27 April 2010 § 2 Comments
Shhhhh! Can you hear that? No? Listen harder!
That’s the sound of me jumping up and down with joy at the announcements Blizz made about raid changes. On the very low chance that you haven’t heard about it yet, you can find the original posts here (about raiding and tiers) and here (about badges). Let me give you the main points and my reactions to them – including how that is going to impact my own raid in particular, and some mumblings about raids in general.
10-man and 25-man will drop (almost) the same loot
This is above and beyond what I could ever hope. If you check my previous posts on loot and gear and raids, I always kept as a given the fact that 25-man would drop better quality loot. Now Blizzard, basically out of the blue, tells us that no, really, they will now drop (almost) the same loot. I keep saying almost, because 25-man would drop more loot than 10 – more gold, more items and probably more badges. I assume that is more gold per person, and not just more gold in absolute terms or it would make no sense. The trick here will be balancing how many more items – my estimate is that bosses in 25 should drop about twice as many items as in 10. A straight mathematical equivalence would suggest 2.5 times, but more items become more beneficial also because of more chances to drop the specific item you need, so that should encourage a slight discount. I really don’t care about gold, so I cannot be bothered with more gold going to the 25-man raiders. Badges… eh, I’d prefer if we had an even playing field, but as long as the difference is not TOO big (e.g. the 2 vs 3 badges of ToC), it will be fine – if the difference is 2 vs 5, that may become a problem.
From Blizzard’s point of view, this change means they will need to design a lot less items – in fact, in one fell swoop they cut down in half the number of items they need to design, both in terms of stats and in terms of art. I hope that means we will be getting items with unique art, because let me tell you: it sucks to have a staff off the Lich King 10-man look EXACTLY THE SAME as one from the second boss in 25.
It also means that they can drastically reduce the gear scaling issues through an expansion. During Wrath, we had 9 tiers of gear, in 4 tiers of raiding: 200, 213, 219, 226, 232, 245, 251, 264, 277. Although Blizzard could have reduced that (having Ulduar give 219/226/232, then ToC give 226/232/238 and ICC 232/238/245 would have cut three whole tiers), having each tier of raiding drop one tier of gear means the Cataclysm progression will be something like (normal/hardmode): 300/313 for tier 11, 313/326 for tier 12, 326/339 for tier 13, 339/352 for tier 14, or 5 tiers of gear for 4 tiers of raids (assuming we will still get 4 tiers of raiding). This should make designing Cataclysm easier, as it reduces the inflation of stats we currently witness (my priest is hovering around 40% crit rating self-buffed…)
10-man and 25-man will share lockout
The counterweight to that change is that the two raid formats will share a lockout. Not suprising, given otherwise the double-dipping would make gearing up a breeze for people with time to run both 10-man and 25-man (and we will note later that Blizz seems to be discouraging playing more than a limited amount of time per character).
The obvious consequence is that people will have to choose whether they want to do 10-man or 25-man. Personally, I think I will simply designate my main, Tsark, as a 10-man raider, to keep going with my current group, and then use all my alts to attend the various raids that need me and I can afford to attend. If anything, this may wreck my levelling plans for Cataclysm, as I will probably level a second healer after Tsark to be able to heal in the guild 25-man raid (healing being clearly the role I am better at/enjoy the most). Up until now, I was thinking to do the traditional Tsark – Parocles (miner, needed for too many things) – Torjin – Alteria – Kleraton – Gramlor. I may switch around Alteria and Parocles now, which would mean getting a paladin tank/healer geared up quickly after Tsark. I suspect this change will encourage more people to level multiple alts, to be able to go with different raid groups.
Badges will become point, and decay with each tier
Instead of getting badges, we will get Hero (lower tier) and Valor (higher tier) points – roughly equivalent to the current Triumph and Frost badges respectively. Once a new tier of raiding comes out, your Valor points will get converted to Hero points, and you’ll restart accumulating Valor points. This is an accounting change, if anything – and it will actually make lowest badge/points more valuable as the tiers progress. Currently Emblems of Valor are basically worthless, but with this system, they would (effectively) become as valuable as Emblems of Triumph at our current status. A minor change, but hey, a very slight improvement.
Top points are capped weekly
Blizzard has been stating for a while that they are unhappy with the current system, where the Dungeon Finder daily feels like something people NEED to do, given Frost Emblems are so scarce. Capping the amount of points you can earn per week would mean that you would not want to run Heroics with your raiding toon, as he’s getting his points somewhere else. The devil here is in the amount of the cap: let’s say that a full clear of the 25-man raid gives you 10k points, and a full clear of the 10-man 7k. A limit set below 10k would mean that a raid clearing the current tier of content would have no incentive to even do the raid weekly. At the same time, a raid clearing 10-man content would still want to run Heroics, and still feel like they HAVE to (or, in other words, no change) – so I suspect the limit will be even below that. In other words, we may well go back to the Karazhan days, where badges (or points) are a nice cherry on top, but not really the goal of raiding (sometimes, it feels like the purpose of raiding is much more to get emblems than loot, currently)
Of course, the numbers are totally fictitious, though I do think that the 25-man premium will be around 50%. I think however that this is a place where seeing the actual numbers will change the actual mechanics of the system. I do like the idea that I will not feel like I have to run the weekly, Vault, and the Heroic dailies on all my alts – and can instead spread my attention across characters.
Gating will still be there – but no limited attempts
In principle, I don’t mind this too much – in fact, I like having no limited attempts, though I admit we never used up all our attempts in Icecrown Citadel. They apparently also want to keep the “Heroic mode may not be open from day one, but will become available after defeating normal mode perhaps as little as once or twice.” Please please please, make this a “per-boss” or “per-wing” limitation – in other words, I would have had no problem with having to defeat Saurfang twice before opening up the hardmodes of Lower Spire. I just think that having to clear the WHOLE instance once (or twice!) may frustrate some guilds needlessly. This may be what they have in mind anyway, given their stated preference for more (and smaller) raids per tier, instead of one big one (so the TK+SSC model, rather than ICC).
I can see the value of keeping limited attempts for optional bosses, à la Algalon – brag bosses can have that allure. Again, I would prefer to see a system of limited time or limited attempts but with no additional reward for no wipes/killing the boss in a shorter time frame: the Algalon/ICC model instead of the ToC one, basically.
Where will that leave us? 10-man raiders are rejoicing all over – mostly, because we won’t feel like the bastard child of big raids anymore. Balancing encounters will be easier for Blizzards, given that they can correctly predict what gear people will be in (as opposed to having to think about people being in 10-man or 25-man gear). Also, assuming Blizzard will manage the closer balancing of difficulty, we may finally have an end to the pointless debate of which is harder.
Blizzard has stated that they have not taken a decision about Legendaries/special mounts (e.g. Invincible) yet. It would be nice if 10-man got those too, but I’m trying not to get my hopes too high, and just be happy with what we got.
Our 10-man may see some changing of roster, as some of our raiders will need to choose which alt to bring to 25-man and which to 10-man. I don’t think we will necessarily lose people: assuming they will still play come Cataclysm, it’s not as if their time use would be very different if they play both raids with both character or with 2 characters (admittedly, there is a higher set-up cost to get both alts to level cap, and to keep all sets gemmed/enchanted/etc, but honestly, that seems a very minor issue).
I’ve seen some people predicting that this will spell the end of 25-man raiding. If you follow this blog regularly, you know that I tend not to like these doomsday predictions, and this is no exception. I know very few people who raid both 10-man and 25-man that doesn’t have an alt at max level – so all that it’s going to happen is that people will have two characters, and do both raids in different formats. Will 25-man lose some people? Possibly, but it would be the people who only go there for the easy loot – because let’s admit it, it’s far, FAR easier to carry someone in 25-man than in 10-man (let alone in our 10-man, where Lyshai keeps us all on our toes!). I suspect that by encouraging people to only do what they like most (be that 10-man, 25-man, Heroics, or PvP), we may end up with better players, less stress, and thus a more enjoyable experience.