Managing the roster of raiders is one of the most difficult parts of running a mythic raiding guild in World of Warcraft. As long as a guild has enough happy raiders showing up to raid every week, the guild will live on and the group will, in all likelihood, defeat more and more bosses. If a raiding guild fails to sustain its roster, it will fade out of existence. This happens enough in Warcraft that it is colloquially referred to as a guild dying to “the roster boss.” There have been many posts written about how to find a guild or recruit. But how many raiders should the guild shoot for?
The Problem: Why Numbers Matter
In Warcraft currently, a group must bring exactly 20 raiders to the highest raiding difficulty, Mythic. For lower difficulty levels, a group can bring 10-30 raiders, and the encounter will adjust to match the size of the group. For those difficulties, a raiding roster of anywhere between 15-35 (or even lower/higher) can reliably raid every night it plans to without benching many (or any) raiders.
For Mythic, a roster of fewer than 20 will likely cause the guild to fail, as few prefer to raid in a group that is gimping itself by not bringing 20 guild raiders to the encounters. A roster of too much more than 20 will also not work well for the guild, as players bored of being benched too much will leave.
So, the key question is how many more than 20 is “too much more?” What’s the right number for most raid teams?
Advantages of Small and Large Rosters
Smaller rosters give a raiding group more consistency and allow the group as a whole to learn quicker. Fewer bench slots means more play time for everyone, giving everyone more experience on each boss. Small groups require fewer player swaps, so group composition is similar from night to night, requiring fewer strategy changes due to class/player composition changes. Smaller rosters also allow raid gear to be split among fewer players, minimizing the gear that is “wasted” on progression because it is equipped by a player benched for a progression fight.
Larger rosters give a raiding group more durability and flexibility. A guild with 24 members can weather the storm of 3 people absent on the same night, while a guild of 22 might have to take a night off. Additionally, large rosters tolerate players leaving/quitting the game better – a roster of 24 can carry on for a week or two if 2 players leave, while looking to recruit 2 replacements. A roster of 22 is suddenly in a very shaky position if 1 person leaves for another guild and 1 person quits the game. Also, larger roster sizes give a bit more flexibility in raid composition. If an encounter is easier with more of a specific class, or more ranged, or more melee, a larger guild is more likely to be able to shift its composition to take advantage of the encounter’s weakness.
Ultimately, I think most mythic guilds want as small a roster as possible to guarantee that they survive and have enough raiders on almost all raid nights. The advantages of a smaller roster are significant, and there are little disadvantages outside of “maybe having to skip raid due to absences.” Large rosters are an administrative headache, and can cause players to look for other guilds if they are spending too much raid time on the bench. Outside of world top 50 raiding, a guild essentially wants more than 20 players only to allow it to raid if people are absent and ensure long-term sustainability
A Mathematics Based Approach
So then, exactly how many players do we need? That number depends on your tolerance for risk (let’s quantify that as “how sure do we want to be that we have 20 to raid each night?”) and how high attendance you demand of your raiders.
I take raiding Mythic fairly seriously, as I imagine most people raiding Mythic do. If you wanted to just spend time with friends, and not be bothered if a certain number of players fail to show up, heroic is much easier and much less administrative headache than mythic. I therefore suggest that you want to have more than 20 players show up at least 95% of the time and ideally higher unless the guild has planned not to raid due to a holiday. If you can’t raid due to not enough people showing up on a non-holiday, you want it to be an extreme fluke, the kind of thing that happens once a year.
As an officer of several guilds, I also suggest that an average attendance of 95% is realistic for mythic raiding guilds. Some players will never ever miss raid, and they will be balanced by players who miss about a night a month, which is close to 90% attendance for 2 or 3 night raid teams. I think an average 95% is reasonable, as I would be hesitant to kick an otherwise excellent raider if they missed one week every two months. Much more than that, and I would talk to them about their attendance and see if it was going to be improved going forwards.
I created this spreadsheet for you to estimate how often your guild will have 20+ people to raid, given two variables: the size of the raid roster and the average attendance of the raiders. Feel free to play around with it. Some takeaways:
|Raid Roster Size
||20+ Raiders how Often?
With 95% attendance, 24 raiders will allow the guild to raid over 99% of the time. 24 seems like an ideal number then, right?
Reality Trumps Math
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.
Based on the above math, 24 seems like the right number to shoot for. In practice, I think that will be a little low. There are a few factors that suggest one or two more players is prudent.
First, there is attrition. Guilds that I have been a part of, even excellent ones that mostly lost players to quitting the game and almost never to other guilds, lost 1-2 players a month. Also, recruitment is easier between tiers than during a progression push, especially if a guild temporarily “falls behind” its progression target. Given this, the guild needs space on the roster for recruits and should have enough players that after the guild loses a member the raid roster is still in a good spot.
Second, I don’t think having 20 people online to raid is the right number to shoot for. Having 22 online for raid is about ideal. This allows the raid to shift its composition slightly as required (more or fewer healers, for instance). Having an extra member or two online also allows for someone to swap in if someone is having a bad night, whether due to real life factors affecting their play or internet connection issues. To get 22 consistently with a 95% attendance rate, you need one or two more than 24 raiders.
Thus, I think a raid roster size of 25-26, including all trials, is the sweet spot. This will minimize players’ time on the bench while maximizing the guild’s stability.
Now, any guild size 20 and above can work. I have been a part of very successful mythic raiding teams with 21-22 on the roster (including my current guild, <Trap Run>. By the way, thanks to the GM of Trap Run for giving me his blessing to publish this article and for discussing it with me). I cleared Mythic Archimonde in <Cake Plantation> in Tier 18 at around US 167, and helped manage a roster of around 30.
22 raiders feels a bit low and “dangerous;” one raider disconnecting can force the guild to stop raiding if a few others are absent. 30 raiders allowed for a weekend guild with a rather low average attendance rate and was a logistical feat to accommodate fairly; most guilds would do well to have a smaller roster size and find players who can hit higher attendance numbers. The guilds I have been in with around 25-26 raiding members felt like they were both nimble and stable, minimizing players’ time on the bench while maximizing the guild’s durability.
How much attendance can you demand from your raiders? How much do you value short-term consistency versus long-term stability? What is your magic number?