Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Cataclysm Raiding May Not Kill 25-Mans

Post soundtrack: “The Ewok Celebration Song” by Crackerjack Junction

Yes, I’m still here; I was just being lazy.  Anyway, here’s a little opinion piece about the latest Cataclysm preview.  Enjoy.

So there’ll be no more separate 10-man/25-man raids in Cataclysm?  It sounds good to me, and while in the near term the effect may be cataclysmic (see what I did there?), it’s quite possible there are blue skies on the horizon.

Black Temple - Teron Gorefiend bites the dust.

From what I’ve read, reaction to the changes (announced here) seem to be divided into four camps:

  1. Oh no!  25-man raiding is doooooomed!  No-one will do it if 10-mans offer the same rewards.
  2. Yay, 10-man raiding will no longer be raiding-with-training-wheels!  Equality at last!
  3. Profit!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Seriously though, I’m not usually an optimist but I’m finding myself leaning towards the thought that these changes could be a good thing for raiding in future, and here’s why.

I think that, while 25-man raiding will be facing quite a shake-up (probably equivalent to the transition from 40-man in vanilla WoW to 10- and 25-man with TBC) there will be a new equilibrium after the dust has settled, and there’s a good chance it might leave 25-man raiding in a stronger place (albeit with a smaller population).

At the moment 25s are driven (progression aside) by the fact that the best gear is exclusive to 25-man raids, and because of that it’s where the majority of players are going.  Not just the good players, but also the…  shall we say, “less than talented.”  (Incidentally, a lot of complaints I’ve read about the current state of recruitment for 25s currently seems to revolve around the difficulty in finding (and keeping) competent players, often leaving a number of raid spaces being taken up by people whose lack of skill acts as a drag on the genuinely capable players but who are almost guaranteed a space because they show up for raids)

With 10s and 25s sharing the same level of rewards I suspect there will be a sudden drop in the number of players willing to carry others in order to acquire epics for themselves.  Soon after Cataclysm launches (when the population of 85s starts to stabilise) I’m pretty sure there will be a sudden increase in the number of 10-man raiding guilds, as like-minded players will start to gather together.  It’s also possible that these new 10-man guilds will start forming earlier, when the pre-launch 4.0 patch goes live, if the promised guild-leveling mechanic is launched with it.

The side-effect of 25s no longer being mandatory for top-shelf gear, is that players looking for easy loot may find themselves doing 10-mans more often.  And with a smaller pool of players wishing to do 25s, it’s not impossible that they may find themselves combining forces (without the less skilled players who now focus on the convenience of 10-mans) to focus on 25-man raiding.  It might be too early to say that Cataclysm could be a new ‘golden age’ for 25-man raiding like TBC was, but if the random factors align it could happen.  (my fingers are crossed on this one)

The downside to this will be that players who aren’t as skilled will find themselves having to work harder for a raid space, or will come to rely increasingly on pugs.  Fortunately Blizz have said that the initial raids will be balanced toward players in blue gear, so pugging them shouldn’t be too much more difficult than Naxx 2.0 was.  After that?  Well, there will be badges which will likely be farmable in heroics and the beginner raids.  Time will tell, I guess.

Ah, the wacky hijinks Tempest got up to back in TBC...

I like what I’ve read so far, and it’d be nice to get back into 25-man raiding with a group of like-minded players.  Am I being foolishly optimistic?  Maybe.  But I’d like to think this could be the expansion that brings dedicated raiders back together.