I Told You So: The Decay of the 25-man, Part 2

Yesterday I explained the reasons I believe 25-mans are harder than 10s. To quickly recap:

  1. It’s harder to get 25 people together in the same place at the same time.
  2. 25 raiders means there are more opportunities for someone to fail.
  3. It takes longer to get 25 people on the same page (this was stated in the comments much more clearly than I said it in my post; thank you Emmalise, for describing the collective aha! moment!)

Some of the more aggressive people on either side of the 10- and 25-man issue would use this either to attack: “25’s don’t take any additional skill; it’s just people-wrangling;” or defend: “25-mans are harder for lots of reasons, and you’re just trying to make excuses why you can’t do it.”  (Yes, I actually have heard both of those come from real players). The point I’m making is that yes, 25-mans are harder, and yes, largely because there is some “people-wrangling” involved, but that doesn’t make that aspect of it wrong or right–it’s still just a matter of preference. [Insert diatribe about learning to respectfully disagree here.]

So if it’s not an issue of right and wrong, and it’s all about preference, shouldn’t the ability to choose between 10- and 25-man raids without being penalized for picking 10-mans be awesome? In theory, yes. I think raiders should absolutely be able to choose between 10- and 25-man raids based on what suits their motivation for raiding. Unfortunately, theories tend to be difficult to pull off in practice, and the problem with pulling this one off is, as I said at the end of my last post, that choosing to do a 25-man raid is becoming more and more difficult.

Previously, if you wanted to be taken seriously in overall progression, you were expected to do 25-mans. 10-mans were in their own sort of bracket, which actually would be perfect IF there wasn’t such a stigma attached, and in Wrath, there absolutely was a feeling of 10-mans being “lesser progression” in guilds that were unable to successfully complete 25-mans, although I hardly thing that should be the case.

Those who wanted to be taken seriously in progression raided in 25-mans, and even though they hated waiting for the people who were slower to learn or just bad performers to step up and execute boss fights correctly, they accepted that if they wanted the shiny(er) epics and they wanted to be able to boast about their raiding progression, they would have to put up with it. If not handled well by a guild’s leadership, this could lead to some serious burnout. This was the problem of Wrath: this dynamic coupled with months and months (and months) of the same content caused widespread burnout among raiders.

Enter Cataclysm, and we run into a new problem: the slow decline of 25-mans. I’m not sure how true this next statement is, but it seems reasonable that this decline has started mostly on servers not well-known for their progression because the pool of competitive raiders is smaller, and the raiders in the above scenario, who do everything right and want to progress and are tired of waiting for the stragglers suddenly have a new option: 10-man progression.

With the achievements and the gear being identical regardless of which type of raid you run, there’s much less stigma attached to 10-man guilds, and running with a smaller roster means you have very detailed control over who’s in and who isn’t. You don’t have to put up with players who don’t perform up to your standards if you really don’t want to. You don’t have to take anyone just to fill up your raid; if you want to be picky, there’s room to do that, whereas a 25-man raid on a server with fewer committed raiders often finds itself taking people who either aren’t as good or aren’t as committed just to have enough people to raid.

Understandably, the people who suffered from burn out last time either went straight into 10-mans this time or have found themselves having much less patience as their 25-man raids start hitting the wall.

As those in this second group realize that the 10-man option is available, this leaves them in a place to take one of two steps: either they can leave their guild and find a 10-man raid group, or they can try to push their guild to either improve or move to a 10-man format. When you go to your guild master or raid leader, who is no doubt as frustrated as you are, and say, “I’m sick of this. Why am I trying so hard when these people aren’t? We really need to do something about this, or I’m going to have to go somewhere else and raid,” you put your leadership in a tough predicament.

Maybe they’ll try first to help the poor players improve, but you can only do so much–part of raiding is individual accountability. When that doesn’t work well enough, perhaps they’ll try to recruit and phase out the people who still aren’t performing. This might actually work, but if you’re on a server with a low raider base and an even lower rate of raider transfers, it might be difficult if not downright impossible to find raiders who fit what you’re looking for.

The next step is to consider 10-man progression, but then there’s a whole host of questions that come with that: one 10-man, or two? If we opt for one, what will the people who aren’t invited to the 10-man do? If we opt for two, will we end up with an A-team/B-team dynamic, and do we want that?  (From where I sit as a raider, two 10-mans will always lead to an A/B team type situation, so you might as well be upfront about it). If your guild decides to stay 25-man and try to cover for the weaker players, those people who originally came to your raid leader and said they were sick of it will leave, and often; these people are some of your best performers. If your guild goes 10-man, there are going to be people who are left out and feel that distinctly enough to leave. This is not a good situation for a guild to be in, but it is one that’s appearing more and more often.

Once a guild chooses to go to a 10-man format and chooses its raiders, those who either aren’t interested in 10-mans or have been left out of the groups are going to move on, especially the good ones who just couldn’t be fit into the roster for one reason or another. And if these people leave, there’s likely to be a transfer to a server where 25-mans are running more consistently, depleting the original server’s raider pool even more.

According to WoWProgress.com, there are now only 7 guilds on my server who have stepped into 25-mans at all, and one of them (my guild) just became a 10-man guild. Of those 7, only two have progressed beyond 6 boss kills. The 10-man progression list, on the other hand, has 17 guilds who are at 6 boss kills or above.

I don’t know what the solution to this is, but even if there is one, it’s probably too late to implement it, at least for this raiding tier. And perhaps there just aren’t enough people out there who think a solution is necessary to warrant figuring one out. I don’t really know what’s coming next for me in my guild situation, either; the next month or so will determine that. What I do know is that the WoW raiding scene is changing, and I feel like I’ve lost my place in it. A lot of us saw this coming when the announcements were made; we just weren’t sure what form it would take.

25-mans, at least on some servers, are dying; and I don’t think there’s any shame in saying: “we told you so.”

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “I Told You So: The Decay of the 25-man, Part 2

  1. Dolar

    As a fellow Durotanian (I guess that’s a word:) ) I know how you feel about all this all too well.

    My guild, and the one we originally came from, has pretty much been 10 man since BC. A few exceptions, we stepped foot into 25 man ICC and ToGC had a good deal of success there. You are right, in that for a good deal we were second class citizens. There was a lot of content when it came out, that was tuned for people in the previous tier 25 man gear to do the current tier 10 man. It was never really a fair and concise progression.

    We have done the A and B team thing as well. It can make some people feel left out however. We made it work for most of wrath, but by the end the B team was mostly about gearing main raider alts over anything else. We did try to split up the most experienced raiders into both raids as best we could, except when we were making big progression pushes.

    In cata we just started raiding a bit over 3 weeks ago. It was actually our intention to run 25 man’s as we had the numbers, and frankly in my personal experience 25’s are easier to learn new content on(more room for mistakes, a wide range of skill sets ect). But the interest in 25 mans was just not there, and from the start we have had to run 10 mans. We have had some success there but still plugging away.

    Do people feel left out? I know they do. It is hard picking a best team out of people you think of as friends? It really is. I hate leaving out Bob DK, and taking Sam mage because we don’t need anymore melee. I would love to be doing 25’s just so I could include everyone who is interested.

    Really I guess you and I like 25’s for the same reason, not because of the better loot in the past, not because of some sense of old raid nostalgia, but just so that we can get a chance for more people to raid:)

    Now as to 10 and 25 mans gear and achievements being equal. That I don’t think should change. You have to admit that in a great many cases the 10 man content is harder then the 25 man just because of fight mechanics. And I would rather see more items on badge vendors , and more raid content in the long run then seeing blizzard waste time and resources on itemizing 2 raids each tier.

    To be honest, In the next expansion I expect one of 2 things. Either 10 mans will be the only raid, and 25 mans will be gone for good. Or we will see both 10 and 25 go away and have something in the middle, like a 15 man. 15 is not that hard to get 5 more people, but it feels more epic then just 2 groups. Just my unjustified spec:)

    • battlechicken

      Yeah, that’s exactly what strikes a chord with me too, Dolar: people who want to raid 25-mans should have that option. It’s getting to the point on servers like ours that you either have to choose from a very small handful of guilds or transfer to get into a solid 25, and that’s a tough situation.

      In the past, UK and I have actually talked about transferring–actually, I’ve talked about transferring. Because he’s been on Durotan since launch, he’s not interested in leaving. For the moment, at least; I’m not unhappy in the 10-man group I’m in. We’ll just have to see where this road takes us.

      For what it’s worth, I think you’re a fantastic GM, and I’m not surprised that your 10-mans have been successful. I was telling Psyn and Fyn a few days ago that people-wise, I think you’ve got one of the best guilds on the server. :-)

  2. I think you have an interesting point about how this will affect different servers differently. Cutting edge servers will see 25-mans thrive; less progressed servers will have trouble filling them out.

    It will be interesting to see how it all turns out.

    • battlechicken

      I’ve already seen a few of my friends who are die-hard 25s leave for greener pastures, and I can’t say I haven’t considered it. You’re right, it’s going to be interesting to watch how this dynamic unfolds in the coming raiding tiers.

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