Class Distribution Redux – Who Raids?

A couple of weeks ago, I took a lot at level 80 class distribution via armoury datamining.

On the official boards, Venom has another take on this. He’s looked at the first 100 25-man kills on Professor Putricide (one of the tougher ICC bosses) and broken down the numbers of classes/ specs who were taken along in those raids.

Note: Yes, the fight may not be typical and top 100 guilds may not be typical, but it’s close enough to draw a few conclusions.

% first 100 PP Kills Class
14 Paladin
13 Druid
12 Priest
11 Shaman
9 Rogue
9 Warrior
9 Mage
8 Death Knight
8 Hunter
8 Warlock

Let’s start with some elementary maths. In a 25 man raid, each raider represents 4% of the total raid force. There are 10 classes in World of Warcraft. So in a perfectly class balanced 25 man raid, you’d take 2 of each class, and an extra member for five of the classes.

Looking at the numbers above, Ghostcrawler must be thrilled. Because that is exactly the split we’re seeing here. Even the lowest represented classes still account for 8% of the raid force.

In fact, the top four most represented classes are also hybrids, which is exactly what you would expect in a perfectly balanced position. If a class has three roles which are all viable for raiding, then a balanced raid is more likely to take one of each than to stack several members of the same class/ spec. Not only that, but paladins are also the most played characters at level 80 (see previous post as linked above) so if they are also more represented in raids that just reflects the number of available characters.

Perfect Balance? Shamans, Priests, Warriors

Shamans have the distinction of being the class where all three specs are almost equally represented. At first sight that looks astounding as a feat of balance. We’re a long way from TBC days when raids used to stack 5 resto shamans.

But actually resto shamans are currently the least represented of all the healers. When you think that resto is also the most popular of the shaman specs among the player base, that implies that a lot of people aren’t able to raid as their favourite spec. Fortunately, the other specs are also popular with raid leaders. (Note: Based on these numbers, I’m starting to be tempted to roll a Goblin Shaman myself next expansion, I never was good at picking a spec and sticking to it.)

Priest representation in these 100 raids is impressive because it almost exactly matches the spec distribution among the player base. Really priests in this expansion have been very well balanced, and this is the proof of it.

Warrior representation between roles is also close to the general population; at least if you assume most DPS warriors switch to Fury for raiding. Devs stopped citing the number of warrior tanks in  more recent comments on tanking as a reason to nerf, instead saying that warriors presented a larger sample size to compare. I think they realise that it just happens to be most players’ favourite spec, rather than anything to do with class balance.

Once a Death Knight is Enough

Ah, Death Knights. Second most popular class at level 80, but way down at 8% in raid representation.

What happened? Two things: their tanking could use a boost, and also most people who have level 80 Death Knights also have another alt which they may currently prefer. The class hasn’t dropped off the scale, and is still filling it’s share of slots. But as a hybrid, you’d expect to see them showing higher than the 8% seen here.

One Spec to Rule them All

For some classes, one spec is so superior for high end raiding that there is almost no comparison.

Arcane Mages are the single most represented spec in the whole survey, for example. Closely followed by Marksmanship Hunters, Unholy Death Knights, Assassination Rogues, and Holy Paladins.

Other specs just aren’t played at all: Frost Mage, Beastmastery Hunter, and one lone Subtlety Rogue flying the flag.

Still, in these days of Dual Spec, there’s no reason for a dps class not to go with their highest dps option unless a fight specifically requires more utility.


9 thoughts on “Class Distribution Redux – Who Raids?

  1. “Ah, Death Knights. Second most popular class at level 80, but way down at 8% in raid representation.”

    Agree that they need a tanking buff, and agree that many DKs are alts (mine is, as well). However, I also submit the following amendment:

    There is a reason that the derogatory term “Deathtard” has evolved to describe a not-insignificant portion of the “Flavor of the Month” class for this expansion.

  2. As a raiding Enhancement Shaman it’s nice to be considered perfect. Thanks. Actually, in the age of supposedly “interchangeable DPS” I think what this may show is that good raid leaders understand how to balance a raid to get the most out of each class and the group as a whole, not just throwing in any ‘ol DPS. Even I know it would be a bad idea to fill the dps slots with 6 Shamans, no matter how perfect we may be.

    @Forreststump: I echo everything you said, absolutely!

  3. Ah that’s given me a bit of a kick in the rear! I’ve got all the raiding stats for the character samples that I collect. I’ll see if I can produce some analysis along these lines as well.

  4. We can’t see how many Death Knights in the sample were tanks, same case for feral Druids, but since Death Knights almost NEVER tank in Unholy spec nowadays, I’d assume most are taken as dps and the meme “DKs are the weakest tank, dude respec dps or reroll” has taken its toll.

    Paladins still aren’t “the most popular tank”, actually there are far more Paladins who heal than tank, and what’s kinda strange. In TBC all 4 heal-capable classes were usually made healers except “mana batteries shadow priests”, but nowadays it seems classes like Priests and Shamans aren’t any more pidgeon holed into healing. So why Paladins?

    Could also ask why Druids, but I know the answer, resto rocks, balance sucks, to say it shortly.

    Another point that matches internet memes is that Holy Paladins are much more useful in end game raiding than Disc Priests. Disc Priests are nice when you lack gear, but the more you gear up, the less you see the advantages of Disc useful and the more you see their scaling weakness.

    It is not surprising at all that “pure dps” just pick the best spec, while hybrid classes follow more the choice of group ROLE. Devs can say it’s a same choice of playstyle between ret. paladin and holy paladin as the choice between arcane and fire mage, but it is not. The game has 5 distinct roles, that’s tank, healer, melee dps, caster dps and ranged-dps-who-is-not-a-caster and the last one is a hunter.

    The difference between arcane and fire mage is they pew pew with a bit different spells. The difference between a mage and a shadow priest is that if your shadow priest does too little dps, you can’t change spec, you’d have to reroll from scratch or change to totally different role (healing).

    “Pure dps” classes don’t even offer big change of playstyle that Druids and Shamans offer with 2 dps specs.

    And well, about Warlocks… I still do see a lot of destro, I guess it’s just very much dependant on encounter whether destro or affli performs better, I wouldn’t be surprised if those aff warlocks have destro offspec they use for fights when affli underperforms.

    • This is one of the places where I think top 100 guilds may be slightly different, since they’re more likely to stick with their existing and known players than switch around too much.

      One answer is that maybe holy paladins are really really good at the moment, or really really good on this particular fight. Or just that there are more spots in raids for healers (up to 6-7 healers, only 4 heal capable classes) and holy pallies tend to be most likely to get doubled up. If paladins make up 14% of raiders on average, then that’s an average of more than 3 paladins per 25 man raid.

      The main thing I do see with paladins is not so much fewer tanks (the main thing that surprised me with tanks was that warriors averaged just over 1 per raid, I’d have expected raids to be more likely to take a spread of tank classes) but not as many retri as I might have expected. I think raids are not taking more than one retridin so a lot of paladins are simply finding it easier to get a spot as a healer. Also, they may not be the most popular raid tank (although they really aren’t far behind now) but that doesn’t mean they aren’t the most popular tank – we don’t know who tanks instances.

      note: this does not reflect my experience because we often run with up to 6 druids 😉

      Also, I suspect you are spot on with warlocks and this might just be a fight that favours a particular spec.

      • I’d be very wary of using ‘top 100’ figures. I think at least some of these groups show what might be considered ‘extreme’ behaviour. It’s a bit like trying to work out driving habits by examining Rally, Nascar and F1 drivers and what they do.

        One of the intresting facts from ‘Ensidiagate’ was that the Rogue with the Saronite Bombs was playing two Characters of the same class and spec. This as a method of getting around limited trys and I assume also of giving a good chance of things like ‘1-shot’ achievments. Nothing wrong with it of course. You put the time in you get the rewards. But it is rather like a racing team having ‘spare cars’, fine if you have the cash or in this case time. I wouldnt be surprised to find multiple alts all in top tier gear all with multiple specs and changes to Spec, Glyphing, Roster for each and every fight with the same players.

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