The lolcats have spoken, and they demand Legendaries for 10-man raids!
If you don't find kittens sufficiently authoritative (you fascist!), then you're just going to have to settle for me.
I love it when healers are rewarded. I think they should get first dibs on all the gear they want, free enchants, gems and consumables, free repair bills, and sexual favors from the guild leader on a regular basis. So imagine my joy when I found out that healers would finally be getting their very own Legendary (the word must be capitalized!) mace (sorry rogues, we had our day with the Warglaives): Val'anyr, the Gavel of Ancient Kings. Much like Medivh's staff Atiesh, raiders need to gather fragments of the Legendary titan weapon from raid bosses. Once they have enough pieces, they must literally hurl them into the brain of a god, then kill that god. I don't see how hurling fragments into a god's brain would result in them being reassembled into a working weapon, but whatever. Stranger things have happened in this game. I mean, I've seen a post 3.0 ret paladin lose a one-on-one pvp fight. Just kidding! That is way too crazy to consider.
My first reaction was: "Cool! A fun questline full of lore that leads to healers getting a best-in-slot item for this tier after a lot of hard work and successful kills of the bosses."
Then my second reaction was "Crap. My guild's healers will never get to experience it."
The cynical side of me assumes that the questline and the reward will be reserved only for 25 man raids.
Now don't get me wrong: unlike with Naxx, I think that Ulduar 25 guilds should get better rewards than Ulduar 10 guilds (totally separate progression tracks, Ulduar 25 assumes better gear, etc). I'm saying that if the devs view 10-man raiding as a viable alternative path, and not some ghetto reserved for "scrub casuals", then it would be smarter for them to include some version of the Val'anyr questline. The questline is just too cool, and the idea of offering an alternative path to a nice weapon via a long questline is also very cool. Plus it's great for morale and keeping people subscribing to your game. If a ten-man raider thinks he can get some version of Val'anyr, he/she will keep playing and thus paying Blizzard money longer than they would otherwise.
No, they don't need it. But 25-man raiders don't deserve or need it any more than 10-man raiders. Sorry. [note: actually I'm not]. Frankly, getting gear that is higher tier and prettier is enough extra reward for 25-man raiding over 10-man raiding, in my opinion. Should they also get other perks piled on? That's a matter of opinion, and in my opinion it's not necessary. Also, keep in mind that though this Legendary will be best-in-slot now, it's going to become obsolete as soon as the next tier of raiding is unleashed. So if you "let" a 10-man raider have the weapon, it's not like it's permanent.
So here are a few ways of implementing the Val'anyr questline for 10-mans. The drop rate of the shards is not yet known, but let's assume for the sake of simplicity that every 25-man boss has a 50% chance to drop one shard of Val'anyr on regular mode, and is guaranteed to drop a shard on the hardest mode for that boss. I don't think my arguments change materially if this turns out to not be the case, it just gives us a relative framework to look at other numbers.
- Simplest solution: allow 10-man raiders to complete the same quest for the exact same item, it just takes them a lot longer (I'm talking months) to get it done. In 10-man, have the shards drop only from hard-mode bosses, and even then at a 50% drop rate. The idea is that a 25-man guild will have 2-3 members with Val'anyr before the first 10-man Val'anyr wielder appears on the server, and only the best 10-man guilds have even one. This also gives an incentive for 25-man guilds to run 10-man Ulduar hard modes on off-nights. Meanwhile, a super-casual scrub 10-man guild that can only clear Ulduar on regular never sees a single shard.
- If you really can't stomach 10-man raiders having even a single item that's equal to 25-man raiders, then simply give the 10-man raiders a separate quest and drop the stats on that version of the weapon a tier. You can either keep the item Legendary, or call it "the imperfect Gavel of Ancient Kings" or whatever and make it simply epic. Pretend Yogg-Saron's brain screwed up a little when putting the thing back together for you. This way you retain the fun and lore of the questline. The 10-man version of the mace wouldn't have the cool effects of the 25-man version.
- Mix-and-match the two. Have a separate 10-man version, and only have the shards drop in 10-man hard modes, or any other permutation of the above.
I think the BEST solution is to give 10-man raiders a separate but similar questline for the lore, and give them a Legendary item at the end. Lower the stats a tier from the 25-man version, and only allow the pieces to be gathered from 10-man hard-mode bosses. At the same time, allow the 25-man pieces a chance to drop from normal-mode 25-man bosses. This way, a decent 25-man guild can get a few of these Legendaries in a reasonable amount of time, while it takes a 10-man group much longer to earn a Legendary (a statistically and visually inferior one), and they can only do it if they are 1337 enough to clear a lot of hard-modes.
I'm not gonna make a big deal and QQ and throw a fit if 10-man raiders don't get a shot at this. But I do think it's smarter and more fair to do it this way, so why pass up the chance, Blizz?