This is not the Part 2 I had planned. After reading some of the comments on my post yesterday, I felt compelled to write this post. Think of this as Part 1.5. Part 2 will be coming soon.
Authors Note: WoW, 20 posts before 6am. I new the title would spark some heat but I assumed most of you would read beyond the attention getting headline and look at the substance of what I posted. I will write a more detailed comment later, but please realize that I am not saying 10man raiders suck, that you don't find 10man raids enjoy about. What I am saying is that the things you like about your 10man raids are generally not a result of the format. The positives you site can also be found in 25mans and the negatives of 25mans you site can and will be also felt in 10mans.
Authors Note2: There I changed the title because it is clear that some of the commentors can't get beyond the title. I am very disappointed with quite a few of the comments I received. I thought my readers would give me a little credit before calling me an elitist and a moron. Thank you to those commentors that could post rationally even if they disagreed with me.
Lets get a couple things straight.
10mans are not fun.
10mans are not more relaxed.
10mans are not more casual.
There is nothing inherent in 10 man raids that make them more fun, relaxed, or enjoyable then a 25man raid. I realize that through out WotLK we have associated 10mans with these adjectives, and I'm not saying we haven't found 10mans to be more fun, relaxed, or enjoyable. I'm saying that it is not the 10man format that causes these experiences. It is my belief that what has caused 10mans to be fun will not transfer to Cataclysm with this change.
What makes 10mans fun?
The answer is simple (for WotLK at least). The 10man raids are easier then the 25man raids. As much as people say they like a challenge, they like killing bosses and getting loot more. Since that is easier to do in 10mans, 10mans are more fun.
So, why are 10mans easier?
The first and probably biggest reason is gear. Blizzard has said the 10man raids are tuned assuming that the raiders have 10man gear from the previous level. Since the normal versions of 25man raids have been so accessible, most players out gear the 10man raids right out of the box. It may take a few attempts to learn the fight, but you don't have to be perfect because or gear level will cover up some of the mistakes.
Second, the structural differences between 10man and 25man also makes the 10mans easier. Take Professor Putricide for example. A big part of Putricide is the need to spread out. Since the room is the same size in both 10man and 25man, it is much easier to maintain spread and range in the 10man version.There aren't as many people I have to avoid. Boss abilities are also less frequent or in lower quantities in 10man. In normal 25man Professor Putricide, he throws two Malleable Goos out, but in 10man he throws only one. It is much easier to pay attention to where one goo is going then it is to track two of them.
Finally, I think a lot of the 10man groups out there benefit from the organization provided by 25man raids. Part of the reason it is easier to form a 10man raid is that we already have the 25man guilds where everyone knows what roles people can play. To form a group you just make a post on your guild forums or make an announcement in Gchat and group comes together fairly easily. Now what if you don't have the structure of a 25man guild to help you. What if you have to recruit 10man raiders like you recruit 25man raiders. Now you're dealing applications and players you don't have experience with. All that 25man "work" that people don't associate with 10mans comes into play.
Why these attributes won't transfer to Cataclysm.
Since 10mans and 25mans will drop the same gear we already know that the gear advantage current 10mans have won't transfer to Cataclysm. And lets assume for a second that Blizzard does a great job in developing the Cataclysm raids, over comes the structural differences, and creates 10man and 25man raids that are roughly equal in difficulty.
If these two things hold true then 10mans are not easier then 25mans, and the pressure to perform in a 10man will go up. The thing that makes 25man raids more stressful isn't the size of the raid. It's that 25mans are harder. Your mistakes matter more. Therefore, a stupid death, a missed heal, or general poor play means you wipe. In a 10man this is intensified because losing one person in 10man is like losing 2.5 in a 25man.
The 10man format is not immune to these issues. They currently avoid them because the margin of error is larger therefore, people associate 10mans with more fun. If you add the pressure to perform to 10mans and you will see it start to include all of these pressures as well. I guarantee it.
I do think that 10mans will still be easier to organize then 25mans in Cataclysm, but I don't think they will be as easy to organize as they are right now. This change will cause a much more distinct line between 10man guilds and 25man guilds. And building a 10man group will require a similar effort that is required to build a 25man group. You will have to go to the WoW forums or where ever, to try and recruit people to your guild particularly to raid. You can't pull your group from a larger 25man group. Therefore the people who currently find organizing their 10man group less stressful will have more issues in Cataclysm because they will have to do more.
On top of that, if someone quits a 10man guild it a much bigger impact on a 10man guild then it would for a 25man guild. I realize that 25man guilds can lose a lot of people quickly as well, but its less likely to happen. In the end, I don't think managing a 10man group is going to be a whole lot easier then it is to manage a 25man group.
10man progression is based on a false premise.
Why do we have 10man progression in WotLK anyway? If you go back to the WotLK beta, Blizzard said the popularity of Karazhan and Zul'aman showed there was an interest in the 10man format, and they wanted to provide a way for 10man raiders to progress through content as 25man raiders could.
I know that there are some people out there who like the 10man format. If you have a tight group of friends this allows you to have more informal raids with just the people that you know. I do thing that they are easier to maintain then a 25man group to some extent. That said, I don't think that the popularity of Karazhan and Zul'aman was necessarily and indication that people liked the 10man format.
I didn't play vanilla WoW, but in my opinion Karazhan and Zul'aman were some of the best instances that Blizzard ever created. For an appropriately geared group the fights were difficult and interesting. It was also the best way to gear up new alts and get a sense on how to play them. Do you think people would have ran Kara quite as much if they could have gotten a full set of T5 gear by running a heroics using the dungeon finder? Do you really thing BT geared players would have continued to run ZA if it wasn't for the Bear mount? I doubt it.
I believe that the ultimate attraction of 10mans for most people isn't the format itself. It is the rewards you get from running the instance in that format. Why do 25man raiders run 10mans? There are 2 reasons: Gear and Achievements. In my experience most 10mans stop running once their goals are met. Once my Naxx group got the Meta achievement and all the gear we needed we stopped running. There was no reason to stay up late and do it. If Karazhan and Zul'aman had sucked. Do you really think people would have ran them forever?
Once again, I am not saying we don't enjoy 10man raids. However, the reasons many of us find 10mans more relaxed and casual is because they lack the tension created by a progression focused 25man. If 10mans become just as difficult and just as progression focused as 25mans currently are, then the tensions we feel in 25man will transfer to the 10mans. With that, all of the adjectives I used at the top of this post will go away unless you already associate them with 25mans as well.
Overall, I think the combining of 25man and 10man raid IDs will result in a overall drop in raid participation. The players who currently focus on 25man raids will have to choose which format to favor. Some of the players who currently favor 10man raids will probably quit raiding. The relative ease of the format is what attracted them to raiding in the first place. When 10mans become more stressful and therefore less fun, they will stop raiding casually.