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The raiding grind begins again ...


... as Death and Taxes clears Karazhan, and a couple of other guilds take some shots at the first 25-man raid boss, Gruul. Death and Taxes also killed the new Kazzak, but I'll be damned if I can figure out what he looks like from the screenshot.

I'm not even quite sure what else is in the game right now, raid-wise -- Lady Vashj, Kael'Thas, and Magtheridon were supposed to ship with the expansion, but is it even possible to get to them right now? And since those are mostly one-shot encounters, how long will it be before the top-tier guids begin clamoring for the head of Illidan Stormrage? (Black Temple is still under development.)

This also makes me wonder what instances will be patched in later. Blizzard has said they're trying to move away from raiding as the only means of gear progression, but if guilds blow through BC raids like they were nothing, they may find themselves once again forced to invest a lot of their resources in keeping the top raiders happy.

The only way to really slow guild progression is with bugged/unbeatable encounters (like C'thun at the beginning), gear checks (like Patchwerk) and long raid attunements (like Mount Hyjal.) No one likes bugged encounters, and you can only stretch raid attunements out for so long, so it seems that the only real option is to make a lot of encounters gear checks. But gear checks meant to slow down quick-progressing raiders can be fatal for less hardcore guilds -- how many guilds died on Razorgore and Vael or the Twin Emps?

I'm not hating on raiders, since I am one myself (although significantly more casual than hardcore), but how will Blizzard manage to balance the needs of large raid guilds, small guilds, PVPers, and soloers? Will raid guilds just have to get used to slower progression and less content, or will we be seeing Naxxramas v. 2.0 before we see more 10-man or 5-man instances?

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