This Week in Raiding: How Long is Your Raid

This Week in Raiding is a (hopefully) weekly feature discussing the raiding encounters that my guild tackled this week, the lessons learned from them, as well as any news or thoughts on raiding in general.  This week the lovely and talented Ophelie from Bossy Pally and the Giant Spoon offers a guest post on Raid Lengths, proving that it is possible to be so full of awesomesauce that it could be bottled and sold in very upscale boutiques.

Hi everyone, Ophelie here from Bossy Pally. I'm helping entertain you keep things moving here while Fannon is spending time with his new family.

Since Fannon writes quite a bit about raiding, I thought I'd keep with the theme and write about raid lengths. That's right, lets forget about the size discussions for awhile. It's all about length today. (I'm fully aware of all the possible dirty jokes I could make here, but I'll be a good guest and spare you all my juvenile sense of humour.) 


When shopping for a raiding guild, the raid schedule is most likely one of the first things you try to dig up on a guild website. (Why so many guilds bury their raid schedules under pages of uselessness, I'll never understand.) You check which days of the week they raid, how often they raid, if they raid at times where you'll be occupied with your real life dailies... But how much importance do you attribute to how long they raid?

Me, I'm really picky about raid lengths. Too short and the raid will be over by the time we get warmed up, too long and I'll inadvertently wander off, like a bored child in a shopping mall.

From my guild shopping experience, I'd estimate that most teams raid for 3 to 4 hours. Yet you'll occasionally come across some guilds that raid for less than 2 hours, and others with 8 or more hour long raids.

Making the most of your time

Do you have trouble starting on time? Do people randomly go afk? Do you frequently have players leaving before the raid ends?

If you notice a lot of time wasting, chances are your raids are too long. Your teammates are taking their precious raid minutes for granted. Or maybe your teammates just have the attention span of a newborn goldfish. Either way, too long, too long, too long. Cut, cut, cut.

Not the players, the raid. If you can't start on time, consider pushing back raid start-time by 30 minute. If a lot of people are leaving before finish time, think about chopping 30 minutes from the end of the raid. If people are wandering off outside of breaks, cut whichever side of the raid you prefer. You goal is to make sure that your team is able to sustain interest in what they're doing, newborn goldfish or not newborn goldfish. They need to be able to appreciate the time they spend getting smacked around by virtual monsters.

Obviously, be reasonable here, if you only have 1 or 2 players who are unreliable, and they're consistently unreliable, maybe the raids are too long for them but changing everyone's schedule is silly. If you really like those people and you're of the accommodating type, guilds who do those scary marathon days often swap players in and out after a few hours. If you have a few goldfish raiders, there's nothing stopping you from setting up a similar arrangement for your goldfish to relay each other (breaks make for great hello/goodbye time).

Time Perception: It's Like One of those Visual Illusion Thingies

Pretty much every team I've raided with had 3 hour raids. Most of the time, that's way longer than my attention span (I confess to being a goldfish) and this happens:

Me: ....
Me: ....
Me: Sorry was alt tabbed out.

But sometimes this happens:


What makes time fly during a raid?
  • Limited dead time (in other words, fast recovery from wipes, no waiting around)
  • Being encouraged to participate in strategy adjustment discussions
  • Novelty (this includes new approaches to an old fight)
  • A feeling of learning something
  • A feeling of teamwork or, at very least, camaraderie (according to my very unscientific and highly biased personal experience, the perceived length of raids is inversely proportional to the number of times the /flirt emote is used)

The Time Spent Raiding Sweet Spot

My paladin grew up on a PvE, fairly casual server during BC and early Wrath. There was one guild that aimed to be "hardcore". They had 6 hour raids several times a week (note: I don't know for sure if this was true or not, but for the sake of the moral of the story, we're going to pretend it was true). Rumour had it that they did all the "hardcore" things: forcing standby players to stand outside the instance during raids , raid kicking anyone who screwed up, imposing unreasonable farming quotas.

"Wow", I used to think. "They're so hardcore."

Then, one day, I transferred to a more progressive server. I quickly realized that the "hardcore" guild was only hardcore in attitude. Their boss kills were nothing out of the ordinary. Despite raiding about 20 hours a week and treating their players badly, they were hardly progressive.

At the other end of the spectrum is Imperative, one of those super intimidating top world guilds. Even though they only raid for 3.5 hours at a time, they cause heroic bosses to seize up and topple over dead wherever they go.

It's like that "Studying for Exams Curve", where the more you study, the better grade you get, up to a certain point, where studying more stops having much of an effect. Everyone plateaus out at some point, and the key to being efficient means finding that sweet spot.

Time, the Elusive Resource

Whether you're raid scheduling or you're shopping for a raid team, keep the sweet spot in mind. The team's sweet spot and your own. Time is a rare, special thing, and you want to make the most of it.


  1. Great post, Ophelie, and thank you so much for the Guest appearance!

    Our Sun/Mon raids are scheduled for 3.5 hours, two nights a week. We seem to have a minimum of fuss and downtime, and as long as we start on time we seem to get a lot accomplished in that time. So I think that's working well for us.

    I can't imagine an 8 hour raid when working on a difficult progression boss. That much wiping would drive me insane. I find it's very helpful to step away from a boss, think about it overnight and tackle it again the next day. I think I would also find a very short raid frustrating and unsatisfying, as I don't think it would really feel like we've given the dungeon the proper effort, especially when working on progression.

  2. Woah. Nice post.

    Every guild I've been in has either been 3 or 4 hours.
    The one I'm currently often starts 15-30 mins late due to the GM and their significant other taking their children to bed, but we can't push it any later as it's already a late night guild, and our finnish members would probably complain. (10PM - 1AM server time)

    A lot of the time I wish we could keep going a bit longer, as I'm used to my Wrath guild which had a 4 hour farm night, but I know it wouldn't make a difference either way as by that point, most of us (myself included) are starting to fall asleep.

    So yeah, timing is just as important as length, imo!