Monday, June 6, 2011

10 vs 25: A Year Later

A little over a year ago I wrote a series of posts about Blizzard combining the 10man and 25man formats into a single lockout with the same loot and other rewards. As I'm sure many of you guys remember, those posts generated a lot of comments. Some people agreed with me, most disagreed. In the end the nay sayers where predicting doom and gloom, while the 10man fans were predicting sunshine and rainbows.

For obvious reasons, it was impossible to say who was going to be right and who was going to be wrong, but here we are a year later with 6months of Cataclysm under our belt and the first tier of Cataclysm raiding nearing a close. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at my reaction and the reaction of some of my commenters and see what ended up happening.

Quick Disclaimer: I'm assuming that tensions over this issue (and the way I titled one of my posts) have calmed down quite a bit over the past year. I don't expect any of the drama that resulted last time. However, in an effort to prevent any issue I want to acknowledge one thing. Most of my "evidence" comes from personal experience or observations I've seen on the servers I've played. I do use some numbers from, but none of it is scientific.

Personal Experience:

The Concern: My first reaction was very negative. Most of my 10man experiences in WotLK were very positive. My groups were filled with 25man raiders so we overgeared the content, and we had a lot of funny joking around in a way that wasn't really possible in the 25man raid. After a little thought I still had my doubts, but I also saw some of the potential of the change. I could man a chance to raid an alt in a meaningful way or just sleep more once the allure of the 10man rewards was removed.

The Result: A year later and a year wiser, I must say my second reaction was much more correct then my first. When I wrote my first reaction post the best days of my 10man groups were behind me. My 10man group like my guild saw a lot of turn over and we had trouble building a group. We did eventually end up killing heroic Lich King, but that was only after a massive effort from a few dedicated players and was months after it should have happened. In the end, it was the people that made my 10man experience so great, and that couldn't last forever.

The second reality is that I don't have much of an interest in maintaining that type of schedule anymore. To do the 10mans, I was staying up to one or two in the morning several nights a week. On the other nights it wasn't unusual for me to stay up late leveling an alt, crafting for my AH businesses, or doing some other activity. I didn't sleep a whole lot and it had an impact on my life in the game and in my normal life. There are still nights where I stay up very late playing the game, but not having the 10man raid has removed the obligation to doing so. If I stay up late one night, it's likely that I will go to bed early the next. My play time is much more balanced now, and that is probably for the best.

Balancing: Can 10man Equal 25man?

The Concern: I and many other 25man supporters questioned if Blizzard could balance the 10man and 25man formats to be relatively equal. While the gear ilevel difference was the main balancing difference between the two formats in WotLK, it wasn't the only difference. Converting a 25man raid to a 10man or vice versa isn't a simple fix where you just have to adjust a bosses total health. Spread out mechanics favor smaller groups because they have more space to work with. It's unavoidable that Room design and boss abilities will have different levels of significance for different sized groups. Some mechanics will be easier for 10mans because they have more room to spread out or fewer targets to deal with. Other mechanics will be easier for 25mans because they have more people to fill the needed rolls and players are allowed to specialize their responsibilities more. Skeptics like me were unsure if Blizzard could counteract these inevitable balancing differences between the two formats.

The Result: With Tier 11 raiding, Blizzard did a pretty good job. I've done very few fights in the 10man format, but what I'm told by people who have raided in both formats is that the lead up bosses are fairly well balanced, but there are/were a few balancing issues with the end bosses. Nefarian and Cho'gall were much tougher in the 10man format and had their damage nerfed significantly in patch 4.1. On the other hand Al'Akir is significantly easier in the 10man format, and several 25man guilds have gone in and killed Al'Akir on 10man to get the kill and ranking just as some of us skeptics worried might happen.

All in all, I can't really expect Blizzard to do a better job then they did. This type of thing is never going to be perfect the first time. I'm also pleased that they errorred on the side of 10mans being to hard (though I don't know if this was by choice). The fact that 10mans were a bit harder on some of the end bosses may have prevented a mass exodus of progression guilds switching to the 10 format.

Destabilization of Guilds:

The Concern: Organizing 10 to 15 people is easier then organizing 25 to 35. There are a lot of tasks involved in running a guild/raid that just get harder with the addition of more people. It's more people you have to evaluate, it's more people you have manage, it's more whispers and PMs you have to respond to. The question was, why would a GM stick with the 25man format when they can get the same rewards from the 10man format with less work and few problems. Not only that, but a 25man GM could take his best 10-15 players and form a more successful 10man they they could have at the 25man level. It seems like a perfect situation for guilds to abandon the 25man format for the more accessible but similarly rewarding 10man format.

The Result: There has definitely been some movement away from 25mans to 10mans. In the past six months I've seen several 25man guilds reform as 10 man guilds due to recruiting and other issues. I've also seen very few new 25man guilds form, but I've seen many recruiting posts for newly formed 10man guilds.

That said the 25man format definitely isn't dead. Progression raiding still seems to favor the 25man format, while 10man seems to be favored by casual raiding. Looking at numbers from WoWProgress this division is clear. Of the top 100 guilds in the world only five are 10man guilds and of those only one is in the top fifty. The 25man format also has a much higher participation rate in the heroic modes then the 10man format. This is probably an indication that many of the historically successful progression guilds have stuck with the 25man format.

The question now is how is this going to change in the future. Is the 25man format still in decline or has has it stabilized? How many of the 25man guilds in WoWProgress are dead guilds that failed after a couple of months of raiding and won't be active in Firelands? It's going to be really interesting to see the progression numbers at the end of Tier 12 progression cycle. It's my guess that 25mans will still be the dominate format in progression raiding for a couple of progression cycles. However, it's quite possible that the 10man progression guilds needed the Tier 11 cycle to get organized and come out and take the T12 raids by storm and dominate the 25man format.


Anonymous said...

So I've been running a progression focused 10-man raid group. And I've been filling in on an alt in a 25-man raid.

25-man raiding is noticeably easier in most of the fights. And it also gives noticeably more loot. And the extra loot means the raid gears up faster.

From personal experience, I watched a group whose core 10 had the week before tried Cho'gall-10 and barely made it in to phase 2, 3-shot Cho'gall on their first attempt in 25-man with ~12 of the raiders having never seen the fight. And this is not a group that is being at all progression oriented or that I would consider the top of the top.

So yeah, I expect progression will stay 25 for a while. The faster rate of gearing up combined with most fights being slightly easier on 25 means if you are racing to be in the top progress, you need to be racing in 25s.

Tsuki said...

As someone in a 10-man guild, I can't say they've done a good job balancing 10s and 25s. Halfus, Maloriak, Chim, Nef for example; they're virtually the same fight that have to be handled with less than half the people, and none of the issues are related to damage output.

25s are harder only when they should naturally be: fights you need to spread out.

I'm not on PTR, so I can only hope they learned with this tier.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't seem like you considered HM's at all (which is alot more relevant when comparing difficulties of 10 and 25m progression) - and the differences in HM's between 10 and 25 are much more apparent. And there are some fights that are easier in 10m and some that are easier on 25. That the differences are there is not surprising, really. Did anyone *really* believe blizzard when they said they'd be balanced? Doubtful.

lancore said...

You can't really compare rankings from both formats when 10m raids where stuck at bosses for months bacause of balancing issues, waiting for a silence hotfix that will most likely never be mentioned in any patch notes.
You don't have a good chance at top50+ when half the bosses were unkillable at first

Imakulata said...

Lancore, this was true at first but I think the fights eventually got balanced better - mostly by nerfing the 10-mans.

Also, I believe the 10-man format is more popular among casual and starting guilds. Claiming that 25-mans being easier is the only reason for the small number of progressed 10-mans would be begging the question IMO.

Anonymous said...

I started Cata running in a 10 man group because a number of people in my guild (25 man wrath raiding) just wanted to do 10 mans. We stayed as one guild and had three 10 man groups. To accomplish this required recruiting for my group and eventually for the other groups as well. Dealing with peoples RL schedules and not being able to raid because of one person caused one group to fall apart and my group to seek 25 man raiding. The third 10 man still runs as a 10 man.

My group recruited and temporarily teamed up with another guild for 25 man raiding until we acheived enough for our own 25 man group.

So my experience for T11 is clearing 90% of normal content on 10 man and then again in 25 man and will agree 25 man is much easier to progress in. We've done great building a very solid 25 man group and are progressing pretty quickly into heroic modes. The heroics are challenging in a 25 man format but I agree 10 man is a larger challenge.

m said...

Raiding 25 guild here. We stayed with the 25 men format, but this slowed us because of a few trouble refilling the ranks when people left for a reason or another.

I am the kind of player who only play on evening or weekend, and usually I only play ONE char.

So I don't like at all the 25/10 fusion. I loved to play with casual non raiding guildies in 10 men while raiding with core members in 25 men flavour. I cannot do this anymore, and I find myself very often just bored having nothing to do, expecially now when you can clean all in a day or two...

Anyway, 25 men may be easier for some encounters, but is also a lot more difficult to sustain. You need 25 people all playing, all dedicated, all with good connection, good mood, good astral conjuction :-)

25 men means more key people on the table, more possibility a disconnection will ruin your try, more chances you will have to spend a week or two asking for new guildies, integrating them...

No, managing a 25 men guild is not easier than a 10 men one... and so 25 men raiding is surely harder overall...

We was forced to raid 10 men for a month, while trying to refill the roles, and we found really easy to do it, easier than 25 men, but may be is just us... I mean, who cares if an EASY boss is easier in 25 men, I care instead when an HARD boss is HARDER in 25 men.... like al'akir...

Graylo said...


Half the bosses were unkillable? Really? The guilds that did it clearly hacked the fight to kill it am I right?

I agree that the difficulty of a couple of encounters (not half) held back 10man progression to some extent, but anyone who thinks about it for a second will realize there are other factors involved as well.

Just because something's hard doesn't mean it's over tuned. Remember virtually all of the elite progression focused guilds from WotLK are 25man guilds. This gives them a huge advantage since most 10man guilds are less then 6 months old. Plus, most of the elite players interested in raiding were already in these 25man guilds. It's going to be hard for the 10man guilds to compete as a whole until these elite players move to the 10man format or until the 10man format has time to develope some of their own.

My main point with the WoWProgress numbers was to show that 25mans is still where the majority of progression raiding happens, and 10man is where the majority of casual raiding happens. That's easy to see since over 50% of the 25man guilds have killed Halfus hard mode, while just 30% of 10mans have.

I also said it will be interesting to see how these numbers look at the end of T12 progression after the 10man guilds have had an opportunity to stabilize and come to progression content without having to organize and forma guild at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Former casual 25 man raider here. Quit raiding a couple months ago due to RL, but have continued to follow my old guild. Results were much as expected.

We've bled top players who left for more progressed guilds. Recruiting has been incredibly difficult. Recruits we did find had either gear or skill issues which slowed progression to the point of regression. Caused more players to leave. In the past month attrition led to a switch to the 10 man format.

With slow 25 progression we started scheduling an optional 10 man "clean up". In this 3 hour window we would often drop 2-3 bosses that we couldn't in 25. Got our council kill in 10 3.5 months before 25. It sure felt easier on 10 (normal modes). Admittedly, this may speak more to the skill gap between our top 10 and our bottom 10 then actual balancing issues.

I figured mine was the kind of guild that would suffer a quick death with the change. While it's taking longer to get there then I thought, I don't doubt that inevitability.

Anonymous said...

Progressing further in 10 man when your 25 man can't quite get the people together is because you have a good pool of players to pull from for composition issues. Why my group found 10 man to be harder is because we didn't have more than 1-2 extra people to pull from to change up the comp based on the fight. We did end up getting our first Nef kill on 10 man shortly after we started full guild 25 man raids but before our 25 man group was solidly built. We would either have enough no-shows or undergeared new people that Nef on 25 was a waste of time, but with 18 good players to pull from a 10 man group to kill Nef was easy. Our original 11-12 was range heavy with 3 solid interrupts. Change up the comp a bit and Nef was no problem.

It's harder to maintain a 10 man group (IMO) with alternates for when people can't make it or the fight calls for more interrupts, or whatever the case maybe. You either need everyone to show up every raid night, have 4-5 hybrids willing and able to fill multiple roles, and/or 4-5 backup players. We found it hard to keep people around who weren't going to get to raid everynight consistantly. This is much easier to manage in 25man I believe.

-Quota (third anony comment is mine too)

Anonymous said...


Edit above comment:

"withOUT 3 solid interrupts"

Anonymous said...

--> 2nd last anon to anon.

I don't doubt many 25s that do 10s can comp things up. Ours was an optional off-night, so we were just happy to have 10. Our first Chim kill was done with 3 resto druids (2 off-specing). Less then ideal.

Sounds like everyone has their problems. I don't think it's much easier for 25s to keep back-ups. We ran short much of the expansion. Our realm forum suggests this is not an uncommon problem for 25s.

Anathor said...

I really do not get the organizational issues related to running 25-man guilds compared to 10-man. Actually, unless you have exactly 10 dedicated raiders with 100% attendance, running a 10-man guild seems harder to me. 25-man raiding requires 20% to 30% of backups. 10-man raiding requires 50% of backups. So I would say the organizational issues are actually a lot more balanced than some might think.

10-man raiding also requires a lot more flexibility from the members, often needing to be able to play 2 roles because of encounter mechanics, especially in heroic modes, where suddenly 3 tanks and/or am extra dedicated plate kiter are suddenly required. This means "bring the player, not the class" is much harder in 10-man.

10-man raiding is also a lot more affected by issues like d/c or underperformance than 25-man... 10% > 4% obviously. 10-man also gets fewer rezzes (1 = 10%, 3 = 12%)

10-man raiding gets less loot, which means gearing is slower, not only because there's obviously less loot, but because the chance that a piece of gear will be sharded is also higher.

In terms of hardcore progression (top 100 guilds), it's easier to use "stacking" strategies in 25-man, and it also gives more flexbility in terms of number of tanks and healers vs dps. In 10-man only Cho'gall is 2-healed, all the other fights require exactly 3 healers. in 25-man the number of healers can be tuned much more precisely depending on encounter and dps output.

All in all 25-man raiding is only harder when space is an issue (Atramedes, Al'Akir).

Anonymous said...

I guess my server might be in a somewhat different position than others. Three 25 man guilds have recently fallen apart somewhat and only run 10 mans now. Leaving some good players with a raid group or who really want to run 25 mans looking for a new guild.

My guild is maybe more unusual than I thought in going from 10 man to 25 man raiding. We took about 3 weeks or heavy recruiting to make our own 25 man raids and over the last few months we've trimmed the under performing and picked up a number of great players. With the fall of more 25 man guilds to 10s we actually have an extensive back up roster right now. They would rather be a back up with us than find a 10 man guild it seems.


lancore said...

As I said, where unkillable. They got fixed eventually, partially without any patchnotes at all

oggy said...

@graylo "Half the bosses were unkillable? Really? The guilds that did it clearly hacked the fight to kill it am I right?"

Yes they were virtually pre nerf 10h.

Halfus - Required either 3 tanks or 4 healers. Still killable though and a fair few did it.

V&T - 1 guild managed it pre nerf. Required incredibly lucky rng and was basically impossible.

Council - Killable

Cho'gall - Harsh dps race. Killable, but setup dependent.

Sinestra. Virtually impossible. Relied on an spriest and good luck

Magmaw - Virtually impossible. 2 guilds managed it pre-nerf.

Omnotron - Killable.

Maloriak - Extremely hard. Adds had same hp as 25m, and it required a grp like 2xmoonkin, 2xdemo lock, mage or something.

Atramedes - Hard, but 25m faced the same issues. Exploitable for a kill.

Chimaeron - Killable.

Nef - Killable

Throne - Killable

Anonymous said...

I recently joined a 25m guild that moved from 10m to 25m. At least in my experience many people are severely underestimating the balance between 10m and 25m. It isn't that bad anymore, but it took 2-3 months for 10mans to get to the same level as 25mans. Before that 10mans were noticeably harder unless you had a very balanced group.

One massive problem that I saw when I was doing 10s was that bringing 3 melee and 2 ranged was much harder than 2 melee/3 ranged. That issue just doesn't happen in 25man. Sure you could have issues bringing 10 melee and 5 ranged, but that is much easier to avoid in 25s.

There are also a few classes like hunters that bring an incredible amount of utility which means if you don't have one, it just makes it a little harder. There isn't a skill in the game that comes close to frost trap and there are 3-4 fights in T11 that slowing groups of things is extremely useful.

In the end I expected this to happen. One of the 2 was going to be harder and then it was going to get nerfed(or other buffed). I completely expect the same to happen in T12, I just hope it doesn't take as long this time.

The switch has completely killed 25m pugs on my server though which to me is a sad thing. It is hard enough finding 9 good pugs, good luck getting 24. Maybe that will change in 4.2 and people will then run T11. I'm just not sure how many people will want to do just normals though.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned that Glyph of Starsurge will still be the best Glyph when you have multiple targets and can cast Starfall on cooldown.

I was under the impression that no matter how many targets you have 20 stars are going to fall during that 10 seconds.

My question I suppose is.. If they do not all fall in 10 seconds, How many targets do you need to have all 20 fall ?

Anonymous said...

I am the guild leader for a 25 man heroic raiding guild. I am starting to get frustrated with organizing and recruiting for this group. We have been held back more than once over attrition. Each time I have put in tons of work into filling up the ranks and we start progressing again, only to find attrition again within a few months. Then it's back to slowed progression. I'm the only one who does much with recruitment, the officers mostly refuse to help, no one in the raid wants to help. When I talk about it the officers spam once in trade chat and if someone applies I am the only one who deals with it. Most of the people who apply have next to no raid experience and 353 gear. I have held really strongly onto being a 25 man raiding force but with us running a 10 man on a week off I am starting to question that. The 10 man was so much less on my shoulders. I had fun instead of being stressed out the whole time because of fear of losing another 3 raiders over a night of wipes.

On my server I have seen absolutely no guilds be successful in creating a 25 man raid on our server since before Cataclysm launched. There are plenty of new 10 mans though (although they tend to disintegrate). From what I can tell raiding is clearly going in this direction.

I will be VERY interested to see how many are still raiding 25 mans in Firelands, I want to see the rankings next month.

Loot drops are better from 25s, boss difficulty is debatable, but the work involved in organization is no contest with a 25 man guild. There are 4 guilds on my server right now that were 25 man guilds in WotLK and want to stick with this format but have progressed in the last week by running a 10 man while "taking a break" until Firelands.

- Signed burnt out guild leader of a semi-hardcore 25 man raiding guild