Back in April 2010, Blizzard announced the single raid lockout for 10 and 25 man raids. They also announcede that the loot in Cataclysm raids would be the same iLevel for 10 and 25 man raids. It is now 10 months since Cata launched and I have had time to assess the impact this policy has had on raiding, guilds and the game in general. I finished Wrath in a 25 man raid team that was in turmoil due to internal guild drama and decided that in Cata I would stop being a progression type raider and “go casual” with a group of guys that I had raided with during TBC and early Wrath, we like to consider it a retirement home for ex-casual hardcore raider. During this time,we have only done 10 man raids, so my viewpoint may be somewhat blinkered or one sided but I still think it is valuable in assessing the impact of the policy that is in place.
The difficulty of 10 man raiding seems to be about right. Some fights are much easier on 10 man because the area you fight in remains unchanged therefore making space less of an issue. However, this is offset by the importance of balance in your raid team as a team that is melee heavy can have difficulty on fights like Magmaw and the Ascendant Council. Another factor that counts against 10 man group s is the margin of error, the loss of any person hits the team hard and if you are running druidless, the lack of a combat res that brings people back at 100% HP can bite you in the ass if the recipient choose the wrong moment to reincarnate. Then of course there is the fact that you can only res 1 time (or 10%) compared to the 25 mans 3 resses (or 12%).
The rewards in both are loot from the same loot pool, no difference in iLevel, only the number of items dropped per head varies 1/5 for 10 mans compared to 1/4.2 in 25 man. The number of Valor Points also differs with 10 man raiders getting 120 per Firelands boss compared to their 25 man counterparts who receive 140. For killing bosses in the older Tier 11 content the Valor Points awards are 35 and 45.
Raid composition makes a big difference to having a smooth run. Any imbalance in melee or ranged can, as mentioned above, cause problems on certain fights. There is also the tank:healer:dps ratio to consider. In 10 man the general rule is 2:3:5 for the raid whereas in 25s it tends to be 2:6:17. Sure some fights may need more or less tanks, maybe an extra healer but with 17 DPS tehre will be someone that has the off-spec to do either as well as the gear and capability. In 10 mans it works the other way you always need 1 or 2 tanks and there are fights that don’t need a 3rd healer but that just makes you gain a DPS and usually these fights are the ones that are easier for 10 man groups compared to 25 man groups. Overall the room for slacking is there on 25s but not on 10s.
Impact on Guilds
My last point is really an extension on the Balance discussion above, Warcraft (and all MMOs really I guess) suffer a tank/healer shortage. The shift to 10 man raids has actually made things worse for smaller guilds wanting to raid because the demand for tanks and healers has risen and continues to rise as the number of 10 man raiding guilds increases and is in my humble opinion starting to break guilds apart. This phenomenon will continue as recruiting tanks and healers is difficult, raid groups will cancel raids through lack of tanks/healers and players who play mainly for raiding become disillusioned, start looking for an active guild or worse try to set up their own which will only add to the problem on their server.
The future looks bleak at the minute for smaller guilds and 10 man raiding. Potential solutions like making 10 man raids need only a single tank are not easy to implement without creating huge differences between 10 and 25 man raid encounters. Could you imagine Halfus with no adds? Nefarian without Onyxia? Shannox with only Riplimb or Rageface? Beth’Tilac without an upstairs phase?
The way for small guilds to muscle through this looks to be to grow and focus on 25 man raiding as this requires a lower proportion of the raid group to take the key roles (tanking and healing), but many guild officers/raid leader like myself don’t want to have the hassle of organizing 25 man raids. Which do you prefer 10 or 25? And why? Is 10 man raiding killing smaller guilds?