DPS Rankings / Tier List for Phase 5 of TBC Classic
While DPS in TBC Classic have very different power levels which determine to which extent you want to stack them, all healers and tanks are welcomed in raids and dungeons, as they all have unique benefits that are worth learning about.
We will be ranking each DPS class available in TBC Classic below, alongside a short explanation on the reasoning behind its position. This list will be kept updated as TBC Classic progresses, in order to always reflect the current meta DPS ranks.
DPS Rankings Summary
You can find below a quick summary of the current PvE DPS rankings:
- Beast Mastery Hunter (S-Tier)
- Destruction Warlock (S-Tier)
- Demonology Warlock (S-Tier)
- Arcane Mage (S-Tier)
- Fury Warrior (A-Tier)
- Combat Rogue (A-Tier)
- Survival Hunter (A-Tier)
- Fire Mage (A-Tier)
- Enhancement Shaman (B-Tier)
- Elemental Shaman (B-Tier)
- Arms Warrior (B-Tier)
- Retribution Paladin (B-Tier)
- Affliction Warlock (B-Tier)
- Balance Druid (C-Tier)
- Feral Druid (C-Tier)
- Shadow Priest (C-Tier)
- Marksmanship Hunter (C-Tier)
- Assassination Rogue (D-Tier)
- Frost Mage (D-Tier)
- Subtlety Rogue (D-Tier)
In order to further understand the reasoning behind these ranks, we would recommend you read the rest of the page, as that is explained in more detail in the next few sections.
Healer and Tank Class Rankings
If you are interested in other PvE role rankings for TBC Classic, check the following links:
DPS Rankings Explained
When sorting out the rankings for DPS in PvE, we are primarily concerned with two things:
- Damage Throughput — first and foremost, DPS are there to deal damage. The value of each class and spec to the raid is primarily determined by how much damage they bring to the raid. This is calculated both by each spec's personal DPS combined with the value of the buffs and debuffs that they may bring.
- Desirability — expanding on the last sentence above, there are stark differences in how "desirable" certain DPS classes are depending on the number that you bring to raid. A significant factor in tier list placement is determined by the number of each spec that you might want in a raid group. For instance, Balance Druids are incredibly important for raiding because they bring an extremely important debuff that benefits the whole raid, but their personal damage is quite mediocre. The value of the first Balance Druid in the raid is huge, but the second Balance Druid has significantly less value. At the end of the day, the question we are trying to answer is how desirable your class and spec is to a raid.
As a final note, one big difference you may notice between this tier list and the WoW Classic tier list is the flip between melee and ranged DPS. While melee DPS (Warriors and Rogues) were extremely valuable in WoW Classic, the tables have turned and melee are mediocre at best for the first couple of tiers of TBC Classic. Ranged DPS are now significantly stronger than at any point in WoW Classic, with Hunters and Warlocks sitting in the S-tier for the majority of TBC Classic. In general, ranged are far more valuable than melee for most of TBC.
S-Tier Classes and Specializations
These are the best DPS specializations for the end of TBC Classic. Specifically, these are the DPS specializations that you will commonly see stacked in raids for how strong they are. You should expect to see multiple of these in most raid groups.
Beast Mastery Hunter
Beast Mastery Hunters are absolute powerhouses in The Burning Crusade. While Hunters may have been off-meta and not sought after in WoW Classic, that all changes in TBC Classic — Hunters are one of the strongest DPS classes for the entire expansion, topping meters with incredible single-target damage output. This is because in TBC Classic pets finally scale with your stats, enabling them to do real damage at max level and scale with gear. In addition to tearing up the meters, Beast Mastery Hunters bring Ferocious Inspiration as an incredible party buff that is highly-valued in both raids and dungeons.
Destruction Warlocks are the kings of the casters in TBC. For all of TBC, Warlocks excel at both damage and utility in every raid thanks to a combination of incredible scaling, powerful talents, and solid gearing options. Whether you are spamming Shadow Bolt or Incinerate, you are certain to be topping meters in your raid. As Warlocks are the strongest casters, Destruction Warlocks will get stacked in caster groups for some well-buffed, high-output groups. This is not even talking about the wide-ranging utility that Warlocks bring to raids, but rest assured that Warlocks are the superior casters of TBC Classic.
Demonology Warlock plays very similarly to Destruction, with a ton of overlap between the two specs. Both are strong performers as two of the top ranged builds in the game, and both are easily S-tier viable going into tier 6 content.
Arcane Mages may have been nothing but a meme in WoW Classic, but thanks to the addition of Arcane Blast are a force to be reckoned with in TBC Classic. Arcane is the most powerful Mage specialization in TBC, and brings exceptional raw damage output along with some decent raid buffs that make Mages quite strong.
A-Tier Classes and Specializations
These are the strong DPS specializations for the end of TBC Classic. These are the DPS specializations that you will always see at least one of, but it will still be common to see multiple of each as well.
Fury Warriors are similar to Combat Rogues in that they scale well, but are a bit underwhelming at the beginning of TBC Classic. Warriors may have been the gods of WoW Classic, but unfortunately TBC is nowhere near as kind to them. This is also one of the primary concerns for Warrior players, as Warrior was far and away the most popular class in WoW Classic, which means there is an over-supply of Warrior players compared to how desirable they are for raids in TBC Classic. With the new tier of raiding however, Fury is on the rise, and will begin to scale to once again be a dominant melee specialization.
Specifically, with Warglaives, Warriors are S-tier DPS, but without the proper gear they are A-tier.
Combat Rogues are one of the most powerful melee, but they need the gear to scale; more accurately, they need their Warglaives. Rogues are relatively weak early on in TBC Classic, as they are a class that scales exceptionally well with gear and weapons. With Warglaives, Rogues are S-tier DPS, but without the proper gear they are A-tier.
In Tier 6 and onwards they will start to scale straight to the top of the meters, but that requires that you get lucky enough to pick up a pair of Warglaive of Azzinoth/ Warglaive of Azzinoth from Illidan Stormrage. Rogues can still bring Improved Expose Armor for a nice Armor debuff on the boss that will benefit the raid, making bringing at least one Rogue worthwhile.
While Beast Mastery Hunters will do more damage, every raid will always want a single Survival Hunter for their debuff, Expose Weakness. This debuff is extremely valuable for all Physical DPS in your group, and only gets better as you get more Agility. However, even setting aside this one debuff, Survival Hunters are still excellent damage dealers in their own right. While not quite pumping out the same numbers as Beast Mastery, they still are top-tier ranged DPS and would be highly sought after if Hunters did not have the option to go Beast Mastery instead.
While Fire Mages have finally scaled up enough to become powerhouses of DPS, now that gear or stats of Phase 5 are available. However, although their notable buff comes from Improved Scorch for more Fire damage to the target, other than that they do not bring anything that Arcane Mages do not bring.
B-Tier Classes and Specializations
These are the mediocre DPS specializations for the end of TBC. They are not particularly desirable, but they are not undesirable either. You may or may not see them in raids, but having one of these as a main who specializes in it would not be out of place.
Enhancement Shaman are, arguably, the best Physical damage support class in TBC Classic. They provide powerful melee support totems such as Windfury Totem, Grace of Air Totem, and Strength of Earth Totem, which grant high damage increases to their group and also have utility totems such as Tremor Totem and Poison Cleansing Totem that can keep allies safe and out of crowd control. While Elemental Shamans are the ultimate caster supports, Enhancement Shamans are the ultimate melee supports, again making them highly sought-after for raids.
Elemental Shaman are the best caster support class in TBC Classic and also have good ranged DPS on their own, which starts off strong due to the abundance of Spell Hit and Critical Strike they can get from talents alone. They are a source of Bloodlust/Heroism and provide the unique Totem of Wrath, which can be combined with Wrath of Air Totem for a massive spell damage buff for the Shaman's group. Elemental Shamans are the ultimate caster support, making them highly sought after for TBC Classic's raids.
Arms Warriors are very similar to Retribution Paladins in both damage and desirability in raids. Arms Warriors do relatively low damage initially, but with a great weapon and some solid raid gear they are a melee powerhouse. The primary reason to bring an Arms Warrior will be their Blood Frenzy debuff. This gives everyone in the raid 4% more Physical damage dealt against the target, which is incredibly valuable for both melee and Hunters.
Retribution Paladins are another required buff class that brings some personal power, but where the majority of their desirability comes from buffs. Retribution does decent personal damage and has some nice utility, but they specifically bring Improved Seal of the Crusader which gives everyone in the raid 3% additional Critical Strike chance. Furthermore, Retribution Paladins also bring Improved Sanctity Aura, which is 2% more damage for everyone in the party.
Affliction Warlocks are another class that has benefited significantly from the transition into TBC Classic from Vanilla. The debuff cap has increased from 16 to 40, allowing Affliction Warlocks to use most of their DoTs without worry now. Unfortunately, Affliction is still lacking in damage compared to their other Warlock specs, as Shadow Bolt combined with the other more popular talents still just scales far too well compared to any DoT. Affliction is still brought to raids, however, entirely because of Malediction and Shadow Embrace. Most raid groups will also put the Affliction Warlock in the tank group as well, since they can use imps for Blood Pact to give the tanks a nice Stamina bonus.
C-Tier Classes and Specializations
These are the weaker DPS specializations for this point of TBC Classic, but they are still required. These are the DPS specializations that you will always see exactly one of. While they themselves are not very strong, they all bring some specific buff or debuff that makes them worth a raid spot but never worth a second raid spot.
Balance Druids have come a long way since WoW Classic, but are unfortunately still a bit lacking compared to other DPS specs. Balance Druids simply lack the damage output that other ranged specializations bring, but they make up for it with incredible utility, buffs, and an important debuff. Every raid will want at least one Balance Druid primarily for Improved Faerie Fire, which gives the entire raid +3% chance to hit on the debuffed target. Additionally, Balance Druids give their whole party an additional 5% spell Critical Strike chance from Moonkin Form, which is incredibly valuable in caster groups. Thus, Balance Druids are C-tier as they are brought specifically and exclusively for raid buffs.
Feral Druids are similar to Balance Druids early on in TBC Classic, but with a couple of key differences in how valuable their buffs are. Ferals lack the raw DPS output of other melee and ranged specs, but also have the added downside that Feral Tanks bring the same buff that they do. While raid groups might still choose to bring a Feral, it is only to buff a Hunter group or a melee group. Ferals also bring a bleed debuff from their Mangle (Cat) that they put on bosses, but this is only a minor DPS increase for Warriors and Rogues, and thus not nearly as vital.
Shadow Priests are similar to Elemental Shamans in their role in raids, as they are an exceptional caster and healer support. Shadow Priests lack the throughput that Hunters, Mages, and Warlocks bring, but make up for the loss with some solid utility. Shadow Priests bring Shadow Weaving along with Misery for some solid spell damage amplification on the boss, but also bring Vampiric Touch as a means of regenerating some serious Mana for their party. In a group of Arcane Mages or healers, Shadow Priests are invaluable.
Marksmanship Hunter are unfortunately the weakest of the three Hunter specializations. While Beast Mastery is quite powerful and among the top DPS classes in TBC Classic, Marksmanship's talents and toolkit just do not synergize well with what makes Hunters strong this expansion. Marksmanship Hunters do bring Trueshot Aura to groups, but this is not enough to match the damage and more important buffs brought by both Beast Mastery and Survival Hunters. Marksmanship is the least desired Hunter specialization, so expect a potentially rough time justifying your raid spot compared to the other Hunter specializations.
D-Tier Classes and Specializations
These are the off-meta picks. These are rarely played and simply do not bring anything sought-after to raids. This is not to say you cannot play these, but you should expect to have to justify your own raid spot.
Assassination Rogues face the same problems that Combat Rogues do, but also do less damage without bringing anything unique. Both Assassination and Subtlety share the same problem: they just do less damage than Combat without bringing anything more to the table. They are more PvP-focused specializations and will be quite rare to see in raids, especially with how limited melee spots are.
Frost Mage is a specialization that is designed around PvP. It is easily one of the strongest specializations in Arena, but unfortunately is not well-designed for PvE. Arcane and Fire both do more damage while Frost brings nothing unique to the table. Without any sort of niche to excel in, it is hard to justify a raid spot as a Frost Mage.
Subtlety Rogues face the same problems that Combat Rogues do, but also do less damage without bringing anything unique. Both Assassination and Subtlety share the same problem: they just do less damage than Combat without bringing anything more to the table. They are more PvP-focused specializations and will be quite rare to see in a raid, especially with how limited melee spots are.
- 07 May 2022: Updated for Phase 5.
- 13 Jan. 2022: Updated for Phase 3.
- 13 Sep. 2021: Updated for Phase 2.
- 31 May 2021: Guide created.
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