A modest proposal
3 December 2009 § 5 Comments
Next week, we will have a new tier of raiding available – and I can only add my voice to the choir saying that it’s about time. I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy to leave a raid instance behind. I’m also quite excited by the information and videos I’ve seen about Icecrown Citadel – the potential for a great instance is definitely there, although (as you know) I have my doubts about the gating system.
I want to make a modest proposal, regarding the structure of 10-man vs 25-man raid instances. I know it’s too late to change Icecrown, but Cataclysm is not that far off. That, and I need a new post for my blog, so hey, here goes.
The Current Situation
The way I see it, the split between 10-man and 25-man was one of the smartest moves Blizzard made. Talking to my friends, some prefer the 25-man challenges (more epic fights, more people to socialise with, more leeway to change specs/roles, less stress if one person dies), and some the 10-man ones (tighter commnunication and organisation, no deadweight raiders, more multi-tasking). That, right there, is the definition of success, where the choice between one or the other is purely up to personal taste, and not self-evident superiority. While I may get into heated discussions with my 25-man friends about the fact that 10-man is harder, I think we’re moving to the point where the hardmodes of both raid sizes are comparable – and some are harder in 25 (Thorim, with his placement issues, is easier in 10), and some are harder in 10 (Sarth 3D is the poster child here – or was, when you actually had to fight it and not zerg it). Blizzard decided the 25-man will have better loot. Basically, they are giving 25-man a loot bonus to reflect the organisational challenge of getting 25 showing up on time, with their gear and consumables and specs and glyphs at the ready, and then keeping those same 25 people out of fire patches for the entire duration of the raid.
The second big novelty of Wrath raiding were hardmodes. They were introduced with Sartharion, then extended to most Ulduar bosses. I think this has been a bit more of an unexpected change, i.e. something Blizzard introduced with one encounter because they thought it was fun, and then realised it could easily extend to become much bigger. So, there’s been a bit more experimentation on hardmodes. Hardmodes normally drop loot one full tier above the normal mode bosses. With Trial of the Crusader, it was decided to make the hardmode loot the same as the normal mode loot – just one tier level higher, so basically with more stats/gem slots.
So, let’s take a simple example. Let’s look at Northrend Beasts and one piece of loot from 10-man and 25-man both.
|Normal||Icehowl Bindings – ilvl 232||Belt of the Tenebrous Mists – ilvl 245|
|Hardmode||Icehowl Bindings – ilvl 245||Belt of the Tenebrous Mists – ilvl 258|
I’d like Blizzard to move to a system where the direct upgrade of normal, 10-man loot is in normal, 25-man – and the upgrade of hardmode, 10-man is in hardmode, 25-man. In other words, to go back to the Northrend Beasts example, I would like loot to look like this:
|Normal||Icehowl Bindings – ilvl 232||Icehowl Bindings – ilvl 245|
|Hardmode||Belt of the Tenebrous Mists – ilvl 245||Belt of the Tenebrous Mists – ilvl 258|
The ilvl of the various drops won’t change, and neither will the number of items Blizzard has to create – so both game-balance and development time issues should be unaffected by the change. So, what would be the advantages of this system?
- More focus from the player’s perspective. I suspect players are much more polarised on the 10 vs. 25 debate than the normal vs. heroic one. I’ve heard a fair amount of players complain that Blizzard is “forcing” them to do 10-man to get a specific item, when they would rather focus on 25-man (and viceversa, of course). This way, the loot tables will be more independent, and players would spend more time playing however they like.
- More encouragement to conquer hardmodes: right now, the incentive to kill something in hardmode is relatively small. Improving the items you already have by one tier is relatively less interesting, to me, than tapping into a whole new loot table with items that cover different slots/stats combinations.
- More fundamentally, it would make 10 and 25 man a lot more equal – to the point where even legendary weapons could be itemised for 10-man raids, too. I’m extremely sad that even though we have conquered Ulduar and killed Algalon we never had a chance at crafting a Val’anyr – and the same is going to happen for Shadowmourne for Icecrown Citadel. I’m not complaining about the actual item or its stats – I’m sure Icecrown weapons are going to be better than Val’anyr (so much so that some people are destroying Val’anyr on fairly trivial bets). However, creating weapons like that is a fantastic goal, and gives a sense of accomplishment like very little else in this game. It’s a raid achievement, and an incredible morale booster. As my last post showed, I still consider my Benediction quest as one of the pinnacles of my career, and I can remember still the excitement our raid felt as we all pitched in to create our Sulfuras, or our Thunderfury. This new system would allow for the presence of a Val’anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings in 25-man hardmodes, and of a Mallet of Younger Princes in 10-man hardmodes – lower ilvl, same idea, similar quests.
The biggest objection I see is that 25-man bosses drop more loot than 10-man – and so often have a bigger loot table. However, looking up the ToC bosses, the difference doesn’t seem enormous: Beasts have 12 items in 10, 15 in 25; Jaraxxus has 13 vs. 15; Champions 10 vs. 15; Val’kyrs 13 vs. 15; Anub’Arak 17 vs. 20. I’m not sure if having 3 items drop from a loot table of 15 vs a loot table of 13 really increases that much loot repetition (and by the way, why is the Champions loot table in 10-man so much smaller?) – I could calculate that, but I’m too lazy :-D.
Ultimately, I think the choice between the current system depends very much on what is the distribution of the population among the 4 possible combinations (10N, 10H, 25N, 25H). Most players act in more than one case of that table – so if the overlap is more 10N-25N, then the current system is probably preferable. If instead the overlap is more 10N-10H and 25N-25H, then moving to what I suggest would increase the enjoyment of this game on everyone’s part.