As Blizzard announced last week, every WotLK raid will have a small-raid (10-man) option.
So if there are (guessing) four endgame raids at launch, each will have a 10 and 25 man version, creating a completely parallel path to the current 25-man raiding standard. Every subsequent patched-in raid will follow the same design. No more of this “two raids for small group raiding, eight raids for big group raiding”. All 10-man raids will be able to physically visit every raid instance, see every boss, gear up and progress along a similar path, and ultimately see the entire expansion.
This is like ice cream in digital form. Strike that, this is like a pack of ice cream wolves wearing ice cream shoulder-cannons running through the streets, shooting ice cream fireworks everywhere. This is simply the best news since the game was released.
This raid design change is a much, much larger change than shrinking large-group raids from 40-man to 25-man. This is huge. This is an attempt to change everything about endgame raiding, not just the encounter size. And although I know that my little essays are read by beautiful and intelligent people, and I know that Blizzard didn’t read my post on raid sizes, but… It’s just absurdly freakish that they’re doing exactly what I wished for, even though I didn’t think they would until WoW2. (That alone made me feel weird while writing this. If you’re reading, I love you too, Blizzard.)
I strongly suspect that this will create interesting (and for my guild, extremely welcome) social repercussions throughout endgame raiding culture. Mainly because the loot still won’t be the same. The 25-man versions will probably be a half-tier or full-tier higher than the 10-man versions. Oh no!
But really, who cares? This is good news for everyone involved, both large-group and small-group raiders. For my guild, if you’re the kind of person who absolutely needs the best loot, then neither of us is going to get what we want by you being a member of my guild. Yay! We’re filtering each other out! What difference does it make that my EndgameA loot isn’t as good as a parallel EndgameA loot? They both allow access to our next EndgameB. That’s it. That’s the whole game. Small-group raids can basically ignore 25-man raiding now, as they only have better loot, and not more encounters, more story, or more of anything except people.
But what about the “10-man is normal mode, 25-man is heroic mode” stigma? We’ll encourage it. Please, fictional-Mike, go swim through the constant churn and drama that is the hardcore raiding guild experience and leave my happy small-group guild and all those like it alone. We’re not hardcore enough for you, and we wish you luck and good fortune.
My guild will just continue on in our own little raiding utopia, recruiting friendly people and continuing to have fun. Except this time, we’ll be running all the content in the game. We don’t have to choose between social and exploration any more. We’ll see the final boss of WotLK. We’ll see the conclusion of every story thread.
Great days are ahead!