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New Raid Rules

2010/05/01

The new raid system for Cataclysm has recently been revealed, and there’s been a huge storm of excitement all around it. I want to start out by saying that I am very positive about the changes, and I’ll use this post to go into detail why I believe they are not just good, but necessary.

The change basically comes down to this: 10 and 25 mans will be the same raid (with the same lockout and loot), and heroic modes will be available for bosses in both (again, same lockout, same loot). 25 mans will give more loot per player, but not better loot. So per raid you have one lockout, and better loot only for heroic modes, with more loot for 25 mans. Simple and elegant if you ask me.
In short Blizzard has taken the stances that rather than develop content that dictates how you play, they are asking you to choose a play style (10/25 man, normal/heroic) and use the content they have provided. So no longer is your play style decided by the content , rather it has been turned around. You choose how you play, not Blizzard. I’d say this is an improvement, as it puts the decision of how to play with the player. Simultaneously it still allows Blizzard to provide us with content that most players will be able to see, which means they can pull out more of their resources to make it.

So why is this change needed? The main reasoning behind it seems to be that raiding “difficulty” comes in two dimensions. An idea that came up between Naxx and Ulduar. You can differentiate based on player skill and on raid size. In Naxx the only distinction was based on size, you either ran normal/easy mode/10 man or difficult/heroic/25 man. Not to say that the 25 man was necessarily more difficult, but the argument was, it requires more organization and thus should give better rewards.
In Ulduar the second dimension was added, that of hard modes. In these case it was not just organization, but actual difficulty of the encounter that was used to allow players to get better gear. And this makes sense: if you play a harder game, you should get a better reward.
The question that arises is: if the reward for downing a more difficult boss is better loot, then what should the reward for more organization be? So far it had been better loot. But was this really fair? Now one might argue that 25 man raids were still more difficult, but imagine (for as far as can be measured) normal 25 mans are as hard/easy as normal 10 mans. How is it fair that you get better gear, since you are doing pretty much the same thing? Yet at the same time, there is more organization involved, which should count for something.
The answer Blizzard has provided to this problem is very elegant: more organization should be rewarded with more gear, instead of better gear. This provides some added incentive, but does not reward players more for continuously doing the same within one week.

The main advantage of this is that players are not being forced (actually, they are no longer able) to run the same 25 and 10 man raids in one week in order to keep up with badges. I’ve compared it to watching the same tv show twice in one week. It is boring, and makes no sense. The main reason why it is done, is because after a few 25 man runs you out-gear the 10 man raid and just blow straight through it. Is that what this game should be about? I don’t think so.

One of the arguments against this change has been the question: how do we gear up new guild members? Currently they can be taken through a 10 man raid, get them geared, while still allowing the raiders who take this new member to do the 25 man. This will no longer be possible. Of course it has only been possible since WOTLK, and we can just look back to older expansions to see how it was done: run the previous tier raid. The gear of the previous tier should be a) available through old raids and heroics and b) enough to get you started with both 10 and 25 man raids of the current tier.

Finally I want to address the main problem that has sprung up around the web: why run 25 mans? The main reason should be “because I like it”. You’re playing this game for fun, and if you like downing bosses with 24 other folks, by all means do so. No it will not get you better gear. It will gear you slightly faster because you’re going through some more stress during organization. Do you on the other hand enjoy seeing the content, don’t mind gearing a tad slower, and don’t want the hassle of a big team? Raid 10 mans. Like I said before, decide how you want to play, and play that way. Your reward will mostly be in the joy of playing, not in your gear.
I’ve seen loads of people say they prefer 25 mans, but they are afraid it is no longer worth it. Well, if you enjoy it, it is worth it. And judging by the amount of people, I’d say there’s likely to be at least 24 people who agree with you on your realm.

All in all, I think the new raid model is great: it frees up people to decide for themselves what play style they enjoy. People get rewarded fairly for doing more difficult fights, and still somewhat for more organization. There is no more need to run the same content over and over and over. To conclude, my main hope for this is that it frees the designers up to make some extra content, making the game even more fun in the end.

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