The End of Tier x.10 and x.25

Some very exciting news from Blizzard today that effects raid difficulty, loot and lockouts in Cataclysm.

Here’s the original post, but in brief:

  • you can only have one lockout per instance per week, regardless of raid size or difficulty
  • 10 and 25 person encounters will be tuned to be as close as possible in difficulty
  • 10 and 25 normal will drop the exact same items
  • 10 and 25 heroic encounters will drop the exact same items
  • 25 person raids will drop more loot – more items, more emblems and more gold
  • the same items will be on the normal and heroic loot tables – the heroic items will just have better stats
  • we will see multiple smaller raids at each tier level rather than one longer raid.  This will be much like The Burning Crusade tier 5 raids, where both TK: The Eye and Serpentshrine Cavern were the same difficulty level and dropped the same item level of loot
  • gating of content will remain, but it won’t be as harsh as “defeat the entire instance on normal first”
  • limited attempts are out, except for very exclusive content like Algalon
  • entry level raids will assume that you’ve geared up in 5-man heroics first

This has profound implications for guilds and guild leaders.

The Good

No longer will you feel compelled to run both 10 and 25 person content in order to gear up quickly.

No longer will 25 person guilds steamroll through 10 person content before the 10-person strict guilds have a chance to gear up.

No longer will you have to cancel a 25 person raid because only 18 people showed up – you can continue on 10 person mode.  Similarly, as your 10 person guild grows to 25 people, you can run the larger size raid when you can get enough people without sacrificing overall progression.

The Bad

Your raiders will be giving their one and only raid lockout to the guild.  The days of saying “your 25 person ID is ours, but your 10 person ID is yours to PUG as you wish” are over.  When you raid current content, you’re doing it with your guild only.  You’ll only be PUGing older content that your guild is no longer doing.

What We’ve Learned

Blizzard stated that they want to make guilds even more important in Cataclysm.  This is a huge move in that direction, but they’ve done it by reducing the opportunities you have to do things outside of the guild.  Personally, I’m all for that – I’ve never liked the idea of having to mix it up with people I don’t know just to stay competitive when I raid with the people I do know.  Nor do I like the idea of running the same content on different raid sizes.

Over the course of WoW, Blizzard has tried both extremes and everything in between.  From vanilla’s 40 person one difficulty to TBC’s fixed size instances to Trial of the Crusader’s four independent lockouts, nobody can claim that Blizzard doesn’t have a good pool of data on which to make these kinds of decisions.  Certainly the community hasn’t been silent about their likes and dislikes of each of the systems.

Loot

As a proponent of the 10-person strict raid format, I welcome the homogenization of loot tables.  Finally I can raid with a close group of trusted players without feeling like I am disadvantaging myself versus others when the next tier of content comes out.

I love the idea of loot being associated with a boss – regardless of whether that boss was killed on 10 normal or 25 heroic.  The days of being able to spot a peacock outside the bank of a capital city are over (and the people who preened about were never very mature in my eyes anyway).  Gearscore, for all of it’s failings is not likely to go away (at least not without breaking character inspection completely), so those people who insist on running it will still be able to tell the difference between two players decked out in gear from different difficulty levels.

Unanswered Questions

Just how much more loot will 25 person raids drop?  There’s a quote in the announcement:

25-player versions will drop a higher quantity of loot per player (items, but also badges, and even gold), making it a more efficient route if you’re able to gather the people

which suggests that 25 will be worth more than double a 10 person raid – but will that be more than double the items, or just emblems?

Right now we see two items from 10 person and three from 25, which means that two 10 person raids is more lucrative than one 25 person raid, or at least they would be if the item level different didn’t exist.  Once that gap closes, will we see two and five items dropping from bosses respectively?

And what about the difficulty of 10 vs 25?  10 person allows for less mistakes, because a single player dying early robs you of proportionately more dps or healing than losing one person in 25 person.  Cataclysm also promises more movement-based fights (if the talent previews are any indication), so how will fights like Kel’Thuzad or Firefighter change?

Will environmental and AoE attacks change based upon the raid size?  After all, its easier to stay spread out on 10 person given the same size room.  Perhaps chaining effects will jump a shorter distance on 25 person raids to compensate.

Already people on the official forums are saying “this is the end of 25 mans”.  I don’t think so – if you’re willing and able to herd 2.5 times as many people, then you should be compensated in kind for doing so.  Or (and this may be the key point) there needs to be a disincentive to running two 10 person raids instead.  My money’s on the latter.

Much More To Consider

There’s much more to think about in this announcement, but I wanted to get a post out quickly with initial reactions.  I’ll follow up with a more in-depth analysis about what leadership need to think about – a lot of your policies are going to need re-work to adapt to this change.

Until Next Time

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