The week before today, also known as (aka) "last week" to you kids these days (yktd) I made some claims regarding raiding, such as suggesting that easymode raids would be nothing more than oversized dungeons and that oversized dungeons are stupid.
Well long story short, Upper Blackrock Spire, Karazhan, and Alterac Valley (before they ruined it).
This was a good start to a flame war back in the day. Someone would say something about raiding and not being able to raid and then someone would say that UBRS was a raid and someone else would say that is stupid. It was a raid and it was not. It was true that to create a full UBRS group of 15 people, or 10 after they did some changes to a few of the high-level instances, you would need to use the "convert to raid" button and would then have raid bars and all that stuff. It was raid-sized-ish, in the sense that anything more than 5 players required a raid. It was still smaller than the smallest raid of 20 people for ZG (or AQ20 later on).
It was essentially an oversized dungeon with the occasional raid-like element, such as one person being able to ruin everything. The loot was mostly blues, with some extremely rare epics (if you saw one drop ever you were lucky). This was the standard for the high-level instances at the time. Fights weren't quite faceroll, but most of them weren't especially tough. Mistakes could get you killed, but patient clearing minimized the risks. Randomly placed quest chains would lead through the instances. They'd take an hour or two to complete, though depending on the level of PvP activity at the time, just as long to get inside.
I loved that place, despite it not properly fitting with my "no oversized dungeons" philosophy of the previous post.
In fact, maybe that's what made it so great. It was a 5-man that you could bring a crowd to. Bring your friends! Bring your enemies! Bring someone with the key otherwise we're going to have to hire someone and that's a bit of a pain! This was quite handy because it was like meeting three groups at once, a useful thing back when meeting people in groups was how you formed guilds.
UBRS was a strange sort of place. You'd go in and do some raid-like stuff such as struggle to find a competent hunter and a druid (not competent, just a druid) and people would find new and creative ways to wipe the group. Bosses could have some interesting mechanics, but nothing too major. It was somewhere between raiding and 5-mans, but clearly on the side of 5-mans.
This was the best raid ever. Hands down (unless we're doing OWS finger waving things in which case it is hands up, but seriously, stop doing that). Nothing comes close. Why? Why indeed.
You know what? I could go on all day, night, tomorrow, and probably keep going about everything that was great. But I'm not going to. That's right, I'm just going to say that Karazhan was awesome and was a 10-man raid, and then walk away.
This is one case where I think having more people was critical. It was the sheer number of people that made AV what it was. Well that and an unusually important PvE element in a BG which was gradually nerfed into oblivion, somehow taking the PvP with it, until it was reduced to a boss race and I went home to cry.
Alterac Valley was the oversized place. There were a lot of people and there were a lot of flags and graveyards. It was like Texas if Texas were colder and the immigrants shot back more often. I think in this analogy the Orcs are Texans and the Dwarves are immigrants, which reverses just about everything we'd usually expect, given the dwarvish love of guns and the orcs being illegal aliens.
In a sense, AV was an oversized AB. You'd run around and try to capture flags and then the other side would try to take them back. Then people would yell at you to fight at the flag and someone else would run around behind everyone else and capture it. So then we'd all fight on some other road. Then at the end the winner would fight a boss while a bunch of idiots tried to wipe them, much like raiding. Mechanically, AV was like a giant AB, but by making it so big, it made it different.
It's not the size that matters, it's what you're trying to do with it.
UBRS isn't an easymode raid, it is an oversized dungeon and does not pretend to be anything else. Similarly, back when several of the dungeons were 10-mans, they were oversized dungeons, not easymode raids. Part of this is that they were not easymode, at least not at the gear level of people who ran them.
In contrast, an easymode raid will not be an oversized dungeon. It will pretend to offer challenges, and then not. It will pretend to require coordination, and then not. It will put on all the appearances of a real raid, and then not be that.
Karazhan, while a small raid, was not easymode. It would kill you and kill you again and then make you play chess. Then kill you for losing at chess. It was small so you could round up people without too much difficulty, though certainly nothing compared to an automated tool that can bring in anyone and then just as easily get rid of them so you don't accidentally form any human connections. With the attunement changed, Karazhan was accessible without being trivial. If someone still won't run it, then the raid is not the problem.
FFXIV: Just call me Healbot 3000
7 hours ago