Thursday, February 7, 2008

The step from 10 man to 25 man raiding

Yes! At last I took the step I've been curious about for such a long time: to go from 10 man to 25 man instance. It's been on my wish list for ages, and I've been wondering if it will ever happen or if the expansion will come before.

After running Karazhan the whole autumn, at first in a single group, and the last few weeks in double ones, it felt like it was about time that we saw something new. It was time to have a first look at the lair of Gruul. The question was: would we be able at all to gather 25 persons at the same hour, with a decent mixture of tanks, healers and dps? The signs kept coming in, and behold! - when the D-day arrived we actually could get exactly 25 people even if a couple of the signed up ones didn't show up after all. The first - and maybe even the biggest - goal was reached! The very challenge of organizing such a thing, to make 25 people put their noses in the same direction, simply agree. That is tha biggest and hardest step of them all - not the performance as such.

We had quite mixed experience in the group - a few had been running Gruul a number of times, some of us once or twice. But we were many who had never ever stepped into a 25 man instance before. I was one of them. So maybe it wasn't strange that things were less organized than usually, like a school class from the countryside visiting the City. While we usually can gather quite quickly for buffing and first pull in Kara, it took us terribly long to assemble and make all ready to enter the instance. There were a bunch of extra trips to the bank, AH, buying reagents and such. Everybody was a bit stirred up, slightly exalted at the view of finally making our way to this point. But finally we were ready to go. The dices had been thrown.

So what's my impression? Well, its quite different in many ways.. To go from 10 man to 25 man reminds a bit about going from 5 to 10. I remember it very well, my first impressions from Karazhan. It was a mess, hard to get an overview, I couldn't get the whole picture, understand what was going on in other parts of the raid, I had to focus only on what I was doing for myself, my own mob. And that works poorly when you have many mobs to deal with at the same time. As time passed I got used to 10 man instances, and nowadays I have no trouble whatsoever to see it all. Hopefully the same thing will happen with the 25 man instances. It's just a matter of routine.

A huge difference between Gruul and Karazhan is that you don't have to make your way through oceans of trash mobs. There are a few orcs and priests and suddenly you're there, ready to deal with the boss over and over again. In spite of many wipes it was quick and fun.

The coordination in the raid is also different. In 5 and 10 man instances you're still so few that you sometimes can discuss strategies. There's room to give views on the best way to do different things, to give ideas and chat abou it. In 25 man raid there's hardly any space for that. Not that someone like a dictator will tell everyone to shut up (it would be needed from time to time, but it isn't our style). But you understand instinctively that it won't work if 25 people in a democratic way should give their opinion. Then you could stay just discussing things for an entire evening, without taking action. Then it's better to keep silent or maybe write a few words in the raid chat, if there's something that should be clarified.

Buffing is special too. It's not a small thing to buff 25 people with Amplify magic, which just will hold for 10 minutes and disappear after every wipe.

To run 25 man also demands that you have a better UI. You want to see your raid party, but you don't want to have the whole screen covered by party squares. It takes some work to find something that gives you an overview, while it's still simple and informative. Myself I had installed X-pearls, thinking about the upcoming raid, and it looked decent, but I think I have to keep on working on it, as it was now too much of the screen was covered.

Someone may be wondering how it ended? Better than expected you could say. After a number of tries we took down the first boss, High King Maulgar. Not bad for a guild which never had put their feet into a 25 man instance before as a group. We did try Gruul as well several times, and as best we got him to 40 percent, but when there came respawns we called it night. But it won't be long before we'll bring down him as well.

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