Raiding in the beginning of Cataclysm: 10 vs 25-man

Cataclysm has been out for about a month now and all of the tier 11 raid encounters have been defeated in normal mode by the hardcore guilds. Now they’re working on heroic modes and are more than halfway through there as well. You can check the current progress status here, at the time of writing, 9 of the 12 bosses have been defeated in heroic mode.

Paragon defeated Ascendant Council heroic in 25-man mode for the first time on 2011/01/02

25-man: Still rocking it with the hardcore guilds

Here’s the surprising thing, most of that fast heroic progress wasn’t done in 10-man. It was done in 25-man. If you take a look at the 25-man raid progress charts you’ll see Paragon on top right now with 9 of 12 heroic bosses down and a hundred others who have made to at least 1 heroic boss in 25-man mode. If you look at the 10-man raid progress charts you will only find 34 guilds who have actually gotten to 1 heroic raid boss and you’ll find that none of these have made it past 2 bosses.

Why is this? Well, most likely this is just caused by incorrect data gathering. The achievements for 10- and 25-man raiding mode are now the same which makes it very difficult for sites such as GuildOx and WoWProgress to track the actual progress accurately. Hopefully this will be a problem these sites can circumvent with clever sci-fi data gathering techniques inspired by shows such as Star Trek.

The possible bugs of current progression display techniques is not what I want to point out here though. My point is, remember when Blizzard changed raid lockouts so that 10- and 25-man would share the same lockout? Remember how everyone was saying that no one will ever do 25-man ever again since it’s just more difficult and less rewarding? Well, obviously all of that was just plain wrong. There’s tons of progress being done in 25-man mode by hardcore guilds and not so hardcore guilds and with the information we have right now, it actually seems like 10-man could be the harder version of the two.

10-man: No longer a push-over

10-man… harder than 25-man? Yes, really. According to this data compiled by GuildOx and presented on WoW Insider, we can see that people needed to have a higher average item level to defeat the same encounter in 10-man than what they needed in 25-man mode. Quote taken from the article follows:

  • The average ilevel is higher for almost every single Cataclysm raid fight on 10-man than on 25-man. That is, the fights were first overcome by groups in higher ilevel gear on 10-man than on 25-man. Ascendant Council seems to be the only real exception to this rule.
  • There’s a lot more data for heroic 25-man encounters than heroic 10s. Some fights don’t seem to have had many or any clears on 10 for this data push.

And that’s not all to consider either.

In 25-mans you are pretty much guaranteed to have all your bases covered when it comes to buffs and debuffs, which in turn will optimize your dps, heals and survivability. In 10-man you might not have that luxury. In most cases you are likely to miss out on one or two buffs or debuffs, but if you really have a terrible setup you could potentially miss out on a third or more of all the buffs and debuffs out there. This of course, can be avoided by careful planning on the part of a knowledgeable raid leader (tip: RaidComp).

When it comes to interrupts, kiting, silencing and all that other utility you might need for certain fights… 25-man wins again. In 10-man you might not have a frost mage or hunter with you (highly unlikely since hunters are so awesome, but still) then what are you gonna do when you need to kite? Cry, that’s what you’re gonna do. 25-man? Of course there’s a hunter somewhere in there! There’s 5 even, look at all those lovely hunters, ready to kite for the raid, bringing the win!

Then again the same with interrupting you’ll have a lot more people and a lot more people able to interrupt. What happens when your one interrupter misses to interrupt in 10-man? Well, most likely, something pretty nasty – that’s usually why you have to interrupt. In 25-man though, you’ll have more people able to pick up the slack of others who might miss a beat or just plain die when they shouldn’t have.

And that brings me to another point, deaths! In 10-man if two people die that means 20% of your raid team has disappeared. That’s quite significant… In fact, it’s so significant that if you’re not overgearing the content, you will most likely wipe. However, if you lose two people in 25-man, you’ve only lost 8% of the raid and you will most likely be able to carry on fine.

I’ll extend this logic a little bit further… In 10-man you’ve lost half of your team and are absolutely finished when 5 people have managed to die from some mechanic they should have payed more attention to. If 5 people screw up in 25-man you’ve still just lost 5 people, but 5 people don’t carry nearly the same weight. You are most likely just fine and on your way to finishing the encounter.

My own experience

Veneficus Ex defeated Halfus Wyrmbreaker for the first time in 25-man mode on 2010/12/27

We begun raiding in Cataclysm in our guild by starting with 10-man, purely because we didn’t have 25 people geared as fast as we had 10 people geared. We downed 4 bosses pretty quickly and after that we were ready for 25-man.

We went back and defeated the same 4 bosses in a much quicker fashion then we had defeated them for the first time in 10-man, even though most of the team had never seen the encounters before. Sure, us officers and the raid leader were a lot more sure about the tactics this time around but we had a fairly clear view of the tactics already from the start in 10-man raiding.

In 10-man we hit enrage timers a few times and we had healers go oom, the performance requirement per person seemed to be a lot higher and I ended up with the impression that whenever there was one mistake everything went south.

In 25-man we managed to down bosses with half the raid dead, or most of the raid dead even. We had some people outputting dps-numbers which would’ve been shameful by Wrath of the Lich King standards and still it was fine.

Personally, I feel 25-man is the new 40-man. The encounters are designed to be less restrictive in terms of performance requirement and you are basically expected to see a few dead people here and there.

If you want more difficulty and want your personal performance to matter more, then you should raid in 10-man mode… and on that bomb shell, this post ends!


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About Gavendo

I write a World of Warcraft blog called "Rapid Fire" on the topics; hunters, pets and achievement hunting.
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2 Responses to Raiding in the beginning of Cataclysm: 10 vs 25-man

  1. krovost says:

    Hi Gav,

    Very interesting post. From a similar progression standpoint, (My guild took a few raiders and officers and beat the first handful of bosses on 10 man before moving to 25 and repeating. Same reason.. we had 10 geared folks before 25) I found that the difficulty difference between 10 and 25 flip flopped from fight to fight. Some I would say are more difficult on 10 while others more difficult on 25.

    I think the reason we are seeing a lower average ilvl on 25 kills as opposed to 10 kills is that a lot of serious raiders aren’t even attempting some bosses on 10 man before their raid kills it on 25, due to the lockout.

    We killed Artramedes before we were able to find time outside our normal 25 man raid schedule to even attempt him. We are now working on Chimaeron before we had time to attempt him on 10 man and hopefully will get the 25 man kill tonight. In these instances we will get a kill with lower ilvl on 25 man first, but thats mostly because there isn’t a chance to work it out and kill it on 10 man.

    10 Man certainly gives you less wiggle room with buffs and deaths as you point out. But you also generally have your best foot forward in 10 man. If you were given a random sample of 100 players. You took the best 25 to a 25 man raid and from those 25 you took the best 10 to a 10 man. Not to disparage the folks who don’t get into the 10 man from the 25 selected, but you will have a higher skill cap in the 10 man group. The 5 people that die in your 25 man example leaving you 20 to finish the boss are probably not in your 10 man. You have 10 of the 20 people who avoided death in the 25.

    I would say any slack you get from doing a 25 man as far as buffs or death relevance is cancelled out by the logistics of maintaining a 25 man raid group (or 30 or more, need those alternates to sub in) You are more likely tohave the same 10 people the night after a learning night than you are to have the same 25 people the next night, and now new people must spend a few wipes getting the mechanics down.

    At any rate, it could be that 10 mans are just more difficult now. I just want to make the case for the intangibles that make 25 mans more difficult.

    Also this wouldn’t be the first time a 10 man was more difficult than 25. 10 Man Sartharion Hard Mode was much more difficult than 25 man. When we first did it we had to bring 3 tanks and 3 healers and abuse overpowered DK tank cooldowns back at the start of WotLK.

    I guess we’ll see how it goes moving forward!

  2. Gavendo says:

    You make some very good points Mr. Kro!
    I still tend to believe that 10-man in general is slightly more difficult on a per-player basis than it is in 25-man, but organizational difficulties outweighs that indeed. Certain mechanics will always be easier with less people rather than more people though, such as the tried and true “spread out by x yards”-mechanic.

    Anyway, I am very glad to see that there isn’t a clear “10-man is easier” or “25-man is easier” consensus yet. Blizzard wanted to achieve equal difficulty in both modes and so far they’ve done a very good job of that. We can disagree over which mode we personally find more difficult, but just the fact that we are disagreeing means victory for Blizzard. 🙂


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