Raid benching policy

How you manage your raid roster can be a tricky subject. In an ideal world we would have 20 people of equal skill, who turned up every raid night without question and were all a joy to be around socially. Of course, this is never the case, so any raid team with Mythic ambitions must recruit above the magic 20 number and maintain a bench. 

For starters, no one wants to be on the bench. You didn’t buy the expansion, pay your monthly sub and gear up your character so you could watch your friends progressing bosses on Twitch. So, when managing your bench you have choices to make, what’s the ‘fair’ way to handle this? First of all lets look at why would you as a raid leader want to bench someone. 

Composition. Every boss fight is different and the best way to deal with mechanics or dps checks often involves bringing specific classes or even stacking them in some cases. The suggested method for currently progressing Mythic N’Zoth involves bringing up to 10 immunity classes. When you look at who has an actual immunity that works for this, you’re left with a very small list. Add to that the fact you will also want to bring one Demon Hunter and one Monk for their debuffs, a warrior, a priest, a mage etcetc for their buffs, you actually end up with a very limited choice in what your comp is going to look like. The inequality of range vs melee when it comes to dealing with many mechanics, particulaly on this boss, is also a huge point to take into consideration. So, unless all your players have geared alts ready to go, you will more than likely have to bench players to set a workable comp for this fight. The length and complexity of this encouter also means you want the same 20 progressing this until the end, so putting someone on the bench could mean sitting out the next 200 pulls – a hard pill to swallow. 

The next point is skill. Lets say you have a healthy 25 man raid roster, you can cover any and all compositional requirments a boss might have. The problem might well be that of those 25 players, several are lower skilled individuals. Maybe they do bad dps, maybe the farm red swirlies like it’s paying their rent, or maybe as I’ve seen time and time again these individuals tend to be one and the same. Those that ignore raid mechanics or simply don’t have the capacity to do their dps rotation at the same time as avoidling things, also tend to be the ones who don’t put in the effort to optimise their character, practise and so on. However, for whatever reason they remain in your raid roster. This could be for a number of reasons, such as they have been here a long time, their active social members of the guild and friends with others and so on. In my own guild what I have seen occur is that the guild is moving on and some people are getting left behind. What I mean here is that as our guild progressed from a heroic mess around team to a Cutting-Edge guild, some people just could not meet the new standard. 

What happens now that you’ve indentified in your 25 man roster you have some players of a simply lower skill bracket than the content your team is progressing? Many people opt for a ‘rotational’ benching policy. How this is sold to your raid team varies, but it boils down to swapping people in on a weekly/raid night basis and taking this in turns. You’re in for 3 weeks, out the fourth for example. This is fine in principle, but the problem lies when you add in the low skilled players. If you’re a great hunter, who pumps all day long and never dies and you are replaced for a night by the weak hunter it feels bad. Feels bad for everyone. Not only do you have to look on at the poor performance, but the 19 other people playing that night will have a worse experience. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, unchecked bad performance sows the seeds of failure in your team. They see this person perform badly, that is now the new standard so they can slack. Wipes will happen or kills will be slower and messier than usual. 

But what can you do, as we said these players pay their sub the same as everyone else and won’t be content to sit the bench permantntly, only filling in when you’re desperate. The only kind sollution here is to pull the trigger. If you’re raid team has moved on in the world, it is unfair on everyone to keep these lower skilled players on the sidelines. It will only foster bittneness in your raid team as others are feeling hampered by this low performance in the group. Likewise,these players would likely have a much better time in a raid team more suited to their skill level. It can’t feel good to see your name constantly at the bottom of the dps meter or be starting at that ‘Release spirit’ button half the raid night. Socut them loose, even if it shrinks your bench a little. It’s is far better to have a 22 or 23 man roster of skilled players. Yes, you might not be able to bring the ‘meta comp’ every time or satisfy a certain number of immunes or spec stacks. But you will have consistently solid raid nights and overall your progress will be faster and cleaner.

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