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The last gasp of 25-man raiding

Imagine you have been placed in front of two hedge mazes, both leading to the same wonderful prize at the end. It could be a car, money, a trip to an exotic location -- whatever you really want, for the purpose of this imaginary exercise, OK? So there are two mazes, each leading to the awesome prize, but as you look at those mazes, you realize one of them is twistier, longer, and has potentially more hazards in it. The other is difficult, to be sure -- but side by side, it's slightly less hazardous than the other. And they both lead to the exact same thing.

So which maze do you take?

Most people would much rather take that shorter, slightly less hazardous maze. I mean, if you've got two choices that get you to the same fabulous prize, you'd be out of your mind to take the difficult path, wouldn't you? Welcome to the debate of 10-man vs. 25-man raiding -- and the main reason why 25-man raids are slowly dying out.


Grey Matter had a series of Mists wish list items posted throughout the course of this month, and one of the first few was a fervent wish for a fix for 10- vs. 25-man raiding. Now, before you bite my head off with the "10-man raiding is far more difficult than 25-man" debate, Grey Matter has already crunched the numbers and shown that at the time of that post, there were fewer 10-man guilds completing heroic modes than 25s. You see, difficulty of the encounters isn't the problem here, when it all comes down to it.

It's convenience. How much easier is it to get a group of nine other people together than a group of 24? Way, way easier -- and it's a lot easier to work around the schedules of 10 people than 25. Beru over at Falling Leaves and Wings took a look at the continued vitality of 25-man raiding, and the outlook is ... well, not the brightest in the world. Beru questions whether it's the content or the ease of raiding or some other aspect that is causing those 25-man guilds to crumble and whether 25-man raiding is likely to stick around as a result of all of this.

But let's go back to that analogy from the top, shall we? When I'm talking about the difficulty of the maze, I'm not comparing it to the difficulty of the encounters themselves. What I'm talking about is the difficulty of trying to accommodate 25 people's lives and still manage to pull together a successful raiding group. The problem with 10 vs. 25 has nothing to do with the difficulty of the encounters -- it's the fact that both of these raids offer the same loot and the same incentives, so in the long run, it's easier to get nine people together to get those rewards than try to get 24 people together to get the same exact thing.

The problem isn't encounter difficulty; it's incentive. Now before you bite my head off (again), I'm not saying that legendaries shouldn't be allowed in 10-man raiding. I like how the legendary situation has been handled this expansion. I'm not saying there should be a different tier of gear between 10-man raiding and 25s -- after all, look at the sheer mess that created in the end of Wrath, when ICC presented so many different pieces of gear that it seemed like raiders had to complete both 10- and 25-man raids just to cobble together the best set of gear.

As a matter of fact, I don't have a viable solution for this. And that's what is hitting me the hardest here, as a 25-man raider. I think the issue at hand is something so severe that I don't quite know how to fix it. People always want things that they don't or cannot have -- it's the whole grass is always greener philosophy. And for those that couldn't manage to schedule 25-man raiding in The Burning Crusade, they got 10-mans in Wrath. But for those who did 10-man raiding in Wrath, they still wanted what 25-man raids could offer, and they got it in Cataclysm.

It is impossible to try and keep 10- and 25-man raiding equal. Attempting to do so in Cataclysm, signaled the death knell for many 25-man raiding guilds. What I would hope for -- the only thing I can hope for -- is that Blizzard simply makes two different raid situations. Make it so players can choose one or the other, not both. If they want the convenience of 10-man raiding, they choose 10-mans. If they want the challenge of 25-man raiding, they choose 25-mans. Each system has its own rewards and drawbacks, but what they have to be, in the end, is different. Distinctly different.

And if you're going through the struggle of getting 25 people to work together, what you get out of that experience should be a greater reward than getting 10 people together, because it is far more difficult to pull together and work with 25 unique personalities than 10. There should be a reason for people to want to try and get that many people together and work with those varied personalities, something that makes it viable and makes it worth it.

What Blizzard has been trying to do is squash 10- and 25-man raiding into an equal experience and what it should be doing is embracing the difference between the two and enhancing the different experiences of both. Otherwise, all most 25-man guilds have to look forward to is the day upon which they will simply cease to be.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is the next expansion, raising the level cap to 90, introducing a brand new talent system, and bringing forth the long-lost pandaren race to both Horde and Alliance. Check out the trailer and follow us for all the latest MoP news!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

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