What’s a good size for a raid instance?

Larisa issues a plea for longer instances on the same day that Ghostcrawler ‘lets slip’ that Icecrown is going to have 31(!) bosses. Now that’s customer service for you πŸ™‚ (Also if anyone was wondering how long it would take Blizzard to start pimping the next patch now that 3.2 is live, you now have your answer.)

This will easily make Icecrown the largest raid instance in WoW. By comparison, Naxxramas has 13 bosses and when it first came out in vanilla WoW, the raid lockout was set to 14 days rather than the usual 7 in order to give raid guilds a chance to beat the last boss before the expansion came out. Ulduar has 14 bosses, of which three are optional and one is only accessible once you have beaten all the keepers on hard mode.

Now I find that the ideal size for a raid instance is one that can keep our raids happily occupied for a whole number of nights raiding. So I don’t want to spend a full night raiding and kill everything except the last boss which we have to leave for another day because we didn’t have time. I also don’t want to feel pressed to run more than two raids a week. But, the time it takes to clear a raid instance depends where you are in the cycle. You get quicker as raiders get geared up andΒ  learn the instance.

Based on that criteria, both Naxxramas and Ulduar are just a little bit too long as they are now. We always struggled to get Naxx down within three hours — by the time we had a team that could clear it in that time, most of them were overgeared so people preferred to bring alts. At weekends, when we could plan slightly longer raids, we could do it (and did). And currently we’re struggling to get Ulduar down in one session at the moment. (Props to our 10 man team who killed Yogg-Saron for the first time last weekend!) One less boss in Ulduar would have made the scheduling a lot easier for us, is the truth. Maybe if they’d cut Kologarn and his trash. Or Auriaya.

Or else they’re not long enough. With a few more bosses, we’d have enough content to fill two nights of raiding. And that would present another problem, because we run the 10 mans as a sideshow to the 25 man runs. And not everyone wants to run two nights of 10 man raiding as well as the larger raids.

So every raid group probably has its own views on how long a raid instance should be. They’d like enough content to fill their current schedule comfortably — no more, no less. Adding in hard modes and optional bosses definitely does give the raid leaders more options and I hope that Icecrown will go this route too. We may even see more flexibility on the raid lockouts, and more wings and locks inside the instance. I know I’m intrigued as to how Blizzard can make an instance that large and still keep it accessible to more casual raid groups.

What’s your ideal raid size, if you raid? Do you find that Ulduar is just one boss too long?


20 thoughts on “What’s a good size for a raid instance?

  1. 31 bosses crammed into a single instance seems nuts.

    I’d rather see three raid dungeons with 10 bosses each than one with 31. Of course, I’m guessing that its cheaper to produce a single raid with more bosses than it is to produce multiple raids with less bosses in each.

  2. Size wouldn’t matter if they allowed people to reset it within limits (i.e. not like normal mode instances) or if they designed it in a manner where you would get flagged and be able to jump ahead to the next section (think Ulduar’s teleporters only not one that resets when the raid does).

    I think VG’s raid is supposed to be sort of like that.

  3. I think it is reasonable for a raid instance of average difficulty to take between four and five hours if you’re doing it correctly. Obviously if you’re running a sluggish raid it should take longer.

    It is also important, at least in my eyes, to have one raid zone for the hardcore competitive crowd. That particular place can break all the rules. Once a new one is released with an expansion or pack the old one should be toned down to that four and five hour range.

    Of course when I read your title I thought you were going to ask about how many players should be in a raid! Another article later perhaps (btw I think two to three groups is the sweet spot these days).

    • That is another interesting question. I’ve enjoyed really large raids but for the kind of ultra focussed raid encounters that Blizzard specialises in, you can’t keep a crowd that organised. Maybe this is one for another day.

      • You’re absolutely right. It is a lot easier to wrangle two or three groups of cats than four.

        I like the epic scale of large raids but I honestly don’t miss the logistics. I think back to my EQ1 days and marvel at the fact that the average raid contained more people than my entire EQ2 guild did.

        At least, back then, however, you could make it work with a solid core, a majority of average and a few plan bad players. The smaller and tighter it gets the more each individual person must focus. It is a good balance.

        I just like being able to do everything with my core ^_~

  4. Ulduar is way, way too long. I still think the best example of how things should be was when both SSC and TK were out. That’s how it should be. 4 to 6 bosses and 2 different raids so you can pick and choose. I’m okay with a lot of content, but it’s ridiculous that we have to work through the same 12 bosses every week for an hour of attempts on #13 😦

  5. Maybe they could make something like a disposable key. So access to Wing 2 requires a key from the end of Wing 1. But that key is one-use only. So you could beat W1 one week and W2 the next, or farm W1 for a while so you have enough keys to do W2 for months. Or maybe the alt group or the 10-man does W1, and gives their key to W2 to the main group. Or maybe we’ll split up and run two semi-pugs in order to get 2 keys.

    Instance extensions will likely favor longer instances even without complex mechanics like I described above. Longer instances challenge hardcore raiders, and non-hardcore raiders can always do it over 2 weeks (or just do the first half for a few weeks).

    • I’m sure it would be possible to do something smart with optional bosses, winged areas, shortcuts, keys, and maybe the kind of one use key that you’re talking about here.

  6. I’m wondering if Blizzard will make the excuse that this is why they add the raid lockout extension. Let the instance reset every seven days if you want to farm the first few bosses or extending until you’ve marched all the way to Arthas.

    Of course, Delany is probably right. They’ll probably set it up as a series of interconnected wings.

    • Gosh, what a recipe for drama.

      “Hey guys I dont need anything off the first 6 bosses we have on farm so we’ll extend and wipe all week on boss #7”

      That will go down well, I don’t think.

      • I’d be OK with this actually. Put in something big and complex and give players options as to how they tackle it and then leave them alone to manage things themselves.

        It’s how DKP first originated. There would be drama but I think we’d evolve ways to deal with things, and that might also be quite interesting.

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