How to: Maximize Your Raid’s Potential with Special Teams

WOW! What a way to end Thanksgiving Weekend. I managed the catch the Cowboys vs Bills game on TSN. I have a whole newfound respect for the sport. I’m amazed at all the plays by both teams. Five interceptions? I figure that’s a lot. That’s the best game of football I’ve seen since Remember the Titans. A wiseass would then remark “Well what football games have you seen since Remember the Titans?”. To which I would respond “None!”. But the literally down-to-the-wire win by Dallas is an attitude that should be adopted by everyone. Two seconds can be all it takes to from a humiliating wipe to a resounding boss kill (along with special teams play which we’ll get to in a moment).

Today’s piece is about organizing your raid. You’ve got your 25 members ready to go. You’re excited for Gruul’s because it’s the first time you’ve ever done a 25 man. You’re pumped and and the adrenaline rush hits you as you take down the first Ogre showing him whose the man: You. Then you come up against the High King and his goons and now you’re left gaping in awe because you’re not sure how to set up your groups, right? Face it. With the many different races and classes available, there are multiple auras and passive racials to take into account.

Enter Special Teams

Your raid consists of five separate parties. Special teams are important in Hockey and other sports. You want the Power Play units to generate and capitalize on scoring chances. You want your Penalty Killers to fend off the opposing team out numbered. I’m sure Football has numerous cases of special teams but I don’t know the names of them yet (That’s my goal for the end of the year). How you set up your parties in your raid can make the difference between a 1% wipe and a Guild first down.

What follows is a unit-by-unit break down of a hypothetical raid. This will be your standard, generic, default, 1st unit raid set up against trash and some bosses which assumes the following:

You’re using four tanks (Two Druids and Two Warriors)
7 healers (3 Paladins, 3 Priests, a Resto. Shaman)
14 DPS (3 mages, 3 warlocks, 2 hunters, 2 rogues, 1 warrior, 1 enhancement shaman, and 2 shadow priests)

Unit 1: Tanking Unit

This is the group your Main Tank (Henceforth known as MT) is in. What you are concerned here with isn’t damage dealing, nor mana regenerating, or the like. The main objective of this unit is to survive as best as possible which means loading up with Stamina, Armor, and whatever else the MT needs to do to stay alive.

Warrior (Prot)
Warrior (Hybrid with Commanding Shout)
Druid (Feral Tank)
Paladin (For Devotion Aura)
Warlock (Imp Health Increase)

Seems simple enough, right? Your MT here is bolstered by Devo. Aura (for the little armor it provides), the second warrior that has Commanding Shout (for temporary health increase), the Warlock’s Imp (health increase), and the Druid’s Leader of the Pack (What they hey, this bear’s tanking and should benefit from all this stuff too, plus he adds extra crit percent).

Unit 2: Secondary Tanking Unit

This is your second Tanking unit. It’ll mainly be deployed against trash pulls of 3+ or against certain bosses that have multiple parts (Fathom-Lord, High King are good examples).

Druid (Feral)
Paladin (Holy)
Warlock (Imp Buff)
Hunter (BM Hunter)

At first glance, this unit seems like a mish-mash of left overs combined together (which it is). It’s the same principle as above except this unit has one feral druid tanking. The Imp buff provided by the warlock is a staple, and the Ferocious Inspiration from the Hunter is an on crit effect by the hunter’s pet which increases damage done by everyone in the party by 3%. Two Paladins means two different auras (Retribution Aura and Devo. Aura). In a nutshell, this is a mishmash of left over classes combined together. As you read on about the final three units, you’ll find out why.

Unit 3: Healing and Mana Regeneration Unit

Shaman (Restoration)
Priest (Shadow)
Priest (Holy)
Priest (Holy)
Priest (Holy)

This unit is your next important group to set up. You want to maximize the return on mana to your healers so they can sustain the rest of the raid. With that objective in mind, we task the Restoration Shaman here (His spell crit racial is a plus along with mana spring AND mana tide on emergency). We’ll use one of our Shadow Priests here for the mana and health returns from VE/VT. The rest of the group is rounded out with 3 Holy Priests. Note that we still have a Paladin kicking around. I would throw him in this group, but Paladins hardly ever run out of gas anyway so he doesn’t need the mana regeneration.

Unit 4: Close Quarters Combat Unit

Enhancement Shaman (Windfury is a no brainer)
Warrior (Hybrid, capable of tanking and dishing out punishment)
Rogue (Kind of a given)
Hunter (BM Hunter)

This unit contains the Melee DPS of the group. The Enhancement shaman will rocket this unit’s DPS sky high with Windfury alone. In addition to WF, the Shaman should drop Strength of Earth and Healing Stream totems. Your Warrior is the last tank available in the event there’s an extra trash mob running around. At the very least, he’s a good OH $#%@ tank who can slap on a sword and a shield and taunt. Two rogues are in here, enough said. Our second Hunter is in here as well. I don’t know a lot about Hunters but I think the norm is BM hunters now? I’m not quite sure since I’ve been noticing more Hunter pets in raids. Ferocious Inspiration is an on crit by the hunter’s pet which increases damage done by everyone in the party by 3%. It’ll be up for the majority of the raid. [Thanks Melanne]

Unit 5: Caster Sustained Siege Unit

Priest (Shadow)

This is your nuking group. The extra Shadow Priest again is for the VE/VT combination to fuel the firepower of the Mage and the Warlocks. Extra mana return helps to further extend the length of time that your casters can use. Shadow Vulnerability from the Shadow Priest helps the Warlock add a bit more extra punch.

I know this hypothetical raid group did not cover all possible classes or races (Sorry Horde players, I don’t know what kind of benefits your racials get). Obviously moonkin druids get no love at all (Carnage does not utilize any). There’s multiple ways to establish your Special Teams and they will consist of a variety of players and skill sets. You as the Raid leader needs to decide what is best overall for your raid Group. It’s a never ending game of balancing the pros and cons of races and classes with one another. Today’s piece was just a minor example of how to pull it off. Different bosses will yield different looking Special Teams. Bosses like Hydross will scatter your Paladins in different groups for Frost Resistance aura. Sometimes there is a particularly hard 5 pull that has all of your warriors and druids tanking and you’ll need to substitute players from your Close Quarters Unit with your Secondary Tanking Unit. Just remember to always use your discretion. Your Guild and raid makeup will obviously be far different then the one used in my Guild. Use this guide as just that: a guide.

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.


  1. Disciple of the Light says:

    Matticus on Special Teams…

  2. […] I were leading the raid, I would screw over other classes completely. To hell with group optimization. We all have our dreams. Blori would probably tell me to wake up because he would never part with a […]