Blizzard guru Watcher recently posted a series of Dev Watercolor blog posts solely focuses on raiding in World of Warcraft. Posts one and two of this series detailed how raiding has changed up until this point. Without a doubt, they are pretty eye-opening reads.
Raiding has changed and evolved a lot
over the years, perhaps more than we remember. We have gotten used to
the current status quot and it is pretty easy to believe that things
have always been this way. However, these blog posts make it
glaringly clear that more than a few changes, both good and bad, have
been put into effect over the years. Some of these changes manage to
stand head and shoulders above the rest, improving raiding forever. Read
on to see my personal picks for the top 5 raiding changes of the past.
Smaller Raid Groups
Back in the first days of raiding in World of Warcraft, 40 players gathered together to take on challenges like the Molten Core and Onyixa's lair. Raiding guilds were impossibly huge, with hundreds of members to manage, to be able to fill these raids. While I still have fond memories of these times, it was hard to feel you were truly important to the group when you were just one of many. Not to mention that many players were totally left out of raiding, unable to fill the massive quota of 40 plus needed to raid.
As we know, 40 man raids were replaced with 25 man raids in Burning Crusade and eventually 25 and 10 man raids. This opened up raiding to more players than ever. It also made players feel like they were real heroes, that they were important to their raid group and not just one of 40 hamsters turning the wheel.
A more recent addition to the raiding
scene is Flexible Raiding. Introduced for the Siege of Orgrimmar, this
form of raiding was put into place to ensure that players who
desired to play with their friends and family (one of the most
appealing parts of raiding for most) would be able to, even if they
didn't have exactly 10 or 25 members.
Before Siege, things were tough for these groups. They found themselves unable to complete raid content as it became more difficult, yet they were steadfast in their desire to play with the people they loved. Flexible raiding in Siege was 20-25% easier than Normal mode, making it akin to the 10-man days of Karazhan, without sacrificing the fight mechanics. Allowing players to play with the group of their choosing, while still being able to enjoy boss fights as they were intended, is a pretty big deal in my book. As we know, Flexible raiding has been so successful, it is moving on to Warlords of Draenor in a whole new form and thus, Flexible Raiding is firmly planted on this list.
Variable Difficulty Bosses
In Wrath, Blizzard was faced with a major problem; raiding seemed a bit to lenient. This was especially true for more hardcore guilds who were looking for a bit of a challenge. Very few players want to go into an instance and stroll through it, it just isn't any fun. Variable difficulty bosses, the first being Sartharion, were the perfect answer to this problem and were expanded upon in Ulduar.
Players were able to choose to take on the boss in normal mode, or activate the bosses Âhard modeÂ that offered up better loot. This lead to the Heroic mode and the rest is history. Without bosses with variable difficulties, none of this would have happened and more than a few players would still be wishing for a more challenging raiding option.
Merging 10 and 25 Man
I hesitated to pick this particular
raiding change to my list, because I knew it would be highly
controversial. However, in the end I decided to throw caution to the
wind and give it a spot. You see, more is not always better and that
was seen when raid groups were able to complete both 10 and 25 man
raids. While it would seem groups would pick one or the other, most
the time players felt pressured to do both. Talk about burnout.
Also a concern with having two seperate raid difficulities, was the feeling that 10 player groups never got a chance to take on the harder content. This was pretty discouraging, especially if you had a great group. Consolidating 10 and 25 man into one difficulty solved both of these problems in one fell swoop. These changes may have brought about some not-so-nice side effects, but after some trial and error, this has become one of the best raiding changes we've seen thus far.
I will be the first to laugh at a Raid Finder joke. There is no doubt that this fairly new raid system has some flaws. However, it makes the list because it, like many others here, has made raiding available to so many more players. For a long time, only select players could hope to see end game content. While my old elitest self would not have been fine with that, I now realize how wrong it is. Every player should get the chance to raid if they so choose and Raid Finder makes that possible, planting it firmly on this list.
That wraps up my picks for the top 5 raid changes of the past. We can only hope that Warlords of Draenor and other future expansions will continue to take raiding to new levels of awesome. Check out some of the changes you can expect to raiding in Warlords in the final blog post of the Dev Watercooler: Raiding Azeroth series. What are some raid changes you were particularly thankful for? Share them with us in the comments section below!