 people would be a nightmare. It’s nearly impossible to ask questions like “which Empowered Fanatic should we kill first?” in a 25 man raid. You usually just end up guessing, because you’d be talking over someone else coordinating a battle resurrection, or calling out a phase change. Yet in a 10 man I’d be much more likely to ask, or request that the priority target is marked. Improvisation can wrangle a successful kill out of what looks like a wipe in 10 man, improvisation hardly ever works in a 25 man.
Raid Composition Min/Maxing meet 10 Mans
I think we’re going to see a min/max attitude applied to 10 mans. I don’t believe in “Bring the Player, not the Class”. Yes, you want 10 equally skilled raiders in your team, but beyond that only through variety can you bring all the buffs and utility stuff to your group. That doesn’t change, no matter how much they like to share the buffs around between classes.
I think we’re going to see very specific recruiting as serious 10 man raiders build their raid teams with progression in mind: “Recruiting 1 Survival/MM Hunter for serious 10 man progression raiding”. I think we’re going to see every class – pure DPS too – really use their dual specialisation in order to approach each new boss fight with the strongest team they can muster.
I think variety is the key. I don’t believe that you’ll be able to waltz into a Cataclysm 10 man raid with the kind of group make up that we had for our 10 man – heavy on just a couple of the classes – and expect to defeat all the bosses. I think progression teams will be more likely to keep people in the wings to swap in and out per fight.
10 mans are made even harder if you’re trying to accommodate friends, letting them play whatever class/spec they desire, instead of playing with a group composition that really works well.
Incentives for 25 Man Teams
At the moment Blizzard are planning to entice raiders to run 25 mans instead of 10 man by offering up more Emblems and Gold to compensate them for the effort to coordinate the damn thing. Not going to work.
Unless the Emblem system changes dramatically you only need Emblems at the start of a raiding tier when new items are released. Even if you only earn Emblems of Frost by running a 10 man each week… well you’re going to get all the items you want sooner or later anyway. Being ahead of the curve by a week or two doesn’t really mean much to me. But I don’t like gear from Emblems anyway – I have no sentimentality or attachment to the item itself.
Gold is an even worse incentive. I can’t think of anyone in my guild who cuts corners (skipping Flasks, refusing to buy epic gems or the most expensive enchants) or worries about running out of gold. We even ask, as part of the recruitment process, if an applicant has a healthy gold balance and most applicants scoff at the question – they have more than enough gold to keep raiding.
What is a good incentive? I don’t know. I think the player to loot ratio needs to be higher. If 10 mans offer 1 piece of loot per 5 players for each boss kill, 25 mans need to offer about 1 piece of loot per 4 players. Perhaps even if only 1 Tier Token dropped in a 10 man and 3 dropped in a 25 man raid, that alone would be enough.
I think the only real incentive is to make sure that 25 mans are just a bit easier than 10 mans.
Read that again. I think 25 man boss kills should be easier for your average player. I think we’re going to lose so many players to 10 mans in Cataclysm – out of convenience, not because they prefer the experience – that the quality of players applying for 25 man guilds will be lower and I think the pool of applicants will be much smaller. Give us a chance: make the encounter more forgiving, just a bit easier, on 25 man setting. Tune it assuming only 20-23 players will be present.
What I’d like to see is multiple raids – some only for 10 people, some only for 25 people, different content filling the same tier gear.
I’d like the content to dictate how many players you need to defeat the boss in question. Cataclysm Nasty Boss #1 should requite 25 people, Cataclysm Nasty Bosses #2-#5 should require 10 people – but all bosses 1-5 should drop the same item level gear. Why can’t there by a 25 man that drops Tier 11 that’s totally different content to a 10 man instance that drops the same Tier 11? Hell, let them drop the exact same Tier Tokens.
I want to see less flexibility – I don’t want to be able to change the raid size mid-week. I want to walk up to Deathwing and need the best 10, 20, 25, 40 … whatever… players I know to defeat him.
I hope that they give guilds flexibility by offering multiple raid lockouts per week by offering multiple raid instances per tier. I think that they’re trying to do this and I applaud them. Yes, this takes more time and effort to produce, but I’m not adverse to revisiting an existing zone in a later patch to take on a new “wing”.
For example, imagine that Ulduar – the zone in the north of Storm Peaks, not the raid instance – comprised of 3 raid instances. Halls of Stone (10 man, Tier 7) would contain 6 bosses and be released with Wrath of the Lich King, Ulduar (25 man, Tier 8 ) would contain 13 bosses and be released sometime later then perhaps we’d skip a whole patch cycle and eventually return for Halls of Lightning (10 man, Tier 10) to kill just 4 bosses. Remember that at each Tier level they would be other raids – a 25 man Tier 7, a 10 man Tier 8 and a 25 man Tier 10.
And, finally, I hope they bring back a 40 man world boss! Let’s not lose the Massively in MMORPG.