Monday, April 26, 2010

Raiding Equity

Since I’m sure the Blogosphere is about to erupt over the recent announcement about Raiding in Cataclysm, I wanted to get down my thoughts before I read any of the other fantastic entries from my colleagues.
In case you missed the announcement, let me recap it quickly (from WoW.com)
  • 10- and 25- man raids in Cataclysm will share the same lockout
  • Normal versus Heroic mode will be chosen on a per-boss basis in Cataclysm raids, the same way it works in Icecrown Citadel
  • 10- and 25- man bosses will be close in difficulty
  • 10- and 25- man bosses will drop the exact same items
  • 25-man bosses will drop a higher quantity of loot, but not quality
  • For the first few raid tiers, our plan is to provide multiple smaller raids. Instead of one raid with eleven bosses, you might have a five-boss raid as well as a six-boss raid.
  • Content will continue to be gated
  • First Cataclysm raids will be tuned for players in dungeons blues and crafted items
The first thing that strikes me is how similar the announced plan is to some of the changes I thought would work when I wrote “10 Man World Firsts”. Allow me to quote a couple of things I said there.
“The Devs could address the disparity of rewards, challenge, and expectation by enforcing a shared Raid Lockout on 10 and 25 mans”, “The 10 and 25 could drop the exact same gear”, “The Team would have a much better handle on the average iLevel of the players raiding each instance. This would let them better tune the encounters to be approximately equally challenging regardless of raid size.”
So I got pretty close to the mark on several of these changes. Naturally, since the changes are so close to my stated preferences for the game, I’m thrilled. Whether you choose to do 10s or 25s will truly be a choice now. 10 man raiders will no longer be penalized for playing and raiding in the way they prefer.
But, as I stated in 10 Man World Firsts, these changes will not address the recruitment concern. We will see with our own eyes if the 25 man raiders were right, and these changes will cause guild after guild to flock to the 10 man scene. With a dwindling recruitment pool, even guilds that might prefer to run 25s will throw in the towel and run as 10s.
25 man raiders have the additional concern of managing their bench. You need 5 to 7 players on your bench to make a 25 man go. In Wrath, those players were free to run 10 mans for upgrades whereas in Cataclysm, if they run 10 mans for upgrades, they will be locked out from running the 25 man that week. It will put pressure on Raid Leaders to be able tell a bench player if he is going or not early in the week. The expectation will be for the bench player to save his lock out until the very last moment, and then leave him scrambling for group right before reset if he doesn’t get into the 25 man.
Also affecting bench players is that 25s do much more frequent swapping of players than I’ve seen 10 man teams do. Our team is pretty well set from the moment we zone in, barring an emergency. If you get saved to 1 or bosses, or worse get saved to a wipefest and never see a boss go down, it would really put a dent in your gear progression that week.
I do hope that as more people do 10 mans, they will come to enjoy the closer knit groups that form. As a consequence, they might stop seeing their fellow players are merely cogs to plug into the Raiding machine and as the living breathing human beings they are. When I raid, I want to raid with people like Wich, Blue, Black, Jag, Ofn, Donk, Grim, Shad, Pink, Perp,  Dario, Daro, shoot, even Stark and Lakini. (I know I missed some people, sorry!) I don’t care what class they are playing, or what buff they bring. I want to hang out with the people behind the pixels and kill internet dragons.
Keep in mind that the Developers still have the Guild Leveling System and Guild Talent Points if they want a way to reward 25 man raiders that goes beyond just giving access to the best gear. 25s could also have more procs built into their weapons/trinkets (for the same ilevel), or perhaps have better graphics like glows or particle effects.
While I have sympathy for the 25 man raiders who are concerned that their preferred  play style is being depreciated, I am very excited for the changes being made to raiding. This is just a continuation of the trend that began with going from 40 mans to 25 mans, and then moving away from ‘Sunwell’ type raids to more accessible ones. Raiding continues to improve (or die a slow death depending on your point of view) each Expansion.

13 comments:

HP said...

LOL, seems we thought the same thing with the Guild Achievement thing.

apokteino said...

I seriously doubt Blizz will end up implementing this. It takes too much away from the game for both 10 and 25 man raiders. Being forced to chose either 10 or 25 man is a little ridiculous...

Not only that but I still strongly disagree that the loot table for 10 and 25 man raiders should be identical. If WotLK has proven anything it's that they really lack the ability to tune an encounter for both 10 and 25 man raids. The boss strategies, dps requirements, incoming damage, ability to deal with encounter mechanics, penalty for someone dcing midfight, overall difficulty of the raids, etc. is completely different.

Generally speaking 10 man guilds are viewed by "raiders" as casual raiders... which is fine. Blizz is now "catering" to these types of raiders, further reinforcing in the mind of 25 man raiders that this game is no longer for them. Oh... I miss the days of Kara and SW. ='(

Blue said...

While organizationally 25 mans are probably more difficult, the margin for error in 10 man is so far and beyond that of 25 man. One death on most if not all hard modes equals a wipe the majority of the time. Even a death, depending on who/what role means a dramatically more difficult time with the fight.

The views of 10 man raiders being "Casual," is also flawed. I definitely spend as much time as the average 25 man raider, granted alot of that time is on alts and pvp, but time investment on character advancement is equal. Therefore I see absolutely no reason why I should be punished with lesser gear simply because I have chosen to raid with my friends.

I suppose my arguments are obviously skewed towards mine and honors playstyle but after all, it IS a game, and all of us should be able to enjoy it to it's fullest.

Anonymous said...

"the margin for error in 10 man is so far and beyond that of 25 man"

Have to disagree with that statement. What makes hard modes hard is that one mistake wipes you. When you have 25 people as opposed to 10, the chances of making are mistake are that much greater. So long as personal responsibility is what defines difficulty, 25 man will be fundamentally more difficult then 10.

I raid both 10 and 25, and enjoy both for different reasons. I don't mind the proposed change. I'll either choose 1 or the other, or will use an alt for 10 man. I feel for those who (don't have/don't enjoy) alts and will be forced into a tougher decision.

Honors Code said...

@Anon,

I think it would incredibly difficult to defend an argument that 1 death in a 25 man raid, even on a hard mode, means you'll wipe.

Assume the 1 person was a DPS. A 25 man raid has lost 6% of their output, while a 10 man has lost 20% of their output.

I find the argument of 1 death in a 25 man means wipe to be hyperbole.

Thorned said...

@apokteino

I have to disagree with your bit about blizz not being able to tune an encounter for both 10 and 25 man. The 10 man is tuned so that you can beat it with 10 man gear from the previous 10 man raid-tier. If you conquer it with items from the previous 25 man raid-tier its going to be really easy..

ICC 10 with only TOC 10 gear could prove to be quite challenging :-)

Its tuned like that because otherwise strict 10 man raiders would be at a disadvantage.

With Cataclysm the Devs don't have to take that into consideration anymore. They can assume that you have the gear from the previous raid tier and likewise tune the encounter for everyone and not for "2 Classes" of raiders.

Grimadin said...

One thing that I think alot of people may be overlooking on the current set of gear is the non tier badge upgrades you can get. Speaking from my own experience, even before starting to do some 25 mans, I had most of my gear at a 264 ilevel from buying everything with frost badges. I would say that this ability definitely does help to make the 10 man content easier. Speaking as a tank moving from 10 mans to the odd 25 man I was astounded to see that generally speaking before getting any 25 man upgrades I outgeared the 25 man raiders I was running with. These were not top guild raiders by any stretch, but they had enough gear that the healers could keep them up for the encounters we were doing. This came from my fanatical collection of frost badges from every source I could find since they came out. I am sure our guild chat can attest to this from my first word usually being "random?" before even saying hello.

Having this disparity removed will be a good thing in my opinion, as the encounters are tuned to using the current set of gear, even though by now most people are far and away past that gear level. We should get a better idea of the proper encounter and the proper difficulty because we will be using the proper gear and not immediately overgearing the encounters.

It will be interesting to see if the loss of the same percent of dps will between 10s and 25s will cause a failure on timers ie 20% loss is the make or break point being 1 10 man dps or 3-4 25 man dps. Only time will tell.

All I can say is never again having to subject myself to the torment that is 25 mans makes me one happy Pally.

Capn Skillet said...

I have commented in my guild (which runs almost strictly 10-man content) that raids would work out great if the difficulty scaled with the number of players. For example, we often have 15 or so capable players who would like to raid on a given night, but we can only take 10.

What if the raid scaled in difficulty based on the number of players present in the group? Then guilds like ours who lack the members for a 25-man could take everyone who would like to attend and do a 15-man raid.

Of course, difficulty of encounters and number of loot drops would need to scale up (or down) for the number of players present and the system would need to be smart enough to figure out if someone left mid-raid.

I'm not sure of the logistics of this idea, but with the income Blizzard makes surely they could figure something out. I'd like to know some other folks' comments on this idea.

apokteino said...

I'm surprised no one here is commenting on the fact that (the way things stand now) you would have to chose to either run the 10 man or the 25 man version of the instance; you could not do both. This is RIDICULOUS. I assume there isn't much QQ about it, though, because 10 man raiders don't do 25 man content on a regular basis...

Brining me to my 2nd point (sort of). If you don't do 25 man content, you don't have the ability to acurately determine if 10 man and 25 man difficulty are comparable or not. I think anyone who raids in a 25 man guild will tell you that the disparity between 10 man and 25 man raiding is significant. The organization and leadership, required teamwork and raid comp, and overall content difficulty (which clearly can be adjusted although it hasn't been in WotLK) is much different. Because of this I personally feel that their should be an added incentive to do "harder" content (ie better loot).

Now you can sit there and argue that since 25 man raiders have better gear they can faceroll 10 man content without trying. This is ridiculous. Gear disparity was an issue in BC... it isn't in WotLK. Anyone can have AMAZING badge gear. If you sit there and RAWR the difference between a fully decked 25 man raider vs a 10 man raider you're talking about a difference of several hundred dps.

The point I'm making is that regardless of the 1337 gear that 25 man raiders are supposed to have, 10 man raiders are a lot closer to them than they think. The difference isn't gear... 10 man content is easy.

Now if blizz wants to get their butts in gear and make true 10 man content AND allow 25 man raiders to do both 10/25 man content, I'd be ok with it. However, the issue that most 25 man raiders are seeing is this is just another step blizz is taking to ensure that everyone has access to not only all content now but also all gear. I remember towards the end of SW when I would get whispers about people freeking out that I had full T6 (which was and is and will always be the most amazing teir set we've had). WotLK came out and people that sucked (I know... I've raided with them), got their T9 and T10 as I did. Granted I consoled myself with the fact that I would get upgraded tier... which they then had 1 month later. Now we're all gonna have the same gear... sweet...

I guess this has turned into a bit of a rant. Let me put it to you this way. What if Blizz says they are going to make 5 man version of every raid and it will drop the exact same loot as 10 man gear. This is for people who don't have enough time to invest in a 10 or 25 man guild. How would you feel then? Exactly. That's how 25 man raiders feel about this new idea blizz has... more catering to a casualler player. =P

Don't hate me... it's just the taste I have in my mouth when I read this.

Honors Code said...

Apo,

Thank you for your comment. I don't hate you. We may disagree on things, but it is my hope through mature discussion that we can at the very least learn to better understand the other persons point of view.

Tier 6 was beautiful artistically and I enjoyed wearing it.

Now unless I fail at reading comprehension, you still look to raids and raid gear to differentiate yourself from other players. That is no longer their purpose or design in World of Warcraft, and really it hasn't been since Sunwell. .

It's also not why I enjoy raiding. I don't give a flying flip what gear anyone else is wearing. It's not a status symbol, or a measure of my skill as a player. My skill as a player is well known to my guild and demonstrated on a nightly basis.

And I'd be thrilled if they gave 5 mans access to same gear. I know small groups of 3-7 friends who that kind of raiding would be perfect for. It would also be a great alternative for our guild when we only have 9 online like we do some nights.

Duht said...

@apok

I'm baffled by the rage over the 10 OR 25 but not both from 25 man raiders. This was the way it was in TBC. It's not foreign. I doubt it was blizzards intent to run 2 ulduars, 4 ToCs, 2 ICCs, 2 VOAs, and 2 Onys a week(nobody runs naxx any more). This is part of the reason I burned out. As an ex-25 man raid tank (left a week before 3.3) I welcome not feeling I have to run 6-8 raids a week to keep up with the rest of my guild. As further evidence that Blizzard doesn't want their players running 10 raids by the end of an xpac, they are putting a cap on the points that you can earn a week.

As far as the ease of 10 vs 25 and who warrants what gear and who has the bigger epeen:

It's starting to grate my nerves. Once again as a 25 man raid tank, I NEVER looked down on the strict 10 man as "casual" or less of a raider than me. It's nasty and condescending and I'm offended for Honors. The only thing keeping me from dumping a big giant flame is my respect for him.

If you want we can twist your point around and say, if you haven't stepped into T10 10 mans with T9 10 man gear, you have no grounds from which to speak on the difficulty of 10 man in comparison to 25's.

Your argument of "only several hundred dps" is a gaping wreck as well. 300-700 more DPS per person is like having another mediocre DPS player in your raid. Nevermind thinking beyond DPS into tanks mitigation, avoidance, health, and healers throughput, mitigative (thinking disco priests here) ability, and staying power.

I suspect this whole QQ boils down to having to find a new bar of measure for epeen beyond the horrible gearscore junk. Don't worry, cataclysm will come, and there will be a new way for you to prove you are better than everyone else.

Anonymous said...

@ apokteino

I have to totally disagree to your "10 man is easy" argument. In appropriate gear lvl, it is quite challenging and does leave less room for error. With a 2 healer setup in 10 mans, there are going to be more and longer times that people don't get heals versus your 25 mans.

Core 10 man raiders such as Honors are not casual and I think anyone who sees it that way needs a new way to deem their self worth. I envy Honors in having the strict 10 man approach, on our 25 mans, I only liked about 9 of them. I played with people I hated just so I could advance in raiding. This takes the fun and love out of the game.

Your comments have you coming across as an elitist that thinks 25 mans make you better than others. If you aren't that way, I apologize, but that is how you are coming across. Especially with the comment of people having same gear as you. Those individuals do not interfere with your raids, so who cares? It is a game.

The equity that they are going for has me almost considering coming to WoW. I quit because I got sick of dealing with 20 some odd other people I didn't like, but couldn't get a 10 man team going because no one wanted to leave the "better gear" raid. This new system would have made recruiting for that a dream and I would get to play how I wanted, with 9 people I was friends with.

Sorry for the rant, but it really irritates me when I see others try and demean the 10 man raiders and have the mentality that 25 mans are superior to the 10 man raiders.

-Teurion

apokteino said...

Haha. Wow! Apparently people are still reading this thread. =P

In regards to what you said, Honor's, I would have to say that the vast majority of the WoW population play (at least partially) to upgrade their toon. It's addicting. The gear you wear is a gauge of how progressed you, your arena team, or your guild is. Most people don't play "just" because they like the game; they play to show how good they actually are. Obviously people in your guild are going to know how good you are, but for other people the easiest way to display your skill is via the gear you wear (or your arena score in pvp).

And like Duht says... yes, a lot of this boils down to an epeen issue. "I have shinny gear. I'm better than you." I'd be lying if I was to say this isn't a large part of people's problem with this change. Look at it this way though, would you rather have people wearing a wide range of gear based on what they've been able to accomplish in-game (either due to them playing 50+ hours a week or actually being amazing players) or would you rather every single person run around in the same gear regardless of whether or not they stand in fire?

I think most people would want at least some degree of difference in gear; if I truly am better and am able to do something others can't by all means reward me and let me feel good about what I've been able to accomplish. (yes... I'm back to the epeen)

But now we're at the question, "should 10 man raiders be rewarded the same gear as 25 man raiders?" Which brings me to whoever anonomys is... If 10 man content is as challenging as 25 man content then the answer is obviously yes. The problem is in WotLK, 90% of the time 10 man content was much easier than 25 man content. I'm not saying I don't think 10 man raiders can't be amazing players or that they aren't "real raiders" or anything like that. I'm simply saying after raiding 25+ hours every week this expansion 10 man content is easier than 25 man.

I really don't want to get dragged into the whole debate... You can tell me to do 10 man content in 10 man gear, and I'll tell you that I 2-healed 3 full wings of Naxx in my T6 the Monday after WotLK came out. My tanks were barely def capped. I know what it's like to be outgeared compared to the content you're going up against. I could go into issues about raid comps, complexity of the fights, raid dmg, bleh bleh bleh. Long story short 10 man is currently easier. My 10 man group got hard-mode freya after about 12 hours. It took our 25 man team just under 30. Firefighter 10 took us just under 10 hours of attempts while our 25 man took about 20 hrs. Since then (Arthas aside) there haven't even been any truly difficult encounters thanks to the (stupid) gating mechanisms.

Once again, I completely respect 10 man raiders; one of my friends who used to MT for Vodka is in a 10 man guild now. They are amazing players. However, 10 man content right now isn't on par with 25 man and I honestly don't see that changing.

Honestly, though, my biggest frustration (which hopefully blizz will change) is that as a 25 man raider I won't be able to do 10 man content. I would like (not love... by any means) to be able to compete for 10 man progression with actual 10 man guilds using the exact same gear. I think some of you would be surprised, though. Some players out there are RIDICULOUS. Like... just insane how good they are. The diffence between the "raiding" guild I started in and the guild I'm in now is night and day. And one of my guildees (who came from Premo) said my guild compared to the top 25 world guilds is still a HUGE jump. It would be fun to be able to accurately gauge and do some comparisons with that.

TLDR: I will be "ok" with these changes IF Blizz manages to tune 10 man to 25 man level. If they don't (which based off of what I've seen in WotLK isn't promising) I will be very disappointed.