Well, it's nearing the end of Warlords and apparently either the WoW developers read my blog post and agreed with it--which may have been likely, given it got Reddit bombed and makes up like 40% of my total lifetime traffic even today--or came to the same conclusion as I did on their own.
Raid Size Related Hotfixes
Let's take a look at all of the fight nerfs made after each raid was released to account for small group sizes. Note, I am ignoring changes that are basically scaling bug fixes rather than changes in the encounter fabric, but I did consider adding changes where they prevent mechanics from overlapping (ie: bosses putting two effects on the same person). Clearly that would affect a smaller raid disproportionately compared to a large raid, but it still could significantly affect a large raid if they had a string of bad luck, so I opted not to include those.
- Gruul now uses Petrifying Slam against 5 targets in a 10-player raid, scaling up to 10 targets in a 30-player raid (used to be 8 targets for all raid sizes).
- Reduced the damage that Gruul’s Inferno Slice deals to 10-player raid groups on Normal and Heroic difficulties, but increased the rate at which damage scales with raid size. Larger raid groups should find the damage relatively unchanged; smaller groups will find that the ability now deals less damage.
- Adjusted scaling to reduce the amount of health by roughly 10% on Xhul'horac, Omnus, Unstable Voidfiend, and Vanguard Akkelion for a 10-player raid on Normal and Heroic difficulty. Health should remain the same as before for raids with 30 players.
- Adjusted scaling to reduce the amount of health by roughly 10% on some Hellfire Reinforcements and some Felfire-Imbued Siege Vehicles for a 10-player raid on Heroic difficulty. Health should remain the same as before for raids with 30 players.
- Hellfire Reinforcements: Contracted Engineer, Gorebound Felcasters, Iron Dragoon, Hulking Berserker
- Felfire-Imbued Siege Vehicles: Felfire Artillery, Felfire Crusher, Felfire Demolisher, Felfire Flamebelcher
- Health of adds for [Kilrogg Deadeye] have been reduced by roughly 20% for raid groups with 10 players on Normal and Heroic difficulty. This should help with the difficulty experienced by smaller raid groups losing their DPS when sending players down into the death phase. The health of adds scales back up and should be roughly unchanged from before as raid group size increases.
- We have made a number of changes aimed at reducing the difficulty of the Archimonde encounter for smaller raid groups on Normal and Heroic difficulty, with a focus on the final phase of the encounter in particular. These changes are offset by increased scaling with respect to raid size, so that the experience for larger raid groups will be mostly unchanged.
- Infernal Doombringer's health has been reduced by up to 15%.
- Shadowed Netherwalker's health has been reduced by up to 15%.
- Living Shadow's health has been reduced by up to 15%.
- Reduced the damage of Wrought Chaos by up to 20%.
- Reduced the damage of Shackled Torment by up to 20%.
- Living Shadows now spawn from each Nether Tear at a reduced rate for smaller raid sizes.
Most of the fights in BRF didn't involve non-tanks handling adds for the most part, aside from Blackhand or Furnace, and only Oregorger really had an interrupt rotation and it was pretty simple; adding more players wouldn't change the difficulty there.
Iron Maidens Case Study
Iron Maidens suffers the same issue that Kargath suffers except worse: you lose half your raid every boat phase. Because the boat phase always has the same number of players on it, the boat itself shouldn't scale with raid size, meaning that you're losing a disproportionately large part of your raid for the same amount of time if you're a 10-player raid. In fact, if you look at warcraftlogs.com's data, you'll see that Uk'urogg does have 5.45M health on all raid sizes on Normal difficulty, but Admiral Gar'an Normal's health scales up linearly ~5.5M health per player, so you should always send the same number of players to the boat, regardless of your overall raid size.
If you assume 2 boat phases, you're looking at about 45s for one boat phase, and 1m15s for the the other at 50th percentile DPS, give or take a few seconds from either, and in that case about an 8 - 9 minute fight. Meaning 25% of the fight, you're missing literally half your raid, and most of them DPS, which means you're not really putting damage on the bosses aside from the tanks, or 1 DPS and a tank. For ease of calculations, let's pretend you always send 4+1 tank, so about 4.75 DPS out of a total of 5+1.5 DPS (2 Tanks).
For 10 players, you're losing ~73% of your total DPS for 25% of the time, so a net loss of 18.2%.
For 11, ~63.6% of your total DPS for 25% time, so a net loss of 15.9%.
For 12, ~55.9% for 25% time, so net loss of 14.0%
For 13, ~50.0% for 25% time, so a net loss of 12.5%
For 14, ~45.2% for 25% time, so a net loss of 11.3%
and so on.
Clearly an inverse exponential curve in terms of lost DPS. Case closed, right? Not quite. In a twist, it turns out that while the boss health does increase linearly, Blizzard has it increase somewhat faster than the amount of DPS you're adding, ostensibly to handle the fact that 10-mans have it harder. Also interesting to see just how hard adding a healer hits due to the linear scaling a little faster. Healer bumps are kind of arbitrary, but don't affect the overall curve.
|Iron Maidens Normal. It's backwards!|
|Hans'gar and Franzok Normal. This is what we usually expect boss health per DPS player curves to look like.|
I'm pretty sure this is the part where I get to say I totally called it, if I weren't so modest. ;)
That being said, Blizzard is clearly now designing their encounters with raid size in mind, or at least nudging them after the fact, so hooray for us smaller raids! Perhaps they should consider adding, "How does this encounter play with 10 players?" to their testing/design review checklist so we don't need to wait a month and a half for hotfixes because they're waiting for data rather than performing in-house analysis.
And let me say for the record that Xhul'horac as a 10-player raid is absolutely Xhul'horrific. Half your raid dealing with surge debuffs every 30 seconds, not enough raiders to have folks reliably set for clearing fire via explosions, not enough people to deal with adds while that's all occurring. It's clear to me at least that Xhul'horac, despite the fact they compensated him health-wise, still sucks the big one mechanically for tiny raid sizes. Even having 1 extra person the next week made the fight immensely easier.
There's still the open question on raid cooldowns. 3 healers for 10 players means fewer tools than a 20-player raid (both in the literal and ideally the figurative sense, but that's my bias against large raid sizes showing). Being able to chain, say, Devotion Aura for twice as long is a pretty big bonus given it perfectly scales with raid size. Perhaps that'll be my next project one day, analyzing healing and damage output to see how that changes over raid size and compare that to tools available.
But in the meantime, I'm glad to see that efforts are being made around smaller raid sizes. WoW is pretty much the only game out with variable raid sizes with razor balance, so it's new territory with new design problems.
#WorldOfWarcraft, #Theorycrafting, #GameDesign