... and I'm not sure how I feel about it. All I know is that I'm appalled by all the (what I can only assume are) ten-man-only raiders that downrated every single negative comment on the WoW.com article on the subject into oblivion and who are now ridiculing twenty-five-man raiders for caring so much about loot - and that after many ten-man raiders spent all of this expansion whining about how having gear with a lower item level supposedly meant that they couldn't be taken seriously. Hypocritical much? (Disclaimer: I know not all ten-man-only raiders are like that of course.)
For the record, I'm in a twenty-five-man raiding guild myself, but I like doing ten-mans too. In fact, when I joined the guild back in BC, people were only just working their way through Karazhan and we were thus restricted to ten-mans only. We grew into a twenty-five-man guild simply because that was the only way to progress and our raid leader at the time was ambitious. Throughout WOTLK we still remained focused on twenty-five-mans, but people also ran tens on our "off-nights". Currently we field four ten-man teams on top of our three twenty-five-man raids a week. (The maths works out because a few of our guild members do tens only and some raiders run them on multiple characters.)
Nonetheless I'm not entirely happy with the way Blizzard has handled ten-man raiding in WOTLK, which is something I talked about before. I loved doing both raid sizes back in BC because they offered a different bonding experience as well as different content. I still enjoyed the small group experience in WOTLK, but having to run the same content that I was already doing on regular raid nights anyway was a bit off-putting to say the least, and it caused me as well as others in the raid force to occasionally "overdose" on the same raid much faster than we normally would have. I know why Blizzard went down that road, I understand why and don't expect them to go back to the old way, as I know that many people love it. I'm just saying that for me personally, unifying ten- and twenty-five-man raids diminished my raid experience somewhat.
That said, shared raid lockouts for ten- and twenty-five-man raids don't faze me all that much to be honest. Assuming my guild keeps running twenty-five-mans, I can still do tens on an alt if I really, really feel like having some fun in a smaller group and don't mind the repetitiveness, but at least there'll be no pressure to do both modes on my main for extra emblems or anything like that, so hopefully I won't grow tired of the content as quickly.
However, giving out exactly the same loot in both settings is something that I don't like. Simply put, the alternative rewards that are currently being proposed to compensate for "the logistical realities of organizing larger groups of people" sound like a bunch of rubbish to me. As Larísa notes, bringing up gold drops as a reward is a bit of a joke. I couldn't even tell you how much gold any of the bosses I kill each week drop right now, because I don't care one bit and have never paid any attention to it. Emblems really aren't all that hot anymore either, assuming Blizzard continues the trend of handing them out for completing even the most trivial of tasks.
And more item drops per person? Hrm. I'll admit that I can't make a definite call on that one without actually knowing how many more items per person you'll get in twenty-five-man. If the ratio is going to be something like 2:2.5 it's just going to be another joke, but larger numbers might actually entice some people. However, as Spinks commented in response to Larísa's post, getting items faster also means that you'll end up gearing up faster and then getting bored faster. I'm sure many a raider knows what it feels like to gear up too fast and how it can be just as demotivating as gearing up too slowly. So this could turn out to be a double-edged sword either way.
Fact of the matter is, twenty-five-man raids require more effort than tens. Not necessarily in terms of personal skill during the boss fights, but in everything else. You need to find almost three times as many people who are willing to commit to a raid schedule and then get them to always show up on time. Making twenty-five people dance in sync is harder then doing it with ten. And progression is slower as well, simply because it takes longer for twenty-five people to all wrap their heads around a new concept than it does for ten. (And I vehemently have to disagree with Big Bear Butt here who claims that back in early WOTLK, when we were all on the same gear level, ten-mans were generally more challenging than twenty-five-mans. Looking at my achievements from back then it took us more than twice as long to clear Naxx on twenty-five-man than it did on ten.)
In short, twenty-five-man raid forces are already struggling as it is, having to recruit more, having to teach and gear more people, having to have more patience with their raiders as they have to wait for several dozen people to each learn at their own pace. And here Blizzard comes and says that they plan to take one of the last big incentives for running twenty-five-mans over tens, the exclusive ability to get the best loot in the game, away as well. I'm not surprised to see officers of large raiding guilds already ask why they should bother anymore.
It's not really about the loot for me personally; I genuinely like the epic experience of downing bosses with a larger group of people. However, I'm sure many people will be turned off by this change and turn towards tens simply because they require less "paperwork" while giving the same rewards. Others who don't care for having max level alts and are currently doing both modes on one character will be forced to choose just one group size, and many of them will likely pick ten-man also, reducing the pool of potential twenty-five-man raiders even more.
I have no idea what will happen to my own guild. I think we currently have enough people interested in twenty-five-mans that we could keep going down that road in Cataclysm, but I'm afraid that as soon as we'd hit our first snag in recruitment and had to fall back to just doing tens instead, many players might find themselves wondering why they don't do it like this all the time and just give up on the unrewarding task of struggling to get twenty-five-mans together, seeing how the net result for their character is the same anyway.
It wouldn't be the end of the (raiding) world for me, because as I said I do like tens. But there are definitely more than nine people in my guild whom I like, and I wouldn't be able to raid with all of them anymore, which would make me sad. Not to mention that I'd miss the thrill of so many voices crying out with joy on TeamSpeak whenever we finally beat a difficult encounter. I can only hope that Blizzard will still change their minds on this and come up with something to make sure that twenty-five-mans remain sufficiently rewarding to be worth the effort, so large raiding guilds actually stand more than a snowball's chance in hell to survive the Cataclysm.
Too Soon Blizzard, Too Soon
3 hours ago