What is in a raid? My take on the ’40 man raids are too big’ topic.

14 Jan

Hola. So lately in a couple of places I’ve noticed some people ranting about the fact that Wildstar has 40 man raids and that 40 man raids are a problem. This is a point I completely disagree with as a veteran MMO player, a ‘hardcore’ gamer, a former raid leader, and a former guild recruitment officer. A reddit user posted a breakdown of his disagreements which pretty much air all the common complaints about larger raid sizes. I’m going to break that post down point by point and present counter points here as my base. I’ll then probably add to it.

“Headache for leaders: You will certainly find people to lead any guild, but a 40 man raid poses a lot of logistical problems. It MANDATES a guild leader and officers (plus maybe even role/class leaders), and for these people, the headache of dealing with drama due to sitting people, helping bad players improve, recruiting, etc, can be very burdensome. It turns the game into the a job, and expedites burn-out. In a 10 man, on the other hand, you can avoid ANY structure (other than needing a guild leader just for in-game UI purposes) and be just fine… just a group of friends having fun.”

This is partially true and partially hyperbole. The leadership of a large raiding guild does have to deal with some headaches outside of the raids. Note that I said outside of the raids. During raid time this sort of thing shouldn’t be coming up in a content pushing raiding guild. These things are handled outside of raid hours on the leadership’s own time. Many people in the leadership of larger guilds actually enjoy some of this. Myself as an example, I actually really enjoyed guild recruiting. Talking to new people and going over applications was something I found fun for various reasons (some worse than others 😉 ). If this is such a huge problem that it becomes burdensome inside of a raiding instance then the problem isn’t how many people it takes for you to fill the raid, it is your organization as an entity. Though the point that you don’t need any structure for 10 friends playing the game together is true, 10 man (and even 25 man) instances have always felt less epic and grand in comparison (I’ll touch on this more later).

“Cliques: Invariably, in order to find 50+ strangers (can’t just have 40, what if people don’t show? RL happens) who can make 80%+ of raids at a given time, you’re going to have cliques form. Not everyone will get along, and at it’s worst flat out fighting, ultimatums, and general bitchiness will ensue. This was even a problem in every 25 man guild I was in during my time in WoW (which included very high-end and successful guilds like Eternal Reign, Vis Maior, and Cuties Only). Unfortunately, given that you need the bodies to field this number, you can’t be picky.”

This was only ever a problem in ONE guild I was in. And this one guild cultivated drama like it was a prized crop. A normal content pushing raiding guild are all striving for a singular goal. People in guilds like this often all become friends very quickly and bond through the trials of raiding. So there will absolutely be a clique. However, the clique will encompass the vast majority of the guild’s raiding force and integrating into the clique is always easy. You just hang out with the guild, you show up to raids, and you contribute like everyone else does. The only time this might be a problem for someone is if they can’t integrate with a group of people and don’t become part of the guild culture. You don’t join a guild JUST to punch dragons. You join a guild to punch dragons with like minded people that you can get along with while trying your best to perform. You push the guild forward and the guild pushes you forward, and as such you become a member of the guild clique so to speak. If this becomes a huge problem in some way then it is something that the guild’s leadership needs to handle. This is part of building the guild foundation and is actually good for a guild’s natural progress and moral.

Loot: Related somewhat to Cliques because in a smaller raid size (like 10) people can just be friendly and pass to those who need, otherwise use random roll. Not so in a 40 man raid! The time it takes to do loot, both inside and outside raids, can be huge. It was not uncommon to spend 10+ minutes for 3 items off a raid boss with only 25 people. In classic WoW 40 mans with only 2 drops, it occasionally took 30 MINUTES.

I have never been in a guild that took 30 minutes for an item that wasn’t a legendary. I don’t really understand how this could be a problem. While leaders handle loot, other leaders should be continuing the raid. This is literally how every guild I’ve ever been in handles this. The only time sink I could see outside of raids is the need to record who showed up for raids if you’re using a point system. This just seems really hyperbole.

Your fond memories betray you: A lot of people look at classic and TBC raids as the “golden age” of raiding in WoW. Boy did you guys sure forget a lot. Your golden age was more likely attributed to the fun of your first raids with a new guild. You don’t remember the 30 good players carrying the 10 terribads (though if you were one of these, you may not have realized what was happening). You don’t remember the pain the leaders and officers had to deal with. You don’t remember the endless pain of doing a key run for the 1000000th time for the damn new guy who was too lazy to pug it. You don’t remember how ineffective most raiding specs were because it’s hard enough to balance once spec for each class among other classes, let alone every single one (something WoW still hasn’t perfected). The need to stack is amplified in 40 man raids and made more painful. Who remembers needing 8 warriors for Four Horsemen in classic Naxx? I do. It was a massive pain. I’m not saying the devs will intentionally design a fight like this, but there may be a class that just excells at a certain fight (looking at Engineer tanks as a definite pain point there; being able to tank from range may allow them to cheese many mechanics)

Classic and BC raids were definitely the golden age of raiding in WoW. This golden age for me was attributed to the fact that the fights were larger in scale, tougher, and all felt pretty well designed. There wasn’t a single painful key run in WoW. So you had to run some bloke down an instance before a raid started. That took what, an hour? I played Everquest. Getting raid keys sometimes took weeks. I was personally fine with off-spec stuff not being raid viable in vanilla. I was also fine when they became more viable in BC. This is another point I don’t see being a ‘pain.’ The whole ’30 players carrying 10 baddies’ thing really just depended on the guild. A lot of more casual guilds had to take this approach just to fill numbers. It may be a thing that happens to some guilds in Wildstar. 25 man raids can be exactly the same though. 20 people carrying 5 derps etc. This is, again, more of an issue with how people organize the guild. I do remember the Four Horsemen fight as well, and I totally agree with you that the fight was retarded because you needed 8 well geared warriors. That isn’t really the fault of the raid requiring 40 members though, that is the fault of designers making a dumb decision.

Forming new Guilds: This is going to impact Wildstar heavily at launch. Lets look at some other, major MMOs that are currently out and have successful raiding. WoW: moving to 20 man likely before Wildstar launch, 10 or 25 right now. SWTOR: 8 to 16 man. Rift: 20 man. No existing, large-scale MMO has this raid size, which means either merging or mass recruitment. Neither are pleasant for anyone. The former leads to political power struggles and disagreements, and the latter leads to players disliking one another because you had to settle on player X due to the fact that they could make your raid times.

This is a pretty good point. Players aren’t used to recruiting at this level, and even any guild that moves over will have to recruit the extra player base. I disagree with the point that a guild has to do some sort of unpleasant recruitment method. We’re far enough out from the first bit of raiding content right now that if a guild wants to go in at launch they’ve got plenty of time to recruit quality players via the community. There are guilds that are doing this. I happen to be a member of one such guild myself. Guilds don’t need to mass recruit random warm bodies right this very minute in order to raid in a few months. They can still be selective.

I do totally agree that mergers fucking suck though. Having gone through two I can confirm that fuck that noise. The guild is always an organizational cluster fuck until it eventually bombs or one side just leaves.

Telegraphs: This is of course specific to Wildstar. I know you can chose to turn off certain telegraphs, but often these include vital information. Just looking at PvP matches and dungeon gameplay, I can see this spiraling out of control in 40 mans (and a likely reason why we haven’t seen any raids yet, as they are trying to figure this out). I love the idea, but tanks are going to need to see boss and healer telegraphs for example; with 6-10 healers in a 40 man raid, how are you going to figure out which heal is which? If you have to pick which one to run/dodge to, how can you make the kind of split-second decision with a green/red clusterf*** on the floor?

I don’t really have a good response for that. Though 6-10 healers in a 40 man raid sounds a bit excessive. This is something that there isn’t much information about, and could very well come down to player skill and Carbine’s design choices. There are way too many unknowns here for me to begin to speculate.

So that was everything from the reddit post. I know a lot of the fears of more people in raiding come from people worrying about drama. Drama is always an organizational issue. Guilds need to learn to stop drama at their roots if they want it to not be a problem. This is often on an individual to individual basis. I’ve never seen a mass scale drama issue that wasn’t because of a guild merger or something. Drama is only a problem is an organization lets it be a problem.

Another thought is that larger raids are easier. I don’t really understand this though. Some people seem to think that with more people there is a larger margin of error. I can’t think of a single instance where this was true. The most difficult raid bosses I’ve encounter have all been in a 40+ raid with the exception of just a couple that were 25 mans (Lady Vaashj and No Light Yogg’Saron come to mind). The reason raid groups because smaller had nothing to do with difficulty and everything to do with making raiding more accessible and easy for your average raider to overcome.

Raiding isn’t something that everyone can do. It shouldn’t be something that everyone can do. Some people just can’t put in the effort. There is nothing inherently wrong with that train of thought. If you can’t put the time into an MMO but get upset when you’re not geared or good enough for raiding then the MMO genre probably isn’t for you. There are tons of non-MMO RPG games that can give you that, such as Diablo or the Elder Scrolls Series. MMOs are different in the fact that just because you buy the game doesn’t mean you can see all of the content just because. You should have to build your skills as a player in order to accomplish raiding feats. And as such, the 40 man raids should see the best rewards, and only the 40 man raids. Why should someone that didn’t put in as much work get an equal reward? That just doesn’t make sense to me.

Scale is also something that seems to be better the larger the raiding force goes. In Everquest, some of the best raiding was on a huge scale (Planes of Power, Shadows of Luclin, Scars of Velious). You were fighting massive gods, or clearing out huge dungeons. This is something that has more-or-less died in current MMOs. 40 man raids retained a lot of this in WoW. The majority of the fights didn’t quite have the epic feel of the larger Everquest fights, but some of them still retained that feel (Ragnaros, Twin Emps, C’thun, most of the Naxx40 end bosses). Scale just makes shit feel more epic, and I’m personally hoping Wildstar brings that feeling back to me for raiding.

Just to conclude the random rant: I’ve always enjoyed larger scale raiding and all the challenges it brought. I hope the goal with Wildstar raiding is to bring back those challenges to core raiders and not attempt to cater to every single player so that they have the notion that anyone should be able to clear the most rewarding content. It should be reserved for the players that put forth effort and shouldn’t be attainable by minimal effort or mindless grinding.

Think my opinion is shit? Want to respond? Feel free! Tweet at me, e-mail me, or comment below and I’ll do my best to respond 🙂

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Posted by on January 14, 2014 in Gaming


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