Alot of concern has been thrown around since we got to know about the changes to 25/10 man raiding that will come in Cataclysm. Apparently 25man and 10man raids will be about equally difficult and most importantly, give the same loot. This has never before been the case, where the best loot only was obtainable from doing the bigger raids (or some serious pvp, but in wrath pvp loot got less good pve stats). This is yet another step Blizzard is taking towards the more casual players, as it is arguably easier to find 9 friends to raid with than 24. No matter if people think it's a good idea or not people seem to think this is the death to 25man raiding. Why would you go to the lengths of gathering 25 people for something, when 10 people will give you the same loot? I'm not sure it's that easy though.
The bloggosphere is being coincidental on me again. Vidyala over at Pugging Pally happened to write about this topic some days ago. In a way I love it, it gives me the chance to see someone elses thoughts on the matter before posting my own and also the chance to link over there in case you'd like to read another post on it.
I've spent most of my raiding career in a 10 man strict guild, and I enjoyed it overall. It does create a rather tight bond to raid with the same 10 people all the time. Or at least that's what you'd think. About 2 months ago I joined a bigger guild to be able to try some 25man raiding, something I'd only ever done in pugs before that (not counting the occasional 25mans we manage to scrape together back in BC in my old guild). The simple reason was that I wanted to try something new (and my old guild had lost alot of its core raiders anyway, so I thought now might be as good a time as any). And it made me realize that the differences between the two raid types aren't that big, at least not in my experience. Up to date I've done plenty of 10man and 25man raiding in ICC so this is where I can compare stuff, and considering ICC is our latest (albeit running rather old by now) raiding dungeon, maybe that is the best place to start anyhow.
Firstly, and maybe alot of you people won't agree with me here - the difficulty level difference isn't that big. People say that managing 25 people around is way tougher than 10 people, I don't agree. As I have mentioned before it is also easier to have someone die in 25man than in 10 man, overall my experience tells me that these two factors take eachother out when it comes to difficulty. The difficulty difference in game mechanics have so far not been noticeable, overall they're about as punishing to either setup. And as far as game mechanics go we can only hope Blizzard manage to make them as fair as possible considering they intend the encounters to be equally difficult. In ICC they still intend 10man to be easier than 25man, but as I said even then I don't think there is a big difference.
But even if it was easier to find a good 10man group than a good 25man group, people seem to be missing the most important point - what do people enjoy the most? Even if 10mans have been around for a long time, 10man strict guilds aren't a common thing. Do all the people playing in 25man raid guilds do it just for the better loot? I just won't think that is the case.
And all the troubles we have in our 25man guild, we had back in my 10man guild. People who stop raiding, people who don't share the views of seriousness, raids having trouble getting filled and having to replace with non-regular raiders. People who come and go. Since I started out raiding I haven't really been part of a core group for very long. There were some people who've been there since the beginning, but most people actually quit playing (which is one of the biggest reasons I changed guild at all, as mentioned). And if we had some people who stayed all the way, they didn't sign for every raid. And the same thing goes for my 25man guild. Eventhough there are some people who have near 100% attendance, a big chunk of the raid group always seems to consist of those occasional raiders, them who have time to raid about once a week instead of perhaps three times a week.
One week we have 30+ signs for our raids, and we're thinking "boy maybe we're a little too many now" and the next week we have 20 ish signs thinking "hmm, better start recruiting again". It's like a yo-yo, up and down. Right before a new expansion might be the worst of times in terms of guild stability, but honestly I don't think things stay constant for very long mid expansion either. Maybe during the time when everyone levels up to 85, and maybe even through the clearing of the whole first raid, but then people quickly seem to find other things to do and the whole "recruit?/not recruit?" mess starts all over again. Even if the same people stay they suddenly decide they want to play another class alltogether and the most important healer turns into yet another hunter. I won't force anyone to play anything they don't like, the point is that guilds change all the time no matter if you're in a big or small one.
It is what happens when you're dealing with people, and this won't change. And this doesn't differ whether you're in a 25man or 10man guild, because in either case you're trying to keep a working amount of people interested in raiding towards your guilds goals.
Blizzard have even said the amount of drops in 25man will be proportianately bigger than in 10man, which means in a way it'll still be the "better" choice to do 25mans, if it's gear you're after. But personally, I've really enjoyed doing 25mans, and I really wouldn't mind continouing doing so at all, even if there was no "benefit" of it in ways of better or more loot. Even if 25mans won't be more difficult, it does add another dimension, another way of playing, that I really enjoy. Coordinating 25 people doesn't have to be more difficult, and I don't think it is, but it is different. So everyone has to find out whether they enjoy the 10man setup more or the 25man setup. I think 25man raiding is far from dead. I'm just glad 10man raiding will be just a good a choice for those days when you don't have enough people for a 25man. Or simply enjoy doing raids with 9 friends instead of 24.