Taking 25 against 10
First and foremost, one major complaint that we've seen regarding the Raid Finder is that it functions for the 25-man level instead of the 10-man level. To many players, it may seem far more logical in order to transition from 5-man dungeons to 10-man raids. Unfortunately, this is quite far from the truth. 10-man raiding is often times far less forgiving in terms of group composition. While encounters themselves can often times be made far easier in some circumstances -- a much larger space to spread out in, for example -- raid encounters often have highly specific roles that make them that much easier. In a random assortment of players, you won't always get the same spread of classes/specs.
Think back to how many times you've used the Dungeon Finder and wound up in a dungeon with a warrior, priest, and death knight DPS. Getting two plate DPSers is a little uncommon and usually doesn't happen anymore, but it can. Still, that's virtually no CC between the lot of them -- the priest could potentially Mind Control, but that has always been fairly risky. While now this may not be too much of an issue, at the onset of Cataclysm, it was a huge deal, and many people complained about similar situations occurring where instances demanded CC but their random group just didn't have it.
10-man raids aren't any different. There are many times throughout raid encounters where specs with specific tools perform exceptionally well or offer a spot of utility that helps to trivialize the encounter far more than anything else. Hunters and balance druids on Beth'tilac, for example, offer great slows and a knockback. Death knights or classes with stuns are great assets on Ragnaros; interrupts and stuns also work wonders on Alysrazor. If you pull up any five random DPSers -- assuming three healers and two tanks -- you may or may not get all of the abilities that can help in an encounter.
It is far better to reach toward 25-man content. Within the larger pool of players, you are far more likely to have access to the variety of skills and talents that can help you take down a boss.
It's all in the wrist
Another reason for having 25-man raids instead of 10-man raids is role disparity. One notion that has always plagued end-level content is the difference in the number of tanks, healers, and DPSers that are required for a raid compared to those required in a 5-man. In a dungeon, you have one tank, one healer, and three DPSers. In a 25-man raid, you have two tanks, five to six healers, with 17 to 18 DPSers. The ratios are completely off.
Going from a 5-man to a 10-man has a better transition: two tanks, three healers, and five DPSers. Yet that game demographic doesn't actually support the 5-man composition trend. We've heard it a millions times by now: DPSers wait for ages to get into dungeons whiles tanks and healers have near-instant access. If all of the Raid Finder groups fell into the 10-man category, the exact same issue would happen. Tanks would be in high demand but short supply; the need for healers would only increase, and they're sometimes just as rare as tanks.
By using the 25-man model, each group of DPS and healers requires far fewer tanks in relation to what dungeon groups need. Instead of trying to match one tank for every 3 DPSers, you have to match one tank for every eight to nine DPSers, which is a far better ratio when you look at player demographics.
All of that is peanuts, though. The largest issue we see with Raid Finder is one of leadership. Running a raid isn't a simple task, especially not one a raid with 25 people. The tool may organize the raid for you, but getting all of the players together is only half the battle; being able to explain the encounters, assess the situation, and adapt is part of what it takes to be a strong raid leader. It's unfortunate, but many players just don't have what it takes to be raid leaders.
Several people have noted that there's just no check for what it takes to be a raid leader using the Raid Finder system. You click the box and suddenly the WoW gods have smiled upon you (or not, depending on how you take things). While it is understandable that players would like oversight, I feel that the position of raid leadership within this style of content is being grossly overvalued.
To start, the raid leader doesn't much have to explain the encounter much more than anyone else. How many times have you been in a dungeon where the entire group has no idea what a boss fight is like because they've never done it before? I know of plenty. Blizzard has already answered this issue by providing the Dungeon Journal. It lists all of the bosses' abilities and has neat little icons that often suggest the method in which you handle most of them. The Dungeon Journal is a brilliant tool, one that needs to be given far more recognition that it gets right now.
Aside from that, little often needs to be done by a raid leader. The only other task is assigning roles: who heals tanks, who heals raid, who is on interrupts, who takes which side, and so on. A poor leader might fail at this, but I've never seen a situation where no one steps up to do it, even on the PTR. A poor leader will always be naturally replaced. Even in the classically antisocial sub-group that stereotypically makes up a majority of WoW's playerbase, you won't come across a group of 25 people who are content to run around like blind, naked mole rats. Someone will always have enough ego to assert leadership, whether the game gives them the permission to or not.
Bolstering the human element
This is just the start of fighting some of the issues brought up about the new Raid Finder tool -- the more human element of it all, if you will. While there certainly stands a need for Blizzard to add in more oversight, such as ways to replace the leader and a few various other tools, those issues ultimately don't detract from the ability for the raid to do its job: kill bosses.
Join us next week as we talk about the balancing issues of the Raid Finder bosses.
Ready Check shares all the strategies and inside information you need to take your raiding to the next level. Be sure to look up our strategy guides to Cataclysm's 5-man instances, and for more healer-centric advice, visit Raid Rx.