Friday, 10 April 2009

To the power of ten

To the power of ten: why ten man raids are inherently a more powerful form of raid than 25s.

Much has been said recently about the apparent anomaly that ten man raids offer comparable difficulty but worse loot than 25 man raids.

Ghostcrawler has commented on this issue extensively on the US WoW forums. His basic line is that 25s are desireable, hard to organise, and would die if the reward was obtainable elsewhere more easily.

Green Armadillo feels that balancing normal mode 10 man, normal mode 25 man, hard/achievement mode 10 man and hard/achievement mode 10 man is simply too much. It's too early to say this - one of the huge imponderables here is that players have not unanimously accepted achievement/hard mode content as a desireable progression path yet and they might do so in future.

Hatch thinks Ghostcrawler is floundering in defence of an untenable position. That loot should be the same in both versions, possibly with greater quantity of loot dropping in 25s.

The key point, which Ghostcrawler isn't really in a position to stress because it means insulting his customers is that most of us can find 10 good players relatively easily. So a 10 man raid is you plus nine friends whereas a 25 man raid is you plus 9 mates plus 15 people who are tagging along for the loot.

OK that will vary of course - if you're not very social it may just be you plus 24 random strangers if you're highly social or are imposing and checking standards it may be you plus 24 excellent players.

They key point is that social connection is a huge factor in performance. Crappy pugs are crappy not because people are incompetent but because they are 5 strangers and no one is digging deep to find their best game.

There are two requisites to playing at the top of your abilities for most people:

1) Trust. If you feel that you are playing with a bunch of clueless noobs you will probably stop trying or try to hard and overcompensate for them to the point it impairs your best game. This is human nature, group psychology. We see it in the difference between small businesses where people feel individually recognised and acclaimed for their contributions and large businesses where people feel marginalised. Of course there may be economy of scale factors that make large businesses more profitable but generally speaking the commitment of employees is much higher in small businesses.

2) Security. You need to feel free to take risks, say what you think, test things. If you get jumped on for being a clueless noob or think you might when you try something different or simply if your exasperated raid leader demands you all to shut up on bosses then you're marginalised and won't concentrate as well.

Both of these requisites are likely to be present in a close-knit 10 man group and absent in a bigger raid.

The problem and challenge of 25 man raiding is getting the best out of people by making them feel valued and important. This happens naturally in a 10 man built primarily on real life or in-game friends, after all you can make a group just by contacting people you value. It's much harder to do for 25s.


  1. I've never heard this described so well. While I value the more "epic" feel of twenty-five people on screen at once, I find it amazing (not in a negative way) that the increased rewards are based on management skills, team building, and leadership.

    I'm not conjuring anything new with that statement, but its interesting that players in a 25 man raid are being rewarded for a subset of skills that only a handful of organizers possess. Many talented players can heal, tank, and DPS, but only a rare few bring the personality and order that are required to make the raid a success.

  2. Yes exactly so, Ashellia.

    However these skills are very much enjoyed both by those who have them and those who benefit from them.

    If 10s start giving the same loot as 25s no one will undertake the additional burden of organising 25s and these superb skills will no longer be practiced in the game. Simply inviting 9 competent people of the right classes then zerging a raid instance is a much simpler skillset and leads to less interesting play.