Monday, April 26, 2010

The Death of the 25-Man?

A new blue post confirms Blizz's direction for raiding in Cataclysm, and boy is it going to change a few things:
We're continuing to refine the raid progression paths in Cataclysm, and we'd like to share some of those changes with you today. Please enjoy!

The first of the refinements being made is that we're combining all raid sizes and difficulties into a single lockout. Unlike today, 10- and 25-player modes of a single raid will share the same lockout. You can defeat each raid boss once per week per character. In other words, if you wanted to do both a 10- and 25-person raid in a single week, you’d need to do so on two different characters. Normal versus Heroic mode will be chosen on a per-boss basis in Cataclysm raids, the same way it works in Icecrown Citadel. Obviously the raid lockout change doesn't apply in pure Icecrown terms though, as this change goes hand-in-hand with a few other changes to raid progression in Cataclysm.

So they're going to make us choose between 10 and 25? Well, that should be easy; 25m's give better loot... right?

We're designing and balancing raids so that the difficulty between 10- and 25-player versions of each difficulty will be as close as possible to each other as we can achieve. That closeness in difficulty also means that we'll have bosses dropping the same items in 10- and 25-player raids of each difficulty. They'll have the same name and same stats; they are in fact the exact same items. Choosing Heroic mode will drop a scaled-up version of those items. Our hope is that players will be able to associate bosses with their loot tables and even associate specific artwork with specific item names to a far greater extent than today.

Oh... so, if both versions drop the same items, then why the hell would anyone put up with the headache of trying to herd 24 other cats through fights, let alone roll against them for the exact same gear as you could get in 10m's without as much competition or frustration?
We of course recognize the logistical realities of organizing larger groups of people, so while the loot quality will not change, 25-player versions will drop a higher quantity of loot per player (items, but also badges, and even gold), making it a more efficient route if you're able to gather the people. The raid designers are designing encounters with these changes in mind, and the class designers are making class changes to help make 10-person groups easier to build. Running 25-player raids will be a bit more lucrative, as should be expected, but if for a week or two you need to do 10s because half the guild is away on vacation, you can do that and not suffer a dramatic loss to your ability to get the items you want.

Even having the bosses drop more loot doesn't change the fact that, per individual, you're better off in 10m's. I highly doubt they'd have a boss drop two or more of the same item, nor have loot tables so large that you're not likely to see that item within the next week or two.

Also, if you have a solid 25-man raiding core, that means you have, what, 5-7 healers, 3-4 tanks, and loads of DPS... between offspecs and back-ups, I don't think anyone would be hard-pressed to turn a 25-man raiding core into 3 solid 10-man groups, reducing hassle and loot drama, and maximizing both progression and gearing.

I'll admit, I've liked 10m's more than 25m's for quite a while, and this announcement has only strengthened by convictions. I guess we'll have to wait and see the specifics before we jump to any bold conclusions, but I think they're going down the wrong path here.


  1. I can see the reasoning behind your concerns about the system, and I think you and I have the same feeling about 10s vs 25s (we both like 10s more it seems). If people end up leaving 25man guilds for smaller ones, then, like that person on Twitter who I stole this quote from said "there were never doing 25s for the right reason."

  2. The idea is that 25s would be the way to maximize both progression and gearing. They don't want to kill 25s. They WILL drop more items per person than 10s, as was clearly stated in the blue post. If 10s drop 2 items, and 25s drop 8-9 (plus more gold, craftables, and even *emblems*), then raiding 25s is vastly more efficient for progression and actually (I know this is counter-intuitive to how raids work now) make you more likely to get the upgrades you personally want.

    I know that's speculation, but does anyone really believe Blizzard a) wants to kill 25s or b) is so stupid that they'd inadvertently kill them?

  3. @Hatch: I'm not contending that they want to kill 25m's, but nobody is perfect; Blizzard has botched things up before and, being human, they will probably make more mistakes in Cataclysm and beyond (I'd argue that making mistakes is part of the human condition, but that's more philosophical than we need to get into right now).

    It's been my experience that 25m's run a lot less smoothly than 10m's; I'm sure others have noticed this as well, and there are different points of view as to why. So as for 25m's being quicker for gearing and progression... I guess that depends on your raid set-up. All things being equal, however, 25m's would indeed be better, you are correct.

    My problem, however, is with 10m's sharing a loot table. I'm not saying 10m raiders don't work as hard as 25m raiders, and thus don't deserve better loot; I would simply argue that 25m's are more difficult in their execution, and therefore necessitate greater rewards for their completion; not just to compensate raiders for their time and effort, but in order to match greater challenges when the time comes.

    I guess what I'm not seeing is the problem with the loot difference between 10m's and 25m's as they are, which I presume is the reason behind the proposed shared loot table. If a guild is a strict 10m raiding guild, then they should be able to run all the 10m content their hearts desire using their 10m gear. If current game mechanics prevent that, then that's Blizzard's problem and they should fix it. If they have problems with 25m raiders rolling back and rofl-stomping 10m raids, then they could easily put gear level restrictions on progression raid instances (especially heroic versions), as seen in the achievements "A Tribute to Dedicated Insanity" and "Herald of the Titans."

    To be honest, this could just be Blizzard easing up on their programmers and designers; with 5 more levels of quest rewards and instance drops, I imagine I'd be hard-pressed to retain enough creativity to develop different items for both raid difficulties, not to mention normal AND heroic versions of each.

    Time will tell, I suppose.

  4. > I would simply argue that 25m's are more difficult in their execution, and therefore necessitate greater rewards for their completion

    Success should be the ultimate reward.

    And I'm really not convinced 25m are more difficult in execution. The only drawback of 25 is that the fight place has the same size.