I prefer 10-man raids to 25-man ones. There, I said it. I know that back in the day, 40-mans were the Thing To Do and All Was Grand and there were 400 people on rotating raid rosters and it was Magical and Wondrous. I’m sure it was. And I know that now 25-mans are the Heroic Version and Challenging and Where It’s At. I’ll still take my 10-man any day. It probably stems back to my WoW upbringing…
When my pally and I started playing WoW, we always played together. We were a two-person night elf team of incredible naivete and ignorance, our eyes sparkling over every new quest, every new town, and, ooo, look, a DEER! Just wandering out in the middle of the forest!
And while we had a great deal of fun discovering this new land, we interacted with exactly zero other players. And why not, you may ask? Because our only other examples of Warcraft-related player interactions came from Warcraft III, where you were likely to get some variation on the same fun theme if you attempted conversation with an unknown person: (a) your basic garden-variety jerk, (b) your I-can’t-believe-you’re-a-girl/married-to-a-girl jerk, or (c) teenagers learning to type swear words at epic speeds into their chat. As a result, we kept to ourselves, even attempting to two-man dungeons to varying degrees of success. (Since we didn’t have the first clue about “specs” or “appropriate weapons”, we were not the best players in the world.) We even spent a fruitless fifteen minutes clicking on a summoning stone outside of Blackfathom Deeps when we decided to lift our ban briefly to attempt a dungeon while the quests were still yellow. (Please note, there were only two of us in our group at the time, and we were both clicking on the stone.)
“It opened a portal-thingy.”
“Yeah. How do you think that summons people? Do you suppose Blizzard just picks people who want to do Blackfathom and drops them through the portal?”
“I don’t know…that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Hmmm…nothing seems to be happening.”
“I guess no one wants to do Blackfathom right now. Oh, well. Maybe we can try again later…”
Eventually we began to read up on the game. We rolled new characters and actually (*gasp*) talked to people in-game. We even helped people out on quests, and, in return, got helped out by others. In Duskwood we met a Charming Warrior who we killed ogres with and then went on our merry way. The next day, the Charming Warrior whispered me, and off the three of us went to do something else. This kept up until I learned how to use the Friend function and made the Charming Warrior a part of our regular WoW lives. She, in turn, introduced us to her favorite game partner (Charming Warrior #2). The four of us began to level together and eventually rerolled a group that would begin to level almost entirely via instances and included Tazha and my pally’s favorite pally. The Charming Warrior’s brother was in a guild, so despite my continuing suspicions of in-game interactions with people who were not Charming Warriors, we got invited to join the guild and did so.
Eventually we made it to 80 and decided we wanted to raid. By this time, my pally and I had shed most of our shyness. Our guild was not a “raiding guild”, per se, but most of the guildies did participate in raids whose membership spanned several guilds. All of them seemed to be adults who had gotten swearing for fun out of their system. A lot of them were couples, so my being a girl was no shock to anyone. Some of them had kids. People knew each other in real life, or had been raiding together since the Magical Days of 40-Man Raids, and, just like in real life, it was all about networking and connections. We got invited to a 25-man raiding group, and then our foursome was incorporated into a 10-man raiding group. We learned the ins and outs of Naxx and OS and VoA and EoE. Months went by and Ulduar opened up, and we bravely vaulted forward into the new content. I became friends with other resto druids and discussed specs and rotations and armor.
As the weeks went by and I gamely showed up with fish feasts, flasks, properly gemmed/enchanted armor, etc, etc, to each raid – having by this time discovered the WoW blogosphere and understanding that preparation was actually pretty damn important – I began to realize more and more that although I have fun in the bigger raids, they are not what I enjoy the most.
Certainly from a challenge perspective there is more stuff to be aware of, although I also think there is an argument to there being more forgiveness with larger groups (one person dies in a 10-man and that’s 10% of your forces, and if it’s a tank or a healer, it may just have made the task at hand impossible.) But really, it’s the Norm factor that keeps the 10-man raids closest to my heart.
Just like in Cheers, when I step into the raid vent for 10-man, there is a feeling of “Norm!” or, in my case “Tazha!”, that I don’t get from the bigger group. I can cut jokes and tease, I can feel free to bound around like a big bear-shaped goof-off, and I have started to build relationships similar to the ones I have with the Charming Warriors (who are now friends with my pally and I in real life.) Not that this casual friendliness our 10-man shares hampers our ability to do the job. We are almost to Yogg-Saron and a lot of our raiding involves plowing ahead, not tree-hugging.
In 25-man raids, however, I only know a handful of the people. There is a certain level of camaraderie among the rest, although there seems to be an accompanying level of drama along the lines of “ugh, Raid Member X is at it again?” that stems from those who have known everyone longer than I have. But I never feel the full ease and comfort in the 25-man raids that I do in the 10-man ones. Maybe because it’s harder in the beginning to confidently throw your voice out into the middle of a group of people who have gone from half-of-them-are-strangers (10-man) to almost-all-of-them-are-strangers (25-man). Or maybe I just like smaller groups – even in real life I always prefer a dinner for four over a party for 100.
So although I love the challenge of healing a raid at any group level, the Norm factor will always win out for me in the end. I suppose I am just a creature of habit, always drifting back to my familiar bar chair and the strange cast of characters who keep me entertained and feeling appreciated week-to-week. Cheers!