I'm curious how other raid leaders organize the classes within groups. Obviously specific boss encounters encourage interesting optimization tricks, but I'm much more interested in general purpose raid design. If you're setting up your raid for DK/spider/abom/etc trash, or AQ trash or some other general purpose, what group arangements do you find work well?
I've tried the 'just spread everyone out evenly' type approach - and while this tends to work, it strikes me as very inefficient, and I dislike it.
Personally I'm a fan of 3-4 tank groups: war/priest/pld/lock/other (usually rogue for shout). I prefer self-sufficient groups because it cuts down on setup time - no need to tell folk who they're healing out of group, for example.
For the rest of the raid, I like to think of 'ranged' or 'melee' groups based on the assumption that these roles will generally have a lot of spatial correlation and hence the assigned healers will not often be out of range. I.e. the ranged healers stand at the back with all the ranged, the melee healers will be in range of all their assigned players at the same time.
For a while I was assigning dps wars with rogues, but the healers complained specifically in Naxx there is a lot of 'splash' damage on the melee and it's hard to keep heavy melee groups standing. It seems that assigning 2 healers to melee groups would be efficient. Something like priest/pld/war/rogue/rogue. Do folk use this kind of group, or is it too hard to heal?
For ranged groups, generally it seems fine to give them one healer.
Our raid tends to have a lot more druids than average - like 4-6 depending. What is the optimal healing assignment for a druid? Some discussion with the druids indicates that based on the length of their heal cast time (lack of a 1.5sec heal) it is better to give them a tank who will soak damage for a while and then take a large heal. Also, swiftmend is nice for emergency tank heals - where would you put your druids?
Do people stack hunters in a single group? Do folk have much success stacking healers in 'heal' groups? Do you stack tanks to optimize imp/aura/totems? e.g. war/war/pld/priest/lock?
A couple of raid group snapshots might be helpful - and maybe a little discussion as to why specific group makeup was chosen.
For trash, my guild generally goes with the idea of self-sufficient groups. We used to have our Priest Class Lead assign healers to tanks for trash, but moved away from that with the onset of Naxxramas to get us used to adapting to different situations and becoming used to treating the raid group as one big party.
For specific group setup, the top 2 tank groups are generally Warrior/Pally/Lock/Priest/random 5th. We carry alot of rogues and few dps warriors, so we'll generally have 3 rogue groups that look like Warrior/Rogue/Rogue/Rogue/Priest (generally 2 groups like this) and then Warrior/Rogue/Rogue/Priest/TSA Hunter (1 group like this). Group 8 always has 3 or 4 Hunters and a Pally or Druid (or both). Then we usually have 2 caster groups with any excess healers covering all the other mages and locks.
We usually don't change group setup for bosses other than special cases like Vaelastrasz or Huhuran.
Our healing assignments for boss fights start with anywhere from 2-5 healers on the main tank. (2 for Noth, 5 for Anub'rehkan) This will consist of 2 priests, 2 druids and a pally. The rest of the assignments really depend on the fight. We do like to have our druids healing tanks because of the utility of Swiftmend and NS. An exception to this rule is Faerlina, where we stick 2 priests on the MT at the start. Pallies heal the tanks getting worshipper adds then move to MT healing and cleansing the raid when their warriors add dies. This leaves druids free to top people off with HoTs and do the bulk of the cleansing.
As far as healing DPS goes, we just have anyone not assigned to a specific tank heal "the floor," meaning any DPS or healers who need it. What classes and how many floor healers we have largely depend on the fight. (2 priests for Anub, all the druids and pallies for Noth)
Especially in Naxx, it's hard to come up with a definitive strategy for healing assignments since the fights are so varied. We'll generally start with 5 healers on the MT, 2 on each obvious offtank and the rest covering the floor, then adjust from there to fit other needs. We're learning Patchwerk right now, so I don't know if there is a consistent healing setup that can be used for later Naxx, but my experience in early Naxx make me think that it will all depend on the fight.
Unfortunately I set up my CTRA and RDX bars by class and don't have any screenshots of the raid tab open, and Elune is down until tomorrow afternoon. As a Sunday - Thursday raiding guild I won't be able to provide any screenshots of our setup until Sunday.
Edit: I'm not the raid leader, but I think I have a pretty good understanding of how our group setup works. :)
Our raid makeup is generally "Your Group = Your Role"
G1 = MT/OT, Shammy, Lock, OT/5th
G2 = Top 4 melee dps (at least one warrior) and Shammy
G3/4 Hunters and other Melee mixed in
G5/6 Caster DPS, at least one Lock in each group for imp buff
G7/8 Main Healers with MT shammies if possible.
Makes it nice to keep most of the mana users in groups of 5 for buffing, plus then you can easily look and see how much of different roles are dead. The only class that is always in different groups is the Shammy, as they have something to offer almost every role, but our priority is Mana Tide or Tank Buffs, Melee Dps Buffs, Hunter Buffs, Casters.
Obviously, different fights (as a BWL guild, Vael and Razor are two big ones) require different group makeups entirely. We'll often use the groups to determine which half of the raid you are on, or which corner you are supposed to be in to reduce any confusion about those roles. Still, the idea is that your group helps determine your role whenever possible.
The biggest optimization is in the giving Shammy and Lock buffs, for the Horde. Everything else is fight specific.