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“The Death of 25-Man Raids in WoW” or “A Larger Discussion on Cataclysm Raid Changes”

April 27, 2010 6 comments

A Quick Recap

Yesterday Blizzard Entertainment announced some unexpected changes to the raid structure in World of Warcraft’s third upcoming expansion, Cataclysm. 10-man instances and 25-man instances will feature the same loot from boss encounters, and will share a raid lockout ID. In other words, if you can get an item from a 25-man instance, you can get the same item from the 10-man.

Some Questions About the Raid Lockout ID

The only thing I am confused about is raid lockout IDs. If the 25-man and 10-man versions share the same ID, does this mean a) if you kill a boss in the 25-man version, he also dies in he 10-man version, or b) If you are saved to a 25-man instance, you cannot enter the 10-man version of that instance for that week.

Additionally, is it possible to kill one boss in the 25-man version, and kill the next one in the 10-man version, since the ID is the same?

Answers, I suspect, will emerge over the course of time.

A Matter of Difficulty

So far, the 10-mans feature the same encounters as 25-mans, simply tweaked to the smaller group size. In most cases the 10-man version of an encounter is easier, since there may be a smaller number of factors or combat mechanics to manage. In certain other cases, the 10-man versions are substantially harder than their 25-man counterparts (Sartharion + 3D comes to mind).

One of the things highlighted in the announcement was that the difficulty fluctuation between 10-mans and 25-mans will be closer. I am sure anyone can agree, it would be virtually impossible to ensure the same exact difficulty for any given encounter across both types of raids, so I wonder how this claim can be made with the wide disparity of combat mechanics involved in a 10-man, vs. a 25-man.

Shifting Perspectives

It is interesting to me how difference in your status as a raider can diametrically alter the manner in which you look at this piece of news. I have been playing WoW with the same band of ruffians, off an on, for the last five years or so. In that time, we have raided 40-man instances, briefly held on to the top-dog slot on our server, and conquered 25-man, 20-man and 10-man content. The group I run with is at a juncture where we are tired of having to recruit new individuals to our folds every few months as people splinter, burn out, get tired or simply move on. We are just focused on building and maintaining a very closely-knit force of about 10-12 raiders to consistently take on 10-man content.

So when we heard of the announcement above, everyone in the core group was ecstatic. We would no longer have to be second-class citizens simply because we did not want to go through the pains of running 25-mans with nearly 15 unknown individuals. We could finally compete with the larger guilds on equal footing.

But I found out quickly that our perspective was quite different from those who were in larger guilds. Matticus, for one, believes that having the same drops, just multiplied by 2.5, would be screwing over the 25-man raiding guilds.

“Please, do not screw over the players who prefer to do 25s. I believe some of the extra rewards are badges, loot, and gold. The extra gold is nice and all but for most organizations, it isn’t a problem. Having extra badges will speed up the gearing process for sure.”

Matticus fears people will naturally gravitate towards 10-mans because they are easier (and arguably faster) to organize than 25-mans, and now offer the same exact loot. Understandable I suppose. I mean think about it, the 10-mans now enjoy the advantages of some of the following:

  • a tightly-knit crew
  • ease of organization
  • speed of putting it together
  • access to the same content and itemization
  • better probability of rolling for an item you need (a 10% chance in 10-mans vs. a 4% chance in 25-mans)

He also brings up another interesting point. In the past, players  from the 25-man version of an instance would tear up the 10-man version because they were over-geared. But the playing field is the same now: both instances offering the same rewards implies that gearing from the 25-man will not give you a distinct advantage over the 10-man.

Larisa, over at the Ping Pigtail Inn, another 25-man raider, shares the same perspective. She also feels that 25-mans should have better rewards than 10-mans because organizing a 25-man raid is significantly more complicated. Having organized a guild of over 60 individuals for 40 man raids in vanilla WoW, I understand her perspective, but being in the 10-man raiding boat now, I don’t agree with her conclusion.

She herself states that the 10-mans can be arguably more difficult because the mistake of one individual has that much more impact on the overall raid than in a 25-man. This is perhaps the most powerful argument to make for the upcoming change. On any given encounter in a 25-man, if a healer gets himself killed, there are still (on average) four other healers that can pick up the slack. If a healer dies in the 10-man, the other healer is effectively screwed unless there is some sort of miracle. Losing one DPS’er in a 25-man could mean a net loss of 1 / (25 – 5 healers -3 tanks) x 100 = 5.88% DPS. Losing the same in a 10-man implies a net loss of 1 / (10 – 2 healers – 2 tanks) x 100 = 16.67% DPS, nearly three times the overall impact.

Additionally, there is a social argument to be made here. Having played with a large number of individuals in the many years I have played the game, I know I am playing at my best and I am most comfortable when I am raiding with individuals that I can trust with my virtual life. A 10-man, for me, has just the right number of individuals that I can rely on in any given situation. In any raid larger than 25 people, I am almost guaranteed to run with at least a few individuals I might not be comfortable playing with. So if I just want to play with my core group, why should my raiding be penalized because I choose not to group with the people I don’t enjoy playing the game with. This new change affords smaller, closely-knit communities this exact privilege: to enjoy the game with the people you want to play with, without having to worry about doing inferior content for inferior loot.

Larisa also quotes a comment from MMO-Champion:

“This means basicly get the best ppl from you 25 man raiding guild , kick out all others , and focus on 10 man raids? less troubles with organisation , less drama , more chance on raiding since you don’t have to count on that many peeps.”

I have to admit I can sympathize with her frustration, but I feel that the change is necessary and long overdue. In addition, if a 25-man guild kicks out the weakest links, it goes on to prove the social point I made above: everyone prefers playing World of Warcraft with the people they can trust and rely on in any given situation. This change, although not terribly conducive to incite interest in 25-mans, allows you to do that.

Avatar has a different take altogether, one that none of the rest of us thought of. He says:

“First because 10 and 25s are on the same lockout timer, I expect to see pug 10s and 25s (with the exception of alt runs) to mostly disappear, no one wants to chance getting a pug together and lock themselves out of both the 25 and 10 man version, especially if you can run it with your guild. Most raiding guilds probably won’t tolerate you getting locked out of raids.”

It is an interesting thought, but I doubt most individuals that raid endgame competitively, also pug the same content. I think pugging will continue, albeit the number of raids will reduce because of the shared lockout ID, but not disappear altogether. That just doesn’t make sense to me.

At least Keen, in the same boat as I am, agrees with me in this.

“This is fantastic.  My guild (or a pug or whatever) can choose to spread our content out over a longer period and tackle one of these smaller raids a night or pack them all in.  We can rotate people in and out and people can choose what they can make and not feel like they’re missing out by going to one because better loot drops in the other.  I’m a big proponent of streamlining raids.  I’d prefer them to just be the dang bosses anyway with the fights being more intricate and epic.  This moves right along in that direction.”

Just a matter of perspective I suppose. :)

“Smaller Guilds Buffed in Cataclysm” or “10 vs. 25″

April 27, 2010 7 comments
EDIT: A larger discussion on the upcoming raid changes can be found here.

Blizzard today shared some truly stunning news regarding the way 10-man and 25-man dungeons will perform in World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm expansion. Ready? The loot tables for raid lockout ID’s for 10-mans and 25-mans will be the same.

This is undoubtedly one of the biggest changes since 10-man and 25-man dungeons were introduced. It effectively implies that smaller guilds will no longer have to feel like they are engaging inferior content for inferior loot because they cannot muster the numbers for a larger 25-man team. In addition, the 25-man guilds will not be able to farm the 10-man content as well, since the raid lockout ID will be the same.
Blizzard has essentially taken steps to ensure the smaller guilds can play and compete on an equal footing with some of the larger guilds in WoW.

To summarize some of the key points in the announcement:
  1. 10-man and 25-man will be comparable in difficulty.
  2. You can choose the difficulty of an encounter (normal or heroic) when you get to the boss.
  3. The initial raids in Cataclysm will be designed to be tackled by players in Cataclysm dungeon blues and crafted gear.
  4. Most importantly, 10-man and 25-man instances will drop the same exact loot, and share the same lock out. The only difference is that if the 10-man drops 2 items from a boss, the 25-man will drop 5 items from the same boss to keep loot distribution even.

It’s not April 1st is it?

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