Monday, May 12, 2008

Will Raiding in WotLK end Guild Hopping?

Well Blizzard had been hearing about some of the early hype for Age of Conan and thought this might be a good time to remind people that they also have a new game coming out soon. This was the flood of information that we were waiting on. Very few details had been given about the expansion before this point and I had theorized in an earlier post that Blizzard was probably saving a couple of big selling points. I was expecting these revelations during a press event like Blizzcon or the Paris Invitational but obviously Blizzard feels that even the unproven Age of Conan might be able to steal some customers before the expansion is ready. This unfortunately hints that it might be awhile before Wraith of the Lich King releases but at least we now know a bit more about the game.

The overall news is very exciting and contained information about death knights, zones, and instances in Wrath of the Lich King. If you want to know all the details then I suggest looking at which went through a frenzy of posts last Friday (May 9th). I was mostly interested in the information related to Blizzard opening up raid instances to more casual players. It hints that maybe they have actually been listening to us when we talk about how much we dislike not being able to see all the raid content. One of the constant problems I have with World of Warcraft was that the end game was really ruined for casual guilds because of guild hopping. There are feeder guilds which do Karazhan and Gruul and they almost never progress to the next tier because they are constantly losing players to the higher end guilds.

It seems every guild I've been in during the Burning Crusade has either been forced to merge or break up because of guild hopping. Most guilds that progressed through the Karazhan/Gruul hump were those that required raid attendance and were less "fair" on their loot distribution. This usually meant main tanks and people with perfect attendance had priority over other players despite any sort of DKP system. I consider this a fair description of a hardcore guild and I had enough of that kind of shenanigans back in the days of Everquest. When guilds go hardcore they tend to leave the people with less time behind and start recruiting other players who want to progress and have time to spare. This is what is responsible for guild hopping and it really prevents World of Warcraft from having a casual PvE end game.

That's why the changes to raiding in Wrath of the Lich King are going to have such an impact. I'll go ahead and list the ones I'm talking about just in case this is the first you've heard about them.

1) Raid Dungeons will have a 10-man and 25-man setting with different lockout timers
2) The 10-man loot tables will be a tier below the 25-man loot tables
3) A new token system like Badges of Justice will also be used

The first thing to notice is the that the different timers between the 10-man and 25-man versions should allow guilds to more easily help new members gear themselves up. Plus players will be able to gain valuable experience in the 10-man version which will help when the entire guild tries out the larger version. There still might be problems with different 10-man "teams" in a guild having different success rates. In Karazhan this was a major source of guild hopping since there was often a single A team which could clear the zone with no problems while the guild as a whole was unable to defeat Gruul. This new system should make it easier for a guild to break the 25-man barrier since the 10-man version can basically be used as training.

The loot tables also seem fair with the 10-man version being a tier below the 25-man ones. This should also help in situations where a guild has moved onto a new dungeon but you are still missing an item you really wanted. You can simply do the 10-man version of the new raid dungeon to complete your set. I'm not sure if the loot tables for the 10-man versions are exact copies of the previous 25-man instance but it would make sense. I'm sure the progression will look something like this.

Probably Loot Progression

Raid Instance1(10-man): Loot Table 1 (5-man Heroic Epics)
Raid Instance1(25-man): Loot Table 2 (Tier 1)
Raid Instance2(10-man): Loot Table 2 (Tier 1)
Raid Instance2(25-man): Loot Table 3 (Tier 2)

It’s also nice to see the returning of the token system since Badges of Justice have really kept the instances alive in the Burning Crusade. Without Heroics and Badges of Justice I'm sure almost no one would be running the single group instances anymore. It will be interesting to see how they decide to award tokens in Wrath of the Lich King. It’s almost guaranteed that the 10-man versions will award less than the 25-man versions. I would expect a single token from bosses in a 10-man instance versus two tokens from bosses in the corresponding 25-man version. Still what will Blizzard do about the higher end raid instances? Will the 10-man version of the highest tier raid instance drop less tokens then the beginner 25-man raid instance? It may be a minor point but small guilds might depend on token gear to fill out gear gaps before they jump to the next 10 man instance.

Despite minor details like how tokens are awarded the majority of these raid changes are going to make it much easier for guilds to progress through content without having to impose "job like" restrictions on their members. If Blizzard does a very good job of balancing the content it should even be possible for small guilds of 15-20 to progress through all of the raid content just by doing the 10-man raid instances. Some have reservations about this and think it might affect the number of people who run the 25-man versions but in general I think it's just going to enable casual guilds to actually see all of the content in the game. It's often been said that most people guild hop just to see new content and only mildly care about gear upgrades. If this is true then these changes should do a good job of eliminating guild instability in World of Warcraft.


Shalkis said...

As long as the gear dropped is random, there will be people who progress faster than others. And some of them will hop into a different guild the moment they have their "dream" gear for that tier.

Oh, and about that gear/dungeon progression.. I think it'll go something like this:

raid1(10-man): tier 7
Arthas(10-man): tier x
Arthas(25-man): tier x+1

Why go back to wipe in a dungeon you've seen already when you can get the same gear from a new interesting dungeon with less effort?

Viet said...

I was thinking the same thing. It would be easier to stick to 10-mans and continually get better gear than wipe in 25 mans.

Now this can be countered if they release raid content very slowly, so that there is plenty of time (i know, very subjective) to gear up (and show off) in the 25 mans before the next raid opens up.

But then the ultra hardcore guilds would scream "boring!" in the 1st month of release.

Anonymous said...

I don't normally like being picky, but it's Wrath of the Lich King, not Wraith. A wraith is a ghost, wrath probably means he is angry about something, most likely having to share his personality with someone else. Or maybe he has unpleasant body odor from sitting on that throne for so long, who knows? I know I'd be annoyed if I was stuck at the North Pole and didn't even have any elves to make toys for me.

Relmstein said...

I'm hoping that Blizzard restarts the numbering on the tiers over again since I never want to have to say "Man tier 15 looks like crap."

It will be easier to just stick with the 10 mans. So easy in fact that casuals might actually be able to progress through raid content. Hardcore raiders can do the 25 mans and be ahead on the gear curve.

Wraith of the Lich King is actually the third expansion that takes place after Arthas has been killed. It's just like the 2nd expansion with no new content except that every mob is a insubstantial shadowy figure that drops no loot. You can however play as goblins so people will still buy it.

Anonymous said...

I've seen a ton of QQ by 25 man progression guilds about this. Behind a lot of elitist remarks, I think they are seeing this as the severe blow it will be to their guilds. One of the biggest problems these guilds have is player burnout from the 4 night/4 hour runs with mandatory attendance. This has always been filled by smaller guilds.

I think this is about to change. No longer will they be able to lure people away from casual guilds with the carrot of being able to see all of the games content. With a solid 10 man progression path, people will be able to form one group of close friends and experience the whole game. Who cares if a boss has a couple of different abilities in 25 man, who cares if the loot is one tier higher when the loot you are getting is enough for your progression path. No longer will you have to leave all your friends and guildies that you leveled with to go join 24 strangers so you can see the next raid.

IMO, there will be just a very few 25 man raid guilds left. These will be comprised of people who want to be world firsts, people who only care about bragging that their gear is better than someone else, or a few people who feel compelled to try and beat the hardest a game has.

Rhey said...

Play as Goblin? hell yeah i'd buy that.

Thallian said...

my answer to the title is NO :P but it should mitigate it some :)

Anonymous said...

What seems to have happened with the new expansion release is yes more casual guilds can raid and see the end game content but along came the pug raids for both 10 and 25 man raids and also to add to the mess high level guilds are inviting pugs as they have nothing else to do.
So players pug raids clear all the instance with zero wipes go back to there own guilds and moan pugs seem better then our own guild runs.
This for me will see the breakup of many guilds in wotlk as more and more people pug raids.
welcome to pug wars