On the day Blizzard announced that 10- and 25-man raids would share the same lockout, I looked at my husband and said, “I don’t like the sound of that.” When they announced that the raids would share the same loot, I said flat out, “That will be the death of 25-man raids.”
For the next several months, the discussion about the two popped up in a lot of places: my guild forums, the official forums, Twitter, blogs; heck, even Trade chat took a break from linking things inappropriately to talk about the change. Some people were really heated on one side or the other (which I think is pretty silly; it’s not about which one is better, it’s a matter of preference and opinion), while some didn’t care. Most sat in the middle, reserving their full opinion for when we actually saw how this would work out exactly.
Well, I’ve seen it. And my opinion remains unchanged.
I prefer 25-man raids. People tend to say, “The only thing that makes 25-mans harder than 10-mans is organizing it all.” That’s neither true nor false; it’s just an incomplete picture.
Yes, 25-mans are harder to organize. It is a million times easier to organize a 10-man if that’s your plan from the beginning. Finding 10-15 semi-reliable people who can make up a pretty decent composition is a cake walk for an experienced raid leader, and not too complicated for an inexperienced one, either. Wipe recovery takes less time because there are fewer people to recover, and having one hybrid dps/healer in your raid makes it a versatile environment for moving through bosses with different mechanics. Getting 25 people together at the same time and keeping them invested in a raid for a few hours is certainly a challenge.
But there’s so much more to it than that. The reason 25-mans are harder, all raid-forming considerations aside, is because there are 25 people. No, I’m not being stupid; follow along with me. In a 10-man raid, if one person fails to perform either in the meters or in raid awareness, it’s darn easy to spot: they’ll be the one whose dps is consistently holding you back during burn fights, or whose target continually dies, or whose mobs always go awry. Out of 10 people, one bad egg is going to shine like a glowing, shimmering Star of Fail.
In a 25-man, that person isn’t necessarily going to stand out as being consistently bad unless they’re either really dreadful or you’ve been alerted to the issue. You could have someone who is inconsistent in their performance but does just enough better than a couple of other people to keep their inconsistency hidden for a while.
This matters because having 25 people also means that there are more opportunities to wipe. This seems common sense, but really think about it for a minute: if you have 10 people, there are only 10 people who can wipe you. Even if you can only get 7 or 8 solid, consistent people in your raid, the odds are in your favor. In a 25-man, however; you’re going to reasonably have more lower- to marginally-performing raiders, so the pool of likely wipers goes from 2-3 to 5-6, not counting bad luck or a moment of indiscretion from one of your good raiders. Even if Blizzard really has tuned every raid to be the same level of mechanical difficulty for both raids, I think they are hard pressed to account for this difference.
If a 10-man raid and a 25-man raid go up against the same boss with relatively the same ratio of good to mediocre players (and luck not included), I think it’s fair to believe the 25-man will wipe more times than the 10-man raid in conquering that boss. Here’s the kicker: I don’t have any problem with that. For me, that level of difficulty is what makes raiding a challenge, and therefore, makes boss kills feel like achievements.
I know everyone doesn’t share that opinion, and I wouldn’t expect them to. Some people hate that aspect of 25-man raids, and for them, 10-mans are certainly the way to go. It doesn’t make them less accomplished in my eyes; they just like different aspects of raiding than I do, and I think having a choice to raid the way you want to is phenomenal.
However, while I’m not ready to say 25-mans are dead (not by a long shot; I know lots of 25-man guilds who are raiding and succeeding!), the ability to choose to raid in a 25-man setting is getting harder. This post is already longer than I intended, though; so I’m going to slap a part 1 sticker on it and explain why I say that tomorrow.
Continue on to I Told You So: The Decay of 25-mans, Part 2.