Raiding Spotlight: Raid Composition

20 05 2009

Every once in a while, I’ll try to take a detailed look at a specific element of the raiding game. Today in the spotlight: 25-man raid composition.

Unlike raiding in previous eras of WoW, a 25-man raid composition is more about getting 25 people together without the server crashing. There are still a few ways in which a completely mishmash group can fail, and I’ll try to outline the most common pitfalls.

Too many melee/not enough melee

This was much more important in Naxx than Ulduar, which is a bit strange, since I’m so used to fights being hard on melee while allowing ranged to hang out and cast things. There are a few exceptions, like Hodir, who will frost nova and therefore can hit large clumps of melee more effectively than spread out ranged DPS. There are no fights like Kel’Thuzad, where having more than 4-5 melee became extremely irritating.

Mimiron is one example of a fight that is much easier for melee, for a few reasons. First, the laser barrage is infinitely easier to avoid when all you have to do is run right through the boss rather than strafe around him. Second, he shoots lasers only in front of him, making surviving as a melee DPSer much easier. In sum, having a mix of ranged and melee is nice, but having too many of one or the other is not critical for Ulduar raiding (as long as it’s not too lopsided, like 1 melee to 14 ranged or something).

Survival

Some classes will die more often in raids. Compare Death Knights to Mages. Relevant differences here include Death Knights having about 8k more HP, AMS, IBF (other cooldowns depending on spec, Bone Shield or Vampiric Blood), and wearing plate. Mages have Ice Block, Mana Shield, and Invisibility, all of which are less effective and have drawbacks. Compare Mana Shield to AMS; one takes away resources, one grants resources. AMS probably absorbs more damage, and the restriction on being magic damage can be overlooked since there are very few examples of physical AoE (XT’s Tympanic Tantrum being the only one I can think of at the moment).

So while Mages may be able to put out excellent DPS, they’re also more likely to die if something goes wrong or they get put in Ignis’ “hot pocket.” As a result of these and other survival discrepancies between classes, having too many Mage-type classes (those with little to no ability to prevent/reduce incoming damage) to Death Knight-types can result in more deaths and less overall DPS. Especially when learning new fights.

Raid cooldowns

  • Every raid should have a Shaman. Heroism is invaluable and probably the single most important individual spell cast in a given boss encounter (see my earlier post here about it)
  • Rebirths: the more the better. Don’t be afraid to run with multiple Druids (my guild often has 7~, of varying roles). This goes hand in hand with Innervates – the more Feral Druids and Boomkins you have, the better the benefit for your healers.
  • You want one Warlock, at least. Stacking them isn’t as good as it was because you only get one Healthstone now, and they, unlike Druids, have only one role to fill. Soulstones are also less effective than Rebirths, so multiple Warlocks are even less effective than Druids.

Buffs

These are the main buffs you want for a 25-man, with some leeway depending on whether you are caster or melee heavy, with an accompanying list of the classes/specs that can provide the buff/debuffs in question. (Extra-important stuff in bold)

  • Arcane Brilliance – Mage only
  • Gift of the Wild – Druid only
  • Prayer of Fortitude – Priest only
  • Paladin Blessings – 3 Paladins is the best number, so that classes with both mana and a need for attack power get the most benefit; 4 if one of the Paladins is Protection-specced
  • 10% AP – MM Hunters, Blood DKs, Enhancement Shamans
  • 20% melee haste – Frost DKs, Enhancement Shamans (other Shamans can provide a 16% melee haste buff)
  • 3% raid damage – Ret Paladins, BM Hunters (not sure if these stack or not, guessing not)
  • 13% spell damage – Warlocks, Unholy DKs (the best applier of this debuff due to the combination of Ebon Plague/Pestilence), Boomkins
  • Replenishment – Frost Mages (lol?), Ret Paladins, Shadow Priests, Survival Hunters
  • 5% melee crit – Feral Druids, Fury Warriors
  • 5% spell crit – Elemental Shamans, Moonkin Aura, Fire Mages, Destruction Warlocks
  • 155 Str/Agi – Death Knights, Shamans (Enhancement Shamans get a buffed version if they spec into it)
  • 3% spell hit – Shadow Priest, Boomkins
  • 3% increased healing taken – Protection Paladins, Restoration Druids

As you can see from the spread of buffs, stacking some classes (e.g. Druids) is more forgiving than having lots of, say, Mages. You don’t need all of these (having at least all the bolded ones would be best), and you’ll likely have a good amount of them even if you don’t pay much attention to your raid composition. For those who love to min/max, this raid-building tool might help.

My guild happens to have an overabundance of two classes, Mages and Druids. We still get along fine, in addition to having a rather large number of Rebirths available to smooth over learning fights. There’s no need to be extremely choosy over who gets into your raid and who doesn’t (thinking solely of class rather than a player’s individual skill, which should obviously weigh into the decision as well), but there are still enough differences between classes, the most important of which, to me, is survivability, to make some forethought on the subject valuable to raid leaders.

As an addendum, I apologize to any Mages whose feelings I hurt by bashing you over the head with what I perceive as the weaknesses of your class. Sorry, guys and girls. (My alt is a Mage, if it makes you feel any better.)

I wish I was a Death Knight. They're so cool.

I wish I was a Death Knight. They're so cool.

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