Why two raid sizes are worse than one

When they made the announcements at Blizzcon, I was excited by all the various things that were going to get fixed in Mists of Pandaria: More activities you could do by yourself or in small groups (3-man instances, pet battles, 5-man challenge modes), along with huge class and talent changes. However, the information on raids in Mists of Pandaria greatly concerned me. The raiding content was going to maintain the current split of 10 Normal, 25 Normal, 10 Heroic, 25 Heroic (with the addition of 25 LFR that got introduced in Dragonsoul). I see topics about raid sizes pop up all the time, most recently on WoW insider. This topic always gets me all worked up and angry because I’m in a 25-man raiding guild and I don’t want to see my guild die (and I feel like all attempts I make to defend my 25-man raid size just ends up with 10-man raiders angry at me). So, I’m going to take a slightly different approach with this article to look at why I feel that having two raid sizes is bad for the community (but more than one difficulty level is okay), why 25-mans aren’t going to survive MoP, and why I wish we would just move to 15-man raids.

Difficulty levels are okay

Having three difficulty levels (LFR, Normal, and Hard modes) seems to overall be fine. You can  kill a boss in normal-mode and then go and kill it on hard mode, and you get a sense of accomplishment for having mastered the harder difficulty level. Some guilds will only see it on the normal level, and they will still be proud of themselves for seeing the content on their schedule. There are plenty of people who don’t have the life, reaction times, reflexes, experience, and/or computer equipment to handle raiding super hard modes all the time. My guild is full of a lot of people who have limited playtimes and have “retired” from hard-core raiding, and we have also brought to our raiding team brand-new raiders who entered their first raid dungeon with us when they first started raiding. While having multiple difficulty levels stressed me out when they first came out, I’ve come to accept that this was an overall good change for the game, even if there could  be better ways to have more linear scaling rather than dichotomous scaling. Still, for the purposes of this post, I wanted to highlight that the multiple difficulty levels doesn’t create a problem for forming new guilds,  since you have to kill normal-modes before you can start on hard-modes, everyone starts at the same place.

The problem of Brown shirts versus Green shirts

I often draw upon my psychology background for thinking about game mechanics. In some research labs, they split people in a room into two groups, and have them wear different colored shirts. For this example, lets say that these were the “brown” and “green” shirt groups. What actually happens in that community is that you get a division where people in the various shirt groups may actually grow to dislike each other over time, because you will grown an affinity with your “in-group” and discriminate against your “out-group”.

Why does this matter for the discussion of raid sizes? Well, being in a 25-man or 10-man guild is basically as meaningful right now as wearing a green or brown shirt – they are supposed to be the same. There is no meaningful reward for being in one raid size or another, there is no meaningful reason for two raid sizes to still exist, and all it does is create problems for the community because green shirts don’t want to join brown shirt guilds, and vice versa. Even if they are “the same” and all we do is come up with reasons for why one shirt is better or worse than the other. This is largely why “separate but equal” as a concept for creating our own social groups is fundamentally flawed and bad for the game, especially when one group is always going to feel like a minority. In WotLK, 10-mans were the minority, and that has swung the other way where now 25-mans are the minority.

Why 25-man raiding will eventually die at the current trajectory

People will largely take the easier path to get the best rewards. If LFR and Heroic modes offered the same exact ilevel rewards, no one would raid Heroic Modes, we’d all just run LFR. That’s why LFR and Heroic Modes have to offer different gear rewards – because if the only reward from doing Heroic Modes was an achievement that said “Congratulations on killing this harder boss” and handed you the same gear rewards, you wouldn’t do it.

There is one big difference that Blizzard couldn’t equalize for 10-mans versus 25-mans when they equalized the rewards by giving 10s and 25s the same ilevel loot rewards (ilevel is the only tangible loot reward indicator, so all other differences in loot rewards are essentially meaningless – and so I’m not going to talk about them here). That one big elephant in the room is about how easy or hard it is to form a brand new raiding guild. Regardless of the raid size, groups are always going to fall apart. People are always going to burn out of one raid group and join another. New guilds always have to form to take their place, and how those guilds form will always be driven by a number of factors, but in the end, people will form the guilds that are the easiest to form. Here are some “facts”, keeping in mind that this is coming from the perspective of a 25-man raider, and that I have at least some sort of bias against 10-man guilds for the reasons I explained above:

  • Many guild leaders eventually get tired of leading the guild, and guilds often fall apart when their guild masters and officers burn out. Some guilds across the world stop raiding and fall apart every month, though the number of guilds falling apart varies, the fact is that there is an almost constant churn of old groups disbanding and new groups forming.
  • It is easier to form a brand new 10-man guild and start raiding than it is to form a 25-man guild and start raiding.
  • It is easy for a 25-man guild to down-size to a 10-man guild when your recruitment can’t keep up with your need for raiders.
  • It is easy for a 25-man guild to turn into a 10-man guild.
  • There are plenty of new 10-man guilds forming to keep up with the loss of 10-man guilds. There are NOT enough 25-man guilds to keep up with the loss of 10-man guilds.
  • If 25-man raids keep falling apart faster than new 25-man raids form, then eventually there won’t be any new 25-man raids. There is no incentive for an inspiring Guild Master to form a 25-man raiding guild, and there isn’t any way to reward 25-man guild masters that won’t piss off all the people who want to raid 10-mans (because any meaningful incentives given to green shirts are seen as discrimination against brown shirts, and vice versa).

Why moving to 15-man raids is better than this death-spiral for 25-mans.

On one hand, there are a lot of people who are really attached to their 25-man raid size and hates 10-man raids, and so they want to see their raid size continue on in Mists of Pandaria.  On the other hand, we are quickly reaching the point where there won’t be enough people willing to lead new 25-man guilds to keep that raiding size alive. Within 2 years, I don’t expect there to be enough 25-man raiding guilds running for Blizzard to be able to justify keeping the raid size on life-support. Each raid size requires development time and money to sustain. That slow death of 25-man normal/HM raids sucks for this game and  hurts the community. The death of 25-mans is slow and painful, and feels like death by a thousand paper cuts. Just dissolving 25-mans and making everyone raid 10-mans sucks because there is still clearly a demand for the larger raid sizes even if no one is willing to lead the guilds necessary to support the raiding size.

We need to move to a one raid size to bring the community back to life again. With one raid size, you don’t have to choose between joining the  brown shirt or green shirt team – everyone is on the same team! We can get more interesting content when Blizzard doesn’t have to worry about it being “equal” for the two raid sizes, so the players win by getting better quality and quantity of content. If difficulty of the encounters is the only dimension we need to be worried about, that makes recruitment easier for everyone, it makes the community more cohesive, and everyone wins.

I have written about wanting 15-man (one size fits all) raids in the past. I have always pushed for 15-mans as the compromise raid size for two reasons: 1) ten people used to be able to enter the 5-man content in Vanilla, making 10-man equivalent in “epic scale” to me as 5-mans, and 2) they capitalize on the class makeup flexibility of the larger raid sizes while having lower demands on the officers from an organizational standpoint than the 25’s. With Mists of Pandaria, 15-mans would allow for one of each class (once we have 11 classes) plus some growing room to have more than one of a few classes.

Posted in Mists of Pandaria, Written By Lissanna

44 comments on “Why two raid sizes are worse than one
  1. Atanae says:

    I was just thinking that 15 mans would be ideal for us.

    1) We raid 10 man. We sometimes get up to 12 people on.

    2) I have a better chance of fielding a 15 man team than a 25 man team.

    So consider my hat tossed in for 15-mans 😉

  2. Treeboi says:

    Just wanted to jump in, because I’ve discussed 10 vs 25 before in other forums.

    Nearly every 10 man guild dies off within a year.

    Why? For one simple reason: not enough backups. You just do not have room to spare in your roster to keep around bench players.

    In a 10 man guild, you have at most 13 active players. Of those extra 3 players, they are probably all dps players. Meaning that you do not have a single backup healer or backup tank. Why, you ask? Because a backup healer or backup tank gets sick and tired of being a backup, so they will jump ship to another guild that will give them a starter spot. It’s a simple supply and demand problem. Healers and tanks are in short supply, so there is a high demand for them from other guilds. So other guilds will poach your bench healer/tanks.

    Thus, what happens is when a main healer or a main tank calls it quits, the guild dies. Because there is no backup with enough gear to let the guild keep raiding at their current level, the guild has to start over, at a lower level, in order to gear up their backup. This annoys other players to no end, so you start seeing more and more players just stop raiding, or skip raids. Which means you start canceling raids due to low attendance. 2 weeks of canceled raids, and your guild is dead.

    In a 25 man guild, with a 29-32 man roster, you almost always have a backup tank or healer in your raid at all times. In fact, good 25 man guilds will designate a hybrid dps player (or three) as backups. That way, you can survive the absence of a main tank or main healer, with only a minor speed bump. Aka, you may not be able to do progression that week, but you certainly won’t regress. Worst case, you just have to farm current content for 2 weeks before starting progression up again.

    What does this really mean? For a player, they should always, and I mean always, find a 25 man guild to join. It’s the only way to stay in a stable environment for more than a year. In fact, if you look up the servers, you’ll find that most of the top 25 man guilds on any given server have been around for 3-4 years, compared to less than a year for 10 man guilds.

    As for 15 man raids, I still think that’s too small a number for backups. It’s amazing at just how few people are cut out to be tanks or healers. You would basically be forced to be hybrid heavy in your 17-18 man roster, in order to gear out backups.

    20 mans would be a better raid size. You saw 20 guilds do quite well in vanilla, for long periods of time. With a 22-25 man roster, you can have 2 of every class, which is enough hybrids to gear up backups, while still maintaining good class balance.

    • Lissanna says:

      I think 15-mans are easier to “sell” to the 10-man guilds (and Blizzard as a whole) as a compromise in raid size. Also, 10-man guilds didn’t really exist until Cataclysm (which didn’t come out THAT long ago). Prior to Cataclysm, the 10-man guilds were definitely the minority because 10’s gave you less loot in WotLK, so you still needed to raid 25-man content to have the better gear. The 25-man guilds have some stability, but they still have a lot of “churn” so to speak. Both raid sizes have weaknesses and strengths, and I think a compromise of one raid size would just be better for the game as a whole.

      • Nebulose says:

        My old guild was a 10 man specific guild in WotLK. There was a community of us that competed for first kills. There were even websites that chose to track us. There was drama of going over peoples logs and seeing that someone in their group was using Death Bringers Will and petitioning to get them removed from the 10 man specific rankings.

        “Prior to Cataclysm, the 10-man guilds were definitely the minority because 10′s gave you less loot in WotLK, so you still needed to raid 25-man content to have the better gear.”
        10s still give less loot.

        “Ten people used to be able to enter the 5-man content in Vanilla, making 10-man equivalent in “epic scale” to me as 5-mans”
        40 people used to be able to enter Strat. So are raids below 40 mans also “Epic Scale” 5 mans?

        Finding 25 people SUCKED. Even in WotLK. Even in Burning Crusade. Finding 40 people SUCKED. Finding 10 people SUCKS. But it sucks less than the other two. When you find 10 people that work together well they tend to stay together better. In my 25 man guilds that I was co-GM of there was always a rotation of people into and out of the guild. I dont think a 2 months went by where we raided with the exact same group of people.

        However you can 23-24 man 25 man content. Raiding with 9 people in a 10 man is quite a bit worse.

        I think a 15 man raid size would be interesting. But I am not sure if I want to raid with 5 more `idiots.` When my guild dropped to 2 10 man groups we cut out some fat and replaced the others slowly. The groups both did a lot better than the 25 man one ever did. And they are easier to govern.

        • Lissanna says:

          As I said in the post, the quality of loot matters more than the quantity of loot. Getting 2 Gurths dropping in our 25-man raid when we have zero people who need it just means we get more purple shards that sit in the bank. The ilevel difference is what mattered between 10s and 25s in WotLK, and having more purples drop in 25-man just prevents 25-mans from gearing up slower than 10s.

          You can 23-24 man normal-modes that you out-gear. You can’t 24-man hard mode progression content, and having someone die in 25-mans often means you can’t beat enrage timers. This is more of a fallacy that 10-man raiders tell themselves to sleep better at night than actual reality in a progression guild. Also, the only reason you would ever need to run 24-man is if you are having attendance problems, which is a bigger issue all on it’s own.

          A 15-man raid is actually easier to govern than either a 10-man or a 25-man, if it was the only raid size for progression content. I mean, why isn’t there a 10-man LFR? Because a 10-man actually has design problems of their own, and the LFR works better with the larger raid size at the easiest content level because you can program in that margin of error much easier. So, a 15-man LFR/Normal/HM design would work the best for the game as a whole, rather than having to make LFR a 10-man or have it be the only 25-man difficulty level. Keep in mind that LFR needs to be considered when thinking about a one-size-fits-ALL. At some point, I care less about what the one raid size is, so long as there is only one raid size. If that size is 10-mans and I just don’t like 10-man raiding, then at that point, I’d probably just quit playing, but at least it would be better than sitting around waiting for my raid content to hit the chopping block (because for me, 10-mans are grouping & not raiding – because you could 10-man instances in Vanilla). I have gone to great lengths in Cataclysm to make sure that I’m in a 25-man raiding guild. 🙂

          • Berdache says:

            25s do still have more leeway to losses.

            If your raid kills the boss on the enrage timer than obviously a single death would have caused a wipe in either format but as gear and skill with the encounter improve you are going to kill the boss before the enrage. This means the 25m can more afford to lose 1 in 17 dps part way through the fight rather than 10m 1 in 5.

            I do agree that 15 man would be a good middle ground between the raid sizes

          • Lissanna says:

            Obviously, if 25-mans were really easier than 10-mans, more people would be running them. But, the problem is that people aren’t running 25-mans, so it doesn’t matter what the perception is about how many people can die in each raid size, as one single death will still result in a wipe on hard-mode progression encounters even on 25-man difficulty. You may have a ton of leeway in LFR tuning (which is part of why LFR isn’t 10-man), but that doesn’t hold true in the hard mode content.

            The problem between the raid sizes now is at the organizational difficulty level for officers, and not at the level of encounter difficulty or design.

    • WeWhoEat says:

      yeah, I don’t buy your hybrid/back up argument. There’s no reason a 10 man guild doesn’t have a handful of of back up tanks and healers on dual specs or even alts, I know because my guild lives it. We did all of T12 with only having our two tanks online at the same time like 6 times.

  3. Kat says:

    I was in one of the last 25 mans on my realm but it eventually broke up because of the attendance boss. I actually found it hard to find another 25 man guild recruiting resto druids, most guilds were after pallys and priests and majority of them were 10 mans.On my realm there is only 1 25 man that is still alive. I’m in a 10 man guild with other people who couldn’t afford to server transfer and I find it a bit boring and frustrating because I really want to raid with a larger group of people as I find it more fun.

    Blizzard has kind of dug a hole for new ppl being introduced to raiding or people who are looking for a spot. The good 10 mans have their set players and they are reliable so there is rarely a spot available. When there were a lot of 25 mans there was always a turnover of players so there was more chance to get into raiding.

    I think 25 mans will end up dying. People will always take the easiest option if the rewards are the same. 10 mans are too small for that epic feeling and 25 mans can be a struggle to keep going. 20 mans would still be tough to keep going with the current rewards being the same so I would guess 15 mans would be the only other option.

    • Nebulose says:

      25mans also require much better computers than 10 mans. Having 15 extra people throwing out super sparkly pixels and getting hit by more of those super sparkly pixels bogs down my machine. I can not push my best in LFR because of this. And I know it blocks me from even looking into 25mans.

    • Jimmy says:

      See I don’t like this misconception that people will always take the “EASIER” road to obtaining loot. I have raided in both 25 and 10 man raids throughout all of my raiding career in WoW (BC all the way through Cata). And yes that does mean that I have raided both 10s and 25s this expansion. 10 man raiding is not EASIER than 25s in progression.

      Both progression styles are different and unique. 10’s definitely are more strict on group composition, while 25’s are harder to manage and organize, but both bring their own seperate challenges and twists. As a Resto Druid in my 10 man Hardmode guild, I know that if I die during our Heroic Hagara attempts, we are not going to down it when we get into Lightning phase as my Tranq is too powerful and needed to keep the lightning totem runners alive (We run with a Holy Pally and Resto Shaman as well). But I know in a 25 man, there is most likely going to be another Resto Druid and/ or a Holy Priest with Divine Hymn that can help keep people alive better.

      At the same time, while I was raiding Hardmodes in the 25 man guild I was recently in, I know that the dmg needed to down a boss, or the dmg that was being thrown out that I had to heal with was very difficult to manage and very strict on numbers.

      Personally, I don’t see 15 mans coming into the picture. In fact Blizz Game Designers have stated that they don’t want to bring them into the game because then it would FORCE a 10 man guild to HAVE to instantly come up with 5 new members to even be able to raid. Downsizing a raid is easier because a 25 man is basically 2 10’s with 5 back-ups between them.

      Really, I have done both and I think both present their own challenges. I don’t think that 25’s would be suffering as much if Blizzard hadn’t put hardmodes to the point that every ounce of dps and healing was needed to ultimately down a boss. It’s one thing to wipe on a 10 man when you lose a member because that is 10% of your raid (or 50% of your tanks, 33% of your healers, or 20% of your dps), while with 25’s those percentages are lower, but the dps/ healing requirement is the same. So while losing 17% of your healing or 5% of your dps isn’t as devastating math wise, it is in practice. And when ONE person wipes a fight and let’s down 24 other people, it causes undue stress and hardships. I think if Blizzard were to lessen the dps/ healing requirements on 25’s (thus making them SEEM like the easier choice), we would see a steady and progressive shift back to 25’s and a more natural balance that what we have seen for the last 4 years with Cata and Wrath.

      • Kat says:

        Dealing with a 10 man is a lot easier than a 25 man where you have so many different personalities to deal with. I wasn’t even thinking of loot as the motivation factor. Both sizes have their problems and difficulties. 10 mans are the easier options in dealing with personalities, a computer that can’t handle 25 mans and latency.

      • Lissanna says:

        When we talk about difficulty, we aren’t talking about encounter difficulty. We are talking about organizational difficulty. It is always harder to herd 25 sheep than it is to herd 10 sheep. Just like with sheep, organizing 25 people is harder than organizing 10 people. Even distributing loot in the raid takes longer in a 25-man, requires a loot system more complicated than “need if you want it” due to having more people who want those same items. Making 25 encounters easier doesn’t change the organizational difficulty level and just makes 10-mans the only choice for “progression”.

        That said, shutting down 25-mans when they run extinct and forcing the 25-man raiders to just raid 10-mans is kindof bullshit because it was entirely preventable in the first place. The point where I can’t raid anything larger than a 10-man is the point where I quit playing, this blog shuts down, and I stop being a forum MVP. I’ll just be done because the game will have zero interesting content for me. That’s why I’m fighting so hard to either preserve 25-man raiding or find a size (maybe 15) that would be a better compromise size. 10 is a group, it’s not a raid, and will never be a raid for me. In Vanilla, Upper BRS was a 15-man “group” that didn’t even qualify as a raid, and all the 5-man “groups” allowed 10 people in them. 10-man isn’t a raid. If I stay and raid 10-mans at that point, I’ll just be miserable all the time. I’ll know what I’m missing and the fact that 10-mans ruined the game for me, because Blizzard fucked up with their raid design by trying to make “separate but equal” raid sizes when the community told them how bad of an idea that was. I don’t belong in 10-mans, my playstyle doesn’t belong in 10-mans, and my own guild doesn’t take me with them when they do 10-mans. It’s not the home for me. Totally screwing over people who want to raid 25-mans isn’t acceptable, even if we are becoming the minority on paper (though it’s hard to tell how many people would prefer 25’s but are already stuck in 10s because the 25’s don’t exist on their server).

        Carving your 25-man guild into two 10-mans (or one 10-man which is more likely) is about as fun as cutting off your arm. Telling your friends you don’t want to play with them anymore is just as difficult as finding 5 new friends. 15-mans are a better compromise because no one “wins”. Just letting 25-mans die out due to lack of support (which is happening now) isn’t fair for anyone, either.

  4. Deppi says:

    I have a different elephant in my (much smaller) room.
    The fabulous graphics and aoe effects implemented in Cata make 25 man raiding in Australia from anywhere outside the major metropolitan centres, pretty darn hard. You can’t meaningfully attempt progression raiding with 2-3K lag spikes. It’s fun for a while, on the lowest and ugliest of resolutions, playing guessing games as to what might be happening and where you should be standing whenever there’s an aoe effect, but in the end it just gets frustrating.
    Yes, our infrastructure sucks, and no, I don’t expect Blizz to take this into account when they design graphics and encounters.
    I enjoyed 25 man raiding right through WoTLK. But it’s almost impossible from my house right now, despite the biggest and best internet connection available to residential subscribers in my area. (Yes, I use a tunneling service.)
    There are a lot of Oceanic players who experience outcome-changing latency on 25 mans, but like me, can do 10 man raids. It’s just another (ok, maybe small) nail in the coffin of 25 man raiding. Did you ever wonder how on earth that player in LFR could be sooooo bad? It’s probably a rural Australian making a bad guess as to where the ice wall might be.
    15s sound nice, but I’d worry that we’d get at least some ramp up of latency from 10s.

  5. WeWhoEat says:

    “Just dissolving 25-mans and making everyone raid 10-mans sucks because there is still clearly a demand for the larger raid sizes even if no one is willing to lead the guilds necessary to support the raiding size.”

    To me this is the fallacy of the one raid size argument who’s answer for that one size isn’t 10 man. There’s no demand for a larger sized if there’s no people willing to put the work in to run them. If a raid size can’t support finding leadership without artificial incentives then the community has spoken. Forcing all the 10 man guilds out there to increase their logistical work to field a 15 or 20 man raid group or have no raid group at all, is just making things equal by making everyone suffer. If 10 man guilds are such a hit with the player base, then why are you advocating to legislate them out of existence?

    Do we really feel that we have the insight or perspective to make a judgement that the game will be better for everyone if we force additional levels of hardships in maintaining a healthy guild on every 10 man guild out there? When a good chunk of them by your arguments (which I agree with) are 10 man guild precisely because they couldn’t deal with the strain of maintaining a deeper roster?

    • malchome says:

      Yes, because it has been an issue that since the dissolution of the 40-man raids and the Kara Hell effect in early tBC.

      If you were not around at that time the Hell effect was the massive scale down from 40 man groups into 10 man groups to get initially geared. Then needing to scale back up to 25 man after Kara to finish T4 and then progress into T5.

      We have now seen separate but not equal gear in Wrath and 10 mans were mostly non-existent due to the gear system. Now in Cata we have seen separate but equal and now 25 mans are mostly extinct.

      Raiding was at its “best” when there was one size mostly for progression. Hopefully if there is also 1 size then the content will be able to be made faster because less variations needed for balancing. As they have never gotten the 10/25 difficulty correct.

      • Lissanna says:

        The 10-man raid size has problems of it’s own, that going up to 15-man would solve in MoP. 10 isn’t the perfect size – it’s an arbitrary decision Blizzard made in the first place.

        Blizzard had 25-man guilds as the raid size everyone wanted to be in WotLK. In that expansion, finding 25 people didn’t seem that hard.

        However, equalizing gear between 10 & 25 made it harder to be a 25-man guild. People’s desire didn’t change, it was the reward structure that changed. So, I don’t see why the community has to be pushed into only running 10-mans just because Blizzard screwed over 25-man raiding. Choosing a raid size in the middle (15 or 20) would a least appease both parts of the community.

        We are also adding another class in MoP, so in a 10-man, you can’t have one of each class. I think that having more classes than your maximum raid size could hold would be a huge mistake. So, with 11 classes, your raid size (if you only have one) needs to be 15.

  6. Krounch says:

    As a 10 man raider, I wouldn’t mind going to 15 man.

    What I like about 10 man is that we all know each other really well in the raid, and the fact that usually everybody has to fill other roles than just heal/tank/dps in a given encounter (because of boss mechanics).
    And at the same time I don’t like the “carrying people” phenomenon that is almost inevitable on 25 man (unless you’re a top 100 guild).

    But 15 man would be a good compromise. You stay with a reasonable number of people, so not too much of a strain on low end computers, and at the same time you get more class combinations possibilities.

    As an example I’ll give my 10 man raid: we’ve been raiding almost the whole firelands without a mage, a shaman or a warlock. Our 2 casters in the group being a boomkin (me) and a spriest. So basically we had 2/5(6) dps with almost no raid buff, and no 3% or bloodlust for the rest of the raid. We managed to do without, but it was really a pain, and having a 15 man team instead of 10 would have allowed us to solve that problem while still keeping our core team in the raid (when you’ve been raiding with the same competent people for many, many months, you don’t want to replace them in progress fights to get a buff).

    So yeah, 15 man raids? Sure, why not?

  7. Tammy says:

    I’m glad to see a lively discussion. I love the idea of 15 man raids. That being said though I have to disagree with your views of 10 man vs. 25 man. I’m one of those people who only raided 10 man and I always found it harder to get 10 man raids together than 25 mans. Disclaimer: I have not raided in Cata so things may have changed but when I ran 10 man raids for my guild we really couldn’t carry more than one or two people and we had a problem with tank/healer back-ups due to other guild members raiding 25 man and refusing to do 10s too.

    The 25 man raids went so much further and I know people were carried. The 10 man raiding was always more difficult and eventually we burned out and once I quit leading and the main tank burned out, the 10 man raids stopped.

    I’m also a psychology major and I do understand your analogy but I think it would be wrong to make a generalized, stereotypical statement and assume that even ‘most’ people would automatically say the other raid size was worse due to an affinity to their own ‘group’.

    I know 25 man raiders love to say that it’s easier to fill a 10 man raid but if a guild mostly does 10 man raiding, it is very difficult to fill a 25 man raid. Either way both sizes have issues and there is no easy solution to this problem. That’s why I love LFR; now most people have a chance at the loot pinata which in-turn could actually help raids be more successful.

    • Lissanna says:

      Things changed in Cataclysm. They equalized difficulty between 10s and 25s in Cataclysm and they also equalized gear ilevels between the two sizes. So, there is no more reward for being a 25-man guild and they are going extinct.

      Your experiences in WotLK have nothing to do with what it is like in Cata because they changed how raiding works. So, you haven’t seen how the community has changed at this point with the way that raiding works.

      I also had to open with the in-group out-group bias stuff because it does cloud how people approach the problem of 10 vs 25-man in Cataclysm (it didn’t have that same effect in WotLK nearly as strongly when they weren’t “equal”).

  8. Brian says:

    I think it’s just the simple problem that Blizzard created two raid sizes where one is a lot more work to put together and removed a significant part of the incentive to do it. There are still internal incentives people have, like enjoying the more epic feel of larger raiding, but without the tangible rewards, the intangible ones aren’t quite enough.

    A good comparison I heard is between a Porsche 911 Turbo and a Honda Civic. Sure, the Porsche costs WAY more than the Honda, but it’s faster, cooler and more fun to drive, so people buy them. Now imagine that the Honda went just as fast, handled just as well, but still cost the same amount of money. A Porsche would still be cooler, and people might still keep buy them, but I bet a lot wouldn’t.

    The other problem that Lissanna suggested is that it’s not enough for individuals to make the 25 man vs 10 man choice for themselves. BEING in a 25-man raid isn’t more work than a 10…in some ways it’s easier for the individual, IMHO. The problem is that officers have to be motivated to run a 25-man guild, since the majority of the extra effort involved in 25s falls on them. And that extra work didn’t decrease at all since 25s stopped dropping better loot.

  9. Foofy says:

    There are no other 25man raiding guilds on my server at all. It sucks because blizzard just can’t balance the two to be on equal footing and makes it feel like a losing situation when trying for progression vs another raid size.

    When people go looking for a guild now-a-days, all they see is 10man responding. When I was looking for a guild several months ago, I even stated “NO 10man Guilds Please” Out of 20 posts, 19 of them were 10mans and responded “I’m posting this anyway” before they did their recruitment spam.

    Another crappy point is my guild is thinking at the possibility of moving servers to find equal competition as well. We’re looking at servers who have 2-3 ACTIVE raiding 25man guilds. Sadly, all the servers we are seeing is 10man. So yeah, 25mans are dying. Trying to find other 25mans that are active and actually competing is becoming like finding a needle in a haystack.

  10. Brent says:

    The two raid sizes are entirely different experiences. Ten man raiding is unique as is 25 man as was 40 man. I used to play FFXI and we had 60man(or 65 cant remember). I have done them all. They all present different experiences. Blizz offers us both options. You can say you want one over the other but Blizz gives you that option. I personally prefer 10man as it is more of a challenge to me. As a healer 25man raids were less reliant on anyone person. 10man are just what I enjoy more. I can see some like the larger size. That is fine. Do I want 15? No. It is just another dynamic that isnt needed.

    I can only say if you want 25man then you need to get others that are interested. Based on the decline in 25man raiding guilds it is apparent that 25mans are not what people rush to. It may not be what you want but the majority go to 10s more than 25s. We still have choice and if you dont want to lose it you need to get more people interested in 25man.

    The guild I am in has existed since the start of wow. Our casual guild is doing stuff that is well beyond what it was able to do under the old 40 and 25 man structures. Completing content at the current tier was impossible as we lacked enough raidiers dispite having a very large guild. Now we are able to complete the current normal raiding experience before the nerf bat decimates the dungeon. And this is on the 3-5 hours of raiding a week. The game for us is way more enjoyable with the new options. I hope it continues with 25mans but that all depends on how others that raid view them.

    • malchome says:

      Brent you are missing the point. Using your logic, all group content should be 5 man group content. They are by far the most popular content in the game as almost everyone does the 5 man content.

      Everyone was a 40 man raider that raided when that was the only raid size that was viable or in existence. We now have 2 viable paths and people by default when everything is equal like everything in nature goes the path of least resistance. Most raiding 25s are those that miss the 40 man days and want a raid that is more than a glorified dungeon group because they remember when you could take 10 into a dungeon.

      Given the setup of the Role Trinity, 15 mans make the most sense with 3 Tanks, 3 Healers and 9 DPS. Since many, not all, but many Tanks also like to DPS sometimes when they don’t want the responsibility at that time having the Tank -> DPS is a much better progression than making someone that likes to DPS go Heals in the 10 man 2T, 3H, 5 DPS setup. True the top end guilds can keep the ratio of 1:1:3 and still progress but the majority of the player base when learning encounters go 2:3:5 . Additionally the best part of 15 man encounter design would allow for a 3rd tank to be in rotation sometimes giving more variety of encounters.

      • WeWhoEat says:

        Actually I think brent gets it.

        5 man is not part of the equation since its not a raid, its not part of the discussion set. Using your taking to the extreme example blizzard should just get rid of groups because solo play is the most popular… But lets get back on topic here:

        I will buy the original thesis that 1 raid size is better than 2, but what I can’t buy is anyone, even blizzard having the insight or the “balls” to just axe the most popular raid format all together by getting rid of 10s and moving to 15s. Its a very important business maxim to never stop the money flow, if you need to make a transition then you do so with a bridge, but never make all of your customers have to change at once. Right now 10s are blizzard’s money maker for raids; and to kill them all in one fell swoop is not a smart idea especially when subscriber numbers are in a current state of plateau / decline.

        Yes blizzard did do this once before, when they killed 40 man raids but I think they felt quite sure that the 40man scene was a disaster (handful of guilds able to field later content, while the rest was essentially mired in mildly more organized pug with too many moving parts to ever steer the ship to much progress). Blizzard made that move and it payed off, we got a much better raiding environment but not without a lot of heartache in the process, but it was for the better.

        Now I think the big difference from back then to now is that 10 man raids are a big success, so why are we trying to kill them? My suggestion would be to continue with 2 raid sizes, 10 & 15, don’t care about keeping their difficulty balanced with each other, allow for separate lock outs and provide separate achievements (or some other way to track them separately) for progression tracking. If 15 turns out to be the sweet spot and 10s fall by the wayside then axe 10s in the next expansion.

        Now is not the time to ask 100% of your raiders to re-guild…

        • Lissanna says:

          There’s no point in having both 10 & 15-man raids because it would bring with it the same baggage as the 10 vs 25-man raids in the first place. Honestly, 20-mans would have been a better “sweet spot” if they had just chopped 40-mans into 20-mans back in TBC in the first place. The “sweet spot” is really whatever raid size Blizzard says it is – this isn’t a player-driven phenomena, but a Blizzard-driven one.

          Blizzard’s killing off 25-man raids (due to lack of support), without actually just dissolving them altogether, is also not the way to go.

          One option would be to better support 25-man raids, so that people CAN choose to run them if they want to (which is NOT really an option for everyone who wants to run them right now because there just aren’t enough guilds to support the number of raiders willing to raid in 25’s but not willing to lead them or create a new level 1 guild). In Cataclysm, they ripped the carpet out from under 25-man raiding guilds by propping up 10-mans (along with making creating new guilds a lot harder with the guild leveling system), so the shift from 25-mans to 10-mans is entirely driven by Blizzard’s policies.

          Blizzard has made everyone re-guild every expansion so far with their changes to raid designs. Why not change things this time to make up for the mistakes that they did in Cataclysm? Now that your preferred raiding size is the one on top, it’s okay to just say “screw everyone else who doesn’t like 10s”?

          • WeWhoEat says:

            But its by no means my preferred raid size. I am raiding 10s by default because we could no longer support 25 and now we’re in a situation where we can hardly support 10. I really like my guildies and we do well enough for ourselves but with trying to recruit we’ve never been able to maintain a healthy bench. I would guess that many others are in similar situations and asking us to move to 15s would just break us. So that’s why I feel the way I do, 10s have worked so well for so many, I’ve not seen a suitable reason to kill them. And you say that blizzard has forced us to reguild every expansion? I am still in the same raid group as I was in vanilla.

            Maybe I am just clinging on to something that is not part of the game, and I should be expected to move guilds on a regular basis. It seems harder and harder to find recruits and people / guilds are leaving the server. Maybe the true answer to all of this is that blizzard needs to start aggressively consolidating servers.

          • Lissanna says:

            The breaking up of 40-mans caused me to spend most of TBC guild-hopping because I couldn’t find a new home that worked for me. I settled into Conspiracy in WotLK in Ulduar. The desperate feeling of trying to keep a 25-man from turning into a 10-man is how we ended up with Undying Resolution splitting off from Conspiracy.

            Your guild’s problem seems to be less about raid size and more that it’s outlived most guilds period. Also, it’s hard to have a “healthy bench” in 10-mans. That’s probably the hardest organizational part for 10’s and why 15-mans would be better. with 15-mans, you have more people who are likely to need nights off making it more possible to be able to sometimes rotate in those benched people. The 10-mans largely require you to be running with the same 10 people every time.

            I realize that changing the raid size to 15-mans wouldn’t be ideal for everyone. It would hurt some guilds. However, Blizzard is already hurting all the guilds by having the 10/25 split in the first place.

  11. gorrie says:

    One fledgling 25m guild just Popped up this month and I had so much fun. But now they have changed raid times to where I can’t go. I got 3 loots on morchok as the only druid there. Crazy I know only druid in a 25m.
    I’d lead a 25 if ppl would just showup. I have 3toons in 10m cores. To me I’d like 5 chances at loot vs 2. But even a 25m BH is a pain. Ppl will drop if you take another of their class even if its not the same roll. A 1 of each class will fill on the first spam. Gear drives this game. Gear is the only thing that will bring back 25m.
    Then on top of it you have to pretty much run it like a corporation. Vs a small business. Both can fail it just takes a few to bring all down. 10s are just easier/faster to startup and maintain or rebuild.
    Better loot is what will rez 25m or even dropping 8 loot possibly. Id also like more raid markers and rl tools. Why do we even a need recount addon. The game combat log is damn near useless as tool. With new raiders I needed to mark each raider and then were to stand when its time to spread for so many fights this expac. Can’t. Imagine the choas of it on 25m. Lfr helped this tier but its a big lie in so many ways for mechanics. Esp for pingpong and button bosses.

  12. Syous says:

    Meh, I want 40man for LFR

  13. Berdache says:

    The in game combat log is very useful. You save it to a file using /combatlog and then parse the file created by any one of the several online websites. You then get a visual display of what happened in the encounter and can analyse what killed you and what was happening with your dps / healing etc.

    The aim of every encounter is to kill the boss (or heal it … etc) not to get high dps. This means that you don’t want any of your dps to ignore basic raid strategy’s just to improve their personal dps (or even lower other peoples) but some healthy competition between your dps is important. Recount or similar addons can be useful but they should not be used out of context and cannot be used as a boasting tool. Also where someone is doing unexplainable low dps you can raise the issue and see if they are wearing the cooking hat, fishing rod, etc :).

  14. Snuffey says:

    I used to not raid in 25 mans simply because my computer couldn’t handle it. Now I raid 10 man because I prefer the more intimate nature of them. Also in 25 mans I just feel like a cog in the wheel just 1 of many that my participation is just less meaningful. I guess what I am trying to say is 25 mans have a more epic feel to them while 10 mans i feel more epic in them. At this point I just don’t see blizz going to 15 mans mainly because it would be very jarring to a lot of guilds including the guild I am in. Having to all of a sudden field 5 more peeps is a much bigger deal to a 10 man guild than it is to a 25 man guild. Also those players have to come from some where and if no one is running 25 mans that will be other 10 man guilds. I am not too concerned about 25 mans going away there are a lot of passionate 25 man raiders out there.

    • Lissanna says:

      the problem is that if you look at the numbers, 25-mans ARE going away. Even though people are passionate about them, there isn’t enough support from Blizzard to really keep this going over the next 1, 2, 3, 5 years. At some point, having so few people kill bosses on 25-man is going to cause Blizzard to need to stop spending development time on the content altogether. According to Graylo’s numbers, the 25-man guilds were 17% of the Halfus kills, and only 11% of the Morchok kills. We’ve lost ~6% of the 25-man representation just in two raiding tiers. If we lose 3 to 4% of the 25-man raiding guilds every tier, then we only have 3 more raiding tiers before there are no 25-man guilds left at all.


      Every expansion shakes up guilds. Every expansion has a ton of people come back who are looking for guilds, and tons of people from guilds that call it quits who look for new homes. Guilds aren’t permanent fixtures in the game – they come and go over time. So, I don’t think that having 10-man be the only option for raiding sizes just for convenience is good for the game.

      Letting 25’s completely die out like dinosaurs is irresponsible for Blizzard to do, and that’s really the important part I’m trying to bring attention to.

      • Snuffey says:

        WOW a 30% drop in kills at least from Halfus to Morchok for 25 mans is huge. I hadn’t realized it was that big a drop. I guess I can understand it in terms of resources required between feasts and cauldrons of battle and the organizational requirements of having 15 more peeps. With little true incentives to entice peeps for the extra head aches and time required I guess it shouldn’t have been that big of a surprise. Also SWTOR coming out when it did probably made fielding 25 mans that much more difficult. Which will only become harder with games like GW2 and Tera on the horizon(GW2 will have a bigger impact I am sure).
        I guess unless they get creative with some extra rewards for 25 mans it will only continue. How ever I don’t like the idea of going back to 25 mans dropping better gear over all. I always got annoyed with the perception that 25 mans are the “real” raid. In Wrath a large percentage of the player base considered 10 mans the LFR of the time. I am casual raider and have always considered myself that way since BC where we barely got Kara down before the pre wrath patch where all the raids got nerfed. Even so no one likes being looked down no because of preference.
        I do like the idea of going to 1 raid size(keeping LFR 25 man) mainly for the decreased time it would take to balance means faster patches and more content. But Blizz really needs to make an effort to keep 25 mans alive before they make that decision. Ways to entice would be to drop special gear for the end boss something more than 1/2 tier higher though(special proc like with the Cata legendarys). A chance at getting a mount or pet from specific bosses. Cauldrons just give more flasks while dropped in a 25 man with a longer duration. Heck I wouldn’t be mad if a NPC was in there that granted the cauldron buff as long as you stay in the raid. Heck Lissanna you got us healing shrooms (still makes me lol when I think about you asking that at blizzconn) just ask them to change it to 15 mans worked once :D.

  15. gorrie says:

    Well I started a wol but wow do I need to a data anilyst to read that. I can understand what I’m looking at in recount plus I look in game and see what I need to know. Pure dps and hps isnt all that I look at. Activity tab is a huge help it show what someone did and how much time was spent doing it. And compare for each fight or against others and take into account for each attempt. We also have an addon that tells what some died from and when anyone uses a CD.
    WoL is like an after the fact type deal. Sure I also see ppl using it a bragging tool. Ranking? But to me I barely understand it. On top of that I’m not interested in posting them for others besides our ppl. I see ppl using it to call out other ppl on wow forums more than help.

    I got lucky lastnight a different guild has formed a 25 now this week. I was so happy to join it, and suprised that it only had a bear and me in it. I got rocked in healing sitting at 5th/6th healer and all guild but me. I got some gear even. Jumped 7 ilvls. With a full clear. They invited me to join but I can’t raid wednesdays. Got to guild raid. I rly want to join them. 25m is fun and feels more epic for sure. Plus I like being a nobody = less stress.

  16. Adraistea says:

    My guild has always been a 25man guild – until Cata. There is no motivation for our guildies to do 25man raids when we have the ability to do THREE 10s, which is currently the case. Every time I try and move or guild back to 25s, I am met with a lot of resistance. Primarily because a lot of people feel there is no greater reward in 25s as there used to be and there are quite a few who had difficulty with lag in 25s, and now they can perform better in their 10man group. My biggest fear when we went to 10s was the segregation of my guildies in to multiple groups, and what that would do for our overall guild comrardarie. I will say that while we have had our share of difficulties (raiders coming/going, some getting burned out, jealousy, etc) I am very proud at the fact that our guild seems to always want to do things together outside of their raid groups. I promote this very strongly, and also create special events to bring the guild together outside of raidnig such as scavenger hunts, raiding old school content etc. We have been mocked by many who are in 25 man guilds on our server for being a 10 man raiding guild – as we were once a 25 man guild. But my guild’s hard work, dedication and commitment is the reason why we are #3 on our server, as a 10man raiding guild. Now I have 30 people raiding each week instead of 25. It can’t get better than this. I still wish we would go back to 25s at times, simply because I find it more enjoyable to hang out with 24 other guildies than 9. But there have been many positive rewards resulting from this change Blizz made than negative ones. I will continue to support my guild’s decision to raid in their 10man groups. I DO wish Blizz would consider changing it to a 15man raid group. That would be the ideal situation for sure.

  17. malchome says:

    The one aspect that was not really focused on as the big change between WotLK and Cata that really killed 25 man raids was the Lock Out changes. Many more would participate in 25 Man raids and even PUGS if it also did not lock them out of the 10 Man version in the same week.

    This was OK in T11 when we had 3 Raid Instances to dance between but like always Blizzard Fails in the post expansion patches. So T12 and T13 have only had 1 Raid Instance. Hell it would have been good to keep T13 as 2 Parts like the LFR.

    On a snarky note, the vindictive side of me hopes the people involved with that decision were of the 600 layed off. I don’t like wishing that upon people but WTF were they thinking of making it 2 parts for the LFR but the same for normal Raids. If there was a good reason to do it for time restrictions in LFR it makes sense to do it for Normal/Heroic.

  18. Treeboi says:

    I just looked at wowprogress and holy cow, 25 man raiding has completely died off. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize it was this bad.

    There used to be 7-8 guilds that did 25 mans on my server, per faction, with 3-4 of those good enough to do heroic content. And that number remained consistent, for several years.

    But now I see only one 25 man guild per faction that is good enough to do heroic content, and only 1-2 other guilds per faction that even runs 25 mans. And I’m on one of the original, high population PvP servers.

    Given that 25 man guilds survive much, much longer than 10 man guilds (which, in turn, survive much longer than leveling guilds), I foresee the end of raiding guilds as we know it.

    In addition, today’s news is that Blizzard just laid off 600 employees. After a loss of 1.6 million subscriptions in 2011, this foretells a huge loss in subscriptions in 2012.

    • malchome says:

      Now you see why we are concerned about raid sizes and I have been following the trend of the guild/raid implosion since the beginning of 2011 or since Cata Launched.

  19. Thursday says:

    Good post as always Lis. One angle that hasn’t been tossed around much that I’d enjoy your input on is this: 10man v 25 man in Cata….one of the differences is really boss health…more players, more dps…more boss health…but other than that the mehcanical differecnes of the fights are not very dissimilar. One thing Blizz may be able to bring to the table to salavge 25 man teams is making mechanics – not just health pools – different for 25 man and 10 man raids. Let there be a need to have 3-4 tanks….a need to have more or less healers, or (don’t hit me) a need for a certain class. Hybridization is as much an issue here as anything else I think. Loot is the same, mechanics are the same…who can get excited about going the harder rout (harder being in terms of organization)?

  20. Jonathan says:

    I didn’t spot this addressed, but wasn’t the LFR in general something that they said simply couldn’t work with 10-Mans due in major part to the composition when it comes to finding a group, particularly tanks?

    You’re going to need two tanks whether you’re running 10-Man or 25-Man, so the huge disparity is terms of needs is essentially necessary to keep the queues from getting outrageous.

    Typical 10-Man, to my knowledge, works as a 2 tank, 3 heals, 5 DPS group versus a 2 tank, 6 heals 17 DPS. With tank population as low as it’s been for ages no, queues for 10-Man LFR would be rather rotten for healers and an absolute nightmare for DPS.

    Maybe something’s changed, I’ve been taking some downtime, but I see the existence of LFR and the necessity to keep queues down via an extremely unbalanced group composition as borderline guarantee that 25-Man raiding isn’t going anywhere. 15-Man could conceivably work, but anything that increases queue times would likely only be poorly received.

  21. Capn says:

    I understand your logic in the post, but a lot of guilds do 10-man content because that’s all they can field. My guild is an example of this. There is a core of us who have been gaming together for 10 years, and others have joined us along the way. We have probably 20-30 players, but it is a challenge to get even 10 together on raid nights some weeks. We are all working adults with busy lives, so we do not necessarily have a main 10 man group, it might change from one night to the next. Forcing 15-man raids would most likely end raiding for us and other similar guilds. I think the current raid size works well because it gives both large and small guilds a chance to raid. The main reason more guilds did 25 man content in WOTLK is because the loot was better. Making the loot the same allows people to do the raid size they want. If fewer guilds do 25 man, then it’s their own choice to do it.

    • Lissanna says:

      For the larger guilds, though, it’s not really about choice – it’s about Blizzard’s design directions.

      If Blizzard gave better loot for doing solo quests than raiding, no one would raid at all. Blizzard’s design directions decide what is or isn’t an option. At some point, 25-man raiding isn’t going to be an option because there won’t be 25-man raids – UNLESS Blizzard either better supports 25-man raids, OR they change raid sizes into one happy medium for everyone.

  22. Reversion says:

    There is some stuff you said that I disagree with. For one I don’t think “more ppl = more epic”. Hordes of tiny people standing around a huge boss makes me feel puny and insignificant and not epic. Also it makes you feel like a meaningless cog and not a valued part of the team. In vanilla the few times I raided 40 man I was a ungeared ‘warm body’ invite. Yeah I tried my best but I was totally getting carried. And I was not the only one. The more people they design into a fight the easier they have to make it because there is just too much room for one person to screw up. Hence why 25s get more BREZs than 10s.
    I think ‘Epic feel’ is all about the encounter design and the difficulty. I would not mind them being 5 man, or solo, if the encounter felt really really epic. I think good design could do that.
    Which brings me to a point you made that I agree with. One that I think needs repeating. If they went to one raid size they would have more time/resources to tune it well. We could get bigger badder and more interesting fights if they did not have to design them for scalability.
    I am a 10 man raider. I love that size. If feels personal. It feels like everyone matters. I am a raid leader and I prefer to lead. I also will never be leading a progression 25man. I could see doing 15. That seems reasonable.
    You are right about the bench issue. I am surprised some people disagree. Keeping a ‘health bench’ with a 10man run is hard. Really hard. You are dead on about tank/heals demand. Anyone that wants to raid in those roles does NOT want to be on the bench. Hybrids help but even then it is a small percentage of DPS that can also do a good job as tank/heals AND are willing to do that when needed. As a raid leader you work hard to build your people up and get good people in the right role for them. It is hard to have 2 or 3 of your 5 dps have a viable offspec. Not if you want consistent progression. Whenever our raid has a tank or healer get flaky for a few weeks due to real life our progression stops cold or goes backward. 15 would give us some breathing room there. That would be a big enough benefit to raid planning that it would offset most of the difficulties in wrangling more people.
    I really do like 10 mans and prefer them. But I worry that if there was ONLY 10 mans then Bliz would start slacking. They could make raids just scaled up 5 mans. That would be terrible. One raidsize is probably best and I agree that 15 makes the most sense. I don’t really want to have to lead 5 more people but I think it is the best alternative.


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