DPS Rankings / Tier List for Phase 1 of Wrath of the Lich King Classic

Last updated on Jan 17, 2023 at 02:23 by Impakt 1 comment

While DPS in Wrath 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 Wrath Classic below, alongside a short explanation on the reasoning behind its position. This list will be kept updated as Wrath Classic progresses, in order to always reflect the current meta DPS ranks.

TABLE OF CONTENTS OF THIS PAGE
1.

DPS Rankings Summary

You can find below a quick summary of the current PvE DPS rankings:

  1. Affliction Warlock (S-Tier)
  2. Assassination Rogue (S-Tier)
  3. Unholy Death Knight (S-Tier)
  4. Frost Death Knight (S-Tier)
  5. Arcane Mage (A-Tier)
  6. Demonology Warlock (A-Tier)
  7. Combat Rogue (A-Tier)
  8. Survival Hunter (A-Tier)
  9. Enhancement Shaman (A-Tier)
  10. Destruction Warlock (A-Tier)
  11. Feral DPS Druid (A-Tier)
  12. Shadow Priest (B-Tier)
  13. Balance Druid (B-Tier)
  14. Marksmanship Hunter (B-Tier)
  15. Elemental Shaman (B-Tier)
  16. Fire Mage (B-Tier)
  17. Arms Warrior (B-Tier)
  18. Retribution Paladin (B-Tier)
  19. Fury Warrior (B-Tier)
  20. Beast Mastery Hunter (C-Tier)
  21. Frost Mage (C-Tier)
  22. Subtlety Rogue (C-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.

1.1.

Healer and Tank Class Rankings

If you are interested in other PvE role rankings for Wrath Classic, check the following links:

2.

DPS Rankings Explained

When sorting out the rankings for DPS in PvE, we are primarily concerned with two things:

  1. Damage Throughput — first and foremost, DPS are there to deal damage. The value brought by each class and spec to the raid is primarily determined by how much damage they provide. This is calculated both by each spec's personal DPS combined with the value of the buffs and debuffs that they may bring.
  2. 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.

One important change to emphasize is that in Wrath Classic, almost every single spec in the game brings some sort of important raid buff. However, all raid buffs now come from multiple sources, so a single buff could be brought by 3 or 4 different specs. These buffs do not stack from different sources if it is the same buff. This means that for our purposes, outside of a couple of niche cases, we will be ignoring raid buffs for the most part. You should always ensure that your raid has all of the possible buffs, but there are numerous places to get each one, meaning with a moderately diverse raid comp you should be fine.

We recommend consulting our guide to recommended raid compositions to see more of this principle in action.

2.1.

S-Tier Classes and Specializations

These are the best DPS specializations for the first tier of Wrath 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.

2.1.1.

Affliction Warlock

Affliction Warlocks have received some massive buffs since TBC, and are now a fully complete spec based on DoTs. Affliction offers the strongest multi-target spread damage in the game thanks to their powerful DoTs, and has some of the best damage scaling as well. Perhaps most importantly though, Affliction has the absolute best execute in the game thanks to Drain Soul IconDrain Soul hitting for insane numbers on low-health targets. Affliction Warlocks are a step above every other tier when it comes to single-target, and they are the most commonly stacked class for all of tier 8.

2.1.2.

Assassination Rogue

Assassination Rogues are one of the highest sustained single-target damage dealers in the game, and have possibly the simplest rotation as well. Thanks to some incredible AP scaling with their poisons, the Rogue rotation boils down to generating some Combo Points and only using Envenom IconEnvenom as their finisher. Even though their rotation is quite simple, it does not take away from the exceptional single-target damage they can deal. Fan of Knives IconFan of Knives is also insane on AoE with the right build, but ultimately Rogues are brought for their strong single-target potential.

2.1.3.

Unholy Death Knight

Unholy DK's were hit with a large nerf to their burst with Gargoyle no longer snapshotting haste, but are still one of the strongest DPS in the game for tier 8.

Unholy Death Knights have a very similar function overall to Affliction Warlocks, and are probably the second most stacked class in tier 8 content. Thanks to their powerful spec cooldowns, Unholy has the best burst damage in the game, making them incredibly valuable in the first tier where fights are generally faster than they are later on. Death Knights in general are incredibly strong all expansion, and fully live up to the title of hero class. Unholy is a step above Frost specifically once you start to get some raid gear and hit raid BiS. Unholy scales incredibly well, and does exceptional sustained AoE damage while also bringing excellent single-target. Death Knights bring just amazing damage overall without really needing to change their builds, which makes them great additions to the raid in any situation. Death Grip IconDeath Grip is also unique utility that is impossible to replicate with other specs.

2.1.4.

Frost Death Knight

Frost Death Knights have many of the same strengths as Unholy, but are different in a couple of key ways. First, Frost is possibly the strongest spec in the game as a fresh Level 80 with no gear. They have incredible base damage, making them ideal early on. They still have strong scaling, but will eventually get outpaced by Unholy. Additionally, Frost lacks the same sort of AoE that Unholy brings, putting them slightly below Unholy. Do not be surprised to see many guilds stacking Frost DKs early on however, as they are early-game powerhouses.

2.2.

A-Tier Classes and Specializations

These are the strong DPS specializations for the start of Wrath 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.

2.2.1.

Arcane Mage

Arcane Mages are the kings of burst. No other spec in the game comes anywhere close to Arcane Mages when it comes to single-target burst damage, specifically when they get funneled external buffs such as Power Infusion IconPower Infusion and Innervate IconInnervate. Arcane Mages are able to burn through their Mana pool quickly to do amazing burst damage, which enables them to top meters on shorter encounters. This will be especially prevalent once your entire raid is better geared, and is potentially not quite as useful early on in the tier.

2.2.2.

Demonology Warlock

Demonology Warlocks are quite strong in their own way, but are still weaker than Affliction Warlocks. Most raids will bring 1 Demonology Warlock specifically for their scaling Spell Power buff through their talents. This is a unique buff that allows them to give the entire raid a portion of their Spell Power, which scales quite well. Even apart from this, Demonology especially excels in AoE, where they can combine their Immolation Aura IconImmolation Aura along with the traditional Warlock AoE to do some incredible burst AoE. Their single-target is still solid, but unfortunately suffers from being just worse than Affliction, meaning outside of the 1 Demonology Warlock for the buff, you probably will not see many.

2.2.3.

Combat Rogue

Combat Rogues require a bit of gear and scaling unlike Assassination, but once they have some solid raid gear, they can output some incredible numbers. Combat has all the strengths of Assassination, with the added benefit that Blade Flurry IconBlade Flurry allows you to do some of the best low-target cleave in specific situations.

2.2.4.

Survival Hunter

Survival Hunters are similar to Frost DKs in that they start strong, requiring very little gear to be effective in Raids. Hunters in general have some amazing utility tools like Misdirection IconMisdirection that make having at least 1-2 critically important in most raids, but even without the utility Survival is quite strong. Survival shines brightest on AoE thanks to the scaled strength of Explosive Trap IconExplosive Trap, but still brings decent single-target damage as well. Their burst AoE is some of the strongest in the game however, and is incredibly valuable in the tier 8 raids.

2.2.5.

Enhancement Shaman

Enhancement Shamans are possibly one of the most difficult classes to play properly, but have an incredibly high ceiling when played properly. The non-intuitive Spell Power + Attack Power gearing strategies throw some people off, but when set up properly and played to the fullest they offer incredible single-target, and some of the strongest passive AoE + cleave in the game. Fire Nova IconFire Nova specifically is incredibly powerful, and has incredible effective damage potential on certain fights where single-target is what matters, but the AoE is still valuable.

2.2.6.

Destruction Warlock

Destruction Warlocks require a tier of raid gear to really start to scale, but once they have that initial gear have some solid strengths. Overall Warlock just scales quite well as a class, and Destruction is no exception. The burst single-target + AoE possible with Destruction can be quite strong, but is still unfortunately overshadowed by Affliction in most situations.

2.2.7.

Feral Druid

Feral DPS Druids have one of the most complex rotations in the game, but when played properly offer some of the best sustained single-target damage. Ferals lack single-target burst and sustained AoE, but their burst AoE when combining Berserk IconBerserk and Swipe (Cat) IconSwipe (Cat) is exceptional, possibly even the highest in the game. However, outside of sustained single-target and burst AoE, Ferals do suffer since they require a significant time investment to get their damage and DoTs rolling on new targets. Ferals do offer 5% Physical Crit Chance as a raid buff, which only comes from either Ferals or Fury Warriors. Given how poor Warrior is in the first tier, Feral is usually brought for this buff.

2.3.

B-Tier Classes and Specializations

These are the mediocre DPS specializations for the start of Wrath. 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.

2.3.1.

Shadow Priest

Shadow Priests offer some strong utility options when brought to the raid, and Priests specifically are even required on a couple of encounters for their utility. Shadow as a damage specialization is pretty mediocre, offering mid-tier damage in most situations, and getting far outshined by specs like Affliction in any niche they might be good at. Multi-dotting is still certainly a strong niche, but not particularly good in tier 8 content for the bosses that exist. Overall, their single-target damage and utility is strong enough to make them a B-tier specialization though.

2.3.2.

Balance Druid

Balance Druids have some incredible utility, specifically with Typhoon IconTyphoon and Innervate IconInnervate. These are both highly sought after, and invaluable to certain other classes. Boomkins do decent single-target damage, but have some of the better AoE in the game thanks to Starfall IconStarfall and Hurricane IconHurricane. That being said, their damage overall is still a bit weaker than the classes in the tiers above. Most raids will have a single Boomkin, usually because they bring so many important buffs as just a single spec.

2.3.3.

Marksmanship Hunter

Marksmanship Hunter suffers from the same issues as several other specializations above, in that they require some gear to really scale. Marksmanship relies heavily on crit and ArP for a good portion of its damage, meaning once you get some raid gear later on the damage will really take off. In the next tier, MM Hunter will move up to A-tier, but for now they will be pretty mediocre throughout tier 8 content. For damage, MM offers decent single-target and AoE, but their main strength is burst damage thanks to Readiness IconReadiness, which resets all of their cooldowns, allowing them to effectively burst twice.

2.3.4.

Elemental Shaman

Elemental Shamans are one of the stronger classes immediately upon hitting Level 80 thanks to some excellent base damage, but Elemental is notorious for being one of the weakest scaling classes in all of Wrath. Their damage does not scale well, and will noticeably fall off towards the end of the tier when everyone is in BiS gear. That being said, Elemental brings some incredible utility and a wide array of buffs, making them a good choice to have one of especially at the start of the tier.

2.3.5.

Fire Mage

While Fire Mages will eventually be in the S-tier, they will require a couple of tiers of scaling first. Fire Mages need tons of crit to really start pumping out huge damage numbers, and that just is not obtainable yet in tier 8. They do decent damage still even without the end-game gear though, which just goes to show how scary they will be later on with proper scaling.

2.3.6.

Arms Warrior

Arms Warriors are the better of the Warrior specs early on, offering some solid base damage that makes them stronger in the early game. As always, Warriors scale exceptionally well with weapon damage however, so getting a good weapon early can make all the difference. Arms Warriors are pretty low-tier when it comes to single-target, but thanks to Sweeping Strikes IconSweeping Strikes they do absolutely incredible cleave at low targets, and then Bladestorm IconBladestorm gives them incredibly strong burst AoE. Outside of single-target, Warriors are actually decently strong in the early content of Wrath, especially when it comes to quick fights and target swapping.

2.3.7.

Retribution Paladin

Retribution Paladins have every benefit of being a Paladin, but unfortunately do not bring quite the same power level that Holy and Protection bring. Eventually in Icecrown Citadel Retribution steps up and hits some insane power levels thanks to specific tier bonuses, but suffer a bit in earlier content. Retribution does have some strong damage cooldowns however, giving them decent burst damage on single-target. For AoE and sustained single-target however, Retribution is lacking compared to the classes above.

2.3.8.

Fury Warrior

Fury Warriors will eventually be the strongest DPS specialization in the game, but that will not happen for quite some time. Fury scales exceptionally well, but needs a ton of crit and ArP to really pop off. This just will not happen for several tiers, and for the moment they will be quite mediocre when it comes to single-target damage and large-scale AoE. Fury's one powerful niche is on low-target cleave, specifically at 3-4 targets where they can use Cleave IconCleave and Whirlwind IconWhirlwind to the fullest extent.

2.4.

C-Tier Classes and Specializations

These are the weaker DPS specializations for this point of Wrath Classic. For each of theses, they are both themselves quite weak, and are outclassed by other specs of the same class that are far better choices.

2.4.1.

Beast Mastery Hunter

Beast Mastery Hunters are nowhere near as powerful as they were in TBC. Survival and Marksmanship now heavily outclass Beast Mastery, as your pet is significantly less important to your overall damage. This is mainly true because the other two Hunter specs now offer meaningful DPS talents to increase their damage done, specifically giving powerful build-defining shots that their rotations are based around. Beast Mastery's reliance on pets is unfortunately weak in a time where pets do not benefit from any of your damage stats other than AP. Beast Mastery's one benefit is that they have decent damage cooldowns, and do alright for single-target burst damage. However, even that is mediocre at best.

2.4.2.

Frost Mage

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.

2.4.3.

Subtlety Rogue

Subtlety Rogues are quite similar to Frost Mages, in that the spec is mostly designed with PvP in mind. Especially with how strong the other two Rogue specializations are, Subtlety offers no meaningful strengths in PvE, and is just the worst choice.

3.

Changelog

  • 17 Jan. 2023: Updated for Phase 2.
  • 21 Sep. 2022: Page added.
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