Can Your Raid do More With Less?

Its a dark and stormy Monday night. Rain drops are slowly streaming down my face as I wearily walk through the door. I kick off my shoes and my feet are practically screaming in glee after escaping the cold, damp prisons of my New Balance sneakers. I hustle straight to my computer and flip the switch on. As the machine slowly spins to life, I change into something drier and comfortable.

“Gentlemen.” I spoke after joining our guild voice server, “How are we looking tonight?”

I received a chorus of acknowledgements ranging from “Good, what are we doing?” to “Your mom”. Just another day in Matt’s guild.

Once I logged into a game, I noticed of activity in officer chat. During the minutes that lead up to the first pull, we’re constantly assessing our roster and determining what bosses to aim for. One of the initial steps is to see what our attendance is like. There are times where there are some last minute player signouts or late notices. I got my raid invite and took a mental stock of our roster.

23 raiders with no other players in sight. It was about time for first pull. Some were starting to wonder if we would go since we didn’t have a full raid. The only boss remaining was Lich King. We wanted more weapons.

“We have the tanks to do this.” My tanking officer reported.

“More than enough stuns and slows for valks. Good to go.” Confirmed the raid leader. “Matt, healing?”

I quickly assessed my healers. There were five of us. We normally took six. I felt we could operate with less but I’ve always preferred the extra safety net when we were short bodies. It was time to get out of the comfort zone and see what the healing unit was capable of.

“It might be choppy. Being down two isn’t going to help. I think we can pull it off.” I responded with confidence.

Pushing the limit

I’ve always wondered what the minimum number of players for taking down Lich King would be. Could he be taken down with 24? With 22? How about at 80% capacity with 20? There was only one way to find out. You’re not going to know what your raid capacity is going to be unless you actually try it. Its good to stress test the raiders in shorthanded situations because you never know when it’ll happen during future raids. Someone might disconnect early on an attempt or die halfway through it.

Can your raid adjust to that sort of temporary setback?

Raid potential


While it is somewhat simple to quantify exactly how much DPS or healing is needed to successfully get through an encounter, there are other factors which you can’t really put a number on. Things like raid intelligence, awareness, and skills are all variables that determine whether your raid has the that mentality to gut through an encounter.

I’ve been surprised before in the past. When I think the raid group is lacking in certain roles or DPS and we go out and take down a boss, a little part of me inside cheers. The inverse also holds true. On moments where we wipe when I felt certain that we had the kill in the bag, I experience that sinking feeling in my stomach wondering what went wrong.

You’re never going to know what your raid can do unless you go out and try it. Obviously if raid potential is far below whatever the raid requirements might be, then the unpopular decision of calling it an early night might be the better course of action. When raiding short handed, the performance of everyone else needs to go up in order to compensate for the lack of players.

Unfortunately, we found out after a while what our limit was. Turns out if a player is lagging out, they’ll always get targeted with a Defile. On a side note, it seems that healers seem to respond to the instinctive need to keep healing. What else is a healer supposed to do with player who has lagged out in the middle of a Defile?

(Hint: The answer isn’t to keep healing him)

Alas, with multiple disconnected players the executive decision was made to call it an early night. Better luck next week.

Have you ever been in a raid where you were astonished at what the group could do because of class composition or lack of numbers? Was there any creative strategy used to get around the problems?

6 thoughts on “Can Your Raid do More With Less?”

  1. I remember when our guild had been trying to build up the 80s way back when (I think Ulduar had just been opened and was the main end-game raid). We were running a regular 10 man, and another 10man with pugs filling in. One day, we realized we had 18 80s on – a couple had just hit 80 that day – and tried to do Obsidian Sanctum 25.

    And we did. Many of us not geared, several 80 newbies, and we downed Sarth.

    Best feeling ever.

  2. A bit different, but I had fun with a few guildies about a year ago in mostly TOC 245 gear going back to Ulduar10.

    We went in with five people, and were able to clear through Kologarn, skipping only Iron Council.

    As far as ICC these days, considering all of the normal modes have been cleared without the 30% buff, I would imagine you could probably drop 5 players and effectively kill Arthas with the 30% buff active.

    I’ve done it with 21, though it took us a few attempts.

    It’s a pretty great feeling, clearing content with fewer people. Obviously it’s preferential to actually have a full, filled out raid, but sometimes it’s nice to feel like a triumphant underdog.

  3. Our first Blood Prince Council kill was with 24 players in the raid. It wasn’t pretty, but hey, it was normal mode Blood Prince Council and we were a fresh guild right out the gate.

    Personally, I love pushing us to the limit.

    Last week, we decided to do push heroic Putricide in phase 1 and skip the first ooze. It was close, but we nailed it – shaving a good 30-40 seconds off our kill (we got a 3m 59s kill last week).

    We’ve killed Patchwerk in under a minute. We’ve pushed heroic Deathwhisperer before the 2nd add wave. We’ve killed heroic Saurfang with 3 healers. You name it, we’ve probably done it.

    You’ll never know your limits until you push to meet them.

  4. I haven’t been checking your blog lately is this HC or Normal?

    Sometimes “stuff” happens, people dc, boss moves to a bad position an interrupt gets away etc. There is one thing that I tell my raiders a lot (other than Bubblewall) is “ADAPT!” these people are playing together for a while now and playing the game longer than that(+icc up for almost a year now). So people should be able to adapt to being 1-2 people less or down.


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