Blizzard announced today some changes to their raiding system, which basically boils down to the following:
  • There will be only one (1) raid lockout per raid instance per week, so if you get saved to a 10-man raid, you cannot then do the same raid with a 25-man group.
  • Heroic mode settings will be determined on a per-boss basis, similar to how Icecrown Citadel currently works (likely too that you will have to complete the entire instance before you can switch it to Heroic).
  • The discrepancy between 10-man and 25-man difficulty levels will be leveled out (this means that you won't end up having a boss that is incredibly easy on 25-man while being a raid killer on 10-man, or vice versa).
  • 10-man and 25-man raid bosses will share a loot table (meaning the 10-man version of a boss will drop the exact same items as the 25-man version of the same boss), however, to compensate, 25-man versions will drop a higher quantity of items.  In addition to 25-mans dropping a higher quantity of loot, they will also drop more badges and more gold.
  • When first entering raid content, there will be many raids with few raid bosses (instead of one raid with 11-15 bosses, we will see 3-4 raids with 4-6 bosses).
  • Raid content will again be gated (meaning you either have to complete a certain bit before progressing, or you have to wait until the additional wings of the instance are released).
  • Entry level raids will be tuned for players in leveling (blue) and crafted items.
With these changes in mind, let's take a look at how they will actually change gameplay:

Since players will only be able to progress through a raid instance once per week, they will have to first make a choice:  do 10-man and have an easier time of getting a group together, possibly sacrificing group cohesiveness or do 25-man, and deal with organizing a larger group, but getting a better chance at the item you want.

If you are in a guild, it will likely be a decision based on the size of your guild.  If you have a guild that is able to field enough people to put together a 25-man raid, it would definitely be in your best interest to do 25-man, simply because you have a better chance at the gear you are after.

Likewise, if you are in a smaller guild, the 10-man version will allow you to still complete the instance without feeling penalized for not doing 25-man content.

However, if you more often participate in Pick Up Groups (pugs), you may be at a disadvantage.  Let's say you are in a guild with 17 active raiders, do you try to pick up the remaining few to make it a 25-man?  Well, what if you cannot tell how good those other 8 players actually are?  If they are poor players, you may only make it through 50% of the content on 25-man, but what if you could have easily made it through 80% of the content on 10-man?  You would have made more progress, but lost out on gear.

This issue could be alleviated by allowing for the ability to switch between 10-man and 25-man modes (similar to switching between normal and heroic modes).  The major problem with doing this is that certain bosses, simply by the nature of the encounter, are going to be easier on 10-man, while others may be easier on 25-man.  So, to stop a raid from switching between the two modes on a whim, I would say a two (2) hour soft reset is required before the switch could be made (if you are not familiar, a soft reset usually takes 1-2 hours of nobody being inside the instance).

Whichever way you choose to raid will be up to you, but there are a few things that this will undoubtedly do:
  1. Reduce the overall amount of time that people are raiding.  This is because you won't have the option of spending 3 hours in 10-man followed by 4 hours in 25-man.
  2. Reduce gear inflation.  One major issue in Wrath of the Lich King was that gear inflated too quickly due to having 3-4 levels of gear per patch (10-man, 10-man heroic, 25-man, 25-man heroic).  Less gear inflation also has the added benefit of having smaller patches, and less time between patches (because fewer game files need to be added/programmed/designed).
  3. Less of a reliance of gear as a definition of skill.  If the gear is more accessible, then you will determine someone's ability by actually playing with them.  This will in turn make add-ons such as GearScore and ElitistGroup both less effective, and more effective at the same time (gear at levels A-B, skill will be indeterminate, but at level D-E, you may be able to say "you know, that guy has some impressive
Also, because bosses will share a loot table between 10-man and 25-man (coupled with the stat changes they are making), properly gearing your character will be more direct.  No more, I need XXX from this boss in 10-man, but YYY from this boss in 25-man.  You will be able to just say, I need XXX from this boss.

Afterword
With regards to the complaints from the community, I think some people are overreacting a bit to these changes.  Will the changes be the "death of 25-man raiding", absolutely not, Blizzard does want people raiding 25-man content, but they don't have to if that is not their thing.  The idea is that the content is more accessible, not necessarily easier, and because some people equate accessible with easy, they have begun to present themselves in a way that makes them look like drama queens, which is rather unsightly.

Is Blizzard making things easier and less time consuming for the average player? Yes, absolutely.  Are they evolving their game to keep pace with their player base? Very much so.  Are these changes actually harming your gameplay? Umm...probably not.

Personally, I look forward to the day where I don't hear "We should be doing 25-mans so we can get better gear to do 10-mans", when we often don't have people showing up past the first night.  I would rather progress through the content with a smaller group that actually wants to play, learn the fights, and pick up gear along the way.

See you in the Shadows,
Spazmoosifer
 
 
Nagrarok over at Farseer Nagrarok mentioned something in his post on patch 3.2 that I felt I need to delve into further, something that I have complained about with guildies in the past (who were mostly sympathetic to my rants), something that has touched a nerve ever since I started playing World of Warcraft.  That is the topic of rolling on shards and other enchanting materials while in a group and/or instance.

Let me give you a quick example of a couple situations that occur in the game:

(You just kill a boss in X instance, and Y piece of gear drops)

Situation 1:
Player A: can anyone DE? (disenchant)
(Silence)
Player A: ok then RTS (roll to sell)

Situation 2:
Player A: can anyone DE?
Player B: I can
Player A: ok then roll for shards

Now, these situations may seem commonplace, nothing out of the ordinary, especially if you PuG a lot of instance runs.  However, is this the same way things are handled when doing guild runs? Usually not, at least not in my experience.  From what I have seen, guild runs of instances do one of two things.  Either the shards go into the guild bank (more common in raids) or the shards go to the enchanter(s) of the group (if there are multiple enchanters they roll, or work it out themselves).

My complaint is, however, that even in PuGs, the convention that I mentioned should not be how things are handled, and here are my reasons why:

  1. Enchanting is often considered one of the "gathering" professions, in that you have to gather (disenchant) in order to obtain the resulting product, similar to the way a miner collects ore, an herbalist gathers herbs, or a skinner collects pelts.

    If you are running an instance, and come across a mining node, or an herb, or kill a mob that is skinnable, there is rarely ever a question about who gets the resulting product.  Generally, the people with that profession just take turns on gathering, and the group continues on their merry way.  With enchanting, however, you come across an item that nobody can use, so you ask if anyone can disenchant it.  If someone can disenchant it, it gets broken down, and everyone gets to roll.  So...

    Mining = Miner gets the ore
    Herbalism = Herbalist gets the weed
    Skinning = Skinner gets the pelt
    Enchanting = Everyone has a chance at it?
  2. Some people will say, "Yes, but enchanters can enhance their gear, and the other gathering professions cannot."

    This complaint brings me to my next point.  Yes, it is true that enchanters can enhance their gear, but, this type of enhancement is generally not limited to the enchanter, with the exception of the ring enchants.  However, enchanting is not the only profession that gets a bonus of some sort.  In fact, all of the professions get some sort of bonus, including all of the gathering professions (Mining rewards Toughness, Skinning rewards Master of Anatomy, and Herbalism gets Lifeblood).  How beneficial each of these is to you depends on your class, however, each of them is beneficial in some way, and Blizzard has made a concious effort to make sure that they are all relatively balanced.
  3. It is by far more difficult to farm enchanting materials than it is materials for other professions.  For instance, you will often see individuals farming their respective product while waiting for a group to arrive/get ready.  This is not something that is possible with enchanting, because the majority of our product comes from the instances themselves.

    Basically, in order to farm enchanting materials, you have to find a group, choose an instance, run the instance hoping to be successful, kill bosses that drop loot that nobody needs, and then win on the rolls for the shards.  This means that even if you "farm" for hours, you could still end up with little to no shards.
So, with that in mind, I do have a few suggestions on how to fix my perceived problem:

  1. Become the leader of as many groups as you can.  Being the leader of the group allows you to specify certain ground rules for the group.  So, if you are the lead, specify the ground rules as follows (note that these suggestions are not for raid environments):
    • Use group loot, in order to make it easier to handle.
    • If someone needs gear, click Need.  If you do not need the gear, then you will pass.
    • Enchanters can click Greed, so as to increase the looting speed if nobody Needs the item.
    • If nobody wins the item, then it will be rolled on to sell.
    • If an enchanter wins the item, they can disenchant the item, and they get to keep the resulting materials.
  2. If you are not able to become the group leader, but are the only enchanter in the group, specify that any items that you disenchant, you will be keeping the resulting materials.  If they do not like those rules, they can roll on the items as well, and can sell them if they wish (which is what would happen if there were no enchanters in the group).  Patch 3.2 added one additional option that you may allow as well, and that is if someone else wins an item, and they want it disenchanted, they can do so by trading it to you afterward, as they have already won the item, but can now trade it for a while afterward.
  3. If you are not the only enchanter in the group, and are not the group leader, things get a little more difficult, in that you have significantly less choice in the matter.  However, you can request to the group that only the enchanters be allowed to roll on the disenchantable items, so you can make it at least fair between then enchanters.  If you specify this ahead of time, you will likely receive little resistence from the other enchanters, because they will be benefitting from the arrangement as well.
In the end, what you will be trying to do is make enchanting more profitable for yourself, but remember to be curteous about it, and if the group is resistant to the request, you can always abide by the group's wishes or leave the group if you want.

See you in the Shadows,
Spazmoosifer