This is it folks, the end of the golden age of raiding in World of Warcraft is upon us. As we advance further into Cataclysm we’re watching the curtains fall on everything that we know and understand about WoW and slowly march into the unknown that sits before us. As it stands, the bronze (vanilla) and silver (TBC) ages were advancements into where we stand now where the raiding dynamic allows almost everyone to play who shows a bit of interest in it. Yet, now, with the latest announcement we’re watching as the official forums have broken out into chaos; what civil discourse may have been there is now gone. Marshal Law has all but been declared as people are being temp banned left and right.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Be sure to read Cataclysm to Redefine Raid Progression to learn what the proposed changes entail.

As it stands right now, the game has a very firm line drawn between those that progression raid (the so called hardcore) and those that chew through the content at their own pace (the casuals). The hardcore are the ones who have Arthas down on 10 and 25 man and are working on the hardmodes as we speak. The casuals are the ones who were working somewhere at their own pace through the instances. Yet, with these coming changes, we may no longer have the term casual or hardcore; we may just be left with “raider” and “non-raider” as the content becomes trivialized.

Looking at the announcement it seems as if Blizzard is saying that they don’t want to punish those with a limited amount of time to raid. Yet, using that argument we can simply slide down a slippery slope. Should we be able to buy the best loot from vendors for gold so that we don’t punish the people who choose to farm gold all day (or even better, buy gold)? Should we be able to buy the best items for real life cash from the Blizzard Store so we don’t punish people who have jobs? Where does this argument end?

As Arthas falls to many progression guilds we're finding ourselves looking to the future... one in which things will be changing drastically it seems.

Traditionally speaking, raiding has always been considered a hardcore sport for those who have the time to commit to it. Casuals are the ones who alt or farm gold or sit around chatting all day. The hardcore are those who take the time to go through the instances, down the bosses, and collect their rewards (and inflate their egos). The casuals use the game as an advanced chat client to talk with their mates and everything else is just a time waster while the hardcore are the ones who play the endgame in order to gloat.

It’s a formula that’s worked for a long time, almost over a decade now. It’s something that keeps us working at getting more loot and becoming better at the game because there is never a way to finish. Even the hardcore players are always challenged by something that they can’t break through while the casuals are content with the massive amount of content that stands before them (even if they can’t reach it yet).

Yet, with this latest move we have to question what will define the hardcore when there will be no point to raiding the 25-man instances? Additional loot doesn’t matter when it’s a lot easier to gather 10 people and raid with them consistently each week. More loot isn’t compensation for the pain and trouble of trying to get 25 people online each week. Attendance problems plague every guild out there from the most elite to the most trifling! There are few progression guilds that don’t have an army of well geared casuals waiting to fill in a spot.

This will result in the 10-man instances becoming the de facto instance of choice. This means that they're either going to be so overwhelmingly easy that everyone can do it, killing off the hardcore raider or hard enough that the casuals are locked out and the hardcore raiders will never be satisfied. That would leave no one happy. The middle class GearScore elitists (those who are a bit better than than the casual but not as good as the hardcore) who clamber to their precious GearScores will be either stuck without any gear at all or they will be requiring obscene amounts of score just to walk into their section of the Dalaran Beer Park!

I hope that Blizzard doesn’t move forward with things the way they currently are. The 25-man version needs to offer a better reward, some kind of justification, or else there will be no reason to run it. I agree, it’s silly to make people run the same instance twice in a week. Yet, there should be a reward for summoning forth 15 additional members other than “you’ll get up a little bit quicker.”

I know many of you out there love the 10-man raids because they’re easy to start, easy to play through, and are simply put a blast. Yet, if you are a 10-man only raider then you shouldn’t have to worry about the 25-mans. 10-man loot will carry you from one 10-man to another. This should apply here. Keep the two versions self contained, rewarding, and fun, but make the rewards adequate for the difficulty of bringing about 15 additional players.

That’s even before we begin touching on the hot issue of keeping the starting raids from overshadowing the heroic instances. Raids should be difficult, but rewarding. We shouldn’t have epics raining down just because we walked into an instance unprepared. I can understand the adversity caused by GearScore and how people feel left out when there is such a large hurdle to jump over to raid, but still. You should work hard on gearing yourself up for raiding, even if it takes a few additional days before you jump in. Raids won’t overshadow heroics if you need to gear up beforehand!

This, of course, is just my opinion on the matter and it’s pretty tame. The heated debate on the official forums is almost unreadable at this point as people froth at the mouth. I’m sure that Blizzard will pull through some way to make us all happy no matter what camp we’re in (except for the “I’m never happy” camp, there is no pleasing those people). That’s what a beta is for, testing and working through things. We’ll see with time how the game is going to evolve; perhaps the words they’re using aren’t accurate in describing how it’ll work

That, or perhaps we’re about to see the dawn of the age where MMOs, the last bastion of true PC gaming, fall to the great casual empire just as non-MMO PC gaming is now dominated by Peggle and Bejeweled.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

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Xerin 1
Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.