My Vision for Raid Design

On August 8, The Grumpy Elf wrote this article where he listed ten points about raid design and how he’d handle it if he was the solitary dev behind the curtain. The article was brought up on Group Quest #79 and I invite you to check it out.

I found the article interesting. Naturally there are points that I personally agree and disagree on. With so many people playing the game, it would be crazy to have one person behind the entire raid design of course. We each have our own interpretations of what is good for the raiding game and what isn’t.

That doesn’t stop me from giving my own vision of how I’d design raids though. This is just how I’d handle raid design. Some like their eggs sunny side up. Me, I’m more a scrambled kind of person.

Comments here are always welcomed, and I won’t fault you at all for disagreeing with anything I mention here. Since this is more or less a response to The Grumpy Elf’s article, I’ll format my vision in a similar manner.

1. Raid Finder remains. Eliminate “Heroic” mode in name alone. 

Raid Finder has its place in WoW, and based on previous success I can’t see removing this. The “Heroic” mode can be removed in name alone, and harder challenges can be given via elective modes.

2. One lockout. Goodbye 25 man. Hello 20 man.

Encounters would be designed for 10 man or 20 man raids. By trimming 5 players off, some of the math and mechanics of the raid encounters will be easier to adjust. Number of 20 man loot drops would flat-out be double of 10 man drops.

3. 12 bosses per tier minimum.

Small raids have their place in the game, so long as the raid is not the only raid in that tier of content. Multiple small raids provide different environments and make raiding less monotonous. Large, single epic raids can certainly be done also, and I would have at least one tier per expansion cycle that features a single epic raid of 12 encounters or more.

4. Meaningful Trash

If you’ve read The Grumpy Elf’s article by now, suffice to say I agree with him 100% here. A balance can be found between too much and not enough trash. I would only add that trash that introduce some mechanics of the upcoming boss are definitely encouraged.

5. Trash Drops

The idea of trash dropping a BoE token that can be traded for BoP items is intriguing. This would give the potential for rewards to raiders that have all the gear they need already. Could Justice/Valor be retooled somehow around this?

6. Boss Drops

I think boss drops are fine using the system found in Mists of Pandaria, with the option to get additional individual shots at loot using Charms of Good Fortune. Perhaps the final boss of a raid can drop a guaranteed Charm to be used at a later time.

7. Elective Modes

A return to Ulduar raid design in providing additional layers of challenge. Not all bosses need the elective mode treatment, but at least half of the raid tier’s encounters should. Having an Algalon or Sinestra type encounter only accessible by those who can complete all previous elective modes isn’t a bad idea.

8. 3 or more levels of challenge.

This goes hand in hand with keeping LFR and using elective modes. There would be the LFR version, the “normal” version, and elective difficulty for some encounters. Multiple layers of elective challenges for one encounter is fine, but should be used carefully to keep dev and testing time reasonable.

9. Many Achievements

Yes, yes, and yes. I loved Ulduar. I love achievements. This isn’t a bad thing.

10. No Nerfs to Elective Modes, Ever.

Making “normal” mode encounters progressively easier over time is fine and I’ve never had a problem with this. I’m by no means a cutting edge raider, and I doubt I ever will be. That said, I think the integrity of the most challenging mode should be kept intact throughout the duration of the expansion. Feats of Strength for beating hard modes without a debuff is great and all, but just keeping the hard stuff hard isn’t bad either. That said, I would daresay that the hardest elective modes might need to be tuned a bit higher than current heroics are tuned.

That’s what my vision of raid design would be, and it’s only one vision.

LFR was arguably one of the most successful systems Blizzard added to World of Warcraft. Content and areas that a minority of players got to participate in were opened up to millions more who sought the environment of a raid without the strict challenge and skill requirements needed to complete it.

Raid Finder is good for the prolonged health of the game, and in my opinion it came at the right time. For better or worse, it just seems like WoW is a broad, more casual, “starter” MMO for those just getting into the MMORPG experience. As the game’s initial audience gets older, many players move on to other games, whether they are MMO games or not. As new players of a wide range of ages comes in, the game naturally had to adapt to be more welcoming and forgiving to new players.

I don’t think we’ll ever see the removal of LFR now that it has shown itself to be such a success. However, if I was running the controls, I’d eliminate the designation of a “Heroic” mode for raids.

The Ulduar raid in my opinion was the pinnacle of WoW raiding, and a big part of this can be attributed to the mechanisms that were place directly in the encounter to make the battle harder than it normally was.

Different levels of gear would still be necessary. While it would be possible to eliminate the “Heroic” tag from item drops, there needs to be an incentive for completing harder versions of encounters beyond just mounts and achievements. One of the driving points of participating in an MMO is progression, and progression through the improvement of your stats via gear or otherwise is the simplest way to do it.

If all gear is kept at one level per tier, then the majority of players would avoid the challenge of the hardest encounters. Why spend weeks wiping to the hardest encounter for the same drops as completing them on a Raid Finder or “Normal” difficulty? This becomes even more clear when you consider that lower difficulties would almost guarantee drops being given to the raid while wiping on difficult encounters could lead to nothing but repair costs for the week.

Whether you create a Heroic mode, or add in elective modes, the encounters would still require time for design and testing each level of challenge.

Each expansion shows us some evolution in raid design from the dev team. In this first tier we will see one encounter with an “Elite” elective mode added. I hope we see more of a return to elective modes, though I have to say I personally don’t care for “Heroic” and “Elite” tags on items. I’m not sure there’s a solution for that though without devoting more time on art assets for entirely different drops for hard modes.

I would love to see this topic become something like the Blog Azeroth Shared Topic of the week, and I invite and encourage fellow bloggers out there to write your own views. We each look at raiding through different sets of eyes, and perhaps Blizzard might benefit from reading the words you put out there.

Feel free to comment here or email me at

1 thought on “My Vision for Raid Design

  1. I agree with the elective modes, I did enjoy those, and the extra bosses at the end by only completing these I also like. While I am not part of a hardcore progression guild, Elective modes were still something we dabbled in.

    Also Ulduar achievements were great, lets bring those back.

    Trash sucks, meaningful trash, or trash that makes sense for the story of the raid I am ok with. Trash for the sake of a pacing mechanic is just lazy design in my opinion.

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