So Tuesday I posted what seemed to be a rather grim pronouncement that the Cataclysm raiding changes were going to signal the death of casual 25 man raiding as we know it. On the day the announcements came it, it most certainly felt that way. So like always I blog what I am feeling, and I felt fear and dread. So after some time, and much talking amongst friends and confidants. I have come to the conclusion that the sky really isn’t falling… it is just changing colors.
Everything Will Change
This is just one more in a long line of game changing events that Blizzard has sprung upon us, and it honestly will change the way everything happens in game for the hardcore and casual alike. However I am trying my best to adopt a "wait and see" attitude. There have been so many times in the past that a blizzard pre-beta pronouncement never actually makes it into the final draft. Do I think this is one of those cases? Honestly probably not, this seems like a fundamental shift in design that could be happening for one of many reasons.
My honest believe if that blizzard is trying to condense the raid experience and make it simpler to design and manage. Right now we have so many raiding options, and as a whole the raiding content is more open to the masses than it ever has been at any point in the past. However there are so many variants of raiding, and Blizzard has been attempting to make the game viable for all of them. It has to be hard to balance encounters so they are challenging but doable in a 10 man strict guild, but at the same time offering a bit of challenge to players who are fully 25 man geared. I think they have been disheartened by seeing all their un-gated content steamrolled in a matter of weeks.
When the designers asked themselves how these players are able to burn through content so fast, it is pretty obvious that they came to the conclusion that it was due to being able to run both 10 and 25 man raids. You can see the evidence of this decision in the outrageous jump in price between t9 and t10 badge items. The base prices for tier 9 were 30 badges for shoulders/gauntlets and 50 badges for helm/chest/legs. We have an extreme jump when you go to frost badge loot to 60 and 95 badges respectively, when there are fewer zones actively dropping frost badges. The designers obviously were expecting all serious players to be clearing both 10 and 25 man in order to get badges to purchase their gear.
Is it really a problem?
I pose the question… is it really a problem that players who are able to run both 10 and 25 man raids will accumulate gear faster? I personally have never had a problem with the fact that more time spent in game equates to more rewards. I am not jealous of the players who have racked up a full suit of heroic mode gear, nor am I jealous of the players who geared out their t10 before me. Not everyone in this game can be equal, and since I am not on the hardcore track I am obviously going to be a little less equal than others. Is it really worth the impending schism in order to fix a perceived problem?
I know it has to suck as a developer to spend 6 months of your life working on what you believe to be the ultimate dungeon, only to have to decimated by the most serious players within the first week. But that is life, people are going to do things you didn’t expect, use tactics you never thought of, and literally throw themselves at the content over and over until it falls down. I feel their heart is in the right place, in trying to make the entry level of content less confusing to players and make it so they don’t have to "mudflate" the prices of gear so badly as the expansion goes on. However I honestly feel the current model creates far more opportunity for the casual players, than the proposed model would.
How things are now, it is relatively easy for a newer player to work their way into one of the many successful 10 and 25 man casual raids that form every week on my server. If you show up at the right time, show the right amount of effort, and listen to the right things… you can get a regular invite back. All raid leaders are constantly looking for fillers, especially during the spring doldrums that we are going through. Leaders often times use their 10 man as a more controlled environment to check a player out before unleashing them onto the bigger raid as a whole. These changes will blow all of this away and resign 10s to "alt" raids, where they currently rely heavily on seasoned veterans to push through the content at a decent pace.
While I am still not happy about the changes and the implications they are having, it has had at least one positive effect. I have come to the decision that the future is far from certain right now. With the changes to the raid structure and the impending guild rewards system looming on the horizon. These things might very well spell the doom of casual raid alliances like Duranub. This got me to thinking, much like when someone gets a dread disease. If tonight were going to be the last raid we had together, how would I want it to be?
I’ve come to the conclusion that regardless of our future, I want to make sure we make the most of the tail end of wrath. By this I don’t mean burn through all the content, I mean really enjoy the most of our time together. I have been trying to really relax and enjoy the raiding experience, and hopefully my changed attitude will trickle down to the raid members. The last thing I want to do is go out stressed, agitated and frustrated at what we aren’t doing. I want to be able to enjoy the time at hand and relish all the things we already have.
I know this is a bit of a 360 from the attitude I had on Tuesday, but sometimes life does that. It takes the realization that our time might be numbered to really be able to enjoy the time we do have. So I challenge each of you, to really savor the friendships you have with your raid friends. Cataclysm will be another bombshell like Burning Crusade, and we have no way of knowing right now how it may change each of us.