A week has passed since BlizzCon, but the arguments over mythic raiding's single 20-man size have not abated. BlizzCon has always included controversial announcements, and it seems that the raiding changes were destined to become the big one among 2013's batch.
It's easy to understand why. For current 25-man Heroic guilds, they have to choose between cutting five players from the team or making a bunch of people sit on the sidelines. It's not nearly as bad as the 40-man to 25-man transition, but it still stings.
Heroic 10-man guilds, however, will have it much worse if this change goes live (and it very much seems like it will). It's too early to make sweeping changes to your roster, but rest assured in the future I will cover different strategies for making that transition.
For now, I'd like to talk about what officers and raiders should ask Blizzard to do to help us adjust. Now that this decision has been made, however, Blizzard should not stand idle in this process. They can make this transition easier on guids.
What Blizzard can offer
1. Better in-game recruiting tools. This is the absolute top of the list for obvious reasons. I've been asking for this for a long, long time. The guild finder is very limited in scope and few use it.
With Blizzard considering an OpenRaid kind of functionality to help us form groups across realms, I would urge the developers to look at how a similar tool could help us to find committed mythic raiders. Posting ads in forums just doesn't cut it these days, and guilds can't send recruiting officers to every realm. We need a solution that reflects the reality of today's cross-realm WoW.
Players have created sites, addons, and subreddits in an effort to find a better way. But these all share the same disadvantages: players have to seek them out, and they fracture players and guilds into separate communities depending on who's using what. An in-game tool, implemented properly, would make doubling our rosters less of an uphill climb.
2. Big incentives to raid at the mythic level. Now that we don't have to keep 10-man or 25-man from being so overwhelmingly compelling that raiding at the other size is strictly inferior, Blizzard can go all-out with mythic rewards. This will not only be the most difficult raid size, it will also be the only remaining raid size with an exact number of required raiders. They all must play at the top of their game. This is not an easy thing for officers to pull off. The rewards should go above and beyond to compensate players for that effort.
The best loot, plus unique titles and mounts, has been the model for hard-mode raiding. These are all well and good. I know that nonraiders and players who prefer normal mode or below will argue that these rewards are more than enough. But they are really not, simply because we've seen them before. If Blizzard is ever going to push the envelope here, now would be the time. Current 10-man hard-mode raiders need a very juicy carrot at the end of the stick to convince us to raid at a size we do not prefer and may not be comfortable with.
What else could Blizzard provide? Let's brainstorm that.
- No more purple: The purple of epic is fairly meaningless these days. It has been diluted to become the standard of endgame gear. The word "Heroic" on a piece doesn't do enough to make the gear feel special. Blizzard should give mythic gear a new font color to reflect how difficult it is to acquire.
- Loot beyond legendary: Now that everyone can acquire a legendary through a combination of quests and raiding at any level, legendaries have also lost some of their grand status. Mythic raiding should not only offer its own legendaries, but something beyond that. The mysterious "Artifact" quality has been in the game since launch, though it has never been used for anything serious. Perhaps now is the right time to draw on that, or create a new category.
- Garrison rewards: Unique buildings or bonuses. Fun decorations that can be added to a trophy room, like the way we used to display Onyxia's head in capital cities.
- Transmog rewards: Weapon and armor skins that can't be obtained any other way.
- Battle pet rewards: Unique pets that can't be sold.
- Vanity items: With the inventory changes, these will be less of a hassle. Blizzard could add vanity items to mythic boss tables in addition to the regular loot. I'd love vanity items that transform me into a boss model for a few minutes so I can terrorize new players in the Barrens.
- Guild vehicles: The guild achievement system makes it possible to unlock new items when conquering a mythic raid. Deployable vehicles such as catapults and tanks could be used in Ashran. A troop carrier could make runbacks from wipes faster. Something like that war barge above would be awesome. And yes, I still want guild airships.
I know that every extra reward for mythic raiders is less time that can be spent on content for everyone. I also think that hard-mode raiding is a big part of the mystique of the game, and Blizzard should endeavor to preserve it. If too many players stop tackling hard modes, there won't be enough surviving guilds who raid at this level to justify Blizzard's time and effort.
3. 10-man dungeons. Blizzard should continue to offer challenging content for those who enjoy a 10-man group, even if it's not a raid. Blackrock Spire is returning as a dungeon in WoD. In classic WoW, UBRS was the ultimate 10-man experience (once that cap was put into place). I'd love to see UBRS come back as such. Give us a massive, sprawling dungeon to conquer with a 10-man team. Make the heroic version very difficult. Have it approach the difficulty of a mythic raid but without the limited lockout of a raid.
I think many smaller guilds who don't want to double their roster would appreciate having challenging content to run with their original 10-man teams. There will be guilds who opt out of mythic because of the roster requirements and run only normal raids. They would feel a lot less marginalized if they had one 10-man heroic dungeon per tier that offered a real challenge.
In classic WoW, we had Zul'Gurub and The Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj as 20 mans (half the size of 40-man raids). In The Burning Crusade, we had Karazhan and Zul'Aman as 10 mans. These zones saw lots of use from a variety of guild types. There were guilds in TBC that only ran Kara and ZA because they didn't want to expand their rosters. There's no reason Blizzard can't offer some truly epic 10-man dungeons in WoD. These dungeons could still be part of the dungeon finder, but they could also offer a greater challenge for those who seek it.
Those are the three main ways I'd like to see Blizzard help raiding guilds. If you have other ideas, tell us below -- and tell Blizzard too! It's time to stop arguing about the concept of 20-man mythic and be vocal about what Blizzard can do to help us with it.
Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.