Monday, April 05, 2010

A Blueprint for Endgame: Raiding Gear

In the previous post, I outlined what I think the pre-raid endgame should look like. Now, let's take a look at gear progression in raids.

General Principle

The general principle I would like the raid game to follow is "One instance for farming, one instance for progression." The key here is setting up which instances guilds in the different strata go after.


1. There will be four variants of each raid: 10-Normal, 10-Heroic, 25-Normal, 25-Hard. These four variants are mutually exclusive and share a lockout.

I think that it would be best if you could only attempt an instance once per week. If you are saved to the 10-Normal version, you cannot go to 25-Normal version. In Wrath there's a bit too much repetition. You end killing the same bosses multiple times a week. It was worst in Trial of the Crusader, where you may have ended up killing the same 5 bosses 4 times every week. Familiarity breeds contempt, after all.

As well, there is a lot of blurring about who is involved in which strata. Many people at Elitist Jerks believe that 10-Hard is redundant, and only 25-Normal raiders actually use that setting. I am not sure that is true, but making things exclusive will provide clarity, and will allow each variant to be tuned to the specific needs and gear level of its audience.

2. All variants are launched simultaneously.

This allows hard mode guilds to jump directly into the race. They don't get to practice on easy modes first. As well, it makes the race more linear, as they have to defeat every hard mode in order.


3. Gear will use the following pattern:

Gear Tag:ValiantChallengerChallengerChampion
Tier 10224
Tier 21335
Tier 32446
Tier 43557

Each step in the pattern corresponds to however many item levels is appropriate. I think about 6 would be best. So if Tier 1 10-Normal is ilvl 300, Tier 2 10-Normal would be ilvl 306, while Tier 1 25-Normal would be ilvl 312. This is important because it means that previous tier's Heroic mode provides slightly better gear than the current Normal mode. Remember that you cannot do both Normal and Heroic modes of the same instance in a single lockout period.

So if we go back to the "one instance for Farming, and one instance for Progression" idea, what would the patterns look like for each strata of guild as a new tier of raiding is released (Tier 2 for example)?

Royalty guilds have beaten the previous Heroic mode. So they would dive right in to Tier 2-Heroic, and farm Tier 1-Heroic.

Aristocracy guilds are working on Tier 1-Heroic modes. They will quickly finish Tier 2-Normal and use that for farming, and then finish off Tier 1-Heroic. After Tier 1-Heroic is finished, then they can start working on Tier 2-Heroic.

Gentry guilds will work on Tier 2-Normal, while farming Tier 1-Normal. If they beat Tier 2-Normal early, they can start to nibble on Tier 1-Heroic.

Bourgeoisie guilds will finish up Tier 1-Normal, and then progress into Tier 2-Normal.

The key here is that the current Normal tier does not obsolete the previous Heroic tier. That, combined with the fact that you can only attempt one variant at a time, will keep guilds balanced between the two tiers. They will farm an instance from one tier, and progress in an instance on the other tier. Which tier is designated progression changes as instances are complete.

Instances should be dropped more organically. Rather than repeating the same boss multiple times a week, a guild will work on different bosses. There is always a path for progression.

4. Gear will use the same name and stats across the tier. Each piece will have a green tag designating it as Valiant, Challenger, or Champion, reflecting which item level it has.

Essentially, this extends the Heroic loot method used in ICC and TotGC to the entire spectrum. [Uber-sword] drops from the same boss in all four variants. However, the [Uber-sword] (Champion) that drops from 25-Heroic has the highest item level.

What this does is eliminate the possibility that a Best-in-Slot item might drop from a 10-man due to a unique allocation of stats. An equal or better item will always drop in 25-mans. This eliminates any reason for 25-man players to want to do extra 10-mans. As well, it reduces the amount of loot and different items models necessary in the game.

5. Class Sets will be 5-pieces, and use the same tokens as ICC. One token for 3-4 classes, and a token can buy any armor slot piece. However, you will not use Badges to buy tokens.

This makes Class sets relatively easy to get, with a minimum of fuss. 10-Normal will drop Valiant Tokens, 10-Heroic and 25-Normal will drop Challenger Tokens, and 25-Heroic will drop Champion Tokens. Trade a token in for the set piece of the correct level.

It's not quite as easy as TotC, because I kind of like complaining that Conquerer's Marks never drop. Marks in TotC seemed too mechanical, with no real surprise element or something to look forward to when it came to set pieces. At the same time, having specific marks for specific armor slots seems excessive, especially when it comes to armor slots that drop off the last boss (Yogg and shoulders, for example).


I'll finish up with other thoughts, including badges, in another post. But I hope you can see the general structure of the raid progression that I am proposing. I think Wrath went a little bit too far in obsoleting the previous tier when a new instance came out. I want to balance between tiers a little bit better, and get a little more of a linear progression feel back into the game. Especially with Heroic modes, it sometimes feels like you are bouncing around too much.


  1. I've never heard a convincing argument about why 10 man raids should be in the gear ghetto. They sure as hell aren't always easier (Naxx10 was considerably harder than Naxx25 at release) and I don't see why gear should be a reward for some meta-task of gathering 25 people together.

  2. Let's just take it as a given that 25-mans will have better gear than 10-mans, as in the current setup.

    It's not really something I am interested in debating at the moment. Any more comments arguing that point will be deemed "off-topic" and deleted.

  3. I like all the points you made... also where do you think "new heroics" like Trial of the Champion or the 3 ICC wings fit into the tier system?

    I like the place they are in now, dropping useful stuff for people who can't raid all the time, while at the same time dropping nothing that is better than what raids (even raids a patch behind them) drop.

  4. I do like the extension of the "Heroic" tag for gear. It seems quite a simple solution to the problem of the proliferation of gear, though undoubtedly people will be complaining about the homogenization of gear and gear models.

    I'm much more concerned with the idea of keeping the 10- and 25-man normal and heroic modes all on a separate lockout. For one thing, it would totally destroy raid pugging completely. Also, we need to consider the reason that Blizzard let people run both versions whenever they wanted was to give people the option to run whatever they wanted. It's just that we players do crazy things, and thus when one progression guild started running four versions of ToGC a week, so every other guild that wanted to compete had to too.

    It would make more sense to me if, say, there were no 10-man heroic modes, allowing Blizzard to firmly say that 10-man raiding is NOT serious business and thus more for raiding casually with actual friends or something. Then we can have 25-man normal and 25-man heroic share a lockout, so that the sort of players who Blizzard has to save from letting themselves run four versions of the same raid in one week have no reason to do the 10-man and will have to choose between the normal or the heroic modes of the 25-man.

  5. It would make more sense to me if, say, there were no 10-man heroic modes, allowing Blizzard to firmly say that 10-man raiding is NOT serious business and thus more for raiding casually with actual friends or something.

    Let me take a wild guess as to which raids your guild does... /ponder :)

    I personally don't do hard modes. Neither 10 nor 25, so it would not affect me. But making 10-man 'kiddie raids' would be a step backwards from what was the whole idea of having the 2 options.

    *If* I would do hard modes, and would be limited to only one each week, I would definitely go to 10-man. I just find it more engrossing, my personal contribution more a factor than when I do (normal) 25man... which actually I do more often than 10 man, sadly.

    Let each have their share according to personal preference, please. Don't get your elitism in my enjoyment!

    That aside, a common lock out would probably kill 10-man pugging... I would not miss that much if there was something else to do, albeit having my alts 'better' geared than my main (even if the later have progressed further in) would be hilarious!

  6. Phelps - It's pretty simple, really. It's without a doubt harder to control 24 other people, especially in some of the more unique fights in the game. So with this in mind, if you could be playing with 9 other people, or with 24 other people, but literally have the exact same things drop from the boss, then what would you be running?

    But with regards to your proposal, I don't think I like the suggestion that Heroic should be giving 2 tiers higher then Normal. It starts to make for some weird backwards play, when guilds begin using the new content as farm material so they can progress in last tier's Heroic mode for the superior gear. If anything, Heroic should just be a head-start on next tier's normal gear, and so only be one tier ahead.

  7. Great follow up from yesterday!

  8. I love your ideas. I hate how Blizzard killed Ulduaar with their 4 Tier TOC. Raiding was much more enjoyable when guilds had to run 2 instances, one for loot and the other for progression. I loved running Karazhan to get gear for Serpentshrine, etc. I thought that method worked very well and I hate that they went away from it as it was a nice combination of loot and challenge without the repetition.

    This is a little off topic but one change I would love to see is removing the "weekly raid lockout" and replacing it with a "weekly boss loot lockout". That means you could run an instance 100 times a week but you could only get loot the first time. To fit in your progression/loot instance concept they could do this only for loot instances. This is the only way I can see a "Looking for Raid" tool working as I'd never join a PUG Raid if it meant I risked getting locked out from the higher end bosses. This would also help with the situation when a raider leaves unexpectedly an hour into an instance. Most groups disband at this point because most quality players won't join a raid that limits their ability to get gear.

  9. Would the system used in Ulduar for "Hard Modes" be the best way about ensuring one lockout attempt?
    Or was that system flawed to a certain degree? If so, how? And what could/should be changed for how it worked?

    @ Phelps
    I really don't know the whole debate for 10-man and 25-man gear differences - other than that if they had the same gear, the motivations to do 25-man raids becomes considerably less.
    In regards to Naxx, I wouldn't say that N10 was "considerably" harder. Marginally, yes. But not by leaps and bounds. I found that there was just less room for error. And that "issue" didn't happen so much with later tiers of raiding. Bliz has sorted out a good part of their scaling issues between 10 & 25.

  10. #1 - I like the loot tier settings you listed. Having hardmode loot in Tier X be better than normal loot in Tier X+1 is a good thing.

    #2 - I see two ways of handling the hardmode / normal mode raid locks.

    Option 1 would be what you have listed - every player has a 10 man AND a 25 man lock available. They choose whether they are doing normal or hard.

    Option 2 would be to make the lock exclusiving to 10 or 25, but allow a both a Normal and hardmode lockout for each raid size.

    Both options have their pros and cons, and I'm not sure which I prefer.

  11. Let me take a wild guess as to which raids your guild does... /ponder :)

    I actually don't raid at all, neither 10- nor 25-man.

    But I have been reading the QQ about the fact that, for example, 10-mans simply don't get the special rewards that 25-mans get, like the legendaries and the special mounts. And of course this is because Blizzard doesn't want to encourage 25-man-geared raiders to faceroll through 10-man content and make those rewards commonplace. In addition, evidently way back during the TBC-Wrath transition, there were people who were all like "just let us see the content in 10-mans and we won't want anything more" and now that we have a 10-man raiding track, they're like "give us everything that the 25-man raiders get!"

    So, I think that the best option to solve the special stuff and the overgeared 25-man raiders problem would be to acknowledge that there are two ways to approach raiding: as a challenging commitment as you attempt to progress through the bosses, and as a place to have fun, presumably with people you like and have fun with.

    We have already had discussions on guilds, and how there are social guilds that raid, and raiding guilds that socialize. The difference between 10- and 25-man I'm proposing is pretty close to the difference between those two types of guilds.

  12. @RJ, it's not two tiers exactly. A step is 6 ilevels, so half a current tier. The weird "backwards play" is the very feature that I want.

    Progression goes:

    Tier X Normal
    Tier X-1 Heroic
    Tier X Heroic

  13. One of the reasons I got fed up of TOC was that the difficulty jump between normal and heroic (25) was pretty steep for my guild.

    It sounds like what you want to create is a raiding scenario where each of the following is a (equal) step up:
    Raid 1 Normal
    Raid 2 Normal
    Raid 3 Normal + Raid 1 Hard
    Raid 4 Normal + Raid 2 Hard

    One problem I see is that most encounters are a combination of gear difficulty and execution difficulty. Gear difficulty decreases over time as we gear up, execution difficulty is less affected by gear lvls.

    Blizzards model for some of the hard modes has been to pile on gear difficulties for some bosses (hodir), while execution difficulties for others (mimiron). Clearly over time some of the difficulties go away (OS10+3)

    Tuning to make your raid system work is going to be difficult.

    Also making each raid only 6 ilvls different is also going to make each raid last much less time. The world first 25 HC lich king would have come much faster if ICC was tuned to 238/251/264

    Implicitly Blizzards model has been to give a few easy bosses in each raid to slowly gear people up, so that the later bosses can be defeated by more and more people over time.

    The way I think about your different classes of guilds (royalty, aristocracy, etc) is that they have an implicit ilvl difference that they can add. What this could imply is that an ilvl 200 geared royalty guild = ilvl 206 aristocracy = ilvl 213 gentry. What this also means is that you need a raid which provides all of these different classes of guild some challenge for each of your raids.

    So in your example, if royalty guilds get the tier 4 (25HC) gear, the next raid 25HC must challenge them. It also means that if the aristocracy guilds get their hands on tier 4 gear, would they be able to do the next raid 25 HC?

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  15. I really like the idea of one lockout for both 10 and 25 raids. When I was in a 25-man guild it didn't make sense because only some of the raiders could or would make the 10-mans. Participating in both 10s and 25s meant running on a treadmill and raiding 4-5 days a week to stay competitive.

    What I don't particularly like in your system though is that heroic is an item level ahead of the next level of content (T1 heroic is better than T2 normal), because it makes people go back and do older content, albeit with a greater level of difficulty.

    It seems counterintuitive to gear up for heroic T2 content by doing heroic T1 instead of doing normal T2. For a guild with a limited raid schedule, it seems there would be the risk of falling out of practice with T2 boss fights by the time heroic T1 is conquered.

  16. i don't like the idea of them all sharing the same lock out.

    i have 2 suggestion though.
    1. there are separate lockouts for heroic/ non-heroic. can only receive loot form a boss once a week.

    i like number 2 the best it destroy the need to farm the instant at multiple lvls. but keeps the pugging alive (at least if the bring in LFR rewards)

  17. I was using tier not in the literal Tier 10 sense, but in a generic tier of strength. I apologize for the confusion.

    The problem, like I said, is that it turns progression right around, which is clearly not what Blizzard is going to do. How can you really call it progression if players are, say, grinding Arthas for loot so they can do Heroic Anub and get better loot? Not to mention it's demoralizing. "Oh man, we just killed the biggest bad guy in Northrend. Too bad this shit is weaker then the stuff his minions in the last tier drops."

    It really should be that the previous Tier's Heroic is equal to the current Tier's Normal. This makes doing the previous tier as farming actually plausible. Else you're actually farming the current Tier in order to progress in the previous one.

    I would argue that the criss-crossing nature you're proposing would lead to more burnout, if not lower morale in general.

  18. RJ, the problem with that is that I want two outcomes:

    1. Only do an instance once per week.
    2. Have a set difficulty for the entire instance, rather than per-fight difficulty switches (like Ulduar and ICC).

    I don't really see a way to combine those two without going back a tier. If you've just cleared Normal Tier 2, starting Heroic Tier 2 would mean that you can't farm Normal. So you'll end up with this weird thing where you can't properly farm the instance you just beat and progress at the same time.

    It's possible to do this if every Tier consisted of multiple dungeons (a la SSC and TK). Then you could do SSC-Normal, TK-Normal, SSC-Heroic, TK-Heroic. But insisting that every tier have at least two raid dungeons might be excessive.

  19. I don't see how what I'm saying goes against what you want. At no point am I saying you can't go back a Tier to farm; in fact I support that. I'm just saying that by making the Heroics of the previous Tier SUPERIOR to the Normal of the current Tier, you've made it so that progression is actually BACKWARDS. You're farming the current Tier in order to progress in the previous Tier. This is pretty ludicrous, and is backwards of the way it should be. You farm old content to make the new content easier.

    I don't have a problem with your concept, I just have a problem with your values. If it only went up by one Tier to go from Normal to Heroic, then it's fine.

    Basically, once you move to Tier 2, you can farm Tier 1 Heroic to start getting the same level of gear as you have in Tier 2 Normal, meaning that not only will players have extra chances to fill in the blanks in their gear, but you can move to Tier 2 Heroic a little faster. It makes doing Tier 1 while you're working on Tier 2 a bonus, instead of mandatory in order to do progression.

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  21. I like the whole set of ideas your having so far for Cataclysm bar the gear system for raids. Your idea would completly kill off 10man raiding if it shares a lockout and gives a lower quality verson of the 25man gear then no guild that could get more than 10 people would ever run.
    I enjoy running 10mans more than 25s but if I had to only pick on for the week it would be the one that gave the more respect in the community, better gear and the only one with legendarys/rare drops.

  22. I'm not so sure how I feel about your vision of the game's future. It seems to me that much of the content in these last two posts stems from your earlier post "Optional", and are of the opinion that it is up to the developers to save the players from themselves' (if I'm way off base here, then I've misjudged the motivation, but not the goal).

    I had a much longer post written out but decided to nix it because this is for commenting on your thoughts, not spending paragraphs going on about mine. I think the what I'd like to say though is that what is best for the game, may not be best for the community, and vice versa. Some of your ideas seems to have your intentions in the right place, but (opinion here) I don't think they have everyone and everything's interests in mind.

  23. I just wanna say that both your suggestion posts are awesome and I 100% subscribe to these ideas.

    lets hope we'll see an imlpementation of this in the actual game.

  24. @Orthien -

    If 10-man and 25-man instances share a lockout, I see no reason why they couldn't share loot. Rohan doesn't want that discussion here, but it is something to consider.

    RJ makes a good point, though, about "Farming Arthas to kill Heroic AN". That DOES feel weird.

    The problem with "Normal X Loot = Heroic X-1 Loot" is what we saw with Ulduar and ToC. No one (in my guild) wanted to go back and do Ulduar hardmodes because they were harder (*gasp*) but didn't provide superior rewards.

  25. I am totally against this plan.

    Other than making 10 man versions into a gear ghetto it doesn't encourage good play, 25 man hard mode tier 1 is equivalent to the end tier of 10 man loot. Any 10 man guild pugging 25 man content completely negates 10 man content.

    What Blizzard should do is "open" up the content, let the 25 and 10 man dungeons share a difficulty such that 10 man require a much more efficient use of your guild and 25s less so, in effect switch the roles round so that a 10 man team beats the content by being ridiculously efficient while a 25 can slightly carry people. The issue of lacking buffs etc can be easily solved by correctly balancing classes such that 2 healers + 2 tanks that don't overlap leads to a solid group.

    On farming multiple tiers, its dull tbh, what we want is 2+ different dungeons per tier so that we have a different feel and look. Aim for say 10-15 bosses per tier spread over 2-4 instances and you have a good width to allow farming without using old content. I even think that old trinkets and gear should be opened up to crafting 2+ tiers below.

    Meaning what we see is the following structure for an expansion:
    ILvl : Tier Levels
    .+0..: Dungeon....:
    .+0.5: Dungeon HC.:
    .+1..: Raid Tier 1

    ---- Wave 2 ----
    .+0.5: Dungeon T2
    .+1..: Dungeon HC T2
    .+2..: Raid Tier 2

    ---- Wave 3 ----
    .+1.5: Dungeon T3
    .+2..: Dungeon HC T3
    .+3..: Raid Tier 3

    ---- Wave 4 ----
    .+2.5: Dungeon T4
    .+3..: Dungeon HC T4
    .+4..: Raid Tier 4

    At Each level the HC dungeons released offer gear a tier below the current raid, setup to offer interesting pieces to the raiders and to fill in holes such as trinkets 2+ tiers below the raid level. Heroic modes are a tier above the raid tier however do not offer a full gear set, they offer the filler slots like Sunwell filling in an 8 piece set.

    Raiding is focused on the current tier + heroics to fill in any slots they need. Gearing up follows the path of Tier -1 + dungeons / heroics with badges to get to that level. The incentive to keep running lower level dungeons and raids is in their unique crafting elements. So a tier 1 crafted or tier piece may look like:

    Heigan's Vestments - Requires 1 tier token + 1 Heigan's remnant + 2 T1 orbs.

    Yoggie Bear's Picnic Basket - Requires 1 Yoggie tentacle + 2 Yoggie orbs + 1 T1 orb

    You can buy the major gear without farming old instances, but if you want the best stuff you have to take the best from all previous tiers to make it.

  26. As a former 25 man raider in a 25 man progression guild (The same one as Coriel) who now only runs 10 mans I have pretty mixed feelings about all this (not all points are interrelated or in order):

    1. This plan would kill every 10 man group in our guild and I would have to leave my guild in order to continue 10 man raiding.

    2. It generally seems to be designed to cater to a specific niche of player ie. 25 man raiders who find playing 10 mans repetitive but feel peer pressure.

    3. I think all the reasons that 25 man rewards are better than 10 man rewards are BS except one. I think the point someone made about Blizzard not wanting 25 man geared players blitzing 10 man content is interesting. I think the game would be much better served by making the gear equal and tuning for similar difficulty but making a final attractive award (a distinctive mount or award or title) drop from the final boss. The trick would be that if you accepted the reward on 10 man you could never get the 25 man equivalent and vice versa.

    4. I also like the idea that specific BIS items (trinkets usually) drop from unusual places that require revisiting content to get. This might be expanded to include, for example, unusual best in slot single-use enchant scrolls that would draw players back occasionally.