The addition of the “Thunderforged” items in 5.2 has sparked a lot of discussions on 10m vs 25m raiding. Large scale raiding as we know it is dying off. The number of 25m raiding guilds in the world is shrinking due to one simple reason: The onerous task of organizing a 25m raiding guild doesn’t come with enough rewards to make it worthwhile for most people. Having managed a 10m raid team for almost 3 years and having to deal with how unbelievably stressful that was, I can only imagine how bad it is for 25m raid leaders.
I don’t think this is really news to most people. Given two choices that yield identical rewards and the only difference being scale of the encounters, players will overwhlemingly gravitate towards the option that requires the least investment. Those two choices we have right now are 10m and 25m and unsurprisingly players are choosing the option that requires the least administrative commitment. People want to spend their time playing the game, not sitting around waiting for the last 2-3 people to show up.
In order to get people to participate in the larger raid sizes, Blizzard has historically gone with one of two methods:
- Make it the only raid size available.
- Offer substantially better rewards.
Neither of those are the case now. With 10m and 25m offering the same rewards, there’s nothing left to entice players into 25m raiding beyond simply wanting a bigger experience. Blizzard has come out and said that their ideal solution would be to simply convert to one universal raid size (15m has been thrown around a lot) – but that isn’t something practical for the players. So the question is how to get 25m groups into stable condition without destroying one raid size or the other.
Enter “Thunderforged” items.
I don’t think it’s enough to attract the large “swing vote” in the player base that simply goes where the item levels are. We don’t know what the exact drop rates are yet, but they’d have to almost be a guaranteed drop in 25m for it to be worth it. And if you go that far, why not just do it properly? Consider:
- Split Lockouts: Split the Normal and Heroic lockouts for both 10m and 25m.
- Change Item Levels: Make 10N drop loot at X item level. 10H and 25N would drop loot at X+13. 25H would be X+26.
- Identical Loot Tables: 10m and 25m must have the same loot tables. Just different power levels of the same items.
- Legendaries in Both: Legendary items must still be available in both raid sizes. I cannot tell you how unbelievably pissed I was when Val’anyr wasn’t available for 10H groups in Ulduar.
- Keep 10m Challenging: 10m raids must still be challenging for groups using the loot intended for them. 10N would be the same difficulty relative to items dropped as 25N.
- Exclusive Achievements: You can’t get 10M achievements – including meta – wearing 25M gear. Can be implemented using the item tag system.
Some of you may notice that this bears a lot of similarity to the design used in Ulduar. There’s a reason for that. It was a great system. The only problem with it was the different loot tables between 10m and 25m. That meant 25m raiders were forced to do 10m for their best items in some slots. That should never happen.
It also retains the illusion of separate progression paths. Those players who play 10m purely for the more intimate experience retain their progression path. While this may not be as difficult as 25m in absolute terms, in relative terms it will still be a challenge. This would essentially be Blizzard implementing what the players called “10-Strict” in Wrath.
Unfortunately there’s one underlying reason why Blizzard won’t do this: Resources. It would require a lot of additional testing resources to implement the model I’m suggesting. Obviously Blizzard doesn’t want 25m raiding to completely die (at least not yet), but I don’t think they’re willing to go as far as to make it the only source for the best gear.
We’ll see what happens, but I’m not holding my breath.