I had a bachelor weekend this weekend, so what did I do? I got into both of my guild raids of course! For a few weeks my Alliance guild has been running the weekly raid on Wednesday or Thursday, ICC-10 on either Saturday or Sunday, and ICC-25 on the other weekend day. Which means I ripped through Marrowgar, Deathwhisper, Gunship, Saurfang, Festergut, and Rotface on Saturday (and chewed glass on Dreamwalker). Sunday I ripped through the 10-man version of the same six bosses, and then we chewed glass on Professor and got him to 8%.
And here's the thing. While I enjoyed the opportunity to run with many different people and have many more opportunities at gear, I cannot imagine doing that repeat job every weekend or even very often. So then today's bomb dropped on raiding in Cataclysm, and it's one we should have seen coming. Here's the blue post.
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.
Dungeon Difficulty and Rewards
10- and 25-player (normal difficulty) -- Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop the exact same items as each other.
10- and 25-player (Heroic difficulty) -- Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop more powerful versions of the normal-difficulty items.
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.
Of course the blogging network has fired up within twelve hours of the announcement. Two voices I value almost above all others in the community have already asked the question...will anybody continue to run 25 man content? While Blizzard promises quicker emblems and more gear for 25 mans, right now 25 man content drops 4 pieces of gear (16%) while 10 man content drops 2 pieces (20%). I expect this to be evened out or maybe only switched in the other direction to 6 pieces of gear. Bottom line - I expect gearing through 25 man content to be not that much faster than 10 man. So where do they stand?
Larisa at PPI says...
So where do I stand in this? Well, since I'm a 25 man raider myself and would like to remain so if possible, it's hardly a surprise that I look at this from the 25-mans-must-have-better-rewards perspective. This doesn't mean that I don't like 10 man raiding or that I somehow look down to it. I enjoy 10 mans immensely - especially since they normally offer better teamwork in a more closely knit group. And I have full respect for those who prefer it to 25 mans - with special kudos to the 10-man-gear-only strict guilds. But at the same time I believe that the law of the least resistance is what basically rules WoW and if the incentives aren't enough the 25 man raiding will die off, which I think would be a shame.
And Matticus at WoM says...
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. On the other hand, what some players seem to have forgotten is that there is only 10 players allowed. Someone’s inevitably going to have to sit. 25s feel a little more accommodating, and dare I say it, more forgiving. With more players, you get access to more outs to help put you over the top during encounters. In addition, don’t forget about Kae’s point on difficulty. The reason that 10’s are perceived as easy is that players often run them overgeared. Doing ICC 10 with ICC 25 gear made it that much easier. But we’re using the same gear now. I know that for now, I’m still committed to 25 man raiding into Cataclysm.
Now to be fair, both of those players are part of solid 25 man raiding guilds. It comes as no surprise that they are cautious when approaching a change like this. If the goal is to get more people access to the best content in the game (raiding), then this is a good change. However, these players like the feel of what they are used to and don't want it taken away by a core group of players who are the best 10 in a 25 man guild, leaving the rest out cold to progress more slowly. There's just something "epic" about getting 5 times as many people as a normal group together to take down an enemy.
However, I have a suggestion for Blizzard that could make this change even better. I do not know the answer to forcing people into 25 man raids over equal 10 man raids. If you want to tune 10 and 25 man versions, then you should also tune a 40 man version and give special achievements/mounts/etc. for taking on the epic challenge of a 40 man raid. From an organizational standpoint, I know 25 is a nightmare and 40 is even worse. But I'm not suggesting guilds outside of a superguild run 40 man content often or even regularly...I'm talking about the best raiding guilds on a server coming together occasionally to feel truly epic. Heck, maybe put these on a special once a month timer. One of the greatest things I've ever done in this game is taken down the world dragon in the middle of Duskwood. Another is For The Alliance. Take this opportunity to let raiders of all styles enjoy raiding the way they like.
After all, the vast majority of people will be running 10 man content most of the time now anyway. Let's not lose the epic feel of the game. Go for it blizzard and see what happens!
Oh and for the record, this past weekend showed my thoughts on raiding twice. Fun once in a great while, but I hate that people who play more 25's than me are always better geared by leaps and bounds. I think some fights are truly harder on 10 man, and it will be nice to have the same gear for both so nobody trivializes 10 man content anymore. I do hope the most solid big guilds keep running 25 mans though it will be tough to convince raiders during the chewing glass point. Hopefully Blizzard makes 10 man truly just as hard so that there's no upside to ripping apart your 25 man guild.