Friday, March 27, 2009

Guest Post: Loot Differences Hurt the 10-Man Guild

This post was written by a long-time reader and commenter, Kayeri, who is active on many Druid blogs. She writes now about a concern that affects her personally, and many others.

This is something that has occurred to me from time to time in various forms and I’ve even seen it referred to on some of the many blogs I read, without ever addressing it directly. So Bell has generously allowed me to air my concerns and perhaps we’ll get back some ideas worth thinking over. What really catalyzed this post was a frustrated comment made the other night by our guild’s best tank, a protection paladin, before she logged for the night.

“Without 25’s I can’t improve my character and if I can’t improve my character, why play the game?” This concerned me deeply, because in the year I have known her, I have never once seen her express such intense frustration. If someone like this can be driven to that level of frustration, it’s time to get this out in the open and talk about it.

When Blizz first announced it was implementing the dual 10/25 man tracks for raiding, I was thrilled. I’d always felt a sense of incompletion in Burning Crusade as my guild wasn’t (and isn’t) large enough to do the 25-man content and complete the story arc of that expansion. That was not going to happen in Lich King… hurrah for Blizz! Then they told us 25-man loot would be better than 10-man. I shrugged it off at the time, because undoubtedly 25-man content would be more difficult than 10-man. I was still riding the high from being able to do the entire expansion storyline.

Well, the more difficult encounters at 25-man never really happened. The encounters, for the most part, are on par in difficulty. Yes, there can be slightly different mechanics or additional adds thrown in for the larger raid, but in overall difficulty per player, IE how hard each player works during each boss fight, is not significantly different in 10 and 25. With the exceptions of Patchwerk and possibly Kel’thuzad, I really am working no harder in a 25-man than in a 10-man.

So why the loot difference? Encounter difficulty is the crux for me. Better loot should be rewarded for more difficult encounters which means I should be working harder in 25-man encounters than 10-man to earn that loot. It is definitely more difficult to coordinate 25 people than 10. That’s a given. Herding 25 cats is obviously harder than herding 10. But is there any other reason? During the encounter, you’re doing pretty equivalent work whether its 10 or 25. Is that what Blizz intended with the dual raid track? I don’t know, honestly.

The effects on the 10-man raid guild are not good. People leave because they can’t get top flight gear. The last 4-6 weeks have seen the largest population drop we’ve ever experienced. People, including me, have started pugging more to get better gear. That means less time working together and the guild’s teamwork has suffered for it. Also, 10-man guilds are recommended as ‘gear-up-and-move-on” guilds, and that’s not what we want to be. Worst of all, it has been seen in general chat when assembling pug raids on our server, “Don’t bother psting me if you’re in that 10-man Naxx crap!” It’s not frequent, but it is happening.

So is there a way to balance things so the 10-man track can access the gear they need to be the best they can be without reversing course and hurting the 25? The one thing we all have in common is we want to be the best player/raider we can be. To do that, we all need the best gear we can get our hands on. 10-man raiding guilds are handicapped in that by size alone. And the plain fact is, I love my guild. I’ve cultivated genuine friendships there. I’ve hosted guildies in my home and visited other in theirs. It’s an atmosphere I feel comfortable in and that matches my needs. I don’t want to leave and I won’t. If there is a balance point out there, I’d love to find it, because I want to enjoy my guild AND have the best gear I can get my mitts on.


whazzmaster said...

I one hundred percent agree with this post, and I'm wondering myself what to do next. Our small guild can barely get 10 people together regularly for runs and after a few months I'm our top healer with a patchwork of a couple Naxx-25 pieces (from pugging) and the rest Naxx-10 pieces.

So I'm left at the point where, whenever I log now, I am healing someone's alts through (non-heroic!) Violet Hold. I like the core of our guild and at heart I'm a casual player, but I like my time to mean something when I'm logged in and I have a desire to always be improving my character. I think in the end I have to come to terms that my game goals do not coincide with the guild's goals (top flight gear vs. social/casual raiding) and choose. My brother made the choice-- he /gquit, jumped servers, and took his 4000 DPS to an elite raiding guild, but he has the time for 4-5 night-a-week raids. My choice will likely be to stay and enjoy the company of other casuals, putting away my desire to be fully kitted out in 213 (soon to be 229 or whatever) gear.

Sondahl said...

Absolutely true. My bf and I run guild raids for our small, casual guild. At first it was easy to get 10 folk together to do Naxx but now it's hard as people jump ship to do 25-man PuGs and almost every raid we're calling in alts or taking new raiders.

What I'd like to see is some way to upgrade Naxx-10 to the equivalent Naxx-25 piece, maybe quest related like the old 0.5 chain, or using badges.

Sylly said...

wow this is such an interesting post. I think that the long period before patch 3.1 is partly to blame, because when that patch comes along you will again be able to step up a tier, although it will not be the best tier in game. But you will be able to earn emblems of valor and purchase parts of the T7.5 gear that you can now only get for running 25s. I do think that once you gear up for 25s, you may be right in that there is pretty comparable difficulty for the individual player. There is, however, more time involved, and I would argue, difficulty, even if not within the content itself. I refer to the guild difficulties of fielding 25. Getting 25 people ready to go, zoned in, buffed up vs. 10, rezzing 25 people, juggling more complex class balances, recruiting for 25 person raids, balancing the objectives and personalities of 25 raiders, and so forth. So, although the point you make about the difficulty of content is probably valid once everyone is geared for what is being run, as an officer of a 25 man raiding guild, I would say that there is much more of a burden on the guild itself. Is this worth a greater reward in terms of gear for each member? Hmm... I don't know. But I did think I'd throw this out there as a little food for thought.

Bell said...

In my opinion, it's pretty interesting to me that the hardest fight in-game is ten man 3D Sarth. Not 25. In 10 you have less people to cover for mistakes. If one person dies, you're down 1/10 of your raid, instead of 1/25. It would almost seem ten man are harder than 25.

Anonymous said...

It's been brought up in numerous places by numerous people that 10 mans are, in many ways, harder than 25s. A single loss is far more critical, and the raids are far less forgiving of even mistakes that don't result in death.

In that light, the gear disparity is annoying. I'm doing more work for inferior gear.

Anonymous said...

I disagree entirely with your post. 25 mans were never supposed to be harder than 10mans, content-wise. The reason the loot is (marginally) better is because it takes more effort to organize 25 man runs - thats all. The 2 options are to allow players the chance to raid in smaller guilds, with smaller numbers of people, more simple loot systems, more friendly atmospheres etc. Above all, the mission was to enable more people to experience end-game raid content. If you or your friends are experiencing 25 man loot lusts thats all well, good & natural. I can understand that! I want the absolute best gear in the game all the time... But the game is working as intended.

I know many people for whom 10 man is an enormous boon. They get to raid! They get to see the instances. They can pug. They hardly have any time to play, yet they can pug naxx as if it were slave pens. This is a massive win.

However, if you start lusting after 25 man loot, you better join a 25 man guild. You cant have it both ways.

I'm moving my alt around in casual cicles atm. So many casuals want everything the hardcore has, at 1/4 the time investment, and 1/4 of the skill level. Just not possible. But there's nothing to feel bad about: enjoying the raid content is what its all about, and if you want more, you have to make choices about how you spend your time in RL and in wow.

Occeleta said...

Anonymous pretty much has it right. It's all about letting the more casual players experience all the content. Differences in loot does come down to the numbers. 25 is harder to gather up than 10. Not to mention more people to compete with for each drop. So why shouldn't the gear be better? But I disagree that you have to join a 25 man guild. You could also start talks with other 10man guilds and stick your main groups together and include any of the extra spare people to fill the 25mans. Just another option if you are determined to stay in your 10man guild

Handrel said...

The OP seems to be saying she wants all the benefits of a small casual friendly guild, with the best loot in the game. I really dont get your argument. Its not at all rational. It takes a lot more effort to organize a 25 man raid, believe me. And generally more discipline. It will be less "friendly" Although 10 mans can be physically harder (sarth3d is the only true example) they're easier to organize. In 25 mans, there's more chance of people slacking off and hiding in the crowd, which can lead to bad raid experiences too and multiple wipes that are hard to diagnose. It works both ways. As a hardcore 25 man raider, I cannot stand the slow pace and amateur feel of casual, friendly, wipe-a-tronic 10 man runs. So, each to their own. I have all the best gear, the mounts, most of the 10 and 25 man raiding achievements. 10 man raids to me are about gearing my alts, and learning to play my alts. I think its a great system, but that's because I'm not hungry for loot I cant have!

Kring said...

Most people wo get 25 man loot don't organize these raids. They only take part in them. Basically, what the posters before me are saying is, that only the raid leader should get 25 man loot and all the other who just raid 25 man should get 10 man loot.

I do understand that you (Hadrel and Anonymous) are trying to keep the better loot for yourself, in the end it's "us and them" which i human. But, you don't deserve it any more then Kayeri who raids 10 man.

Handrel said...

Kring, I have no idea how you jumped to that conclusion, or put those words in my mouth. If you've been in 25 man raids, you'll know immediately that's not especially more true in there than in 10 mans. Guild organization and raid leading is hard hard work, and you get no extra benefit - certainly no extra loot! and very little gratitude :P

As for keeping loot to myself, what are you talking about? Wow will spawn as many instances as there are groups of players - we can all haz lootz!!!!

Its not about "deserve" either. Its about the facts of what it takes to raid a certain way, vs another way. Do elite raiders "deserve" a 310% speed mount more than a casual raiders? Funnily enough, the elite raiders (& blizzard, btw) think "yes". Many casual raiders think "no". The world is not egalitarian. When some people work for earn money, their time is worth more money than other people's. They earn *more*. Do they "deserve" more money? Again, the rich people tend to think they do; the poor often think everyone should get the same amount of money. What do you all think lol, because its the same discussion in the end.

Kring said...

A lot of people argue, that 25 man should drop better loot than 10 man because they are harder to organize.

Are they harder to organize? Hell, yes! A lot!

But, that task is done by only a few people - the raid leaders. All other raid members just sign up on the calendar and take part.

For them, nothing changed. It doesn't matter that a 25 man raid is harder to organize FOR THEM. Because they don't help organizing it anyway.

That's what I meant. The raid leaders do the work and everyone in that raid gets better loot.

That can't be the reason why 25 man dropps better loot!

I didn't want to be rude (but I was, sorry for that), but this argument pisses me off, because it's so wrong.

I shouldn't expect to get better loot because my raid leader works harder... that's wrong. I should only expect better loot if I MYSELF work harder.


I think the problem is twofold.

If 25 man give better loot, the effect is:
- best players leave for 25 man
- 10 man achievements are used as an "easy mode" for a 310% drake because the 25 mans have better gear. Ulduar won't have 10 man server first feasts, only 25 man. That's probably the reason.

If both give the same loot:
- 25 man raids would, in addition to their 25 man raid, also raid the 10 man for additional gear upgrade. (The raid ID is there to slow you down)

If they would drop the same loot but be on the same lookout ID:
- You can't run Naxx25 with your raid and Naxx10 with your friends... Still could be the best solution.

Kayeri said...

Let's keep it calm, folks, I wanted to elicit open discussion with this topic, not start a war... that was my greatest worry about actually opening this topic for discussion. The responses thus far have been great, well-thought out and thought-provoking, which is exactly what I hoped for.

Now, I did acknowledge in the post that it definitely takes greater coordination to field 25's than 10's. As I stated, that's a given. Sylly is 100% correct on that and I have enormous respect for those who stand up and herd all us cats, whether it be 10 or 25. It's not a job I would want, honestly.

However, the commitment to the game point IS a good one! Now, as a raider, I know well that its not a cheap business. I spend probably a minimum of 2 hours a day farming so that I always have everything I need for raiding available to me. The morning after the raid, I restock, fully. I do this not only for myself, but also for my husband, who plays a pally tank and does not have the farming time available that I do.
But my goal with all this farming is so that I am a constant state of raid-readiness and will never require more than a stop for repairs before walking into a raid. Most raiders follow a similar schedule, again, whether they are 10 or 25.

That doesn't cover the hours raiders spend on the internet, both researching your class and spec to stay current with changes, but also studying the strategies when taking on a new boss. Although there are always preferred ways to get it done, I do believe every guild likely tweaks it a bit to make it work for them.

And Handrel, I concede your point as well, I DO want it all. I may be part of a 10-man raid guild, but that does not mean we take our raiding less seriously than a hard-core raid guild does. We simply do it less frequently so we can accommodate our lives outside the game.

Occeleta, we did form a liason that let us raid 25, but sadly the person who was spearheading the other side departed on a 2-month international trip and no one on the other side wanted to pick up the organizational slack, so that sadly came to an end. It was too bad, too, having two smaller guilds team up is highly effective.

Since I first wrote this post, which in its original form happened over a week ago, our guild leadership decided we'd pug what we didn't have so we could do 25s. It was a little rocky the first time through, but we have high hopes for the second run this weekend.

Button said...

It has been stated by the blues on multiple occasions (if it wasn't 2am I'd go look for them) that they made a mistake with naxx and that the 10 and 25mans were far too close in difficulty, and that they have made monumental strides to correct that error with Ulduar.

Having not yet played it myself, I can't offer an opinion either way.

Handrel said...

Well I understand your position better too, sorry if I was inflammatory. Well there are additional committments in 25 man guilds: attendence being the big one. Often performance in a good one. A huge part of your 25man officer headache is attendence and performance. For some people, its a less friendly vibe. You sacrifice friendliness for better loot! I'm trying to come up with reasons why its perfectly fair. But sure, your average raider doesnt have to work so hard to organize a raid. So... a big TY to my guild officers! You deserve our gratitude more than you deserve our ire. But the system has been like this from day 1. Some players work harder at organization than others.

However, it is blizzards stated intention that the loot is better in 25 mans because they're harder to organize. Not because they're more difficult.

If there was no better gear, 25 man raids would die overnight. There's also a certain thrill in a 25 man simply because its got more people. Wow is full of hierarchies of achivements.... its a big part of the game's popularity, and I cant see it changing anytime soon without killing fun for many many players.

Ron said...

Handrel has a good point about 25-man raids dying out if they gave the same loot. What would be the point of going through the headache of organizing and running a 25-man run if it didn't give you better loot than the 10-man? Just have 2x10-mans and 5 extra people or 3x10-mans with 5 people PUG'd.

I do believe that 25-man encounters are harder even after everyone gets into the raid. Having 25 people just means you have more chances of people messing up, and potentially killing the rest of the group (ex:Thaddius).

My guild cleared 10-man pretty quickly and then we moved on to 25-man. At first we had to hook up with another guild to fill out our spots. This actually turned out well for us because the people that joined in liked our style and atmosphere so much that a few joined the guild.

PTD said...

There are avenues for casual/smaller guilds to get involved in 25 man content. Believe me, there are other guilds that are in the same situation as you are, and you know what? They'd love to start an alliance with you so you CAN hit the 25s. I have never, ever done a single "in guild" 25 man run of anything, yet I've seen Gruul, Mags, SSC , TK, MH, BT and now Naxx. I did all of those raids in an alliance we had set up with 6 other guilds.

It can be done, people are just waiting for SOMEONE to do it!

Kae said...

Apologies in advance for the long comment :)

I am an officer in a NON-casual 10-man guild. What makes me scratch my head is the assumption among other players that *all* 10-man guilds are casual and wipe a lot. You can be hard-core without having to waste your sanity wrangling cats.

- "10's are easier to organize."
This is true. This is why we decided after TBC to leave behind the hardcore 25 man guilds we were leading--and all the associated drama of the cliques and bureaucracy of keeping them from tearing each others' throats out--to create a tightly knit 10-man guild instead. We have fewer cats to herd, and the cats can't hide in the background and hiss and mewl at each other over loot-greed or some perceived wrong-doing. At the same time, however, we demand a lot more out of each one of our cats, because as has been mentioned previously, one death or one mistake in a ten man is proportionate to 2.5 deaths or mistakes in a 25-man. One person has a sudden family emergency or has to work that evening, and we're down a raider.

- "10 mans are for casuals."
This is only part true: it is easier to scrape together 10 players with puggers than it is to scrape together 25, which can lead to its popularity among smaller, casual guilds. In my experience, though, the ten-man content is just as difficult and time-consuming to raid through as 25man content... if not MORE difficult in some cases (notably, Sarth10 3D). Most 25-man guilds have been shocked to find that our little 10man can easily run Sarth25 with 9-13 players, and have done Archavon25 with as few as 13. Handrel says he "...cannot stand the slow pace and amateur feel of casual, friendly, wipe-a-tronic 10 man runs." Yes, casual raids can be wipe-a-tronic. I've seen casual, friendly, wipe-a-tronic 25man guilds. It is all a factor of the skill level, dedication, and coordination among the present players, NOT the size of the raid. Ten man raiders can be just as dedicated and skilled as those in a 25man.

- "25 man loot is better because they're harder to lead."
I agree with Kring that this is not a valid arguement. Most of the people in the 25man raids show up, get loot, and go home. They can hide in the corner, slip up with mistakes, die without dire consequences, lean heavily on their fellow raiders like an unnoticed leech, and get better gear than in a ten man where such behavior would NOT go unnoticed (disclaimer: true hard-core 25mans weed out these leeches, but most 25man guilds are plagued by them, and weeding them is a never-ending fight). Only the raid leaders have to deal with the organization of (and play nanny to) the raid, not the entire raid.

-"10 man guilds can pug 25s or do joint raids with other guilds."
Been there, tried that. As soon as the other guild got enough players to field their own 25, they turned their back on us: and promptly fell apart the next day because the vast majority of the players in their new 25-man guild were slow-paced and wipetastic, and didn't have our more skilled ten-man players to hide behind anymore. We could ally ourselves to some new guild, but the whole purpose behind forming a 10-man was so that we could AVOID having to wrangle that many cats: and with an alliance, we don't have any control over the quality of the players that the other guild recruits.

- "Then recruit and run 25's yourself."
This just loops back to the first point, in that not everyone wants to deal with leading or even participating in the bureaucracy of 25man guilds. It has nothing to do with actual game mechanics, and everything to do with the fact that it IS a game and should be played for fun, not as a job to play nanny to other players. That is our choice, and we enjoy our smaller community and lack of loot drama.


If the actual difficulty level of the 25man instances was increased so that each individual player had to do more work, then I would understand the higher gear rewards. The simple fact is that the 10-mans are often equal or higher difficulty level from sheer game mechanics: fewer raid buffs from fewer raid slots, and any mistake is compounded by the proportionately smaller raid size, which are reasons given for why Sarth10 3D is widely recognized as harder than Sarth25 3D. It is this relative difficulty which makes us then wonder why the 25 man loot is better, if so many people can get that loot while slacking off. That is what is so frustrating about the situation: there is no *game mechanic* to actually separate the difficulty between 25man and 10man content to validate the gear disparity, and in some cases the 10man is even MORE difficult for less reward.

Anonymous said...

Nice post and great analysis. Quick point: everyone quotes sarth3d to make every point under the sun and I think this is unfair.

Blizzard have acknowledged recently that a 10man hard mode was not supposed to be harder than 25 man, requiring 25 man gear etc etc. Sarth3d was an experiment in hard modes; it shouldnt be used as blizzard's ultimate template to then make arguments against.

Hagu said...

I agree with this post. I think the problem may solve itself when 3.1 kills most casual guilds. People who aren't ambitious aren't really going to get geared up and the ones who are will want a guild that is doing Ulduar not working on Nax. The current situation seems to benefit no one; the elite raiders scoff at the content, and that attitude drives casuals to not be willing to grind through Nax the way they did in Kara.

Everyone I know of considers 25s easier than 10s; one person and their mistake is less vital, you can carry more undergearded/incompetent players. Plus you are much more likely to get the full complement of buffsL heroism, replenishment, BoK, BoW, etc.

I no longer see how I can claim my time online means much; even if I were to overcome the raiding obstacles, and hold my nose and do bad dragon arcades that pass themselves off as raids (I am not a fan of Blizzard and their frequently buggy vehicles), the fact of the matter is that my capabilities, talents and shot rotation are far more determined by arbitrary choices repeatedly and frequently made by some developer than by the dozens of days played I spent on my character. Blizzard has gone to great trouble to show me how ephemeral, and thus how unimportant, my toons are.

I think many casuals will do the "if I can’t improve my character, why play the game?” analysis and stop. Perhaps Blizzard reaction to that will be positive, but currently that would not be the way to bet

SneakyFox said...

@Bell In my opinion, it's pretty interesting to me that the hardest fight in-game is ten man 3D Sarth. Not 25. In 10 you have less people to cover for mistakes. If one person dies, you're down 1/10 of your raid, instead of 1/25. It would almost seem ten man are harder than 25.

This is so very true, I deal with this every week. I can go right now to my server shout for 2 minutes about a pug 25 man naxx and be good to go and finish in roughly 4 hours. The same amount of time it would take a normal 25 man guild starting out to do. Everyone gets loot, everyone gets experience and I didn't need to worry much other than which person rolled the highest for the loot that dropped.

Now on this same note, I only run guild 10 mans, Naxx for us is incredibly time vexing. I've got the same types of classes/geared people running. However I am limited to the amount of people I can rely on in the fight. The fight to keep my guildies alive is much more vexing than the 25 man I pugged just the other day.

I say all this in order to suggest that maybe the 10 man runs should be the idolized loot runs, not the 25 man (I can pick up 10 rogues/hunters and win).

Just my opinion :-)

Theawàkening said...

I hate to be the one to disagree, but I do :(

I agree in that the difficulty is not for the most part preset. The hardest thing is getting 25 people to log on. I know this because I'm an officer, and have to lay down the law on the people who'd prefer to not show up >:)

But back on track, I would like to mention that this is merely the first tier of content- the difference shouldn't be great just yet. To those of us who have raided end game content before, this is WAY to easy to conceive as even a challenge. But to those guilds, perhaps 6 months from now, they will likely have a lot of trouble with 25 man Malygos, and perhaps Naxx (though again, it's hard for me to imagine). I would say wait for Ulduar. I here things are moderately difficult here, and wickedly hard when you want it to be :)

I can't wait.

But yes, for the present, it's a dilemma of your guild's leadership isn't getting the people recruited to do 25's. A lot of truly valid concerns can come out of this! One way to help this would be to perhaps talk to them about it. Perhaps offer to help, get involved :) From agian, experience, we always love help. And when we are lacking a bit of motivation, someone stepping up can REALLY light a candle under our otherwise idling behinds! Best of luck with your guild, or if it comes to it, your future guild if you decide to move on. I advise sticking it out, and helping, but it's your own prerogative.

There's a difference between partaking in a successful guild, and helping lead it. Stress here and there, sure, but also some pride! Remember, one person in a guild, ESPECIALLY a 10 man guild, can mean ALL the difference. You put your neck out there... get some people into your guild, not necessarily raid lead, but just people, you may find yourself in a better spot then before!

But, guild leading may not be your thing, or you may simply not have the time. I hate to suggest leaving the guild, but if it comes down to it the leadership of one's guild really is absolutely vital if you want to get anywhere. Motivation has to be sustained... and when your starting as a Trade-Chat guild it's incredibly hard to get situated. Baddies need to be weeded out, people who don't log on throw wrenches into plans... it's disastrous until... it clicks.

Our guild clicked once it cleared Naxx 25 and Malygos all within one raiding day, which only lasts a few hours (less then 3 hours), then two drakes the next night.

Again, best of luck in whatever you do!
(Or transfer and heal for us!!! Haha jk)

And I apologize for this wickedly disorganized post xD

Theawàkening said...

"I agree in that the difficulty is not for the most part preset."

Wow, I have absolutely no idea what this means either.

I intended to say:
"I agree in that the difficulty for the most part is not present."

Sad face -> :(
Disconnecting keyboard now :(