Home > Cataclysm Raid Mechanic Changes > Cataclysm: Raid Progression Refinements

Cataclysm: Raid Progression Refinements

Today, in another round of blue posts announcing game changes for Cataclysm came the news that the differentiation between ten and twenty five man raids would be all but removed with the third expansion.

The source of the information can be found here. In summary:-

  • 10 man and 25 man raids will share the same lockout
  • 10 man and 25 man raids will share the same loot
  • There will be no difference in difficulty between 10 man raids and 25 man raids
  • Heroic versions of both 10 and 25 man raids will be activated on a case by case basis; exactly as Icecrown Citadel currently works
  • 10 man and 25 man heroic raids will share the same loot
  • To acknowledge the logistic difficulties in organising 25 man raids in comparison with 10 man raids, 25 man encounters will drop more loot

Rather than reword the entire blue post, I’m copying it directly here. It reads as follows:-

We’re continuing to refine the raid progression paths in Cataclysm, and we’d like to share some of those changes with you today. Please enjoy!

The first of the refinements being made is that we’re combining all raid sizes and difficulties into a single lockout. Unlike today, 10- and 25-player modes of a single raid will share the same lockout. You can defeat each raid boss once per week per character. In other words, if you wanted to do both a 10- and 25-person raid in a single week, you’d need to do so on two different characters. Normal versus Heroic mode will be chosen on a per-boss basis in Cataclysm raids, the same way it works in Icecrown Citadel. Obviously the raid lockout change doesn’t apply in pure Icecrown terms though, as this change goes hand-in-hand with a few other changes to raid progression in Cataclysm.

We’re designing and balancing raids so that the difficulty between 10- and 25-player versions of each difficulty will be as close as possible to each other as we can achieve. That closeness in difficulty also means that we’ll have bosses dropping the same items in 10- and 25-player raids of each difficulty. They’ll have the same name and same stats; they are in fact the exact same items. Choosing Heroic mode will drop a scaled-up version of those items. Our hope is that players will be able to associate bosses with their loot tables and even associate specific artwork with specific item names to a far greater extent than today.

Dungeon Difficulty and Rewards

10- and 25-player (normal difficulty) — Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop the exact same items as each other.

10- and 25-player (Heroic difficulty) — Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop more powerful versions of the normal-difficulty items.

We of course recognize the logistical realities of organizing larger groups of people, so while the loot quality will not change, 25-player versions will drop a higher quantity of loot per player (items, but also badges, and even gold), making it a more efficient route if you’re able to gather the people. The raid designers are designing encounters with these changes in mind, and the class designers are making class changes to help make 10-person groups easier to build. Running 25-player raids will be a bit more lucrative, as should be expected, but if for a week or two you need to do 10s because half the guild is away on vacation, you can do that and not suffer a dramatic loss to your ability to get the items you want.

We recognize that very long raids can be a barrier for some players, but we also want to provide enough encounters for the experience to feel epic. For the first few raid tiers, our plan is to provide multiple smaller raids. Instead of one raid with eleven bosses, you might have a five-boss raid as well as a six-boss raid. All of these bosses would drop the same item level gear, but the dungeons themselves being different environments will provide some variety in location and visual style, as well as separate raid lockouts. Think of how you could raid Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep separately, but you might still want to hit both every week.

We do like how gating bosses over time allows the community to focus on individual encounters instead of just racing to the end boss, so we’re likely to keep that design moving forward. We don’t plan to impose attempt limitations again though, except maybe in cases of rare optional bosses (like Algalon). Heroic mode may not be open from day one, but will become available after defeating normal mode perhaps as little as once or twice.

In terms of tuning, we want groups to be able to jump into the first raids pretty quickly, but we also don’t want them to overshadow the Heroic 5-player dungeons and more powerful quest rewards. We’ll be designing the first few raid zones assuming that players have accumulated some blue gear from dungeons, crafted equipment, or quest rewards. In general, we want you and your guild members to participate in and enjoy the level up experience.

We design our raids to be accessible to a broad spectrum of players, so we want groups to be able to make the decision about whether to attempt the normal or Heroic versions of raids pretty quickly. The goal with all of these changes is to make it as much of a choice or effect of circumstance whether you raid as a group of 10 or as a group of 25 as possible. Whether you’re a big guild or a small guild the choice won’t be dependent on what items drop, but instead on what you enjoy the most.

We realize that with any changes to progression pathways there are going to be questions. We’re eagerly awaiting any that we may have left
unanswered. To the comments!

Obviously, as someone who is already a member of a ten man strict guild, this couldn’t be better news for me. When I (and some friends) originally made the decision to switch to a ten man guild, we did so for a number of reasons.

Firstly, an issue for many mediocre twenty five man guilds out there is the skill of their players. Most guilds have a strong core of active, skilled and dedicated members. However they still need those twenty five people to fill the spots and frequently they will recruit less skilled players in order to do so. They get caught in a catch 22 situation. If they raise their expectations, then they may have to wait a significant period of time before raiding; thus running the risk of losing their core. If they lower their expectations in order to raid, they are doomed to “carry” a certain percentage of players on a daily basis. This is all well and good for some encounters, for the harder ones where everyone’s performance is vital, they hit a brick wall on progression.

Secondly, the atmosphere in smaller guilds is friendlier. With so few members, everyone gets to know each other on a very personal level.

Thirdly and somewhat related to the above, it’s logistically easier to organise ten people and their schedules. You can generally fit raids to accommodate all your members. Due to this, you don’t need as many excess members for rotations when others can’t make it. Thus your team becomes more adjusted to playing together, perform better together and, as above, know each other better.

However the problem for ten man guilds have been widely publicised on this blog in the past. If you want to compete for PvE progress with your equals (that is to say, other ten man guilds), then the only way at present is to follow guildox.com’s ten man strict regulations. This prevents your members from being able to pug twenty five man raids. It also limits recruitment, both for raiders and for social members. In addition, we pay a penalty on our loot. This extends further than just the actual stats of an piece, but runs to mounts and other vanity items. Mimiron’s Head? Invincible? Both come from twenty five man raids only.

I’d love to hear the thoughts of readers who are currently active in either ten or twenty five man guilds. It’s certainly a big change for Cataclysm but it also remains faithful to their ethos of bringing raid content to the masses.

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  1. Jen
    April 27, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Well of course I was astonished by the news as well. It was just so unexpected. I was jumping up and down on the spot.

    I’m just slightly worried as it seems most of the WoW community don’t like this change. I did propose this change on a forum a few months back but I could see the flaws and never thought it would go ahead. But it has…

    The way I see it, there is nothing there in 25man now that I would want. So what if they get slightly more loot? We have lived with them getting access to 10 man loot/more badges for all the time we have been in 10 man strict, we deal with it. Them having more loot is fine to me for that reason. But the main thing that annoyed me was like you say, the vanity items. The problem I see with this is that if you get a mount dropping from the last boss of something, lets take invincible for example. If most people raid 10 man, more 10 man raids will be raiding (considering how many 25 man guilds there are in ratio to 10 man, that will be ALOT of successful 10 man guilds in Cata) so more people will get the mount, because there are less in the group, and more chance. So if that did go ahead, I’m not sure how. They’d have to drop 2 mounts in 25 man.

    Personally I think mounts should just be from a meta achievement, or a rare drop. It would be too complicated. The same sort of applies for legendaries. Regardless, they haven’t said much about this and I can appreciate the decision with that will be hard. But if they don’t, I don’t think much will have changed for us, just the gear.

    It will be nice to finally know that you are wearing the same gear as those 25 man raiders, it doesn’t make you feel inferior anymore. I like that. I also like that nobody feels pressured into raiding 25man. The appeal will go, and I feel sorry for those that genuinely do like 25 man. They will be seeing either their guild leader split the team into two or some of their friends leave to do 10 man. Because lets face it, most prefer 10 man, several polls have shown that.

    I don’t know. For me, the changes are excellent and it can only get better for 10 man strict. For everyone else, it seems like a disaster but then again they raid 25man so they don’t feel what we do.

    • April 27, 2010 at 9:20 am

      I’m also incredibly happy about the changes as I’m sure all ten man raiders are.

      I can wholly understand the annoyance felt by the twenty five man guilds but on the other hand, is it any different to when they scaled down from 40 man raids to 25 man raids? Equally, their ethos has been clear for a while; to bring raiding content to as many people as is possible.

      Going back to when I was first playing MMOs. The raid content there was hard and it was time demanding. Everything was contested and this resulted in raids occurring any time during the day. This meant needing to field a raid force of 70 or so people, often during normal working hours or crazy hours of the night. (Phone calls at 3am to get up and raid aren’t fun). The percentage of raiders would have been much lower because the number of people who could commit to such a schedule was tiny.

      The ease of organising 10 man raids in comparison with 25 man raids are clear to see. Yes, for many 25 man raiders there is a snobbery towards the 10 man guilds but why? Sure the content is easy for them, they’re doing it in their 25 man loot. For ten man strict guilds it becomes harder.

      If they aim to even out the difficulty then I think it’s an incredibly smart move. It opens up raiding to even more people and personally, I don’t see this as a bad thing. Allowing lots of people access to content doesn’t have to be the same as handing out free epics. If the challenge is still there, the feeling of achievement when you down an end boss can still be there too. Allowing people access to try is a good thing. If they still keep heroic and hard modes, then content can be well tuned to different skill levels.

      While lots of people complain that this expansion has been easy in comparison to tBC, there have been certain encounters in Wrath that have proven very difficult. Examples… Sarth 3D, Yogg 0, Lich King heroic, hell, even Firefighter was tough when done with the appropriate gear (not to mention Earth, Wind and Fire if we’re looking specifically at achievements).

      I feel for 25 man guilds who may have to consider scaling down for Cataclysm but at least Blizzard are offering a choice this time, unlike the transition from Vanilla to tBC.

      Overall I couldn’t be more delighted and more excited now about this expansion and the sentiments are definitely reflected amongst my guild.

      For Blizzard, it’s a case of not being able to please all the people all the time. While they will delight some of their players, they’re going to disappoint another potion.

      • Jen
        April 27, 2010 at 10:47 am

        Definitely. I made a comment on Wugan’s blog (Flow) about this snobbery related to ‘casuals’. You may agree that most of the WoW population are casual. That is, they don’t raid 5 nights a week, they maybe raid 2-3 times a week or don’t raid at all (but maybe want to). Getting into a 25 man guild nowadays is painful, you need the gear, the experience, and most importantly, time.

        Now I log on most nights, but I don’t think I possibly could have the energy to raid any more than 3 nights. For a start, I spend most of the day staring at my screen studying (except for now, shh). To sit at my PC at night and do the same in a raid just burns me out. Maybe that’s my fault, but regardless, I think alot of the time 25 man raiders raid so much is because they see their fellow guild mates run off to get some extra loot from 10 man and want to do the same, to ‘keep up’. Most people aren’t hardcore, but I hate the snobbery that all 10 man players are ‘casual’, and for that reason, don’t deserve the same attention. But there is a difference between casual players who log on once a week and don’t raid, to those that raid 3 nights a week, take raids seriously but don’t go crazy.

        They are always going to disappoint some, and in this case it will be the ‘hardcore must go 10-man-for gear cos i need it so desperately for my 25 mans. Then you got the hardcores who genuinely like raiding all the time. Well, now you can take your alt instead on those off nights. But then they say ‘what if i don’t want to play an alt’. Then someone says ‘get a life then and go outside?’ blah blah blah.

        Bottom line, no, you can’t please everyone. Lets just laugh and scream together…

  2. April 27, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I agree with you entirely Jen. I play most days but I do enjoy doing other things in game or just logging on to chat, run the daily and then taking an early night. I could raid 5 nights a week if I wanted, but I don’t really want to any more. My days doing that are over I think.

    If I raid a lot, I find that I miss out on other elements of the game. I find myself thinking “aah I haven’t pvp’d in ages and I’d quite like to….”

    I think it’s perfect to allow people the choice between 10s and 25s without those doing 10s paying a huge penalty and with Blizzard’s plan to let more people see content, it works perfectly.

    I’m currently working my way (slowly) through the original thread to try and get a feel on how it’s been received by the community. While there are a lot of unhappy people, there’s also a lot of support for the idea which is really good to see.

    I think providing Blizzard work to ensure there is a good amount of content, ranging over a good variety of difficulty, then it will work just perfectly.

  3. Jen
    April 27, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    The balancing of the raid bosses and the vanity rewards will be the biggest challenge between 10/25 but I trust Blizzard to get it near spot on with a few tweaks. I honestly think the rage-spam on the forums will die down in a few days when people realise they don’t have to raid all the time. It is quite a nasty commitment when you sit back and look at it logically. Blizzard is allowing you to make a healthy choice.

  4. Maker
    April 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Personally, I like raiding both the 10s and 25s in its current state and I’ll be a little sad to see it go. (The exception is ToC. 4 lockouts is excessive.)

    With the consolidation of the 10/25 raid lockout, my only concern is whether there will be enough content. There are several people in my guild who only have one character or one main. Nowadays, many of us are turning to PvP or random achievements to kill time. While most of us wouldn’t mind an alt, in this age of Gearscore, most pugs are asking for scores so far beyond anything reasonable that it’s no longer worth even pugging. (As a reference point, my server generally requires 5500GS for ToC25 and a minimum of 5400 to set foot in ICC10/25. So where the hell are we supposed to get the gear? This has been the norm for quite some time.)

    I still think that the snobbery will continue as 25 man guilds will gear up faster (more badges and more item drops) and it will be generally perceived that 25s is the place to be. I think this will eventually go away unless Blizzard does something to contradict themselves. (Expansion 4 will be the birth of 5 man raiding.)

    I predict 10man runs will be more popular amongst pugs. (Hopefully this will increase the demand for tanks.) I say this because with a smaller group, you can manipulate the comp to favour you. Whether it be maximum output or minimal to no competition on a given piece of loot.

    Hopefully, 25man guilds don’t go the way of the dinosaur if it’s generally easier to put together a good comp for 10s. It’s the only way I can gauge myself and see my true dps output. 😦

    Sorry for the long post. This was originally meant to be posted on Pewter’s, but I just can’t post due to the errors. (IE 6 at work)

    • Jen
      April 27, 2010 at 5:12 pm

      Raid synergy is a very important thing for 10man, which is of course one of your points. In 25 man there is room for everything, no guild should have trouble creating a balanced raid. After all, you only need one moonkin, one demo lock etc. As a shaman in strict 10, you do feel more important, because there is less room to be getting in all different buffs, so having one class with several buffs is favourable. I bet they gave mages bloodlust because of this change, to make a shaman not entirely necessary in 10 mans for example. It helps for balancing purposes. They are having to spread buffs now to try to balance it properly.

      Gearing up an alt is a challenge, but it just drives you to pug less. Never been a fan of pugs myself, but my guild were happy to take me through ICC with basic ToC level gear. You can easily get to that level with just running heroics every day. The question is does anyone actually like pugging? or do they only do it to do the ‘other’ content, so 10 or 25 for gear purposes. By restricting it in that way you don’t have to drag yourself through pugs every week. Your guild will have more time because they don’t have so much to do, and can maybe do alt runs instead.

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