WOD: Happy with the raid size changes

Now that I’ve gotten rid of the big, black cloud hanging over my head, I can talk about some things I am really looking forward to in WOD. The first of these is the change in raid sizes. It is no secret that I was really unhappy with the initial split of 10 v 25. Like everything in the game, I went through several stages of grief, including: Angry posting and cursing, as well as bargaining and trying to find a compromise, and depression over what I thought was going to signal the loss of 25-mans forever when Blizzard chose to do nothing in MOP, and acceptance of the loss of many 25-man guilds from the World of Warcraft as 10-man guilds largely replaced all but two of the dozens of 25-man guilds we started out with on my server before 10-man progression raiding was implemented.

Through all of the ups and downs, I have remained an active raider in a 25-man raiding guild. I never have done much in the way of 10-man raiding. The 10-man raid size was never my thing. It is with that larger context in mind that I wanted to share my thoughts on the changes for raiding in WOD. While I have great sympathy for 10-mans having to transition to 20-mans, I don’t have a sense of perspective where it would make sense for me to try to represent that population. Instead, I’ll focus on my own transition from 25-man to 20-man raiding.

Here is a brief recap of what raiding in WOD will look like:

  • The current LFR system will stay in place. This will use current LFR loot.
  • The current 10-25 man Flex mode will now be a called Normal-mode and will be flexible in size between 10 and 25. You can choose between LFR loot and and master-looter.
  • The current Normal raiding will now be called Heroic. It will be flexible in size between 10 and 25 raiders, and you can choose between LFR loot and master-looter.
  • The current Heroic raiding will now be called Mythic, and will be limited to 20 people only.
  • The raid sizes other than Mythic will also be cross-realm capable, and it looks like each difficulty is on a different lockout (meaning you could get 4 chances of loot – one off each raid size).

As a 25-man raiding guild, my guild will likely do the following content:

  • Our main raiding size will be the new Heroic flexible size. We will likely run with between 20 and 25 raid members in Heroic.
  • We will kill some Mythic bosses. Whether or not we kill all the mythic bosses in a raid tier will depend on lots of different factors.
  • We will likely have some normal-mode Flexible size runs for our alts during times when we have alts who are raid-ready, and we could potentially start with normal-mode Flexible in the first raid tier while people are still gearing up. We will be unlikely to run LFR as a group, though individual members are welcome to run it on their own.

We will have to make some tough decisions along the way:

With a roster of between 30 and 32 people, we will have to be careful about how we recruit between now and the start of WOD raiding. We will want to start WOD raiding with a roster between 25 and 27 people. This means that most of the time, our Heroic flexible raid will be at (or close to) the maximum 25-person capacity, but that we won’t be sitting a huge number of people on Mythic nights that require no more than 20. We have to shrink our roster a little bit, but since people naturally come and go around the time of expansions, it means we have room to let our roster attrition down to a comfortable place by just halting recruitment at the point where we’re mostly done with SOO raiding.

I am happy with this new system of raiding.

When I knew that “separate but equal” 10 v 25-man raiding wasn’t going to be possible, I wrote multiple posts suggesting we drop down to one 15-man size. This was before Flexible raid sizes were possible. However, with flexible raid sizes, I see how 20 people could be desirable for a max-tier raiding. The most hardcore guilds are still often 25-man guilds. The changes don’t really impact people who would never hit Mythic-level raiding.

While the changes prevent dabbling by guilds into killing 1 or 2 mythic bosses, it clearly shows where the division of difficulty should be divided: The hardest difficulty can be tuned for a single raid size, and mechanics that would fail in 10-mans can be used in 20-mans. It also allows two 10-mans to be combined into a single 20-man, and doesn’t require 25-mans to cut huge chunks of people from their rosters. I basically get what I want: A single raid size at the most hardcore end of raiding. It also still allows people to do 10-man normal-mode raiding if they really want to. Seeing as how only a tiny percentage of the WOW player base will ever raid Mythic difficulty, I believe that even with some short-term growing pains, this new way of raiding is going to feel better for most people in the long-run.

Suggestions for easing the transition.

  • To Blizzard: The costs of server and faction transfers need to be reduced around the time of the expansion transition to ease the burden on guilds trying to recruit new members. The 10-man teams who have to add 15 more people to their rosters will only survive if the costs of transferring are worth the risks of joining a group that may show instability early in the transition. If two guilds on different servers want to merge, the costs of doing that merger is often prohibitively expensive. So, if a huge factor in the survival of current guilds comes down to the ease of bringing in people from another server, these server transfer costs needs to be something Blizzard considers in the upcoming months leading to the expansion.
  • To guild leadership: Guilds need to be open to their members about what the plans are for how to deal with the transition. Guilds need to plan early, so that the expansion transition doesn’t catch anyone by surprise. Any transition for a new expansion can be difficult. There are always new things (both good and bad) to deal with as the content changes. Guild leadership needs to communicate early and often. If the guild plans to recruit more people, then get all the members involved. If the guilds are going to lose people, then communicate early about how that is going to be handled. Whatever unique problems that the expansion poses for guilds, be clear to your members about how you will handle the transitions.
  • To players at large: Plan in advance for what raiding you really want to do in the next expansion. This transition will be a great time to join new raid groups, help shape the direction of your current raid groups, or help with recruiting new members to your team. If you are returning to the game, the expansion transition will be a great time to find new guilds who have opened their rosters.

In conclusion, I think Blizzard made the right choice in their changing the raid sizes to have one single end-game raid size. Using the flexible technology for every other raid size also allows a lot more flexibility and choice. In the end, the change in raid size is one of the things I am looking forward to the most. I appreciate that Blizzard was able to finally fix the failing 10 v 25-man raid size problem. I look forward to seeing the future of raiding.

11 Comments

  1. Muphrid
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    With Mythic being on a separate lockout, the mindset for farming Heroic when not working on new Mythic bosses will have to change slightly. Right now, bosses killed on current Heroic are exclusive with Normal, and so there is no option (or temptation) to kill those bosses on Normal as well for people who might have more serious gaps in their gear.

    I think one thing that may end up happening is for a guild breaking into Mythic (or perhaps one who has several Mythic bosses on farm already, but would still benefit from some of the later Heroic bosses) to run Heroic on an off-night with some mixture of alts as a partial clear, to use that lockout later in the main raiding schedule for the week.

    I’m presuming that Heroic, at least, despite having flexible architecture, will still operate on the same principles of lockouts as current Normal does. I know Blizzard said they don’t want these organized raids to operate on a queue system in Warlords.

  2. Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    “It also allows two 10-mans to be combined into a single 20-man”

    Speaking as a guild leader of a 10H currently at 10/14H on two nights a week…this would be a terrible idea. Something like 75%+ of guild mergers end in disaster (likely far higher but I’m playing it safe). I know that the only way I would even *consider* a guild “merger” is if the other guild wanted to join us and give up their old guild. No “automatic officership” for the GM of that guild and/or any officers. Just literally acting like a group of 12 applicants or something (and I already hate “package deals” — too prone to drama).

    Any other method is simply begging for disaster and I’d still be incredibly wary of doing something like what I mentioned — simply too likely to form cliques of “us vs them” and/or having guild culture clashes. Taking two different cultures with their own in-jokes and habits and expecting them to mesh rarely ends well.

    Not to mention the problem of having 4 people wanting to tank or the problem of people in one guild thinking a person or two in the other guild should be cut (or vice versa).

    In short, 10 mans are no more likely to merge than a 25 man would be to split into two 15 man teams if that had been the new raid size.

    • Lissanna
      Posted November 16, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      There are actually some guilds who split from running 25’s into two 10-mans, so in their cases, they could merge their own 10-man teams back into a 20-man (if they still raid). So, when I talked about two 10-mans combining, I didn’t necessarily suggest that people should try out a bunch of guild mergers. I acknowledge the problems involved with guild mergers, and that’s part of why 10-man teams need free or low cost server transfers to be able to attract new guild members.

      I originally voted for 15-man raids, since I thought that would be easier on the 10-man transition but still allow 1 of each class. However, 20 is what we’ve been given.

      • Posted November 16, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        “There are actually some guilds who split from running 25′s into two 10-mans”

        How many of those are deep into heroics, though? You can get away with a lot more in a normal guild than a heroic guild.

        “I originally voted for 15-man raids, since I thought that would be easier on the 10-man transition but still allow 1 of each class.”

        Eh. Objectively speaking, 20 man is probably better for the long term health of the game. Subjectively speaking, I would much prefer 15 man raids, both on a personal level (I prefer being one of a few powerful heroes instead of a cog in the machine) and on a leadership level (I don’t want to have to deal with a larger roster, especially on a limited schedule like ours).

        • Lissanna
          Posted November 16, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

          Either way, 10-mans aren’t something I really have personal experience with, so I have to defer to 10-man raiding teams to really talk about what supports you need from Blizzard to make the transition feasible.

          • Posted November 17, 2013 at 1:01 am | Permalink

            Better recruiting tools would be one of the biggest things.

            That said, it’s still a hard fact that a ton of guilds will die to feed other guilds — there simply won’t be the people otherwise. And we’re going to have to deal with the churn and recruiting of a larger roster, which is often precisely what we wanted to avoid.

            Bleh.

  3. R
    Posted November 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    The big wild card for current 10H guilds/raids is connected realms, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Blizzard is finally consolidating back to a larger raid size for their most tightly tuned fights at the same time that realms are being connected to increase the available player pool on each (connected) server.

    I think it’d be smart to have a general idea of how you want to proceed going into the next expansion but it’s too early to make specific plans. If there’s one thing that seems to be somewhat pervasive in the WoW culture it’s that almost nobody is happy with the server they’re on no matter HOW active it is (I see similar comments on my queue server as well as my “is anyone else on?” server). Once servers merge, and I haven’t experienced that yet so I’m just anticipating this, I’d expect folks from the “other” servers being connected will be anxious to see what calibre of guilds/raids are available on your server. Just make sure you’re in a position to properly market yourself to them since other guilds and the OTHER “other” servers being connected will also be in that greener grass category for them. See if you can differentiate yourself in some way that at least a specific sub-set of the new bodies might be interested in, you don’t need to be appealing to all, just the ones who would fit your core requirements.

    @Balkoth

    I suspect you might think otherwise in a year or so… with both the new Normal and Heroic raids being flexible it’s entirely possible or even likely that more players will be running premade content than are now rather than running LFR for their fix which does nothing but increase the feeder pool for Mythic raids. The consolidation of Mythic into one size could also help with recruiting, one of the primary reasons I stopped heroic raiding a couple of years ago is that I didn’t like how the fights were turned for our 10-man group, we always seemed to have to come up with creative, group-specific ways to succeed which was fun occasionally but not as a standard model (“so, y’all saw the Tankspot video, here’s how it won’t work for us on this new boss”). I also never liked the 25-man heroic model, I did that a bit back in Wrath and I found it to be too large and too inflexible in terms of having to keep a bench (my 10 group had no bench, if someone didn’t show we either cancelled or filled from friends lists), you were either in the run or you were on standby for hours, you couldn’t run much in the way of end-game content without lock implications. With the changes, your 21-25 players will have a chance to come along for Heroic flex runs of the same content, getting experience with the group and learning basic strategies in a more forgiving environment, also meaning less training required when they step into Mythic.

    TLDR: For the first time since mid-Cataclysm I can see myself becoming a Mythic raider again in WoD and I doubt I’m the only one who’ll feel this way. Guilds don’t have to die, they have to leverage the changes to make Mythic appealing to players who are on the fence about whether they’re skilled/interested enough for Mythic raiding and the first step is to pay attention to the upsides of the changes, they may not be aware of some of the positive implications. Progression raiding can be more inclusive than it’s ever been, take advantage of that.

    • Posted November 20, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      “I suspect you might think otherwise in a year or so… with both the new Normal and Heroic raids being flexible it’s entirely possible or even likely that more players will be running premade content than are now rather than running LFR for their fix which does nothing but increase the feeder pool for Mythic raids.”

      While true, that doesn’t help the short-term problem of us needing to find 12 highly skilled players interested in raiding only on Sunday and Monday nights. We’re very much a niche guild — we don’t have to worry about poaching but it’s awfully difficult to find recruits due to our unusual days, small amount of raiding hours, and high skill requirements.

      • R
        Posted November 25, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        What could they have announced that would have helped you short-term? Maybe I’m losing something in translation here…

        Short-term, nothing changes. Once you stop raiding regularly (assuming you do, I think most raids take a break at some point between expansions) and once realm connections start happening, that’s when things will start changing… and yep, it won’t be a lot of fun for you as you figure out whether you’ll be able to bulk up to 22-25 bodies but at least, at that point, you have the option to try folks out in Flex which is an option that wouldn’t have been available during Dragon Soul. You’ll have more tools available to make that transition than at any point in WoW history and you’ll only have more in WoD.

  4. Berdache
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    My own guild raids Flexi and 10s at the moment and the changes will really help us. We wont need to decide between cutting the team down to 10 for normals or involving everyone (including off server freinds) and doing flexi.

    My friends who are doing heroic 10 content at the moment are really unhappy they dont see their guilds being able to survive the recruitment to double their numbers of regular raiders. And most of them prefer the intimacy of 10s (and the ability to run the game on older machines).

  5. Treeboi
    Posted December 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Balkoth, your guild is screwed in the long run.

    The big problem with just a 10 man guild is lack of redundancy, lack of recruits. This means when a player leaves the game for real life reasons, no one can back fill his place. You end up having to gear up and train up someone new, completely halting progression, and usually regressing content-wise, because recruiting a skilled and geared player is nigh impossible.

    The only solution is to get bigger, so that there are at least 2 other players who can step up into an alternate role (ie, a dps player who can tank and a different dps player who can heal), as well as 1-2 recruits being trained up, at all times. My guild found that it took about 4-6 months of raiding to properly train up a recruit, with dps players being the hardest to train up.

    In a 25 man raid, we were always carrying 1-2 recruits, effectively 23-24 manning the content. Yes, we would even carry the recruits through progression heroics for first kills. Because that is the only way to maintain a progression orientated guild over the long haul.

    If you look at the numbers, it meant a turn over of about 6-9 players per year in a 28-30 man guild doing 25 man raids.

    If you look at the numbers, you will find close to zero 10 man guilds that survive an expansion, with the vast majority not even surviving a single year, and that is solely due to their lack of redundancy and recruiting.