Raiding History From Vanilla to Wrath
In Vanilla WoW, I did the 40 man raid. I thought it was epic. I was one of four shaman and one of the shaman was actually enhancement. He frequently made it into the top 10 DPS and I rooted for him all the way. I was skeptical of shadowpriests, like most people, although for as much as I disliked them I ended up BEING one in Burning Crusade (oh the irony). I swapped to a mage for the second half of Vanilla, and made my priest during Vanilla. I started mage in BC and finished as priest in the second half. I started priest in Wrath and finished as a shaman. I had a brief passionate alt fling with my druid but am waiting until Cataclysm actually is imminent (think: arriving in a few days) before I cement my decision to make her my main toon.
During BC I very much enjoyed Karazhan; I felt it was a much more personal encounter. You wouldn't take 25 people and go raze someone's tower...but 10 people? Sure why not. It felt a lot more realistic. For the bigger, Gruul, Magtheridon-style raids, you would definitely want 25 people. I felt safer with 25. 25 felt like a nice, rounded number. I did 4/5 bosses in Hyjal Summit, but ended up transferring off to play with friends on my current server after the first boss in Black Temple.
25 players still does feel like a good 'large raid' amount of players. Unfortunately, my internet can't handle that. It's less than a 1 MB connection. I can play WoW perfectly fine with no lag. My computer is also fine. I can raid 25s, but only during the day, or very late at night (post 9 PM). No thanks. School and stuff to do on the farm during the day. I wasn't sure I'd ever end up solely in 10 mans but with the changes in Cataclysm, I am happy to do just that. I am sure millions of people have crappy connections like mine, and can't do a thing about it.
In Wrath I spent the first half in 25 mans with a progression-focused guild that went with hard mode progression for Ulduar, ToC, and ICC. We did OS3D, and I did have fun when we killed it (I used my guardian spirit for 1 of the cooldowns...I think I was CD number 2 or 3). It was a lot of work but worthwhile. When my computer crapped out in the spring, I quit raiding, and came back for the tail end of ToC. In January for ICC, my internet was now at the farm, and it couldn't take prime time 25 mans.
25 v. 10 Personalities...
I did enjoy the hard mode raiding. I liked always being on my toes for the entire fight. But, what I didn't enjoy were the inability of people to communicate outside of their cliques without causing other people to feel awkward. Perhaps it was just the type of people in the guild. Our GM and some officers felt like they were above the rest of us for various reasons, some due to RL, some due to their amount of time they spent on the game (think unemployed (by their words), no effort to find a job whatsoever (after a few months, take whatever you can get), complete days spent on WoW). It just wasn't enjoyable. Several people left over the course of a year and I have come to wonder why I didn't either. I guess because I felt if I wasn't raiding 25s, I wasn't really 'raiding'. Long story short, the leadership was distanced from half the guild that didn't 'fit' their personality or have a similar RL situation.
More often than not you're going to find more of this in a 25 man raiding guild. When servers may only have 4-5 quality focused progression raiding guilds, your choices begin to be severely limited if 1 or 2 of those guilds have distanced or immature leadership for whatever reason. The GM of the guild rarely conversed in a casual manner (or much at all), whereas the previous GM had been friendly, open-minded, and talked with everyone who struck up a conversation.
I have heard stories of fun, friendly, positive 25 man guilds like the one blog post I can't find right now that talked about a hilarious run in ICC 25 that was full of fun wipes but at the end of the night, the recruits still wanted to join. My thoughts are that it was the atmosphere, and the way the guild reacted to the wipes (cheerfully and proactively) that caused them to join the guild. There is nothing close to that type of guild (much less one that raids on weekends) on my server.
So, I stick to 10s because for the most part, I can play with the positive people without choking my internet connection. I am happy that I found the guild I did when I returned from this year's (short) break. I was immediately welcomed (not just for my heroism) into the ten man guild where raiding was fun. A mistake made did not mean that you were berated and called a screw up, we now just laughed it off, figured out how to avoid the mistake or help the player, and killed the boss. We progressed. Right now we've had some off weeks while we get through school, work, etc, but we fully intend to knock off The Lich King before Cataclysm. We are also a little behind since we didn't start ICC until about May or June, and some weeks we just didn't have the people for our one night of raiding. When we did, we averaged about one new kill a week. When we went to our new core raiding Wednesday, casual Tuesday schedule, we rammed our way all the way up to TLK. If only we could have made the switch back in June.
In a 10 man environment, everyone can be more relaxed. You can schedule your raids more easily, quickly, faster, and if you need to move the raid to a different night, you can. People get to know the other 9 raiders around them, and learn their healing, DPS, and tanking styles. You know how squishy your tank is. You know the reaction time of your other healers, and you know which DPS can maneuver more easily to kite adds. There are very few cliques, and even if there are, they won't last long in a small guild, unless you have large guilds with several 10 man teams. Then you may have some issues but, scheduling fun events like AQ40 and MC/BWL runs on off nights can be a fun way to bring everyone together. Guild raffles (I'm going to hold one in a few weeks I think to generate some gold for the guild for Cataclysm) are another fun way to have everyone together.
Size Issues in Cataclysm
As I think about how bigger guilds will be able to progress in their guild ranks faster, I have come to the conclusion of: so what. The ranks and the perks that come with them are not "must have" things that will disadvantage big guilds over small ones. The only thing that it will affect is the min-maxers, the super hardcore who need to have every boost and perk to ensure their performance is elite. Okay, that's nice. Go for it! For the most part, the rank rewards carry cute, "Stormwind-bound" cloaks that give you extra "hearthstones," heirloom gear, convenient flask cauldrons (sort of like Scrolls of Fortitude), or pets.
A smaller guild may progress through the ranks a little more slowly, but in the end, I suspect most guilds will be at rank 25 or close to it by next summer at the latest. This allows guilds to settle into the expansion and enjoy it. Everyone will eventually be at the same rank. If you kill 10,000 critters before me, well gosh golly gee, congratulations. In the end, the rank rewards are not essential to raiding--although they are perks, they are not required. The removal of the "top 20 contributors" attribute isn't really that big of a deal to me.
Choose the Size that Fits Your Wishes
If you want a 25 man guild, you will need to look extra carefully to find one that you will fit into. If the raiding core is comprised of mostly volatile, hormone raging teenagers, then you're going to need a thick skin. You probably won't be able to have the relaxed conversations you would in a different guild. People will always be jumping on your every word. They may leave/join often, and the guild may be unstable.
If you can find a positive environment of mostly mid to late twenty, older professions with respect for each other, then you won't need to be wary that someone might twist your words. You can relax. Guilds of this caliber AND size are few and far between because most of the time, everyone balances their playtime with real life events and to find that many mature people in one spot is an amazing feat to me. Hang onto guilds like this.
Finding a positive environment to play in is much easier in a smaller guild and smaller raiding environment. The stress to perform for 24 other people is not there -- you are instead playing with 9 other people. You can still be serious, focus on hard modes, and attain great gear, but your stress level will almost always be lower. Synchronizing 10 people is much easier. The work required for synchronizing 25 people just won't be worth it in Cataclysm--the only thing you can note is that you managed to...synchronize 25 people instead of 10. You managed to get a little extra loot in the process.
The Future of our Guild
Some things I would like to see in the future for our guild include:
- More quality people! I know this is a little off seeing as I favor my smaller guild. But, I envision the ideal size for a guild to be around 30 to 50 people. Any more and you're going to need more officers, more vent spaces, etc. Right now we are around 15 to 20 active players, where 10 of those are casual and 10 are our core team for Wednesdays. If we could expand to a Wed, Thursday, and Friday night (maybe late night) team, with "fun runs" on the weekend, with separate people in all three runs (or close to it) I think that would:
- Give everyone more people to quest and converse with. This helps our casual players who do not raid have more fellow friendly guildmates to hang out with all throughout the different times of the day.
- Allow a more flexible schedule for those who cannot make the daytime raids.
- More in game events. Raffles, Maybe guild drinking parties where we all meet in game somewhere and drink, or are on vent together drinking and socializing while we're also in game somewhere (hey, it can be smoothies, punch, or soda, it doesn't have to be ale). Most of us live spread out from California to New York, Florida to Washington. We most likely may never see each other in the real world. The next best thing is saving a $100 bill by going out on the weekends and just stay in and hang out that way. Don't get me wrong, I love going out to dinner (IRL) but saving a little money now and then works too.