Thursday, April 29, 2010

Busting the Top 9 Myths About the Cataclysm Raid Changes

Let me preface by saying that I’ve been a raider since back when BWL was the highest tier. My 40-man guild went deep into AQ40. I lived through it as that same guild transitioned to 25s. Then I ran a 25-man raiding guild for a year as the primary raid leader. Then I ran a 10-man strict guild for 2 years, and now I lead a 10-man guild that hosts a 25-man guild alliance run. I’m really, really familiar with every facet of this debate, having led both 10 and 25 man raids as well as having firsthand experience of the 40 to 25 transition.

Now let’s move on to shattering the myths about the new raid changes.

Myth 1: You have to roll against more people in 25s.

Yes, I know, it seems obvious that with 15 more people there, you’d have more competition for loot in 25s. But it’s a myth: Blizzard has stated clearly that 25s will drop more items per person. There is no room for misinterpretation: there is a 0% chance that 25s will only drop 3 or even 5 items if 10s drop 2. It seems most likely that if 10s drop 2 items per boss kill, 25s will drop 6-7. Now do some math: 6.5/25 is a BIGGER NUMBER than 2/10. Which means that even though there are more people in the 25, you will actually have a better chance at personally getting loot in the 25-man raid because so many more items drop (and there is absolutely no reason to assume we won’t see the same item more than once per kill in this case).

Myth 2: We lose too much content with the shared lockout.

All that will happen is you won’t be able to run the same instance twice a week on the same character. Do you really like rerunning the same instance over and over like you do now? Is it a good thing that 25-man raiders feel pressured to run 10 man to get double the emblems? Is it a good thing that 10-man raiders have little to no access to the 25-man run while the bigger groups can easily do both sizes in the same week?

If you have a small group of friends you like to raid 10s with outside your 25-man guild, or if you are a 10-man guild who enjoys a 25-man alliance, that’s easily solved with alts. And if you don’t have time to level an alt, then why are you asking to get to raid the same instance twice a week anyway?

Another easy solution would be to do the previous tier’s content with the other group. Hopefully Blizzard will set up the tiers so hard mode loot from the previous tier is still relevant (but not required), so you have a reason to do so.

If you just prefer to have the freedom to run the instance twice if you so choose, then you are really arguing against lockouts altogether. Why not get rid of every lockout, if having fewer lockouts is inherently better? Oh yeah, because it would break the game.

Myth 3: 10s will be too hard to balance and make class stacking a problem

This one is legitimate as a suspicion, but not a fair assumption to make with this little information. Blizzard design hasn’t been perfect, but they’ve done a pretty good job overall.

As for class stacking: we have no idea if there will be buff changes made to go along with the raid changes. There is no reason why you can’t get a good mix of buffs with any reasonable comp if they set it up right. They’ve already started spreading buffs out.

It’s OK to have reduced faith in Blizzard, but it’s too early to just assume they will blow it. And it’s especially silly to assume they haven’t thought of this yet.

Another thing to keep in mind: right now, everyone is focused on how much bigger a logistical challenge 25-mans are to organize. Well what if the unique challenge 10-man leaders face is in forming a comp that optimizes buffs, while 25-man leaders don’t have to worry about that because they will inevitably have every buff covered?

Myth 4: The devs want to kill 25s

Hah! If they did, they would have just removed them from the game, instead of going out of their way to make sure there are still incentives to do them. Would all of the work they will put into making 25-man versions of dungeons be worth it if their plan is to “stealth kill” all 25-man raids?

Myth 5: The devs will let 25s die (unintentionally)

I’ve often been cynical of Blizzard’s design choices. I can understand this impulse. But every indication is that they are committed to making whatever adjustments are necessary to make both raid sizes into viable choices that people will be interested in. There is no way they are so stupid that if they want 25s to stay alive (as we’ve already established) that they would accidentally totally fail at their goal. Blizzard makes many choices I don’t agree with, but it’s pretty rare for them to outright fail through incompetence.

Myth 6: I love 25s because they are more epic, but obviously no one else does so I’ll never get 24 others together for it after these changes

I have seen this one so many times that I could form a dozen 25-man raids out of the people who say it. It seems like tons of people just prefer the bigger raids. If anything, the response to the changes has proven that 25s will never actually die unless they are removed from the game. What surprises me is how all of these people assume that no one else feels the same way. The entire point is that you feel free to pick the format you prefer rather than having to "game the system" by doing 25s just to get worthwhile gear.

Here’s an example of this one from Dawn Moore at

She opens her thoughts with:“I play in a high ranking 25-man guild because that is what I love to do. I don't do it for the glory, better gear, prettier mounts, or legendary items.”

Then she ends them with: “ Blizzard's proposal removes the incentive to do 25-man raids, which will kill the majority of 25-man guilds, which in turn will kill the community I come to the game for. I hate to say it, but for the first time ever I have been served a very good reason to quit the game.”

Yeah, you read that right. She really did just say that she doesn’t raid 25s for the glory or the gear, but now that the glory and gear are gone she has no incentive to do them anymore. GG, Dawn.

Remember back in TBC when everyone was doing arena because losing 10 matches a week would get you a weapon that blew away what was available to most people in a raid? Remember how so many of those people hated arena and never would have done it if they hadn’t seen that it was by far the optimal way to progress their character? Ever notice how now that the rewards are more balanced, the only people in the arenas are those who love arena, and everyone is happier?

That’s exactly what happened to 25s in Wrath. They were the only legitimate PvE progression path (10s offered gear that was a tier behind) through this entire expansion. Tons of people who preferred 10s or other activities felt compelled to do 25s because they were the only avenue to “real” gear and achievements (because 25-man guilds could just cheese the 10-man achieves, rendering them irrelevant). Now that 10 vs 25 is a real choice, and both are legitimate progression paths, those people will leave 25s.

Let me rephrase that: those people will stop doing an activity they didn’t like as much in favor of one that is more fun for them.

Yes, that’s an awful thing to have happen! How dare they have more fun while still relevantly progressing their character!!! This isn’t some game, goddammit!

If you are in a 25-man guild and you think that losing the higher tier of gear over 10s is going to cause many people to leave your guild, that means they didn’t want to be there and were only there because you were bribing them. Are you really trying to tell me you prefer the system where you bribe/blackmail your friends into having less fun? Rather than the system where everyone chooses the activity they want, and gets rewarded either way?

Myth 7: Raid leaders won’t want to lead 25s anymore.

It’s undeniable that organizing a 25-man raid and guild is way more difficult and stressful than managing a 10-man guild. But what is the incentive right now to lead a 25-man raid? A higher tier of gear? That higher tier goes out to the entire raid, not just the leaders. How come the rest of the guild gets rewarded just because the leaders work harder?

The weirdest thing about this argument is that 25-man raiders and leaders aren’t losing anything. They are, in fact, gaining. They still get the top-of-the-line gear, only in Cataclysm they get a lot more of it per boss than they did in Wrath.

If it’s not the gear, then is it the prestige? Not only will 25-man raid leaders still be competing at the cutting edge just like they do now, but their raids will have an innate advantage over 10-man raids: they will gear up faster (including much faster emblem income). If you are hardcore and want to compete for server or world firsts, you will NEED to be a 25-man raid guild because the gear advantage will help propel you to the top. You simply won’t be truly competitive if you are a 10-man guild. So the prestige may be reduced, but it is still there for 25s.

Yes, the number of 25-man guilds will be reduced, and fewer people will want to lead 25s. But it will happen not because no one will want to do 25s anymore, but because people who didn’t want to be doing 25s in the first place will finally feel free to choose not to do them while still being able to advance their character.

Myth 8: The 10 best people in my 25 man guild will just ditch the ones who are “holding them back”.

GOOD. This one boggles my mind. The statement in itself admits that 15 people in your raid are being carried and don’t deserve their victories or spoils, and it implies that the top 10 resent having to do the carrying, but don’t think they have any choice because without the other 15 people they won’t have access to the current tier of gear. I mean, seriously? That's your argument?

Myth 9: First 10 people to hit level cap will not want to wait for the other 15 to catch up and will ditch us.

What? How is this situation ANY DIFFERENT from Wrath? The first 10 people got to 80 and started doing Naxx 10. Then the guild switched over to 25s as soon as enough people were max level. In both situations, the first 10 were ahead on gear. But with 10s and 25s sharing the same difficulty, that will actually be less of a problem in Cata than it was in Wrath.

Yes, I get that the idea is that those 10 will think that using their gear will allow them to progress faster than they would in the 25 with a lower average gearscore. That sort of makes sense…if you are willfully ignoring the fact that with more drops per person on each boss in 25s, they’d make up that deficit almost immediately, and would end up far better geared in the long run.


As you can see, pretty much every argument I’ve seen claiming this is a disaster, or a bad change overall, has giant, gaping holes in it. I was trying to figure out why it seemed to be “gutting” the fun for some people, then I read this statement by Jerome Phillips, and it all fell into place [emphasis mine]:

“The competitive raiding scene is what drove me to play WoW. I started in a casual guild in Vanilla and as I discovered and grasped the concept of a 'top' guild I worked hard to become better at the game so that I could join one. I wanted to play the best and be the best and I worked for it and I still do. It is by far the primary reason I and the majority of players in my guild play this game. When I'm not playing WoW, I play MW2, COD4, and MvC2. Highly competitive games that force you to exert relentless dominance over your competitors and instill a sense of superiority and accomplishment in achieving a win and/or goal. This same feeling is why I and people in guilds such as mine play this game…why would anybody run 25-mans in Cataclysm? The hardcore players like myself have no sense of accomplishment and no discernable way to establish who is best.

It became clear to me: these arguments that break down under scrutiny are actually smokescreens. The reality is: a lot of 25-man raiders were doing it because they liked feeling superior to 10-man raiders.*

The saddest part is that they don’t realize how artificial that superiority was. The only people who work harder in a 25 are the leaders. Period. The average joe in those guilds does nothing more than any 10-man raider does. In fact, 10-mans are tuned similarly to 25s for their own tier of gear (go look up the health and damage numbers yourself if you don’t believe me).

Right now, 25-man raiders can pretend they are better than any given 10-man raider, but the reality is that they don’t really know who’s better. After getting screwed over for years on end, please forgive me for not feeling sorry for the people who spent those years benefitting from the system that was screwing me now that they have to face - gasp! - the prospect of a more level playing field!

If you are a competitive person, wouldn’t you rather the playing field be evened so you can find out who’s really best, rather than getting a false sense of superiority from a rigged system?

There were tons of great players who chose 10-man, but never got any respect or recognition for their skill. With the artificial signal of superiority gone, that type of 25er is in for a rude awakening: you aren’t as superior as you thought, unless you yourself were organizing the raids.

Now we have a way to really establish who is best. And guess what – some of those 10-man raiders are going to be better than you.

OK, that would have been a great way to end the post. But I just can’t do it. As Larisa reminded me with this post, everyone in this argument has feelings, and many people are reacting more out of fear that their own raid group that they have grown to call home will be torn apart. In fact, I bet the vast majority of people arguing against the change are well-meaning and simply reacting to what they perceive as a threat to their current raiding group.

Of course no one likes that, and it’s understandable that perfectly reasonable people would be unhappy about it and be searching for way to convince others that it is a bad change when really they just don’t want to see their group broken up. In the end, I still hold the opinion that the old system was inherently broken and unfair and that the new system is a massive improvement to the game overall that must be done. But I extend my truly heartfelt condolences to anyone who loves the guild that they built under the broken system and might now see their friends torn apart by an improvement to the game.

*I said “a lot” I did not say “every” or even “most”. Please don’t assume I was talking about you unless you actually suspect you are that type of person.


Anonymous said...

well said ! not to mention we are months away from launch and you know they are going to be changing things up to the day of and even after. Everyone just needs to relax.

Erik816 said...

Nailed it.

Grimmtooth said...

You've done a dandy job of distilling my feelings on this, only intelligently and, well, verbally. Much better than grunts. Or banging rocks together.

Though those little "clacks" kinda make my day.

Ixobelle said...

best wow blog ever.

the sentences preceding the jumbotron facepalm are legendary.

Tesh said...

"If you are a competitive person, wouldn’t you rather the playing field be evened so you can find out who’s really best, rather than getting a false sense of superiority from a rigged system?"

Yes... but I'm not convinced that a significant number of WoW players are actually all that interested in a fair playing field or honest skill evaluation. (Just look at the laughable PvP in the game, which is most often either a gankish bullying cycle or gear-based play rather than a real level playing field.) The core game design isn't built on even ground, it's based on progression and time investment. There isn't much in the way of normalized skill-based play.

That's neither here nor there regarding your core presentation, though, which I quite agree with.