Raid Lockouts

This seems to be a never-ending argument and it’s something I’ve touched upon before. Every few months the debate is kickstarted by something, in this case by lockouts being separated on Korean realms, and 25 man getting better loot than 10 man. People are wondering whether this is a trial run before it’s brought back to NA/EU servers. After all that was the system in place in Wrath of the Lich King.

What people forget is that their opinion is biased, and I’m no exception to that. Even people who’ve raided both formats equally will like one or the other better, and that will bias their opinion. It’s a complex subject because due to personal experience everyone is convinced that they are right. The problem with that is that everyone’s personal experience is different.

10 vs 25 man
I’ve only done one true 25 man run before. It was in Dragon Soul and two guilds pooled their 10 man teams, plus a couple of other guildmates/friends to round out the numbers. So my experience of a 25 man run wasn’t running it on progression, it wasn’t running it with people that I knew and raided with every week. Perhaps if I was running with a 25 man team, rather than what amounted to a glorified pug, I would feel differently about it. That’s my bias.

From that 25 man run my experience told me that managing 25 people is hell. I didn’t know the other guild but I have to assume they didn’t usually act the way that they did that night. It’s like when you get a huge group together people individually lose their common sense. People were talking over each other on vent, this does happen on 10 but people instinctively shut up and then do a “you then me” dance. Vent was just a madhouse with 25 people. Then there’s the tactics, like the blobs on Yor’sahj. In 10 everyone would swap their priority, even the tank to run and kill them. In this 25 people just stayed tunnel visioning on the boss, assuming I suppose that everyone else would run so they didn’t have too. I was a healer at this point and I was doing twice the healing of the holy paladin from the other guild. So when it came to the crystals on Ultraxion they grabbed both, which didn’t get them anything extra as the buffs overwrite one another, so that I didn’t get it. When I called them on it they said it didn’t matter as I’d beaten them again anyway, which I had done. However, despite doing my best I still felt like I was making very little difference. In such a huge group I didn’t feel like I was making any impact on the outcome, like I could afk and no-one would notice but the other holy pally who would be happy as his numbers would then look better against mine.

Now that’s obviously not your typical 25 man experience. If it was a cohesive team running from the same guild then it would just be like a supersized 10. I still pity the poor raid leader that has to marshal 25 people, I’m having trouble recruiting to fill out a 10 man team, getting 25 people must be hell. From my experience the encounters were a lot easier on 25 man as the personal responsibility was less. We lost a few people on Ultraxion to not pressing the button, on 10 that could lead to a wipe as we’d need that dps/healing to be able to down him in time. On 25, if one person dies, purely from a numbers standpoint you’ve lost 4% of your raid, rather than 10%, so the impact is going to be less. Now due to mechanics 25 man could be harder, like when you need to spread but you have the same area in which to do so, which means less space for 25 people than 10. Those numbers for losing people don’t change though, 4% loss is easier to cope with than 10%.

The proposed changes
Let’s assume for a moment that they are trialling the old Wrath model in Korea, with a view to bring it back to NA/EU servers. This isn’t a totally unreasonable assumption, as the developers have said in numerous interviews, that they want to make 25 man more attractive. However, it’s not necessarily true as they altered the raid lockout time in Korea, making it reset twice a week rather than once, and that’s never been suggested it might transfer to all servers. Let’s assume though that they are testing the waters for this change.

My instinctive response is “No, not only no but hell no!” and I have my reasons for that. The developers don’t want 25 man to die as people enjoy it. That’s fair enough, I don’t want 10 man to die because it’s considered second rate. There’s enough elitist jerks who already look down on 10 man as being subpar to 25 as it is. I raid because I enjoy it, I like raiding 10 man as I like the personal responsibility where what I do could (in theory) make or break the encounter. I like raiding 10 man as it’s something you can do with friends, and I think you become closer as it’s a smaller group. 10 man in my eyes is friends, 25 man is a party. I like 10 man raiding, that’s another bias right there.

I don’t object to separate lockouts, in fact I think I’ve mentioned that I wish they hadn’t been combined. This is mostly because of achievement hunting those separate 10/25 man in Ulduar, ICC and other Wrath raids. I wouldn’t like to see a return to the separate achievements if I’m honest. I like achievement hunting but I despair of ever getting all the Wrath achievements, there’s so many and I have to do all of them twice. There’s also the fact that it would be nice to go as a 25 man group one week. That’s what we did with Dragon Soul and it was an experience, one I wouldn’t like to repeat every week but it was still valuable. Having separate lockouts could mean more pick up groups, current raids are one of the few things still bound to servers, it could bring back a little community, or at least make people more aware of who else is on their server.

What I do object to is this idea that 25 mans get better gear. I don’t play for gear, I like it as it enables my performance to improve, to push my numbers up, and for us as a group to down things easier/faster. However, there are some people in my group that just want to gear their characters in the best gear, they raid for the gear. I’m under no illusion that if 25 mans dropped better loot then they would disappear to a 25 man guild. I don’t want to raid 25 man and so I wouldn’t try and turn the guild into a 25 man.

Having 25 man drop better gear reinforces what the elitist jerks say, that 25 man is hardest/best and that 10 man is for lazy people. That if you’re willing to put in real effort, and raid the true raid then 25 man is where it’s at. I just don’t believe that that’s true, and maybe that’s a biased 10 man raider talking, but I just don’t believe it. I do think that getting and managing 25 people is a lot harder than 10. I don’t think that the mechanics of a 25 man encounter are much harder than that of 10 man, I think it’s likely to be swings and roundabouts where some are easier on one scale than another. I don’t think that 25 man should get better loot just because they’re are 25 people. They should get more drops, 2.5x more drops so it’s the same ratio as for 10 man. This means they’re more likely to get the rarer drops from a bosses loot table. I never saw a certain ring until that 25 man run for instance.

So what is the answer?
I don’t know because there is no simple answer. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Warcraft community is incredibly diverse. Whatever action is taken will make some happy, some sad, some angry, some annoyed, others won’t care as long as they don’t touch the part of the game they like. We’re all different yet we all play the same game, it’s never going to be exactly what we want, as it has to suit everyone, but we’re all different.

I think separating the lockouts would be ok, 25 man teams could gear up faster then if they were so inclined as they could split into 3x 10 man teams for another shot a week. If blizz didn’t want them to do that then they could institute something like LFR, you could run the raid instance more than once but only loot the boss once a week. However, a few stat points on gear isn’t going to make a huge difference for players, except on the very cutting edge of world first guilds. If legendaries were like they were in the past then that could be an issue, but at the moment everyone can be on the quest for the legendary, the encounters will have to have been developed with that in mind.

Really the whole 10 vs 25 shouldn’t give more of an advantage to one than the other. If you like 10 man then run that, if you like 25 man then run that. The people that like 25 man complain because it’s harder to get 25 people, so they can’t run what they like if they can’t get the people. That’s true and I sympathize but that is an administrative problem, that is out of game so to speak, so getting better in game benefits is unfair. Human beings take the path of least resistance and will usually go with what’s easier. As 10 man gives the same rewards, and it’s easier to run and organise, then that’s why 10 man is much more popular. So I understand why giving 25 man an extra incentive is an attractive proposition I just don’t think it’s a good one.

I’m going to go with a wacky solution instead. Solution A have 25 man raids be cross-realm. That way you’ll have a larger pool of players, from which to find those that like 25 man raiding. The problem with that solution is that guilds aren’t cross-realm causing trouble with realm first achievements. However, there’s been a steady move towards cross-realm everything, so maybe the concept of a realm should just be done away with. This would cause numerous questions about the impact on the economy, and how to deal with people with the same character name, so maybe separate realms would stay. However, they’d be more like splinter cells that people could hop around at will. Maybe like in Guild Wars 2 people could be a member of more than one guild. Maybe realm first achievements would instead be like a region rank, and the first 50 guilds would get the equivalent of a realm first achievement. There’s possibilities on expanding the pool of players from which a 25 man guild could be formed.

Solution B would call for a change on how encounters are tuned as it could make them dynamic scaled. Rather than having a 10 or 25 man team, you could take as many people as you had, up to a certain point. It would change how encounters are designed as not everything could be increased by just upping the numbers. I’m not saying that it would be easy to do but I think it could solve a lot of issues. I’m looking at the signup sheet for tonight and I already know I have to pug one dps and a healer or we can’t go. With dynamic scaling we could just go with what we had and no worrying about it. You could recruit more people so that you always had a stable 10 man, but then if everyone showed up rather than benching people you could just go with 12 or 15.

Whatever the answer is I don’t think it lies in giving 25 man raids better gear. That will just make 10 man raids second string and then it’ll be 10 man raiders who are upset. I can’t influence blizz and they will do what they will do. I’ll keeping playing the game even if they do implement 25 man with better gear. However, I do think it’s a mistake and I won’t be happy about it.