Opinion, WoW

Gear pollution

Gear pollution is a concept that’s only really come into existence within the last several months of WoW’s life, as a result of (r)evolutionary changes in the philosophy behind end-game design.  But just what exactly I mean by “gear pollution” can’t be explained without going into some of the background.  So grab a cup of tea (NO YOU CAN’T USE COFFEE INSTEAD), sit back, relax and embrace the wall of text to follow.  I’m going to discuss:

  • WotLK’s implementation of multiple progression paths (with exciting charts!)
  • Some of the design factors that make raids fun
  • The benefits and problems caused by increased raid accessibility and the progression PUG phenomenon
  • The way gear is supplied through different raid sizes and difficulty settings
  • And finally, some thoughts on different approaches to solving the “problem”


Blizzard have used Wrath of the Lich King to pioneer the concept of using the same raid instance for entirely separate progression paths.  In fact, throughout this expansion they’ve been experimenting with exactly how to do this, and we’ve seen slightly different implementations with each successive raid that’s been released.

Basically, though, the original idea was to have the same raid available in two formats: 10-player and 25-player.  Each raid would contain the exact same scenery, mobs and encounters, but they’d be retuned to support the appropriate number of players.  10-mans were aimed at the “casual” crowd and 25-mans at the “hardcore”, and thus 10-man loot was a tier below 25-man loot in terms of ilevel.

However, Blizzard soon realised that there were “hardcore” 10-man raiders and “casual” 25-man raiders.  Thus patch 3.1 saw the inception of large-scale “hard mode” design, whereby you essentially had four progression paths within the raid game:

  • 10-man normal mode
  • 10-man hard mode
  • 25-man normal mode
  • 25-man hard mode

These were in addition to the non-raiding progression available through 5-mans and daily quests, which essentially constitute an extra, separate path of progression.

At first hard modes were simply extensions of the normal mode instances, but in patch 3.2 normal modes and hard modes became almost entirely decoupled – you just had to have one person in the raid complete the normal mode instance to unlock the hard version, and then you could ignore the normal version if you wanted to.

Progression paths

In The Burning Crusade, there was only one main raiding progression path, with the option to “cut in” on that path by using badges awarded from heroics or entry-level raids to gear up.

Diagram of the level 70 end-game progression path. Click for full size.

In Wrath of the Lich King, we have what are effectively three major paths and two sub-paths.  Rewards from each tier banding allow entry to the next, regardless of its path.  It’s worth noting that for most players it was possible to enter tier 7 content directly without first going through normal 5-man dungeons.

Various level 80 progression routes as of patch 3.2. Click for full size.

Thus at level 80, those who wanted to raid 25-mans could go directly into the first 25-man raid instance and then onwards through each new 25-man raid.  Those who wanted to do only 10-mans could go straight into the 10-man instance.  Those who wanted to avoid raiding could work through 5-mans.  And hard modes are completely optional, able to be entirely bypassed by normal progression if players so choose.

Incentive structure

Each path was incentivized with loot both across the way as well as down the way.  That is to say, you can get better rewards either by:

  • progressing into the next tier banding (down the chart) OR
  • progressing into the next group-size path in the same tier banding (across the chart to the right).

Furthermore, you can supplement the rewards from your present tier either by:

  • using rewards from the previous tier banding (up the chart) OR
  • using rewards from the previous group-size path in the same tier banding (left across the chart).

It’s important to note that since 3.2, emblems function as a “catch-up” device.  In each successive patch, the cutting-edge emblems from the last patch’s main raid are distributed to all existing heroics and raids, while a new cutting-edge emblem is introduced for the Daily Heroic quest and progression raids.  This means that no matter which progression path you are on or where you are in that path, you have access to gear of the quality of the penultimate raid tier, enabling you to quickly go from raiding, say, Naxxramas, to raiding Icecrown.


The advantage to Blizzard of this new method of pathing progression is that rather than having to design a separate raid for every progression path, they can instead design a single raid for all possible paths and then tune it for two different group sizes and two different difficulty settings for each size.  That saves a lot of development time which enables them to put out more content that more of the playerbase will actually experience.

However, they do still have to do work on each individual raid size and difficulty setting, which leads me to wonder if they deliberately try to maximise the saturation of each design.  I say this because presumably the more people who see each raid setting, the more economical it was to spend time and money designing it.  So perhaps Blizzard want to actively encourage people to not just stick to “their own” path, but to dabble in other paths too.  And it makes sense from a subscription point of view that, if people are finished with their chosen path for the week, they have something else to do.  Your main progression path may be 25-man normal, but if you’re bored or you’ve done as much as you can in the latest raid, you can go back and bash up the previous tier of content.  Or you can take some friends and try your hand at 10-man hard modes.  Or you can just chill out in 10-man normal.  There are a lot of options for the casual pathhopper.

And naturally, if you decide you’d like to move from one level of raiding to another, it’s very easy to do so: each separate path provides rewards which can be used to enter the next path while at the same time familiarizing you with the basic strategies of each encounter.  This makes it a lot easier for raid groups to find new members with the appropriate gear and experience.

Further design considerations

By now you all sense the “but…”, and I’m not going to disappoint!  I’m a huge fan of the way Wrath of the Lich King’s raid progression has been designed and how it manages to be both accessible and challenging.  But there is a big problem with the way progression flows right now.  Let’s look first at some of the considerations for raid designers.


The difficulty of every raid instance has to be carefully balanced.  It has to be hard enough to be challenging and fun, but easy enough to be accessible.  Most importantly, it has to be possible to beat with the gear available.  That means that every instance on the chart above was tuned, in theory*, to be appropriately difficult to people wearing gear from the previous instance.  If you have gear from Naxxramas, you should be able to progress through most of Ulduar.  If you have gear from Ulduar, you should be able to progress through the hard modes.  And so forth.

*(I say “in theory” because anyone who raided 10-man Ulduar during 3.1’s launch week will know how badly it can go wrong.)


Blizzard want players to raid.  They spend a lot of effort on the end-game and they want that to be justified.  They want players to see their content.  So “normal” (non-hardmode) raiding has to be fairly accessible.  Tier 7’s raids were very easy and accessible, as were tier 9’s.  Tier 8 was a bit harder but still allowed more casual guilds a fair bit of success.

Hard modes are a lot less accessible.  25-man hardmodes are the least accessible owing to the number of players who have to gear up and learn each fight, and because the world’s “top” guilds are 25-man raiders.  25-man hard modes have to be designed to give the most absolutely hardcore players a sense of accomplishment.  10-man hard modes, however, have to be accessible by people who find the 10-man paradigm appealing in the first place – which probably means people without a lot of free time for raiding.  I suspect 10-man hard modes are also designed to be accessible to 25-man normal raiders.


To motivate people to raid your instances, you need to reward them!  Rewards are mainly provided in the form of gear upgrades, but we can also be rewarded with achievements, special titles or vanity items like mounts.  Each raid needs to be sufficiently rewarding to entice players to enter it from the previous raid.  This rule applies, as we have noted, both on the vertical axis of the progression chart and on the horizontal axis.

As a raid group gears up, the raid content that it’s working on gets easier.  They do more damage.  They can survive taking more damage.  And they can heal up damage taken faster and keep healing for longer.  Fights get shorter and mechanics get less threatening.  The 16k-damage Lightning Nova done by Heroic Loken is lethal to a guy in ilevel 187 blues and a similarly geared healer will struggle to keep up even on anyone who survives, but the weakest progression raiders with their 22k health pools and massive HPS barely notice it.

Combined with increased experience and practice, this means that raid bosses are easier to “farm” than they are to get first kills on.  This helps the raid group move through an instance with a sense of real progression and achievement, without having to go through all the pain and effort of getting that first kill in the same circumstances every single week.

The Rub

So wherein lies the rub?   The rub lies in the interaction of these core raiding mechanics with the multi-pathed progression outlined above.

Normal-mode raids are so accessible that pretty much anyone capable of heroic instances is capable of joining a successful pick-up-group to a normal-mode raid.  This applies equally to 10-player and 25-player normal modes.  Anyone capable of completing a 10-player normal raid is also capable of completing a 25-player normal raid, and vice versa.  PUGs don’t require the same dedication, commitment and relationship building as guilds – you can join one week and forget about it the next with no consequences.  You can raid any time you can find a PUG and don’t have to stick to schedules.  PUGs are almost infinitely accessible provided you can convince the RL to invite you.  This means that anyone, at any point on any progression path, has access to the 25-man normal gear.

But because of reward considerations, 25-man normal gear is better than or equal to anything except 25-man hardmode gear.  You can be utterly incapable of killing Northrend Beasts on 10-man heroic, but you can clear 25-man Trial of the Crusader and get gear rewards that are equivalent to or better than what the 10-man hard mode would have provided.  The 10-man raider is now “polluted” by 25-man gear.

This in turn upsets balance, because now gear is seeping into the system from the right of the chart to the left.  We’ve already seen that encounters are extremely sensitive to gear.  You know how easy it was going back to Karazhan in your Tier 5, or bashing through Naxxramas in your Ulduar loot?  That’s how much easier a full tier of gear makes an instance.  And a full tier is precisely the difference between 10-man normal and 25-man normal.  If 10-man raiders are getting gear from 25-mans, they are artificially inflating their gear by an entire level of raid progression.  No wonder fights suddenly seem so much easier!

This can in turn affect the fine tuning of an instance, as it did with Ulduar-10.  Pretty much everyone on the PTR who tested the first few bosses of Ulduar-10 was in 25-man gear, many of them outfitted from the few hardmodes of the time too.  So the fights in Ulduar 10 were, on release, balanced around 25-man gear.  In fact Razorscale was, on release, balanced around a full 25-man raid – she was nerfed several days later when the developers realised that she was throwing the same number of fireballs for the same amount of damage in 10-man mode as she was in 25-man mode 😀

That’s an extreme example, but it shows how even the development of the game can be affected by this gear pollution effect.

Itemisation & Gear Pollution

Now, if you want to gear up your 25-man raid as fast as possible for 25-man hard modes, what’s an obvious source of extra gear?  10-man hardmodes!  They’re not that hard with your 25-man gear and you get extra experience of fight mechanics that you intend to tackle later on 25-man mode.  Even 10-man normal modes might help your raiders fill in a few gaps.  The hardcore 25-man raider is thus compelled to raid 10-mans too.

But it’s not just the hardcore who are affected.  10-mans have entirely separate loot tables to 25-mans.  This means that sometimes the best-in-slot items for a 25-man raider come from 10-man raids.  If you want those items, even if you’re not particularly hardcore, it seems foolish not to run 10-mans as well.  In fact the best elemental shaman options for several slots (neck, belt, ring) come from 10-man hard modes in Ulduar and Trial of the Grand Crusader.  With your 25-man gear these are far more accessible – all you need is time and 40% of your raid group to agree to come with you.  If your raid group is serious about progression within their chosen bracket, you may well be compelled to raid 10-mans to remain competitive enough for your group.

25-man raiders doing 10-mans for extra loot is so normal that we barely even give it a second thought.  But if we go the other way – 10-man raiders doing 25-mans – suddenly it seems a lot weirder.  “Strict” 10-man progression ranking sites like GuildOx disallow 10-man guilds from dabbling in 25-mans at all, yet 25-man guilds can farm 10-mans every week with no consequence to ranking.  This is, of course, because 25-man loot is so much better than equivalent 10-man loot, and thus makes 10-man raid encounters a lot easier than they would be in purely 25-man loot.  But as we’ve seen, some 10-man loot is preferable to 25-man loot, just not by so large a margin.  It’s just a lot easier to go from 25-mans to 10-mans to fill in gear gaps than to go the other direction.

And gear gaps abound in 10-man raiding.  We’ve already discussed how lacking itemisation is for elemental shamans in 10-man raiding, with entire slots having no options whatsoever in three whole tiers of content.  And elemental isn’t the only class/spec in that position.  With such gaping holes in item tables, 10-man raiders are strongly incentivized to raid 25-mans where those gaps can be filled.

But doing this throws off the balance of the 10-man encounters (and arguably the 25-man encounters too), making them too accessible, and reducing the desirability of the now inferior 10-man rewards.  The entire structure of the raid design is ruined by the gear pollution.

What can be done?

I’m not a game developer and I don’t presume to know how to fix their problems.  I tend to find it irritating more than inspiring when bloggers give their ideas on how to fix things.  So I’ll sidestep that irritation by not suggesting fixes, but wondering aloud about methods the developers may or may not be considering employing!

Should raid lockouts cover both player sizes? That’d prevent raiders using the other-sized instance without also locking them out of that week’s raiding with their guild.  Unfortunately, this means that there’s more chance your players will get bored with nothing to do outwith normal raid hours, and it doesn’t really solve the problem – you can still get gear from the other instances if you’re willing to sacrifice your week’s reset for any reason.

Should all raids use the same loot tables? Trial of the Crusader is interesting because its normal and heroic loot tables are (almost) identical, but the heroic loot is a tier higher in item level.  What if the same was done across both raid sizes?  Then there’d be no need to try and fill itemisation gaps by going “across the chart”.  Of course if you didn’t get a drop you want in your chosen raid size you might still be encouraged to go across the chart for a lower (or higher!) ilevel version instead.  And to be honest, it’s not very exciting seeing the same loot drop in hard modes that you saw on normal.

Should normal modes and hard modes share loot tables? If the loot tables were totally shared – that is, 10-man == 25-man – well, Blizzard’s never going to go for that.  They regard higher ilevel loot as an essential part of the incentive to bother with 25-mans at all.  We may, however, see 10-man normal loot and 25-man normal loot being the same items with different ilevels, much like the Trial of the Crusader normal/heroic divide.  Then 10-man hard and 25-man hard could have the same items, but again separated by a tier of ilevel.  You’d get a clear loot distinction between normal and heroic and a clear quality distinction between 10-man and 25-man.

I actually quite like the last idea, not least because it means that ridiculous situations like the difference between ToC-10 trinkets (which are utterly useless to anyone with more than 40 emblems of heroism and the time to run 5-man Trial of the Champion) compared to ToC-25 trinkets (which include a monster caster trinket that’s twice as powerful as the next best option) would be a thing of the past… but I have no idea if Blizzard has any interest in fixing this “problem”.

On the one hand, it makes 10-mans – which are meant to be the most accessible way of raiding – even more accessible and encourages people to raid more (even though they’re just seeing the same content over and over again).

On the other hand, it can potentially make content so easy and the rewards so unexciting that it’s used up too fast and raiders have no more incentive to play, and it can get raiders quickly bored with an instance if they see it multiple times a week on different size and difficulty settings.

I certainly think there’s a real problem here, and not least in the way people perceive the divide between the two sizes.  The fact that 10-mans are so much easier in 25-man loot tends to mean that 25-man raiders don’t take even hard mode 10-man raiding seriously, which causes friction in the community and leads to the 25-mans being regarded as the only “true” raiding path – which in turn heavily biases the direction of community content and theorycraft provision!  And 25-man raiders looking for a calmer existence in 10-man raiding are less likely to want to bother with content that their gear already trivialises.

So, readers: what do you think?  Is gear pollution, overall, a good thing or a bad thing?  And what might be done to address the problems that it causes?

Update: I’ve highlighted and responded to some of the comments left below in this post.



30 thoughts on “Gear pollution

  1. Bravo.

    Posted by Sinespe | December 3, 2009, 2:21 am
  2. Great post, I’d never honestly given it much thought, there not being many 10-man raid guilds on my server (Though now I realize this is probably due to the reasons you list…).

    I agree with you, the last option sounds like the best fix to the problem.

    The only other solution I can think of would be to put yet another tier in there for 10-hard, right between 25 reg and hard. But this just ends up muddling the already overcomplicated progression chart for WOTLK, and your still faced with the issue of having slightly better gear for 10-hard than you would without the pollution, (albeit to a lesser extent.)

    I just want to say I love the site, this is hands down one of the best wow blogs I’ve managed to stumble onto, despite the odd feline-fixation.

    Keep up the amazing work.

    Posted by Supersteak | December 3, 2009, 4:37 am
  3. I have to say, while I was pretty stoked in Naxxramas to be getting a cooler looking Tier 7 (which had extra dangly bits on the shoulders! \o/), and enjoyed getting a couple of pieces of T8.5 during 3.1 to make me look like a 25 man raider, I’ll ALWAYS look upon Tier 9 (and 3.2 in general) with disdain.

    No, its not because of its arbitary slight stat increases, because its consistent throughout all of the tiers of gear in WotLK.

    Its because of the LOOKs, man. Up until 3.2 you could tell at a glance who was a 25 man raider and who was a 10 man raider, and sometimes even who was a 10 man hardmode raider! Tier 9 (and all of the armor in TotC) is so homogenised in looks that its painful.

    But anyway, this is mainly about the stats, right?

    Your last option does seem incredibly appealing, and wouldn’t be terribly hard to implement in my mind, since Blizzard essentially already do it with Tier. The equip rules on trinkets like Muradin’s Spyglass from Gunship-10 in ICC even show that they can implement it while still preventing players from equipping two BiS trinkets, like many 25 man raiders currently do with their Normal/Heroc TotC25 trinkets.

    However, having a carbon copy of slightly nerfed 25 man gear as the entirety of your 10 man loot tables is pretty dangerous, as suddenly a 25 man raider’s gear can be obtained in 10 man in some shape or form, which is a step closer to why Blizzard don’t drop the same Item Level gear between 10 and 25man forms of a raid. Its taking an incentive out of 25 man raiding in giving people who want that oh-so-shiny-axe/trinket etc that same axe in a slightly easier context.

    I would say share one or two of the cornerstones of the 25 man loot (RA-AK, TRI-INKETS) so that 10 man raiders aren’t left with another Faction Champions, where a trinket will *always* drop, and people will only take that trinket for pretty obscure reasons (stacking dodge gear, or bumping up your average ilevel for vehicle encounters), while 25 man raiders will still have some element of that exclusivity of items.

    On the point of gear pollution in 10 man hardmode raiding: Do NOT limit the entirety of tier upgrades to the LAST BOSS OF THE INSTANCE (Hello Anub’arak >8<). I know I was personally a bit demoralised and slightly disenchanted with raiding at all when I learnt that Trophies of the Crusade wouldn't have a chance to drop from 10 mans (whereas they're guaranteed to drop from a boss on normal TotC25). While this is consistent with the TotGC25, where the tier tokens only drop from the Tribute Chest, I *really* don't like bottlenecking an entire level of tier into one boss (ESPECIALLY if that boss is the final boss of the instance). It feels rushed more than anything. Although I'm probably just bitter after weeks of TotGC without a tier upgrade.

    Posted by Tran | December 3, 2009, 8:03 am
  4. There is one major boon for having that stigma against 10-man raiding: when we get applicants, we can easily tell the good ones from the “I just want a stepping stone and none of the 25s will take me” apps. Of course, this can mean we go for a long dry spell without applicants, but GuildOx has helped immensely in pointing applicants to the “top” 10-man strict guilds. Several of our current raiders found Vortex through it, even when we were pretty far behind.

    I can, of course, relate to you as a blogger trying to argue gear/stat/style choices against the more popular “just raid heal” strat among druids. I do have other bloggers and guildies who help support me, but it can get quite tiring to constantly defend your stance as a 10-man raider, when you know you can step into 25 pugs and wipe the floor with those very healers who were laughing at you, while in “inferior” gear.

    My guild does take some amount of pride in taking top 2-3 dps and top heals in the VoA/Ony 25 pugs we do. In our inferior, 10-man-raid and crafted gear.

    To build on your “fix” considerations, why not combine the lock-out idea with the same gear-types? It would fix the gear holes (as well as can be done by adding more gear to each instance’s loot tables) at the same time as fix the 25’s running 10’s to add to their gear.

    On a different tangent, we have to wonder what makes a “best guild in the world” a best guild? Good players, and good progression. They are ranked by gear and amount of achievements. Why would tens not be included? Tens have some kick-ass players in them! …but you don’t see them as often because they take a special type of player: the ones who don’t care as much about being on top of everyone else, and care more about being able to progress for themselves, with a smaller community of players. These are usually burnt-out raid leaders, class leaders, officers, who have put their time into 25s and didn’t want to make herding cats their life.

    As you said, they also tend to have less available playtime, preferring not to raid 5-6 days a week as would be required to hit up both 25 AND 10-man content for true perfectionist progression 🙂

    (sorry for the long comment… but it was a long post, so fair trade? 😀 mmmm tea…)

    Posted by Kae | December 3, 2009, 2:16 pm
  5. I’m liking your last idea regarding the loot table conundrum. The ilvls are the same, and it would save the developers that much space having to design new loot (or in ToC’s case, slapping green “HEROIC LOL” text on an item and bumping the stats up).

    Also supporting the notion of different colors (if anything) for the different ilvls of tier gear. I think I’ve seen at least 3 different colors of each T10 set, so it’s doable. With all of T9 looking identical, you pretty much need Gear Score running to get an idea of who has what ilvl of T9.

    Great post, as always. 🙂

    Posted by Kazgrel | December 3, 2009, 3:20 pm
  6. I find your article very interesting, and close to heart.

    The idea of gear pollution however real it is can be viewed from different sides. From a 25man raider perspective I would welcome it. It obviously provides much more diversity in gear choices, and customizing of your character.

    I am Strict 10 man Raider in Vortex with Kae. In Vortex we don’t argue over gear, we will offer to sit out on fights and don’t think we need are better than someone else in the group. Not saying we don’t strive to be the best we can, but that gear is a means to an end.

    The accessibility of the raids both bothers me, and doesn’t. I like that more people can see the content, and in their preferred size/difficulty. It’s only that others look down upon those with lower iLevel gear. I doubt that the “top guilds” do so as much as others.

    For instance. I was chatting with someone I went to high school with having just found out he also played WoW. I told him how we’d just gotten our Glory of the Ulduar Raider (10) Drakes. He on the other hand remarked how he had it months ago, and already achieved Tribute to Mad Skill (10). He is in a 25man raiding guild. Looking up his Armory discovered that he was not close to the (25) version of either of those achievements, but clears the regular 25man content regularly.

    I was impressed regardless since I hadn’t experienced that content yet. Only issue I had was that he told me I should leave 10 man Guild so he could “carry” me through on his server. I became much less impressed after that.

    Blizzard enforces this attitude by giving the 25man raiders higher iLevel gear, and more possibilities for customizing gear. As stated, they can run 10s with ease, to fill in gear gaps. Whereas Strict 10 man guilds generally have 1 upgrade per slot.

    I’m fine with the upgrades Blizzard gives me, and complete the challenges in front of me.

    As a final note, I’d logged onto the PTR when TotC was being tested and found myself to be in complete 25 man gear. If I were to test the 10 man content how do they expect me to be giving reasonably accurate feedback?

    Posted by Ram | December 3, 2009, 5:06 pm
  7. So many long replies! I think I’ll have to do a followup post in a few days to address them all properly 🙂

    In the meantime, do keep weighing in – different perspectives are very valuable!

    Posted by Charles | December 4, 2009, 12:21 am
  8. When we have a look at loot in WotLK, there’s different stuff to look at:

    Is gear to accessible?
    -I’d say no. It’s nice if it isn’t hard for your friends to catch up to your gear level. It’s nice for inexperienced players to have some nice gear at hand while they learn to raid. I think it’s great that very good loot can be obtained through heroics and 10/25 man PuGs.

    Is the loot turn-over rate too fast?
    -Absolutely. Compared to BC, I’m not really having fun gearing my toon up. I switch gear in and out every week. Loot keeps raining down on me. I get my first pieces of 258 loot, knowing that I’m going to replace the stuff a week from now with 264 loot by probably just facerolling through content.

    If it’s too hard to get gear, players will get frustrated. If it’s too easy to get gear, people will become lazy and lose fun while gearing up their toons. My first T6 shoulder. EPIC memories! In WotLK there isn’t a single piece of loot I’ve worn for a long time or I was thrilled when I got it.

    Is there too much uniformity?
    Yes. Dalaran is pretty boring. Everyone is sporting exactly the same pixel models. In my opinion, heroic boss loot should reward distinctive loot, at least in terms of color. I just think it’s nice if gear represents your raiding achievement. And if there is some more colors/variety when looking at different characters.

    Is there a problem with people switching between 10 and 25 man content?
    That’s a hard one. What annoys me is the fact that I’ve been collecting 245 for weeks in 25 man raiding content. In a week from now, I’ll switch those pieces out for 251 loot out of 10 man content, content I’ll probably beat by rubbing my cat over the keyboard. As a 25 man raider it kinda annoys me, that I have to replace my 25 raiding loot with 10 man loot of every new raiding tier. It also feels very cheap, because we work hard for 25 man loot, most of us through a DKP system, just to then replace it with loot I get through a /roll. That’s just so cheap. I see blizzard’s problem though: If they’d make a bigger iLvL difference between 25 and 10 man loot, 25 man instances would become harder for PuGs, which isn’t in blizzard’s interest. If they’d tune iLvL, so heroic 10 man loot would be worse then 25 normal loot, strict 10 man guilds and 25 man raiders, who like to 10 man to max. out their chars would cry (10 man raiders because they don’t feel adequately rewarded for their effort, 25 man raiders because they loose a loot rewarding time sink they enjoyed) and only people like me, who don’t like the peer pressure to run 10 mans in addition to 25 mans would be happy.

    Does Drug has to say something in defense of the 25 man raiders?
    Yes he does. 25 man raiding loot has to be unique. To be honest, 25 man raiding is in a pretty difficult place like now. Many veteran players have quit the game. Many new players are very much familiar with getting a lot of loot, but not so much with wiping and 3-4 raids a week. 25 man normal raids are painfully easy and make me want to hurt myself. 25 Heroic Modes on the other hand are brutal hard and are really a testing point for every not so-hardcore guild. Loot is an incentive and it helps people getting interested in 25 man raiding. It helps us recruit.

    If 10 and 25 man normal modes would share the loot table as well as 10 and 25 man heroic modes, a lot of 25 man raiders would have to farm the 10 man heroic content to get items from the heroic loot table, because they’re most probably going to struggle with 25 man heroic content, while 10 man heroic content is trivial. This would make 10 man content, especially 10 man heroics, just too attractive.

    Posted by drug | December 4, 2009, 2:08 am
    • “I have to replace my 25 raiding loot with 10 man loot of every new raiding tier”

      Sorry, but as a 10 man raider I’m going to disagree with you here (although the rest of your points are perfectly valid!).

      25 man guilds that do heroics have never “had” to do 10 man raids at the start of a new tier cycle, they do it out of convenience for themselves (which in itself creates more nuisance in the extra effort). I’m sure that your guild would be perfectly capable of managing in ICC25 without having to have their players go into ICC10 first. At no point in my (10 man, so therefore probably narrower) opinion has raid progression for 25 man raiders “had” to involve going into the 10 man, especially if that guild has completed 25 man hard modes.

      Posted by Tran | December 4, 2009, 2:39 pm
      • Yes, the problems of gear pollution affect 25-man raiders just as much as they affect 10-man raiders. The main difference is that it’s generally seen as unacceptable for a 10-man guild to raid 25-mans to gear up for their 10-man progression, whereas it’s seen as perfectly normal for 25-man guilds to raid 10-mans to gear up for their 25-man progression. This can just about double the amount of time a 25-man guild “requires” to spend raiding – even though half that time will not be spent doing 25-mans at all.

        I personally consider that a problem, because if we had decided to raid 25-mans after The Experiment I would not have the time or energy to organise 10-mans on the side. Those folks who want to progress as fast as possible at any cost probably consider it an advantage, even though they are – if you think about it – “cheating” by using gear from another progression path.

        Posted by Charles | December 4, 2009, 3:02 pm
      • You’re absolutely right, I don’t have to raid 10 mans, but there’s many reasons why I’ll do it anyway:

        -Even if I’m in a guild that beats some heroic modes, I’m still far away from having only 258 gear. So, many 10 man raiding pieces from ICC will be very decent upgrades for me.

        -Social dynamics: Since Karazhan it’s just something you do as a 25 man raider, not showing up at any 10 man raids would make people kinda wonder if you’re really dedicated to max out your character.

        -Social dynamics2: “C’mon dude it’s only going to take an hour”.

        All this will just very often lead to me, replacing loot that cost me a lot of time and DKP for loot I’m getting through a /roll in content I’m probably totally overgearing the moment I enter for the first time.

        Because of that I’m much lest interested in getting new gear, as the line between hard-earned loot and very very easy obtainable loot became that blurry.

        I would love to skip 10 man raids, it’s just too big a time sink for me. But would 25 man loot make 10 man loot redundant, the difference between 10 and 25 man loot would too big and to be honest, a lot of 25 man raiders just love their 10 mans as little side project (especially because they can probably beat all the heroic content).

        Posted by drug | December 5, 2009, 3:10 am
  9. This is a great post! I want to raid 10mans as I enjoy them more, especially as a healer. However, the I feel like the game forces me to run 25mans because most of the time I have to if I want to upgrade my gear. I really liked the last idea you posted.

    Posted by toychristopher | December 5, 2009, 2:28 am
  10. Love the post! I really like your last idea too, though I think of it a bit differently. In my personal experience on a non-hardcore progression server (Silver Hand), and in doing plenty of PuGs (my guild does 10-mans regularly, but not bigger stuff), 25-man content is actually easier than 10-man content, because you don’t generally lose the same percentage of your raid in 25 man as you do through random attrition that you do in 10 man (e.g., given that people are human, and computers are laggy, etc., you often lose two or three to deep breaths or whelps in Onyxia–losing 3 out of 25 is OK, losing 3 out of 10, depending on who you lose, is fatal). I know that the HP is lowered, but it’s just a lot easier to carry people with less skill through 25 man content than it is 10 man content, since you’re not as intensely affected by the lowest gear/skill combo.

    So I support making them the same loot table, and letting the heroics have higher loot. People who can do that content deserve it.

    Posted by Elithrea | December 5, 2009, 4:34 am
  11. I don’t have anything more to add than what’s already been said in the post and in the comments, but I wanted to say that as a strict 10-man raider, I really enjoy people talking about this. Thanks for posting.


    Posted by Chad | December 5, 2009, 6:34 am
  12. I can easily see where you’re coming from and do agree on some points, especially that each size of raid needs to have complete support for each class. Elemental Shamans having nothing in 10 man is unfortunate! I play an Enh Shaman and the only method to get Ele gear is through 10 man raiding for me.

    However, I don’t see there being any reasonable fix that could be implemented. If each class is given ways to get gear for each progression path, then perhaps the 10 man guilds could be more strict and allow them to get “World Firsts”, just as any 25 man.

    Posted by Seth | December 5, 2009, 8:24 am
  13. As a 10 man raider who helps out with the occasional 25 I agree with almost everything in this post.

    I find the poorer 10 man itemization annoying, the 25 man elitism frustrating and hate the fact that my 10 man achievements feel belittled because 25 raiders can rock in and clear the same stuff with far less effort effort.

    Posted by Goggle | December 5, 2009, 9:38 am
  14. Dude. Awsome post! And I think my guild a is victom of Gear Pollution. We are a raiding social guild (that hides a hard-core ten man team of about 15), however with 3.2 we have found that we are running a ToC10 every night and are now clearing ToC25 as a guild. Both unthinking about during 3.1

    I think this has been brought about by Emblem itemised at ilevel 245. A couple of these make massive differences to 10 man. Although we did clear ToC10 in the first week it opened (but where not talking about that ^^)

    We are now are trying to get our ‘social raiders’ to go back to Ulduar and get some of those Best in Slot items, however the mentality to win in ToC is vastly different from the effort required in Ulduar. So that isn’t going so well.

    I personally like loots of different so I am not really a fan of ‘heroic’ versions of loot.

    But I am not a fan of the T9 ‘freebie’ gear reset either that effectively means you don’t need to into Naxx or Ulduar. I am very interested int T10 mixed approached and hope it goes a little smoother.

    Posted by Skem | December 5, 2009, 3:30 pm
  15. “Normal-mode raids are so accessible that pretty much anyone capable of heroic instances is capable of joining a successful pick-up-group to a normal-mode raid.”

    That may be true if you are DPS. But for tanks (and probably healers) the only way you can get in a 10-man PuG is to start your own. People leading the PuG raids insist that tanks be overgeared, already know the fights inside and out, and already have the achievements. As a “casual” tank in a small non-raiding guild, the barrier to entry for 10-man PuG raiding it HUGE. Nobody is willing to help you learn the fights. One wipe and you’re either booted or the raid falls apart when people who “have better things to do than wipe” leave the raid.

    It’s really depressing and makes a lot of people totally give up on the idea of raiding at all. I never made it through SCC or the Eye, and never even stepped foot inside Hyjal, Black Temple, or the Sunwell at level 70 and I seriously doubt I’ll ever see more than the first few bosses in Ulduar or any of ICC until I’m well past 80. In my opinion, THIS is the real problem that Blizzard needs to do something about.

    Posted by tankadin | December 31, 2009, 6:46 am


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