Raid Leading 101: Starting your Roster

**Forgive the absence of last week’s post. I got “blessed” by a crazy work schedule that had me away from my desk a lot. Don’t forget that if there’s anything you’d like to discuss or see in a RL101 post, you can always email me**

So, you’ve made the choice between 10 and 25. You know which feels right for you and your friends. Now you need to look at your roster. Your roster is the list of players on your team that you can pull from to make your raid on any given night. Hopefully you’ve got a group of friends that you’ve started with, which will take some of the stress off of recruiting and assembling your team. We’ll start out with the basics of your raid (this is a 101 course, remember). You need tanks, healers, ranged DPS and melee DPS.


Tanks are the classes that will take the brunt of the damage while protecting your raid. The classes that can fulfill this role are:

  • Protection Paladin (“Prot Pally”, “Tankadin”)
  • Feral Druid in Bear Form (“Bear”, “Meatshield”)
  • Protection Warrior (“Prot Warrior”)
  • Blood Death Knight (“Blood DK”, “BDK”)

It’s best in a 10-man raid to have ~3 Tanks on your roster (~4 for 25-man). Most raids encounters will require 2 tanks for encounters. Either your 2 tanks will have to alternate who is tanking the boss, one will tank the boss while the other tanks one or more mobs that join the fight, or you’re doing a Council-style fight.

Your Main Tank (or “MT”) should be your most talented tank and will seldom need a DPS off-spec. The other tanks on your roster (“Off-tanks” or “OTs”) should have a DPS off-spec so they don’t need to be totally swapped out mid-fight. Warriors can spec into Fury or Arms, Druids into Balance or Feral Cat, Paladins into Retribution, and Death Knights into Frost or Unholy.


Healers are the players that you pay to keep you alive long enough to see the boss take its last breath. Classes blessed with this ability:

  • Restoration Shaman (“Resto Shammy”)
  • Restoration Druid (“Resto Druid”, “Tree Druid”)
  • Holy Paladin (“Holy Pally”, “HPally”)
  • Holy Priest
  • Discipline Priest (“Disc”)

For your 10-man crew, count on having ~4 Healers on your roster (~9 for 25man). You’ll always need a minimum of 2 healers (5 in 25-man) for an encounter, depending on how healing intensive it is. It’s best to have the other healers in your roster work on a DPS offspec in case you need to convert to more DPS in an encounter. Priests can spec into Shadow, Druids into Balance or Feral Cat, Paladins into Retribution, and Shamans into Enhancement (Melee) or Elemental (Ranged).

Melee/Ranged DPS

DPS are the players that put the hurtin’ on the boss. They’re primarily responsible for dealing damage to the boss and any adds that may pop up, as well as crowd control, interrupt, off-heal, or help mitigate damage. Here’s the laundry list of DPS you’ll find:


  • Enhancement Shaman (“Enh Shammy”)
  • Rogue (Subtlety, Assassination, Combat)
  • Arms or Fury Warrior (“Arms War”, “Fury War”)
  • Retribution Paladin (“Ret Pally”, “lolret”)
  • Feral Druid in Cat Form (“Cat”, “Kitty DPS”)
  • Death Knight (Unholy, Frost)


  • Elemental Shaman (“Ele Shammy”)
  • Hunter (Marksmanship, Beast Mastery, Survival)
  • Warlock (Affliction, Demonology, Destruction)
  • Mage (Arcane, Fire, Frost)
  • Balance Druid (“Moonkin”, “Boomkin”, “Boom Chicken”, “Lazer Turkey”)
  • Shadow Priest

In 10-man, you’ll want ~8 DPS’ers (~22 for 25-man) on your roster, with a mix of melee and ranged. There will be some fights that will be better for melee DPS or ranged DPS, so a mix will give you a good chance of success. Having any of your DPS players with a tank or heal off-spec is great, but more often than not, you’ll be better off if your tanks and healers are all main-spec.

Summing It Up

A standard 10-man raid will consist of: 2 Tanks, 3 Healers, 5 DPS.

A standard 25-man raid will consist of: 2-3 Tanks, 6-7 Healers, and the rest DPS.

Of course different raids will deviate from this basic model, but in my raiding experience, this is usually what you’ll find. To start out, aim for those numbers. Once you have your 10 or 25, add 1-2 more for each role to solidify your team. Your raiders will need nights off or have real-life commitments from time to time, and those extra people will help keep your raid going consistently.

Coming up, we’ll look at more advanced roster planning, as well as a couple recruitment tips!

12 thoughts on “Raid Leading 101: Starting your Roster”

  1. How exactly do you deal with having 4-5 people benched in a 10man raid? Having 1 extra tank, 1 extra healer, and 2 extra DPS isn’t exactly feasible. In 25man rotating that many members each raid is fine because of the size of the raid and the fact that more people will be away, but in 10man it’s not really reasonable for either progression or fairness to people to cycle half your group each time you raid.

    • I don’t think the point was to rotate players but have off specs to support times when the extra tank or healer was not needed. In theory that works, but the problem is a lot of times people are under geared for their off specs and don’t bring as much to the raid as a dedicated DPSer would. Although, likely its the other way around, where a DPS has been asked to heal/tank a certain encounter.

      Smaller guilds struggle just to fill raids, much less have the bench to do much swapping. So then the focus has to be to strengthen the off specs or recruit.

    • The assumption you’re making is that all four spots are being rotated week to week. Ideally, anyone asked to sit should be talking with folks who serve their same role, and organizing their own schedules so a) everyone gets exposed to the content firsthand and b) everyone is learning from the particular experience of everyone else.

      All of this notwithstanding that, due to Out of Game issues, you need some resiliency in the roster or you end up calling raids/PUGging slots and subsequently either getting a disgruntled raid group or teaching people who have no experience of how the rest of your team works.

    • Definitely appreciate the input from everyone. I do want everyone to keep in mind that that everyone will always have their own views on roster-building. It’s a trial/error style of mentality.

      Also, brand new raid teams are rarely going to be able to get 10/25 consistent players. Real life happens, and I’d rather be just a “smidge” over-staffed than have to call a raid. I just recruit people that have a team attitude. All of my current raiders are the types to volunteer to step down for a night to let someone else in.

      Remember, this is just a primer, and not the “Raid Leading “. =) Keep the input comin’!

    • I get that it’s better to over-recruit than under-recruit. Having backups is great. But you can’t recruit someone for a backup role. As someone who’s been a recruiting officer for guilds in the past, you won’t get good, consistent players if you’re going to tell them to sit 75% of raids because your core team showed up. That just doesn’t seem feasible.

    • Actually, In November of 2009 I was coming back from a WoW-hiatus (foolishly played Aion & Champions Online for a few months) and wasn’t sure how much commitment I wanted to make right away. Luckily I happened upon a GM who was recruiting for back-up/part-time healers to supplement an existing healing corps. After having a chance when other healers were absent, I ended up deciding I wanted to raid full-time and won a spot on the main roster.

      Lesson I learned: whatever you have to offer, there’s a player out there looking for it.

  2. I actually break the numbers up slightly different:

    “In any given twenty five man raid instance, you generally have no more than two to three tanks, six to seven healers, with the remaining slots a myriad of ranged and melee DPS. For ICC, this has usually been one Main Tank, two Off Tanks with DPS Dual Specs, six healers –with one having a DPS Off Spec, leaving sixteen raid slots for DPS Main Specs. With a ratio of 12% tanks, 24% healers, with the remaining 64% being raid DPS, it stands to reason the bench is going to be smaller for the healers and tanks. If you take the percentages and apply them to our thirty five core slots, you end up with a max of four tanks/off tanks, eight healers, and twenty-two DPS members leaving one slot open to float.”

    I wrote this piece a long time back- our guild keeps a max raid roster of 35; 9 healers is a bit much- and I can say that honestly because we’ve had a roster of 7 healers, which I readily admit is skimpy if real life shows up; and of course, it did in a few forms- 1 out due to illness w/ complications, two with 1 night that they cannot make due to schedule changes, leaving us consistently with 6 healers half of our raid days; we dealt with it by having a dps with healing off spec flip, and we handled the gearing by allowing that person main bidding for both; we struggled with recruiting at first with this expansion, and healers, in specific, weren’t easy to find, most dropping to 10 mans with higher progression numbers.

    We overcame that- and picked up two healers within a week of each other, then the healer who was out due to real life illness came back. Now I’m at 9 healers, and rotating that bench fairly, but it is a pain. I’d say 8 is a safe number.

    Also to note, with a 10 man group, one of the off tanks could also be a healing spec (tree or pally), which may be more beneficial depending on their compositions.

    I actually agree that if you keep the percentages the same- you should probably end up with roughly 13/14 people depending on your raid roster and their consistency. In a 10 man, I would make sure one of the OT had a healing spec and was geared for both. I’d probably also try to have 1 ranged dps also a healer (perhaps a shaman since the gear is very close now).

    My two cents, but on the whole, a good read.

    • When I ran a guild, I tried to maintain 35 raiders at all times. We also learned, as you demonstrated above, that dual-spec players are rather valuable.

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