10 vs 25 comparison
So we decided to take a peek at the 10-man side of raiding. The plan was to run a 25-man normal mode raid in tandem with the hc 10-man up to Ragnaros in order not to waste any legendary pieces and get the valor points.
We picked a balanced (performance-wise) raid comp that could deal with the first six bosses, made a slightly modified comp for Ragnaros, and went to beat some pixels to the ground.
Onwards to the bosses:
The feel of the fight was very similar to 25. A lot less was happening in the first phase, making things clearer. The numbers seemed about ok, though we could have afforded to put much more dps upstairs from the start, easing the last phase a bit.
The boss was mostly a matter of not dying and then distributing loot, just like in 25. Not dying seemed to be a bit easier though, with less damage and less stuff going around. Not that you'd have enough combatresses here to handle the mass suicides happening in 25 anyway.
Not really any major differences here either. Incoming damage seemed to be a bit lower than in 25, especially from the avoidable stuff, since you can actually see something in the 10-man. Interestingly Liquid Obsidians still only restored one stack upon reaching the boss and the amount of spawns is lower than in 25-man. It probably doesn't make a lot of difference in practice though, since it won't be a problem if you do the boss properly.
More or less the same encounter, just with fewer people and easier and clearer positioning. Random deaths to dogs when healers are sleeping hurt slightly more on 10, since you can only alt-tab once (as opposed to three times on 25) without penalties. Bruteforced it all the way through like proper champs.
It should be noted that the first four bosses all felt very similar between the different raid sizes, i.e. find a working tactic, do not die, collect loot. Not dying seemed to be easier across the board, simply because there is less stuff going on at any given time. Beth'tilac is the only one with any real throughput check, but it's lenient enough in both 10 and 25 not to be a problem if handled correctly. Frankly they are not different enough, and not hard enough, for there to be much point in debating the difficulty differences.
Baleroc the Gatekeeper
Our setup (Rakez wanted loot...)
Here's the first boss with meaningful differences between the raid sizes. In 25 we ran with two tanks and four healers, careful torment + debuff positions, and an elaborate enrage plan. We just barely met the dps requirements for the fight. We saw most 10-man guilds doing it with one tank and two healers, so we figured we'd do that and have plenty of dps left over.
We had a few deaths with two healers (quite looked like four-healing in 25), and noticed that we actually had enough dps left over to do two bosses at the same time. We picked up a third healer, which completely trivialized the healing. After noticing no one was keeping up sunders we proceeded to loot the boss.
The main difference is that in 25-man you are short on dps and short on healing. You can't really compromise from either -- and if you do take five healers you need a hell of a plan for the enrage. In 10-man you can either run with three healers and only worry about dps, or run with two healers and only worry about healing. You also don't need to worry about the debuff positions for Tormented too much, since there's plenty of room to go around and only one crystal to soak.
Not only was this fight clearly easier in 10-man, it didn't really even have the same feel to it. Somehow forcing three healers and about 5% more health on the boss would have done wonders.
What happens when your tank forgets to turn on AD on the first scorpion slash and dies? You proceed to one-shot the boss and collect loot of course!
The fight plays (or rather, you should play it) much like the 25-man version. You maximize time on the damage/healing buff by not taking damage, which means Majordomo spends most of his time leaping around in cat form. The notable gameplay difference is that only three Burning Orbs spawn. They are an absolute pain to deal when they spawn in multiple clusters in 25-man, which simply cannot happen with only three.
The biggest problem though is that the boss has way too little health. With a completely failed pull, we still beat the enrage by about a minute and a half. It also felt like a two healer fight, and we were running with three. In all honesty, the boss could use a good +25-30% hp buff.
The fight feels more similar to the 25-man version than Baleroc, but because the numbers are so ridiculously off, Majordomo has to take the cake for being the boss with the largest 10/25 gap. You really should be able to do the 10-man version rather easily even if you dropped one healer plus one dps and went 8-man. That's just silly for the penultimate boss of a raid tier.
The dreaded Ragnaros. Without giving too much, the fight *feels* very much the same, as it should. On the surface it's seems like nearly the same encounter, but under the hood you see some differences.
It's unclear why, but for some reason the Magma Traps in p1 do less damage than in 25-man. Doesn't seem like a big deal unless you've clocked hundreds of deaths in p1 to traps that are synced poorly with Hand or Wrath of Ragnaros. It really isn't a huge issue even counting that, but immediately noticeable and rather peculiar. Maybe we're just doing it wrong.
Phase two is pretty similar. Aoeing the Molten Elementals down is possible with a reasonable comp and spreading really shouldn't be an issue with an acre of room to go around, and in all honesty should be about a million times easier than in 25. We like to blow stuff up though, so we just aoe'd through like in 25-man, with plenty of overkill.
Sons of Flame in the intermissions perform quite differently. They're made out of paper in 10-man, but boy are they fast without proper control. Eight spawn in both raid sizes. In 25-man and in the first intermission in 10-man the Sons are completely controllable. The second intermission in 10-man however has the tanks tied up with the Scions, and some guys occupied with Blazing Heat, which means that you'll have to figure some stuff out on the fly. Depending on the raid comp the difficulty can vary greatly with the spawn spots. If the Sons spawn in clusters, they'll die to aoe instantly (really). But if they have a good spread, this portion can be more challenging than in 25-man.
Without going too much into detail on p3 and p4, there's again a number problem. The boss has too little hp, and what's a nerve-cracking dps race on 25 is a walk in the park in 10 that doesn't even require Bloodlust/Heroism. Moreover, looking at the Dungeon Journal you could easily think that handling two meteors in 10-man should be equal to handling five meteors in 25-man -- after all, they both occupy 20% of the raid. In practice it simply does not work this way. The boss has proportionally so much less hp in 10-man that it more than makes up for lost dps time. Anyone close to killing Ragnaros will know how big of a role this plays, and how everything else ultimately turns out to be meaningless.
To be fair though, RNG does play a slightly bigger role in the 10-man version. And there aren't many things more annoying than RNG that you weren't good enough to handle.
It's immediately obvious that there's a much greater degree of clarity and control in the 10-mans. Thinking logically, this should help quite a lot with the learning curve and avoiding mistakes, but that's not really something we could say our little skirmish 'proved' in practice. We already knew what the encounters were about and what the flame to avoid looked like -- relearning to accommodate differences is very different than learning from scratch.
A theme of more significance that you can clearly see in the three harder bosses for this tier is that the dps requirement is much too lenient in 10-man. This means that you don't really have to cut the amount of healers, which ensures relaxed gameplay for the healers while about half of their 25-man brethren are taking beta blockers just to be able to see clearly. The other half is naturally on the bench, sitting out for the extra dps. Perhaps this is a backlash from what we've been hearing about T11, but it really doesn't work as it is.
Proper tuning has repercussions though, since class balance has a huge impact when you're forced into two-heal and solo heal situations. And that's not even a stretch -- don't be surprised if you see a druid solo healing Ragnaros 10 hc before this tier is over. Might or might not happen, but at least it seemed plausible enough. Try doing that with a shaman.
This leads us to the fact that the gap between an optimal setup and the wrong setup seems to be quite a bit larger in 10-man than in 25s. If the encounters are really hard, you'll need a proper setup. Guilds shooting for a world first should always be expected to come up with one, but those below, the ones without alt raids, will be left hanging. If the encounters are tuned for the 'average' setup, guilds who can afford the optimal one will steamroll through them.
If we were really playing 10-man, we *would* have a close to optimal setup. Even right now, scaled down from 25 to 10, we would have about 14 players and 30-ish fully raid-capable characters. The difficulty and tuning we're concerned about is for that scenario, not for the level where you're simply enjoying the game with the hand you've been dealt.
Now that you've read all that, come discuss the matter in this thread but remember to stay civil, trolling and flaming will not be tolerated.