Choosing a Main: How to Decide What to Play in Wrath of the Lich King Classic
The hardest decision for most people in WoW usually is what character to play. From veterans looking for their next alt, to new players picking a character for the first time, nothing is quite as daunting as the character creation screen. This guide is meant to help guide you through the decision making process when deciding what to play, either as a main or as another alt in Wrath of the Lich King Classic. Creating the right character can heavily influence how much fun you will have playing the game, and the right choice is not the same for everyone.
How to Choose a Class in Wrath Classic
To break the difficult process of choosing a main character down, the first and most important thing to consider is what class you want to play. Everything else about your character is changeable with relatively little work and investment. If you are a Protection Paladin and want to play Holy, it maybe will take some time gearing up the new spec, but ultimately you are still playing the same character. Class is the one aspect of your character that cannot change after creating it.
Talking about picking a class is easy, but it is hard to know what you will end up liking sometimes. World of Wacraft is a vast and intricate MMORPG, with tons of content for every type of player. This is written from the PvE perspective, specifically for people looking to get into the end-game PvE. What we will discuss below could be called the "payoff moments" of each class, which, from a PvE perspective, is what you might answer when someone asks why you play a certain class or spec. These are the moments that as a PvE player, probably define why you enjoy Raiding or doing Dungeons as that specific spec or class.
Class Choices in Wrath of the Lich King
Here, we will go through the ten different classes you can play as in Wrath of the Lich King Classic, along with their available roles out of tanking, healing, or damage dealing. We will also cover the specializations available to each of these classes.
Roles: Tank and Melee DPS.
As Blizzard's first new class added to WoW, Death Knights offer a fresh new playstyle using a unique resource system not really seen before in the game. The most iconic ability for the class is Death Grip, which grips enemies to you. This is not only incredibly useful, but is one of the best feeling abilities when it comes to utility: nothing feels more powerful than forcefully gripping an enemy to you. The major downside of Death Knight as a class is mobility; Death Knights are slow. They have no movement speed increases or dashes, but are a slow, unrelenting juggernaut that has the power to stand and fight.
- Blood: As a tank Blood's defining moment is its self-healing. Blood Death Knights have extremely large health pools, and can absorb huge amounts of damage only to heal it all back up again. The best feeling as a Blood DK is getting to tank huge groups of enemies, out-healing their damage.
- Frost: As a melee DPS, Frost Death Knight's payoff moment would be its huge crits. Frost is a spec that deals large single critical strikes thanks to its talent procs, so the best moments would be getting to unleash huge Rime hits on big groups of enemies, or using Killing Machine procs to deal out huge Frost Strike crits.
- Unholy: As a melee DPS, Unholy Death Knight has two major payoff moments. First, aligning all of your procs, buffs, and cooldowns to summon an absolutely massive Summon Gargoyle for incredible single-target burst. The second highlight would be when you come across a massive AoE pull and get to spread your diseases before popping Death and Decay for insane AoE damage.
You can learn more about playing as a Death Knight in Wrath of the Lich King below.
Roles: Tank, Healer, Melee DPS, and Ranged DPS.
Druids are the most diverse class in WoW as they are the only class capable of filling every role. The appeal of playing Druid is that flexibility: you are easily able to swap between roles, with Feral specifically able to both DPS and Tank with a single talent build. The primary fantasy of Druid lies in shapeshifting, able to become different things to perform the various roles better.
- Balance:As a ranged DPS, the payoff moment of Balance Druid — otherwise known as "Boomkin" — would be their large-scale AoE. Starfall is the most iconic Boomkin ability, and popping it along with Hurricane lets you do absolutely insane AoE damage.
- Feral:As a Melee DPS and Tank, Feral is one of the only specs in the game capable of doing both with a single build. Feral DPS's payoff moment would be getting all of your bleeds up on a target, watching them tick down while also building the points for a large Ferocious Bite. Feral has a complex rotation, but feels amazing when pulled off correctly. The tanking payoff moment would be getting to switch between Bear and Cat to DPS in your downtime, or when you get to spam Mangle (Bear) on 3-target cleave with Berserk for massive damage.
- Restoration:As a healer, Restoration Druid's playstyle is based entirely around HoTs, or heal-over-time effects. Restoration primarily deals in large, raw HPS throughput, meaning their payoff moment is getting to blanket the entire raid in HoTs, setting up perfectly for high-damage events where they can heal all of the damage themselves.
You can learn more about playing as a Druid in Wrath of the Lich King below.
Roles: Ranged DPS.
Hunters are ranged marksmen, fulfilling the typical archer archetype found in fantasy games. Hunters also have the added benefit of being heavily built around an animal companion, and have the most intricate pet-based playstyle out of any class, especially as Beast Mastery. They also are the only ranged Physical damage dealer in the game, perfect for anyone who wants to be a fast-paced mobile ranged DPS that does not have to cast spells.
- Beast Mastery: Beast Mastery Hunters are built around buffing up their pet to be an unstoppable monster. The payoff moment is getting to use Bestial Wrath to literally make your pet unstoppable, watching as both you and it do incredible burst damage on a single target.
- Marksmanship: Marksmanship Hunter is built around dealing huge burst Physical damage with short-cooldown shots. The payoff as Marksmanship is getting to use these back-to-back for incredible burst damage in short intervals, chaining all of your most powerful shots for big crits.
- Survival: Survival Hunter is built more around a DoT-based playstyle, primarily relying on Explosive Shot for the majority of their damage. The payoff is getting Lock and Load talent procs where you can use multiple explosive shots in a row for free, dealing incredible burst. Additionally, Explosive Trap is incredibly strong as Survival, making AoE an additional payoff.
You can learn more about playing as a Hunter in Wrath of the Lich King below.
Roles: Ranged DPS.
Mages are your typical Wizards, specializing in Fire, Frost, and Arcane magic. The thing that makes them unique in WoW is mostly their utility, as they probably have more quality-of-life spells and features than any other class. Mages have portals to every major city, can conjure their own food and water, and have historically been one of the highest damaging classes in the game. The phrase most often used would be glass cannons, capable of dealing incredible damage when allowed to cast freely, but quite squishy if they actually take damage. Luckily, Mages have a multitude of tools to ensure they do not take damage.
- Arcane: Arcane Mage's basic design is that you trade your Mana for damage. This is technically how every caster works, but Arcane takes this to the extreme, allowing you to dump your entire Mana bar for huge burn windows. The payoff for Arcane is these burn windows, spamming Arcane Blast to deal the most burst damage in the game.
- Fire: Fire Mage revolves around critical strikes, trying to get back-to-back crits to proc Hot Streak. The payoff for Fire is getting to cast Pyroblast instantly, and specifically when you get strings of crits allowing you to chain-cast instant pyros.
- Frost: Frost Mage is generally more of a PvP spec, but is also quite strong while leveling. Frost feels the best when you get to Blizzard tons of enemies at once, slowly kiting and killing huge groups of enemies while slowing them by 70%. Frost also gets to deal with some insane crits thanks to Fingers of Frost, so getting to combo some huge crits on bosses especially with Deep Freeze is also quite nice.
You can learn more about playing as a Mage in Wrath of the Lich King below.
Roles: Tank, Healer, and Melee DPS.
Paladins are the strongest and most dominant class in Wrath of the Lich King. All of the specs are quite strong, but Protection and Holy specifically are extremely powerful in their respective roles. Paladins are the bringers of light, Plate-wearing crusaders who use light-based spellcasting and attacks to destroy their enemies and heal their allies. Paladins bring some of the most valuable buffs in the game, have a slew of beneficial auras, and basically excel in all of their roles. They also are the most popular class in Wrath Classic, and for good reason.
- Holy: As a healer, Holy Paladin specializes in huge, casted burst heals that can instantly top a target. Beacon of Light is a unique ability that enables them to heal both the raid and the tank simultaneously. Their payoff comes from popping cooldowns, and getting to bomb the entire raid with heals, instantly topping anyone they touch.
- Protection: Protection Paladin has some of the strongest defensive cooldowns in the game, but Protection's true payoff moment is in their AoE tanking. They have the strongest AoE threat in the game, and are the best suited tank for dealing with scores of enemies barreling down on a group.
- Retribution: Retribution Paladin is a slow-moving melee juggernaut that has some powerful burst capabilities. The payoff as Retribution is getting to use Avenging Wrath along with your other cooldowns, and then getting some seal procs to do insane burst damage on a single target. Later on, Retribution also has huge cleave potential with Divine Storm, and is one of the only classes that does passive AoE cleave even on single-target.
You can learn more about playing as a Paladin in Wrath of the Lich King below.
Roles: Healer and Ranged DPS.
Priests are the typical healer archetype, using their holy powers to heal allies. However, they also are capable of using Shadow magic to deal DoT-based damage as a ranged DPS. Priests are the iconic healers of WoW, holding a massive healing toolkit capable of adapting to any situation, and a solid damage spec that is needed in most raids. Priests also have some unique utility, specifically with abilities like Mind Control.
- Holy: Holy Priest is the throughput-based healing specialization of Priest, focusing on dealing huge bursts of multi-target healing. Their payoff moments come from these bursts, using cooldowns like Divine Hymn to top the raid.
- Discipline: Discipline Priest focuses more on absorption healing, with Power Word: Shield being their primary button to press. Discipline is one of the best healing specializations for raids in Wrath, and the payoff comes from properly setting up for damage events in raid encounters. Discipline also gains huge value from buffing other classes through their buffs such as Power Infusion.
- Shadow: Shadow Priest is a DoT-based spell caster, focusing on keeping DoTs active on multiple targets to drain them down. The payoff as Shadow is when there are multiple targets available to DoT, causing widespread damage while filling with your other damaging spells.
You can learn more about playing as a Priest in Wrath of the Lich King below.
Roles: Melee DPS.
Rogues are the assassin archetype, dealing damage from the shadows and lurking about in Stealth before always getting the opener on unsuspecting foes. Rogues are evasive, Agility-based melee damage dealers that use their blades, stealth, and poisons to deal their damage. Rogues do not bring much utility, but deal incredible damage at all stages of the game.
- Assassination: Assassination Rogue does not specialize in burst, but rather uses consistent damage via poisons to drain targets down. The payoff comes from topping meters while building Combo Points and using Envenom to proc your poisons consistently on your target.
- Combat: Combat Rogue also uses the same playstyle as Assassination, but with more of your damage coming from melee attacks and strikes instead of poisons. The biggest payoff as Combat comes from cleave however, combining Killing Spree and Blade Flurry to deal some of the best two-target cleave in the game.
- Subtlety: Subtlety Rogue is more of a PvP spec, with their damage centered around opening from stealth. As such, the best part of playing Subtlety is getting to open from stealth, dealing huge crits with Ambush and controlling a fight.
You can learn more about playing as a Rogue in Wrath of the Lich King below.
Roles: Healer, Ranged DPS, and Melee DPS.
Shamans have a similar fantasy to Druids in their affinity to nature, but instead choose to harness the power of nature for themselves, using all kinds of magic to destroy their enemies as both a melee and ranged DPS. Enhancement Shaman specifically is truly unique as one of the only melee/spell caster hybrids. Shaman's most iconic class of spells would be their totems, allowing them to bring incredibly strong buffs, damage, and other utility to the group.
- Enhancement: As a melee DPS and caster hybrid, Enhancement Shaman has a truly unique damage type, and is the only DPS that chooses to gear for both Attack Power and Spell Power. The payoff as Enhancement is getting to utilize your hard-hitting spells in melee, specifically Fire Nova to deal huge AoE damage around your Magma Totem.
- Elemental: Elemental Shaman does not scale well in Wrath, but starts out strong and has some excellent new spells. Their payoff would be getting huge crits early on from Lava Burst, or getting off an amazing Chain Lightning cast that fully chains.
- Restoration: Restoration Shaman's most-used healing spell would be Chain Heal, which is also going to be the biggest payoff moment. Properly chaining a spell between allies or enemies feels amazing.
You can learn more about playing as a Shaman in Wrath of the Lich King below.
Roles: Ranged DPS.
Warlocks are the dark casters, masters of demons, Shadow, and Fire magic. Warlocks have well-defined themes to their specs, allowing you to choose between buffing your demons, buffing your DoTs to adopt an entirely DoT-based playstyle, or buffing your Fire damage for a cast-based, burst damage playstyle. Just like Mages, Warlocks have historically always been quite strong, and do incredible damage at every stage of the game. Unlike Mages, Warlocks are by no means weak defensively, and while they might be less mobile, they bring their own unique utility to the party.
- Affliction: Affliction Warlocks have an entirely DoT-based playstyle, and are the absolute best class in the game at rotting down targets. Their payoff comes from utilizing their DoTs on multiple targets, or from the incredible execute they get from Drain Soul. Finally, Affliction also has Seed of Corruption, which is one of the strongest AoE spells in the game.
- Demonology: Demonology Warlock focuses on your pet, buffing your Felguard while allowing you to transform into a Demon yourself. The payoff is exactly that, when you utilize Metamorphosis to become a Demon and deal huge burst damage on both single-target and AoE.
- Destruction: Destruction Warlock specializes in hard-hitting individual spells, specifically through spells like Chaos Bolt. The payoff as Destruction comes from using your hard-hitting abilities frequently, relishing in the huge numbers you can make appear.
You can learn more about playing as a Warlock in Wrath of the Lich King below.
Roles: Tank and Melee DPS.
Warriors are the typical soldier/juggernaut archetype in WoW, and fulfill that niche well. With hugely impactful slams and cleaves along with charges to move around the battlefield, Warriors are meant to go berserk in a fight. Warriors are all about getting up close and personal, executing their targets down or tanking huge groups of enemies with a shield. Warriors have no magic, only the fight.
- Arms: Arms Warriors specialize in swinging around a big two-handed weapon, dealing slower but harder hitting attacks like Mortal Strike. Arms has three major payoff moments: first, when they get to use Bladestorm to AoE down any group of enemies. Second, using Sweeping Strikes to kill two enemies at once. And finally, Execute is one of the most satisfying damaging abilities in the game to slam.
- Fury: Fury Warrior opts to dual wield weapons, going for a faster-paced rotation. Fury still gets to execute just like Arms, but instead uses Whirlwind passively in their rotation, allowing for more consistent cleave than Arms.
- Protection: Protection Warriors are the most iconic tanks in WoW, with huge cooldowns and strong offensive capabilities. While they have excellent defensive tools like Shield Wall to handle damage, the best feeling as a Prot Warrior is getting to proc Revenge multiple times in a row, absolutely destroying any other tank in damage.
You can learn more about playing as a Warrior in Wrath of the Lich King below.
- 22 Sep. 2022: Page added.
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