Dungeon Grouping and Strategy
Dungeon Grouping and Strategy in WoW Classic
by FTHforever • 26th May 2019
What do I need in my group?
Group composition is a topic that is prone to heavy polarisation. Not because people don't accept the Tank / Healer / DPS groundwork, but because people can have a very different opinion about which class or specialisation can do which roles. In my opinion a lot of things can work out, and I am open to uncommon builds - your mileage may vary though.
I suggest to rate unorthodox builds based on the player, not on the build in general. Just because Trollfrost, the Shaman could tank your dungeon last week, it doesn't have to mean Earthmender the other Shaman can do it too.
Finding a tank can be hard, so don't shy away from picking a uncommon tank or even buy a tank. Some people on your server might be promoting tanking services in general chat. Ask them for their conditions and you might find a tank really fast. It sounds counterintuitive to buy a tank for gold but if you really want to do the dungeon, gathering some gold off all members to pay a tank isn't a big expense. Tanking services may cost you 20-40g for your usual 5 man lvl60 dungeon. Special drops like world epics or flask recipes might be a thing you need to haggle out too. Most rent-a-tanks want a share based on 20% action house price.
The following classes and specs are sorted by rarity and reliability.
Warriors are known for being very reliable: they can keep aggro with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=11597/sunder-armor and https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=11567/heroic-strike , can AOE tank with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=11581/thunder-clap and https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20569/cleave . Also they have a single target https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=355/taunt and an AOE option for emergencies with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=1161/challenging-shout . They mitigate damage by possessing high armour values, shield-blocking enhanced with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=2565/shield-block and they can https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=3127/parry too. In addition they have https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=871/shield-wall , which can save a lot of health. Last but not least, they have https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=11556/demoralizing-shout which reduces the damage mobs do to you.
Druids are the second most widely accepted tanks. In https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=5487/bear-form or https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=9634/dire-bear-form they can keep aggro with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=9881/maul and https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=9908/swipe . They have a single target taunt https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=6795/growl and an AOE taunt too with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=5209/challenging-roar . They mitigate damage through high armor, a very large health pool also they have a damage reduction cooldown https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=22812/barkskin and a self-heal https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=22896/frenzied-regeneration . They also have an enemy AP-reducing shout with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=9898/demoralizing-roar .
Paladins are not only viable but optimal in many instances. In my experience they are alright until lvl 60, where they perform very well in undead dungeons like Stratholme and Scholomance. They keep aggro by buffing themselves https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=25780/righteous-fury , then mostly use https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20293/seal-of-righteousness and for AOE https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20924/consecration . Like Warriors they have high armor values, can block with shields, and may also https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=3127/parry . Note that they cannot taunt in vanilla - they rely on https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20271/judgement as a stand-in for that.
A Hunter's Pet or the Hunter himself are also pretty decent tanks too - you might pick them up for lower level dungeons or when a tank drops out for unforeseen reasons. A hunter pet can taunt with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=14921/growl and can be improved by various talents in the beastmaster hunter talent tree. You'll find they have no issues keeping threat if micro managed well by the hunter - the Hunter's attention will be distracted and you shouldn't expect throughput DPS from them at the same time.
Shamans, like hunters, are also viable (but not optimal) tanks that can shine if played with the correct amount of knowledge and experience. Check out Devner (Caperfin's) Shaman tanking guide here on the site for an in-depth exploration of Shaman tanking.
Healing in WoW Classic is greatly enhanced with specific gear that gives +Healing, so feel free to pick a healing class with a non-healing talent specialisation, if they got have sufficient healing gear. As with tanks you might need to buy healing services - its just less common than buying tanks.
Compared to tanks, there aren't rare builds that can work; your class can heal or can't heal and that's that. The following list of healers is done with the following questions in mind: what is the disadvantage of this healer and what other utility over healing and buffs do they bring?
Priests are always in high demand because they have almost no disadvantages, except that they can become a little mana hungry if spell rank usage isn't optimised by the player. Priests can mitigate damage while moving with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10901/power-word-shield and heal while moving with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=25315/renew . They offer a lot of utility with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10955/shackle-undead , https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10953/mind-soothe and https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10909/mind-vision which helps finding specific mobs like https://classic.wowhead.com/npc=11487/magister-kalendris . In addition, under specific circumstances they can https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10912/mind-control , which works especially well on NSC healers and has a whole myriad of potential applications. Priests can dispel Magic offensively and defensively with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=988/dispel-magic , and cure Diseases with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=552/abolish-disease .
Druids have one big disadvantage: they cannot resurrect like all other healers do. On the other hand, they are the only class that can ressurect in combat with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20748/rebirth . Druids are great at healing on the move with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=25299/rejuvenation and the combined talents https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=17116/natures-swiftness and https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=18562/swiftmend . They also offer crowd control options with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=18658/hibernate , sometimes with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=9853/entangling-roots and the pack-skipping tool https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=9901/soothe-animal . They can https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=2782/remove-curse and clean Poisons with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=2893/abolish-poison .
Shaman have no true crowd control abilities and their only on the move heal is with the https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=16188/natures-swiftness talent (if you don't consider https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10463/healing-stream-totem ). Shaman offer a lot of utility through totems, like https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=2484/earthbind-totem , https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10427/stoneclaw-totem or https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=8177/grounding-totem which can be very powerful if used wisely. Shaman offer wipe protection with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20608/reincarnation . They also cleanse Poisons/Diseases using https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=526/cure-poison , https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=8166/poison-cleansing-totem , https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=2870/cure-disease , and finally https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=8170/disease-cleansing-totem . In addition, they have an offensive dispel with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=8012/purge . Last but not least, the https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=8143/tremor-totem can dispel various effects on the party.
Paladins also have no true crowd control, and can only heal on the move with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10310/lay-on-hands or the https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20930/holy-shock talent. They offer some utility with judgement seals such as https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20349/seal-of-light , https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20357/seal-of-wisdom , or https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20164/seal-of-justice . Sometimes a fast https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10278/blessing-of-protection or https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=1044/blessing-of-freedom can save the day. https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10308/hammer-of-justice can help out in clutch situations. Paladins have wipe protection in form of https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=19752/divine-intervention , but it is unlikely that your party will have another class that can resurrect. They can cleanse Diseases, Magic and Poison with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=4987/cleanse .
Remember: a bad tank can be fixed by a great healer, and a great tank balances out a bad healer. But if you only fill up with poor DPS, your run will take ages and you may never see the death of the final boss, particularly for those that enrage. Don't overlook damage.
Druids as Feral can use https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=9846/tigers-fury to kill faster, and can interrupt with the talent https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=16979/feral-charge . They can buff the group's damage output with either https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=24858/moonkin-form or https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=17007/leader-of-the-pack . In addition, they can crowd control with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=18658/hibernate and https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=9853/entangling-roots .
Hunters can boost their DPS with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=3045/rapid-fire and https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=14325/hunters-mark . With the https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20906/trueshot-aura talent they boost the whole group's DPS. They interrupt with the https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=19503/scatter-shot talent and can crowd control with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=14311/freezing-trap and the talent https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=24133/wyvern-sting .
Mages can boost their damage with the talents https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=12042/arcane-power or https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=11129/combustion . They can interrupt with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=2139/counterspell . Also, they have the most reliable form of crowd control in the game - https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=12826/polymorph .
Paladins can boost the group's holy damage with judgements like https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20308/seal-of-the-crusader or the https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20218/sanctity-aura talent. In addition they can buff themselves with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20059/vengeance . They also have an execute in the form of https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=24239/hammer-of-wrath . Their only interrupts are https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10308/hammer-of-justice or the talent https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20066/repentance .
Priests can improve Magic damage with the talents https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10060/power-infusion or https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=15473/shadowform , and also increase the group's Shadow damage with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=15334/shadow-weaving . They can interrupt with the https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=15487/silence talent. They also have an indirect crowd control tool with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10912/mind-control and can https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10955/shackle-undead .
Rogues can improve their own damage with the talents https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=14177/cold-blood , https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=13877/blade-flurry and https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=13750/adrenaline-rush . They can also buff the group's physical damage indirectly by applying https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=11198/expose-armor . They can interrupt with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=1769/kick and https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=8643/kidney-shot on stunnable mobs. Lastly, they can crowd control with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=11297/sap and https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=2094/blind .
Shamans can buff their own damage with talents like https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=16166/elemental-mastery or https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=17364/stormstrike , and the group's damage by placing various totems such as https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=25361/strength-of-earth-totem , https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=25359/grace-of-air-totem , or https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=16362/windfury-weapon (don't forget to do totem twisting brother ). They can interrupt with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=8042/earth-shock (use rank 1 to save mana!) and situationally crowd control with a smart https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=10427/stoneclaw-totem .
Warlocks can boost their own damage by sacrificing a pet using https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=18788/demonic-sacrifice . They can also increase the group's Magic or Physical damage output with the curses https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=11722/curse-of-the-elements , https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=17937/curse-of-shadow , or https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=11717/curse-of-recklessness which also prevents fleeing mobs. They can interrupt with a well-timed https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=17926/death-coil or their Felhunter pet's https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=19647/spell-lock . They can crowd control some types of mob with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=18647/banish or attempt risky crowd control with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=6215/fear . More reliable with the succubus pet's https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=6358/seduction . Let us not forget that Warlocks can be used, in tandem with another player, to summon the rest of your party to a dungeon entrance, which will save a huge amount of time in the organisational stage of the group.
Warriors can increase their own damage with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=1719/recklessness or the talent https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=12328/death-wish , and the group's overall damage with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=25289/battle-shout or through stacking https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=11597/sunder-armor (being careful of course because it causes high threat). Warriors can also https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20662/execute . They sometimes offer risky crowd control with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=5246/intimidating-shout .
There are a few instances in Classic WoW that you can't do without bringing someone who is on the right quest, has the right key or can do something very specific which allows you to progress. This is where you'll want a specialist of one sort or another.
You cannot enter specific sections of some dungeons without the proper key. Some people like to gather them all and offer Keymaster services for gold.
In addition to the keymaster role, you might find any of the following useful persons to incorporate into your group:
As the name says, you just crowd control everything you can't or don't want to fight at the moment. This makes your healer's life very easy, and also your tank's because he can focus on a single mob. Another big plus is that it makes your run quite safe against mis-pulls.
In this strategy, you don't CC anything and just kill all the mobs in one go with AOE abilities. While this is mandatory on specific AOE packs like the worms in maraudon, it also helps cleaning up trash pretty fast if you have the lineup for it or you outgear the dungeon a lot. It helps to let your tank pull and have a couple of seconds to gain aggro, so you don't lose time because one warlock died to hellfire aggro.
Focus fire/Assist Train
The focus fire strategy means concentrating all damage on one single mob until it dies, then switching to the next one. That takes pressure off the healer and the tanks and allows for easier and more reliable clears - because as the fight goes on, it becomes easier and easier.
In TBC WoW 'asssist trains' became a thing in arena mode: just agree on one main player who calls the targets, and attack the same target with the help of the assist key (default bound to F). With a group used to that you can focus pretty fast without having to mark your mobs, it even helps if you need to switch your target quickly, just target the shotcaller, hit F, and you are right on track again.
Suggested for all groups.
Super smash brothers
With an all-melee group you have a bit of an issue - that you need to be on the target to do damage. Any movement in the fight reduces your overall group damage and if you have multiple melee DPS that must stick to something you might not have damage enough to win a fight. So you fix that problem by moving as little as possible.
For example, in specific fights, like the Baron in Stratholme undead wing, adds will spawn. But if you are tightly grouped they will always come to you, and you just kill them without having to move and lose damage. It's highly suggested for a good super smash brothers strategy, to make clever uses of doorways and corners to stack the mobs right up next to your melee squad.
Suggested for all melee only groups, which means all DPS (and the tank ofc) need to melee.
Kiting is kind of the opposite on the melee strategy: you want to let the mob move as much as possible, so you can hit it, do some damage, slow or root it, then run again - repeat as much as needed until the mob dies. Sometimes, the mob doesn't even have to die, you profit already if it stays busy running around for a bit and is kept out of the fight. This is commonly used on General Drakkisath in UBRs, who is kited away until the raid finishes his two dragonkin guardians.
For kiting it is incredible useful to look for usable geometry features like stairs and ramps, because mobs can never jump and most of the time use a walking path which may be slower. It really helps kiting mobs back to such a place even if that makes it a longer pull.
Suggested for all groups with ranged DPS, especially with at least one . In some circumstances, a good or frost specced can be big, sometimes a with https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=18223/curse-of-exhaustion too.
Sometimes in a run, healing is unavailable, like if the healer is dead or out of mana - or if you are already clearing trash but the healer and tank are still on the way to the dungeon. Aggro rotation is basically trying to force the mob to switch targets and thus to use all the HP pools of the group, not just the HP of one target.
It is never a good strategy to use without care, but in the right moment it can save your group a corpserun. Sometimes it helps the tank and the healer that you pull aggro for a couple of seconds, throw some defensive cooldown and tank the damage, then after the tank has recovered let him take aggro again. Smart use of aggro rotation lets you do trashpacks without a healer, just with bandages and food in between fights. Also in fights with too many adds, you could do aggro rotation to keep some mobs off the tank and nuke them fast.
In some cases you have mobs who are incredible dangerous and must be killed as fast as possible. Because most ranged abilities only aggro mobs once they hit, not while casting, you can pull them with your big casts like https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=20904/aimed-shot , https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=18809/pyroblast and https://classic.wowhead.com/spell=17924/soul-fire .
Then, the tank just hits taunt and will get the aggro on the mob, and because taunt sets you above the highest threat target he might even keep aggro. This can blow off big chunks of the mobs hp on the pull already, and helps to kill it faster. Druids and Rogues can jump a target out of stealth at the start of the combat, which while no precasting, also supports this strategy.
Sometimes you are losing on every perimeter. You dont dps, heal or tank well enough to kill trash groups without wiping. But clearing the dungeon will pay off, may it be specific quests, or because you can still somehow kill all bosses. Tough one, but the good thing is you might still succeed: because most mobs don't instantly respawn once killed, that hard group you cannot kill as a whole gets weaker with every mob you kill out of it even if your whole group gets wiped. So step by step, corpserun by corpserun you slowly grind deeper into the dungeon until you get it done.
In the early days of WoW 'death grinding' was way more common than it is today, because people didn't have 15 years of experience and theorycrafting on the game. It's more a meta strategy than some smart tactics, so if your group is under performing but still committed, it can be the time to do this.
Suggested for all groups that struggles with the dungeon's trash but can kill the bosses.
A small historical fact: in the medieval England, there was a court for knights that was used mainly to settle fights over loot distribution. Heated discussions about loot distribution are nothing new!
In the following paragraphs, I will explain some loot guidelines that are commonly used on today's pservers.
MS > OS
Normally, especially in low level dungeons, no one talks about loot rules in general but still assume the MS > OS rule of thumb. MS > OS means main spec over off spec. This has nothing to do with your talent specialisation (because you could be a fury warrior tanking a five man dungeon) but rather your role in the group instead.
The same applies to a healer: you are expected to roll need on every healitem you need, but greed on DPS pieces. Nethertheless, you can still announce that you will roll on a specific item or ask if that's okay, but its best doing so before even starting the dungeon. If no DPS needs a specific item, its almost never an issue if you need it as a healer or tank if you actually use it.
On a big private server, people are used to just collecting a group and reserving the item they want for themselves. This is done with the loot mode 'lootmaster' enabled at the boss that drops the item, so that only the group leader can decide who gets the loot. As a group leader you can switch the loot mode with a right click on your portrait and the specific dropdown menu.
People are indifferent about reserving items, but no one likes joining a group where you have not announced your reserves and get 'robbed' at the boss. So if you are planning on reserving specific items announce it while you are looking for your group. A example would be 'LFG BRD hand of justice / HOJ reserved'. Some people are very greedy with their reserves, but no one forces you to join their groups.
Don't forget BOEs!
While running a dungeon, you may come across a world BOE (bind on equip) item like https://classic.wowhead.com/item=2244/krol-blade that sells for hundreds of gold in the auction house. The same applies for specific drops like https://classic.wowhead.com/item=13521/recipe-flask-of-supreme-power or https://classic.wowhead.com/item=22897/tome-of-conjure-food-vii .
Especially in the case of drops that can always drop in your dungeon, it could be a good thing to discuss beforehand - what you do if it drops? Winner get's it all? Do you sell it in the auction house and split the earning through all 5? Will you just treat it as another drop, so the one who can use it roll need, all others greed?
A special case are https://classic.wowhead.com/item=12811/righteous-orb in Stratholme living wing. Most groups use the 'first to tank, then round robbing' style for looting them - that means everyone pass on the first except the tank, then after you won one, you pass until everyone of your group won one. After 5 drops, it either starts again with round robin, or any additional orb is for whoever wins.
In rare cases, you might have one black sheep in your group who is just there for short term profit. He will roll need on every item, if he needs them or not. Before it is too late, you should either ask the group leader to kick that player after a fair warning, or leave the group if he is the leader. Sometimes, that black sheep is just someone who needs a BOE to sell it at the AH.
Like that Mage needing some cloth item with +shadow damage. In all these cases, it can also help having someone who rolls last, or at least wait until you see who rolled what. Be careful with addons that hide the rolling process like LazyPig, sly Ninjas abuse that to roll need!
Thanks for reading, I hope you learned something new or had a refresher on something you forgot - best wishes in all your dungeon endeavors!
THis is amazing, thank you guys for your contibution!
Great work. Was taken back when I seen mention of hunter tanks, you're clearly an experienced member! When I tell people that I competently tank as hunter from 15-45 they are usually aghast. Despite hunters pulling an INSANE amount of TPS, being able to revive/heal their own pet, being able to kite/cc adds themselves, etc etc etc. A good point of mention here is that a hunter tank means 4 DPS in a group which also offers a higher level of CC. Overall this will decrease damage taken (more cc=less damage) and 4 DPS increases kill speed which leads to a net gain of efficiency. Nothing is worse than being a fully able hunter watching a low level tank (who likely cant afford all of his skills), with no hit and no rage wave his 1 hander around in a mobs face... Uuuuuugh. Just let me do it big guy. =)
Great guide. i have never seen someone pay for a tank or healer unless it’s a carry thru a high level dungeon. Folks, don’t pay gold to play with people your level
Very nice, I appreciate the discussion of loot methods. Many guides I've read tend to forget that part.
Nice, well written guide. Thanks for covering so many aspects of Classic so well.