Cataclysm Raid Refinements
*Looks out the window*… Did I just see a pig fly by?
In a complete reversal of their previous position, Blizzard has decided to decrease the disparity between 10-man and 25-man raids. Here are the key points:
- 25-man and 10-man raids will share the same lockout
- They will have the exact same loot table — same items, same item level
- The difficulty will be roughly equivalent (as close as the devs can make it)
- 25-mans will drop more loot per person — more items, more badges, more gold (making this the more efficient route)
- Class designers are making class changes to help make 10-person groups easier to build
The closing statement from Vaneras explains what Blizzard is thinking with these changes:
The goal with all of these changes is to make it as much of a choice or effect of circumstance whether you raid as a group of 10 or as a group of 25 as possible. Whether you’re a big guild or a small guild the choice won’t be dependent on what items drop, but instead on what you enjoy the most.
I can’t help but feel a rush of joy at reading all of this. Our guild does 10-man raids, and I certainly prefer the intimacy of 10-mans. On a personal level, this change is nothing but win for me. It won’t change how I play the game.
For a lot of people though, this is a huge game-changer.
I know that many of the players who raid 25-mans also raid 10-mans — in an effort to earn more emblems, acquire more gear, and get more practice on the encounters. Some of these players will be happy – they’ve grown tired of feeling obligated to run the same encounter twice every week. Others are going to be annoyed (well maybe that’s too light of a term…perhaps pissed is more accurate), because they will no longer be able to spend so many nights raiding on one character. Once they’ve cleared their 25-man, what else is there to do? This change will be the death of that hardcore raiding schedule. The only way you’re going to be able to raid that much is if you do so on multiple characters.
I think the shared lockout solution is a great one and will help stave off the burnout that many raiders encounter. If you really want to raid every night, then experiencing the content on multiple characters sounds like it would actually be more fun. Experiencing different roles gives you a better perspective on every aspect of the encounter.
The QQ about sharing loot tables between 25-mans and 10-mans is going to be fierce. Blizzard has thought through the “but 25-mans are harder to organize” angle, and decided that more loot per person in 25-mans is the solution. Is this going to be enough to overcome the administrative hassle? That remains to be seen.
The odd effect of giving 25-man raids more loot per person means that 10-man raids will actually be, in a sense, harder. It will take longer to gear up, and thus a 25-man team that begins progression at the exact same time as a 10-man team will likely progress further in the same amount of time due to gear differences. I think this is an interesting balance, and one I’m completly OK with. I’m curious as to the exact ratio difference in terms of item drops per person. Perhaps this is a number they will tweak during the betas.
Previously, 10-man raids were sometimes more difficult due to the wider range of buffs a 25-man group provides. It’s interesting to note that class changes have this in mind for Cataclysm. This is probably why we’ve seen more duplication of abilities, such as Mages receiving Heroism/Bloodlust.
These changes come as quite a surprise to me, mainly because Blizzards most recent raid was at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. In ICC there is a huge disparity between the loot in 25-mans versus 10-mans. 10-man raiders get shafted out of all of the cool proc-based loot in ICC, as well as Invinceable, the legendary weapon Shadowmourne, and all the fun tribute items you get if you kill the Lich King with someone with Shadowmourne in your raid. Blizzard has said in the past that 25-mans felt more “epic” and therefore the rewards should be more epic as well.
Say goodbye to the QQing about gear pollution. No longer will it matter whether your raid is “10-man strict”. The loot from 25-mans won’t help you overpower a 10-man raid.
I like that Blizzard will be able to focus on designing a smaller loot table of interesting, well-balanced gear. No more drooling over that one random piece that doesn’t drop in your version of the raid.
Another random thought that crossed my mind is that this is part of Blizzard’s solution to Guild Alliances. What I mean is that Blizzard doesn’t want you to have them. If your guild can only field 10 members, then you should do 10-man guild-only raids, in order to reap the rewards of the guild leveling system while still getting the best loot available. They don’t want you to feel like you need an alliance to raid.
Will this, as many comments in the forums and the blogsphere seem to predict, be the “death” of 25-man raiding altogether? From my limited perspective, I see a lot of guilds who struggled to put together a 25-man roster scaling back down to 10-mans. 25-mans will be chosen for different reasons than in the past, and they won’t be as common. If you have enough players in your guild to complete 25-mans, then you should do them because they’ll be faster to gear up with. You also will be able to be more accommodating in taking everyone who wants to raid with you. If you value the “epic-ness” of 25-mans, then you will have to stand strong and continue to recruit. You can even fluctuate between the two depending on the season and the number of available raiders for the week.
I see weak players who slid along in ther 25-man guilds during Wrath, getting called out and benched in Cat. If a guild isn’t progressing as fast as they hoped, they might decide to take only their best players and go to 10s, reducing the number of weak links.
The players who only value having the best gear, might shift their focus to 10-mans. These players aren’t necessarily the type you want in your guild anyway — they’ve just been filling out the numbers and causing loot drama.
It seems that Blizzard wants a cataclysm in the game in more ways than one. Terrible pun, I know. There will be a huge shake-up for guilds and guild alliances coming into the next expansion.
Vaneras also discussed a few other things about raiding in Cataclysm that will likely be overshadowed by the 25-man vs 10-man stuff:
- Multiple small raids per tier instead of one large one (5 bosses or so)
- Bosses will still be gated (like the wings of ICC were?)
- No more attempt limitations
- They will be designing the first tier of raids with the expectation that you have some blue gear from heroic 5-mans, crafting, or quests.
- Choosing Heroic mode will drop a scaled-up version of those items
- Heroic attempts for raids will be on a per-boss basis like in ICC
Blizzard has done a lot of experimenting throughout WOTLK, and this seems to be the result of it. Multiple small raids are fantastic for the casual players, and will allow us to clear a raid in a single night. We’ll be able to mix things up and not get bored wiping on the same boss over and over.
The attempt limitations never seemed like a great idea to me. They put far too much pressure on players, and discouraged raids from going into encounters blind and simply learning them. I’m glad Blizzard has realized the pitfalls.
I certainly agree that the first tier of raids should require running heroics first. I’m really curious though, how our current ICC gear will compare against the quest gear and heroic gear in Cataclysm. Will it be like with WOTLK, where raiders facerolled into Naxx in their BC epics?
I’m still not sure Blizzard has quite satisfied the hardcore crowd with their Heroic modes. The only reward is scaled-up gear, and it seems like in most cases the encounters aren’t different enough from their normal counterparts. I’m glad they didn’t do the separate lockout thing like in TOC — that was a recipe for raider burnout for sure.
Today brought a lot of things for us to digest and think about. I love the changes on a personal level, and I think that others should think carefully about the future of their guild and their place in it. But don’t go running to the hills screaming that the game is ruined… because you just don’t know for sure how things will turn out in reality.