Warlords of Draenor Reaction: Raiding

Ever since I learned what a raid even was, I wanted to raid. I went to great lengths to raid in my first real guild, Fated Heroes. Many people used Fated Heroes to level to 60 and then would bail and go to another guild to actually raid. At one point, I just flat-out asked the guild master why we weren’t raiding. Did we not want to raid?

Of course we wanted to raid, he said, but people just left as soon as they hit 60.

That’s when I started building the raiding culture of the guild. I did research on attunements, made that information available, helped people on quests leading to attunements and the like. By golly, I wanted to raid, so I was gonna raid!

Out of the seven years I played World of Warcraft, I spent six and a half of those years raiding, pretty much.

So, of course, having watched all the World of Warcraft BlizzCon panels from Friday, the biggest thing I want to discuss is, you guessed it, raiding.

Flex Takes Over, Heroic turns Mythical

There are two things I want to discuss here. The first is the flexible aspect of virtually any raid team going forward. The second is the new “mythical” raid type and size.

They’re renaming stuff and adding flexible raid sizes to things. Let’s look at how things look right now.

1) Looking for Raid/Raid Finder: Introduced in Patch 4.3, the Dragon Soul, LFR raiding is a group of 25 people put into the same raid wing via queueing. It is tuned for 25 people (2 tanks, 6 healers, 17 DPS), but it’s quite low on the tuning scale because they don’t assume that 25 different people from different realms, etc, are going to have the organizational abilities that a “normal” or “heroic” raid group does.

2) Flex Raiding: This is a new format, introduced in Patch 5.4. Flex is a difficulty that is below Normal raids but above LFR. It is tuned for 10-25 people and scales appropriately depending on the people in the group.

3) Normal Raiding: This is the “standard” difficulty level and, currently, is able to be tackled by two raid sizes: 10 or 25. It does not scale dynamically like Flex Raiding. Normal raids are also required to be completed by at least one member of a raid team that wishes to tackle current heroic raids. (Example: Your raid leader must have defeated Garrosh in Normal Siege of Orgrimmar to unlock heroic Siege of Orgrimmar for your group.)

4) Heroic Raiding: This is the “difficult” level of difficulty, which is also able to be completed either on 10 or 25, and nothing in between.

That’s how things stand right now. Technically, that’s 6 different raids: LFR, Flex, 10m normal, 25m normal, 10m heroic, 25m heroic.

In 6.0 (Warlords of Draenor), this is what they want to do:

1) Looking for Raid/Raid Finder: Same as LFR today, only flexible, meaning that if you’re waiting for six people to fill your LFR group after a wipe, you don’t actually need to wait — the encounter will have changed dynamically and you can just go with your 19 people.

2) Normal Raiding: This is what is currently known as “Flex” raiding, in terms of difficulty, it looks like. The size for this raid will be 10-25 people and will be flexible and dynamic. This is why they’re removing “flex” as a difficulty. Instead, they’re applying flexible raid technology to all difficulties of raiding. (Well, except one.)

3) Heroic Raiding: This is what is currently known as “normal” raiding, in terms of difficulty. Again, this raid size will be 10-25 people and will scale dynamically.

4) Mythic Raiding: Currently known as “heroic” raiding, Mythic raiding will be the “elite” raiding level. The raids will be tuned for 20 people and will not scale up or down, instead of the 25-man size raiders have been using since Burning Crusade.

To be honest, I’m still in a bit of shock.

What This Means

If your standard, 25-man heroic raid looked something like 2 tanks, 6 healers and 17 DPS, you’re now looking at something like 2 tanks, 5 healers and 13 DPS. How do I figure?

Well, you kind of need two tanks. I can’t imagine a scenario where just one tank is going to be required for everything.

6 healers divided by 25 raiders = 24%
20 raid members times 0.24 (percent) = 4.8 = 5 healers

17 DPS divided by 25 raiders = 68%
20 raid members times 0.68 (percent) = 13.6 DPS

Obviously, it’s not precise and I’m sure there will be times when you drop to 4 healers and go up to 14 DPS or maybe even drop a tank and go up another DPS, but, by and large, you’re looking at a 2/5/13 breakdown.

Many people expressed a sentiment along these lines on Twitter:

It’s an interesting problem that Blizzard is dealing with here, and they do not seem to have learned terribly much about the transition from 40-man raids to 25-man raids. Let’s look at this situation.

According to GuildOx, 77 total guilds (36 25m and 37 10m) have cleared Heroic Siege of Orgrimmar. 5612 of those have killed Heroic Immerseus, the first boss in the instance, with 831 25m and 4773 10m.

What this shows is that, after two months of the latest tier being out, over 5600 guilds are in heroic content. 831 of them have 5 people “too many” for Mythic raiding and 4773 guilds are missing 10 people off their roster to be able to do Mythic raiding. Mythic raiding, if it is actually intended to be the successor of current Heroic raiding, is going to be nightmarish for most of those 5600 guilds. Obviously, between now and launch (which is not yet announced, but my money is on June, 2014), guilds will split up, people will quit and all that jazz, but it’s clear that there’s a significant amount of people who would do Mythic raiding if it remained at the 10-man format, but they may not be able to do so at the 20-man format. And that’s JUST two months into a tier. Six months from now, those numbers will have gone up and more people will be trying heroic fights. If people want to maintain their 10-15 person roster AND challenge themselves with mythic content, uh, they can’t.

Oh my God, I’m worried about the viability of 10-man raiding. Who am I??? ;)

No, really, what I’m most concerned about is Blizzard’s statement about WoW being more fun with friends. That doesn’t work with their raiding plans for Mythic raids. It works great for people who want to do LFR, normals and heroics (in the new vernacular) but it completely falls apart for Mythic raids. Completely.

Check it out.

Say I have 32 raiders on my roster for a 25-man (present-day) heroic raiding team. Come Warlords of Draenor, I need to cut at least five, perhaps six, maybe even eight people from my roster.

If my breakdown above is pretty much on target (2 tanks, 5 healers, 13 DPS considered “standard”), then this is what I would want for a total roster:

– 2-3 tanks (2 tanks with one OS tank who is extremely comfortable either tanking or DPSing OR three tanks, all of whom can DPS if needed)
– 7 healers (or perhaps 6 healers with a solid OS healer who is extremely comfortable either healing or DPSing)
– 15-17 DPS

That’s like, 24-27 people or so on the total raiding roster in a guild that I would hypothetically be running. Too many more and swaps become a problem. Too few people and you start needing to have 95%+ attendance requirements.

So say I want to run with 3 tanks, 7 healers and 15 DPS on my roster. That’s 25. If I had 32 to start, that’s seven people to cut. How is that playing “with my friends”? I’ve just lost seven of them.

Conversely, if I’m coming from a 10m heroic raiding guild with, say, 2 tanks, 4 healers and 7 DPS, I now need to ADD at least 7, perhaps as many as 11 or 12 more people. How is that playing “with my friends” when I practically have to double my roster?

One might argue that the 25-man cast-offs may join up en masse with the 10-man guilds, but even if that happened, you’re still looking at a huge imbalance.

831 25m guilds have started heroic 25-man content today. 831 times 7 (the cast-offs, shall we say) gives us 5817 people who are potentially looking for a new home. Assume you need to add just the bare minimum of 7 people to those 4773 10m heroic raiding guilds to bring them up to 20. That’s only 831 10m guilds that are now capable of doing Mythic raids.

Know what that is? That’s crappy is what that is. In order to challenge yourself at the highest level of content, raiders are being told they must conform to the 20-man size, which screws over all current heroic raiding guilds. Even if this had just eliminated the 10s or the 25s in favour of one OR the other, at least some guilds would largely remain unaffected. However, Blizzard did not learn from their first attempt at changing raid sizes back in the Burning Crusade. Well, they did, but maybe not as much as they could have learned.

The Transition from 40-man to 25-man & 25-man to 20-man

Once upon a time, end-game raids consisted of 40 people. You had Molten Core, Onyxia’s Lair, Blackwing Lair, then the Temple of Ahn’Qiraj, then Naxxramas.

The devs recognized that putting together and organizing 40 people was, well, a logistical nightmare and, as such, lowered the required number of people to 25. Except, that’s not exactly what happened, because the first entry-level raid of the expansion was Karazhan, which was a ten-man raid. Raiding guilds, and I’m talking about successful raiding guilds who had progressed into Naxxramas at level 60, were cutting half their team and then had to split up the remnants into teams of 10 for the first bit of Burning Crusade! Ridiculous.

It doesn’t appear as though Blizzard is going to do something as ridiculous as making the entry-level raid a 10-man raid, but they are making similar mistakes to their transition from 40s to 25s with their change from 25s to 20s.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I basically grew up on 20-man raids. I loved Zul’Gurub. (I didn’t like AQ20 but that was more because I hate bugs.) I like the overall idea of 20-man raids and I remember the feel of them. They felt pretty great. Not as epic as 40-man raids, but not as tiny as 10-man raids. I think 20-mans are a good size, overall.

What Blizzard did back then was they broke away from the expectations that they, themselves, had set. “Serious” raids were 40-man affairs in World of Warcraft. ZG and AQ20 were often not even completed by well-progressed guilds because there was no incentive for them to do those instances, because they didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. All the serious raiders were finishing AQ40 and dipping their toes into Naxxramas at the end of the original World of Warcraft game.

With everyone knowing that raids were 40-man events, Blizzard changed everyone’s expectations and released raids that required 25 people for the majority of the expansion.

They introduced Karazhan as a 10-man, of course, but also brought in Zul’Aman as a 10-man raid later in the expansion. Then, in Wrath of the Lich King, they made 10-man versions of every raid, but they weren’t quite as “serious” as 25-man raids, because they were generally a bit easier and the reward (loot) was definitely not as powerful as the 25-man versions.

It was only in Cataclysm that both 10s and 25s were treated equally. That’s a long road for 10s, to be honest. First, they were almost non-existant barring a couple of raids in Burning Crusade, then they were accessible for each raid instance and finally, they were given equal rewards in Cataclysm. But you see how gradual it was? That’s spanning nearly four years. Four years for another raid size to gain full equality in terms of reward and even respect. (Do you respect Paragon for being the first 10m guild to kill heroic Garrosh? I do.)

But the trouble with the original drop from 40 to 25 is being replicated in the drop from 25 to 20 (and addition from 10 to 20!): it’s a rapid shift in expectations. Sure, we have something like eight or nine months to acclimate to the idea, but knowing what’s on the horizon, how are people in any heroic raiding guild going to keep motivated? 10s are going to need to scramble to recruit or even merge with other guilds, while people in 25s are going to be living in fear of getting the axe. And how screwed over must the 10s really feel after being validated just two expansions ago only to be told that, for the peak of PVE content, they need to double their rosters? Ugh.

The social repercussions of this kind of “unknown” factor is not going to be easy for people to deal with.

Fallout

What’s going to happen? Well, realistically, here’s what I think are our main possibilities:

1) 25-man heroic guilds will come through relatively well, despite social issues stemming from roster issues. The 20-man raid format will probably be a bit more popular than 25-man heroic raiding is today, perhaps another 10%-15% or so, I’d imagine.

2) 10-man heroic guilds will have a tough choice: either recruit like crazy, merge with another guild or just content themselves with the “new heroic” raids, which will probably be about the same (or slightly higher) difficulty as normal raiding is today. I do think this will bring the numbers of 10-mans down, but not so much that it’ll be really felt. Still, that’s going to suck. (Believe it or not, I really feel badly for the 10s. And I personally really hate that raid size. A lot.)

3) Everyone else will enjoy the flexibility of their raid sizes and will take advantage of them in “normal” and “heroic” raiding.

Since, according to GuildOx, nearly 22,000 guilds have killed normal-mode Immerseus, the vast majority of guilds are going to be just fine in terms of raiding the new normals and new heroics. If the new heroics are about the same level as current normals, 22,000 guilds can still go in with their flexible raid size and kick some ass.

This problem really only becomes a problem at the Mythic level of raiding. Looking at the numbers of guilds at least 1/16H compared to at least 1/16N on any size, we’re looking at about 25-26% of the raiding population that even bothers with heroics (within ~2 months of the launch of a tier — so that’ll go up, but I’m not sure how much).

So it’s not a problem that’s going to affect everyone. The flexibility of the other difficulties will be great for everyone, but the people who are, arguably, the most dedicated to the PVE end-game are getting screwed over. All the heroic raiding guilds will be experiencing a major roster change. All of them. Some will merge, some will disintegrate, some will stop raiding the content they want to be able to raid because they’re constrained by their size. All I know about this, really, is that I am super happy that I am not a guild master or guild officer right now. Good luck, people. ;)

Despite the fact I’m not in a position of authority, in the coming weeks, I’m going to be writing a free guide on how to deal with cutting people or recruiting/merging — basically, on how to manage your roster for a Mythic raiding guild. I learned a lot from the Burning Crusade change in raid size and from a lot of guilds that dropped to 10s from 25s. The important thing, for now, is to not panic. There’s still plenty of Tier 16 left, still several months left before Warlords of Draenor comes out. The best advice I can give to anyone right now is to remind your guildmates that WoD isn’t even in beta and that you’ll cross the roster bridge when you come to it, but for now, not to worry.

Heck, there’s even a chance that they’ll reconsider the single Mythic raid size because they’re not even in beta yet. (I doubt they’ll go back on that, but you never know.) If the Mythic size has you troubled, you should post on the forums (and be polite!!!) and explain why it troubles you and what repercussions you foresee it having on your guild. Get them feedback. Be nice about it. But ultimately, don’t hold your breath. The game is geared less towards the min-maxing 40-man raiders of yesterday and more towards the “raiders” of LFR these days.

More This Weekend

Sadly, Real-Life has crit me this weekend, so I’m not even able to watch BlizzCon events live. I’ll have more to talk about on Saturday evening or Sunday, including my thoughts on the Level 90 boost, my Outlands/Draenor thoughts and more.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts? How will the changes to the various raid difficulties and sizes affect you?

6 comments

  1. Rades says:

    As a 10-man raider who only does moderate progression, I obviously like the Flex convenience (which really is so great), but I’m a little : at the 20-man Mythic requirements. And I’m barely affected by this! My guild usually knocks out 1-2 heroic fights a tier, nothing amazing, but it’s about right for us and gives us some nice goals to aim for near the end of the tier. And we absolutely won’t be able to do this now.

    It’s obviously not a huge deal for us, since we’re pretty relaxed, but it’s still a little disappointing we’ll lose this bit of fun in our raid setup. I can only imagine how infuriating it must be for more progressive 10-man guilds.

  2. Nina says:

    You shouldn’t be looking at how many killed H Immersius now – how many people have killed H Jinrokh now is a better gauge. 14427, according to Wowprogress. The last patch of a tier always ends up having to last us 10-14 months.

    My guild is 11/14 normal mode now. We’ll be downing Garrosh before Christmas. Then we need to keep people interested for the next 6-8 months until we have a new expansion. When people drift away, often they don’t drift back in. Without heroics, that’s going to be hard.

  3. Trax says:

    I’m leader for a guild with a 10 man 2 night heroic progression team (they’re 7/14hc). I don’t raid with them anymore but I handle recruitment. I’m not worried about 20 man.

    We were on TS chatting when the announcement came and the initial reaction was that the DPS and tanks didn’t mind, but the Healers were sad because they really like 10 man healing (we 2 heal) but half an hour later and they were all pretty OK about the whole thing and ready to get on with it. At the end of the day we want to raid the hardest content and if that means a team of 20, fine.

    Our current roster is 14 and we’re expecting to run 23-25 for a 20 man team (not more than 25 because that would require benching people from flex difficulties).

    So I’ve got about 10 people to recruit. Still not worried.

    We sort of reform our teams every expansion: 1 progression 10 man, 1 social 10 man and an RBG team. We require everyone in our current teams to reapply and sometimes we drop people and sometimes people retire, we do it before the expansion launches so people have time to find somewhere else if they want to.

    This means that I recruit around 10+ people every expansion (albeit for different teams) and it has never been a problem even on a dead server (as we were for MoP). Now we’re on a new server with a more active population so hopefully that will make it a little easier although we’ll have to be even more aware of cultural fit than usual given the scale of things. That’s the only bit that worries be really, keeping the current tone in a big growth phase (and real world business can offer us plenty of tips in that area).

    Blizzard kept saying: Yes it will be tough, but it will be worth it and you’ve got time. I’m inclined to agree.

    Sorry about the essay :D

    As an aside, our big conversation around this is about how to handle loot distribution and flasks/food/repair costs in light of crappy Guild income. We have a loot council now and no one is asked to contribute to the gbank. We’re considering dkp/epgp systems or just herb/ingredient contributions. I guess this is an area 25 mans will know more about and not have to change, whereas for 10 mans it’s a new thing (well…we haven’t had to think about it for years at least). Might be something to mention in your Mythic guide.

  4. Joe Ego says:

    I really don’t think current 25 Heroic teams will have many issues. There is always turnover. Sometimes your friends leave. Sometimes the “not your friends” leave. That is how it always has and how it always will go. The 25man advantage is starting from a situation of relative over-recruitment, so at the start of 6.0 most of them will have to put less effort into recruitment and probably not much effort into cutting players either.

    10man has more of an issue to deal with, but they have one thing going for them: there will only be one size. No more “I want a 10man Heroic guild, not 25.” “I want to raid Heroics but my computer/ears/personality/attitude/issues can’t handle 25.”

  5. Sebastian says:

    As a guild/raid leader of a guild doing 10s at the moment, I couldn’t be more thrilled. Through cata we had three teams, but end of xpac blues and losing both the other raid leaders to real life means that we’re now down to one, and despite losing a lot of players, I’m constantly having to bench dps. Being able to run with a flexible roster through ‘heroics’ is going to mean I can put together the mythic group at a much more relaxed pace, and will also make it much easier to keep engaging stuff going on outside that group, so I’ve got a decent stable of backups to call on with ‘heroic’ experience.

    It helps that we’re not at the cutting edge – we usually progress through normals at the rate of about 1-2/week (13/14 atm), and don’t usually completely clear heroics. I can see that for groups who usually clear normal in a fortnight it’s going to be a more difficult change, but for me it’s just about perfect.

  6. Kurn says:

    Rades – Even after reading more about their 20-man reasoning, I still can’t believe that the devs want to cut off that avenue for you and many others. Do they really think it’s THAT EASY to just add more quality people to a guild? Even at the start of the expansion? Is the instant-level-90 thing designed to build a bigger recruitment pool to help avoid that?

    Sure, early expansion recruitment isn’t TERRIBLE for an organized group who knows what they’re doing, but a guild that isn’t really organized, or a guild that gets a late start (I think this is an even bigger problem) is going to face problems in growing their roster such that they’ll be able to do Mythic raids, if they’re starting from a ~12-man roster.

    FWIW, I’m sorry that you’re getting adversely affected by this, although I’m glad you’re going to be able to take advantage of the Flex capabilities of “normal” and “heroic” difficulties.

    Nina – I tend to prefer guildox for my progression numbers (just out of habit) and the H Jin’rokh info wasn’t easily available there, so that’s my reasoning for that. I should have looked elsewhere, so thanks for providing it!

    Here’s my take: I think the expansion will drop around June 10th (give or take 2 weeks). I think the development cycle has been SIGNIFICANTLY ramped up because they recognize that 10-14 months is absolutely ludicrous. Last time around, they offered the Annual Pass (which over 1 million people, myself included, opted in to!). They knew that they were looking at another 11 months or so of Cataclysm before Mists dropped. They knew that the best way to avoid a drop in subs was to bundle a free game (D3) and Mists beta access in with a contract which assured them revenues for a full year (hence: *Annual* Pass). In Q4 of 2012, they lost ~400k subscribers. In Q1 of 2013, they lost ~1.3M. (Guess these people were the later adopters of the Annual Pass…)

    The lack of an Annual Pass indicates, to me, that their dev cycle has gotten quicker. I wouldn’t be surprised to see closed beta start either in December or early January. I would be shocked to see no new expansion before the end of August.

    I hope that you (and others in your position) are able to maintain players’ interest prior to the new expansion. It’s never an easy time in that pre-expansion lull, so I hope, for everyone’s sake, the cycle on this is shorter than many expect.

    Trax – No worries about the essay! I was really interested to read what you had to say. :)

    I don’t think that teams who are significantly organized (like yourself, like my old guild, etc) are in as much trouble as some others may be, like Rades’ guild (see aboove), which dips their toes into current heroic content (but just a couple of bosses in) or the strict 10-man guilds who really like the 10-man atmosphere (much as your healers). People have different priorities in the game. In some cases, like yours, that is “to raid the most difficult content” and I’m sure you try to ensure that’s consistent across your raiders. Others want “to raid with friends”. Still others want “to raid the most difficult content without douchecanoes in the group”. One of the downsides of a 25-man is that you usually have to deal with at least a couple of people who annoy you or otherwise make life difficult. In a 25-man you do have to make compromises like that and you have to juggle whether or not it’s WORTH compromising. I’ve recruited people I didn’t like because they weren’t overtly jackasses and were great players because I needed the bodies to maintain my 25-man roster. I think that’s a compromise a lot of 10-man raiders don’t ever even have to think about making and I envy them that. Except that now, to get to 20 people for Mythic (without even considering a bench — I think 24-26ish is probably a good number, personally) they WILL have to compromise, in many cases.

    I think that’s my major concern for 10s and my major concern for the 25s is the shedding of “the worst players”. I’m SO glad I’m not a GM right now, let me tell you. ;)

    Regarding loot and flasks/etc, that’s a really good point. I’ll be sure to include that in my Mythic guide! Much appreciated. :)

    Joe Ego – I think it’s dependent on guilds. From Cataclysm to Mists, Apotheosis, for example, lost four players. That’s it. They lost me, Majik, a rogue and a moonkin, so 1 healer, 2 ranged and a melee. They already had replacements for us at the end of Cata — recruited a new rogue, a new mage, a new warlock and a new holy paladin. Turnover tended to happen due to RL stuff in Apotheosis when I was GM (unsure if that’s changed much these days) and not really due to game boredom/dissatisfaction with the guild. While I think 25s have it a bit easier than 10s in that they HAVE the people, they just now have to deal with the various awkward conversations about who doesn’t “make it”, I think both sizes are going to have issues.

    I do like that mythic will be one size, but I still feel as though they didn’t learn too much from the initial 40-to-25 drop we saw from Vanilla to BC. Especially if they’re like “PLAY WITH YOUR FRIENDS!” That’s crap. If a 25-man roster is around 30-33 people or so, you’re tossing anywhere between 5-8 people. So it’s really “PLAY WITH YOUR FRIENDS!!!! Unless you want to do mythic raiding in which case please drop up to 8 of them (or make another 10!) because we think we really nailed the right size back with ZG and AQ20 and haven’t revisited that size since Vanilla but we think this will work! PS: Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.”

    IMHO, of course. ;)

    Sebastian – Really glad to hear the changes are going to work out for you! You’re really fortunate to be able to have enough raiders for a bench. I know some people aren’t so lucky, unfortunately. Still, really pleased that it seems as though it’ll work out nicely for you. And good luck on Garrosh! :)

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