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 :) (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 and  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?