World of Warcraft

Was 10-man Hardcore Raiding Popular, and Could it be Popular Now?

Content of the article: "Was 10-man Hardcore Raiding Popular, and Could it be Popular Now?"

Guild-based gameplay is at the heart of every massively multiplayer online (MMO) game. No fashionable transmog, impressive DPS ranking, or vast mount collection has significance without a community of friends to share and compete with. Since the inception of MMOs, raiding has been the foremost bit of content motivating players to join guilds. Beyond loot, the core reward of any raiding experience is the intimate comradery that can only be formed after frustratingly demanding hours of dying week after week, ultimately culminating in the satisfaction of defeating bosses. Despite a recent resurgence in table top-based RPGs like DnD, WoW raiding, especially, remains a remarkably popular form of group-based gameplay, perhaps now more than ever during the age of COVID-19 (for example checkout the log dates and frequencies of recent uploads across retail and classic warcraftlogs, esologs and fflogs websites.


As many WoW players continue to age out of college and entry-level jobs and into promotions and families though, the primary challenge of raiding is decreasingly the bosses themselves or even the hours needed to play, but increasingly the major time commitment necessary to keep guilds afloat. If you consider yourself a mythic raider I encourage you to check on your guild’s recruitment officer, because they’re not okay. The challenge of keeping 20 competent mythic-level players together across tiers is a daunting one, especially for those playing on Alliance.


For many, the challenge of sustaining mythic guilds is just too much. Beyond the time commitment, friend groups even after a decade of play remain tight knit, and the task of recruiting new friends for the sole purpose of their DPS is just not attractive. At the same time, however, flexible Heroic and Normal mode raids are underwhelming, and become easy all too quickly. The result is a lot of small groups of players without the time to build a 20-man guild nor the interest in breaking up and spreading across guilds. I’m sure some of you will recognize this situation and these feelings.


What’s Blizzard to do? Many WoW players will recall the enjoyment of 10-man heroic (the previous highest tier) raiding, which required significantly fewer hours to be dedicated to the logistics of guild management while also offering a respectable challenge to raiders. Many will also recall the major difficulties associated with balancing hardcore raid bosses across 10- and 25-man modes, however, which motivated the then indie-sized gaming company to dedicate their few resources to the balance of modern 20-man mythic raids alone (this is a joke, folks).

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Nearing the eve of Shadowlands, Blizzard is now a substantially more resourced company and likely has the resources necessary to make truly challenging content for 10-man groups once again. The defining question then is not whether Blizzard has the resources, but whether there is demand. The table below offers some evidence for this demand.



Drawing on combat log data from World of Logs and Warcraft logs from Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK) through Mists of Pandaria (MoP), the below table displays the number of individual player combat log rankings for 10- and 25-man heroic raid modes (see table notes for details). For example, a guild may upload their kill of 10-man heroic Rag, thus uploading 10 character rankings for that boss (also see notes at the end of this post, which I will continue to update in response to questions).


T A B L E _ L I N K


Even during WotLK when 25-man heroic bosses dropped better loot than 10-man heroic bosses, a substantial proportion (upward of 40%) of individual character logs appeared to be for heroic 10-man. In Cataclysm the gap narrows, with nearly all raid tiers having similar individual player log rankings across 10- and 25-man modes. In MoP however, 10- and 25-man hardcore raids started dropping the same loot, and the proportion of player rankings for 10-man substantially overtakes that of 25-man raids, with upwards of 70% of individual log rankings being for 10-man heroic bosses. Thus, especially when the loot is good, there appears to be significant demand for 10-man hardcore raiding content.

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As the raiding base of WoW’s previous tiers continues to age, the greatest challenges are increasingly outside the instance and even the game. Indeed, the logistics of guild management and recruitment remain a substantial challenge for mythic guilds, perhaps most severely felt by the aging hardcore raider base for whom real-life demands are increasing. At the same time, for many seasoned raiders the modern flexible heroic mode is underwhelmingly easy, especially in light of now countless online resources that make min-maxing decisions easy. The data presented above suggest that even before its heyday, 10-man hardcore raiding was enjoyed by a substantial proportion of players, and even most players when 10- and 25-man hardcore bosses dropped similar loot.


Thus, despite noted balancing challenges between previous 10- and 25-man hardcore raid modes—many of which were biased in favor of 25-man raids—this post establishes that, at least previously, demand for 10-man hardcore raiding was significantly evident, and thus likely to be popular now if given the chance.

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1) These data are not perfect but are likely the best publicly available source to get at the proposed question. WoL for example has some rare duplicates cases, but it seems a reasonable assumption that duplicates will be similarly present across 10- and 25-man mode logs.


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