The Evolution of Raiding Capacity in World of Warcraft

Thunderforged gear, a new type of rare loot in World of Warcraft's patch 5.2, will have a higher drop rate in 25 man raids in order to make them more rewarding without unbalancing the game. We take a retroactive look at how raiding has evolved from 40 to 10 players and how these changes will affect raiding going forward.

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In World of Warcraft there used to exist such a thing as a forty man raid. These raids were difficult, required large coordination, and raiding guilds were few and far between on each server. You had youÂ’re A team, players who attended each raid, roughly 30 to a guild. Then there was your B team, about twenty players who had gear and spotty attendance, but would work out to fill in the last few rolls. TheyÂ’d generally roll or fight for the last few invites. Then you had the rest of the guild, the untold number of other players hoping that for some reason all the other Rogues had the flu and it was their one chance to shine.

In The Burning Crusade, things changed. Forty man guilds were no more and twenty five was the new number to beat. You now had about 20 core players, 10 exchangeable, and a long list of casuals waiting for a spot to open up hopefully one day. There were more and more guilds forming, since getting twenty five people to meet at 8 PM server time is infinitely easier than forty.

In Wrath of the Lich King, things changed even more, offering up ten man raids as an alternate mode. This gave smaller guilds the ability to just, well, invite anyone online to go raiding. The twenty five man guilds continued on, fighting against the forces of evil for better loot, but the ten man option was an attractive, although less efficient, route to glory (well, less efficient once they put ten and twenty five man raids on the same lockout).

Lady Nazjar
Cataclysm changed things for raiding by making 25-man and 10-man loot the same.

In Cataclysm, they made it where both ten and twenty five man raids gave the same amount of loot. That effectively removes anything but prestige achievements from the twenty five man versions. This means that doing a ten man or a twenty five man is ultimately the same, itÂ’s just harder to get twenty five players on, but the encounters can be slightly easier with more players (giving more room for error). This began the downfall of twenty five man raiding.

Now, in Mists of Pandaria, players sit and ponder the fate of twenty five man raiding. Is it forever gone and ten man raiding permanently replacing it, or will something come along to make twenty five man raiding worthwhile again? At the start, it seemed like twenty five man raiding was a dying art, but now it seems that Blizzard is introducing Thunderforged loot, which have an increased drop chance in twenty five man raids.

Does this give the playerbase a reason to run twenty five man raids again? IÂ’m not exactly sure. If Blizzard is transparent with how much of an increased chance then there may be hope that itÂ’ll return as a viable method of raiding, but without knowing how much of an increase it is (and if that increase is even a noticeable difference) then itÂ’s hard. WoW players donÂ’t work well with random numbers, if a group runs a 25-man and gets no Thunderforged and then the next ten man gives them one, then obviously the chances are higher in 10 man groups and there is no point in running a twenty five man group.

Is this the solution to the problem? IÂ’m not exactly sure. The statement that Blizzard makes is that this provides incentive, but to me it seems that the value doesnÂ’t overcome the logistics of organizing 25 players together.

Dragons come in multiple flavors in WoW, from big to small, but most can be taken on by 10 or 25 players.

So what is the solution? We canÂ’t say make the loot better in twenty five man raids because that would put is back to where we were before, where guilds who couldnÂ’t field 25 players together would never be nearly as competitive as those that could. Yet, at the same time, without that kind of incentive there isnÂ’t much of a reason to run twenty five man raids. There has to be a line drawn somewhere that satisfies everyone, without making 25 man raiding mandatory but appealing.

IÂ’ve always been a fan of the idea of different armor skins depending on the difficulty. Cosmetic prestige is the best prestige because it doesnÂ’t unbalance the actual raw combat, but rewards players for putting that extra effort in. IÂ’m also a fan of customization, let the 25-man raids drop tokens for free services like transmogrification or let them drop specialty gear for transmogrification.

Any way you look at it, giving something to the 25 man raiding guilds out there is better than nothing, but I do feel itÂ’s a problem that will need to be addressed with a more permanent solution as we continue to move forward in Mists of Pandaria.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.

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