Optimizing Raid Composition


Blizzard Hates Melee DPS


That is perhaps too strong of a statement; however, my three months of analysis is in, and end result is that melee DPS (mDPS) is rarely, if ever, preferred over ranged DPS (rDPS) in a raid; at least in Bubba’s humble opinion. (For what it is worth, the rest of the WoW community tends to agree, go check out some forums on the topic, this one (Ranged >>> Melee. Why? Not fair at all.) is typical of the conversation. The boss encounters are simply designed to encourage the use of rDPS.
There are some basic mechanic issues at play.

  1. Melee tend to be single target DPS only, because they have to be in melee range to do more than single target DPS. Ranged on the other hand can typically DOT all the off targets, regardless of how spread out they are, and easily tab target and continue mashing keys for more DPS.
  2. Ranged DPS do not have to maneuver to get in range, they just pick up a target. Melee DPS has to move to the new target, and can not do any DPS in the time that they are out of Melee range of any target.
  3. Melee range is the most dangerous, damage intense area of the fight. Melee take far more raid damage than ranged counterparts. In a world where the healers mana is at a premium, keeping as many people out of the melee range as possible is preferred.
  4. In any fight where the raid needs to spread out, melee are constrained to the bosses hit box w/out enough room to spread out … or they must spread out and cease DPS until the spread out period is over. Most melee DPS are too bull headed to spread out of DPS range, and thus raids wipe because the melee just had to stay in range. (I’m not bitter. I’m not bitter. I’m not … oh who am I kidding.)
  5. If a ranged DPS (rarely) pulls agro, the tank has some amount of time to taunt and get the situation back under control when the boss goes walking off toward the ranged agro puller. Melee pulls agro, melee most likely gets one-shot’d before the tank even knows what happened.

Specific Mechanic Issues

  1. Magmaw – Melee are not allowed in range of Parasites. Ranged required to kill them. Ranged are key to this fight.
  2. Omnotron – Melee can very rarely take advantage of the power generators, ranged can always take advantage of them. If melee are targeted by a parasite, there is very little room for them to begin kiting and not blow up themselves, other melee, and the tank. Ranged on the other hand are already at distance, and simply need to maintain that distance. Additionally, ranged can kite & damage effectively, while melee tend to be relegated to kiting and if they do any damage it is ineffectively. Lastly, melee end up running all over the place switching targets and resulting in a lot of lost opportunity to DPS.
  3. Halfus – This fight is almost fair to mDPS. However, the amount of damage that gets dealt out in melee range of Halfus tends to favor a raid with fewer people ever getting w/in melee range. Melee also tends to just suck on this encounter though, mainly due to switching targets, running around, etc. Ranged DPS on the other hand can just DOT up Halfus, dot up the other drake, AND burn down the target drake. Lots of ranged DPS goodness.
  4. Conclave of Wind – The Ravenous Creepers (green adds) have a Toxic spore ability that effects everyone w/in 8 yards. Melee DPS simply can’t kill the adds & avoid the Toxic Spores. It is trivial for ranged DPS to burn down the adds and never be affected by the spore. Additionally, there is a mobility issue – ranged DPS can tend to stand near the wind bridge for the next jump and prepared to go. Melee DPS have to chase the boss around the platform and in some cases run up to 1/2 way across a platform in order to make the jump. Rohash (red platform) requires an uber pro sick awesome melee to handle him … or any run of the mill, aware of their surroundings ranged can do it – you do the math.
  5. Valiona & Theralion – Again, almost fair, but …. there is an 8 yard spread out when Valiona is grounded. If you have more than two people in melee range is nigh on impossible for the melee to be spread 8 yards apart & do DPS to the boss. <insert Bubba rant on stupid melee dps NOT spreading out and causing raid issues.> On Theralion, the melee DPS is necessarily from the front of the boss as well, additionally minimizing the melee abilities.
  6. Maloriak – Has a serious “spread out” phase. Ranged are the only ones who can realistically break folks out of ice blocks. Ranged can DoT up the boss and then burn down adds in phase 2, melee get to just work on the adds.
  7. Chimera – Serious “spread out” phase.
  8. Atramedes – Melee can only run in circles during the air phase, no mDPS at all.
  9. Nefarian – Melee stands around twiddling there thumbs for all of phase 2 while the ranged burn him down, no mDPS at all.

I got tired of writing of documenting it.

It is inevitable that some melee will say “I’m melee and I can do that!” For example, kiting the adds on Magmaw. Sure, a melee can kite those adds – and the raid will most likely wipe a number of times until the melee gets it down. However, a Hunter will tear that up every time. No one seriously puts a melee out there if a hunter or frost mage is available. Because one “can” do something is rarely reason that one “should” do the thing.

Optimal Raid Setup

So, given this data, and over three months of raiding in cataclysm, if I could imagine my optimal raid setup, what would it look like?

  • Warrior/Death Knight (Tank/mDPS)
  • Druid (Tank/rDPS)
  • Shaman (Heals/rDPS)
  • Paladin (Heals/Tank)
  • Priest (Heals/rDPS)
  • Rogue (mDPS) <-DK, Pally, Warrior, Feral Cat, Enhancement Shaman [but the better be able to interrupt like a pro!]
  • Warlock (rDPS)
  • Mage (rDPS) <- Frost Spec + Whatever Spec
  • Hunter (rDPS) <- Survival + Whatever
  • Priest (rDPS) <- or (Hunter, Mage, Boomkin, Elemental Shaman)

For what it is worth, in the same three months I’ve not once seen a raid that came anywhere close to this. Our guild is very melee DPS heavy and we tend to run with a lot of melee DPS. We don’t have any DPS priests that are raid ready, and we only recently got a single raid ready warlock. Mages also tend to be in short supply. Healers are the hardest to find.


This makeup gets me one of every class in the raid, it maximizes reliance on ranged DPS, it minimizes conflict over gear dropped, and it provides the raid with enough CC’s to anything that needs CC’s (BoT Trash), enough tanks to tank any boss with the ability for one of the tanks to go do (ranged) DPS; ultimately, it provides the optimal raid team of Cataclysm raids – I believe Blizzard designed the encounters with this raid makeup in mind. (Sure, we can and have downed bosses with sub-optimal teams, there is a lot of utility and plenty of room for ingenuity. We also all run raids without a complete set of best in slot gear, but given the option of running in the gear you have on now, and running in a full set of best in slot gear … ‘Nuff said, right?)

You never have more than three people in melee range of the bosses (2 tanks + 1 mDPS) and you never have more than two people in melee range of the same boss, this make “spread out 10 yards” much easier to manage.

I think that draws the picture; me adding more data probably is not going to help. I also realize that many play melee DPS and don’t want to hear this, I’m sorry for those people, truly sorry. I wish it were otherwise – however, if one wants to be in melee range and one is not a rogue, might I suggest a focus on Tanking if pursuing a desire to raid.


Recommended Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *