Molten Core. Blackwing Lair. The Temple of Ahn'Qiraj. Naxxramas Necropolis. And nothing else. Looking ahead to Blizzard's expansion for World of Warcraft, Burning Crusade, the aforementioned instanced raids will be the last of Blizzard's 40-man raid content. In Burning Crusade, end game raiding (which occupies WoW's max level players) will be done in groups of 25 or 10. Illidan's Black Temple, the most challenging raid instance that will appear in Burning Crusade (at release), has a 25-player limit.
OMG. This is going to be interesting.... Why the hell cap it at 25? That is a weird number to put it too. Well at least it means for me as as a new 60 leading towards raiding that I don't have to push 40 man instances, since according to this it will be a thing of the past.
Edit: I guess it might allow those guilds struggling to get 40 revert to 25 man raiding. While the bigger succesful guilds might do 2 raids of 25 men? Or maybe in EJ's case 3? Very strange.
I can see it being a good idea. And honestly from where my guild stands, this will make it a lot easier for us to raid in the expansion. But what I don't like is how this will really hurt many of the raiding guilds that are currently in the game. Those guilds have 40-45 people. Like quigon said in the other thread, splitting it will cause drama. You might as well sign the death warrant on a number of the smaller end game raiding guilds. Well not the death. Many will just reform to 30ish people, but I'd hate to be in charge of saying who can go and who can't. I just don't think it is a good idea to have a game environment where 40 was optimal for 2 years and now have it be 25. Increasing would be more acceptable, as it is always easier to recruit people than to cut people.
I'm sure that this will accompanied by an uproar that will be almost completely unjustifiable when the time actually comes.
In all honestly, after running a guild that runs 40-man raids for over a year, I can see this leading to a cleaner play experience. The logistics of raid guilds, like most things, grow very nonlinearly with group size. So no matter what, wouldn't that be a welcome change for anyone? A higher percentage or your time spent actually playing with 24 other people, just because less time is spent making the guild exist. And, to be honest, I'm sure many, many raid leaders, when confronted with the option of simply dropping 15 people of their choice, would not have trouble finding some good in the situation.
On the flip side of things, a guild could choose to grow a bit. The EJ model will be a lot more viable now. Recruiting 10 people is not hard, and there will be no shortage of players at that point in time. A successful 40-man guild now could make the jump to 2 raid groups without a massive increase in management power.
Given the flux of players both into and out of the game during the beginning of TBC, it's unlikely that staying at precisely the same size will be an especially easy option--it will probably be just as easy to grow or shrink a bit. As long as a guild plans in advance, the "transition" doesn't have to be a huge strain.
So the real question is, will encounters be more or less fun with 25 than with 40? Would many current enounters become conceptually impossible? Not really. Look at Naxx:
Anub'Rekhan and Razuvious--you could practically do them with 25 right now.
Noth--might require some finesse to make it work. The chaotic zerg-type spawns will be the toughest thing to maintain the feel of on a smaller scale.
Patchwerk--change some numbers.
Thaddius--3/8 less likely to screw up each time.
Four Horsemen--hmm. Three Horsemen? Two and a Half?
C'Thun -- just fine.
Emps--remove a minor complication (maybe make mutated bugs something that get soloed), and you're fine.
As I can see it, the only real problem is things that qualitatively require a certain number of tanks. But that problem exists now, not in any really different form. So the design space they're losing is quite small. I expect that it will also grow in some nontrivial manner, which we can look forward to.
For smaller guilds that can barely scrape up enough folks for ZG and RAQ, it places the opportunity to acquire some of the game's best loot within their reach. For larger guilds who have no problem getting 40 folks together for MC/BWL/AQ/NAX, they could possibly run multiple raid which means they can gear more members in the same time -- as well as having the potential to work out different strategies in parallel. In a smaller group, each member's contribution is typically greater, which was underlined in the article's mentioning of trying to further the flexibility of hybrids. 15 fewer player models to render could open additional doors that were shut out by technical limitations, and less mod lag.
End-game content within the reach of more players, larger guilds being able to gear up faster, hopefully a more involved role for all raiders, and maybe less lag as a bonus? I'm finding little to dislike here.
Wow. As a guild with ~100 accounts, and typically 60 or so signups for any given raid (right now, anyway, our active numbers tend to fluctuate a lot, which is part of the reason we have so many people), this probably won't be hugely difficult to adjust to (we'll just split into two raids, i guess, although that has potential for immense drama if it's not handled carefully...), but this could completely wreck those guilds who've built up a core of 40-50 or so regular, hardcore players who can be counted on to turn up to every raid...
I'll just reiterate since this thread appears to be the winner....
The point is that in the past, when games have made groups smaller, the skill does not increase as some might expect - unless you start from a larger whole. In the end that will be shaved off by attrition.
In FPS'ers i've experienced this in, and in MMO's, as you go smaller and smaller the game becomes less and less dynamic.
Individual player skill isn't important in a 40 man? Come on... Thaddius? 4 horsemen? You can absolutely push the envelope with larger raids.
Does anyone actually find ZG or AQ20 anything less than a complete snooze fest? I abhor those zones, and most of it is from the entire lack of anything novel or interesting there... 20 players just doesn't seem fun or fulfilling.
The change is clearly one catered toward casual players, and perhaps an attempt to fix the lag issue.
There are two people posting here named after Copernicus?
This must be their solution to the epic/casual uber-ness debate. 40 man is pretty exclusive in terms of time, organization, and demands on time. But pretty much anyone can get 25 decent people together and raid.
After all, the advice my guild had for starting MC was 'take your 25 good people, get 15 retard monkeys, collect loot.'
For current guilds, it will involve recruiting 10-15 more players and splitting it into two 25-man groups. It will also give the people who race to 70 something to do while they wait for people to level up their Shaman or do crazy things like work/family/school. The balance will change from trying to maintain 50-60 to trying to maintain 60-70 or 30-35.
It's not a bad thing. It's different. Overall I like it more because I've always liked smaller groups. It also controls things such as frame-rate and mob populations that killed some people's video cards. And it gives a great excuse to nuke DKP systems.