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An ex-raid leader, gamer extraordinaire.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cataclysm 10M Raids & Buffs

For a while when our guild was moving to TotC 25 HM, we had an A-Team that explored TotC 10 HM to gain experience. I was de jure raid-organizer for these runs, even though the runs themselves were pretty much anarchic.

We didn't had Anub'Arak down on the second week, and tried to have a shot for some of the tribute rewards the next weeks. So we started to theorize a perfect setup that had best possible buffs. After hours of hours of discussion, drama in the guild and so, we downed it with a non-optimal setup with 45 attempts remaining (War/Pala tanks, Pala/Druid healers, Blood DK, MM Hunter, Spriest, Elemental Shaman, Mage, Boomkin).

This whole ordeal has given me an insight with the problems of 10M raid designs. Wrath's Bring the player, not the class motto pretty much works out in 25m raids, when you can cap out the raid buffs with ~15 people very very easily, and past that point, you really do bring in your best DPSers/Healers/Tanks for the job regardless of the class/spec.

My experience with 10M Hardmodes in Wrath was they weren't balanced around min-maxed groups, so pretty much a random group with a few exceptions would have a decent shot at any and all Hardmode Encounters.

When this does happen, there's a few consequences to it:

  • Shamans before anything else is the most important addition to 10M raids. Before tanks, before anything, we'd look at which shaman could make it to our raids, and compose our raids on that. When the playing ground is even, Bloodlust makes Shamans more equal among equals. Icing on the cake, their totems are absolute bonkers, and nullify the need for other classes. There is nothing a Blood/Frost DK can bring that an Enhancement Shaman can't. 
  • Retribution Paladin is the close second to Shamans. While Kings is God, it's just top of the iceberg. Replenishment, Haste, Damage, Crit Chance all are a few reasons why Retribution Paladins are gods. Now, all Wrath raids are balanced around Replenishment, so you need either a Shadow Priest or a Retri Paladin. And Shadow Priest does not compare to Reti Paladin, not even remotely closely.
  • Druids are the fail-proof additions. If you don't really care for the buffs past Replenishment and Bloodlust, each Druid is one more combat res and innervate. 
It's kind of a funny feeling that, once the ground is "level" for all classes, some classes are more equal. If you balance the raids for a DPS setting of Rogue, Survival Hunter, Frost Mage, Shadow Priest, Arms Warrior with no Restoration Shaman, then any of the classes I've listed in bulletins will make the content far, far easier. And if you balance it with at least the classes having moderate amounts of synergy together, and with Bloodlust, then it's mandatory. You just can't win this one. 

Case in point, my old DK was pulling 4.5-5k sustained DPS on Boss Dummy with no buffs and around 10k in a tank-and-spank in TotC. That's %100 damage increase. If you arrange the bosses for minimum DPS in a most most random raid setting, then for example a stacked physical DPS team (which is often the preferred medium for 10M HM raids) will absolutely destroy the setting. 

Another interesting point of Blizzard was "Making 10M just as hard as 25M". While relative DPS and HPS/Survival numbers were yes, in favor of 10Ms in Wrath, 10M HM were often much harder, at least from what was expected of a single player to do. The only reason more people did 10M HMs over 25M is logistic problems, since it's easier to find 10 people willing to go %150 than 25 people doing their %100. 

But for example, where a DPS in 25M encounter is %6-7 of the raid's damage output, a DPS in 10M was %17-18 of raid damage -a little more than a double. I remember us just giving wiping certain hardmode fights after one dps was down ~1 minute into a fight. Same as with healers -Most 10M Hardmode groups bring 2 healers to compensate steep DPS requirements, and as such, death of one healer is the loss of %50 healing on the raid. In most cases, it was just impossible to kill after a healer death (Though we did have a really uber Druid, who healed Anub P3 HM solo. That was some feat, that was something. I still have no clue how he pulled that off). 

But anyways, each healer/dpser is more responsible on 10Ms, which made most fights even harder than when compared to their 25M versions. To negate that, for example, adds-per-dps etc numbers were low and in favor of 10Ms.

Tuning it now even harder, I can see 10Ms being a retro-case of Burning Crusade, when raid-stacking was important and where 10M content (Especially Zul'Aman) was not just something that was PuGable. 

All in all, I have to say I (and most of the casual guilds strictly 10M) didn't mind to know that, yes, 10Ms were gimped, were easier on the whole and reflected the best "Bring the player, not the class" mentality. However, I'm not sure how casual crowds will reflect that, if Blizz does keep its word and make 10Ms harder, the fact that they're now wiping again for hours like a 25M guild. 

But in the end, it's always easier to find 9 more patient and sentient people to wipe with, as opposed to 24.

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