First, let me give credit where credit is due. Most of the thoughts you will see herein come from my reading of an article called “Number of healers in Cataclysm 25 v 10?” at pwnwear.com. Gravity discovered a blog by a a person named Everblue analyzing some of the consequences of the raid changes for Tanks and Healers. Gravity has some fantastic analysis of Everblue’s observations and I’d like to add my own thoughts here.
The main point of the article is that since the plan is for 10s and 25s to drop the same gear, we can expect Tanks in both 10s and 25s to have very similar levels of stamina, armor, and avoidance. That seems quite logical to me. The natural consequence of this change is that we would have to expect the Boss mobs to do similar levels of damage between 10 and 25 man raids.
The conclusion one draws is that this means you could walk into a 25-man with the same number of MT healers in your raid as you do in a 10-man. But what of the raid healers?
Your typical 10 man is 2 tanks, 2.5 healers, and 6.5 DPS. The half here represents a hybrid who swings between heals and dps depending on if you need 2 or 3 healers in a fight. This is the role that Lakini plays so well in our raids. On fights where we need 3 healers it is typically because both tanks are tanking damage at the same time and the raid also needs heals. The other reason would be a fight mechanic like Sindigsoa that takes a healer out of action for some period of time.
When we look at the situation in 25 man raids. Your typical 25 man raid is 2 to 3 tanks, 6 to 8 healers, and the rest DPS. If the 25 man raid has just two tanks, they’re healing requirements won’t be drastically different than if we were walking into a 10 man. The difference is we have 4 or 5 additional healers in the raid. What do the Devs do with all this extra healing power?
The addition of the 3rd tank to the 25 man fight will require some new mechanic be added to the fight. This could be additional adds, the length of tank debuffs, or other mechanics like Saber Lash or Blood Queen Lanathel’s Blood Mirror. Those 2 tank healers become 3 tank healers on 3 tank fights, and instead of one raid healer, you have 4 raid healers. The 1 raid healer in a 10 man is covering basically 8 people, while your 3 raid healers in a 25 man are covering 22 people. It is still pretty close to a 1 healer to raiders ratio.
The Devs have shown in the past that they like to vary the number of tanks needed. Although I can’t think of single fight in ICC10 that doesn’t require 2 tanks, some of the 25 man fights need only 2 (Saurfang comes to mind) What of these fights. The Devs could add more raid damage.
Another option would be to have Bosses do more damage in 25 mans. This would require faster decisions from the 25 man healers. It could also lead to the reintroduction of Healing Chains that were prevelent in early games like Everquest. I didn’t play Everquest, but my understanding of the idea is that you have a series of healers begin heals one right after the other so the Tank was getting constant heals. This would bring WoW back to a similiar situation to what we have in Wrath and away from the stated design goals of Cataclysm.
I really hadn’t given much thought to how the gear reward changes would affect tanks and healers and the scaling between 10 and 25 man raids. Gravity and Everblue did a great job bringing this to light.
Where my concern lies is more in how this will play out in public perception. The issue I see for the Devs will be that whatever mechanic they choose to consume the additional healing power of 25s will be touted by the 25 man raid community as a stark difference in raid difficulty. They will argue for a return of the tiered reward system, and higher ilevel loot for 25 man raids because they will be ‘harder’.
A further complication to this, especially early on, is that it will be very difficult for someone to have raided both the 10 and 25 man. Early on in the expansion, at least based on what I’ve seen in past expansions, people pick a ‘main’ toon and concentrate on gearing that toon in the early raids. It’s only when that toon is relatively geared at the available content level that they go back to bring up their alts. I guess a guild could do 25s one week and 10s the next, but I would not think that will be the norm. Even if people experience both sides through alting, that will difficult to verify through achievements and the like.