Shadowlands Healer Rankings: A Castle Nathria Tier List
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 healing 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.
About the Tier List
Last Updated: December 24 — with over two full weeks of raid data to look at, we can now make one important change to the tier list below: Holy Paladins have been bumped up to the S-tier from the A-tier. This tier in general is still quite good in terms of healer balance, but Discipline Priests, Restoration Shamans, and Holy Paladins are clearly favored in the highest levels of Mythic raiding at the moment.
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 healer strength and viability for the new raid in the first tier of Shadowlands, Castle Nathria. The main things you want to look for in healer choice are healing output, how they heal, damage output, raid cooldowns, and utility.
A Final Warning
It is incredibly important to emphasize that just because a healer 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 healing class. All being lower tier means is that, all else being equal, those specs will be less desirable for the raid.
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.
Shadowlands Healer 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 the healing 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 a video guide for the tier list with some input from Shampy, the healing officer of BDGG. If you want a more in-depth look at the tier list with more thorough explanations, check out the video linked below. Special thanks to Hyperion for making the video!
Work in progress Last update on Dec 24, 2020
DPS and Tank Class Rankings
Full Healer Class Rankings
November 20 update: Spirit Shell is proving to be one of the best healing cooldowns around going into Castle Nathria. The amount of damage you can absorb across the raid is incredibly high, really cementing Disc Priest's spot in the S-tier for the upcoming raid.
Discipline Priests are currently the most valuable healers going into Castle Nathria for a variety of reasons, but their biggest strengths are still the same things that have made them strong in BFA. First and foremost, Discipline brings the best DPS contribution out of any healer without sacrificing healing done, which can be a huge asset during early progression when damage will be tight. Discipline offers incredibly strong EHP (effective health pool) increases through tools like Power Word: Barrier and Rapture, while also retaining some powerful, low cooldown spells that enable them to setup for high damage periods better than any other healer. With proper setup, Evangelism and Rapture allows them to plan ahead and set up to do some of the highest throughput possible out of any healer to deal with high stress periods during raid encounters. Discipline is not the highest throughput healer overall, but their ability to direct significant healing into the moments that matter results in Discipline being one of the strongest and most important healing specializations going into the new raid tier.
Restoration Shamans are looking to be extremely strong going into Castle Nathria and have the most complete healing toolkit. Healing Rain and Chain Heal are their core throughput strengths, but they have excellent spot healing thanks to Riptide as well. Finally, they bring one of the best raid cooldowns in the game, Spirit Link Totem, which combined with their other available cooldowns is invaluable on most raid encounters.
Historically Restoration Shaman's main weakness has been spread healing, where players in the raid are too spread out to benefit from Chain Heal and Healing Rain effectively. One of the key reasons why Shamans are so highly ranked here is that Castle Nathria has a surprising lack of consistent spread. Most of the more difficult fights allow players to be more stacked, which makes Shamans more effective comparatively.
December 24 update: Holy Paladins have officially been moved into the S-tier for two reasons. First, Venthyr Paladins with the Ashen Hallow ability are able to do tank-level damage with virtually no loss in healing capabilities, making them an incredibly valuable asset in Mythic progression. Second, the utility that Paladins bring, specifically with Blessing of Protection, is now known to be incredibly important on the later Mythic encounters.
Holy Paladins have been a staple of the WoW healing meta for some time, but they in Shadowlands that have lost a bit of their previous dominance. With the loss of the incredibly potent Glimmer of Light setup that was the core of their healing output in BFA, Holy Paladins have lost some of their raw throughput power. They still have the same strong spot healing and single-target healing that they have historically been strong for, but their major addition to the raid comes from Devotion Aura. Devotion Aura is one of the strongest raid cooldowns in the game, which on its own would be an S-tier cooldown. They still have solid damage potential for when healing is not needed, and are incredibly durable with a wide array of personal cooldowns that make them the tankiest of any healer. It is also worth noting that they bring a personal immunity and Blessing of Protection, which will be very abuse-able on some of the Castle Nathria raid encounters. While they lack the raw healing output that some other healers bring, they are still a great option and can be exceptionally useful on a few encounters.
October 18 update: With the Legendary tuning that has taken place over the last two weeks, all of the A-tier healers are now much closer to eacho ther than before. Basically you can consider the difference between these specs to be entirely situational and too close to call overall.
November 1 update: Mistweavers saw both some legendary tuning as well as some buffs to their potency Conduits this build. There are several changes, but the takeaway is that they should be doing more healing for the most part. This is not enough to push them into the S-tier, but they are doing better than before.
Mistweaver Monks have had their share of issues during beta, but have seen some major improvements recently. Currently Monks have some of the strongest Legendaries out of any healer, which has made them incredibly strong at single-target and cleave healing. This is the key to their strength for Castle Nathria; single-target and cleave healing will be extremely important for multiple key fights in the new tier. Even with their major strength being single-target healing, they still have some great cooldowns that give them solid options for raid-healing. Monks still have some bugs to work out before launch, but they are looking to be a strong choice for any healing composition in Shadowlands.
It is also important to mention that Monks do bring a 5% physical damage buff, which could be considered required for most raid groups. You do not have to use a Mistweaver Monk to get it, but if you have no other Monks then picking up a Mistweaver would be a great way to get the buff.
November 20 update: Restoration has seen some back and forth tuning over the last few weeks, with some nerfs to a few legendaries and talents. Restoration still brings great healing throughput to the raid, and are a solid choice inside Castle Nathria.
Restoration Druids offer an above average overall healing output with a solid throughput toolkit, making them an excellent option for any healing composition. Restoration Druids specifically offer strong burst healing through their cooldowns, as they have a set of cooldowns they can use together or apart from each other. On top of usual Tranquility and Flourish, Druids will have access to Convoke the Spirits, which is basically another raid cooldown, that has very strong synergy with Flourish. In Shadowlands they can also use Heart of the Wild to do some burst DPS. While overall damage will still remain low compared to specs like Discipline Priest or Holy Paladin, there will be an option to power through certain parts of the fight with extra DPS. The biggest downsides remain to be a lack of damage reduction cooldown and steady damage contribution.
November 20 update: Holy Priests have been tearing up the healing meters recently, proving that they do have incredible healing output. The other major benefit is how user-friendly they are to play, making Holy Priest and excellent choice going into Castle Nathria. Healer balance is quite good right now, so to show that we bumped Holy Priest into the A-tier and are scrapping the B-tier entirely.
Holy Priests offer a solid healing output with some of the stronger throughput cooldowns in the game. Holy has been overshadowed by Discipline for a long time not necessarily because it is weak, but more so because Discipline has been extremely strong. Holy on its own still brings solid raid throughput kit, great AoE healing even while spread, and powerful throughput cooldowns with Divine Hymn and the option of talenting into Apotheosis or Holy Word: Salvation. While Holy Priests will not bring the top tier damage reduction or other types of cooldowns you would see from Discipline, Restoration, or Holy Paladin, they do bring decent throughput that could round out a healing composition.
- 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.
- 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.
- An Excellent Class and Spec Pick Flowchart Meme (Or Is it?)
- There Are Worse Fates than Being Carried by a Kyrian...
- Players Manipulate Turn Speed Variable while Mind Controlling Others
- Patch 9.0.2 Hotfixes: January 15th
- How to Get Raid, PvP and Any Legendary Memories Without Doing the Related Activity
- How to Loot Faster in World of Warcraft
- How to Fool Bots With Toys
- Patch 9.1 Will Be Released in Spring 2021