For somebody who has been in precisely one raid group ever, I'm posting a lot about endgame raiding.
My basic problem with the current state of endgame raiding is that it's clearly not hard enough to challenge hardcore raiders, but it is also clearly not *easy* enough to be accessible for, well, guys like me. My Blood DK *just about* cracks 2000 DPS on a good day with a following wind. This is partially because I kinda suck, partially because my gear kinda sucks, and partially because I keep forgetting to use my damned cooldowns.
Anyway, point is that I'm just plain not qualified to run Naxx in a pickup, particularly now that most people only *want* to run Naxx in a pickup with people who have already cleared Naxx and got the gear.
I think the basic problem is that Blizzard tried to make the *entirety* of Raid progression accessible to casual players. Speaking as a casual player, this annoys me. If I wanted to do progression raiding, I'd join a raiding guild and do progression raiding. I don't. I'm interested in raids purely as an extension of being interested in 5-man content. I want to be able to poke my head into Naxxaramas with nine mates and have a crack at taking it down, even though we only have one tank and our healers are undergeared.
The thing is, I *also* want the hardcores to have what they want, and there's no reason they can't. I don't want to play in their playground, or rather I don't right now, and if I ever *do* I'll want to actually play properly, with flasks and food buffs and ready checks and wiping five times a night until you get the bastard down.
So, for the three people that might actually read this, here's my solution for endgame content:
One: Divorce Normal/Heroic from 10/25
Blizzard has already done this with the Colosseum, and it's a very sensible move. There was a while when 25-mans were easier than 10-mans (or so I understand - one raid group ever, remember) but dropped better loot. This was dumb. By distinguishing "is easy" from "requires you to have lots of mates" Blizzard can solve a lot of problems.
Two: Take Normal Modes Back One Full Tier
I'm not being masochistic here. Because "Normal" 10-man raids drop better gear than 5-man Heroics, they form a link in the progression chain: Levelling ---> Heroic Dungeons ----> Normal Raids ------> Heroic Raids.
The problem with this is that it has the knock on effect of making Heroic Raids easier, because you can run them in "Normal Mode" gear instead of "Heroic/Badge" gear.
Again, I'm not being an "elitist" here (God I hate that word, it's used almost exclusively by wankers who don't know what it means) - I don't think that casuals don't "deserve" better gear, it's just that I think most casuals don't want "gearing" to be something they actually have to devote time to. I want to be able to run Naxx in quest greens, and as such all I want to get out of it is gear that is an upgrade over quest greens.
Dropping "normal" modes back by a tier removes the necessity for "hardcore" guilds to gear up on "normal" before attempting "heroic".
Three: Make "Normal" Modes Even Easier
Tweak "Normal" modes so that you literally can run them in a pickup group in quest greens. Casual players don't want to farm for gear, we don't want to wipe fourteen times on the same boss. We just want to play the game at our own pace.
Four: Incorporate "Hard Modes" Into Heroic Mode
This is the change that I think's really important.
Hard Modes don't seem to be working, and I can totally understand why. I've said many times that one of the defining differences between "casual" and "hardcore" players is that hardcore players play not only *well* but *optimally*. Hard modes very frequently involve asking players to play the game using a *worse strategy* (facing a Frost Wrym with no Frost Resistance, randomly pulling adds, and so on). I can totally see why Hardcore players wouldn't want to do this. You might as well tell people that if they think endgame is too easy that they should run the raids naked or with their talents set to 0/0/0 - yes it would make the game *harder* but it wouldn't provide the kind of challenge the players are looking for.
To give some more concrete examples, Sartharion, on Heroic Mode could have the Drakes moved to a position where they *can't* be killed before engaging Sartharion. This would force guilds who wanted to do the encounter on Heroic to tackle the three-drake fight immediately, without the option to gear up on the one and two drake fights first. Heroic-Mode Heigan could be healed for - say 20-25% of his health every time somebody died on the dance, meaning that if you didn't do The Safety Dance properly you'd be near certain to wipe. Sapphiron could have his (or is it her) Frost damage changed to Frostfire damage, eliminating the usefulness of Frost Resistance.
The basic idea here is to have two tiers of raiding content, one of serious progression raids for serious progression guilds, and the other of much, much, much easier content, for dudes like me who don't have the patience to take the optimal route through the game.
Of course, this could all be nonsense.