4.0 Raiding Scene Taking Shape

Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it.

The last week has been a torrent of information. Since the initial announcement of shared resets between 10 and 25 man raiding. Initially it looked as if Blizzard may as well just decide to stop offering a 25 man option altogether. As Sunday the 13th faded into Monday, that outcome was looking more and more likely.

What we’ve learned

The Blues have revealed, through a strong dialog on the forums, several more details regarding raiding in Cataclysm. At the same time, I have even MORE questions than the last time.

Legendaries

These will be available in both modes. That makes me balk a little and cock my head ever-so-slightly to the side. Legendaries are the only weapon in the game wielded by all 25 raiders. One person is giving the honor of carrying it, much like the flag in front of a regiment.

Giving an item like this to a 10 player raid seems wrong, but if we’re changing the style of raiding to 10s OR 25s then it is only fair. However, they didn’t yet comment on the speed one would be able to complete a legendary in 10 vs a 25. The speed to complete might not be enough for me if it isn’t a staggering difference.

All players want a legendary item for obvious reasons: power. If the first legendary of Cataclysm is, as surmised from Blizzcon, a caster legendary, then the competition for it will be pretty fierce. In an average 25 man raid, we carry in approximately 8 or 9 caster DPS. In a 10 man raid, you will have at most 3. For the players on the low end of that 8 or 9 from the 25 man, the incentive to try their hand at a 10 man will be much greater.

Drop Disparity

As I understand it, we’ll see it play out like this:

  • All gear is the same
  • Normal Modes: Same items per player (possible slightly higher items per player in 25), more emblems from 25 man
  • Hard Modes: Higher items per player in 25 man, more emblems from 25 man

It is here where the questions just start popping up like crazy for me. There is a point in every raiding tier where the gear on your raiders eclipses the possible number of droppable upgrades. When we’re talking about players in the categories such as spellpower leather, plate, and mail. Further, those classes are going to be encouraged to stay within their armor class through stat distribution (strength vs. agility) and even talents.

After you reach that point, you’re doing a few of the remaining encounters/achievements and basically farming for a rarely dropped trinket or weapon that is desired among many. What DKP systems determine isn’t who gets gear, but who gets the gear first. If you boil it down over the course of a tier, it might work out that it determines who gets those rare items and who doesn’t, but that’s a rare occasion.

Is getting “gear saturated” more quickly really an advantage? In terms of progression (both raid and individual), you may move faster by being in a 25 man, but at the end of the tier everyone will probably at the same point. Do people really raid to see if they can get their tier shoulders one week before another person?

The gear competition in a 10 man, even if it’s a lower item-per-player ratio, is extremely low compared to a 25 man, particularly in the realm of caster DPS.

Emblems

Saying that 25 mans get more of these is little more than hand-waving currently. In my last post on the subject, I asked that 25 man raiders get the ability to cap their Valor points without doing 5 mans. It appears that will be the case.

Until we see how much an item costs (both for honor and valor) in relation to income, we can’t really determine who has the advantage in this category.

Achievements and Guild Perks

Switching from a talent system to a perks system is better. No choices, no specs, just earn the perks and use them. It takes another load off the guild leadership, some of which include many friends/family members.

Guild reputation is something that I’m not real pleased with. Now that achievements will include data on who was there to complete them, I assume that those that are present for a first kill will receive credit towards guild leveling in the form of reputation. Wait a second…there were four players waiting on the bench for every attempt. Two of those were just switched out on the last couple attempts before the kill because we wanted to add more healing.

Do they get nothing?

Guild reputation and ranks should be determined by the guild leadership, not the structure set up by Blizzard. Will those players earn an equal amount of reputation once they finally get that achievement themselves even if it no longer counts as “guild completion”?

This is the part where I rant a little bit about the community sites invited to Blizzard HQ. Why weren’t these questions asked? Were they asked and Blizzard just declined to answer? Did they forbid certain questions? Were there any 25 man raid leaders present in the ranks to help reveal this information? If not, then you guys dropped the ball, and if I missed where these questions were answered someone send them to me.

The raiding scene is being blown up and rebuilt as much as the face as Azeroth itself. We’re owed a little more information.

Lockouts, sharing, and downshifting

Blizzard will allow players to kill bosses in other instances that they haven’t completed yet, giving players that missed the early part of the instance a way to grab those pieces of loot if they desire. This is a little unclear at the moment.

Let’s say in a 6 boss instance you miss bosses 1 and 2. Do you need to get saved to your  guild’s id (2 /6 complete), then go to another instance and kill bosses 1 and 2? Or can you just join a pug raid for the first 2 bosses, then jump in later with another guild? I guess as long you aren’t killing the same boss you should be fine.

Downshifiting – Switching your raid from a 25 man to up to 3 10 mans

The example used (by Wowhead) was this:

Imagine if you do a 25-man run of a new instance, get about halfway through, and call it a night. The next day you get back together to do another run, but—big surprise—only 20 people show up. Well, now you can “downshift” your raid into two separate 10-man groups, and just keep right on going.

Well, we raid 4 nights a week currently. If we get a bad attendance night on a Wednesday, but still want to do 25s on Thursday and Monday, we can’t downshift. Why? Because Blizzard isn’t allowing you to upshift. Let’s also not forget the super-fun raid leader task of dividing your raid into two 10 man groups.

When I refer to “switch” players, I’m referring to players that are DPS and run an offspec to beef up the comp for a particular encounter.

25 man raid comp:

  • 2 Main Tanks (1 switch)
  • 6 Healers (1 switch)
  • 17 DPS

10 Man raid comp

  • 2 Main Tanks
  • 2 Healers (1 switch)
  • 6 DPS

So now you have the “Karazhan Problem.” Splitting the tanking is going to be difficult, especially since you’re going to need one of your healers or DPS to have a viable tank spec and….want to tank. Splitting the healing is even going to be difficult if you want to run a healing-lite 10 man comp (which I really like to do).

Assuming you’re missing those “5 players,” what if those players are a tank and a couple healers? You just can’t, as a raid leader, kill the 25 man for the rest of the week. Downshifting is going to be used as a last resort Monday kind of thing.

Personally, I wouldn’t choose to do a downshift. If you’re a 25 man guild, you’re a 25 man guild. This means you’re recruiting and playing in that mentality. Switching to a 10 man is simply not an option. You can’t build your 25 man guild roster assuming that one day you might want to downshift and have two equally powerful 10 mans.

I would rather not raid at all then force out a small number of players. The edge cases here are so numerous and drama-packed that it simply isn’t worth it.

Final Thoughts

The arguments that I read around random forums are about difficulty. How can 10 man and 25 man have the same difficulty? 10 mans were so easy in Wrath of the Lich king! 25 man players can’t raid 10 mans if they don’t have that 25 man gear, 10 man raiding is real raiding!

Blah blah blah blah blah blah

It’s all B.S. As I’ve said many times, this argument was never, and never will be, about encounter difficult. That difficulty level is in the hands of the developers. They can make any encounter as hard or as easy as they want for 10 man and/or 25 mans. How you challenge each raid size is different, but can be done if focused.

What the developer’s can never change is the organizational responsibility of maintaining a 25 man since this is always a function of the instance’s difficulty.

Fact: A 10 man raid requires none of the following…

  1. Loot System. When the most players going after an item is 3, your loot system is “roll it off”
  2. Class or role leaders. Theres only 5 or 6 DPS, the raid leader can look over everything and each player rather simply.
  3. Complete buff coverage: Because the size of the raid is so small, the developers will need to challenge the raid, but will be limited to the buffs they can expect. In Wrath this was eventually bumped up to assuming all health increasing buffs, and in Cataclysm will be expanded (possibly) to expect a Heroism/Lust/Time Warp. 25 Mans will be required to have all the buffs covered to perform their best.

Changing a raid time or a schedule during a week is also more flexible as you can get all 10 (11,12) people in the same vent channel and easily work out a time.

Add on to this the simple fact that controlling and strategically organizing 10 players is easier in a 10 man raid. Pinpointing what I call “encounter break points” is very easy in a 10 man. You quickly figure out what will be required to keep the encounter afloat or what broke down and how to fix it.

That’s the part of the raid game that I love, so to me that’s just fine. What isn’t fine is that few have acknowledged just how difficult managing an active roster of over 30 players is. You need guild structure. You need systems and policies. You need to be organized. A 10 man raid needs a raiding time and an agreed upon loot rolling…rules.

Will there be successful 25 man raids? Sure, but the measure of success is going to be much different. There are going to be a lot of raid leaders, guild leaders, and officers that will feel the logistical/organizational sacrifice to their free time is no longer worth it. Now that an alternative play style is available, the only thing you are giving up is how fast you acquire gear.

Blizzard currently assumes that the boost to gearing speed will be enough to keep 25 man raids going.

I’m not sure I share their optimism.

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2 Responses to 4.0 Raiding Scene Taking Shape

  1. […] number of connected and lucky players very anxious to post without fear of the NDA hammer falling, speculation, discussion, and talks about the raiding end-game changes have been making their rounds. As an […]

  2. […] are questions that I approached some months ago when the changes were released. Those in my guild were not very optimistic and neither was I […]

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