Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday ramble: Guild progression and achievements

(Standard disclaimer: we don't know exactly what is coming in Ulduar or how challenging the content will be, things may change, etc etc)

Soapbox time again guys!

I am a very competitive person. I'm very proud of our guild's #1 spot on our server, and excited to see what happens come Ulduar, and how strong the competition against us will be. While I am very confident in our ability to hold that position, I try not to become complacent; Naxx wasn't exactly a challenge and things may be different when we all take off from the same starting line, rather than level 80s slowly trickling in and guilds beginning to raid at different times. I'm looking forward to a race.

Anyway.. I'll just come right out and say it. I may need to duck the flying tomatoes for saying this, but here goes.

25 man raids should be harder, more rewarding, and seen as more of an achievement than 10 man raids.


Wait, let me explain..

10 man raiders are people too

First, let me say that I agree that 10 mans should be challenging - I do not consider 10-man guilds to be less skilled in any way. Those raids should provide a challenge to people who can't run 25 man raids (or simply prefer 10s). And 10 man progression should be recognised as such; I have been in 10 man guilds and those boss kills were just as important to us as any hardcore guild's kills. I just want to be super clear that I'm not saying 10 mans are bad in any way, or that people who choose to run them are not as skilled as 25 man raiders.

But what really bugs me is when 10 man content is considered harder and therefore more of an achievement. That a 10 man fight should be tacked onto the end of all of the 25 man boss kills in order to say that you have actually "finished all endgame content."

I'm talking about 10 man Sartharion, of course.

I just.. don't want to do 10 man raids.

I've definitely enjoyed the challenge of Sarth10 these few weeks.. but aside from being something interesting to do, I don't really care about getting it done. 10 man raids, to me, are for fun, badges, something to do, and perhaps a gear stepping stone. They are a means to an end. Obviously to other people they are their "end game" and I'm not knocking that, definitely not. But as a hardcore 25man raider, 10 mans are not end game for me.

People have knocked me for not having Undying yet. But if they actually asked (or if they checked the Armory), they would find that I've done Naxx10 five whole times (plus two times I subbed in to help out for a few bosses). I do it specifically to help guildies out, but I always prefer not to do it. I've picked up a few 10 man achievements here and there, but I have no drive to go in and finish them off anytime soon.

I just don't care about 10 mans. To me, they are a side endeavour, a hobby, something to do casually - whereas 25 man raids are what I'm really here for.

So it really annoys me that I should feel obliged (yes, obliged) to take a step backwards into 10 mans to complete a fight that is seen as the hardest fight in the game. I feel that if I don't have this notch on my belt, I am in some way inferior to other 25 man guilds who have killed the same 25 man content but also added this 10 man fight to their resume. Basically, you can't claim that you A) have finished the game and B) you're a top raiding guild unless you step out of your 25 man raiding and go do this 10 man. And to a lesser extent, you need to go do 6min Malygos(5min pre-patch) and the Immortal, too. Then you're really finished. Properly.

It doesn't matter if you have zero interest in 10 mans (as I do). If you haven't done this fight, you're not such a great raiding guild after all. You can't claim to have finished everything, so don't even try to say you have!

A smaller margin of error, a more challenging fight

There are plenty of arguments out there that 10 man should be just as hard (and just as rewarding, gear-wise) as 25 mans. It seems a popular view (and it makes sense) that 10 mans leave less room for error, as well as giving far less flexibility in terms of group makeup and buffs, meaning that things can be more challenging. You can't afford to have slackers because everyone has to perform. There's probably room for underachievers more in a 25 man because a couple of people dragging their feet in a large group will have little effect compared to in a 10 man.

10man Sartharion with drakes is definitely much, much harder than the 25man version - because everyone has to perform at 300% capacity for nearly 15 minutes straight, and the slightest slip will cost you the attempt. It's crazy stuff (and definitely very rewarding).

But I just can't help feeling that it is really wrong for smaller raids to be seen as a bigger achievement than 25 mans.

Worse though, that I should feel obliged to do these 10 man fights and achievements to prove myself and my guild, even if I have absolutely no interest in 10 man raiding, because if I don't, I can't claim to be as progressed as I'm supposed to be. Finishing 10 man content to prove myself as a 25 man raider. lolwut?

QQ, my beautiful linear progression

Server progression used to be black and white. Here's a list of bosses, and here's a list of who has killed them - done. The top guild is the one who has killed the newest boss first. Recognition goes to the guilds who kill the bosses generally seen as the big milestones; the Ragnaroses, C'thuns, Vashjes, Archimondes, Illidans and Kil'Jaedens of the world. And now, Sartharion with drakes. It's pretty simple. You kill a boss before anyone else, you're the new leader (until someone beats you to another boss sometime).

Delicious linear progression. Om nom nom nom.

But if 10 man bosses are seen as harder than some of the 25 mans, where does that leave progression ratings? Do we make up our own rankings based on subjectivity and whatever people generally consider to be the harder content, regardless of group size or Tier number?

We saw a little of this kind of problem after changes were made to allow guilds to progress to BT without having to kill Vashj and Kael. The progression lists were suddenly thrown into turmoil as their caretakers tried to work out how to rate guilds who had killed the first couple of (easy) bosses in BT (a Tier 6 instance), but never killed Vashj or Kael (Tier 5 bosses), who were considered the most challenging bosses at the time. People could choose to skip the hardest encounters of lower tiers and go straight into the easier encounters of higher tiers.... and nobody knew how to rate them easily. They had to make up some kind of arbitrary scale of which bosses they considered harder, ignoring where they were "supposed to be" in progression ladders.

Vashj & Kael: in the Too Hard Basket

But my beef isn't so much with skipping content - it's about having to step outside of 25 man raiding for "progression" because a 10 man fight is perceived (in this case, correctly) to be harder and thus a step ahead of the 25 man version.

I won't go so far as to call it a "trend" yet, but if 10 mans do continue to give as much or more of a challenge and a greater victory than 25 man raiding, how will we rank guilds in the future?


Hard modes - here to stay

Preliminary Ulduar info is out. 14 bosses, 11 hard modes. Hard modes are things like Sartharion with X drakes up; the example they've given so far is the Flame Leviathan, which has defense towers that you can either kill to make things easier, or leave them up. The concept is very similar to Sartharion with drakes - depending on the number of drakes/towers you have up, the fight changes in difficulty and rewards different loot.

So it would seem that we will now have 11 more Sartharion with drake/s fights (basically). That's pretty exciting - so far it has been a case of "clear Naxx, work on killing Sarth with 1/2/3 drakes....... now um.... farm until Ulduar." On the other hand, it sounds like Ulduar will keep us busy for a long, long time because almost all of the bosses are Sarth-style encounters with optional challenges.

But the question is: will the 10 man "hard mode" fights be harder than 25 man?

Sarth3D on 10 man is the hardest fight in the game at the moment because it requires precise raid stacking, huge dps, and every single person to perform perfectly. On 25 man it's still a huge challenge, but when you switch to the 10 man version, 25 man seems like you could watch TV or eat a sandwich while you do it. I don't think Blizzard is trying to make 10 man the bigger challenge, but since you're really limited in how much you can "stack" your raid, not to mention the dps requirements, that's just how it's turned out.

Will Ulduar 10 man hard modes be the same?

I'm going to guess that they will. Not deliberately; not because Blizzard necessarily wants them to be the better challenge, but because they just require a much tighter raid than 25man, and are therefore more of a challenge by default. And that puts them higher on the subjective progression chart.

10man Sartharion+3: a bump in the 25man road

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah (amirite?)

I'm sure to a lot of people, this is a very trivial thing. But to hardcore, competitive raiders such as myself, we need to be able to see where we sit. Who the competition is. How close the race is and how hot the other guilds' breath is on our necks. It was hard enough in Tier 6 content when early Hyjal and early BT were basically parallel and it was difficult to say who was leading when one guild chose to start in BT and the other chose to work on Hyjal. Why can't things move in a straight line...

I like to know where we stand. Exactly where. It's a big deal. And having extra stuff like hard modes, 10 man fights and achievements (while fun and challenging) makes it much harder to know where you sit on that ladder.

I had hoped that 10 man Sartharion was a blip; that this kind of thing wouldn't happen again, but more and more I am thinking that perhaps this is the way things are going to be from now on - that Blizzard will make 10 mans as challenging, if not more, than 25 mans (whether deliberately or not). 10 mans are easier to fill, and are accessible for more people. Obviously it is a good business decision for Blizzard to allow more people to raid and have this challenge. Hardcore raiders are far outnumbered by the more casual raiders who want to see the raids, and it would be dumb for Blizzard to cater more for 25 man raiders rather than their larger casual customer base.

I love large raids. It makes me sad though, to think that large raids might no longer by the pinnacle of raiding, that 25 man bosses might no longer be the real barometer for server progression, and that 10 mans and achievements will become a necessary part of the 25 man progression ladder.

Dammit, I want my linear progression back.


Aertimus said...

I'm going to resort to my 'stick my head in the ground' method of dealing with things before they are released live... I LOVE 25 man raiding. Yes, 10 mans are okay... but why raid with 9 friends when you can raid with 24?

I'm really hoping (and thinking, although I could be completely ignorant) that since the item level of 25 man loot is planned to be above the item level of 10 man loot, that means 25 mans are meant to be harder (to execute, not just organize) than 10 mans. And that if there are a few fights/achievements that are harder on 10 man, its more of a fluke like 10OS+3D than a part of the plan.

Also - I love linear too. (I love your pictures of linear almost as much!) I've never been cutting edge like you have, so I imagine its even harder for you. But I hate this "We are ahead in 10 mans!""But we are ahead in 25 mans!""But we are ahead in raid achievements!" stuff. Everybody is a winner! - Thats half of whats wrong with society today.

Lol, totally should not be semi-political wall of texting your blog 20 min past my bed time! <3

Anonymous said...

well i can tell you that we are coming for you... have probably half the guild on the PTR, still a few slackers working on getting across ;) but we're there...

we were a few days behind you for naxx and os first kills I think, and (taking out xmas/ny hols) only a few more days for S3D...

be afraid! lol

anywho, i'm not a big fan of the whole 'sitting on my cool mount where people go past' kinda thing. being hardcore is different for different people. measuring it is nearly impossible without using tiers or breaking up the firsts...

10man firsts
25man firsts
zone clear firsts
achievement firsts
total achievement firsts


i'm hardcore, but i'll never get the 'glory of the raider' stuff cause i'm happy to sub out and make it late some nights and sit on standby for hours...

and i dont expect 24 others to essentially waste time for 1 person to get an achievement they 'missed'. i've got more important things to do like head to silvermoon city at 1am and kill 5 people... (ended up killing more cause they just couldn't get enough! rawr)

i'm babbling on

see you on the ptr?


Keeva said...

Naxx and OS first kills really meant very little - it was about who got 25 people to 80 in the fastest time possible. While it was nice to get those server firsts, I know we will have to work harder for the Ulduar firsts, and I'm looking forward to that race.

Anonymous said...

To every yin there must be a yang.

I've seen Kel and Sapp what feels like a couple dozen times in the 10 man versions but I've only this week got my 25 man kill achievements for the bosses. Same thing goes for Sarth.

What's more is that until recently I had no real want to try 25s. This is more of a "I've got time to kill and my guild is bored with OS/Maly" sort of thing.

My guild really only wants to be the best at 10s and as such stayed small throughout the expansions. Heck, there are those members who do not want to even step foot into a 25 man. We posted our kills on WowJujitsu to proclaim we were some of the first to make 10 man kills on bosses, then stopped updating. (I think we're currently listed as 33rd or something on the server)

It all comes down to a matter of personal preference; no one is wrong or right. I mostly enjoy experiencing the content. The only difference between 10 and 25 man raids is simply that the bosses hit harder and drop better loot. Though you have more people to compensate for it.

25s are fun, don't get me wrong, but I'm more than happy with being damn good at 10s.

...and let's not forget the 5-7 other druids and death knights I have to roll against for various pieces of gear. Heh.

Beruthiel said...

Keeva -

I think your discontent is not limited to just 25 man raiders frustrated about having to go in for 10 man boss kills. I think the 10 man raiders are equally as frustrated that the end, or proving, content for the 10 man is currently only beatable if you have 25 man gear. Which totally contradicts it being a 10 man raid!

I have read quite a bit of displeasure on this last point since the announcement that they are removing the ability to obtain the mount for completing glory of the raider with the introduction of 3.1. The argument being for pure 10 man guilds, how are they supposed to be expected to complete the requirements for the avhievement if they don't have access to the gear they would need to do so if they are purely running 10 man content.

It is in fact quite a cunundrum that Blizzard will need to resolve if they continue to tout the equality of the 10/25 man raid system they are currently providing.


P.S. Have you had anytime to play around on the test server yet? I did some last night, but haven't had the opportunity to get a feel for the mana changes in a raid setting yet.

Sydera said...

Such cute pictures!

I echo your sentiments Keeva--I'm really only into the larger size raids.

I got the Undying title by accident, but I never intended to. I just went because we needed more abyss crystals for the bank!

Mel said...

agreed keeva-

I was really looking forward to 10 man raids - I thought that was the best thing ever when Blizzard announced there would be 10 and 25 man versions for all raids.

But they borked it. Some encounters we need 25 man gear to do- wait what??

I'm really missing the unique 10 mans now. I thought ZA was the best thing ever.

One more of the many reasons I am beginning to drift away from WoW for good. :(

Keeva said...

Raine: I know that many guilds just really enjoy 10s, and want to stay small or perhaps a little more casual. Perhaps there should be a 10man progression ladder that excludes the 25man "srs business" guilds, so that all you have on the 10man list are the guilds who are pushing for 10man progression.

Anyone visiting the list to see who is leading 10man progression would know that the list isn't full of overgeared 25man raiders zerging it and claiming first place, while the 10manners are actually working on the content just as the 25man teams slowly work through theirs.

Ie, you can either be on the 10man list OR the 25man list; not both.

That might do something to give 10manners their place in the sun, and keep the 10man achievements from being some weird prerequisite for topping the 25man list.



Wow Beruthiel, that is a REALLY good point.

When Sartharion+drakes were brought out, people saw how hard it was (and particularly the dps you had to pump out) and wondered whether Blizzard actually made it so that Sartharion would require Ulduar gear to beat, but in the end they had underestimated their players, who went on to beat it in Naxx gear.

I don't think there is any way you could beat 10man 3D with 10man gear.

And now they're removing the drake, they're essentially rewarding the 25manners who went to 10man 3D but punishing the 10manners who didn't want to or couldn't do 25mans to get the gear to be able to do it.

My guild will be hard pressed to cycle a bunch of people through to get the achievement, and we're in pretty much the best gear out.

You make such a good point, I had never thought of that, and I feel sorry for all the 10man raiders who are getting ripped off :/


Sydera/Mel: I hardly ever do 10 man Naxx, usually to help people out, not because I want to go. I don't even need to go for offspec gear, because I can get that in Naxx (and soon, Ulduar - I'm sure it won't take long to start DEing in there). I don't have any alts at 80, and even if I did, I have no plans to raid on them.

I like that people have options to do 10 or 25 depending on what suits them. But it's dumb to have to do a 10man to prove yourself as a 25man raider, or as Beruthiel just said - to have to go do 25man raids to get gear to do the 10mans.. /BOGGLE.

I am far more likely to enjoy something if I feel that I'm doing it for myself, for fun.. rather than "I have to go finish off the Naxx 10 achievements because they're taking away the proto drake from it".

PS Mel - you're not allowed to quit for good. Sorry, not allowed.

Mel said...

okay I won't D:

But yeah. It just doesn't make sense that people who like 25 mans have to feel like they're going backwards to finish off 10 man achievements, and people who prefer 10's can really complete them because they need the gear from 25's to do it. It makes you wonder what goes on at the Blizz office when they plan out these things.

I thought the point of having 10 man dungeons was to allow people who like such groups to be able to see the content and progress in a similar manner to people doing 25's.

Have your ultimate hardest-ecounter-in-game bosses in the 25 mans, and tune them to be hard. Never attempted Sarth3 10man, but it seems like it's only hard because you only have 10 spots and can't use 3-4 tanks, or whatever. Kind of seems like an oversight to me.

I miss the good old days where you could say... 'Oh we're the best guild on the server because we beat Nefarian first!' instead of
'Oh we're the best because we beat Malygos 25 first.'
'But we did a 10 naxx undying run before you so we're better.'
'Yeah, but we done Sarth and 3 drakes on 25 man too.'
'Yeah but you havent done it on 10man which is harder.'
'Wait I thought we did that already.'
'Is it Friday yet?'

Kayeri said...

Keeva, as primarily a 10-man raider from a smaller guild, I do agree... when I started picking up spots in 25s I was surprised to find fights were of fairly equal difficulty. There are fights that tip both ways, but for the most part, differences aren't huge.

With the better gear available from 25s, I'd expect those fights to be more difficult and for the most part, they aren't. But it is harder to coordinate a 25man than a 10, for obvious reasons.

Obviously, we work hard to be the best we can be, whether it be healer, tank, or dps. That's what spurs me on to greater heights, anyway. That's what drove me to finding a way to do 25man content that my guild doesn't have the raider numbers to support... I have the skills, but I need the gear to support the skills, too.

and my preference for the smaller 10-man raid is probably a relic of the fact I know everyone, I know what they are capable of versus the 25man pug where I have to THINK about who's tanking and have barely been given a heal assignment. I did get into a well-organized weekly-run 25man Naxx pug last week that I hope to keep up with. Torch of Holy Fire... ::drool::

And in your drive to be first, I will only offer this word of warning... if you go too fast, you can run out of things to do, and then boredom sets in... I've seen several of the top guilds on Doomhammer undergo splits, quits, and retirements because they ran out of things to do.

So take care and make your fun last. :)

Thebe said...

I have a feeling the 10 man vs 25 man issue is going to be the WotLK version of BC's PvP vs PvE debate. Opening up the game to more people is always going to make others want things back the way they were.

I think the Sarth 3D thing is likely an accident though, I don't think Blizzard intended 10 man to be a fight by which 25 man guilds are measured by. After all, they don't run these ranking sites, the player base do. I think in light of what has happened with it, they'll continue to toy with the balance to get something that's more logical.

The fact these sites are player created makes me wonder though: why do you care what other people think? If you only care about 25 mans, and you do the 25 mans first, what's the point in worrying that someone else might think less of you because you don't give a crap about 10 mans? In the ranking system in your head, you're number one baby! ;)

For what it's worth, I really do agree the 10 man guilds get screwed over no matter what. You really can't make a 10 man progression ladder because even if people opt out of the 25 man ladder, those who farm the previous patch's 25 man content start with enough of a gear gap that you're not competing on an even footing.

The current situation for 10 man raiders, while better than BC, is still fairly poor. Basically so long as 25 man gear is a tier better, the 10 man experience is akin to having the 2.4 badge gear made available at the time of SSC and TK. The fact people can so easily over gear content really takes the thrill out of it.