Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cataclysm Raiding Changes

Well, Blizzard has posted some changes to the way Cataclysm raids will be structured. Here are the high points:

* Shared lockout between 25s and 10s

A good call. Repeating the same boss multiple times a week was a bad idea.

* Normal versus Heroic toggle on a per-boss basis

This is okay. I prefer separate instances because it makes it a lot easier to structure your time, especially for a limited-time guild. On a per-boss basis, it's fairly easy to misjudge the amount of time needed to finish the instance. You either fail to kill the end boss, or have time left over which you could have used to practice a Heroic mode. Neither of these results is particularly ideal. If Heroics were a separate instance, you keep going until you clear it, or you run out of time. Very easy to schedule.

* 10s and 25s to have same difficulty level

We'll see if this works. 10s might end up being much more rigorous in class composition requirements. Every class you double up on means one entire class won't be present in the raid. At least a 25 can count on at least one of each class.

To be honest, I think raid buffs and debuffs will need to be scaled back significantly for this to work. The difference between a 10-man which can cover every buff and one which can't is huge.

* Multiple shorter dungeons

Sure, why not? Might be better for PuGGing. A good PuG might be able to clear the entire instance, while if you get trapped in a bad PuG, you only burn half your raiding opportunities.

The problem with multiple dungeons is that you can end up with what happened with Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Cavern. People will kill 1 boss from one instance, then go to the other instance and kill a couple before heading back. Cherry-picking bosses in order of difficulty, and generally wasting time.

I think this would work best if there was a clear progression in difficulty. Instance A is harder than Instance B. No randomly-accessible Loot Reaver.

* Gating is staying

Good. I like gating. It gives you something to look forward to every couple of weeks. And the race among the top guilds is far more interesting. You don't get the situation where one guild jumps out ahead early and rides that all the way to the end.

* PvE will earn Hero/Valor Points, like PvP Honor/Conquest (Arena) Points

This is pretty good. The PvP model is much better model for vendor-sold gear, especially when the top level Points will be converted to the lower level at the start of a new Tier.

No more having to run to the Money Changer in the Dalaran sewers to get the correct type of Emblem necessary.

* 10s and 25s will drop the same loot

Saving the controversial change for last. I think that this change heralds the death knell for 25s.

The thing is that it does not matter how many people want to do 25s. What matters is how many guild or raid leaders want to do 25s. The administrative costs are disproportionately placed on a few shoulders. Even if they really like 25s, I can see more than few guild leaders cracking and saying, "Screw this, it's much less headache to just take my core and do 10s and get the same loot."

I like 25s better than 10s. 25s are much more intricate, and I like the camaraderie of hanging out in the paladin or healer channel, bemoaning the lack of proper loot dropping. The whole group within the group aspect. I will be sad to see them die. But this change does simplify things a great deal. As well, it allows Blizzard to keep loot in a much tighter band, so we hopefully will not see the rampant loot inflation of Wrath.

I don't really think the extra amount of rewards for 25s is going to make much of a difference. If 10s drop 2 pieces of loot, 25s must drop 5 pieces just to maintain parity. If 25s get a 50% premium, then they drop 7-8 pieces, which is a little ridiculous. It might work if 10s dropped 1 item and 25s dropped 4. But imagine the howls in a 10-man when your one item turns out to be holy paladin spell plate (or any item which no one can use). And since it is 10s, the odds are higher that the item will be unusable due to your raid composition. Extra gold or Valor Points is unexciting, especially if Valor Points are capped. Might as well do the 10-man and daily heroics. That's much less effort for the raid/guild leader.

I do wonder what affect this will have on guild recruitment. Guilds always have attrition, but in a 25s guild that attrition can be "smoother". Maybe you lose one person a week, but that's only ~3% of your raiding force. Meanwhile, losing one person in a 10s guild is a loss of ~8% of the force at one time. So recruiting for 10s is "spikier". Whereas you can always apply to a 25s guild and they might take a flyer on you because it's only a slight increase in the size of the raiding force. But a 10s guild doesn't really have that luxury, I think. One additional person is a much larger increase in the raiding force.

You know, this analogy between recruiting and healing is kind of interesting. Smooth, steady damage versus spiky damage. Maybe I will look into it later.


So that's my take on Cataclysm raiding. Overall, many good ideas and changes. The best of Wrath (except Ulduar-style heroic toggles1) is being carried forward. However, I think Cataclysm will see the slow death of the 25s raiding scene, especially among the Aristocracy and Gentry tiers.

1. I really should write a post about why Ulduar-style toggles are much better than interface toggles.


  1. "However, I think Cataclysm will see the slow death of the 25s raiding scene, especially among the Aristocracy and Gentry tiers."

    I think you're right, but it may also mean the eventual slow death of the hardcore 25 man raids. Because where are they going to recruit from?

  2. Eh? They could still recruit from 10-man guilds. If the gear is the same, and the DPS/tank/heal checks are as strict, then why not take a person from a 10-man guild?

    The raw difficulty of a 10-man can be the same as the 25-man. By that, I mean that if a 25-man takes 8k DPS to beat, you can make a 10-man which requires 8k DPS to beat as well. That's just tweaking numbers.

    25-mans can be more "intricate" than 10-mans, though, which is its own form of difficulty. More moving parts in the dance, and therefore the dance is harder accomplish perfectly.

    But that doesn't really matter to the Royalty guilds. They will recruit from the 10-mans if they need to. Consider that most Royalty guilds will take a strong PvPer, even if she has never raided before. What they are looking for is competence and skill. And they will be able to find them just as easily in 10s.

    The Royalty guilds will be recruiting based on prestige. 25s will still be the gold standard. But that's great for the #1 or #2 guild on a server. Below that, why not go to 10s?

  3. Without knowing anything more than we already do its way off base to declare 25man raiding dead or dying. Knowing one detail about what kind of loot drops does not paint a full picture of how 25s will differ from 10s.

    I'm going to wait and see what else they have planned before saying the sky is falling.

  4. I think you missed the most important point. More spots for tanks in end game!

  5. I am a bit worried about lack of tanks, actually, if all those 25 man raids requiring 3 tanks turn into 2.5 10 mans requiring 5 tanks... time to hone those offspec skills :)

    I think most people evaluating the loot potential of 25 vs 10 fail to see how the higher *variety* of loot will help to gear up more efficiently. Remember it is the same loot table, with more picks out of it, not a bigger loot table for 25 man as we have today.

    (Napkin maths following, give a bro a break kk? :) )

    Say the boss has 10 drops, 10 man drops 2 and 25 man 5. That means your chances of *seeing* the loot you want drop are 20% on 10 man and 50% on 25.

    Of course when you see it drop you have more chances of winning in 10 mans, but when it does not you have 0% chance, right? Plus every time you lose the roll you have more chances of getting it next time, and your chances of seeing in remain 50% so it won't take that long.

    Added to that:

    - Highly-specific loot (healing plate) kills 10 man drops. Half of the drops this time are useless, whereas in a 25 man it is just a fifth.

    - Tanks do see & get more loot in 25 man than 10 man (less proportional tanks to the raid, more proportional drops). Healers have about the same competing people but still come out ahead (double healers but more than double loots dropping).

    - Your offspec pool is so big you hardly have to DE anything. Offspec does make progression easier, think next time you ask the Disc priest to go Shadow for Saurfang Jr he'll do bit more dps.

    So I still think 25 man guilds will gear up considerably faster and thus progress faster. However the rank and file of players will take some time to catch up to this fact, so it might be too late by then to reverse the anti-25 trend.

  6. I would agree with the fact that this will be the death of 25 man guilds or at least the majority of them. The primary tension in most mid-level 25 man guilds is that you have a core of 15-20 people who are great dragging along a group of 20-30 more players who are marginal. To be able to get the same rewards w/o having to organize and deal with the aggravation of your marginal players is an extremely attractive proposition. I prefer 10 man runs. Its easier to manage and puts more emphasis on the skill of each player.

  7. I do think that by now Blizzard knows that most people are saying that dropping the same items in 10-man and 25-man seems to heralds the end of 25-man guilds.

    I do believe otherwise. Remember that it was annouced that guilds will now have perks (special recipes, lower repair costs, more gold drops, ...). What if most of these perks come from 25-man?

  8. At the end of the day however, the loot is what matters. More gold or cheaper repairs isn't much of an incentive in a game that is drowning in gold.

    Unless Blizzard really changes their playbook, the "perks" will be largely cosmetic and will not affect gameplay.

  9. None of the blues have mentioned exactly how the new guild experience and guild gold system works into this. If there is a huge difference between 10 and 25 on that front, that may be more than enough to keep 25s going.

  10. They've said there won't be incentives for having a larger guild though. The guild experience will likely be averaged among the top 10 earners in the guild.(of course this is subject to change, but i don't expect it to).

  11. As Tyra posted, they made clear that the amount of guild "experience" you could gain would be capped to prevent larger guilds from having such an obvious advantage over smaller guilds.

    On topic: My concern is how this effects the Risk/Effort vs. Reward structure. If the rewards aren't worth it, people aren't very likely to expend the effort/accept the risk.

  12. Here's what I don't get about posts declaring that 25man raiding is going to die: Many of them (this post included) have the solution to preventing it right inside them.

    To wit:
    "If 10s drop 2 pieces of loot, 25s must drop 5 pieces just to maintain parity. If 25s get a 50% premium, then they drop 7-8 pieces, which is a little ridiculous. It might work if 10s dropped 1 item and 25s dropped 4."

    Why dismiss this out of hand? What if the ration is even better, what if 10mans only drop 1 piece of loot, but 25mans drop 5? 25 man groups would then gear up twice as fast. This will be disappointing to 10man raids, but that's the point, it will encourage 25mans while still handing out the same loot for both.

    The number of valor tokens can be tweaked too. What if the weekly limit is set such that you can reach it by doing the 25man raids and one daily heroic, but you can't reach it at all if you choose the 10man version? This would be a huge time saver incentive to do 25mans.

    Additionally, Blizzard can decide to only give out cosmetic items (mounts, pets, etc.) to 25man groups.

    Imagine the following possible Cataclysm scenario for 10 man raids. They require careful class picking to get the right buffs. One disconnect or no-show can cancel the raid, in turn making recruitment much more important. Once the raid starts, there is much less room for error on the part of anyone in the guild. Gearing up is much slower, with the possibility of bosses not dropping anything the group needs. In addition, 10 man guilds will need to run many more daily heroics for emblems, and will still always be behind 25 man guild. And after all that, the 25 guilds get sweet looking mounts showing off their status.

    Even given all of this, 10 man guilds are likely to become more prominent in Cataclysm. However, do we really think that no hardcore guilds are going to stick with 25 man?

  13. > Here's what I don't get about posts declaring that 25man raiding is
    > going to die: Many of them (this post included) have the solution to
    > preventing it right inside them.

    Why should Blizzard do that? Why should they force everyone into 25 man
    by giving a significant better return on time invested after anouncing
    that 10 man will be an equal path?

    You might prefer it if Blizzard gives advantages to 25 man raids but for
    everyone who prefers 25 man there is someone else who prefers 10 man or
    40 man raids.

    I understood the anouncement the way that Blizzard finally understood that
    all the end game progression paths need to be equal. I doubt they will add
    a significant advantage to 25 man. They want to offer the coice which
    doesn't work if one way has all the advantages.

    It wouldn't surprise me if they drop 2 pieces in 10 man and 3 or 4 pieces in
    25 man which is already a huge advantage to 25 man (smaller chance to
    disenchant something, bigger chance to see your item out of the loot table.)
    I think 1 piece for 10 man is not going to happen as it looks like they
    still fail on the spell power plate issue.

    And I'll continue to hope that in 10 years they will finally offer a 5 man
    end game path. :)

  14. @Kring
    I'm not really arguing that Blizzard should do these things, just that it's possible. It's funny that you're worried that my hypothetical changes would "force everyone into 25 man". But I thought that these changes meant the end of 25 man? This is what I'm trying to point out, that even with the changes Blizzard has announced, we still have no idea how big the incentive could be to do 25 man raids. If the incentives are insignificant, it could mean the near extinction of 25 man guilds. If the incentives are very large, 10 man guilds could end up feeling just as second class as they are now.

    If Blizzard wanted to kill 25man guilds, they could. They have the absolute power to remove all 25 man raids, just like they did when they removed 40 man raids. By keeping both, they're signaling that they intend to keep both sizes around and support them, and I think they can do that with a proper incentive structure.

    One final caveat: I bet Blizzard is going to screw up the incentive balance, at least for the initial launch of Cataclysm. This is not because I think Blizzard is bad at game design, but because I think the task is so difficult. Hopefully after the initial launch, they'll get enough information and feedback to be able to more properly balance raid sizes in patch 4.1.

  15. If 25 man drop better gear (higher iLevel, better itemized), you're force to run 25 for best performance. This is what we have today. They said this will go away.

    If 25 man drop 3 EoF per boss and 10 man drop 2 EoF you are forced to run 25 manfor best performance. Otherwise you'll get your T set 50% later and will performe worse just because you run 10 man.

    If 25 man dropps 5 items per boss and 10 man drops 1, possible spellpower plate, it'll take you much longer to gear up and you will perform worse just because you run 10 man which forces you into 25 man for best performance.

    If both, 10 and 25 man should be an equal path to end game, then they have to make them equal difficult. Acquiring gear is as much a part of the difficulty as is the encounter itself. If they succeed that both raid sizes are equal, then both raids can kill the endboss of a raid after the same amount of time invested. They cannot gimp 10 mans by dropping less EoF or gear because otherwise all server first kills would go to 25 man raids which would devalue 10 mans.

    I realize that they can do the things you suggested but they would not reach the goal of offering two equal difficult end game path that only differ in size.

    Things they could do is dropping also EoT which would be converted to hairloom or gems. Or doing a 25 only quest which rewards 2 EoF but is on the same lookout as a daily heroic. Small quality of life things that don't offer a real advantage.

  16. pugs will still do 25man. more loot to ninja.

  17. Sorry I also forgot to add something worthwhile to that post. Basically the way I see it 10man Naxx, Ulduar and ToC were, by mechanics, less forgiving than their 25man equivalent.

    Mainly because in 10mans you had less fall back; no one could make a mistake because it had such a larger impact.

    I would not say they were harder than 25mans. because each had their own easy and hard bits on a per-boss basis.

    So having the same loot for 10 and 25 in my eyes is the right decision.

    Also in releation to the 10 man drops being for the wrong classes. It's been like that for the past 5 years - and it's never had a horrible impact, it's just annoying.

  18. I'm in it for the competition. But I enjoy 25 man raiding more than 10 mans - it sparks the pleasure receptors in my brain or something... I can't really explain it.

    It's very difficult to argue that the amount of loot will be the deciding factor. Any guild that routinely clears the latest instance will end up sharding a heck of a lot of drops either way.

    I think the only thing we know for sure is that players will take the easiest road to the best gear. At the end of BC people raided with their PVP welfare epics - the weapons were better than what most people could achieve by raiding. In WoTLK players would wander into the arena with 226 weapons from KT and decimate their opponents.

    The in the first situation grinding honor was easy and the pay off was slow but guaranteed. In the second situation the raiding was easy and the pay off was guaranteed - sometimes very quickly.

    I guess it will all come down to how easy it is for a 25 man pug to clear the Tier 11 instance vs a 10 man pug to clear the Tier 11 instance. Whichever is easiest is where players will go and how guilds will be formed.

  19. However, I think Cataclysm will see the slow death of the 25s raiding scene, especially among the Aristocracy and Gentry tiers.

    If this is true, then in the end, the 25 man raid just wasn't entertaining enough to survive. Entertaining things will usually survive, though we might think otherwise, simply because there are almost always enough people who want the fun thing to save it from oblivion.

    I rarely had fun in a 25 man raid, and won't really miss them.