Do the new Cataclysm changes to raid composition and lockouts spell the death of the 25 man raids, much in the same way the 40 man raids died so many years ago? Well to read any of your favorite WoW forums recently you just might believe that 25 man raids are indeed singing their death rattle. But to steal a line from Lee Corso… not so fast my friends.
Lets take a minute to strip away the veneer of the vocal minority who bemoan most any dramatic game changes and peer under the hood at some details of this most recent change to raid mechanics. The easiest way to do this is to breakdown this change into its two most basic components:
Raid Lockout Changes – Moving forward 10 and 25 man raids will now share the same lockout. This means players and guilds will now choose to focus either 10 or 25 man encounters but not both. While I have little doubt that those players at the extreme upper end of the game time commitment scale will dislike these changes, for the vast majority of players this is a very welcome change.
Raid Loot – With these raid changes, 10 and 25 man raids will now drop the same loot. The only reward differences for running in a 25 man would be the amount of items dropped (obviously) and an increase in the amount of Justice points you receive.
Now let me start this analysis with a simple preface; for the majority of 25 man raiders previous to these changes, loot was not the driving force. While better loot was certainly a “nice to have” bonus, the simple fact remains that despite what you will read or see in chat, most 25 man teams raided this way because:
A) These teams had a well organized, composed and sustainable 25 man team.
B) These teams were comprised of some of the more “militant” style raiders who relished the challenge of both encounter and the team coordination.
C) The WoW community has always considered the largest size raid available in game as a “prestige” raid which is a badge of honor for many players.
Point Cap – With the conversion to Justice points comes the point cap (estimated at 4000) which becomes the great equalizer that really starts to bridge the gap from the militant hardcore and the casual to serious player. The numbers are not in yet, but I estimate that most players who log only 2 or 3 hours a night on average can now begin to keep pace with the same player logging 8 to 10 hours a day.
In the end, most players will find over time that this change is clearly for the better. The bottom line here is that, right or wrong, the game is becoming more accessible at every iteration to the “less than hardcore” players and that trend is not going to change.