Shadowlands DPS Rankings: A Castle Nathria Tier List

Last updated on Dec 24, 2020 at 22:10 by Impakt 88 comments

World of Wacraft has never been perfectly balanced, and Shadowlands is no exception. Some classes are better than others at the high end for raiding, and inevitably, a meta will exist. This ranking is based on the viability and strength of the various DPS specializations for the first raid tier of Shadowlands, Castle Nathria.

This list will be updated as new tuning and class changes come out leading up to the release of Castle Nathria.

1.

About the Tier List

Last Updated: December 24 — With more than two weeks of data from Castle Nathria to look at, we have a few notable adjustments to make. Specifically, Windwalker Monks have moved into the A-tier, while Shadow Priests and Frost Mages have both dropped a tier.

WARNING

This RAIDING tier list is NOT FINAL — It will CHANGE and be UPDATED as often as necessary to account for tuning and balance changes (before and after the release of Shadowlands) and new tiers of content.

Hello! I am Impakt, an officer in the North American guild "BDGG", or Big Dumb Golden Guardians. We finished Ny'alotha as the second best guild in North America, and at World 14th. We have been hard at work prepping for the new expansion and new raid tier, and this list reflects how we are currently feeling about the various classes and specializations for progressing the new raid tier, Castle Nathria. In addition to our own experience, this list was created and will continue to be update in consultation with raiders of other top guilds.

First and foremost, this tier list is strictly for the first raid of Shadowlands, Castle Nathria. While there are no Warcraft Logs rankings or simulation results yet for most classes in the upcoming raid, this list is based on our experience throughout every raid test playing with some of the best players for each class and specialization inside Castle Nathria on both Mythic and Heroic. While more anecdotal in nature, this tier list will reflect how competitive guilds will feel about bringing the various classes and specs into Castle Nathria. We are also account for current tuning, including even the most recent changes that may have occurred after raid testing finished.

This tier list is entirely based on DPS viability for the new raid in the first tier of Shadowlands, Castle Nathria. To understand exactly why these rankings are the way they are, you first need to understand what will be valued inside the raid.

  • Sludgefist, Stone Legion Generals, and Sire Denathrius are looking to be the most challenging boss fights, and will be roadblocks for most guilds.
  • The majority of fights favor ranged DPS over melee due to an abundance of mechanics that require you to either spread or move away from the bosses.
  • While this raid has significantly less spread cleave than in Ny'alotha overall, it does still exist on some of the harder encounters.

When determining what DPS you want for the raid, your biggest concern will always be damage patterns. From testing, the two hardest bosses by far were Sludgefist and Sire Denathrius, with Sire being the final boss of the raid, and thus the most important fight. For both bosses, it is looking like single-target damage will be a priority, with Sludgefist being a purely single-target encounter and Denathrius emphasizing priority damage followed by a phase 3 single-target burn, where execute damage will be the priority. Overall, you are looking to slot more ranged the melee, with an emphasis on better single-target DPS classes. Some cleave and AoE is present in the raid, but the majority of the time as a DPS your focus will be single-target or priority target damage.

1.1.

A Final Warning

It is incredibly important to emphasize that just because a DPS specialization is low in the tier list, it does not mean that you should ignore it completely. For the vast majority of cases, you should choose to bring the better player, not the better specialization. That does not mean it is a good idea to run nothing but melee dps for the entire raid, but more so that having more melee than usual on your roster is not a hindrance if they play well. All being lower tier means is that, all else being equal, those specs will be less desirable for the raid based on current tuning.

Additionally, this is all very much subject to change. The classes, specializations, and the raid itself will almost certainly undergo numerous changes before we step into Castle Nathria this November. This tier list will be updated as new tuning and balance changes come out, so you absolutely should expect this list to change at least some before and during Castle Nathria's release.

2.

Shadowlands DPS Tier List for Castle Nathria

Below is a quick summary of the full rankings that we have detailed on this page. While this gives a good outline of the standings of specializations in comparison to one another, we recommend reading the full rankings to understand why certain specializations are ranked as they are.

Additionally, we now have video guides for the ranged and melee specs in the tier list with some input from Hyperion, a raider and content creator in BDGG. Keep in mind that since he is looking at the melee and ranged specs seperately, the rankings might be slightly different than what you see below. If you want a more in-depth look at the tier list with more thorough explanations, check out the videos linked below!

Work in progress Last update on Dec 24, 2020

  1. Marksmanship Hunter (S-Tier)
  2. Unholy Death Knight (S-Tier)
  3. Balance Druid (S-Tier)
  4. Affliction Warlock (A-Tier)
  5. Fire Mage (A-Tier)
  6. Shadow Priest (A-Tier)
  7. Windwalker Monk (A-Tier)
  8. Frost Mage (B-Tier)
  9. Havoc Demon Hunter (B-Tier)
  10. Retribution Paladin (B-Tier)
  11. Elemental Shaman (B-Tier)
  12. Outlaw Rogue (B-Tier)
  13. Subtlety Rogue (B-Tier)
  14. Beast Mastery Hunter (B-Tier)
  15. Enhancement Shaman (B-Tier)
  16. Destruction Warlock (B-Tier)
  17. Arcane Mage (B-Tier)
  18. Arms Warrior (B-Tier)
  19. Frost Death Knight (B-Tier)
  20. Fury Warrior (C-Tier)
  21. Assassination Rogue (C-Tier)
  22. Demonology Warlock (C-Tier)
  23. Feral Druid (C-Tier)
  24. Survival Hunter (C-Tier)
2.1.

Healer and Tank Class Rankings

If you are interested in our other rankings for Castle Nathria in Shadowlands, please click the links below.

3.

Full DPS Class and Specialization Rankings

3.1.

S-Tier

3.1.1.

Marksmanship Hunter

November 20 update: Marksmanship has been performing consistently high in raid testing, enough so to bump them into the S-tier. Their damage kit is fantastic in the new raid, and they are proving to be one of the most valuable DPS classes for the hardest fights this tier, due to their incredible damage output, mobility, and utility from Aspect of the Turtle Icon Aspect of the Turtle.

Marksmanship has some of the strongest cooldowns in the game, specifically for AoE and cleave. Volley Icon Volley, Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot, and Wild Spirits Icon Wild Spirits have shown to be absolutely incredible AoE cooldowns, making them easily one of the best DPS for dungeons in the first few weeks of Shadowlands. Marksmanship Hunters still have competitive single-target, decent 2-target cleave with the changes to Chimaera Shot Icon Chimaera Shot and Volley Icon Volley, and exceptional 3-6 target cleave due to Trick Shots Icon Trick Shots. The major weakness for Marksmanship Hunter is in spread cleave since they have no ability to hit spread targets. It is also worth noting that Hunters have Aspect of the Turtle Icon Aspect of the Turtle, which will be very useful on some fights in the raid.

3.1.2.

Balance Druid

December 4 update: Thanks to some buffs in the last few weeks of beta as well as a very last minute buff to Convoke the Spirits Icon Convoke the Spirits, Balance is currently one of the strongest all-around DPS specs in the game, with incredible damage output in most situations. Balance is solidly into the S-tier, and is a likely candidate for some tuning in the near future.

Balance Druids have the ability to multi-dot and burst, but their single biggest strength comes from one spell: Starfall Icon Starfall. Starfall is one of the best AoE abilities in the game, allowing then to hit all targets within a 40-yard radius at once, making them ideal for hectic fights like Sun King's Salvation. One of Boomkin's greatest strengths is their Night Fae Covenant ability, Convoke the Spirits Icon Convoke the Spirits. This one spell is what gives them one of the largest burst windows in the game, with incredible single-target and AoE applications.

3.1.3.

Unholy Death Knight

December 15 update: Unholy is very strong. Their damage is among the best in the game, they bring the strongest execute out of any DPS, and they are the only DPS class in the game with an AoE damage reduction cooldown for the raid. Despite being melee, Unholy has proven to just be too powerful — they are S-tier.

Unholy's main strength comes from stacked AoE through the same Bursting Sores Icon Bursting Sores combo that made them strong in BFA, but high target stacked AoE is just not found in the raid as much as in Mythic+ dungeons. Luckily, Unholy now also brings both incredible sustained single-target damage and the best execute damage in the game If that is not enough, Death Knights still provide unique utility from Death Grip Icon Death Grip and Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone. There are three bosses this tier where Death Grip will be extremely important, but Anti-Magic Zone is one of the strongest defensive abilities that raids will have. It is really hard to understate just how effective AMZ can be if used correctly, especially for Sire Denathrius.

3.1.4.

Shadow Priest

December 24 update: While Shadow is still a strong all-around spec, it has been preforming a bit worse than originally predicted. They are good in every situation, but are not the best at anything at the moment. With that being said, Shadow is still a solid A-tier specialization that specifically brings Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion, which has proven to be an incredibly powerful DPS cooldown when used on specific specs like Unholy Death Knights, Marksmanship Hunters, or Affliction Warlocks at the right moments.

Shadow Priests have historically been the kings of multi-dotting, meaning they excel on fights with multiple targets that will live long enough for their DoTs to expire. Thanks in part to some core changes of the spec, Shadow still maintains that superiority on multi-target encounters while also now gaining AoE and single-target power. After the recent buffs, specifically to how Devouring Plague Icon Devouring Plague works, Shadow Priest now being the best funneling damage in the game and one of the best all-around toolkits out of any DPS. This has pushed them straight to the top of the S-tier, finally dethroning Affliction Warlocks.

3.2.

A-Tier

These are the DPS specializations that would be considered strong. All else equal, these will make up the majority of raid groups that are looking to be as competitive as possible. The main difference between the A-Tier and the S-Tier is that while these specs are strong, you still will want some comp diversity. The S-tier specs are strong enough in most situations that you could stack them if you wanted to with little downside.

3.2.1.

Affliction Warlock

December 4 update: Warlocks in general are performing a bit worse than anticipated, but Affliction is still looking to be a strong spec for Castle Nathria, specifically for single-target damage.

Affliction Warlock is a damage over time, or DoT based spec which also makes them extremely effective on spread cleave, since they can DoT multiple targets, or multi-DoT. Their main source of damage is their new ability Malefic Rapture Icon Malefic Rapture, which deals a burst of damage to any target with DoTs on it, where the damage scales with the number of DoTs from the Warlock. This ability is what makes Affliction so incredibly strong in every situation right now. If you save up shards you can deal some of the highest burst AoE in the game, you have strong sustained AoE, strong sustained multi-DoT cleave, and are able to deal incredible priority target damage when combined with Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul.

Affliction Warlocks also bring an incredible amount of durability and survivability to raid encounters that make them a very desirable DPS for mechanically intensive fights. While you do need to stand still to cast Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul, your DoTs are mostly instant, meaning you do not suffer from movement as much as other casters. Warlocks are one of the most durable DPS classes from a variety of talents and passives, as well as having excellent mobility through Demonic Circle: Teleport Icon Demonic Circle: Teleport, Burning Rush Icon Burning Rush, and Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway.

3.2.2.

Fire Mage

December 15 update: Fire Mages continue to perform exceptionally well, and are looking better and better for the raid. At the moment this is looking to be the dominant Mage spec for the raid, specifically for the final few bosses.

While Fire Mages have lost their passive Mastery: Ignite Icon Mastery: Ignite spread and are now forced to spread ignite manually through Phoenix Flames Icon Phoenix Flames, they still have some incredible burst windows and competitive single-target damage. There are not nearly as many places for Fire Mages to shine in Castle Nathria thanks to the lack of high target AoE where Fire can pop off, but their single-target and burst is strong enough to keep them competitive, especially on an important ranged DPS class with an immunity. Frost still fills the cleave/funnel DPS niche better, but Fire is going to be a very competitive choice for most bosses, especially if you are Night Fae.

3.2.3.

Frost Mage

December 24 update: Fire has continued to outperform Frost on almost every encounter inside Castle Nathria. Frost is not a bad spec at all, but is currently just not performing as well as Fire. Because of this, Frost is being dropped into the B-tier.

Frost Mages recently saw a drastic rise in power after their best Legendary finally became usable after being bugged since its addition. Cold Front Icon Cold Front is exceptionally strong and is where Frost Mages derive a large part of their current power, so much so that it might be a prime target for some tuning soon. They are very competitive for single-target damage, but their true strength lies in cleave, and specifically for funneling. If you are in a fight like Lady Inerva Darkvein where you have adds but need to be prioritizing the boss, Frost Mages will excel more than almost any other class and spec.

3.3.

B-Tier

While not as strong as the A-tier specializations, these specs are still viable, and will not be uncommon in raid groups. Some of these might be rarer to see, but more so because the other specs of that class are just so much stronger.

3.3.1.

Windwalker Monk

December 24 update: With how relatively poor melee in general have been this raid, Windwalker has seen a surprising and meteoric rise. Windwalker is currently one of the top DPS overall for general use in addition to providing a required raid buff. Windwalker is still a melee and does not bring a raid cooldown like Unholy Death Knights, but is more than powerful enough to place it into the A-tier.

Windwalker Monks have a pretty fun toolkit and are enjoyable to play, and with recent buffs are quite a competitive and viable spec in Castle Nathria. Windwalkers are actually quite strong with their current toolkit, but sadly their position as a melee without utility is what keeps them out of the A-tier now. There is just no reason to bring a Windwalker other than for damage, and they do not bring the damage necessary to justify taking up a melee spot.

3.3.2.

Havoc Demon Hunter

December 15 update: Havoc is noticeably far behind at the moment, and really needs more than a 5% buff. Nothing much to say here — Havoc is one of the lowest DPS specs overall at the moment, but brings an absolutely critical raid buff. You will always want one Demon Hunter in your raid group regardless of how they are tuned.

Every single-raid will always want at least one Demon Hunter for the unique 5% magic damage buff that they bring, which alone is reason enough to justify their spot here. Demon Hunter's biggest strength comes in the for of strong 2-5 target cleave and burst AoE from Unbound Chaos Icon Unbound Chaos and Sinful Brand Icon Sinful Brand. However, Demon Hunters still have an awkward 4-minute cooldown with Metamorphosis Icon Metamorphosis, which while strong, is awkward to plan out during most fights. While their AoE/Cleave may be strong, their single-target damage is mediocre compared to other specs in the A-tier. More importantly, Demon Hunters fill a melee spot, and a second Demon Hunter will be far less valuable to most raid groups that other options.

3.3.3.

Retribution Paladin

November 1 update: Retribution saw significant buffs to most of their potency Conduits this build, which should give them a nice boost in DPS. This will bump Retribution up a couple of spots on the tier list.

After the most recent round of changes, Retribution now has one of the better burst setups in the game thanks to the combination of Execution Sentence Icon Execution Sentence, Final Reckoning Icon Final Reckoning, and Final Verdict Icon Final Verdict both for single-target and AoE. Retribution now also has extremely competitive execute damage thanks to The Mad Paragon Icon The Mad Paragon with Hammer of Wrath Icon Hammer of Wrath. While its sustained damage is a bit behind the A-tier specs, the burst is top-tier, giving Retribution some very real strengths. It is also worth noting that as a Paladin, they have access to Blessing of Protection Icon Blessing of Protection, which is incredibly useful on some fights, enough so that you could plan some strategies around immunities and BoPs. Picking up a Retribution Paladin is nothing to be afraid of for Castle Nathria, and will actually be quite strong on some fights.

3.3.4.

Elemental Shaman

November 1 update: Elemental has received a mix of both buffs and nerfs to several Conduits and legendaries over the past two weeks, but the takeaway is that they are performing slightly better. Elemental will be moving up slightly on the tier list.

While Elemental Shamans have been plagued by the catastrophe that was Fulmination for all of beta, they just recently got a redesign, and are back to using Maelstrom as a resource. This change combined with some substantial buffs to a few key spells that has give them some much needed love. Their main source of power is stacked AoE and cleave from Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning and Earthquake Icon Earthquake, but with the recent changes they have some other powerful tools to help them even more. Their single-target has gone from low-tier to decent, which is enough to put them into the B-tier, making them a decent choice to fill out a roster going into Shadowlands.

3.3.5.

Outlaw Rogue

November 20 update: Outlaw has been performing better and better recently, so we will be bumping them up into the B-tier to more accurately reflect their position in the new raid. Their cleave damage is incredible, and their toolkit is still quite strong.

Much like Assassination, Outlaw just lacks the raw single-target damage Output that Subtlety brings. Outlaw's damage pattern has not changed since BfA, meaning while it lacks the single-target damage, it is still incredibly strong for cleave thanks to Blade Flurry Icon Blade Flurry. Unfortunately, Blade Flurry does not make them strong for priority target damage, which is the majority of cleave in Castle Nathria. With Subtlety as strong as it is, Outlaw is unlikely to see much play in the new raid.

3.3.6.

Subtlety Rogue

November 1 update: Subtlety saw another round of nerfs the past two weeks, this time to their potency Conduits Deeper Daggers Icon Deeper Daggers and Planned Execution Icon Planned Execution. While this is a nerf to this build, there are still other viable Conduits and legendaries that are quite competitive for Subtlety's single-target damage. Subtlety will not be moving on the tier list.

Subtlety Rogues are a very durable melee spec with strong utility that does top tier single-target damage. Their strength currently comes from the combination of their legendary Akaari's Soul Fragment Icon Akaari's Soul Fragment and their potency Conduit Deeper Daggers Icon Deeper Daggers. While single-target damage is their primary strength, Subtlety is also very strong at sustained cleave on council style fights due to Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike. Rogues got a late start in beta however, as they did not have legendaries and Conduits for quite some time, which has made Subtlety's rise a relatively new thing. Subtlety was quite strong for awhile however, but has seen some tuning recently and has dropped over the past few weeks.

In addition to their strong damage profile, Rogues have exceptional mobility, Cloak of Shadows Icon Cloak of Shadows for an immunity, and Feint Icon Feint for survivability. The only thing keeping Subtlety from being S-Tier is being a melee instead of ranged. It is unrealistic to stack melee, both due to the spread cleave that exists in the tier and the plethora of mechanics that force you out of melee range. Because of this, Subtlety will have to settle for sitting at the top of the A-Tier.

3.3.7.

Beast Mastery Hunter

December 15 update: BM has been doing pretty poorly overall in terms of throughput, as their damage kit is not matching up well with the Castle Nathria bosses. They will be dropping to the B-tier for now, but are still a ranged DPS with an immunity.

Beast Mastery has great scaling with tons of room for growth, but at the moment is mainly just lacking in tuning for this first tier. With the loss of BFA systems, Beast Mastery suffered more than most, and lost the massive amount of stats that made the spec so incredibly powerful in Ny'alotha. Without the crazy amount of stats and specifically the Dance of Death Icon Dance of Death and Primal Instincts Icon Primal Instincts Azerite traits, Beast Mastery has reverted back to its previous iteration seen earlier with just maintaining Frenzy Icon Frenzy. This is normally quite rough at the start of an expansion, but thanks to the new Scent of Blood Icon Scent of Blood talent and Bloodletting Icon Bloodletting Conduit, it feels doable even at low gear levels. Beast Mastery brings reliable, mid-high tier single-target damage which is great on the more mechanic heavy raid encounters, especially those with heavy movement. The spec also offers some solid sustained cleave damage from Beast Cleave Icon Beast Cleave, but suffers heavily on 2 target cleave and any sort of spread cleave. Beast Mastery actually feels decent to play, but is just behind Marksmanship in terms of raw output in most situations.

Damage aside, it is also worth noting that Beast Mastery Hunter is the only ranged specialization in the game that can perform 100% of its rotation while moving. This is a incredibly perk that could potentially make them pull ahead on some bosses with lots of movement, but specifically is useful for when you need a ranged DPS to do high movement jobs on fights without sacrificing a ton of damage, such as on Artificer Xy'Mox.

3.3.8.

Enhancement Shaman

December 4 update: Enhancement is actually doing quite well, and even as a melee is looking to be very competitive in Castle Nathria. Their damage output is among the best out of any melee, and perhaps even more importantly Windfury Totem Icon Windfury Totem has proven to be an incredible buff for several melee specs, making an Enhancement Shaman an extremely attractive choice to round out a melee comp for the new raid.

Enhancement has one of the more complete toolkits and has probably seen the most positive feedback for the longest period of time compared to other DPS specializations. Enhancement has mid-high tier sustained single-target damage, competitive cleave, decent utility, and reasonable cooldowns for solid burst. While Enhancement may be more of an uncommon spec to see, it is solidly in the B-tier. It is, simple put, a solid spec, and well deserving of a melee spot in most groups.

3.3.9.

Destruction Warlock

December 4 update: Warlocks in general have been doing a bit worse than expected, but as several other ranged DPS specializations are performing extremely well now the benefit of a Destruction Warlock has decreased. The nerfs to Infernal Brand Icon Infernal Brand and Wilfred's Sigil of Superior Summoning Icon Wilfred's Sigil of Superior Summoning have proven too much, and Destruction lost the build that was giving it most of its power.

Destruction is reasonably competitive in most areas, but currently has some of the strongest sustained AoE cleave in the game thanks to Rain of Chaos Icon Rain of Chaos and their new Legendary power Wilfred's Sigil of Superior Summoning Icon Wilfred's Sigil of Superior Summoning. This combination drastically lowers your cooldown on Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal while spamming Rain of Fire Icon Rain of Fire, which in its current state lets Destruction Warlocks drop their Infernal cooldown to under 2 minutes in sustained AoE situations. This absolute dominance in high target sustained AoE is only moderately useful on a couple of fights however, which is not enough to put them above the B-tier given what they are lacking on single-target and spread cleave.

3.3.10.

Arcane Mage

November 1 update: Arcane has had a round of nerfs to most of its Conduits, which has resulted in an overall damage loss. Arcane will be dropping slightly on the tier list.

For the majority of beta Arcane has been performing quite well, and would have been an A-tier specialization due to its single-target damage and exception burst, specifically for 2-3 targets. However, in the latest build Arcane was nerfed substantially and lost the power that it brought before, and no longer has the output that it once did. Additionally Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power no longer syncs well with your other cooldowns, making your burst windows much more awkward. Frost is going to be the better spec in most situations, but Arcane still wins out for single-target burst and for large scale AoE, thanks to their mostly uncapped AoE.

3.3.11.

Arms Warrior

November 20 update: Both Warrior specs saw some solid buffs in the past few weeks, but Arms is performing noticeably better than Fury in the new raid. With these buffs, we are moving Arms up to the B-tier.

Arms Warriors have the same strength as Fury, in that they have access to the Condemn Icon Condemn Covenant ability that gives them strong opening burst and execute damage. Arms has decent 2-target cleave due to Sweeping Strikes Icon Sweeping Strikes and solid execute potential, but Arms is still struggling overall. With the recent buffs, Arms is looking much more promising, although is still on the lower end of the DPS meters.

3.3.12.

Frost Death Knight

December 4 update: Unholy has been performing extremely well, surpassing Frost in most areas. Frost is looking a little worse than previously expected, which has essentially swapped Unholy and Frost in the rankings, dropping Frost down into the B-tier. While Frost is still viable, Unholy is poised to be the dominant Death Knight DPS specialization this tier.

Death Knights are in an excellent spot right now in terms of viability, and with a little bit of damage tuning could easily climb a few spots. Frost Death Knights main damage strength comes from their AoE and cleave, specifically from Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa. Their damage itself is competitive, but their main usefulness comes from Death Grip Icon Death Grip and Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone. There are three bosses this tier where Death Grip will be extremely important, but Anti-Magic Zone is one of the strongest defensive abilities that raids will have. It is really hard to understate just how effective AMZ can be if used correctly, especially for Sire Denathrius.

3.4.

C-Tier

This is where you start getting into the lower end of the tier list, or the specs that still need some more attention and tuning.

3.4.1.

Fury Warrior

October 18 update: Fury has received some minor buffs recently, but Legendary nerfs have offset any buffs. Both Warrior specs are still very much in need of attention.

Fury Warriors are a decent melee option that excel at two things: execute and stacked 2-5 target cleave. Whirlwind Icon Whirlwind is a strong AoE ability that makes your spenders cleave, which essentially allows them to cleave their entire single-target rotation onto multiple targets, which is extremely useful in Castle Nathria. Warriors also can do Venthyr, which gives them access to Condemn Icon Condemn, which is both a very powerful ability that gives Fury strong opening burst and excellent execute damage.

3.4.2.

Assassination Rogue

November 20 update: Assassination has been performing pretty poorly in raid testing, and after further consideration is being dropping into the C-tier. Its single-target damage is pretty lacking, and its only potential strength right now is execute damage.

Assassination Rogues are in need of some attention, as they lack the raw single-target damage output that Subtlety brings. They have almost the exact same damage profile, use the same Covenant ability, have the same utility strengths, but Subtlety just does substantially more damage. Even though Subtlety is so much stronger, that is more of a testament to how strong Subtlety is, not how weak Assassination is. Assassination will still excel on single-target, and will be quite strong on execute fights thanks to Zoldyck Insignia Icon Zoldyck Insignia.

3.4.3.

Demonology Warlock

November 1 update: Since the latest update, Demonology has seen some significant Conduit nerfs along with some legendary tuning. With these changes, Demonology has dropped several ranks and will be moving back into the C-tier.

Demonology Warlocks are one of the most durable DPS in the game thanks to Soul Link Icon Soul Link combined with the standard Warlock toolkit. Demonology might not have the strength that the other two Warlocks specs offer, but they still bring reasonable single-target damage with exceptional burst AoE, burst cleave, and burst single-target. However, Demonology has poor sustained cleave, no multi-dot, and are generally a bit weaker for the types of bosses that you will see in Castle Nathria. This is both a lack of tuning and a poorly designed damage kit that is missing the abundance of secondary stats found in Ny'alotha.

3.4.4.

Feral Druid

September 27 update: Now that we have condensed the tiers a bit, Ferals have moved up into the C-tier. They have not received significant buffs, but are fairing a bit better than we previously though.

Feral is still a bit lacking in Shadowlands at the moment. Much of their single-target potential revolves around Bloodtalons Icon Bloodtalons, but after several design iterations it still feels bad to use compared to the old design. More importantly though, for what it brings as a melee, it does not feel like it brings the appropriate amount of damage. Feral brings mid-tier single-target damage at the moment, which is where it should be strongest. The bigger problem as well is that Feral DPS are melee, meaning your space in raids will be limited anyways. At the moment, Feral Druids lack the utility and damage output that other melee offer, making them a tough sell when melee spots are so tight.

Feral's biggest strength right now comes from Primal Wrath Icon Primal Wrath, which is an uncapped AoE finisher that places Rip Icon Rip on all enemies it hits. Feral might be C-tier or even B-tier if they could consistently get good use out of this, but the use is just not there inside Castle Nathria. There is a lack of high target, large scale stacked AoE that would make Primal Wrath excel, and when there is large AoE, the enemies die far too quickly.

3.4.5.

Survival Hunter

September 27 update: Now that we have had more of a chance to see the spec perform since getting fixed, Survival is dropping into the C-tier. Survival's damage still leaves much to be desired, and it really lacks any sort of cohesive spec identity. Survival needs developer attention more than most.

Survival Hunter has had probably the roughest time out of any other DPS specialization throughout beta, almost entirely due to a game-breaking bug. For the majority of the beta, their passive focus regeneration was half of what it should be, which led to a very low play rate, and an inability to test the spec where it needed to be tested. After this recent fix, Survival is one again playable and looking like a real spec again, but is still just several iterations behind where other specs are at the moment.

All of that being said, Survival still not in a good state. It is lacking any real strengths other than being a melee DPS with an immunity, but it really needs a cohesive spec identity. There are just not tangible strengths or areas where it shines right now, which is disheartening, especially for a melee spec that has been struggling for awhile.

4.

Changelog

  • 24 Dec. 2020: Updated after first Mythic week.
  • 15 Dec. 2020: Updated after Heroic week.
  • 04 Dec. 2020: Updated after first 10 days of Shadowlands.
  • 20 Nov. 2020: Updated with class tuning, final update before Shadowlands launch.
  • 01 Nov. 2020: Updated with recent Conduit tuning.
  • 18 Oct. 2020: Updated with recent legendary tuning.
  • 03 Oct. 2020: Updated with September 30 covenant tuning.
  • 27 Sep. 2020: Updated with September 24 balance changes.
  • 21 Sep. 2020: Updated Subtlety, Destruction, and DH based on recent changes and feedback.
  • 08 Sep. 2020: Second round of updates based on continued Discord feedback.
  • 07 Sep. 2020: First round of updates based on Discord feedback.
  • 04 Sep. 2020: Guide added.
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