Cataclysm Raid Progression Refinements

Nethaera dropped a bombshell on the raiding community of WoW today, announcing some major changes to the way that raid lockouts and progression will work in Cataclysm. No longer will 10- and 25-man raids have separate lockouts, and no longer will they have different loot tables. The end goal is to make the content equally difficult in both modes to balance this out.

In order to reward players for successfully coordinating 25 players, bosses on 25 man mode will drop more loot per person than in 10-man mode, including gear, badges, and gold. Heroic modes will work similarly to the current Icecrown Citadel mechanic of toggling on a per-boss basis.

The developers would also like to shorten individual raids while keeping the overall amount of raid content the same. To that end, the first tiers of raiding in Cataclysm will feature multiple shorter raids instead of one long raid. They are also planning on tuning the first tiers of raids to players in quest and dungeon rewards, but hope not to trivialize heroic dungeons.

We are bound to hear some arguments both for and against these broad changes from now until well after Cataclysm is released, especially with many questions left unanswered. My main concern? What about the achievements?!

See the full announcement after the break.

We’re continuing to refine the raid progression paths in Cataclysm, and we’d like to share some of those changes with you today. Please enjoy!

The first of the refinements being made is that we’re combining all raid sizes and difficulties into a single lockout. Unlike today, 10- and 25-player modes of a single raid will share the same lockout. You can defeat each raid boss once per week per character. In other words, if you wanted to do both a 10- and 25-person raid in a single week, you’d need to do so on two different characters. Normal versus Heroic mode will be chosen on a per-boss basis in Cataclysm raids, the same way it works in Icecrown Citadel. Obviously the raid lockout change doesn’t apply in pure Icecrown terms though, as this change goes hand-in-hand with a few other changes to raid progression in Cataclysm.

We’re designing and balancing raids so that the difficulty between 10- and 25-player versions of each difficulty will be as close as possible to each other as we can achieve. That closeness in difficulty also means that we’ll have bosses dropping the same items in 10- and 25-player raids of each difficulty. They’ll have the same name and same stats; they are in fact the exact same items. Choosing Heroic mode will drop a scaled-up version of those items. Our hope is that players will be able to associate bosses with their loot tables and even associate specific artwork with specific item names to a far greater extent than today.

Dungeon Difficulty and Rewards
10- and 25-player (normal difficulty) — Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop the exact same items as each other.
10- and 25-player (Heroic difficulty) — Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop more powerful versions of the normal-difficulty items.

We of course recognize the logistical realities of organizing larger groups of people, so while the loot quality will not change, 25-player versions will drop a higher quantity of loot per player (items, but also badges, and even gold), making it a more efficient route if you’re able to gather the people. The raid designers are designing encounters with these changes in mind, and the class designers are making class changes to help make 10-person groups easier to build. Running 25-player raids will be a bit more lucrative, as should be expected, but if for a week or two you need to do 10s because half the guild is away on vacation, you can do that and not suffer a dramatic loss to your ability to get the items you want.

We recognize that very long raids can be a barrier for some players, but we also want to provide enough encounters for the experience to feel epic. For the first few raid tiers, our plan is to provide multiple smaller raids. 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. Think of how you could raid Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep separately, but you might still want to hit both every week.

We do like how gating bosses over time allows the community to focus on individual encounters instead of just racing to the end boss, so we’re likely to keep that design moving forward. We don’t plan to impose attempt limitations again though, except maybe in cases of rare optional bosses (like Algalon). Heroic mode may not be open from day one, but will become available after defeating normal mode perhaps as little as once or twice.

In terms of tuning, we want groups to be able to jump into the first raids pretty quickly, but we also don’t want them to overshadow the Heroic 5-player dungeons and more powerful quest rewards. We’ll be designing the first few raid zones assuming that players have accumulated some blue gear from dungeons, crafted equipment, or quest rewards. In general, we want you and your guild members to participate in and enjoy the level up experience.

We design our raids to be accessible to a broad spectrum of players, so we want groups to be able to make the decision about whether to attempt the normal or Heroic versions of raids pretty quickly. The goal with all of these changes is to make it as much of a choice or effect of circumstance whether you raid as a group of 10 or as a group of 25 as possible. Whether you’re a big guild or a small guild the choice won’t be dependent on what items drop, but instead on what you enjoy the most.

We realize that with any changes to progression pathways there are going to be questions. We’re eagerly awaiting any that we may have left unanswered. To the comments!


  1. This is the exact kind of thing I was talking about months ago. There’s no reason that 10- and 25-man need to have different gear, as they can make 10-man just as difficult. The reward for dealing with getting 25 people together is easily covered by MORE gear.

    I’m so happy at these changes. No more worries about being forced to raid both, and no more issues with players seeing 10-man progression as wussy.

  2. On the other hand, players who want to do both 10- and 25-man raids will have to choose one or the other each week. I can see the loot changes, but this aspect of it makes me very unhappy.

  3. Incoming basic math:

    cataclysm WILL allow 10-man and 25-man content to be the same, offer same rewards, just MORE in 25-man, yes? So does this mean you get exatcly 2.5x more loot? 2 and a half more items than in 10-man?

    Because currently, you can run a 10-man raid, have a 10% chance on a drop, AND THEN hop into a 25-man and have a 4% chance on each drop, because of higher numbers (not that everyone will want to roll on a caster hood, but you see what I mean here). If they roll this new plan in, then you’ll have to choose your 10% chance on 2 items, OR your 4% chance on 10 items.

    It’s a question of whether the chance of you getting that item will increase or decrease, and either way, I see it as a decrease in chance at loot.

  4. @Arthoul
    That is assuming that you can easily swap between 10- and 25-man raids in your guild. I think Blizzard would be stupid to bring 25-man difficulty down to 10-man level, so 10-man should be getting more difficult (or maybe they’ll meet in the middle). Either way, my point is that I can’t see pick-up groups easily beating them, at least not at the start of Cataclysm. So people will be at the beck and call of their guild(s).

  5. I’m not too sure on this, I mean when you look at it people whine about them being to hard now. When you make it more difficult your just going to see that a ton more. I am in full agreement with blizzard doing this might make the raid aspect more fun.

  6. This basically defines the aspect of a “Good Idea”.

    Guilds will now Have to be more core in there decisions of How they handle raiding. Not:

    “Okay, we did our 25 man now. Go ahead and pug 10 man. I’m out”

    Pugging=Suck. Raiding should be about your Guild, and what you Do with it no matter how many people you have.

  7. Yikes. I’d hate to sacrifice 10-man progression for 25 and vice versa. I guess it’s a necessary change to keep you from doubling up your chances on the same loot. I’m also not entirely sure about shorter raids, unless they make each one really engaging. On the one hand, being able to clear a raid instance in a single night (aside from ToC, of course) is kind of cool. On the other, I’m hoping it isn’t a bunch of one-room bosses.

  8. Hm. Not quite sure if I like these changes.

    I do like them considering the fact that our guild mostly runs 10-Man content, but we were considering to expand it to a 25-Man Raiding Guild. There’s no longer that much of a motivation to do that.

    Who knows? They can still change their mind.

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