Our 40-man raids had an extremely tight knit core carrying a bunch of retards through content. For every exceptional player, we had a keyboard turning tank, slowly inching his way 180 degrees as adds I pulled off him with healing aggro during Gothik the Harvester destroyed me. The time commitments for the raids themselves were brutal, saying nothing of the headache of actually organizing, running, and administrating these beasts. With the advent of Burning Crusade’s lower raid sizes, the strength of our core shined through, however, as we pulled off server firsts in Gruul’s Lair, as well as Karazhan. 10 mans and 25 mans, while easier to get together than their 40 man predecessors, brought with them their own administrative challenges. How do we go about cutting the fat transitioning into this new raid size? How do we create a 10 man ‘A’ team for Karazhan progression without making other guild members feel alienated? What ended up really doing us in, however, was a case of the old ‘burn outs‘. Many of our core began taking breaks from raiding, or the game in general, and understandably so.
Lich King did a good job in bringing raids to the masses, so to speak, or as I like to call it, ‘Nintendo Wii’ing World of Warcraft’. Many classes were homogenized, dungeons were made simpler (who remembers the last time CC was necessary?) and 10 and 25 man version of raids were introduced, with optional challenges to help filter difficulty and appeal to the widest variety of players. More casual players were given badge loot to gear up in epics, however, the real loot was still, nonetheless, reserved for the 25 man raiders. Previous raiders like myself, not for lack of skill but rather lack of time, were thus still shafted from the best loot, but at least given a bit of compensation as WoW continued to become much more casual friendly. This merging of 10/25 man raid loot/lockouts is the next logical progression in Blizzard’s apparent strategy. Just as Nintendo’s ‘Blue Ocean’ strategy expanded the gaming market by appealing to a wider variety of people, so too does Blizzard expand WoW’s gazillion person player-base by continuing to appeal to an expanding contingent of casual player. I, for one, welcome this change.
With 10 man raids now on equal footing with 25, I’m able to raid with what’s left of my best old-school raiding friends and be rewarded, not for our time sink, but for our skill (assuming Blizzard is able to properly balance difficulty). The beauty of playing with a group you’ve known for 5 years is that the headache previously associated with raid leading is completely gone. 10 mans of this nature are laizzez faire. As Bronte said, these are knuckleheads you can trust with your virtual life. I know Bronte can pick up the slack if I get incapacitated; I know these tanks won’t keyboard turn and let me die to adds *cough* Waevyrn; I know these DPS won’t stand there with their thumbs up their butts while a mob blast novas; I know Peebers is going to be drunk. This kind of synergy is what makes 10 mans so appealing.
Many hardcore raiders hate this pandering to the casual, seeing it as trivializing their hard work, and I sympathize. However, look at it this way: the added time it takes to organize 25 mans will be balanced by the increased speed in which 25 man raiders will gear up via increased item and badge drops. Many people seem to be downplaying the importance of this. What this means is that it is 25 man players who will first be decked out in Tier 42, and therefore the first players geared enough to take on Hard Modes, reaping the inherent benefits (Be it titles, mounts, better gear, etc.). Your elitist e-peen can still be satiated! People who see this change as the death of 25 mans are mistaken. The quality of a piece of gear should be based on the skill required to obtain it. The amount of gear you acquire should be dependent on the amount of time/energy you put into acquiring it. This seems to be the philosophy Blizzard is approaching with these new raids, and therefore there will still be much incentive for 25 man raiding as it will simply be the quickest way to gear up and take on Hard Modes. That time and effort you put into organization is rewarded with efficiency, while still allowing 10 mans to acquire equal level gear, albeit at a slower pace. And I’m entirely all right with that.