Friday Five: Vacation Five
Creating Benchmarks for Raid Performance

Cataclysm to Take iLvl Out of the Mix for Deciding What Raid Size to Seat

If you were on twitter yesterday morning, you'd have thought the sky was falling. I was pre-coffee and pre-reading anything on MMO Champion or WoW Insider, so it took me a little while to decipher why there was 25 man raider versus 10 man raider sniping going on amongst my normally civil twitter reading list.

Lots of sniping that 25-man raiders weren't such special snowflakes. Other sniping that 10-man raiders were ruining WoW. People predicting their 25-man guilds would be falling apart. Pure chaos. And totally reminiscent of when Blizzard told us our 40-man raids were going by the wayside for Burning Crusade.

First, the Facts

  • 10- and 25- man raids in Cataclysm will share the same lockout.
    There should be no circumstances under which you kill a boss more than once per week on the same character. However, in the same way that you can decide on a per-boss basis whether to try normal vs. hard mode, we might allow you to change between 10 and 25 on a per-encounter basis for additional flexibility. If you started a raid in 25-player mode and then found that you couldn’t get everyone together later in the week, you might be able to downsize the next few bosses to 10-player.
  • 10- and 25- man bosses will drop the exact same items.
    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.
  • 25-man bosses will drop a higher quantity of loot, but not quality.
    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.


Now, My Thoughts on the Changes

The disparity between iLvl loot meant that many guilds that had great progress on 10-man content, and meh progress on 25s still felt obligated to cobble together 25-mans every week, even if for only a few bosses, to keep their players from falling behind in the gearscore gap. These changes will mean that successful 25-man guilds will gear up a bit faster than those doing 10s only, but that 10s will finally be able to be viable for guilds as a primary raid offer, without fear of losing their more ambitious raiders to 25s. Folks will be able to choose their raid size based on what is most appealing to them without the iLvl quandary thrown into the mix.

For a guild like mine, which any given week was able to field one night of 25s, 2 nights of official 10s, and up to a half dozen 10-man alt runs, I think there will be some interesting possibilities. Those of us who were used to running 25 and 10s each week now have a gift of time since we will have to pick one or the other to do. What will we do with it? I bet it means we'll work on those beloved alts more. At the start of WotLK I had 2 raiding mains, which was not optimal as they had to swap out for each other in 1 raid ID. But if they'd each been able to gear up and be played, that could have worked out longer term.

But more alts in raiding can be a tricky proposition. It will work if we all agree upon solid requirements for the raids overall -- and make the alts stick to them. It won't work if only the couple of official raids use them and the rest of the time it's a free-for-all. Some weeks, we might have enough people who want to raid on a given night to do a 25. Other weeks we might not. So if my 10-man team has been making great progress, why shouldn't I bring a different toon to the 25-man since I can't do both on my "main"? Which raid takes precedence? Who gets to make the choice? Will anyone even have a main anymore?

I have lots of questions at this point, and not so many answers. But overall, I think this will be a positive change for casual guilds that have struggled to fill 25s but had good success with 10s. It will keep the altoholics among us happy and busy (and playing those alts more in raids will probably also make us better at playing them.) And besides, how can we pursue archaeology if we're raiding 5 nights per week?

The sky didn't fall when we slimmed down to 25s from 40s with the launch of BC, though it did give folks the freedom to vote with their feet and find smaller guilds and other raiding teams to join. I'm cautiously optimistic that once Blizzard figures out the details, and we all have some time to reflect upon them, we'll determine our own paths for adjusting to these changes and getting our raids together.

Safe travels adventurers!

More Reading

Get some additional POVs on the changes from these fine folks:

How do you think it will affect your guild?