Data Analysis and the World First Race

In catching up on the news from this week, I found myself reading comments on mmo-champion.  I know from previous experience this is a bad idea.  I know that reading these comment threads is only going to make me angry, and that brain cells will commit hare-kari in protest over having to suffer through it.  And yet, like any good train wreck, I simply can’t tear my eyes away.

In particular, I was reading the recent post about DREAM Paragon’s world first 10-man Mogu’Shan Vaults clear.  Which is a great achievement, no argument there.  But of course, in the comments, people immediately started turning it into an argument about whether 10-man is harder than 25-man.  Some choice quotes:

Ummm…. there is WAYYYYY more 10 man guilds then 25man guilds and the next guild in line has 2 bosses down in 10man…… lots of guilds are almost finished with 25mans….. nuff said.

Again, 10mans much harder than 25s. Can confirm myself.
10mans do matter, especially when those are the actual challenge.

Well, I`m more for 25HC myself, but looking at the progression of other hardcore 10-man raiding guilds having only 2/5, whilst 25-man guilds are 5/6 or 4-3 alread… it makes me think 10HC might be really badass in MoP.

Now, in the interest of being completely honest, I come into this discussion with a bit of a bias.  I raid 25′s primarily, and it’s no secret that I think 25-man is generally the harder content.  That said, I also ran a separate 10-man alt group in Cataclysm, so I do have experience seeing both formats when the content was relevant.

I’d also like to think that my bias has some basis in rationality.  I don’t have a massive dislike for 10-mans, nor do I want to see them die, nor do I think that 10-man raiders are lesser people.  I think that a 10-man fight can be tuned to be as difficult or more difficult as a 25-man boss can, and there are a variety of examples from Cataclysm that support that argument.  In some sense it’s simple – you can always tweak the numbers up to make a boss in either format harder.

However, I do think that in general, Blizzard doesn’t tend to make 10-man bosses harder, but easier.  There are a variety of reasons for that, but most revolve around two simple logistics principles:

  1. You can make a 25-man fight more complicated because there are moving parts.  There are a large number of mechanics that require X people to do the right thing, and that type of mechanic gets exponentially harder the higher X is.
  2. Conversely, you can’t tune a 10-man as tightly because there are too few moving parts.  It’s harder to tune a DPS check to be challenging in 10-man because the variance of raid DPS is much larger.  Class stacking affects both formats, of course, but a 10-man has some inherent degree of this thanks to discreteness.  If you tune such that the “stacked” groups are challenged, nobody else has a chance, and everyone feels compelled to class stack.  See, for example, heroic Spine of Deathwing on 10-man.

However, I don’t want to talk about theory in this post.  Hamlet has already done a great job of outlining the theoretical argument already, and I think his analysis is spot-on.  Anything that I could write would end up being a re-hash of his points anyhow.

Instead, what I want to do is look at the data.  In particular, we have some information about the world first race that we can critically analyze.  Unlike the commenters I quoted above, let’s think carefully about what that data means.

First, we need to agree on what the data is.  From the mmo-chamion post:

  1. DREAM Paragon cleared 10-man heroic at the time of that post.
  2. The next-closest 10-man team was only 2/6 at that time.
  3. Method and Blood Legion were 5/6 in 25-man at that time.
  4. At the time I’m writing this blog post (10/15), there is only one other guild at 6/6 and five guilds at 5/6 in 10-man heroic.
  5. At the time I’m writing this, all of the top ten guilds have cleared 25-man heroic.

Now, you might look at that data and draw the same conclusion that some of our mmo-champion commenters did.  “Well, clearly 25-man must be easier, look at how many guilds have finished 25-man compared to 10-man!”  But  that’s not what I see in that data, and in fact I’d argue that without further information this conclusion is fundamentally flawed.

The reasoning is pretty simple, but it’s something most people never even think about.  It rests upon the assumption that everything else about the two situations is equivalent.  In mathematical terms, it’s assuming that there are no other variables that affect the data except for raid size.  In the terms an economist might use, we’re assuming there’s no sampling bias.  One of my favorite books, Freakonomics, discusses why this is generally not a good assumption and how you can use the types of normalization principles normally used by economists analyzing large data sets to improve the conclusions you draw.

As a simple example, consider this comment by another mmo-champion poster:

Yeah, or maybe it’s because the 25 man guilds that are so progressed are raiding many many hours a day compared to 10 mans not.

The poster raises a very good point.  One of the things Ghostcrawler mentioned during our discussion with him at BlizzCon (if being ranted at by a drunken, belligerent Meloree counts as a discussion anyway) is that one of the biggest factors in raid progression is how many nights/hours per week a guild raids.  We’ve implicitly assumed that all of these raid groups are raiding the same amount of time.  But this is probably not the case – how many guilds in the world raid as many hours as Paragon, Method, Blood Legion, and the other top guilds?

It’s not as many as you might think.  Out of the top ten 25-man guilds, eight claim to raid 7 days a week (and the other two are Blood Legion, whose profile claims 6 raids a week, and Method, whose profile claims 1 – obviously inaccurate).  Out of the top ten 10-man guilds, only three claim to raid 7 days a week.  The rest are all 4-5 nights.

And even then, it’s not clear how many hours of raiding that works out to be.  Those other 7-night guilds may not be raiding as many hours per day as Paragon.  If the 25-man guilds that have cleared Mogu’Shan are all raiding 40+ hours a week, but Paragon is the only 10-man guild doing so, then the conclusion based on the progression discrepancy doesn’t hold water.

And this is just one of many unsubstantiated assumptions that go into the conclusion that 10-man is harder.  For example:

  1. It assumes that the difficulty ramping is identical on 10- and 25-man.  Maybe the third boss is a major cock-block on 10-man, but the rest of the bosses are much easier.
  2. It assumes that either all or none of the 10-man guilds are class stacking for the fights.  Paragon’s final boss kill had 4 druids in the raid composition.  I don’t know if they used the same comp for the third boss, but it’s possible that they did and that it gave them a significant advantage over the other 10-man groups.
  3. Related to #2, we’re assuming that all of the 10-man groups have similar class composition.  Maybe none of them are class-stacking, but Paragon had a particular class or spec the others didn’t.
  4. Perhaps most importantly, it assumes an equal skill distribution between 10- and 25-man guilds.  If the skill level of the players in the 25-man guilds is higher than that of the 10-man guilds, then the whole argument falls apart.

Now, that last point is bound to be controversial, but it’s also likely to be the most important factor to consider.  So let me throw some disclaimers at you.  First, I’m certainly not trying to say 10-man raiders are “bads.”  All of the players in these guilds play well, far above my skill level for sure.  And I don’t think that raiding 10-man makes you a bad raider, either.  There’s nothing inherent about 10-man that gives you a scarlet B.  In fact, I don’t even think that the statement is true on average when applied to the greater WoW population.  The average 10-man raider is probably just as skilled as the average 25-man raider, within reasonable statistical deviations.

But we’re not talking about the average WoW population here.  We’re talking about the best of the best of the best.  And these players and guilds don’t exist in a vacuum – they live in an environment where for 4+ years (more if you count Burning Crusade), 10-man raiding has been considered inferior.  Note that I’m not saying it is inferior, at least not now.  But it certainly was inferior in Wrath, and that stigma stuck with it during Cataclysm.

Whether you believe 10′s are easier or harder doesn’t matter, because that stigma exists, and it does matter.  Because it means that the strongest players have, for the last 4 years, generally drifted towards 25-man guilds.  Why?  Because that’s the world-first race that most people have been focused on.  25-man was the major leagues (and 10-man the minor leagues) for so long that a natural skill inequity built up at the top.  So much so that, even if the 10-man heroics nowadays are harder content, the average player from one of the top ten 25-man guilds is a little better than the average player from one of the top ten 10-man guilds.

Now, what evidence do I have to back this statement up?  Nothing, in fact, because it’s all conjecture.  But it’s no more conjecture than saying that 10-man is the harder format.  The only difference is that I’m being honest: I’m throwing out a hypothesis, and I admit that it’s a hypothesis rather than a hard fact.  I’m more than happy to be proven wrong, or to reconsider my stance given sufficient evidence (though, proving such a statement is tricky work at best).

However, let’s take this hypothesis and see how well it matches the data we do have.  Or to be more specific, let’s see whether the conclusions we draw from it match what we see in the data.  If we start by assuming that the 25-man guilds are statistically “better” than the 10-man guilds (with the exception of Paragon, which we’re treating as a 25-man guild for this analysis because it came from the core of a hugely successful 25-man team), what would we expect to see in the data?

If 10-man and 25-man were roughly equivalent in difficulty, then:

  • We’d expect Paragon to progress at roughly the same speed as Method, Blood Legion, and the other top-ten 25-man guilds.
  • We’d also expect there to be a fairly wide gap between Paragon and the closest runner-up in the 10-man category at any point during progression, right up until Paragon hits 6/6 (at which point, the gap will narrow because Paragon has hit a plateau and the other guilds have time to play catch-up).

If 10-man were considerably easier than 25-man, then:

  • We’d expect Paragon to progress considerably faster than the 25-man guilds.
  • We’d still expect the gap in 10-man progression, but that gap would probably be a little smaller owing to the non-linear nature of encounter difficulty.  It would also close rather quickly once Paragon reaches the 6/6 progression ceiling.

If 10-man were considerably harder than 25-man, then:

  • We’d expect Paragon to trail Method and the other 25-man guilds.
  • We’d still expect a gap in 10-man progression, and the gap would probably be larger due to the harder skill check being applied.

Now, looking at the data we have, the first two situations seem to match.  Paragon progressed a little faster than the 25-man guilds, and there was a large gap between Paragon and the other 10-man guilds during progression.  The gap has also closed rather quickly, though probably not quickly enough for 10-man to be too much easier than 25-man.  Our data seems to be consistent with “10 roughly equal to 25″ and “10 slightly easier than 25,” with the additional assumption that the 25-man guilds are more skilled.

But the data is flat-out inconsistent with the third situation.  Paragon didn’t trail Method, and the progression gap isn’t remaining very large (though it is non-trivial, given how few 10-man guilds have finished the instance so far).  Despite the progression gap, the data simply doesn’t seem consistent with 10-mans being significantly harder (again, given that 25-man guilds are more skilled).

Now, you might quibble with me here (and rightfully so).  “Theck,” you might say, “you’ve decided that 10-mans weren’t harder, but you did so based on a conjecture – namely, that 25-man guilds are more skilled.  What if the inconsistency isn’t due to the difficulty, but due to that conjecture being wrong?”

That’s a fair point, and one we should address.  So let’s make the counter-hypothesis.  Let’s assume that all of the guilds in question are equally skilled.  What do we expect to happen then?

  • First of all, we don’t expect to see any significant progression gap.  It should be a pretty smooth distribution during progression, and once one guild hits 6/6 most of the rest should follow.
  • If 10-mans are easier, then all of the 10-man guilds (including Paragon) will progress faster than the 25-man guilds.
  • If 10-mans are harder, then all of the 10-man guilds (including Paragon) will progress more slowly than the 25-man guilds
  • If they’re about the same, then all of the guilds will progress at roughly the same speed.

However, it’s clear that none of these are consistent with the data.  The gap between Paragon and the rest of the 10-man guilds is strongly indicative of some sort of advantage, and it’s likely to be in the skill department (though, again, it could be hours spent raiding, or some other factor – we just don’t have enough information).  As soon as you throw that conditional out, the “easier/harder” comparisons fall apart, because you’re not comparing the guilds evenly.  Based on Paragon, 10-mans seem easier than 25; based on the rest of the 10-man guilds, 25-mans seem easier.  The only way that can happen is if there’s some inequity between Paragon and the other 10-mans.

There is one potential solution that we haven’t considered yet.  What if Paragon is made up of superheroes?  I say that tongue-in-cheek, but more seriously: if Paragon was not only more skilled than the rest of the 10-man guilds, but also considerably more skilled than most of the 25-man guilds, wouldn’t that fit the data set?  And in fact, the answer to that question is, “yes.”  If Paragon were much better than everyone else, then we’d see exactly what happened in the data set.

However, I also think that’s an unsupportable conclusion if we extend our view to include a little more data.  We know from the Cataclysm world-first races that Paragon was roughly even with Method, Blood Legion, and a number of other 25-man guilds.  Those other guilds got some of the world-firsts, even if Paragon got more than any other single guild.  That strongly suggests that Paragon is not made up of superheroes with magical lightning reflexes and clairvoyant minds.  They’re extremely talented players, of course, but they’re not significantly better than the players in Method, Blood Legion, Vodka, Exodus, etc.

Not enough, at any rate, to be leading in progression by a large margin, and certainly not enough to be leading in progression in a much harder format.  The conclusion that 10-man is a much harder format almost requires that Paragon be much more talented than anyone else around, because otherwise it doesn’t make any sense for Paragon to vault ahead the way it did.  I think this is the single most damning piece of evidence against that conclusion, because we have years and years of data saying that Paragon isn’t several times better than everyone else.

In closing, I want to note that we haven’t “proven” anything in this post.  I don’t think it’s really possible to take such a limited set of data and “prove” anything, to be honest.  But we have shown that the data we do have doesn’t seem to support the argument that 10-mans are harder and the top ten guilds in each format are equally skilled, at least simultaneously.  One or the other has to give, and the model that seems to best agree with the data we have suggests that both assumptions may be in error.

In other words, the years and years of 25-man being the dominant raiding format may be coming to an end, but it has not been without its cost.  Over those years, skilled players have tended towards 25-man, such that there’s probably a noticeable gap in average skill between 10-man guilds and 25-man guilds.  And furthermore, the progression results from Mogu’shan Vaults suggest that in addition to this skill discrepancy, the heroic 10-man version of the instance is roughly equivalent or a little easier than the heroic 25-man version.

Again, this analysis is completely constrained to the top 10-15 guilds in the world for each format.  Don’t read this article and come away thinking that 10-man raiders are less skilled.  Because that is not what I said, nor is it what I think.  Such a statement is probably completely false once you consider the wider WoW population.  But when you constrain your view to a very small subset of the population, such discrepancies can exist.  And if one looks at the data with a critical eye before trying to draw conclusions, I think it becomes very apparent.

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32 Responses to Data Analysis and the World First Race

  1. queldan says:

    There’s an obvious answer to Method’s one-night policy: they simply play 40 hours straight!

    OT – I think that another critical element to your analysis is that you are not providing answers – you’re poking holes in some answers and asking more questions. But, what else could we expect from a master of the scientific method?

    • Theck says:

      Method’s motto is “Can’t sleep till the bosses are dead.”

      Or they just didn’t update their guild profile on Wowprogress since Dragon Soul farm. :P

      • kerriodos says:

        I think a lot of it stems from the fact that the majority of weeks, they do only raid 1 night. Sure, they push progression for some pretty ridiculous hours at the start of a content cycle, but once progression is over it quickly becomes fairly easy for a guild of that calibre to knock out a main raid and an alt raid in a single night. Treckie has posted on the matter occasionally on Maintankadin, and it basically boils down to this: the top guilds often raid less than the mid-tier guilds over the course of a tier, it’s just more heavily front loaded (by a lot).

  2. Hammer says:

    Theck, if Blizzard had analysts like you, the game was much much more balanced….


  3. Newsom says:

    Disclaimer: I did most of Cataclysm as 25, but I’m now 3/6 HC in my 10 man guild. I might be biased.

    I’d say the biggest advantage Paragon has is being able to provide the best possible class setup most of the time (they have a lot of flexible people with well geared alts and off specs). 10 mans are so class dependant these days that it’s not funny. Melees are just utterly useless most of the time, and druids are way too good (we feel bad only having two, looking to recruit a third…)

    I think Blizzard generally does a pretty well job of balancing the fights. When there is a big difference it is usually because of mechanics, not strictly numbers. It’s just harder for 25 people to stack perfectly on Ragnaros heroic than it was for 10 people to do it, since someone might just screw over the whole raid by standing 2 yards wrong.

    The same is true for Gara’jal for example: it’s much more probably that the same person gets bombarded by the spirit bolts on 10 man, since there are fewer targets to choose from. That was our biggest problem with the fight besides the extremely tight enrage timer.

    You also have to admit 25s have an easier time gearing up as well. 10s only get TWO pieces per boss, and half of the time one of the two pieces are completely useless because you don’t have anyone who can use that fist weapon.

    This is why I really wish they’d just suck it up and give us 15 mans instead of this two size nonsense.

    • Theck says:

      25′s definitely have an easier time gearing up, but that also has a smaller impact on the world first race than it does for the rest of us. We can farm gear week after week and get a substantial power increase over time, but the “world-firsters” basically get one boss kill on each difficulty level and that’s it.

      And Paragon definitely has more flexibility with class composition. My understanding is that they didn’t swap anyone in or out for the first 5 bosses, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t bring in a more ideal class comp to begin with.

      But I also think that there’s a good argument to be made for the high-end raiding community’s self-segregation in terms of skill level. For an analogy: When college sports players think about the rest of their career, they all want to go to the major leagues, right? Nobody dreams of playing in the CFL or the minor leagues. They aspire to play in the NFL, MLB, NHL, or the World Cup.

      It’s the same principle at work here – 25-man raiding has been the “real competition” for 4+ years, and players capable of playing at that level have migrated accordingly. I’m sure the effect becomes insignificant once you get out of the top 30-40 guilds or so. At my raiding level, there’s probably no statistically significant difference.

      One good thing is that the stigma hopefully won’t last. Paragon moving to 10-man may lend that format more validity than it has previously enjoyed, which I think is a good thing. I’d much rather that 10- and 25- both be respected formats than see the constant posturing by folks on both sides as they attempt to defend their chosen format..

  4. Angelflavor says:

    I’m surprised you would attempt to analysis this. It seems to be a taboo subject for any other theory crafter.

    Being in a 10man causal guild, there are a few things that feel they could be harder than a 25man. Only one battle rez. I feel a simple fix would be give 10 mans 2 battle rezzs and 25man 4-5. Also gearing out can be interesting due its hard to get everyone to have a different armor classes with the limited numbers. On the other hand I know trying to get 25 people to show up at the same time, let alone work together can be very difficult….. At least it’s not as bad at my classic wow days…..

    I’m not saying 10man are harder, or the other way around either. I’m just saying maybe 10man and 25man are harder in different spots in the complete equation.

    • Theck says:

      You’re absolutely right about them being more or less difficult in different spots, which is one of the reasons it’s so hard to make unambiguous statements about difficulty. The battle rez one is one that gets overplayed a lot though – for any sufficiently challenging DPS check, having the extra two battle resses is effectively meaningless, because one player down is enough to prevent you from hitting the target. But of course, it gives the 25-man team more flexibility when a severe DPS check isn’t present.

    • Omega says:

      That’s always true yes. 10 mans tend to have a harder time with healing because far less people means chaining problems. i know of resto shaman that hate 10 man but love 25 because of the effectiveness difference between their ability to heal. However the clusterfuck of players on 25 is a different issue when you get spread mechanics that are equal to 10 man spread mechanics in same size room. So logistically speaking only, more people is great for some things worse for others.

      However, logisitcs is just what blizz likes to throw out a lot. they are rarely the actual heart of argument. just simple things like tuning are. HP disparities making enrage moot point in one and tough in other. In fact, that’s pretty much the root of the problem in most of the fights that were horridly spread apart in difficulty. Lets just see if the lessons of past carry forward.

  5. Kane says:

    I believe the only thing you have proven with this post is that all arguments about 10/25 difficulty “differences” are based on conjecture. Give or take a few data points and we find out that they should be equal, BUT, if we give the assumption that 10/25 are tuned equally, which should be the case as Blizzard states, we come up with 25 being harder due to logistics and 10 being harder due to smaller margin of error.

    Given this, we come up with this conclusion:

    Holy crap no one cares. Got enough people to run 25? Run 25. Can’t fill 25? Do 10. Too many people to do your usual 10? Do a 25 with some fill-ins from a buddy guild.

    I find the whole difficulty thing absurd. Anyone even thinking there’s a significant difference has an ego/snowflake/etc problem or just wants to bash other players.

    • Omega says:

      Oh please. I’m sorry, but if 25 man is riding a berserk with top quality dps and no missing buffs and 10 man is skating through it with literal minutes to spare missing critical buffs, it matters. Ultraxion tuning was the pinnacle of imbalance of 25s vs 10. Maybe you were on 10 man, or got to it post nerf and it didn’t matter. but it matters to the firsts. Spine being the other dps tuning example. Healing was rough on 10 man, possibly even rougher than 25. But the dps check on tendons was a joke. You could pretty much crap on em as long as your dps weren’t blatant idiots. 2 2 2 no problem. tell that to the 25s who had to sit tons of people and stack their comp just to even have a snowballs chance in hell to do the same because of how ridiculously high tuned it was.

      the point of that is, the argument is always relevant and it’s pleasing the tuning disparities between 25 and 10 aren’t nearly to the level of fail DS was.

    • Theck says:

      Given the amount of argument, discussion, name-calling, and vitriol-spewing that happens on a daily basis on this topic, I think it’s a bit naive of you to suggest that “no one cares.”

      Also, If you don’t care, then… why post?

      Your advice about choosing raid format is appropriate for a casual group, but it’s really not applicable to groups working on heroic content. You simply don’t “fill-in” some buddies from another guild for hard modes and have any serious hope of completing them.

      And while you may find it absurd, there are plenty of reasons to consider the difficulty difference. One of the primary reasons that 25-man raiding has been in decline has been the skewed reward/effort ratio. Cataclysm 10-mans were generally (with a few specific exceptions) easier than 25-mans, and a large chunk of the population realized it. That’s worth caring about to a lot of people. Not just those whose guilds made the shift from 25 to 10, but for those 25-man raiders who enjoy the format and want it to survive.

    • anafielle says:

      It matters because it heavily affects choice. Such as 25 man raiders dropping to 10s in droves in situations like Week 1 Normals. Also see: H AA in T11. And, on the other side, Sinestra.

      It’s not fair either way if the balance is off– it’s destructive to both raid sizes. Say a 25 drops to 10, they should be able to raid with the same difficulty, face the same fun encounters, and then they should not find it an insurmountable task to come back up to 25. And the same holds true the other way.

      Saying it’s all about epeen misses the point. The point is that both raid sizes will only survive if they are equal. Otherwise they will heavily impact one another.

      • Sil says:

        My limited experience is that difficulty isn’t even a consideration for most guilds, it’s much more about the difficulty to find 25-30 people willing to raid regularly at a demanding level, and the fact that 10-man doesn’t scale up, and 25-man doesn’t scale down; which makes transitions atrocious. My DS guild as many other raided HC in 25, refused to downsize to 10 when it became apparent we always had trouble filling the roster and all but disappeared.

    • Kane says:

      I do believe I was misunderstood. I do apologize for the confusion, as well as “holy crap no one cares” comment. It was a bit uncalled-for.

      Most 10/25 discussions can be generally split into two topics: all 10s/25s are harder/easier or some 10s/25s are tuned differently/incorrectly/etc.

      My comment was essentially focused on the first topic, which I am to believe Theck was aiming at when giving those MMO-C examples. 10s and 25s have not been purposefully split on difficulty since Wrath, and it also annoys me that people participating in these discussions still keep a mentality that 10s are lower than themselves, as well as the smaller group that believes 25s are weak.

      Discussing the imbalance between the two, which Theck aimed at, is an appropriate point, especially for fine-tuned HM guilds, something I am not a part of. There is also the fact that some of the top guilds, one that was even called out on an MMO-C news post, reduced to 10 not because of difficulty, but because of a lost of raiders. A fact that should also be taken into account.

  6. Omega says:

    I do feel the balance this tier is better than before. this data in DS would have shown a much clearer 10 easier than 25. Same for firelands.

    • Theck says:

      Yep, I agree. That’s one of the interesting outcomes of this analysis. I don’t think that 10-mans are that significantly easier in MSV. It seems, at least at first glance, that Blizzard may have finally nailed the difficulty balance.

      Assuming, of course, that we accept the “skill gap” argument that I’ve put forth. But I find that a lot easier to believe than most of the other rationalizations (like Paragon being 2-3x better than Method/BL/etc.).

  7. mescyn says:

    Paragon’s lead seems consistent with the raid sizes for this first raid being more or less equal (or close to it) given paragon’s past history (ignoring T13, which is hard to measure due to bans) of tending to be very slightly ahead of the rest.

    Paragon doing 10m content is actually a great balance data point, since if they clear *significantly* ahead or behind of the top 25m guilds, then that’s a useful piece of data, since I don’t think anyone is really going to claim their skill level is significantly above or below that of the top 25m guilds.

    • Theck says:

      Yeah, I completely agree (I hope that was clear in the post). That’s one of the primary reasons for the conclusion I came to about the “skill gap.” Paragon is sort of a barometer in that sense, because they’re the “equal-skill” counterpart to the 25-man guilds.

      • Kanrei says:

        I would say that you need more skill/time as 10m team to be competition to 25m top guild.

        Do Paragon still have bigger player pool to choose from then normal (not downgraded from 25m raiding) 10m guild?

        Fast check on youtube – there are two videos of hc kills from Paragon, Gara’jal and WotE:

        Gara’jal – 1 war, 1 hunter, 1 warlock, 2 priests, 2 paladins, 3 druids
        Will of the Emperor – 1 war, 1 priest, 2 paladins, 2 warlocks, 4 druids

        Thats 12 characters with gear good enough for hc fights and some nice stacking for WotE. Obviously i dont know if thats 12 players too, or 10 players and two of them have alts.

        Now Im not saying you are wrong etc. Im just trying add additional info. You were considering only skill. There are more differences.

        If 10m guild wants to be competive in world first race, they need to be able do class/spec stacking (among other things ofc).
        You do that by either having bigger player pool (which cripple your gearing), or ppl start leveling and gearing alts asap (ppl need a lot time to do that). Either way its more difficult then in 25m roster. So you need good planing, more time and dedication to compete with 25m guilds.
        And thats not taking in account “10m is for noobs and easy” stygma which not making recruiting easier.

        • Kanrei says:

          Paragon site showing they have exactly 10 players roster for team.
          Armory show they have atm in guild 46 lvl 90 characters. Assuming that most are alts, thats a lot time spend on leveling.

  8. Esoth says:

    Very good post. I have one minor quibble on the point below but perhaps it is more suited for a different post:
    “The gap between Paragon and the rest of the 10-man guilds is strongly indicative of some sort of advantage, and it’s likely to be in the skill department (though, again, it could be hours spent raiding, or some other factor – we just don’t have enough information).”
    Those two factors aren’t as mutually exclusive as one might expect. It is a common argument for average guilds to claim that another guild is ahead of them only because they put in more time, but in reality the value of added time decreases as guild skill decreases. A mediocre raid that throws an extra 2 hours at a boss isn’t going to get much out of it. Guilds like Blood Legion and Paragon aren’t getting progression over your average or even over your very good guild BECAUSE of the extra time they put in. They happen to be both very good AND put in more hours. So yes, at this level of raiding if Paragon put in significantly more time than the other guilds we would see it in progression, but that isn’t terribly likely at this level because hours put in and skill generally go hand in hand at the top level. It’s similar to the idea of a 1% DPS increase under ideal usage which has varying levels of actual increase in usage. An average player might get 50% efficiency (0.5%) while a very good player gets 90% efficiency (0.9%). So that 1% increase (or that extra few hours of raiding) probably is something of a factor at the top end and just doesn’t matter at all on the medium level no matter how much people want to blame their problems on it – they need to be working on getting their efficiency up, not that 1% difference simc shows.

  9. poekai says:

    Love the post. Having done both 25 and 10, it really all depends on the fights I think.

    Fights that require spreading out or some sort of range mechanic tend to be easier on 10m just because there is more room. Some mechanics are jsut easier to deal with in one size or the other.

    Also felt like there was more leeway for mistakes in 25m in the cata. Haven’t done 25 in MoP so can’t really compare that.

    That being said, getting 25 people together to raid can be a soul crushing experience in how to make you not want to play this game again. The other being dailies. :(

    I’d still vote for 15, with a standard ratio, 3 tanks, 3 healers, 9 dps. Just seems perfect to me.

  10. Nooska says:

    A few points to inject;
    One huge disclaimer that you forgot (though you acknowledge it in the text), is that all the “expected data distributions” is “per time unit spent” – a variable we don’t have in reality (so any of your hypotheses could be true dependant on the “per time unit spent” variable)

    Secondly, on the “Paragon = superheroes” argument, you neglect the fact that Paragon is a 25 man guild that went down to 10 man, so they have a greater amount of talent per character to chose from – in other words, if all paragon is as skilled as they used to be, they now have a higher proportion of skill for each spot, as they have fewer spots to fill (and fewer people to fill them with, but still more per spot than the 25 man guilds – and way more than the other 10 man guilds, accepting your “drift to 25″ conjecture – which I do agree with)

  11. Qaz says:

    I think you are under estimating how good paragon is. On difficult encounters such as Nef / lk / rag they typically get first kills weeks / resets ahead of other guilds. so the fact that they were able to go 6/6 1 day before method may not strictly be from 10 man being easier.

    On paragons vs other 10 mans I Don’t believe the other guilds are spending as much time as paragon in preparing for heroics. Paragon was able to run all their mains in 25 normals and funnel gear which I don’t believe the other 10 mans were doing.

  12. sil says:

    The debate can only be answered one boss at a time, preferably by raiders able to do both with the same ilvl and about the same date.
    There are very good examples of bosses being clearly harder on 25 and other on 10.
    To assume guilds should be about as fast as Paragon when the latter has trounced everybody since ToGC is a strange hypothesis.

    • sil says:

      You can’t use Cataclysm as an example because of the bans, the only reason BL was first – not diminishing the fact that is is an exceptional guild, but I believe this tier and the future ones will confirm what was pre cata.
      Also I don’t think people should be belittled for their opinions, without hard statistical facts one guess is as good as any and the passion, just like in sports, sustains the community.

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  14. Kanrei says:

    As whole article was interesting, problem with it is that you made assumption, and then tried to prove it.
    Your assumption is: players in 25m top guilds are more skilled then players in 10m guild and Paragon is only proof of that because they downgraded from 25m raiding.

    I raided 25m and 10m quite hardcore and saw progression problems from both sides.

    Now here are some things you didnt consider which apply specifly to MoP MV progression (or I missed them):

    -players pool and avaible combinations of classes/speces – ppl raiding 25m seems to not understend how big problem is that for 10m raiding. You cant have much bigger player pool for 10m if you have only one team, or you cripple yourself gearing wise. A lot of 10m guilds/teams arnt able to stack specific class/spec like 25m do. Its especialy dificult on start of expansion when ppl still dont have multiple alts leveled and geared.

    -gearing characters in first week – Im talking here about world bosses spawns camping. Ppl were able recive loot from every world boss kill in first days. 25m guilds have adventage in fighting for that bosses compered to 10m. I guess all of you heard about Vodka’s members behavior when it come to making sure they get loot not others.

    Now this two arguments might not be worth much for next two raid instances which will open soon but I believe that it had impact on progression.

  15. Audax says:

    [quote]We know from the Cataclysm world-first races that Paragon was roughly even with Method, Blood Legion, and a number of other 25-man guilds. Those other guilds got some of the world-firsts, even if Paragon got more than any other single guild. That strongly suggests that Paragon is not made up of superheroes with magical lightning reflexes and clairvoyant minds.[/quote]

    You forgot the alternative hypothesis that Paragon had 10 (+ bench) superheroes and the rest of Paragon was holding them back in Cataclysm. Not being too serious here, just nitpicking. (Also, if you discount Dragon Soul due to the suspensions, Paragon’s Cataclysm record was really impressive I think) .

    • Theck says:

      Regarding the “10 superheroes” hypothesis: Possible, and in fact I’d argue that the fact that Paragon limits themselves more in player base (iirc they’re all Finnish?) might make it more true for Paragon than for other top guilds. But still not likely that their 10 best are twice as good as Method. Probably not even 1.5x, which is the sort of difference you’d need for them to blast through a harder 10-man format nearly twice as fast as Method blew through 25-man. The most likely situation is still that 10-man isn’t significantly harder than 25-man. Though again, I think the best news out of all of this is that it doesn’t appear significantly *easier* either – format balance seems better than it has been ever before.

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