Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
 
Elitist Jerks on raid size

As you might guess from the name Elitist Jerks is not a site promoting casual gameplay. So I was a bit surprised about this article on raid sizes, which is a very reasonable and well thought out analysis of the subject. And I admit that I was one of many who thought that a 25-man raid would be more casual player friendly than a 40-man raid, and got proven wrong by BC.

Good quote on why this could be: Perhaps it is more difficult to design encounters where each player is now twice as important – perhaps further segregating skill and execution level amongst diverse raid guilds. Especially when there are no "easy" raid dungeons around for the other half who isn't as good in "skill and execution".

Also there is a surprisingly honest quote about what this skill and execution really is, and why it is hard: At some point ... skill becomes a non issue – and “knowledge” is all a small gifted guild really needs. If walking in a circle was the only execution based element to a fight, it would be soloed 90% of the time by a single player. But have 40 people doing this in concert, and you have one of the hardest fights in the game (Thaddius – uh oh, time for a graph… 0.9^40!). The concerto of players, and the potential elements of larger numbers must be a factor in this simplicity. 0.9^40 is just over 1%, so any activity that could succeed 90% of the time, if you require 40 people to do them at once lowers your success chance to 1%. With 25 players you have a 7% chance of success, which suggests that a 25-man raid would be easier than a 40-man raid. But in fact in a 40-man raid there were probably only around 25 people or less who actually were required to execute perfectly, the rest was slack. And as the slack could add or take over a function of somebody absolutely required, 40-man raids were easier than 25-man raids now. The "slack" is necessary, because you can't exclude the possibility of somebody having a sudden Real Life ® interruption or losing connection. If one priest in a MC raid got disconnected, the rest could continue. If one priest in a Karazhan raid gets disconnected, the others wipe.

The only way to make 25-man raids more casual player friendly would be to make them easier, so that they *could* be done by 15 perfectly focused players, and the average guild can go there with 15 reasonably focused players and 10 not-totally-necessary players as backup.
Comments:
EJ plays on my old WoW server.. Mal'Ganis. They used to be one of the premier sources we used for some of our information for raids. Good information here.
 
i think the raid-size doesn't matter but i agree a raid should be allowed to have "slackers" in the raid.

imho, there should be at least 50% hardcore people and not 100%.
so karazhan sucks pretty hard in that objective.

think further in that aspect, and combining it with gut-feeling i think you should have 20%-35% of slackers in your raid with 20% leaning towards small raid, and 35% leaning towards big raids (with 40man is about the maximum size of a raid, since it's researched that 1 person can lead about 40people tops)
 
The EJ forums are such a breath of fresh air.

I'm a bit conflicted with the idea that they should be designing encounters with the idea that you're saddling yourself with players who just don't know what they're doing. I get that it stinks if a player disconnects and it wipes you, but is it really asking so much that each person in the raid actually pays attention?

Personally, I miss 40 man raids just for the socialization factor. That was my main concern when they started bringing the raid sizes down and it still doesn't feel right to me. I feel like there's a lot more people I should be chatting with as we puzzle through new (to us) content.
 
Very apt comment at the end there Tobold. I wonder if thats what Bliz is thinking with the retuning of dungeons at 2.1 as it seems like a big pendulum shift in some areas. Just hope they dont make it too easy...
 
It's not that you are saddling yourself. Everyone has a bad day, or a bad connection, or RL distraction in the background. There needs to be a buffer for mistakes (in games). This isn't a real job.

It is near impossible to find and keep 10 or 25 people that are at the top of their game and gear to play at the same time, regularly.

I'm all for skillful play... but I want to unwind playing a game. If it becomes too stressful or cumbersome, I'll quit, move on to something else.
 
I enjoy reading the EJ forums... right now I'm on a break from both WoW and LOTRO and I still pop over there every couple of days when I have a half hour to kill. I think it satisfies my inner number-cruncher.

Someone (I think on EJ) suggested bumping heroics to 10 man and karazahn to 15 man. Maybe that's a bit excessive, but it's a good idea in terms of steps to take. Nothing wrong with having one or two of the top raids demand peak performance from pretty much anyone, but definitely a problem having all of the raids demand top performance.

Another thing that was pointed out is the prevalence of hard enrage timers in the expansion. Added to a complicated fight, they really eliminate the margin for error. Lose 1-2/25 players in the first couple of minutes? Congrats, your raid is going to wipe because they can't beat the timer. Rather than trying to kill a boss you are trying to stay alive while dpsing/healing/tanking/ccing something. It's a subtle psychological shift, I think.
 
It's not that you are saddling yourself. Everyone has a bad day, or a bad connection, or RL distraction in the background. There needs to be a buffer for mistakes (in games). This isn't a real job.

But there is a buffer. It's just not a 30% buffer like it used to be. It's a lot closer to 10% now, which should certainly account for bad days/connections/whatever. People pretending that the encounters are so taxing that you need every single person operating at 100% are just exaggerating to try and prove their point.

The other day in Kara, our MT lost connection right as we pulled one of the harder trash pulls in the instance. Our off tank stepped in (and he was the only other raid member capable of tanking) grabbed both mobs and we coordinated the increased need for healing over Vent while DPS focused the first target down as quickly as possible. We lost nobody, and that was after a bad connection robbed us of one of the most important people in the raid.

I don't say that because my guild is so great. I say that because we're decent players and Blizzard didn't design the encounters so that the loss of anybody is terminal. That's just not the truth, outside of possibly Heroics which I don't believe they can avoid how critical each person is.
 
@Albatros:

what about people, who don´t want to, or cannot use Vent/Teamspeak? try to coordinate the loss of the MT regarding healing in raidchat, while in Kara. Though i think that a wipe because the MT lost his his connection is no design flaw, but i think a wipe, because a DPS class or one healer has an unstable con, is a design flaw. Or the lack of a near perfect setup for Kara makes it impossible to even start a Raid (this is for non "hardcore" AQ40/Naxx battlehardened Raiders)

We will see what 2.1 will bring.
 
Tanks are the outlyer when it comes to WoW classes which is really a major design/balance flaw(imo). Healers suffer from a very similiar problem, except shadowpriest can shell out decent dps (so unless your shadowpriest, same applies).

The big picture of WoW is that raiding requires ranged dps and the fact that the ranged dps are very squishy hardly matters when you can chokepoint all the mobs/boss damage to a tank is a very restrictive approach to designing raid groups. There is very little variance when balancing tank/heal/dps proportions for a raid.

Melee classes that are good at DPS? --completeley screwed by this raid design... hybrid talent builds -- dont offer "ideal" emphasis towards the tank/heal/dps triad and usually are left behind as well. So where does this lead players, gameplay-wise? --cookie cutter raids and cookie cutter builds... lame, specially for a casual player who would rather not play what some forum says they should make.
 
I'm a bit conflicted with the idea that they should be designing encounters with the idea that you're saddling yourself with players who just don't know what they're doing. I get that it stinks if a player disconnects and it wipes you, but is it really asking so much that each person in the raid actually pays attention?

No, but, particularly in 40 mans, most guilds never had a consistent same 40 that were there all the time. There were always inexperienced people coming through the ranks, so having that bit of leeway was good. It did not halt progression too much and it gave new people time to work into their role.

I think the non hardcores that actually kept their head before the expansion know that the only thing 25 mans would do that 40's didnt was provide the opportunity for more people to see raid content while not necessarily providing success. You still need very dedicated people for raiding as you always have.
 
Very apt comment at the end there Tobold. I wonder if thats what Bliz is thinking with the retuning of dungeons at 2.1 as it seems like a big pendulum shift in some areas. Just hope they dont make it too easy...

Officially the retuning is due to the Alchemy changes, though with the news that there is potentially more raid content to come in BC past BT/Hyjal, it is also a good time for them to retune the lower raid instances to that more people can quickly progress through them, so that even semi hardcore guilds can be at or near Black Temple by the time the next raid appears.

Personally i do not think we need any more raid instances past BT and Hyjal, unless the next expansion is still a year or more away. It is almost certain that their non raid content is going to be consumed by most people far faster than BT will be.
 
They don't have to redesign anything. Just allow 40 people inside the 25man and voilá you can have 25 hardcore and 15 slackers again... Maybe set back the HP of Gruul just to be fair.
 
I agree with the issue of slack. The biggest problem I had with raiding now verses before was then you could start a raid going with say 30-35 (80-90%) and wait for people to get home from work, dinner and still start clearing. Even if you had all 40 there, someone could go on follow; take a break, grab a snack, grab the phone, help out kids/siblings, whatever.

Now, because of the respawn timers, and how much attention is needed there's no time for a break, and everyone needed to be paying attention. You can't easily take 5-10 minutes, because you're running on a fast timer. You can't go on follow (if you're a healer/tank especially) cause you'll hold everyone else up.

I 'need' a few minutes break every half hour or so or I feel sick staring at a computer. I get it at work, I get it when I'm playing other games, I get it soloing, I got it back in the old raid game. That's why I could not play the new raid game, because I did it one time, got back and I was the only resser alive.
 
It's sad though that later in the thread folks got flamed for trying to continue the discussion. It's not just the difficulty and slack factor as some have pointed out but also the logistics of running parallel Karazhans and the 10<->25 mismatch. On top of that the attunements which involves considerably more effort than previously. In terms of difficulty they can be rather hefty (Trials of Naaru: Mercy was mentioned). One has to get the whole raid group through this heroic 5-man content so that folks can progress into the next instance. So there is another 25->5->25 squeeze.

But people who have said that have since been branded whiners on the EJ forum, which is kind of bad because it's a pertinent issue for a lot of people.

I'm still dumbfounded why Blizzard decided to make the raiding game so much less approachable for the more relaxed raiders, who did just fine in the original game.
 
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