Raid Leading 101: 10 vs 25

Probably as old as when Burning Crusade launched is the discussion of 10man vs 25man. The jump from 40man to 25man jolted a lot of raiders and caused the collapse of several teams. Raid teams started out in 10-man Karazhan, which geared them to enter the 25-mans until the end of the expansion (Gruul’s Lair, Magtheridon’s Lair, Serpentshrine Cavern, Tempest Keep, Black Temple, Sunwell Plateau), with a 10man Zul’Aman thrown in for flavor.

From what I saw, there was a stigma that 10mans were inferior to 25man. 25man Raid Leaders were thought of as more commanding and needed more control over their team, whereas 10man Raid Leaders didn’t have as much responsibility. The only way to get any decent gear in Burning Crusade was to run 25man raids. Legendaries were obtained only in the greater of the two. The end result was people preferring 25mans over 10mans, even lasting into Wrath of the Lich King. Anyone else remember needing to get into 25-man Trial of the Crusader to get a decent trinket at the time?

However, with Cataclysm, the tables have shifted toward more balance. With the changes that Blizzard implemented, there is less pressure on needing to raid a certain size. Let’s take a look at the pro’s and con’s (as I’ve seen it).


  • More likely to have every raid buff due to a larger raid.
  • Raiders of the same class can feel more free to tweak their specs.
  • More forgiving to players that may be a little “sub-par”.
  • Battles have a more “epic” feel with a bigger raid.
  • More players = wealth of opinions in strategizing fights.
  • Three in-combat resurrections allowed per fight.
  • Raid competition may not be as crucial (melee vs ranged).
  • ————————————
  • Maintaining control over a bigger group.
  • More standby’s may be needed.
  • More people may equal conflicting egos/personalities.
  • Possible to run into scheduling difficulties.
  • Harder to start up from scratch.
  • Easier for people to slightly slack at times.
  • More officers may be needed.


  • Usually tighter-knit group.
  • Easier to start up from scratch.
  • More responsibility on each player.
  • Possible to have one of each class (very little gear competition).
  • Fewer standby’s may be needed.
  • Fewer officers or leaders needed.
  • ——————————–
  • Less input for fight strategies.
  • With fewer people, the fights may feel “less epic”.
  • More responsibility on each player.
  • Less room for error.
  • One in-combat resurrection available per fight.
  • Possible to miss certain raid buffs because of limited raiders.
  • Less room for error because of fewer players.
  • Raid composition may matter more (melee vs ranged).

The Choice is Yours

When you’re deciding on which side to go with, keep all of these things in mind. Some of the pro’s and con’s are the same. “More responsibility for each player” may be a good thing for your team or it may not be. You and your team are going to weigh these points differently, and that’s perfectly fine. It all goes back to what you want out of your team. Maybe you want the “epic feel” of 25man and don’t mind dealing with more people/schedules. Perhaps you like less gear competition but don’t mind putting more responsibility on each individual raider.

Remember, the same ilevel gear drops off of 10man vs 25man, so that’s no longer a factor. More gear drops on 25-man than on 10-man to even the scale. Also, Blizzard is still working on balancing the difficulty of the raid sizes, so one doesn’t feel noticeably harder than the other. Personally, I feel this is hard to achieve, but I’m fine with them getting it as close as they can.

As for me, we’ve decided on 10-man since the beginning. I don’t want to put in the extra effort needed to wrangle 24 other players, and we like the greater responsibility placed on each raider. We may not have that “epic” feel because we prefer a more intimate raiding environment. It’s not that I don’t enjoy 25man raiding, but I prefer 10man.

What about you and your team? Have you already made a decision? Are you split? What other pro’s and con’s can you add to the above list?


22 thoughts on “Raid Leading 101: 10 vs 25”

  1. I don’t actually have a team right now, but I’m looking to start one soon-ish. I definitely agree that 25-man raids are more difficult to start up — I am still O_O about starting a 10-man!

    Thanks for laying out the pros and cons — I will definitely bookmark this as I develop my raid team!

  2. My guild is solely a 10-man raiding guild, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, I would argue that 10-mans can be more epic than 25s. Imagine an epic-feeling movie or book. LotR, perhaps. There are 10 heroes, give or take, and you get to know each and every one. Their history, their motivations, their strengths and weaknesses. Each character has a plot, a role, and together they accomplish something world-changing. That’s how I see 10-mans.

    In a 25-man, I get lost in the crowd. That victory? It wasn’t mine – I was just along for the ride. My presence or absence wouldn’t have made a difference one way or the other, most times. I was one soldier in an army of soldiers.

    No, I prefer the 10-man raids, where I am not a soldier – I’m a hero.

  3. I’m inclined to agree with Jennifer, above. As of now, I’ve only seen about 8 hours worth of raiding so far in Cataclysm: two nights in 10-player Blackrock Descent with my guild. I prefer the smaller, more intimate raid size where I feel like I’m contributing more to the success of the group.

    That said, our guild’s raid leader has decided to stick to his guns and keep a 25-player format (for now). We’ll just have to wait until the 18th when our “official” raids start up and see how it goes; we might end up switching to two 10-player groups in the end.

  4. There’s no way we’re wrangling that many cats – Builders League United was founded as a 10-man guild and is staying that way.

    To be honest, 25-man raids have never felt “epic” to me – just crowded and noisy.

  5. Another advantage of 25s is that it is easier to cover all of the types of gear. This will be more of a problem than in Wrath, because people can’t really wear a lower type of armor any more. Additionally, spirit is no longer useful for warlocks and mages.

  6. The good thing about 25 man raids is that you can include a lot of people. This is important in a large guild.

    My guild is pretty big, but there is a big drop off in skill and gear after about the first 15 players. Our plan is to do 10-man raiding with our core group, but also run 25-man raids to include more people.

    This was easy to do in Wrath raiding, but will be harder to pull off in Cata due to the shared lockouts as well as the increased difficulty making it harder to carry the lesser skilled/geared players. We’re determined to make it work.

  7. Ironically, my leaning towards 10man has more to do with my internet capability than anything ><

    Crappy net = smaller raids. 25man will just kill me, not to mention get me booted out of a lot of raids.

    After sticking to 10man, I began to appreciate the smaller, more intimate feeling of raiding with a smaller group of adventurers. And boss kills felt more epic for me personally when it was a smaller group because everyone was pushed to their utmost performance, making the end result even more satisfying.

  8. It would take a serious collapse of my current guild to ever see me back in a 25m setting. I like that there’s more individual accountabillity, and that you can’t hide behind someone else. I think we might start having problems in heroics (2 druids, 3 paladins) due to no lock or mage – but we’ll manage. I love that the gear is the same as well. No more complaining that you only do well in 10s because you have 25m gear.

  9. Having run both 10- and 25- I am working towards 25-man. I am blessed with a guild of mature people and a core of strong officers who know how to wrangle errant egos.

    However, the deciding factor was this: we started my guild late in Wrath, so we powered our way to 11/12. We could have gotten farther, expect every other week we were missing one or two people. So every other week we were re-teaching the more difficult fights (part of the problem being my stupidity in trying to launch a raiding guild three months before Cata when no one was moving and everyone was burned out on content, but I digress).

    2 people. In 10 man, that’s 20% of your raid. In 25 that’s 8%. So let’s take 20% – 20% of a 10 man team meant, for me, no progression. 20% of a 25 man team is 5 players, and we can easily pick up 5 people to fill in. And if not, I still have 2 10-mans raring to go, since we encourage the development of rerolls and dual specs. I have several talented raiders who can play multiple roles as needed.

    There is no worse feeling than seeing six raiders look at you expectantly, some of whom ONLY have that night to game, and you having to tell them no-can-do because there just aren’t enough people willing to run ICC anymore to fill in the gaps.

    As an aside, I found that with the recent class changes and our level of progression (i.e. not server first or top 5/10), you simply cannot enforce “bring the player not the class.” Not when Restos are broken. 25s give me the leverage to bring the player. We know when it’s game mechanics and when it’s the player.

    I cry inside when I see a Cho’gall world first and nary a Tree to be seen.

    I also have at least one raider running a pet 10-man off-night and my second-in-command is toying with the idea of resurrecting his old “friends and family” raid night, which ran one tier behind the progression team and was great to help get people geared and got folks who simply wanted to dabble in raiding to get to see some content. He knows he has my blessing because if it wasn’t for that run I would never have become a raider.

    So I’m fine with 25 because my guild has options and my raid leads have options if 20% of the team decides to not log.

  10. The big argument seems to be “i like that there is more responsibility on me in a 10 man and I get lost in the crowd on 25.” That could not possibly be further from the truth.

    You can say that it’s now “x% of the raid” but you’re not taking into account that your responsibility is greatly lowered by the fact that raid mechanics are now far less likely to affect you.

    When a mechanic like Lightning Rod goes out and there are, the success of those 3 players (1 in 10 man) immediately impacts the raid and if you will win or not.

    If you are assigned a group to heal on Chimaeron, you are now responsible for the lives of 5 players, 25% of your raid.

    The numbers/hp of extra mobs to dps are increased on 25 man meaning that 1 or 2 missing or slacking DPS will put you behind. You might say “1 person doesn’t matter”, and I’ll reply that a wipe at 1% when one of our DPS disconnected says otherwise.

    Pulling together and accomplishing something as a 25 man is no less intimate than in a 10 man raid. 40 man raids maybe, but 25 isn’t a whole lot of players. I love the extra coordination and assignment required of a 25 man raid strategy. As someone who has raided since those 40 mans existed, 10 just doesn’t feel like a real raid to me.

    • @Borsk

      A 1% wipe is a 1% wipe, regardless of raid size. You look for ways to eek out that extra dps, or that extra mitigation. My point, like Atunae said, is that 1 person in a 10-man raid is 10% of the team. 1 person in a 25-man is 4% of the team. Losing 4% of your workforce is less damaging than 10%, just like 4% off a test grade is better than 10% off the grade. Losing 1 person in a 25-man is damaging, but potentially not *as* damaging as losing that same person in a 10-man.

      Your argument about healing on Chimaeron is understandable, but I’ll argue that with 3 healers in a 10-man (one being solely dedicated to the main tank), the other two healers (both responsible for throwing HoTs on the tank) are now responsible for 5 players each as well, but that is 50% of the raid.

      Numerically speaking, 10-mans have the *potential* to be much less forgiving.

      However, 25-man’s do have that thing that people say feels more “epic”. Personally, I say they feel more cluttered. I prefer to raid like a small covert operation instead of an army. That’s just me.

    • At the end of the day though, it really depends on the players within the guild and what they want. Epic is a term that is defined individually, not so much collectively.

      Here’s the thing though. With Blizzard’s intent of trying to equalize the difficulty between 10 and 25, I think they managed to get closer. With enrage timers, the DPS checks are tighter then what they would have been during Wrath. So While it is easier to recover with a 4% loss in personnel, it’s not quite as easy as you think. Those 2%-3% wipes wouldn’t have happened if that 1 player was still alive.

  11. We ran thru it all…. from 40mans to 25mans to 10mans. For us, its easier to manage the 10mans as in terms of attendance and logistics since majority are friends and easy to communicate schedules. Another boon is the latency issues attributed to 10mans is lower compared to 25mans (or higher).

    We ran thru the old worlds to get new people achievements and for a chance for legendaries, and we noted that due to the changes to the system graphics, the old world (especially BC) was rather more laggy than what I recall it before.

    Granted that 10mans have a small margin of error. What is nice with Cataclysm is that everyone has to carry their own weight. No one gets carried anymore as they were in Wrath.

  12. 25 man raids in my experience are the ‘short bus’ with no discipline, slackers afk’ing and loot arguments.

    I appreciate that not all are like that but it has been hard for us to find enough good people to overcome this so 10 man raids are more achievable for my guild.

  13. We are currently running 25 mans on our “offical raiding days” and learning encounters on 10 man. The difference was quite easy to spot.

    Loot: It is much more likely that somebody can use a piece of gear, since most classes are around. That was pretty obvious since distributing 5 random items to 25 people is way different then 2 to 10. (We still got Mail, Mail and more Mail, but at least all of our Shamans have now epic parts for the Healspec)

    Difficulty: I am not sure that point was properly mentioned. 10 man are harder. We ran 10 man up to January to give people time to get accustomed to their chars. We were able to down a boss after about 20 tries but it was hard and if just one person screwed up, it was a wipe. In compare to that, 25 felt way too easy. I’d love to say that it was the fact that people prepared properly and that I did a good job explaining but Halfus Wyrmbreaker and Valiona and Theralion felt like cutting with a hot knife through butter in 25.

    Drama: Oh yes, the drama. Maybe that is just a problem with our guild but if somebody sits out on 10, its UNFAIR, and YOU ALWAYS TAKE THE SAME PEOPLE. On 25 it is “not a big deal”. Not all the time and not with everybody, but more often then not.

    Downscaling: If you are going to run 25 and people run into traffic jams, funerals, birthdays and what do I know, you can always downscale. If they are performing just too bad, you can threaten to downscale for the evening. In 10 man you can threaten to go Stonecore without CC so they learn how to kick.

    Conclusion: Run 25 and 10 😉

  14. It think this should also have been included (as also commented bye Cloee above):
    Less chance of wasting gear drops in 25man/ More in 10man.

    Looking for that elusive drop? Greater chance of seeing it drop with 5 pieces instead of 2 each week, even if there is more competition.

    I’m not sure if so much more standby’s are needed for 25man. As long as you got stable (and mature) raiders, the attendance will usually be good, and 25man guilds usually have more suitable members to choose from in the start.

  15. It seems unfortunate that you’re so clearly biased toward 25 mans. The only pro’s in your list for 10 man involve how much easier the meta-game things (organization, friendship) are to do. You really feel that there is no other reason to do 10 man raiding? That’s cool. How about writing an unbiased article at some point?

    • @kous – Clearly biased toward 25? Read the rest of the article, please. I run a 10-man team because we like the benefits and environment more than what 25-man has to offer. At the end of the article, I solicit other values that people see. Care to throw your hat into the ring?

      “Snarky” is easy. I challenge you to be better. =)

  16. Note: All of the following is from the perspective of a guild with the population to run a 25-player raid or two to three 10-player raids.

    For our guild, which has been running 25s for years, the choices were 25s or multiple 10s. Logistically, that poses an additional problem in maintaining a viable, happy, consistent pool of Tanks. With a single 25-player raid each week, we can have a 4-Tank pool and have pretty much 100% coverage and no Tank sitting out so much that it impacts morale (honestly, I like the break once a month).

    However, with multiple 10s, you will lock 2 Tanks to each group *and* need standby coverage, potentially for multiple lockouts. That can get hairy for long-term consistent raiding.

    When I helped found our guild in 2006, I was our only Tank. I push myself really hard to be the very best I can be. Like anyone, I can get exasperated by folks screwing up. However, I would like to think our guild is a little nicer than most raiding guilds. So, I like the notion that a 25-player raid may provide a little more slack.

    That said, I am not sure it’s real. For the most part, on the difficult fights, just one death can cascade into a wipe. I would chalk that up to good design, since the 10s and 25s award the same loot.

    Socially-speaking, though, I think 25s work better for a guild with 30 or so active raiders. I would worry that multiple 10s would lead to “A team” an “B team” problems. It also lead to unhealthy clique issues that we had to keep putting down. I would rather have us striving to get every single person playing as well as possible and having the same opportunity if they do. I remember such tensions having to be actively managed back in WotLK when 10s occurred on off nights and I would hate to see that grow further.

    I am curious how many guilds started Cataclysm with a fully matured capability to run 25s, e.g. 30 or so skilled, proven, and capable raiders, and then opted to change to 10s?


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