So today Blizzard announced a brand new way they are managing raids come Cataclysm. 10 and 25 mans will soon by on the same lockout timer, but they will drop the exact same loot. Not different stats, not different colors, the exact same. Heroic versions will be setup similarly but will have increased stats over the normal modes, but the same loot. How can they do this, when 25 mans are more difficult one is immediately going to say, well Blizzard seems to be normalizing the difficulty between both versions. To entice those to run the 25 mans Blizzard is going to have 25 man bosses drop more gold, more badges and drop more epics than the 10 man version. Also early on we will see smaller raids consisting of 5-6 bosses, but having more choice and variety, similar to what we saw in Burning Crusade with SC and TK.
Overall this change has some major repercussions, both good and bad depending on what side of the table you are on.
First because 10 and 25s are on the same lockout timer, I expect to see pug 10s and 25s (with the exception of alt runs) to mostly disappear, no one wants to chance getting a pug together and lock themselves out of both the 25 and 10 man version, especially if you can run it with your guild. Most raiding guilds probably won’t tolerate you getting locked out of raids.
Also with the normalization of difficulty regarding 10 vs 25, I really don’t see 25s being dumbed down, but rather 10s being tuned up, 25s I see possibly being tuned down slightly, so the encounter difficulty meets in the middle.
Also as a raid leader and guild leader, this change provides leaders with much more flexibility dealing with people leaving or being absent due to boredom, other games, real life commitments, vacations, natural disasters, and even acts of God. If in ‘Clysm you raid 25s, and here comes spring break and a bunch of your raiders disappear, chances are you can still pull together 10 folks to continue progression and even gearing, whereas currently, if you don’t have the numbers you wind up canceling raids. Canceling raids frustrates your current membership, including long standing members and even officers. I have watched friends’ guilds die because they had to cancel too many 25s. Keeping progression going and getting loot to keep you competitive until you can get back to 25s whether its a day, week or month keeps morale high and gives your most committed players something to continue to work towards.
The fact that 25 mans will drop the same loot as 10s, only more of it and more badges just makes it as Blizzard said more efficient, but not the end all be all. So while you lose some efficiency of gearing, you have to remember also that you have 15 more plays in a 25 man, and you should expect more loot to drop off bosses anyway as you have more folks to disperse loot too.
So while many can claim this will be the end of 25s, yeah possibly, but I don’t think it will. Its still the optimal choice if you have the numbers. I know I am still going to focus on 25s, if folks are on vacation or have just gone MIA, I am confident in filling 10s for the time being and not sacrificing progression or gearing my members. Both are two very important aspects of a raiding guild, even if you are casual vs. hardcore.
One other big plus to the shared lockout is less burnout. Many of my members have expressed burnout because they have to run ICC10 and ICC25 just to be competitive. Then you have the hardcore guilds who run ICC 4 times if you throw on heroic 10 and 25 man modes. Running the same content 2+ times a week, over and over is going to burn anyone out, I am seeing it on many guilds now, the trade channel is turning into Craig’s List for new members. Its mostly due to burnout.
So besides giving GMs and Raid Leaders some flex room now to keep progression, gearing going if you hit a snag with attendance, members won’t feel forced to run the same content multiple times over just to keep up.
As an update blizzard has confirmed a few things
The biggest clarification is that we can swap from 25 mans to 10s it seems if for some reason we do not have the same players to continue, or if real life happens. This adds great flexibility to the raid team, and a lot less pressure to recruit people to keep going on 25s and being locked out of the 10 man version if you choose the 25 man version.
Legendaries it seems they haven’t decided on yet. And there will only be raid achievements not 10 and 25 man versions.