Raid Refinements and Badge Changes

Lots of information revolving around how World of Warcraft’s key systems will change after Cataclysm is being released and it’s a lot to take in all at once.  Almost all of it is major and it is likely to impact you regardless of how you play the game.  These changes aren’t just for the eyes of WoW players either.  Think of these changes as a potential next step for current and future games.  When one competitor makes a change or addition in any market, the rest are sure to react in some way.

The big changes that I’m going to talk about in this entry are “Cataclysm Raid Progression Refinements” and “Badge and PvP Point Changes“.

Raid Progression Refinements can be summed up very quickly by simply stating the following:  10 and 25-man raids will be identical in difficulty and the loot that drops in them will all be the same.  You can kill a boss, whether or 10 or 25, ONCE per week meaning that you can really only run a 10 man or a 25 man.  The only difference is that the 25 will drop more (quantity) loot.   Within the raid you can choose to difficulty of each boss to be heroic or normal and it appears that this can be evaluated on a boss to boss basis.

I think it’s a great change, but some may not.  Regardless of which side you’re on, it’s very clear that this change does indeed favor those who are not currently able to field the 25-man raids.  Those who are currently able to be better than others are being brought down a peg.  This system favors accessibility and the average joe.  As I stated before, I like the change.  First and foremost I like it because I benefit from it.  It will be easier for me to get a group because there will be less exclusivity.  My guild, currently in 10-man content, can now be just as good as that guild running 25-man content and I don’t have to feel like I’m slightly inferior simply because I have less people (in reality, I feel the 10’s are harder than the 25’s anyway).

Blizzard is also taking the raids and making them even more accessible by making them smaller.

“Instead of one raid with eleven bosses, you might have a five-boss raid as well as a six-boss raid. All of these bosses would drop the same item level gear, but the dungeons themselves being different environments will provide some variety in location and visual style, as well as separate raid lockouts.”

This is fantastic.  My guild (or a pug or whatever) can choose to spread our content out over a longer period and tackle one of these smaller raids a night or pack them all in.  We can rotate people in and out and people can choose what they can make and not feel like they’re missing out by going to one because better loot drops in the other.  I’m a big proponent of streamlining raids.  I’d prefer them to just be the dang bosses anyway with the fights being more intricate and epic.  This moves right along in that direction.

Badge of PvP Changes is the next evolution of the emblem/badge system.  It wasn’t more than a couple years ago that we were introduced to the badge system — not just in WoW either.  The badge system introduced an alternative way for developers to reward players for completing content.  The goal was to get around the problem of having loot drop that no one could use as well as solving the problem of people running a raid or dungeon and walking away with nothing after all the work.

The system breaks down thus:

Hero Points and Valor Points = Triumph and Frost Badges respectively.

Honor Points and Conquest Points = Rated Battle Ground Honor and Arena points respectively.

There will be a cap imposed for the number you can earn in a week.  Essentially the system is the same, but according to Blizzard this makes it more streamlined.  I can see how that would be given how the point system works for PvP.  You earn points, you spend them.  Almost identical to the system in place now, but a blending of the two and a little more straight forward.

This is the big change though…

“We do plan to have a way to convert Honor points (PvP) into Hero points (PvE), and vice versa, at a loss. The conversions will be possible, but it won’t be a 1:1 rate, and you’ll have fewer points after the conversion process. We won’t allow the higher tiers to be exchanged for each other, however.”

… whoa.  I can PvP a ton and convert to PvE or vice versa, albeit at a loss.  This is yet another step towards allowing people to play how they want.  Having played WoW now to see the impact of the badge system, it’s not something for people to get -too- excited about.  For the most part, a lot of the absolute best gear is still straight up dropped from instances.  If Blizzard leaves the dropped gear in the game, and I expect they will, this means that PvE will still have exclusive enticements.

I’m very eager to see how the raid changed are implemented.  There’s a sense of ‘this is all too good to be true’ looming in the air.  These are changes that I think could definitely benefit -all- MMO’s that follow the themepark gear model.

  • “in reality, I feel the 10’s are harder than the 25’s anyway”

    Curious as to why you feel this way? I’ve done all of WotLK’s content apart from the last few ICC bosses on both 10 and 25, and there has only been one fight out of, what, 50 or so, that I thought was harder on 10-man: Sarth+3D. The “three tanks plus mad DPS” requirement didn’t really change going from 25 to 10, which really stretched the hell out of your lineup, and caused you to do crazy things like one tank doing the job of two, or the infamous “two and a half healers” strat.

    But every other fight was tuned a lot tighter on 25-man, and many of them had extra elements added to increase the complexity and difficulty.

  • I personally don’t think the whole PvP-For-Badges idea is an incredibly sound one. The dominant list of changes for this upcoming expansion have all been geared towards PvP. This change only makes it feel like the same. It takes more of the focus from having to PvE to reap rewards. That’s not a good thing. PvEing to get PvP gear is also something I never personally cared for. However, PvPing to get PvE gear is just as bad. PvP is far easier to farm than PvE. It doesn’t open up to playing how you want. It opens up to not having to really work for what you get. Instead, you can just go stomp a few BGs and reap better rewards than having to gear through dungeons like it should be.

  • @Carson: Admittedly I have not done the ICC content. I have done Naxx, Obs, Ony, ToC, and VoA 10 and 25 and all the 25’s have been much easier. People are able to mess up more and others can pick up the slack. Seems like the 25 version is just about DPS and the 10 man required more utility. In fact the 25’s have been so easy that we blow through them and the 10’s take more time and perfecting each individual’s skill.

    @Shadrah: Yes, it does seem that the game is taking a PvP turn. The story, Rated BG’s, PvP gear from PvE, and PvP class tweaks all point that direction. Whether or not it becomes easier does not really justify as an argument against whether or not people can play how they want and get the gear — it just confirms it in a negative light.

  • @Keen: fair enough.. I guess my guildies had more difficulty with the tighter dps / tank & heal gearcheck requirements on 25-man, rather than the learning requirements on 10-man. 🙂

    @Shadrah: sounds like your real concern is that the PvP/PvE exchange will be badly tuned? The exchange has always been ad-hoc in the past.. whether it was arena’ing for gladiator weapons to use in PvE early in Burning Crusade, or whether its exchanging PvE emblems for PvP set pieces in Wrath. It will be nice to have a settled exchange rate, which lets you gear up for one by doing the opposite, but with an exchange rate that makes it less “efficient”, and which also prevents you from getting the very best gear. Sounds good to me.

  • Considering that assembling and maintaining a larger raid group is simply more of a hassle, seems to me like 25 man groups and the larger guilds required to support them will in most cases go the way of the Dodo.

  • Oops, submitted too soon. With a single raid timer + the same gear for 10 mans my guess is few will put up with the hassle to run 25 man raids *instead* of 10 mans.

  • @Anon: You underestimate how long a week is to many of the WoW players. There will be many out there that will still go after 25-man for the added benefit of more loot/better chance to drop as well as egoists that will thrive with knowing they did 25-man over 10-man.

    Lets not forget that Blizzard will probably be watching and if what you said happens, they will be sure to notice, and most likely tweak their system again to accommodate to that change.

    Has happened, and that’s what Blizzard does best, changes for the benefit of (most) its players.

  • You got it a bit wrong, Keen. Honor points are, like they currently are, from just about all normal PvP and BGs. Rated BGs give Conquest points, the same as Arenas. They did this so people don’t feel forced to Arena anymore.

    @ Shadrah
    This is why they have two tiers of each type point system. You can ONLY convert the lower ones. This means that yes, you can PvP for PvE gear, but to use the current parlance it’s just getting badges of triumph from PvP. You can’t get any badges of frost from any PvP activity and the frost gear is still only available to raiders and very very patient daily dungeoners.

    This really isn’t that big of a scary change in that sense. Yes, PvPers can get some starting gear from PvPing, but as it is in the game it isn’t like triumph gear isn’t hard to get as it is. PvPers are likely to have full triumph even just doing occasional heroics. This just lets them earn those doing something they enjoy.

    To reiterate, the best PvE and PvP gear will only be available, respectively, to people who Raid and people who do Rated BGs/Arenas.

  • Well I know the guild doesn’t have enough people for 25 mans yet so I’m guessing those 25 mans that were ‘blown’ through were with others. The gear on Emerald Dream is considerable and I’m guessing those runs were with pretty well geared players.

    The 25 mans are quite a bit more difficult, everyone having the same gear, as the 10 mans, from what I’ve experienced. 10 mans are less forgiving if 1 person dies, but the 25 mans are pretty rough. That’s why the gear requirements are different if you look at a place like wow-heroes.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is gear > skill in terms of instance difficulty. On my other server where my toons are slightly above GS or dps, where I am on ED–my toons are a shade above others. On ED those same numbers are the bottom of the barrel. On ED players blow through 25 man content on a regular basis. On a server where LK still hasn’t been killed (ok 1 guild transferred for the server 1st than left) you see much different progression.

    Wow, that was a lot of babble and not sure if I got my point across

  • On the whole 10 vs 25 idea it’s all really going to come down to how much more loot is dropped from 25’s to keep that option attractive. Even x3 will make slighter more loot drop per person which sounds like what they’re going for. If 10’s get about 2 loots per boss then a 25 should get 6 or so to split between their members

  • @Keen: I don’t really care about it being made easier. I care that with every expansion more and more of the focus has been completely taken away from having to do any real PvE for progression. This only confirms that even further.

    @Caleb: See, there’s a problem there, though. The same thing was said in BC when this system was first implemented. You see where it’s at now. Badges get you gear that is equivalent to gear you get out of the top tier raid dungeon of the present time. So, how long will it be before arenas will gear you out for whatever raid may come? Or BGs for that matter? All in the sake of making the game “accessible” to all. When, all it’s really doing is phasing out one aspect of the game almost completely.

  • @Gringar: I think it’s early right now in development that believing this is all Blizzard will do is kind of finicky. I believe something will be put into place that makes 25-mans worth something other than a catchy achievement or snazzy title. Who knows, but I am sure that the gear difference will be enough to entice people into the harder raid modes.

    All I know is lets hope that they up the ante on difficulty when it comes to separating the 10 and 25-mans. I believe what most believe in that the only thing separating 10/25 is the amount of people, and boss health.

  • @Shadrah

    What do you mean “where it’s now”? Yes, triumph gear is nice but it isn’t top tier at the present time. You will NEVER be able to get the top tier PvE gear by doing PvP under this system. Those conquest points can’t be exchanged for anything, and the honor points can only be exchanged for the lower tier PvE gear, at a loss. I’m missing what you are implying.

  • Frost Badges are equivalent to top tier raid gear. That’s my point. When the badge system started it was lower tier gear only. To get you started. Now, it’s evolved into gear that makes you readily available to start top tier content. That’s what I’m implying. The badge system started out the same way this PvP system is and you see where the badge system is now. I thought I was pretty clear.

  • Frost Badges are not really equivalent to the top tier raid gear from what I have seen. The “best” gear appears to be from the actual drops in ICC heroic modes, as well as pieces that you need dropped to upgrade even the frost stuff that you can buy.

  • Obviously you missed the point completely.

    Firstly, 10man will always be easier. Less people to organise is always more effective.

    Second and most important. This changes renders 25man raids utterly useless. There ceases to be a point for them anymore.

    In essence, this can all be traced back to cost cutting. In WOTLK the whole 10/25man split was implemented for that specific. If you think about it, not only was Naxx used THREE times (old, 10man, 25man) but many more times if you count all the obsessive-compulsive achievements attached to it. Yes, ‘heroic modes’ are not content, they are Blizzard’s laziness. ‘Ha! Take away X which is a core part of the boss fight then see how you go!’ They require minor testing and in general can be harder then needed.

    If Blizzard actually stuck to advancing the game rather then add meaningless achievement systems so players can grind (again, since most achievements from Vanilla/TBC weren’t kept) then like TBC they would have effectively been able to supply players.

    This has nothing to do with hardcore or casual. It is about content. ‘Casual’ is just an excuse for lazy content. And yes, I was a casual in Vanilla. The 25/10 man merge is just so Blizzard can keep on being lazy.

    Laziness is having cheap machinima for the end of your most famous villain, where in his original games which made no where near as much money the CGI was epic. Keep accepting shit for your dollars.
    Blizzard/Activision is smart enough to fool so many idiots, I respect them for that. Don’t respect them for their games however.

  • @Anne

    I’m sorry, but it seems you’re the one who’s completely missed the point.

    I doubt anyone will take those words seriously when you’re flailing around claiming “activision” Blizzard is just becoming a company made of laziness.

    Just take a step back and breath. Take a look at the things around, what Blizzard’s doing (No, there is no Activision). There’s no reason to get so worked up over parts you aren’t seeing.

    Once you’ve done this, post again on a clearer mind. Because what I see, it isn’t laziness. It’s developers that care for all sides of the fan base, and aren’t single minded into one thing. It isn’t easy to please everyone, but they try.

  • @Gringar
    Wouldn’t bet on that. The whole strategy for Blizz in this (agree with it or not) is to make the choice of 10s or 25s be a pure preference, with neither having an advantage over the other. My guess is that it will be something like 1 item of loot per group, so 2 items drop in 10s and 5 items drop in 25s.

    You could argue that the ppl doing 25s still have a slight, but noticeable, advantage over the ppl doing 10s cause they’ll see more of the loot table each fight, and have more chance of the item they need dropping, but given that RNG is RNG, its probably not a significant enough difference for the vast majority to choose 25s over 10s. Hell, my guild has been killing Rotface25 every week since a couple weeks after he was available, and we’ve still only seen the caster trinket drop once. The Saurfang melee trinket has never dropped for us.

  • @Anne – Hooray! Thanks for being the voice of reason on this increasingly fanboy thread.

    You are not alone. 🙂

  • Except that Anne’s argument was completely illogical. She claimed Blizzard liked to be lazy by reusing content, specifically how 10 and 25 were two copies of the same dungeon that represented two tiers of raiding.

    And Anne argues that Blizzard is lazy by…removing…that exact feature…so that 10 man and 25 man is the exact same tier and they are no longer reusing any dungeons for two levels of raiding.

  • The “points” system is actually quite interesting, and I am completely looking forward to it. I am tired of having to run my daily everyday, my weekly, 2 VoAs and 2 ICCs to just keep up with the gear curve. With these changes there will be no dbl instances and quite possibly no need to run more than 2-3 Daily dungeons because normal raiding will take up 80-90% of the CQ point weekly cap. The point system, while it has RP issues, is the best idea they’ve had for raiding since badges were introduced.

    The real issue here is the 10 v 25 raiding. Personally I much preferred the system implemented in TBC. A starter 10 man and a mid level 10 man and the rest 25s. Thats not going to occur again unfortunately. But, what we have now is just not working. People who love to raid, love it. People who enjoy raiding but get easily bored with repeating the same content, hate it.

    The real issue is not having a single lockout. It is how does Blizzard adequately control the difficulty level of the 10 and 25 man content to make them somewhat equal? Things like Mind Control is the easiest thing to illustrate this. Having a boss that MCs makes group makeup extremely important in a 10man. The major differences in difficulty now between some encounters are the addition of MC. KT and Deathwhisper can not MC in 10man. Because quite simply, losing 1/10th of your raid force and perhaps a healer at a critical moment effects the level of difficulty much more than losing 1/25th your raid. In order to even out the percentages you’d have to MC 2.5 people which simply cant be done. Just the easiest example of a boss mechanic that can NEVER be balanced between raid sizes.

  • @ Caleb
    Actually I linked cost cutting directly with the feature in WOTLK, this change in CAT is linked to the original discussion within WOTLK. So it followed on from the 10/25man split for all raids within WOTLK.

    No this change clearly is for those who use both 25/10man version. This is a equalising technique much like how they forced Jewelcrafters to all do one daily each day (Jewelcrafters that were late to the party has a major disadvantage because they couldn’t pay extra to catch up with the MASSIVE amount of recipes you could only get using their stupid daily).

    Either way, my point is still perfectly vaild. Because they are still using the same dungeon for both 10 and 25 man versions. The only difference now is that they are purposely limiting it so certain players do get to double their gear while others (those who only do 10man or only do 25man) do not.

    If anything it is a fix for the unbalanced they originally caused themselves because they couldn’t think far ahead enough. EITHER WAY, it wouldn’t really matter in terms of entertainment value, since in WOTLK the players doing both 10/25 were basically just doing the same grinding process twice a week instead of just once. It is still based around the ‘lazy content’ philosophy, instead of unique experience for 10 and 25/40, you have the exact same.