Let me start off by saying, I’m not much of a raider. That being said, I see the value in having difficult raid encounters that take people a good chunk of time to master. Yet, there seems to be a line drawn in the sand between the veteren raiders and those that have just begun recently.

The new trend in WoW seems to be “10-Man = Easy Mode, 25-Man = Hard Mode” and to me, that just seems poor. Don’t get me wrong here, I think that there should be easy raids. On that same token though, there should also be hard raids and firm barriers, scratch that, hurdles to progression. I’ll be honest, the fact that even new guilds are putting raids on farm after less than a week is a little disconcerting.

What happens when there are no more raids? Blizzard can only churn out content so fast. Fights are only interesting until they get rote. At that point, people tire of doing them. That won’t stop guilds from making the runs of course, the homogenization of caster gear ensures that they’ll be run more than ever (that and the low cloth drop rate). Eventually though, the fun to work ratio decreases to the point of grind. The fun-seekers will diminish and the gear-seekers supercede. That’s nothing against either player and my intention is not to overly stereotype, it just strikes me as a natural inevitability.

All fights get mastered given enough time. However, increasing the difficulty also increases the learning curve and the longevity of an encounter. To make that short, it’ll keep players busier for longer. Therefore, I sincerely hope that we see some truly challenging 10-Man content going forward.

If for nothing else, not everyone can get 25 people together and organized. That in itself can make an instance “hard mode” as sometimes the human element can present the most challenge. Smaller guilds shouldn’t be relegated to the ez-chair because of their size. Perhaps more importantly than that, maintaining a 10-Man raid team doesn’t indicate any less readiness to tackle difficult content.

I know, I’m forgetting the option of making fights harder yourself as is possible with “three drakes” encounter. To that, I simply say meh. Unless it’s more across the board and not just a couple of scenarios, the real impact is negligible.

The solution is to offer more entry points into raiding and follow it up with more options to progress. Scaling goals with difficulty is appropriate but the perceived difficulty between 10-Man and 25-Man shouldn’t be so disparate. Give people challenge, finding that middle ground between the elite raids of TBC and the open raids of Wrath, and I’ll give you a bucket of fish long-term players.

I’m happy that there’s easy content. I’m happy that it scales. I just hope we’re not leaning towards difficulty stereotypes for better or worse.

*Update: It looks like Ulduar is set to have more “hard mode” encounters with better loot for completing them that way. As Daelo puts it, Ulduar will be the “second year” class to follow up Naxx 101. We’ll have to see how it turns out.