Best WoW Classic WotLK DPS Tier List: Ranking All Classes & Specs in Phase 1

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WoW Classic WotLK Patchwerk Naxxramas

World of Warcraft Classic's next expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, not only ushers in new content for players to enjoy but also signifies a brand-new DPS meta.

With Death Knights galore, Paladins getting some extra attention, and not to mention the classic Mage, Rogue, and Warrior fans back for more—it can be difficult pinpointing what class you'll want to play to start off the new expansion's first phase.

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But don't worry, we've you got covered. We went ahead and ranked the best WoW Classic WotLK DPS specs in a tier list to make your life easier when it comes to choosing your next main.

Here's our tier list of the best WoW Classic WotLK DPS classes and specs for phase 1.

Best WoW Classic WotLK DPS Tier List (Phase 1)

To start off, we'll begin by putting all of the DPS classes and specs into tiers. In this list S tier will be the absolute best specs, ones that you'll want to have one to multiple of in a Raid group, while the D tier can be considered the specs that bring little to no gain over others.

S Tier

  • Assassination Rogue
  • Frost Death Knight
  • Unholy Death Knight
  • Arcane Mage
  • Affliction Warlock
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A Tier

  • Demonology Warlock
  • Balance Druid
  • Survival Hunter
  • Marksmanship Hunter
  • Feral Druid
  • Enhancement Shaman

B Tier

  • Shadow Priest
  • Retribution Paladin
  • Fire Mage

C Tier

  • Elemental Shaman
  • Destruction Warlock
  • Arms Warrior
  • Fury Warrior
  • Beast Mastery Hunter

D Tier

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  • Subtlety Rogue
  • Frost Mage
  • Blood Death Knight

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Breaking It Down

Now that we've categorized each class and spec into tiers, we can explain our reasonings.

S Tier

Classes and specs in this tier are undoubtedly the best on this list. It should come as no surprise that the two DPS specs for Death Knights, Frost and Unholy, sit amongst it. In its original release, the brand-new class was immensely strong as it brute-forced its way to the top by dominating all forms of fights - we expect that to remain much the same in its Classic iteration.

WoW Classic WotLK DPS Tier List: Best Classes & Specs in Phase 1 - DK WotLk Classic
Credit: Blizzard Entertainment
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Both Frost and Unholy are great DPS specs for Death Knights
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As for the rest of the classes on this list, they're no strangers to being near the top, but the specs are a bit different from previous content.

  • Assassination Rogues now bring tons of damage, especially in the age of shorter fights in Classic WoW, toppling the supremacy of Combat in previous content.
  • Arcane Mages continue their reign near the top while benefiting massively from the shorter fight times, having immense burst potential, and gaining added benefits from spell hit.
  • Affliction Warlocks take over as the premier spec and are a great DPS choice as they excel in all types of fights with consistent output, and are elite when movement is required.

READ MORE: WoW Classic WotLK Phase 1: Launch Schedule, Raids, Naxxramas Release Date & more

A Tier

This tier houses the classes and specs that could be considered the building blocks of a Raid group. Although they aren't the absolute best, they still provide crucial amounts of damage and buffs, and if played right, could surpass some of the ones above them.

  • Demonology Warlocks have very high damage potential while providing a crucial spell power buff entirely unique to themselves (scaling on their gear).
  • Marksman and Survival Hunters provide great single target damage with sneakily powerful AOE, and offer options for a physical or magical damage focus between the two.
  • Balance Druids possess potentially the best AoE in the game but suffer in single target as a result. They bring Improved Faerie Fire as well as other Druid buffs such as Rebirth, Gift of the Wild, Innervate, Abolish Poison, Remove Curse, and Thorns.
  • Enhancement Shamans are all-around solid in all types of fights (though their group buff can be replaced by the higher-performing Frost Death Knight). Shamans do have problems scaling, so get your elemental fix while it's still hot.
  • Feral Druids sit in a unique spot to start off the tier as they have great damage, provide great utility, and perhaps bring the most underrated benefit a DPS can, their ability to off-tank when needed with Bear Form. Keep in mind, however, that they require one of the most difficult rotations of the expansion.

READ MORE: WoW Classic WotLK Raids: Naxxramas, Ulduar, Icecrown Citadel & More

B Tier

As the list's true middle ground, B tier is for the classes and specs that a Raid can live with or without as when they're good, they're nice to have, but when they're bad, they can seem fairly replaceable.

WoW Classic WotLK DPS Tier List: Best Classes & Specs in Phase 1 - Ret Pally WotLK Classic
Credit: Blizzard Entertainment
REPLACEABLE: Why play a Ret Pally when you can play a Death Knight?

This tier includes Retribution Paladins who struggle to stand out as much amidst a sea of plate-wearing Death Knights, Fire Mages who are "better off" as Arcane in phase 1, and the utility-centric Shadow Priest which struggles in a sea of stronger casters.

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  • Retribution Paladins have great AoE and cleave potential, but lack in single target. They also have very powerful buffs to every type of class, bringing Blessing Auras, and Cleanse.
  • Fire Mages supply terrific single target and AoE with some decent cleave damage, but most importantly don't suffer from mana issues.
  • Shadow Priests have strong multi-dot and AoE damage with the newly acquired Mind Sear, and offer some fantastic utility across mana returns and passive healing.

READ MORE: Ranking the Best WoW Classic WotLK Professions

C Tier

Classes in C tier experience what classes in B tier go through but even worse. All of these classes and specs in this section of the list, Destruction Warlock, Arms Warrior, Elemental Shaman, Beast Mastery Hunter, and Fury all either have classes that do what they do but better or have a spec counterpart that outperforms it entirely.

For Destruction Warlocks, players find themselves stuck in third place from the massively improved Affliction and the entirely unique buff offered by Demonology. Similarly Beast Mastery Hunters run into the same issue, with Survival and Marksmanship both outperforming them in nearly all situations. Both Arms and Fury Warrior will struggle massively early on and don't become prominent until later in the expansion with the likes of Shadomourne and other key pieces where they will really make their mark. Lastly, Elemental Shaman will be a peripheral caster DPS option that brings some utility now also offered by others, despite Ele ranking this low, this will be the best the spec gets as it struggles to scale like other casters.

  • Elemental Shamans are a solid blanket class with a low skill ceiling that have good single target, AoE, and cleave but suffer from Enhancement outperforming out. They also bring Shaman benefits such Heroism/Bloodlust, Purge, Wind Shear, Hex, and totems.
  • Destruction Warlocks bring a different alternative in playstyle to the class with decent damage but both Affliction and Demonology massively outperform it.
  • Arms and Fury Warriors are late-game monsters, on top of bringing numerous beneficial group-wide buffs such as Blood Frenzy, Trauma, Battle and Commanding Shout, Sunder Armor, and Shattering Throw.
  • Beast Mastery Hunters suffer from needing their pet to be alive as it's the spec's entire damage while also being lackluster in all types of damage. Both Survival and Marksman are far better options.

READ MORE: WoW Classic WotLK Consumables Guide: Flasks, Elixirs, Potions, Foods & more

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D Tier

Last but certainly not least is quite literally the last tier on the list. This part is reserved for the classes that unless you're a diehard fan of them or really enjoy them, it's not worth bringing them to your Raid group, and, again, experience what the two tiers above it experience: "Why bring the class when you can bring a better version of it?"

Subtlety Rogue can go swap play Assassination or Combat, Frost Mage can go play Arcane, and Blood Death Knight sounds cool in theory but is suited better tanking.

  • Subtlety Rogues are better focused for PvP-style content as their damage in PvE scenarios is incredibly low, add the fact that Assassination is incredibly strong, and Combat is solid, they don't offer nearly as much to a group.
  • Frost Mages like Subtlety Rogues shine in PvP content as opposed to PvE, possessing some of the worst damage in the game. However, they provide powerful Mage-only buffs.
  • Blood Death Knights are going to be one of the most premier tanking specs in WoW Classic WotLK, but it struggles to make the transition to a DPS talent tree with stronger options in Frost and Unholy. Later in the game, more armor pen on gear could push Blood forward, but don't expect it to outpace the other flavors of DK.

READ MORE: WoW Classic WotLK Reputation Guide: All Factions, Rewards, How to Earn Rep