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Cataclysm Raid Composition

Posted Thu, Feb 17, 2011 by Cyrak

Raiding in World of Warcraft’s latest expansion is at once more forgiving and less forgiving in terms of raid composition. Abilities, especially buffs, have been homogenized and special mechanics such as threat redirection have been nerfed down. This means that you don’t need to bring an exact combination of specs or classes to get the buffs you need to beat bosses. 

That said, there are a variety of factors to consider when you’re making your raid. This is particularly important if you’re raiding with 10 people instead of 25. 

“Loot Composition” 

You just downed Magmaw for the first time and are looking forward to much needed upgrades for your raid. You’re rocking a standard 5 dps 2 tank 3 healer raid composition for 10s with a couple offspecs. Your tanks are 2 feral druids and your DPS are 3 casters, a Hunter and a Rogue. Magmaw drops two awesome two handed strength maces… wait a minute! This situation is an inevitable problem that confronts 10 player guilds that don’t have a balanced ‘loot comp’. You end up getting copious amounts of loot that no one can use. In this respect loot comp can be even more important than raid comp since progression is so often dictated by the level of gear in your raid. 

10 player guilds therefore need to take a look at who they bring and what types of loot they use and try their hardest to balance that as well as possible. Consider the following. There are 9 types of armor listed below: 

Leather – Agility
Leather – Intelligence
Plate – Intelligence
Plate – Tanking
Plate – Strength
Mail – Intelligence
Mail – Agility
Cloth – Spirit
Cloth – Intelligence 

If you take this into account when making your raid then you can make a raid like the following: 

Tanks: Death Knight, Prot Paladin
DPS: Rogue, Warrior, Hunter, Mage, Shadow Priest
Healers: Resto Druid, Resto Shaman, Holy Paladin 

In a raid like this no weapon will go to waste, no armor will go to waste and loot will be split such that nearly no one is competing with each other. It also has the added advantage of having a 4:3:3 ratio of classes on the Vanquisher, Conqueror, and Protector armor tokens respectively (which happens to be the exact drop ratio for those pieces). This is a perfect loot composed raid and a damn strong composition too. This raid won’t waste loot and that extra gear will fuel their progression at a rate that a poorly composed raid could not match. 

Okay, so there are some exceptions but USUALLY it's better to have a balanced raid!

Raid Size Matters 

Another major factor when dealing with raid composition is the size of your raid. Generally with the homogenized buffs of Cataclysm a 25 player raid will have every buff possible without trying. Smaller raids will need to make sure that they have as many buffs as possible. Each small buff goes a long way; 5% crit on every class in the raid is equivalent to several extra pieces of epic loot per person.  

A good trick for balancing out your buffs is to make sure that you have a Hunter. In addition to being the highest DPS in the game right now Hunters can also bring a variety of pets that can bring nearly any buff in the game. These guys are great for filling holes in your buff setup and can be the difference between killing a boss or getting stuck on a DPS check. 

Got Cooldowns? 

Difficult boss mechanics often come down to how many cooldowns you can roll on your raid or on your tank to get through the hard parts. Some classes are more powerful than others from a raid comp perspective, and usually they are classes that have critical cooldowns that can save your ass. 

Many boss fights depend on having big cooldowns available at certain points.

The big ones are the healing and defensive cooldowns. Priests’ Divine Hymn, Druids’ Tranquility and Battle Rez are both abilities that can be used by DPS classes. Moonkins and Shadow Priests therefore are an incredibly powerful addition to your DPS roster since they can use powerful healing cooldowns as well as dish out big damage. 

Other key cooldowns include Aura Mastery, Pain Suppression, Power Word: Barrier, Guardian Spirit, Anti-Magic Zone, and Divine Guardian. As you can see Priests and Paladins bring some seriously strong abilities to the table and should definitely be considered for healing and tanking spots. 

Must Haves 

There are things you can’t live without. Every raid absolutely, unequivocally must have Bloodlust and at least 1 Battle Rez. You can resurrect 1 player in combat on 10 player and 3 on 25 currently so balance accordingly. So many bosses now are balanced around ‘burn phases’ which require all out DPS. Many of these encounters are actually balanced with the assumption that the raid has Heroism/Bloodlust/Time Warp available at a certain point in the fight. If you make a raid without access to this ability then you are putting yourself at an absurd disadvantage. 

There aren’t many Beast Mastery Hunters out there so you’ll have to more or less assume that you need a Shaman or Mage in your raid no matter what.  

Raiding without a Druid (this doesn’t include the tank!) is also suboptimal. Moonkins and Restoration Druids are so powerful right now that they make an incredible addition even without the ability to resurrect a player to full life glyphed. 

The Powerful and The Neglected 

There will always be some classes that are better than others. Some classes do more damage, some heal better, and some mitigate damage more efficiently. If all things are equal (which they never are) including skill, gear, knowledge and commitment then try to bring classes that can fill multiple roles, bring big cooldowns, or just happen to be overpowered. 

Here’s a list of classes and specs that will make your life a lot easier if they’re in your raid: 

Tanks: 

  • Blood DK: Nigh immortal, possesses a list of cooldowns unrivaled by any other tank. DKs can kite large numbers of mobs and have the best AoE threat in the game. Can’t go wrong with one of these tanking for you. 

DPS: 

  • Moonkin: Tranquility, Battle Rez, Innervate and incredible AoE and single target damage. How can you go wrong with this one? They also have Barkskin, Roots, and fairly high armor in case they ever get into trouble. 
  • Shadow Priest: This class has the Divine Hymn and Hymn of Hope toolkit as well as pretty damn strong raid healing via Vampiric Embrace. They have the strongest personal shield wall in the game in the form of Dispersion and do fabulous damage too. 
  • Hunter: The swiss army knife of buffs, can provide whatever you need via their pets. This class is a highly mobile DPS that has no threat concerns and substantial survivability via Deterrence. Oh yeah, did I mention they blow away every other DPS in the game on a single target? 

Healers: 

  • Resto Druid: In addition to the usual Battle Rez, Tranquility, and Innervate lineup they also have Tree Form for amazing mobile burst healing and some of the best mana economy in the game. 
  • Discipline Priest: Brings the now all-powerful Power Word: Shield which has no counterpart in the game. Incredibly versatile class that can pump out massive healing via shields and has Pain Suppression, Power Word: Barrier, Hymn of Hope (Mana Regeneration), and Divine Hymn. 
  • Holy Paladin: This class has always been a mainstay of the healing game. They have crazy amounts of cooldowns and the best single target healing in the game. This is the guy you will want healing your tank. 

This is not to say that you must have these classes or you will fail. It’s just by way of acknowledging that having some of these specs in your raid will make life a lot easier for everyone involved. 

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