6 Player Groups – The Perfect Size
One of the biggest difficulities I had in adapting to WoW after playing games like Everquest and Everquest 2 for so long as the size of party it offered. WoW is 5 players; everything else (pretty much) is 6. Oh Blizzard, why did you have to go and try and be special? There’s a reason for the magic number 6, y’know.
To be fair, I do kinda get their reasoning. Small groups are more intimate and tight nit and most people seem to prefer smaller raids, as a collection of groups, to bigger ones (I was not a fan of 54 player raids in Everquest). I also distintly remember the massive party sizes in the original Star Wars: Galaxies and how much chaos that caused. Everything was literarly a zerg-fest of the most gigantic proportions, no one knowing what the heck was going on, and generally a lot of screaming as Tusken Raiders wrecked havoc by exploiting the imbalance of parties filled with only one healer and 14 DPS professions.
As much as I like the idea of intimate group sizes though they seem to me to have an invariable weakness when combined with the Holy Trinity model – not enough room for DPS classes. In an age when WoW players are complaining that they have to wait 40 minutes for a group as a damage dealer yet can queue instantly as either a tank or healer (one of the reasons why I always play tanks), I can’t help but wonder if having a more spaces for DPS to fill would’ve lessened this issue somewhat. Now I’m no mathmagician or anything but effectively you’re squeezing something like an extra 30% more DPS capacity into a group and thus lessening what seems to be average wait time for those classes by a good 15mins or so. Not too shabby.
Having slightly larger groups also allows for more variety in the party make up. For instance, when I played EQ2, I often rolled dungeons with two healers (Template + Mystic FTW) and it was common course, particularly on harder instances. Now I know that’s still perfectly feasible in WoW but somehow dropping your DPS members down to a measly two seems a little extreme. The balance of classes would seem totally out of whack for one plus, remember, those poor guys have a tough enough time finding groups as it is without replacing them for additional heal support.
The Holy Trinity is never going to be a perfect gaming model and just oozes imperfection but it seems to be all we’ve got right now. Making the most out of it also seems highly dependent on things like hybrid specs and class distribution. If not enough players are attracted to healing or tanking or too many pick DPS classes then the balance is wrecked and you end up with players unable to find groups. I have absolutely no statistics to back this up but, from my personal observations, 6 feels like a rather nice number when it comes to matching the spread of classes into groups and seems to fit the distribution of class archetypes more accurately.
I know it’s a minor thing really and we’re never going to see the party size changed in WoW but I suppose I am curious as to why Blizzard (and any other MMO) picked 5 player parties instead of the more common 6. Was it just a spur of the moment guess or was it a thoughtful decision backed up by statistics? And what does everyone else reckon the “perfect” group size actually is?