Monday, March 13, 2006

Casuals vs. Raiders, Part II

There was a post on the WoW forums where someone asked the question "Why do people raid?". In large part because of Scholo/Strath raids, a lot of casual players simply don't think that 40-man raids can be challenging. After all, people raid Scholomance with 10 raiders because it is easier than going with 5 players. If 10 people is easier than 5, surely 40 is easier than 10. There are also few raid-style fights in 5-man. In my opinion, you really don't understand what the attraction of raiding is until you actually try one. The only real attraction a casual player sees is that raiders get epic loot.

Raiding is like solving a puzzle. The attraction of raiding lies in figuring out the puzzle, coming up with a strategy, and executing that strategy with a large number of people. It does require skills, but different skills than a 5-man does. A 5-man is more in the moment, more about anticipating and reacting to unexpected events.

Raiding is like playing in an orchestra. 5-man is like improvising jazz. Both require skill, but the skills required are different.

Of course the question then becomes: why do raids deserve epic loot, and 5-mans do not? The answer is that raids are not necessarily harder than 5-mans, but they can be more intricate. To go back to the music analogy, with a saxophone you can do a lot of crazy things while improvising jazz, but you simply cannot have a violin solo in the middle as you don't have a violin. Similarily, you cannot make a 5-man fight that lasts longer than one healer's mana bar. You cannot count on there being more than one healer in the group. But a raid fight can be arbitrarily long, thanks to the existence of healing rotations, where one healer regenerates mana while another heals, with a switch when a healer runs out of mana.

However, I do think that WoW overly rewards raiders, at the expense of casual players. Molten Core is a bit too easy or simple for the quality and quantity of rewards that it gives out. However, Blizzard seems to be making an effort to improve the imbalance in 1.10, increasing the quality of rewards available from 5-man dungeons.


  1. Raids are harder and easier then five man groups. And some raids are harder then others. ZG is harder then both MC and AQ20. BWL is harder then ZG and AQ40 is hardest of all. Some of this comes the designers learning and some of it comes from battle plans being up on the web.

    In a five man group you have less room for failure as a single person, but the stakes aren't as high now. I remember running five man Scholo pre-nerf and that place was freaking hard. I had a consistant group we ran with and DM was a cake walk compared to it. Get a little too close and the fear from the specters wipes the group.

  2. l'emmerdeur: One of my points in a previous post (and hopefully to be expanded on later) is that raiding is easier and more accessible to casual players than they think. I believe that it is possible for Blizzard to raise that 30% number higher, even to a point where the great majority of 60s can raid.

  3. Honestly I think Molten Bore is a badly designed instance. Each class just spams something. Healers spam heals, pallys spam cleanse, mages spam frostbolt, warriors spam sunder armor, etc. Each role is so specific that it gets really boring imo.

    However I think coordinated teamwork is what sets 40 man raids apart. Getting 40 people to work together isn't something comes right away without practice. Everybody has to be willing to do their specific role for it to work. Maybe that was Bliz's intent, I don't know.

  4. I hope you don't mind me commenting again, but I thought about the casual vs hardcore issue a little more and here are my thoughts...

    If you are in a guild that already has MC on FARM status, there is no reason why a more casual member of the guild can't join in once in a while and participate.

    However, if your guild is entering a new instance like BWL, and nobody in the guild has been there before, then that is a different story. My guild took 2 months to figure out how to down the first boss of BWL (even after reading all the strats online). That's 2 months of 40 people coming to the instance week after week knowing that they will probably wipe a bunch of times each night, getting no loot or gold in the process and having to spend their own gold on repairs (which can be quite substantial). That kind of dedication defines a "hardcore" player, and I think deserves epic rewards.