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Random Raid Tool Guide

The random heroic tool and the extra rewards that it brings to players has been an insanely popular addition to World of Warcraft. Many players log on religiously to complete the random daily with a random group of players. A similar mechanic is the weekly raid quest, but players have started asking for more. You can find several threads in the forums, and hear talk in general about the request for a random raid tool, much like the random dungeon tool.

While players comment about a tool and the desire is there, what players want and what is a good idea in the game can be vastly different things. With that in mind let’s take a look at some of the potential pros and cons of a random raid tool. Keep in mind that the tool doesn’t even exist yet, nor do we know what exactly it would look like if it did. I am just running off of some educated guesses and thoughts about what shape it could take.

The first really big bonus that a random raid tool would allow for is accessibility. It would allow more players access to raids that may never otherwise get into raids. If the tool did a good job matching up players it would allow for successful groups. For instance players from low population servers could join into raids where their server may not have enough non-guilded players to make up PUG groups. I would also allow players to join cross realm groups to better fit their play time, or just to have access to a group.

Could the interface be this simple? Having a random raid tool is also a good way to get more use out of older content. If raids did not show up to be used in the raid tool until they were a tier behind the current content it would keep them well used by players even though they are not being used by the top end raiding guilds. In fact it would likely keep the players that have already finished the content coming back for more, even though they are done, just for the extra rewards.

Lastly and potentially most importantly, even if a group does not do well, getting players into raids has the likely side effect of hooking them into doing more difficult content for the challenge. If you hook players in they will come back, and this will expand the raiding player base. The more players that raid, the more pressure there is for raid content on Blizzard and the more we get. That’s pretty positive to me as a raider.

Potential Downsides (Cons)
There are several downsides to a random raid group, some no better or worse than you would end up with a PUG group. Some however, I think could be potentially far worse.

One of the biggest down sides to a random raid tool is that since you would likely be matched up with many players from many different servers it makes getting into a permanent raid group far harder. This is because you would not normally be able to re-invite players to another raid after that raid. It would make forming a permanent raid and social group nearly impossible. To me that permanent social group is what raiding is all about.

Another big downside is that raid composition, especially for 25 player raids, is much more complicated than trying to put a 5 man heroic group together randomly. There would need to be some serious logic built into the system for even 10 player raids, never mind 25 player raids. Can you imagine if a group got formed with 3 warrior tanks, 6 paladin healers, and all ranged or melee dps? You would struggle in fights that required the opposite type of DPS, or that needed group AoE heals, or needed AoE tanking. Group balancing is a big issue and lots of factors go into it.

Once you have a group, how do you pick the leader? More importantly who is going to listen to them, how do you prove that they should if you’re picked as the leader? It is hard enough to get everyone to listen in a raid some days when they are all guild members, never mind a PUG, never mind a PUG made up of players from several servers! Authority is something that is earned by demonstrated skill, experience, and knowledge, that’s hard to do in the first 5 minutes of being thrown together with random players.

It may be hard to manage raid lockouts as any time a group broke up, because players would assumedly be from different servers it would be almost impossible to regroup at a later date. One potential way around this would be to have insanely short lockout periods for whichever raid you got as the random raid. This could be down to as little as a day, but probably only for non-current raid content. One idea would be to only use the raids older than the previous patch.

Another potential downside is that the in-game voice tool is fairly bad and almost no one uses it. Someone new to raiding and coming into it because of a random tool may not know much about raiding and not realize they need a third-party tool like Ventrilo to run successfully. While not a deal breaker as players will learn over time to get Vent installed and info will be shared, the same as it is in a PUG, new raiders could be put off by a request to install a 3rd party application. Yet without it, they will likely fail hard in a raid and be turned off of raiding.

Lastly, if full premade groups can sign up just to get a random raid with extra bonuses they will use it repeatedly to get additional benefits, potential putting them even further ahead of normal players. I know I would. A way to limit this would be limiting the reward to a once a week reward but allowing redoing of the raids based on lockout. A lot depends on how many people you can bring into the group, the lockout time, and the reward structure. It’s probably not something to worry about yet, but something that would need to be kept in mind with the system’s creation.

Messiah’s opinion on the creation of a Random Raid Tool
While I like the idea of potential extra rewards for raiders, keeping older content being used, and expanding the raider player base, I have serious doubts as to the possible success of a random raid tool. The issue comes about because of the vast number of players that want and expect raid gear but really have no idea how to play. They want the gear handed to them with little to no effort.

Could rewards get even better than those provided for badges?Worse yet, being part of a random raid seriously erodes one of the very basic reasons that players raid. Ask any hard core raider why they raid, I make you a bet that neither of their top two answers have anything to do with gear. The reason most hard core raiders raid is to a) see new content and b) socialize with a group of like minded players. Many hard core raiding guilds survive long enough to move from one MMO to another, this is entirely due to the social bonds that are created between players as they raid week after week, month after month, and year after year. This entire aspect is lost if a raid is simply a group of players thrown together.

Once you look at gear requirements and group requirements I just can not see that any gear check or achievement check that Blizzard puts in is likely to be strict enough. If you look at some of the groups that get created for even simple content like Heroic instances Blizzard has shown that they are too lenient on players and allow players in that have no realistic chance to complete the instance if everyone played or was geared similar to them. Many groups have less than a 50% chance of completing a heroic, so if that same group making methodology and selection is applied to something larger and harder like a raid, the chance of success is likely to be almost zero.

Given the potential downsides of not being able to create long term social groups, and the huge chance of failure I believe that players are likely better to use trade chat in a major city to find a group or members. This way they can be specific about what they need or expect from a player and will always get players from their own server. This will allow for the potential of creating long term bonds with those players and the potential to raid together over and over again.