Time to bring back the 40 man raids? Or what makes a good public raid anyway?

I had a chance to join a random pick up raid in STO recently. The window came up, I clicked yes to zone in and …

It was … duh duh DUH … the crystalline entity!  There were ships all over the place, no one had a clue what to do, local chat was buzzing, adds zoomed around, lots of people died. And then somehow order was slowly pulled out of chaos. People started to give useful instructions, working out how to avoid healing the entity by mistake. There were more deaths, more waves of adds, more swearing. And then finally, the crystalline entity was vanquished by the combined forces of the Federation. Hurrah! Loot for all.

Even my little low level cruiser helped a bit, or at least failed to hinder. And you know what? It was fun. Really good fun.

The conclusions I draw from this are:

  1. STO is actually a pretty fun game at its core. (I gave up for a week or two in solidarity with my husband who couldn’t play until his new computer arrived, but now it is here and settled, it’s back to the Klingon bashing.)
  2. Raiding in pick up groups can be insanely good fun. There is some genuine fun gameplay to be had.
  3. Holy shit, WoW raids would not work as cross-server PUGs the way they are currently designed.

I have seen a few people express the wish for a cross-server random raid tool in Warcraft. For this to work, cross-server raids really need to be designed differently from the current 10/25 man raid instances. The only current raids that even come close to viable for cross-server groups are VoA and Onyxia. And I want to discuss why that might be.

Firstly, current 10/25 mans are way too dependent on the tank/s and their gear. Anyone who has used the LFD tool will be familiar with the way tanks get heavily scrutinised even in random 5 man instances.

Now imagine a cross-server PUG ICC raid. What would happen is that people would drop group instantly if the tanks weren’t highly (over)geared. They would drop group if the group makeup wasn’t optimal, for whatever they considered to be optimal. They would drop group as soon any anything went wrong. They would drop group as soon as anything went right and they’d gotten their loot. They would drop group as soon as anyone told them to do anything they didn’t want to do. They wouldn’t all be using the same addons. Half of them would refuse to use flasks or other consumables.

Or in short, as soon as the raid gets remotely hard, it’s vanishingly unlikely that a cross-server PUG will have the patience to do it. Especially for people from lively servers where they have the options to organise their own PUGs where they can also inspect and vet the other players first.

But there is an answer to this.

Fun pick up raids need to be epic, they need to be large scale, they need to not be overly dependent on one or two people, and they need to have simple tactics that are easy to communicate.

So for example, in DaoC, one of the  master level raids involves players invading an enemy keep full of elite minotaur-type mobs and clearing them all out. The keep was huge. Players could use siege equipment if they wanted. There were a lot of mobs. We often zerged the place, telling people the rough kill order and which objectives they needed to capture first. It was chaos, and madness, and constant fighting. And players loved it.

The crystalline entity that I mentioned above was another fun large scale raid. It was chaos, and madness, and constant fighting. And I loved it (can’t speak for the other players!)

I suspect that key to the random raids being fun is that they’re not so heavily skill based that you need to care whether anyone else in the raid knows the tactics or is a hardcore raider. As long as you have a good mix of people, and people can obey simple instructions, the stronger players will make up for the weaker ones. And everyone will get the reward.

If WoW does choose to go this route, and make some  public raids for the cross-server random groups, maybe it is time to go back to the big 40 man raids. Make them big. Make them epic. Make them fun. Make them chaotic. Allow people to let their hair down a bit.

But absolutely do not make them hard, because that does nasty things to random group members.