Monday, August 14, 2006

25-Man Raids

Time to take on the current hot topic in WoW circles: the new 25-man raid cap.

Unsurprisingly, I think this is a good idea. I have always maintained that the single hardest thing about raiding is the transition from levelling guild to raiding guild. Reducing the number of 60s required is a great help for a new guild to achieve critical mass. I think this change will go a long way to seeing more people trying out the raiding scene, and I think that it is a good thing.

Raiding is fun, and I would love to see more players get a chance to realize that.

Secondly, I don't think the current raiding ecosystem is healthy. Maybe I've just been unlucky, but it doesn't seem like raiding guilds are particularly stable, especially ones that are not on the top tier. There's been some research that beyond 50 people, guild cohesion drops dramatically. I think this is true. Smaller guilds are more tightly knit. Even the top tier guilds seem to be constantly recruiting.

Also, this division into raiding guild and levelling guild is not healthy either. When I levelled my warlock, I deliberately turned down guild invites. I wanted to raid, and I didn't want to join a guild and then leave them at 60 for a raiding guild. Realistically though--unless I was incredibly lucky--that is probably what I would have to do. I think a game that forces this choice on people is flawed. Ideally, I should be able to join a guild, level with them, and move into raiding together. With 40-man raids, I do not think this is truely possible.

However, there is a price to pay for this change, and I don't think that we should make light of it. The current raiding guilds are going to have to change, and maybe make some painful decisions. And I do feel bad for them. It will really suck to have to reduce your raiding force by 15 members, or attempt to juggle 2 raids. Hopefully, guild churn during the expansion--either attrition while levelling or older players coming back or people rolling Blood Elves/Draenai--will lessen the magnitude of change needed.

In my view, though, the new cap will result in many more guilds and players attempting and using raid content, and so the price is worth paying.

10 comments:

Kinless said...

I agree. ZG and AQ20 can be pugged and that's great for the casual gamer. They've got "sets" and faction rewards. (And that's not to say they're easy. Far from it!)

Hexapuma said...

I've had the same experience whith my alts. Feels really bad to join a guild when levelling only to turn them down for a raiding guild later on.

It makes the whole levelup procedure lonesome and when you finally archive lvl 60 you have very little people that you've played with...

Crystalis said...

Until this announcement, I wasn't planning to ever get into the raiding game, since my guild-o-friends only has about ten people in it. Now it actually looks like I will be able to raid some stuff without having to abanon them, and that makes me a happy lock.

Wolfgangdoom said...

25 is a great idea. Finally Blizzard does something right. I understand what you mean about the whole declining guild invitations until you reach level 60. I recently rolled a human priest and the moment I entered westfall I started getting tell after tell from people trying to get me to join their guild. I turned them down one after another until I met someone that I knew was over the age of 20 because he seemed intelligent and witty. So I joined his guild only to find out that they only had 25 members and most hadn't logged on in almost a month. sigh... Needless to say, I am now guildless again and will remain so until 60.

Thoma said...

It's actully going to make life easier for us. We generally can field 60 or so 60's with raiding experance. This is going to ease some of the swapping in and out burden we have now.

Azreal said...

There are very few guilds that can still claim the have the same few people from the start of the game until now. I happen to be in one of those guilds, and I fail to see why the guilds that have done the best, that have managed to retain all their members through expectional organization and guild atmosphere should be the ones "punished" by this change. Those are the guild affected the most, and in a profoundly negative way. Unfortunately, we are not the majority, not even close to it, so I can understand, from the business point of few, why they would appeal to the majority of paying customers.

Blizzard has decided that smaller raid environments, which allow for greater individual contribution, are the direction they want to take this game. The game has greatly evolved since its release, and this is the direction they have chosen to go from the experience they have garnered. Unfortunately, it’s not so much that the idea of a smaller raid instance won’t work, but rather based on the fact that for an extended period of time, almost two years, the game has been designed around 40 man instances. The majority of end game guilds, many of which have become close knit after two years of playing with each other, are now faced with a dilemma. They will either have to structure themselves into two teams, or remove 15-20 people from their roster. Both options will cause a huge amount of upheaval in the World of Warcraft raiding community. “A” and “B” teams will be the source of jealousy and animosity between each other, and telling friends that they can no longer raid or be apart of the guild will give the same results. The ensuing drama from this alone should be enough to reverse this proposed direction. Very few people will take kindly to finding out they will no longer be able to play with the friends they’ve made from years of game play, or when they suddenly learn that they are no longer part of the core of the guild.

If this is truly the best direction for the game in terms of future raid and class development, then perhaps they should ease into this transition a little slower, to allow guilds the time to make the necessary adjustments. This is a huge change in raiding, as the logistics behind each guild has been focused on 40 people for the better part of two years. Perhaps leveling in the expansion will take care of this, as players will be breaking into smaller groups to complete new dungeons and quests, and will arrive at the appropriate level for end game raiding at different times. Rather then wait for 40 people to reach this point, you would only need 25, allowing for faster emersion in the new content.

Hybrid classes have been long complaining on how they are forced into a specialized role, and are only able to utilize one aspect of their class. Blizzard stated that in smaller environments, hybrid classes will have more opportunity to shine. I’m not so sure that this is true. Hybrids being forced into a singular role is not a result of the size of a dungeon but rather on the emphasis of maximizing the potential of the raid group. As difficulty of a raid increases, the need for specialization increases as well. As a hybrid class myself, I can't help but realise this. In a game with limited resources such as mana, time, and cooldowns, those resources need to be spent as efficiently as possible to clear increasingly difficult content. That is the inherent flaw in a hybrid. While a hybrid class is able to do multiple roles, they cannot do them as well as others can. Unfortunately, there is no room in the game mechanics to do multiple roles at a less than optimal level. Will changing the instance side really change this? Why not bring another pure tanking class and pure healing class over two hybrids of both? As we seen very few of the changes to class design, I can not comment further on this; Blizzard may very well have designed and balanced their new vision of the hybrid classes well enough to bring them in to play as hybrids.

Another reason Blizzard has proposed this change is that to allow for greater individual player contribution. I wonder if this will take away from the epic feel of the dungeon. A source of enjoyment for me was knowing that I could never complete something of this scope on my own, but with a group of friends, it was possible. I as an individual am not able to defeat this boss, but with a very organized and skilled group I can defeat a boss that is able to crush a smaller band instantly. Will the “epic” feel to a dungeon be lessened by the smaller cap? Perhaps they are merely trying to combine the satisfaction from an individual accomplishment to with the epic feel of large and imposing raid encounters. Of course players want to know they are making a difference in what they do, something that has become increasingly scarce as dungeons scale in difficulty. The emphasis on recent encounters is not so much who contributed to a fight but who did not fail. This subtle change may be a principle reason in the raid size change.

- Azreal < Death and Taxes >

GSH said...

I'm not sure about the hybrid thing, we'll have to see what Blizzard comes up with.

But there is an adjustment period. There's the whole 10 levels and all the non-raid content to explore. There are two new races that some people will want to try.

Also, a third option is to do rotations among people. You raid a little less in order to give someone else an opportunity to raid. After all, if they are your friends, surely you can sacrifice a little bit of your raid time for them.

Or is Epics + Progression > All?

Azreal said...

I fully expect people to level to 70 in under a week. In order for the vast majority gamers to be able to complete 5 man instance or quests, they must be beatable with very little in the way of gear requirements. For people who have the top of the line gear, the time required to complete them will be more than halved. A rogue in tier 3 with Kel'Thuzad weapons will kill a mob much faster than a recent 60 with greens. Add that to the fact you can level to 60 in under 4 days, and I'm sure you can see that to reach max level will take a very very short time if your focus is solely on leveling and not on exploring new content. The adjustment period will be less than one full raiding week.

It goes beyond a rotation. Unfortunately, there are few ways to make the game progressively harder. There is a limit to how much more one can do during the course of an encounter. Therefore, the only way to "up the difficulty" is increase the gear required for the particular fight. Perhaps the boss will hit harder, perhaps the enrage timer will be shorter, but you will require better gear to progress. Have a rotation limits progress a great deal, as the more spread out your gear is, the slower the rate at which you can progress. Also, with the encounters becomming increasingly intricate, rotation will slow down the learning phase for each encounter.

- Azreal < Death and Taxes >

GSH said...

It depends on what you value. If you value progression above friendship, then cut people. If you value friendship over progression, then rotate. You'll progress slower, but be able to do it with your friends.

I'm actually in the middle of writing a post discussing the various options for a raiding guild.

E said...

I thought about this post it was too much to just leave a comment, I hi-jacked content from here and used it to jump start my own thought process on the change.

Thank you for the thought provoking post.