Running with non-optimal groups

It doesn’t typically take very long in a new MMO before theorycrafters start wondering about ‘the perfect group’. That is to say, given group content in game that’s designed for a fixed group size, what’s the optimal combination of classes/ specs/ etc to take? People spend a long time obsessing over exactly how many off-healers might be needed, whether the various buffs interlock in an aesthetically pleasing way, making sure that the hypothetical super-group has a good balance of melee, ranged, single target and AE damage potential, whether the phases of the moon favour fire or frost damage and so on.

Sometimes alternative potential groups are invented based on alternative strategies — you see this more on the PvP side of things, a crowd control group full of casters involves a very different composition from a melee assist train. And in a kind of platonic gladiatorial arena, the competing concepts actually get to duke it out in the field.

But somehow, the most memorable instance and PvP runs I have been in all involved non-optimal groups. There is a special kind of feeling of achievement in knowing that you’ve beaten either the game or other players with the odds stacked against you.

I was thinking this over the weekend when I looked at the 10 man signups and saw 3 warlocks, 2 druids, 2 paladins, 2 shamans, and me (ie. 1 warrior) and realised that I was going to have to turn up as my offspec and let the druids tank because we had so few melee signed (and it just so happened that no one else had a melee offspec, go figure).

We had a great run, knocked out Hodir for the first time, and smooth kills on all the other bosses we attempted — hurrah for warlock powah! The only frustrating part for me as raid leader was having to skip Thorim because of not having any instant-cast healers (the arena is a bitch for healers/ casters because there are slow effects).

But I think it felt even better due to knowing the group balance was so oddball. What do you think? Do you get more of a sense of achievement when you feel as though you’ve gone with a really weird group composition?