10 < 25

WoW developers have recently been frequently indicating an interest in community feedback/discussion on the issue of 10 and 25-man raids (some examples).  In particular, they are trying to find ways to once again incentivize players to run 25-mans, but the Cataclysm approach of making the two raid types interchangeable in terms of rewards and achievements has made it very difficult to do that.  I think what I’m going to do is copy some feedback I already wrote about this, and then add a few notes underneath it.



One of the big problems here is that the discussion is now exclusively framed as “25s are harder logistically.”  The first issue with that is that I’m not sure it’s true.  25s take proportionally more work to run but also have proportionally more people available to help (i.e. more “officers” or whatever it may be).  And what “logistics” mostly means in raiding is getting everyone to show up, and 10s are hit a lot harder by the ordinary fluctuations of attendance.  A serious 10-man group has a much harder time dealing with one key raider missing for a day–one random class swap has more of an effect that it does in 25, one bad fillin player has more of an effect, and the chance of simply not being able to raid is higher unless you keep a larger bench (relatively speaking) than in 25.  I think this effect is masked by 10-man groups being the go-to for “just fill the raid and we can go” casual-type stuff, where logistics are obviously simple.  So people don’t associate 10-mans with the logistical foibles of managing a raid team.  But for two similar groups trying to do equally hard content for equal rewards, I don’t see why you’d assume the principal difference is one of logistics.  There are much bigger difference of substance:

This question of 10 and 25 can’t be looked at independently of the game’s class design.  We have 34 different classes to bring to a raid now.  And for example, a key role (tank) has 5 options but only 2 slots in the 10-man raid setup (and probably 3 slots in the whole roster of a putative “hardcore 10-man guild”).  This poses an obvious problem in designing and tuning raid encounters for the wide variation in class setup.  The classes aren’t all the same, and some raid setups are just going to have the class with the best solution to some boss ability and some won’t.  There have been obvious attempts to mitigate this (and I can only imagine 10s were a big motivation for a lot of these): raid buff homogenization, homogenization of healer and tank toolkits, etc. But the fact remains that if an encounter is tuned for a broad range of class setups, it’s going to be noticeably easier for a tweaked setup.  Or if tuning isn’t perfect, it’s actually hard for the meticulously planned setup, and ridiculous for everyone else (Sartharion), which I’m sure has to be avoided.

This isn’t about “class stacking,” but about having 1 (rather than 0) of a class that’s really helpful at any particular fight.  When you get to the fight where the Warrior has just the right tank ability set to make everything nicer for the group, there’s going to be some hardcore 10s guild that goes “well crap, that’s the one we don’t have.” The fight’s tuned so they can probably still win, so the other 10-man guilds have an easier time of it.  Not to mention, the 25-man guild running 10s or the “serious 10-man guild” with enough people for multiple groups.  These have the right person 100% of the time, and will inevitably comprise the premier echelon of 10-man raiding.

Alright, belabored that enough.  Simpler point: restricted encounter design in 10-mans.  There are fewer moving parts.  I’d guess that wearing your raid leader hat, you probably watched people mess up that second Defile (which coincided with Val’kyr) about 50 to 100 times.  10-man LK didn’t have the 3 Val’kyr, so the basic tension between clumping for Valks and spreading for Defile was gone.  By far the hardest part of the hardest fight in the whole expansion, and the 10-man variant simply doesn’t have enough pieces available to build that design concept, so it was dropped.  Then there are things where having multiple people addressing randomly-targeted spells simultaneously is exponentially more complex than one person doing it (Anub’Arak, Penetrating Cold).  And of course the whole slew of situations where spreading out within a room matters.  You can think of a whole bunch of things in all of those categories without me doing it.

So if you want to deal with this seriously, then (putting aside the tack you have to take in public Q&As, which is its own issue) you have to start by framing the issue: 25-man raids are harder.  Don’t suffix “logistically” because it’s both a copout and also less accurate.  It’s irrelevant that you _can_ make any 10-man fight as hard as you want by cranking up numbers–you won’t, because that leads to an even less accessible and more frustrating raid experience than 25s, for all the reasons discussed so far.

My hope is that I’ve spent the whole mail saying things you already know and just won’t say publicly, but, have to start somewhere.  So for your whole question about how to incentivize people to do 25s–you know the answer already because it’s the same as any game.  Make rewards commensurate with the challenge.  Before Cataclysm, you allowed yourself do to so.  Now you’re trying to create the incentive but have this newfound limitation of keeping the rewards the same, which is quite the quandary.

Now, I know many reasons you’re unlikely to go back to 25s being a tier up from 10s.  But in all honesty, I think this sheds light on your problem.  You’re not trying to design a reward system to incentivize people for increased challenges (that you already know how to do, and have tried and discarded).  You’re trying to design a reward system to maintain the deception that two things are the same which are really not, because that deception is now a conscious part of the way raiding is sold to people.  And in your first implementation–making the rewards and even achievements/recordkeeping indistinguishable, that deception was undermined by the invisible hand.  You put two types of content into the wild with the same rewards, and people flocked to one of them.  So it’s not “how do we incentivize the harder one?” but “what are the design principles causing us to refuse to do so?”



After thinking about the above and a little discussion with people, I can probably concede that encounter complexity isn’t an imbalance that’s cast in stone–after all, some mechanics affect an equal number of people in 10 and 25, and so are proportionally more prominent in 10s (e.g. Sinestra orbs).  However, I think the issue of class mechanics is not so easily dispensed with–it seems baked into the system of this game that 10-man is a less good fit for the large number of classes and their varied abilities.

What exactly is a “logistical” difficulty is a bit of a semantic issue that I don’t want to mire in too much, but let’s just observe this: downsizing a raid group from 25 to 10 is very easy (in fact, probably a huge relief if you were struggling to fill a 25), but upsizing from 10 to 25 is nearly impossible.  Regardless of what you call that, it means that if 10s and 25s are truly interchangeable game experiences, there’s very little reason to do 25s.  The only reason you would is if you happened to have 24 friends already gathered–but as those old 25-man guilds fade out, there would be no reason to make more of them.

Combining these two factors (WoW systems giving 25-mans more depth, but recent design defining away the difference as “logistics” instead of recognizing it) I think gets to the crux of the matter.  If we truly believed they were interchangeable game experiences–equally interesting/complex, equally (personally) rewarding, equally challenging and deserving of equal (in-game) rewards, then deleting 25-man raids would be the easy and obvious solution.  But we don’t think that.  Many people are very fond of 25-man raids, including people who now run 10-man raids as the opportunities for 25s dwindle.  By its nature a 25-man raid has a greater array of strategic options available, and more moving parts to successfully orchestrate at once.  However you define it, there’s an effort and challenge in getting all that done.

Unfortunately, Blizzard wanted to broadcast raiding as a very accessible activity for Cataclysm, and their chosen approach was a very hard sell on the fiction that 10s and 25s are interchangeable (even going so far as to have players’ achievement records not identify whether they had done an encounter on 10 or 25).  And restating once more–it is clearly a fiction.  If it were true, we simply would not care if 25s disappeared, and I think it’s evident that many people (up to and including top-level Blizzard developers) do care.  Even more unfortunately, they’ve cultivated a large population of 10-man raiders based on that fiction, and now they can’t unring the bell.  So they’ve worked themselves into a corner where the Cataclysm system is based on this fiction, but the fiction can’t be maintained in reality because, as I noted in the e-mail, players will go where the incentives lead them.

So it’s too late to go back to the, in my view, unequivocally better Wrath of the Lich King system where rewards reflected challenge in a way that was honest.  Solutions from this point forward are difficult and while I will see if I come up with any interesting ideas, I feel that some degree of irreparable damage has been done to the raiding game.  The focus of this post was digging into where the problem arises (which we have to understand first).  The decision going into Cataclysm to treat two things as equal which are really not teaches an important lesson about games: the rules of the game are the only reality.  You can’t make something else true just by saying it is.

38 thoughts on “10 < 25

  1. I agree that Blizzard has some cognitive dissonance to resolve about whether 25-mans are actually harder or just “logistically difficult”. It’s tough to separate the PR from the actual opinion over there.

    On the long decline of 25s: I think the ease of downsizing 25->10 versus the difficulty of upsizing 10->25 is much more significant than a market of raiders arbitraging difficulty vs loot. There’s no easy way for a new 25-man raid to come into being: if you’re starting fresh, you can get started sooner and keep your momentum with 10; if you’re an overflowing 10, you overflow into another 10; if you’re merging two 10s, you’re still not quite to 25.

    There are probably some cool analogies that could be made with chemical reactions and activation energies, or final states of a system with certain transition probabilities (independent of starting conditions!), but you get the idea. This model suggests that there’s not a lot Blizzard can do.

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  4. As clearly identified in this article, making 10 and 25 man raids roughly equivalent in difficulty and reward is a very tough (if not impossible) goal for designers. Mostly, the debate turns into some very nasty “my way is better” argument between 25-mans and 10-mans. However, the basis for this debate (as hinted in this article) is a tragic flaw: these raid sizes are inherently different, and therefore each have strengths and weaknesses when compared to the other.

    I propose a solution to the inherent difference (in the form of a question): what is the benefit inherent in having different raid sizes? or better yet, can we have different raid sizes without causing inherent issues?

    Certain mechanics will always be easier to tackle for one size or the other group. Raids will always need to be modified to compensate for that (making 10 and 25 inherently different). Why not just make one size? A 15 (or something else between 10 and 25) man raid could end the debate by allowing more class comps and just feel more epic than current 10s but not require the larger leadership/recruitment force of current 25s.

    It may be time to compromise and end the “my way is better” debate

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  7. My argument about logistics of 25-mans being harder is that it is harder to start a new 25-man raiding guild than to start a new 10-man raiding guild. So, even if once you get going, it’s not terribly hard to maintain, the fact is that a large chunk of guilds (on any raid size) are going to disban. If no one makes new guilds in their place, or existing guilds downsize from 25 to 10, with no one creating new 25’s, then 25-mans aren’t sustainable long-term. The data of boss kill tracking sites shows a steady decline in terms of the number of boss kills on 25-man raids consistently across the expansion. From the 10 guilds that used to run 25-mans with any real success on my server, we’re down to 3 starting out in MOP (and only one of the guilds – mine- are guilds who killed Heroic Madness). We don’t even get credit for our heroic spine or heroic madness 25-man kills because Wowprogress counted them inappropriately as 10’s instead of 25’s. At the very least, we need to be able to get credit for killing 25-man bosses when we actually do it – that data needs to show up in the logs & acheivement lists.

  8. I’m a 10-man raider, and not a raid leader, but here’s my opinion. While I agree with part of this, I have to disagree on 25s being generally harder. I still support the logistic approach. While some fights are easier on 25, others are easier on 10.
    Remember Halfus HC? You just couldn’t have more tanks in 10-man…
    At certain point in DS, half-heroic half-normal, we needed to have 3 people to have gear and skills to play two roles. That’s 30% of raid. Do you swap roles of 7-8 people in 25-man?
    I think 25-man format is equal-or-easier for those cutting edge progression guilds, where you won’t have discipline problems, and where you struggle for every single benefit you can get.
    As for WotLK loot difficulty – well, 25-man normals had same difficulty elements as 10-man heroics. And had same loot level…Ok, yeah, I didn’t raid before ToC, but for ToC and ICC that was the way. Only 2 raids had higher reward at same tactics, and there weren’t heroic modes.
    IMO, the one big important point is the difference in 10 to 25 conversion and 25 to 10 conversion. That’s what should be somehow handled and focused on, you really should’ve elaborated on this point, in my opinion. Instead of giving extra rewards, 25 mans should somehow become easier to create.

  9. 25 mans may not be harder for you to organize, but they’re definitely harder for some of us to participate in. I live in the western United States and get home from work after 6PM, like most other adults with a full time job.

    In every raiding group there’s usually one or more people who live in a time zone far enough away from me that if we’re going to raid together they have to be night owls.

    Sometimes you get lucky and find people like that, but the more people there are, the less likely that is.

    Sucks to be me, right? Not your problem? I get that, but it’s why I prefer 10 man raids – because that way I can actually, y’know, raid.

  10. Coming from a guild that has only ever run 10 man I would have to disagree with your argument about how the Wrath system was better. In Wrath GuildOx had a ranking system called 10-Man Strict. The basic rules were that your group was limited on gear it could have from 25 mans (there was some leeway to prevent recruiting from disqualifying your group). It also didn’t allow at all achievements from 25mans of the current tier or 25 H from the previous tier. The result was that 10 mans were much more challenging that people believed them to be. For example H LK 10 Man-Strict had what many considered an impossible enrage timer until the 25% buff minimum. Infact the first 10-strict kills didn’t even occur until the 30% buff was out. I think that if Blizzard were to ever go back to that gear system we would just see a return of this problem.

    I do however agree with your stance on how much of an impact group comp has had on 10 mans, particularly in T11. In T11 if you didn’t have a Rogue or a Frost Mage good luck getting past H Twin Dragons or Wind Council respectively. Blizzard did better with that as the expansion went on but there were obvious outliers. These came in the form of the hard dps checks like Baleroc and Ultraxion. Since Blizzard couldn’t assume certain buffs (ex: 10% SP), the fights were made quite a bit easier by having those buffs.

    While I do believe that 25 mans need more incentive I don’t think it needs to come in the form of gear. As a 10 man raider I always felt left out of the BiS pieces or Legendaries just because I raided 10 man. I do think a tag on an achievement of what mode it was earned on is a good start.

  11. As a raid leader since 2005, I appreciate this clear and well thought out blog. An excellent analysis of the problem, identifying the core design issue clearly, as well as pointing toward clear thinking about reasonable solutions.
    As far as I can see, though certainly not perfect, and likely not even the most optimal possible, the 25 man / 10 man raiding system as it was set up in WotLK and previously wasn’t broken, and the “fix” applied in Cataclysm broke it.

  12. I feel like depending on the server you’re on you’re view of the logistical challenges will be different.

    Like my main’s on Dawnbringer Alliance, and it’s a bit of a wasteland. If they made 25s the real raid again, I don’t think think would even be enough players to fill more than 1 or 2 guilds that would take on tough challenges.

    I feel like as Lissanna mentioned it’s so hard to get started, and on some servers its even harder than that as 25 dedicated raiders on a schedule is quite a logistical challenge to even be able to do a run at all.

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  14. I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said, but in my opinion, the fatal blow was not the homogenization of gear from 10’s to 25’s. It was tying the lockouts together so that any toon can only run one, not both.

    I’ve been in a fairly large guild for years, and in our BC/LK heyday we had 2-3 progression 10’s a week, at different times of the week for the different player schedules. Then we had a full-guild 25 on the weekend, where the progression raiders would combine with those with weekday schedule limitations for a run that was less progressive but was a ton of fun.

    Once the lockouts were combined, the 25 died. There weren’t enough unsaved toons with adequate gear levels to get over the hump. It was too hard to get the same 25 scheduled for every week to break new progression, and without the veterans from the 10s it just didn’t work.

    The 10 and 25 are different experiences, and one is not worse or better than the other. The 25 has more coordination issues; the 10s have more vulnerability to a single error or a bad RNG streak (or to group composition issues). I’ve enjoyed both, and wish I could have both back again – but the Cata “fix” removed that choice.

    • Funny, I think the ability to run both 10 and 25 in a week was one of the more questionable parts of the ICC system. Some weeks it was nice (farming everything but in the mood to play WoW more than once a week). But most of the time it’s probably not something you want to have to do. This can be fixed by making sure 25-man raiders have little incentive to run 10s (similar to what they’re trying to do now with LFR). But I’d prefer to expect that everyone does content only once in a week, with both a more complex/advanced and less complex/advanced version available.

      • This issue was by far the largest failure of the Cataclysm expansion. I have watched longstanding 25 man guilds on many servers dwindle until there is nothing left, until not even the illusion of choice presented by Blizzard at the start of this expansion remained, as the option to run a 25 man on many servers all but disappeared. It is true that raiders will often choose the path of least resistance. Its also true that the reward should be suitable to the challenge. The problem isn’t rooted in just one of those criteria or another. Therefore the problem is actually in the fact that the attempt is to balance something that isn’t meant to be balanced in the first place. One can’t exist without the other. There really wasn’t much of an issue with how this was working at the end of Wrath.
        The only real concern players have expressed that seems valid is this sense of obligation to run the content twice. The only real reasons that even existed were BIS items that only dropped on 10 man heroic, and the extra badges than any serious raider would not consider optional. One of those issue has been resolved through the valor point system and caps. The other is easy to resolve considering we have the same items dropping now on 3 different difficulty settings. It wouldn’t be hard to go down a path again similar to that of ICC where the itemization was about a half tier apart, but the encounters were actually balanced around that, rather than trying to balance the two raid sizes.

  15. If I recall as well, one of the reasons why they decided to make both 10 and 25 raid gear the same was to also reduce the item level bloat that it cost. This was probably best observed during Tier 9 where you had 2 different 10 modes, and 2 different 25 modes, resulting in 3 different item level of gear. Where previously you had only 1 small jump of about 13 item levels, in tier 9 alone you had a whopping 26 item levels. This would probably prove untenable in the long run if Blizzard decided to keep maintaining such a pattern.

  16. I think the fact that more people have gone the ten man route…with the gear being the same…speaks volumes about what the majority of the raiding player base prefers.

    If the only thing enticing players to do twenty-fives is the gear then I’d suggest it’s flawed somehow. After all, if twenty-fives are all that better…more fun…more challenging…wouldn’t people still be choosing them over tens irregardless of gear?

    Time, imo, to put twenty-fives to rest and free up the resouces used designing them for something else and…as a bonus…put this tiresome debate to bed.

  17. Can raids be graphically designed to have smaller platforms based on raid size? Something that will re-introduce the stacking / unstacking issue.

    The problem is not that 25s or 10s are “better” but that they are very different raids. They should have some raids designed for 10s and some for 20s, with equivalent gear rewards. 10 man raiders can raid Raid A, 25 man raiders can raid Raid B. Anytime you try to make a Hideous Amalgamation of two raids into one this problem happens.

    • This is a lot of work. And since the systems would still be the same in both types of content, 10s would still have the class setup problems they have now. In some ways what you really want is different games appealing to different people (not a practical response here I know). But I had a blast with 4 people in Diablo and never thought it should be larger.

      There’s no globally right number of people just based on first principles. It’s a sliding scale–more effort put into assembling a complex strategy and succeeding is ultimately more rewarding, and sometimes you’re in the mood for more or less of that. It’s great if one game opens up different options, but in WoW at least, the systems allow for a more refined raid experience with large sizes. Moreover, lots of games allow you to play with people in smaller groups, but large raids are unique to MMOs (on some level, just to WoW). So it’s really sad to see the decline of both what WoW is best at, and what you can’t get anywhere else.

      • I always wanted to get more people in a group in Diablo 3 – because we always had one or two guildies and we all wanted to play together, but you couldn’t fit 6 people…

  18. I honestly have no idea why they didn’t just continue the design of ICC 10v25 in Cataclysm. There was no real reason to wildly overcorrect as much as they did.

    And Hamlet’s right, they’ve backed themselves into a corner on this one. They can’t just kill off one or the other without a huge uproar. The most they can do is limp along until Titan, at which point you can be bloody well guaranteed there will be only 1 “raid” size, and it will be either 15 or 20 man.

  19. That 10 and 25 have the same loot is a big deal, not because people want purples, but because it means your guild can drop to 10s, or you can switch to 10s, and not suddenly have some horrible gear gap. Dropping to 10s in WotLK meant a serious gear disadvantage.

    In my experience raid and guild leading for around five years, I’ve basically come to the conclusion that most “serious” raiders don’t care strongly about 10 vs 25. To the contrary, they have a slight preference for 25s, but what matters more is the schedule of the guild and its relative progression. 10s mean the same number of people raid in more guilds which mean more options and diversity. People would rather drop from 25 to 10 when looking for a guild than drop to one of significantly lower progression.

    So the problem is basically 10s ate the lunch of 25s because there are more of them (i.e., more diverse schedules, progression levels, etc), there is no huge gear/prestige disadvantage to joining them, and because a 25 dissolving or failing always has 1-2 10s it can immediately become. A 25 can fail-down to 10 but a 10 can’t succeed-up to a 25.

    It has almost nothing to do with encounter design. I pretty much completely disagree with that view as it doesn’t really match what I’ve personally seen.

  20. Interesting post. I’m afraid I mostly don’t agree though:

    0- The whole “difficulty” argument kinda falls flat in practice. I’ve got as many examples of fights that are much harder in 10-mans than of fights that are much harder in 25-mans. Are you raiding 25s yourself, and just angling for more shiny ?

    1- Logistics is not just gathering the people, it’s also getting them moving. You fail to address how unwieldy 25-mans are, how much longer getting together/buffed/back from pee breaks/… takes. Of course, some raids manage to overcome that by being more organized. Which leads us to…

    2- Your post lacks any appearance of the word “fun”, which, for some mad reason, often appears when talking about games. You seem to think of the game as a purely “loot vs difficulty” thing. You’d be amazed at how many people see the game as a “time vs fun” system instead. To me, the issue is not that 25-mans have a weaker loot/difficulty ration, but that they have a bad time/fun ratio: no idle chat on Vent, long setup/wipe recovery/break recovery… times, much looser personal relationships with fellow raid members, much more strict hierarchy, feeling of being lost amongst a see of players instead of being an important element…

    3- you seem to forget the big change that mostly killed 25s: we no longer can do both 10s and 25s. To me this is a much bigger change than the loot equalization. And I liked it, because it let me play other toons instead of camping the whole week on a single one.

    I’ve been playing since Vanilla. Did the whole 40-mans thing (with a sociopathic, arguably psychopathic too, raid leader), then 25-mans with flawed raid leaders (there was the perpetually pissed-off one, the officer-multiplying one,…). Now I’m doing 10-mans with regular guys and having more fun than I ever had.

    I think it’s a good thing that Blizzard has switched to a time/fun focus, in line with most players’ expectations. Going back to a loot/difficulty focus (and assuming 25s are harder, which they aren’t) would be major backsliding.

    Reviving 25-mans could entail unlinking 10 and 25 IDs, so that players who wish to and have the time, can do both, and are incentivized to do so by the chance at more loot.

    I’d rather they didn’t, though.

    • The bit about “fun” is kind of silly; I talked about it with different words. I’ve made a big deal of 25s being massively rewarding to due to complex/interesting it is to fit all the pieces together and see them work. In fact that was basically the conclusion–that’s a unique kind of fun that we don’t want to give up on, because for a lot of people, 25-man WoW raids are basically the only time we’ve gotten to experience it.

      A lot of what you say seems 100% anecdotal and kind of arbitrary–idle chat on vent, personal relationships, bad raid leader. Sounds like you’re just playing with people you like better now, and that’s most of what your analysis is based on.

  21. As Perculia will attest to, we’ve been discussing this in guild quite a bit lately.

    Out guild occupies a very specific niche: Clearing all HM content in a respectable timeframe on a 3 nights/12 hours schedule.

    I’ve watched as, throughout Cataclysm, the number of 25 guilds has diminished up to the point where I can only count 3 guilds Alliance side that measure relatively close to one another while operating on such a schedule.

    I agree with you when you say that Blizzard probably dealt irreparable harm to the system with the Cataclysm modifications. At this point, I see very limited ways in which to incentivise 25 man raiding.
    Unique mounts, titles and the separation of “Realm First!” achievements are among a few (Ghostcrawler’s recent response on the last one was extremely disappointing) ways I can think of that might appeal to *some* 25 raiders, but I’m at a loss when it comes to developing a concrete solution while still keeping itemisation and lockouts between 10s and 25s on a shared basis.

  22. Just addressing a few of the more common things I’ve seen in replies:

    1) People are reacting to the difficulty comments a lot, as expected, but aren’t totally on point. Anecdotal bits about hard 10-man experiences don’t show much. 10-man raiding didn’t have nearly the resources (on the player side) devoted to it until very recently, and skill/composition/effort of people trying 10-mans were all over the map. The main point about difficulty is more subtle and doesn’t at all preclude that a 10-man can ever be hard (after all, anything can have the numbers cranked up). First, think of the class setup point, which is the most prominent issue (won’t restate it here).

    A related point is that when a 10-man encounter actually is tuned harshly enough to be a challenge to serious min/maxing groups, it just recreates all the problems of 25-man, but even worse. You’re more likely to have to put recruiting/organization effort into have the right classes, you have much bigger problems from one person not showing up, it’s even more frustrating when someone isn’t doing their job correctly because you have less leeway to rearrange and work around it.

    So as I keep saying, they _can_ tune any fight as hard as they want. They won’t tune 10-mans as harshly as they can because that defeats any advantage the format is meant to have over 25-man (just think again of Sartharion). Our experiences raiding 10-man are smoother and less riddled with logistical hassles because the content doesn’t have the difficulty/tuning to exacerbate those problems.

    2) A common suggestion is to consolidate to one size, usually 15-man. Without getting too far into the merits of this, let’s say that it is certainly not responsive to the concerns discussed in this post. Yes, I do say that simply having two sizes poses many problems. But I also heavily point out how the mismatch between the game’s class design and small raid sizes like 10 is a deep-seated problem, and 15 would not be too much better. Similarly, think of the conclusion again, there’s _something_ people love about 25s, and we have to figure out what exactly it is so we can reward/preserve it. Getting rid of large raid sizes is an easy suggestion that doesn’t address any of the serious questions. Honestly, I mostly read it as people wanting to get rid of 25s in favor of 10s, but feigning compromise by changing the number slightly.

    • I always thought that 15 would be the perfect size.

      But here’s another crazy idea: DYNAMIC raid sizes with a max cap of players!

      You have 15 people this week available for raid? Adjust encounter difficulty for 15.

      You have 20? Adjust for 20! 25? 25 then!

      Wouldn’t that be awesome?

  23. I posed a question to Hamlet on Twitter regarding what size he considers a raid to be “epic”, but I’ll expand on my thoughts here. I agree with what Hamlet has said above in the blog post. I think the core symptom of what happened in Cataclysm with shared lockouts and equalized loot between raid sizes has irreparably doomed 25-man raiding. With the rapidly declining numbers of players that are making the effort to put together 25-man raids, there will come a point where it will make no sense to Blizzard to put any effort in to developing the raids for a larger group. The core problem then becomes whether a 10-man raid is a sufficient size for that “epic” feeling. In my own experience, 10-man raiding has always felt like a slightly more difficult and larger 5-man dungeon run, with more mechanics to deal with. It has never had an “epic” feel to it. Of course, that’s highly subjective, and harkening back to the days of 40-man MC runs would give many old-time raiders serious pause. Sure, it was an epic effort in needing to corral that many players at once, along with all the issues associated!

    So what is the solution? Since Blizzard would be foolish in directing resources towards balancing two different raid sizes, when one is becoming rapidly obsolete, how do we maintain that epic feel but still allow raiding to be accessible to those who cannot spend hours a week on managing a larger raid? The number 15 gets thrown around a lot as a compromise, but would it feel “epic”? Would 20 feel epic? Is 20 too many players to put together in a game that is increasingly becoming more casual-player friendly?

    I don’t have a good answer.

  24. I still can’t agree with the statement (not necessarily saying that you are saying this) that 10 mans are harder.

    There’s downsides in both.

    On one hand, it’s easier to rally up 10 people. Though you can’t over-recruit like you do in a 25m guild. You can’t have more than 12 people in a rotation (and most of the times you want to have just 10 people, fixed, with maybe good geared alts or good geared offspecs), so if one misses a night, you’re screwed and can’t raid anymore.

    On the other hand, 25m are harder to put together. It’s harder to start a 25m guild and most of the time you need to over-recruit. Our current roster has around 35 people! That’s 10 people on rotation and we can’t consider ourselves a “hardcore” guild. Previously I was in another 25m guild that struggled to get people together. We recruited 2-3 people this week, then next week we had other 2-3 people not showing up. We ended up having 21-22 people online.

    We couldn’t do anything with that. We were on a low-population realm and it pretty much killed our guild.

    Then there’s the question of fight difficulty. I think most people can agree that T11 was much more harder for 10m guilds than for 25m guilds. But looking at T12 and T13, 25m (most) fights were harder than 10m. The only fight I can say it was much harder in this previous tier in 10m was Hagara HC.

    Ultraxion’s DPS check was a joke in 10m. On 25m (before the nerfs) was a bitch. You had to rotate groups of 5 people to “soak” Twilight Hour and if one of them died you had to wipe because you couldn’t meet the DPS check anymore. In contrast, there were 10m groups being healed by only one holy paladin and could afford another DPS instead of a healer.

    If your bloods tank died in 25m @ Spine, you had to wipe it, because no timely combat-ress could save all your DPS from being killed by dozens of bloods on the floor. On 10m your tank could quickly taunt all of those bloods back.

    I could go on and on with specific examples…

  25. > A serious 10-man group has a much harder time dealing with one key raider missing for a day–one random class swap has more of an effect that it does in 25, one bad fillin player has more of an effect, and the chance of simply not being able to raid is higher unless you keep a larger bench (relatively speaking) than in 2

    Probably true, but in my experience a 25-man group can have the same “key player/class missing” issues. Your Warrior tank that kited the H Spine bloods can’t play? Well, no progress on Heroic Spine for you this week. Your only Feral DPS that had the 4-piece bonus can’t attend the raid? Better wait until Ultraxion gets nerfed or your GM can recruit 5 aditional DPS warriors. You can’t fill half the DPS spots with rogues and mages tonight? No point in making pre-nerf Heroic Spine attempts.

    While class-encounter interaction/balance can definitely be a huge issue for some 10-man raids, 25-man guilds with limited resources may also struggle with this kind of problems. Tier 13 had balance issues that could only be addresed with class stacking at first (before the nerfs), so each night without a “situational OP class” player was a setback for progressive 25-man raids that didn’t have unlimited resources in terms of players, alts, time and gear.

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  28. The Wrath system was flawed for the same reason the entire “raid or die” philosophy is flawed; the idea that somehow a team of X (where X>1) characters is entitled not only to better rewards, but individually better rewards (that armor isn’t only activated in a raid setting). Academically, 25 isn’t better than 10, and to claim that any encounter can be tuned to be difficult regardless of intended party size while simultaneously dismissing claims of difficult 10 man raids as anecdotal is silly at best.

    This whole problem wouldn’t even exist if better gear wasn’t the incentive over, you know, a fun, deep, engaging game you want to play over and over again just because. Finishing Bucky O’Hare on NES faster than my last run and losing fewer lives — if any at all — doesn’t reward me with a more powerful gun for my next playthrough, but there will be a next playthrough, because the game mechanics are engaging, well-tuned, fun.

    But better gear and player demand for it rules the day, and we get flawed arguments about why 25 is more deserving than 10, as if somehow 26 would be more deserving than 25. It’s disappointing this genre still hasn’t moved past such shallow waters.

    • What he said.

      The entire issue seems to boil down to “25-man raiding is dying”. There are all kinds of reasons for why this is happening, but why do we care? If the only thing which keeps 25-man raiding going is arbitrary ilvl differences, does this really make sense?

      As far as difficulty is concerned:
      1) It is impossible to tune two different things to identical difficulty. They are different, and anything with real mechanics will play differently in different size groups.
      2) You can tune anything to be harder or easier. And Blizzard is not prescient in their tuning choices. Some fights are harder on one difficulty, and some are harder on the other. In any case it is not a fundamental problem. They could easily change the tuning of any given fight to make either mode harder at any moment.

      Unless you purposely decide you are going to go out of your way to make one version harder than the other (WotLK), discussions surrounding difficulty are bound to be sloppy and ill-conceived.

      Why do we want both to continue to exist? If people are flocking to 10-man, whatever the reason, this is a free-market-type migration. If you want to work against the natural preference of the raiding player base, you had best come up with a good defense for your opinion.

      I’m not saying that 25-man is worthless. Far from it. But player preference has spoken, and no pining for the good ole’ days is going to return it to its former station.

      If you want to give players more options, why not go back to the two-lockout system. If you are worried about obliging people to run multiple raids, either:
      1) Move to a LFR-style per-player loot system and only offer loot once, or
      2) Reduce the likelihood that loot even drops proportional to the number of players who have already beaten a boss this week. If only 10 people are not locked out, you get 2 pieces of gear. If 12 are not locked, you get 2 pieces and a 40% chance of a third piece. Etc. You would also have to disallow giving this gear to the already-locked characters to avoid farming.

      The entire lockout system has always seemed kind of clunky to me. I can’t run in the non-progression alt-run with my main? Why? Just don’t give me gear, and adjust the gear drop rates accordingly. The biggest downside I see is people getting grumpy about missing items, but someone should teach them math and welcome them to 10-man loot RNG. 23 Morchok kills and no bracers? Yup.

  29. Throne of thunder was more difficult on 10man when it came out, considering paragon was stuck on 2/13 when method was already like 6/13. You can’t say one raid size is more difficult than the other because YOU DIDN’T TUNE THE FIGHT, and I’m talking about the content specifically not logistics.

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