Shadowlands DPS Rankings: A Sepulcher of the First Ones Tier List (Patch 9.2)

Last updated on Apr 25, 2022 at 22:05 by Impakt 100 comments

World of Warcraft 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 new raid in Patch 9.2, Sepulcher of the First Ones.

1.

About the Tier List

April 25 update: Now that Mythic has been out for several weeks, we can make some adjustments based on what differed from our original list. There were definitely a few surprises, but overall the list was quite accurate for Mythic progression, outside of some later buffs to some under-performing specs. The most important change is that the tiers have been rebalanced. We eliminated the S-tier as no DPS spec is performing well enough throughout the entire raid to warrant an S-tier ranking, and added in the C-tier for a few specs that are particularly poor on several of the important bosses.

DISCLAIMER

This RAIDING tier list is CONSTANTLY EVOLVING — It CHANGES and IS UPDATED as often as necessary to account for tuning and balance changes.

Hello! I am Impakt, the raid leader of the North American guild "BDGG", or Big Dumb Golden Guardians. We finished Sanctum of Domination as the second-best guild in North America, and at World 4th. We are prepping hard for the new raid tiers in Shadowlands, and this list reflects how we are currently feeling about the various classes and specializations for progressing the new raid tier in Patch 9.2, Sepulcher of the First Ones. In addition to our own experience, this list was created and will continue to be update in consultation with raiders of other top guilds.

This tier list is entirely based on DPS viability for the raid in Patch 9.2 of Shadowlands, Sepulcher of the First Ones. To understand exactly why these rankings are the way they are, you first need to understand what will be valued inside the raid. While there are several competing damage profiles that will be extremely useful in Sepulcher, single-target damage with an emphasis on burst is the primary damage profile we will be valuing.

In Patch 9.2, class balance is going to be incredibly dependent on the state of your characters. For this tier list, we will assume that you have 2 legendary items and 4 pieces of your tier set equipped. Even though it will take at least two weeks to unlock the pieces, the vast majority of guilds will be progressing the most difficult raid encounters with this setup.

  • Single-target damage is by far the most important damage profile for the new raid. There are some fights where cleave will be important, but overall you will care the most about single-target damage classes.
  • Burst damage is also going to be quite important. There are several encounters, most notably Anduin Wrynn, where having access to exceptional burst damage will either reduce the overall difficulty of the encounter or help you beat important damage checks.
  • So far, Blizzard has kept true to their word about melee viability in raids. There are no major restrictions on melee so far in the raid, and with current class balance melee might even be more valuable than ranged overall.
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 you never need to think about your raid composition, just that most of the time player skill will be more important than the difference between classes, assuming you already have the required raid buffs. 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 a predictive tier list for the new raid. As we have not actually seen the final 3 bosses yet, there is a higher than normal chance that something in the list is inaccurate. This list will be updated as soon as changes need to be made, especially once we get to see the remainder of the encounters.

2.

Shadowlands DPS Tier List for Sepulcher of the First Ones

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.

Overall, DPS balance has gotten better in Shadowlands. In this updated tier list for Patch 9.2, the difference in rankings is closer than at any point previously. While we are still retaining the S, A, and B-tiers, the difference between each tier is lower than before.

Work in progress Last update on Apr 25, 2022

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

Healer and Tank Class Rankings

If you are interested in our other rankings for Sepulcher of the First Ones in Shadowlands, please click the links below.

3.

Full DPS Class and Specialization Rankings

3.1.

A-Tier

3.1.1.

Demonology Warlock

Demonology Warlock is an incredible progression spec that offers exactly what you want when facing the hardest encounters the game has to offer. Demonology does top-tier single-target damage with a strong 1-minute burst window, while also having possibly the most room for improvement out of any DPS specialization in the game. Demonology is the only DPS specialization that actually gains damage from having a larger health pool, thanks to the talent Demonic Consumption Icon Demonic Consumption. This leaves room for some interesting possibilities, where you could give Demonology some very large damage increases to their burst windows if you were willing to coordinate support from other classes and use cooldowns such as Rallying Cry Icon Rallying Cry for their benefit. Even without looking at their damage, however, Demonology is the single most durable DPS class in the game, with a combination of one of the best defensive toolkits and a 20% DR passive that make them supremely durable, especially as a ranged DPS.

3.1.2.

Fire Mage

Fire Mage offers an excellent 1-minute burst window for incredible burst on both AoE and single-target, with the versatility to be strong on any raid encounter. Fire's strengths include that they are fully mobile, they have strong execute damage, and they still have the best defensive toolkit in the game. Fire is an incredible progression spec, and when its damage is even remotely competitive it becomes a very attractive choice. For Patch 9.2, Mages in general look very promising, with Fire the go-to choice for most encounters in the Sepulcher of the First Ones outside of specific situations such as 2-target cleave.

Mages overall are actually almost a S-tier class, even if none of the specs warrant a S-tier rating on their own. All 3 Mage specs are more than viable in Patch 9.2, with each potential build bringing their own unique strengths to different encounters. If you are a Mage capable of playing all the specs at a progression level, then you are in a very strong place for the new raid.

3.1.3.

Subtlety Rogue

After some significant buffs last patch, Subtlety Rogue is the dominant single-target Rogue specialization. There really is not much to say about Rogues; both Assassination and Subtlety actually fill almost identical roles in raids as possibly the single highest DPS melee specialization, potentially in the top 3 specializations for pure single-target damage. Subtlety also has the added benefit of bringing exceptional funnel damage and passive cleave thanks to their tier bonus. Rogues also have exceptional mobility, Cloak of Shadows Icon Cloak of Shadows for an immunity, and Feint Icon Feint for survivability, but that is all window-dressing compared to their raw damage output. Especially with the daggers from Sylvanas, Subtlety is poised to be a melee powerhouse up there with Fury Warriors going into Patch 9.2 and the Sepulcher of the First Ones.

3.1.4.

Enhancement Shaman

Enhancement Shaman 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 potentially some of the highest sustained single-target damage, competitive cleave, decent utility, and one of the most important buffs for certain melee with Windfury Totem Icon Windfury Totem. It is just absolutely insane at the moment when paired with the right group, and brings the value of an Enhancement up substantially in Mythic encounters.

3.1.5.

Balance Druid

While Balance Druid may not have the highest single-target output, they instead have the most well-rounded, all-inclusive damage toolkit in the game. Starfall Icon Starfall specifically is a truly unique ability, enabling them to constantly cleave spread groups of enemies in a way that no other class can match. While this is not important on most fights, when you do encounter it, Boomkins are irreplaceable. Combine this unique damage profile with some of the most powerful burst cooldowns in the game through their Venthyr Covenant ability, and Boomkins are perfect for getting you through select parts of the hardest encounters. Boomkins especially are a class that benefits massively from a second Legendary, and with access to utility spells such as Innervate Icon Innervate and Stampeding Roar Icon Stampeding Roar, they can easily fit into any raid comp.

3.1.6.

Destruction Warlock

April 25 update: After everyone has had some time to fully explore the encounters, and with the help of some nice buffs, Destruction has emerged once again as an exceptional DPS specialization in almost any situation.

Destruction Warlock has proven to be far and away the best ranged DPS in the game when it comes to any form of AoE damage, while still performing well on cleave and single-target. Destruction in particular makes incredible use of its tier set and Legendary combination, allowing extended periods of burst for both AoE and single-target with their cooldowns, while still enabling themselves to save minor burst windows for whenever needed. While not quite as strong on pure single-target as Demonology, its adaptable damage profile and AoE excellence make it a solid all-around pick to play on any encounter.

3.1.7.

Shadow Priest

Shadow Priests are once again looking promising due to their exceptional single-target damage output. Historically, Shadow has always been a spec that either excels or bottoms out, but Patch 9.2 is looking quite promising. They also bring some decent multi-dotting potential and solid burst, but their strong single-target is what will make them worthwhile in the new Sepulcher of the First Ones raid. Shadow still lacks the utility and defensive capabilities that most other classes offer, but with enough damage this is surmountable.

3.1.8.

Fury Warrior

April 25 update: Thanks to some late nerfs, Fury's damage and utility took a pretty big hit with the massive nerf to Necrolord. However, even playing as other Covenants, Fury is still an exceptional DPS that brings the strongest non-healer raid cooldown in the game.

Fury WarriorsFury has solid single-target damage, while also bringing some of the best support and utility to any raid group. Their Necrolord Covenant was unfortunately nerfed, but even without it they bring Rallying Cry Icon Rallying Cry, which is the strongest raid defensive spell in the game that does not come from a healer, and they are still one of the most durable DPS in game. They have possibly the strongest sustained execute damage out of any class and they can instantly transition to AoE and cleave with no setup. In a raid where melee is just as viable as ranged, Fury is going to be one of the best melee additions you can make to your raid group for Sepulcher of the First Ones with very little downside.

3.1.9.

Havoc Demon Hunter

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 form of strong 2-5 target cleave and burst AoE from. Demon Hunters also have excellent burst thanks to Metamorphosis Icon Metamorphosis, which is a powerful 4-minute cooldown. Their single-target is a bit lower than it was relative to Patch 9.1, but they are still a required choice in every raid group unless you plan on using a Vengeance DH.

3.1.10.

Survival Hunter

While Survival Hunter does solid single-target damage, thanks to the power of their new tier set, they also bring some of the strongest AoE/cleave in the game. While this will not be useful on most encounters, on the few fights that require AoE Survival will be a powerhouse. However, Hunters are still one of the least durable classes, which is going to be a major issue for multiple encounters in the Sepulcher of the First Ones raid. Hunters in general are looking to be quite weak going into Patch 9.2, but Survival actually might have the most to offer, especially on fights where you can make full use of their strengths.

3.1.11.

Frost Mage

Frost Mage has decent sustained single-target damage, but it primarily excels at two things: funnel damage and 2-3 target stacked cleave. Overall they are still quite strong in the Sepulcher of the First Ones raid, but on specific fights such as Lords of Dread they will really get to show off. Frost Mages also deserve special mention due to their Cold Snap Icon Cold Snap, which gives them 2 Ice Block Icon Ice Block uses in a short window whenever called for. This is not always important, but can be incredibly useful on specific encounters.

Mages overall are actually almost a S-tier class, even if none of the specs warrant a S-tier rating on their own. All 3 Mage specs are more than viable in Patch 9.2, with each potential build bringing their own unique strengths to different encounters. If you are a Mage capable of playing all the specs at a progression level, then you are in a very strong place for the new raid.

3.1.12.

Assassination Rogue

There really is not much to say about Rogues; both Assassination and Subtlety actually fill almost identical roles in raids as some of the highest single-target DPS melee specializations, potentially in the top specializations for pure single-target damage overall. Rogues also have exceptional mobility, Cloak of Shadows Icon Cloak of Shadows for an immunity, and Feint Icon Feint for survivability, but that is all window-dressing compared to their raw damage output. Especially with the daggers from Sylvanas, Rogues are one of the single-target powerhouses in the Sepulcher of the First Ones raid. For Assassination specifically however, Subtlety is looking to be strictly better at the moment. Without further tuning, while Assassination is good enough to remain A-tier, Subtlety will be the more popular spec.

3.2.

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.

3.2.1.

Unholy Death Knight

While Unholy Death Knight offers incredible high-target AoE-burst, unfortunately stacked AoE is just not found in the Sepulcher of the First Ones raid as much as in Mythic+ dungeons. However, Unholy has some other excellent strengths that still make them a solid pick-up for any raid group, with the biggest strength being burst DPS. Army of the Dead Icon Army of the Dead is still an insane burst cooldown that puts Unholy in the top tier of single-target burst classes, especially during Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust. DoTs, pets, ranged attacks, and extremely powerful defensives also make them one of the melee that is most resistant to downtime away from the boss. Unholy brings decent sustained single-target damage and strong execute damage, making them a solid choice in raids overall. Death Knights also provide unique utility from Death Grip Icon Death Grip and Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone.

3.2.2.

Marksmanship Hunter

April 25 update: Similar to Frost DKs, Marksmanship Hunters bring an exceptional 2-minute burst window that has proven invaluable on several encounters.

While Marksmanship Hunter started off Shadowlands as the dominant DPS in Castle Nathria, they have dropped off significantly since then. Marksmanship still excels at 3-5 target cleave and offers decent AoE burst with cooldowns, but unfortunately this situation is limited to only a few select encounters in the raid. Marksmanship has mediocre single-target throughput, but their powerful 2-minute burst window is still quite useful on many fights in Sepulcher.

3.2.3.

Arms Warrior

Arms Warriors scale exceptionally well with gear and, especially with Windfury Totem Icon Windfury Totem in their group, are putting up some extreme numbers on all bosses. Arms has exceptional 2-target cleave due to Sweeping Strikes Icon Sweeping Strikes and solid execute potential, but even on pure single-target Arms is quite strong. They have excellent mobility, strong damage, and have access to one of the best raid defensive cooldowns in the game. Rallying Cry Icon Rallying Cry is a must-have raid cooldown on several encounters, to the point where most Mythic raid groups will want at least two for the later bosses. If Fury was not as good as it is, Arms would be a staple in most raids.

3.2.4.

Arcane Mage

Arcane Mage brings all of the bells and whistles that Mages enjoy, with incredibly strong movement, survivability, and utility basically everywhere you would want it. Arcane has a specific niche in raid right now, which is the burst that they bring from their Legendary choice along with Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power. The sustained damage is unfortunately weaker than Fire and Frost right now, however, and while they do have some exceptional use cases, overall Arcane is the weakest Mage spec for the new Sepulcher of the First Ones raid.

Mages overall are actually almost an S-tier class, even if none of the specs warrant a S-tier rating on their own. All 3 Mage specs are more than viable in Patch 9.2, with each potential build bringing their own unique strengths to different encounters. If you are a Mage capable of playing all the specs at a progression level, then you are in a very strong place for the new raid.

3.2.5.

Elemental Shaman

Elemental Shaman's main strength is that it brings solid single-target damage in a build that still gives it exceptional cleave and AoE, allowing them to excel at fights where several unique damage profiles are found throughout the encounter. Elemental Shamans purely from a DPS perspective would actually be ranked higher, but are a bit lacking in their raid utility and durability compared to other classes like Mages and Warlocks. The one major advantage that Elemental has over other classes is movement – Elemental Shamans are easily in the top 3 of ranged specializations who can deal with forced movement most efficiently.

3.2.6.

Feral Druid

Feral Druid brings decent single-target damage at the moment, but this is the only area in which it is competitive in a raid setting. Ferals have strong defensive cooldowns, but they are lacking when it comes to utility compared to most other melees. They do not bring a required raid buff, they do not bring any raid cooldowns, and they do not bring an immunity. The only utility that Ferals offer is Stampeding Roar Icon Stampeding Roar, which other Druids also bring. If Ferals were not competitive in single-target, they would be in a dire spot, but luckily they are competitive enough that a good feral is still going to be quite competitive in the Sepulcher of the First Ones. It is worth pointing out, however, that Feral suffers substantially in almost every other type of damage profile outside of single-target.

3.2.7.

Frost Death Knight

April 25 update: Frost's insane AoE burst on a 2-mintue cooldown has proven invaluable on fights such as Anduin Wrynn, where that pattern of damage is what carries the fight. While Frost still lacks a bit of single-target, it is extremely strong on a couple of key encounters.

Frost Death Knight's main damage strength comes from their AoE and cleave, specifically from Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa. Their damage itself is competitive, but primarily for cleave and AoE. When it comes to pure single-target damage, Frost is unfortunately a bit lacking. Their damage profile is just not as well-suited in a raid where AoE is scarce. As a Death Knight, however, they do still bring Death Grip Icon Death Grip and Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone, which can be pivotal on certain encounters in the Sepulcher of the First Ones.

3.2.8.

Beast Mastery Hunter

Beast Mastery Hunter brings decent single-target damage, but is still one of the least durable DPS classes which can be a problem during progression. Beast Mastery's real strength comes from movement, as the spec is the single best ranged spec in the game at dealing with movement. The spec also offers some decent sustained cleave damage from Beast Cleave Icon Beast Cleave, but if you choose to go Night Fae for Wild Spirits Icon Wild Spirits, then Hunters suddenly have some of the best AoE burst in the game thanks to the Legendary combination. If you can deal with the poor survivability, Hunters are an solid choice for the Sepulcher of the First Ones raid and even can carry some of the specific phases of the harder encounters.

3.2.9.

Retribution Paladin

Retribution Paladin 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. Unfortunately, primarily thanks to a weak tier set, Retribution's sustained single-target damage is not nearly as strong as it has been. 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. Immunities specifically are going to be invaluable in Sepulcher of the First Ones, making Retribution an excellent choice.

3.3.

C-Tier

There are a few specs that, while they may perform well in Mythic+ and on certain bosses, have damage kits that are completely counter to what the important fights of the tier call for. Additionally, specs like Outlaw and Affliction face the choice of having two other significantly better DPS specs to choose from for most later encounters.

3.3.1.

Outlaw Rogue

April 25 update: Outlaw's poor single-target and the competition from Assassination and Subtlety are enough to warrant dropping it into the C-tier.

Outlaw Rogue is currently a bit behind the single-target damage output that both Subtlety and Assassination bring. Outlaw's damage pattern has not changed since BfA, meaning that while it lacks 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 single-target damage, which is the most important thing in Patch 9.2. Outlaw Rogue is pretty decent on its own, but with Assassination and Subtlety so strong at the moment, Outlaw is unlikely to see nearly as much playtime in the new Sepulcher of the First Ones raid.

3.3.2.

Windwalker Monk

April 25 update: Much like the other classes in C-tier, Windwalker's single-target is quite poor at the moment. It still does exceptional AoE, but there are now several classes and specs that can do much more than Windwalkers in these situations as well. Windwalkers have a rather poor niche, and one that is not as useful as you would hope in raid.

Windwalker Monks bring a required raid buff, just like Demon Hunters and Warriors, which makes them always worth at least looking at. However, in Patch 9.2, Windwalker is by far the weakest option for how to get a Monk into your raid. Monks still bring some of the best AoE and cleave in the game, but unfortunately their single-target is on the opposite end of the scale. However, they still have excellent durability, some of the best mobility in the game, and some of the highest burst in the game for AoE. While they are certainly viable, if given a choice most raids will opt to run either Mistweavers or a Brewmaster for the Monk debuff, especially when there are significantly better melee choices.

3.3.3.

Affliction Warlock

April 25 update: Affliction is quite strong at a couple of early bosses, but the sustained multi-target niche does not exist on any of the important bosses this tier. Both Demonology and Destruction perform far better on almost every boss.

While Affliction Warlock has some niche use cases on certain encounters, overall it is in a pretty poor state. It just does not do as much damage as other specs, especially on single-target. The type of sustained multi-dotting that it excels at does not really exist in the Sepulcher of the First Ones raid, which makes it a strictly worse choice when compared to Demonology on most encounters. Hopefully this will change with further tuning, but Affliction is unlikely to be a progression-level spec in the new raid.

4.

Changelog

  • 25 Apr. 2022: Updated after first few weeks of Mythic.
  • 18 Feb. 2022: Updated for patch 9.2.
  • 06 Nov. 2021: Updated for patch 9.1.5.
  • 04 Aug. 2021: Updated for first couple of Mythic weeks.
  • 13 Jul. 2021: Updated after Heroic week.
  • 24 Jun. 2021: Page added.
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