Welcome to the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King DPS tier list! We will be ranking each DPS class available for the expansion, as well as explaining each class’s position on the tier list.

  • Overall Performance: The raw amount of damage the spec can deal, in single-target, cleave, and AoE encounters.
  • Utility: Any bonuses that the spec brings to a raid besides its damage, such as buffs, combat resses, etc.
  • Stackability: How many of this class you can bring to a raid without diminishing returns. For example, specs like Demonology Warlocks might be powerful, but aren’t as stackable as their Affliction counterpart

Note that this Tier List covers classes and specs in their patch-3.3.5 state. This works just like in previous Classic expansions: although we’re doing content starting with the very first phase, our spells, talents, and equipment are already in their finalized states, which has great implications on the metagame. We will be discussing this in more detail in the sections below.

s tier dps rankings
a tier dps rankings
b tier dps rankings
c tier dps rankings
d tier dps rankings
  1. Affliction Warlock (S-Tier)
  2. Unholy Death Knight (S-Tier)
  3. Assassination Rogue (S-Tier)
  4. Frost Death Knight (S-Tier)
  5. Arcane Mage (S-Tier)
  6. Demonology Warlock (A-Tier)
  7. Balance Druid (A-Tier)
  8. Survival Hunter (A-Tier)
  9. Enhancement Shaman (A-Tier)
  10. Marksmanship Hunter (A-Tier)
  11. Shadow Priest (A-Tier)
  12. Fire Mage (B-Tier)
  13. Retribution Paladin (B-Tier)
  14. Feral Druid (B-Tier)
  15. Combat Rogue (B-Tier)
  16. Elemental Shaman (C-Tier)
  17. Arms Warrior (C-Tier)
  18. Destruction Warlock (C-Tier)
  19. Fury Warrior (C-Tier)
  20. Beast Mastery Hunter (C-Tier)
  21. Blood Death Knight (D-Tier)
  22. Subtlety Rogue (D-Tier)
  23. Frost Mage (D-Tier)

Our equipment is at its weakest in Phase 1, and that has major implications on the meta.

For example, armor penetration is very rare in Phase 1 gear. This means that physical DPS specs that also inherently deal magic damage will have a major advantage in this phase, as their damage bypasses armor. This includes specs such as Assassination Rogues and Survival Hunters; they do really well in this phase, but fall off once armor penetration becomes more common.

Furthermore, DPS specs that have good scaling but low base damage will unfortunately be at their worst during this phase. Fire Mages and Fury Warriors, for instance, will have to wait a while for their turn to shine in the spotlight, as they lack the stats they need in order to succeed, such as crit and armor penetration.

S-Tier

The S-Tier represents the most powerful classes in the current meta – those with the highest damage and utility. These specializations are usually recruited in larger numbers due to their outstanding performance.

Affliction Warlock

Affliction Warlocks see a drastic shift in playstyle in WotLK. We go from a budget version of Destruction, spamming Shadow Bolt, to a fully-fledged, damage-over-time-focused spec. No longer are we a strictly support spec; instead, we take the number one spot in any DPS charter and a well-deserved spot in the S-tier in Phase 1 of WotLK.

Affliction has great single-target damage, thanks to our high damage-over-time and Drain Soul’s new execute-like component. Where we truly shine, however, is in cleave & AoE fights, thanks to our multi-dotting ability — you will very commonly be on the top of the DPS meters on those fights.

Utility is one area where Affliction Warlocks have seen a major nerf in WotLK. Our Curse of the Elements and Improved Shadow Bolt are no longer unique — we don’t even use the former anymore, since Balance Druids and Unholy DKs apply it automatically, though we’re still the best at applying the latter. This means our unique utility is now limited to Healthstones, Soulstones, and summoning, which is by no means bad, but we aren’t the utility powerhouses we once were.

Even if fights will tend to be shorter in WotLK Classic when compared to the OG WotLK, Affliction Warlocks will still deal massive amounts of single-target damage. While the health pool of some of the Bosses has been diminished, Drain Soul‘s damage still proves to be one deadly execution ability.

Unholy Death Knight

Unholy Death Knights are often forgotten about in Phase 1 DPS discussions because Frost Death Knights are slightly flashier, but that doesn’t make them weak at all. In fact, the opposite is true — by most metrics, they belong in the S-tier.

The reason here is quite simple: the bulk of our damage is magic, meaning it bypasses armor. Thus, we don’t care about the lack of armor penetration on Phase 1 gear. 

Just like our Frost brothers, we Unholy DKs bring some top-tier AoE & cleave damage on top of our stellar single-target damage. It should be said, however, that we are typically slightly weaker than Frost in short AoE encounters, as our diseases take a while to deal their damage, while Frost DK’s Howling Blast damage is front-loaded. We also have slightly weaker utility than Frost: we offer Horn of Winter just the same, but we lack Improved Icy Talons, trading it off for Ebon Plaguebringer, which isn’t a great trade since Balance Druids automatically apply the same debuff.

Unholy stays competitive throughout every Phase in WotLK, and eventually outshines Frost during the last phase, with the Icecrown Citadel raid. Thus, if you’re looking for a solid melee DPS class to play for the entire expansion, Unholy is a great pick.

Assassination Rogue

Assassination Rogues find themselves in the top spots of the DPS charts in the first Phase, commonly considered to be one of the best damage-dealing specs.

The reasons are clear: a very big percentage of an Assassination Rogue’s damage comes from poison effects (Deadly Poison, Envenom), and thus bypasses their enemy’s armor. This makes them relatively unaffected by the scarcity of the armor penetration stat on Phase 1 equipment.

Assassination Rogues don’t have the utility many other specs do, but we more than make up for this deficiency with raw damage — particularly in single-target fights, where Assassination Rogues will typically top the meters. Furthermore, the addition of Fan of Knives makes our AoE top-tier as well. Yet, we do lack slightly in the cleave department, since Death Knights will usually beat us in fights with 2-3 targets.

The biggest drawback of the Assassination specialization is that it’s seen as a “temporary” spec, so to speak. We never really become useless, but Combat begins outscaling us starting with the next phase (Ulduar), and the gap only gets bigger with every phase. This means that the amazing daggers you picked up in Phase 1 aren’t as impactful later on, so keep an eye out for some good Combat gear for the future phases instead.

Frost Death Knight

Frost Death Knights are the new kids on the block in Wrath of the Lich King, and they certainly make a splash — instantly finding themselves near the top of DPS rankings.

Similar to the Top Dogs (the Unholy Death Knights and Affliction Warlocks), this will happen largely because Frost DK’s damage (Frost Strike, Howling Blast, etc.) is magic, and thus bypasses armor. Where other melee DPS get held back by the lack of armor penetration on Phase 1 gear, a Frost DK shines.

Frost DKs have incredible single-target damage, lagging very slightly behind Assassination Rogues. However, we have something they don’t: an excellent cleave tool, in Howling Blast. This means that, on cleave-type fights in specific, you will likely be at the top of the damage meter. Yet, damage isn’t all we have going on for us: Frost DKs bring some excellent raid utility, in the form of Horn of Winter and Improved Icy Talons (only shared with Shamans), making them a highly desirable spec.

Frost DKs remain a highly competitive specialization throughout WotLK. However, in Phase 4 (Icecrown Citadel) our Unholy brothers become noticeably stronger and steal the spotlight. Seeing how that’s the last phase in the game, however, you can roll a Frost DK and not regret it at all.

Arcane Mage

Arcane Mages were a powerhouse for most of TBC, and they’re still very much a powerhouse in early Wrath. While they barely cling onto their S-tier spot for this first phase, there’s nobody who doubts just how powerful their damage is.

Single-target damage is what Arcane Mages always excelled at, and this is very much still the case. Our cleave damage is virtually non-existent, but our single-target damage is absolutely jaw-dropping. Phase 1 fights are typically pretty short, meaning we don’t have to worry about mana and can just go to town, pumping Arcane Blasts to our heart’s content. It won’t be rare to see Arcane Mages at the top of the DPS meters, particularly on some of the more melee-unfriendly fights.

What’s more, Arcane Mage gets a modest utility buff in WotLK. On top of the the brand-new Focus Magic buff available to all Mages, we get the Arcane-exclusive Arcane Empowerment. Your raid now has no reason to bring a BM Hunter at all, as our buff doesn’t stack with their Ferocious Inspiration, and we deal far superior damage. Only the strong will survive; sorry, BM friends.

Arcane has the same issue as Assassination for Rogues — our Fire specialization has superior scaling and eventually surpasses us in damage, particularly in phases 3 & 4. Still, it’s a very solid specialization for most of the expansion and is highly recommended for people who enjoy machine-gunning Arcane Blasts.

A-Tier

The A-Tier represents strong DPS specializations that offer a great amount of damage and utility, but not offering the best possible damage output. They will be found in almost every raid group and it will be common to see more than one of each.

Demonology Warlock

Demonology also sees a drastic playstyle shift in WotLK, going from a PvP-focused spec to a fully fleshed-out DPS spec. It typically lags slightly behind Affliction in terms of raw damage, but offers a unique piece of utility in Demonic Pact that makes the spec worthy of the A-tier.

Demonology’s single-target DPS has been greatly buffed, with a multitude of new talents empowering our Felguard pet. Our single-target is now respectable, and we even see an improvement in our AoE and cleave capabilities. Our new Metamorphosis cooldown gives us access to 2 AoE abilities (Shadow Cleave & Immolation Aura), which help our AoE a lot. In shorter fights, where we get to have Metamorphosis active for a big chunk of the fight, our damage will be very good — though, it’ll suffer and fall behind some of the other A-tier specs in longer fights.

The main benefit of Demonology is in our utility. While Warlocks in general saw a utility nerf, Demonology didn’t have that much to begin with, and it now gets access to Demonic Pact. This is an improved version of the spell power buff offered by Shamans (Flametongue Totem), though an Elemental Shaman’s version (Totem of Wrath) will be slightly superior until you have attained more than 2800 spell power. Many raids will elect not to bring an Elemental Shaman, however, so caster-heavy groups will definitely bring a Demonology Warlock instead.

The main disadvantage of Demonology is that you only need one for Demonic Pact, and more than that is pointless, as Affliction typically does superior damage. Thus, if you’re interested in playing Demonology, you should coordinate with your guild’s other Warlocks — but, if you get the Demo spot, you’re in for a very solid Wrath of the Lich King experience.

Balance Druid

Balance Druids, also affectionately called Boomies or Boomkins by the community, are in a similar boat to Shadow Priests — massive buffs to our damage take us from zero to hero when compared to our performance in TBC. We’re now a solid A-tier spec.

Boomie single-target damage goes from the laughingstock of DPS specs to being very respectable — particularly in the earlier phases, before other casters take off due to their superior scaling. Our new 51-point talent, Starfall, deals great AoE damage on a 1-minute cooldown, so it won’t be rare to see Boomkins near the top of the damage meter in fights that have lots of adds.

Incredibly, our utility also saw a buff in WotLK. We still have the Druid staples like Gift of the Wild and Innervate. Furthermore, we gain access to the new 3% haste buff (Improved Moonkin Form, shared with Ret Paladins) and 13% spell damage debuff (Earth and Moon, shared with Warlocks and Unholy DKs). In exchange, our Moonkin Form’s 5% spell crit buff can now also be offered by Elemental Shamans, but they generally aren’t as strong as we are. Finally, our Improved Faerie Fire has been changed to provide 3% spell hit rather than physical hit, and it can now be applied by Shadow Priests as well, which is a bit of a bummer but not a huge deal.

We also have a brand new rotation, focusing on alternating between Wrath and Starfire based on the new Eclipse mechanic, which is incredibly fun. If being a giant chicken of doom was something you were interested in previously, but have been put off by the low DPS of a Boomie, you now have nothing to worry about — it remains a solid, desirable spec for all of Wrath, usually near the middle of the damage meters.

Survival Hunter 

Survival Hunter has received a massive revamp with the coming of WotLK. Gone are the days of being a budget version of Marksmanship — we now have many unique talents and abilities, such as Explosive Shot and Black Arrow, that give us a playstyle distinct from other specs.

Survival Hunters find themselves solidly in the A-tier during Phase 1 of WotLK, thanks to the fact that our main DPS spells, Explosive Shot, Explosive Trap, and Black Arrow, deal magical damage and thus bypass armor, so we aren’t as affected by the lack of armor penetration on Phase 1 gear.

Survival Hunters deal excellent single-target damage, and we have an edge over many other ranged damage-dealers, since most of our abilities are instant and thus we aren’t interrupted by movement. Explosive Shot and Explosive Trap both deal AoE damage, meaning we also have extremely good cleave / AoE damage, unlike our Marksman brothers. However, we have been penalized in the utility department, as Expose Weakness has been nerfed to only being able to increase our own attack power, meaning that Misdirection is the only utility we can bring to a raid.

Survival is one of the “temporary” specs of WotLK, as our scaling is somewhat lacking. Marksmanship eventually surpasses us in damage in the later phases, when armor penetration starts becoming more plentiful. It still remains decently competitive in Phases 2 and 3, but if you’re interested in playing Hunter, you might want to look into Marksmanship as well, so you’re ready for Phases 3/4.

Enhancement Shaman

Enhancement also gets a fairly major revamp in WotLK, shifting away from the support-centric gameplay of TBC, to a fully-fledged DPS spec in WotLK. We have a brand-new playstyle with a new ability, the Lava Lash, and a combo-point-esque system, the Maelstrom Weapon.

Enhancement has very solid single-target damage, dealing both physical and magical damage. Thanks to the Maelstrom Weapon, Enhancement Shamans have a very dynamic rotation through Lightning Bolt weaving in between their abilities. Due to this brand-new mechanic, we can claim a much higher spot on the DPS charters in Single-Target fights. Our cleave damage is slightly better thanks to Chain Lightning, but it’s still not as good as the “big boys” above us and, as a result, we lack a unique niche, a type of a boss fight where we really excel.

Compared to our glory days of TBC, Enhancement suffers a tragic fall from grace in the utility department. We still have access to a thousand different totems, but almost none of our buffs are now Shaman-exclusive. Even the once highly sought-after Unleashed Rage buff is no longer Enhancement-exclusive, as MM Hunters and Blood DKs both can bring it. The days of stacking Enhancement Shamans are long gone: most raids will bring 1 Shaman of any spec for Heroism / Bloodlust, then possibly 1 more in order to round up totem buffs, and that’s about it.

There is some theorycrafting showing that a spell power version of Enhancement, dubbed “Spellhance”, could have some potential, though it remains to be seen if that pans out in WotLK Classic. If it doesn’t, things won’t be looking great for Enhancement, as we only get weaker from this point on, usually finding ourselves in the lower middle parts of DPS meters. Still, if you enjoy the playstyle, Enhancement is very much viable, so if your guild’s looking for an extra Shaman to fill all totem slots, you shouldn’t hesitate to give it a go.

Marksmanship Hunter

Marksmanship saw some minimal changes to its playstyle, with Chimera Shot entering the mix and Aimed Shot now being instant. More importantly, it saw some minor damage buffs, finding itself at the bottom of the A-tier for the first phase of WotLK.

The reason for this relatively low placement is simple — while Chimera Shot does Nature damage, the rest of our abilities are physical, meaning we suffer greatly from the lack of armor penetration on gear in these first few phases, just like the most of physical damage-dealers. Furthermore, while we have very respectable single-target damage, we lack powerful AoE, meaning we fall behind on fights with many adds where our Survival counterparts can reach some of the top spots of the DPS meters.

Marksmanship has also seen a small nerf to its utility, as Trueshot Aura now offers the same 10% attack power buff that Enhancement Shamans and Blood DKs offer, without stacking. This means that the only unique utility we have is Misdirection, which is great, but unfortunately doesn’t really make up for our disadvantage in raw damage.

Still, Marksmanship is very much still competitive, so long-time Marksmanship veterans could stick to their guns (har-har, pun intended) if they don’t enjoy Survival’s playstyle. Our damage is not that far behind Survival and, starting in Phase 3, we completely blow their damage out of the water thanks to the abundance of armor penetration. So, if you enjoy your Hunter, Marksmanship is not a bad choice at all!

Shadow Priest

Shadow Priests were the butt of all jokes in TBC due to our low DPS, but nobody’s laughing now — our damage has been buffed significantly in WotLK, and we no longer will be dead last on the DPS meters. As a result, Shadow Priests belong solidly in the A-tier of the DPS rankings.

DoTs scale with haste in WotLK, and we have a decent amount of it early on, meaning Shadow Priests are at a good spot in Phase 1. This is particularly true in fights with multiple targets, where multi-dotting pushes us high on the DPS meters. This comes at a cost, though, as our single-target damage is just about average.

Shadow Priest utility saw a fairly substantial nerf in WotLK, but it’s still top-notch. We’re no longer the mana batteries we once were, but we still get to support our group with Prayer of Fortitude, Prayer of Spirit, and Vampiric Embrace. We’re arguably the best at offering the Replenishment mana restoration buff, since we proc it all the time. Moreover, every raid will want at least 1 Shadow Priest or Balance Druid for the spell hit debuff, which we offer with Misery.

The bad news here is that that this is our best phase — we only get weaker from this point on, though we’re never really bad per se, just consistently average. Regardless, Shadow Priests will always be highly desirable in raids thanks to the amazing utility and great multi-dot damage. So, if that’s something you find appealing, Shadow Priest may just be the spec for you.

B-Tier

The B-Tier represents mediocre damage specializations. They are still considered viable, as they do a decent amount of damage, but they typically cannot compete with the A-tier specs on the damage meters. However, in many cases they provide valuable raid buffs that make them worth bringing anyway, as their utility makes up for their deficiency in raw damage.

Fire Mage

Fire Mage has received a complete overhaul in WotLK, intended to restore the spec to its former Classic glory. Most of our talent tree has been reworked, and gameplay is now completely different — focused on machine-gunning instant Pyroblasts with the Hot Streak and, to a lesser extent, on the upkeep of the new Living Bomb DoT. 

Fire Mages have the potential to be one of the most powerful specs in the game, with incredible single-target and AoE damage. But therein lies the issue: we cannot yet actualize that potential in Phase 1. Our scaling is superb, but in the earlier phases of the game we lack the crit necessary for Hot Streak to take off, meaning we lag significantly far behind our Arcane brothers, finding ourselves in the B-tier. On the plus side, while we lose on single-target damage, we do have very respectable AoE and cleave damage, unlike Arcane, which has almost 0 cleave.

Besides the lack of crit, we also suffer from a minor lack of utility. We offer most of the same utility as the other Mage specs, such as Arcane Brilliance and the brand-new Focus Magic — our only Fire-exclusive utility is the 5% spell crit debuff (Improved Scorch). Unfortunately, this one is redundant, since every single spec of the ubiquitous Warlock class will be applying it automatically.

None of this should dissuade you from playing a Mage if Fire looks interesting to you, however, as we tie Arcane in Phase 2, and then finally blossom into one of the strongest specs in the game in Phases 3 & 4. You may want to try Arcane for Phase 1, but start window shopping for Fire gear right away.

Retribution Paladin

Retribution Paladins used to be considered a weak spec in OG TBC, though that ended up not being the case in TBC Classic. Blizzard reworked them dramatically in WotLK and, for a short period afterwards, Ret was wildly overpowered. Blizzard quickly brought the nerf-hammer upon our specialization and, as a result, we are now about as average as it gets, finding ourselves in the middle of the B-tier.

Ret single-target damage is slightly underwhelming, if we’re being honest, typically being middle of the flock. However, our new ability, Divine Storm, pushes our cleave damage to an upper A-tier level — that’s how strong it is. However, the majority of Phase 1 boss fights are primarily single-target, so we don’t get to take advantage of this strength as much as we’d like just yet.

But what Ret may lack in single-target damage it more than makes up for by having arguably the most useful raid buffs & debuffs of any spec in the game. We, of course, have Paladin staples, like the Blessings, but there are also many Retribution-exclusive goodies: Judgements of the Wise, Heart of the Crusader, Sanctified Retribution, and Swift Retribution. We have so much utility that nearly every raid will bring a Ret, and many will bring multiple.

If you are a fan of the Paladin class but feel disappointed by the low ranking of Ret, don’t be. We are the definition of a late bloomer: while our damage is just about average in the first 3 phases of the game, Phase 4 turns is into absolute monsters of cleave damage, thanks to Shadowmourne and our overpowered Tier 10 set 2-piece bonus. Ret Paladins will very commonly be near the top of damage meters in Phase 4, so you could see your Ret as a long-term investment who also provides crucial utility to your raid. You will never struggle to get a raid spot as a Ret.

Feral Druid

Feral Druid gets a massive change in playstyle in WotLK. Powershifting is gone, to the dismay of players that enjoyed it, and is replaced by a more straightforward energy management system. We gain a whole lot of DPS tools focused around bleed effects, meaning we are no longer a tank spec that can occasionally DPS if tanking is not needed — flipping the roles, many Ferals will now be cat mains that occasionally off-tank when needed.

Ferals have great single-target damage, keeping up with or surpassing some of the specs mentioned above. Ferals can also boast of incredible AoE in the form of the newly-introduced Swipe (Cat). Their main drawback is that they lack powerful cleave abilities, and that a big chunk of their DPS comes from bleeds, which take a while to apply, so we’re kinda slow to start. They will do really well with some fights, but they will struggle with some others. This inconsistency is why we find ourselves near the bottom of the B-tier.

Feral utility is basically unchanged compared to TBC. We still have Druid staples like the Gift of the Wild and Innervate. Sure, our 5% crit buff (Leader of the Pack) and bleed damage debuff (Mangle) can now be applied by Fury & Arms Warriors respectively, which is technically a nerf, but we’re still the best at applying it overall, so our utility is not at all threatened.

The great news about Feral Druids is that we only get better from this point. We’re S-tier in Phase 2, and we remain incredibly competitive for the rest of the expansion, meaning that you have nothing to fear if you like the Cat playstyle. The fact that you can double up as a tank when needed will always be a great boon as well, with many guilds running multiple Ferals for this exact reason.

Combat Rogue

Blizzard took a very simple “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach with Combat Rogues, as there’s barely any changes to their gameplay in WotLK. We gain a new DPS cooldown in Killing Spree, and we can finally use weapons other than swords, as the Sword Specialization talent becomes Hack and Slash. The biggest change we see is being liberated from our Expose Armor duties — we no longer use it in Wrath.

Combat Rogues suffer from a very common melee issue in Phase 1: our gear is simply too weak and there’s almost no armor penetration on it. We have incredible damage scaling, but we can’t use it yet, so both our single-target and AoE / cleave damage is hampered. So, we find ourselves at the bottom of the B-tier as a result, looking at our Assassination counterparts at the top of the DPS meters with jealousy.

To make things worse for us, we have extremely little utility. Expose Armor is no longer our responsibility, as mentioned above, so the only thing we really offer is the spec-agnostic Tricks of the Trade, which Assassination is better at thanks to their superior damage. Our only Combat-exclusive utility is Savage Combat, which only a single Rogue needs to bring and Arms Warriors can offer as well.

The great news here is that all of our damage issues are limited to Phase 1. Unlike other scaling DPS specs, which typically don’t become strong enough until Phase 3 or 4, Combat Rogues immediately propel to the top of the DPS meters starting in Phase 2 with the Ulduar raid, and remain S-tier to A-tier for the rest of the expansion. So, get your daggers ready for Phase 1, Assassinate some bosses, and then prepare yourself for Combat glory in Phase 2!

C-Tier

The specializations that make up the C-Tier are on the weaker side of the DPS spectrum. They can still be considered viable, occasionally offering useful buffs and debuffs, and can very often be very fun to play. However, you aren’t likely to be on the top places of DPS meters with these specs, and you won’t have the easiest time finding a raid group, as they aren’t in high demand.

Elemental Shaman

Elemental Shamans see very few changes in WotLK. The main difference is the addition of a new spell, Lava Burst, but that doesn’t amount to much more than a differently colored nuke button. Our improvements are more under-the-hood: we now do much more competitive damage compared to TBC, and our mana issues are gone thanks to Thunderstorm.

While our damage is much more competitive overall, the single-target side of it is just about average, hence our position at the top of the C-tier. However, our cleave damage is very decent thanks to Chain Lightning — it’s just a shame there aren’t more cleave-heavy fights in Phase 1 where we can take advantage of this strength.

Similar to our other Shaman brothers, Elemental experiences a major nerf in utility in Wrath, since nearly all of our totems stop offering Shaman-exclusive buffs. For Phase 1 in specific, we still offer the strongest spell power buff with Totem of Wrath, but Demonology Warlocks close the cap with their own spell power buff in every phase. Most guilds will bring 1-2 Shamans of any spec for Heroism / Bloodlust + totem buffs, and that may or may not be an Elemental.

Elemental Shamans are still very much viable, so if your guild needs a 2nd Shaman for totem buffs and you enjoy the playstyle, you don’t have to feel bad about playing one at all, as you more than pull your weight; you’re just not likely to see yourself near the top of the DPS meters. But, if you’re a long-time Elemental main you’re probably used to that, so it isn’t a deal-breaker.

Arms Warrior

Arms is another case of Blizzard’s “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” policy, having very few changes in WotLK when compared to other specs. Our biggest change is the addition of Bladestorm, as well as Sweeping Strikes being moved back to the Arms tree after a brief stint in the Fury tree. 

The two changes mentioned above heavily slant Arms damage towards the cleave side and, indeed, we have some of the best cleave damage in the game — especially in shorter fights, where we get to enjoy high cooldown uptime. But, at the same time, our single-target damage is unimpressive. This issue is further compounded by the lack of armor penetration on Phase 1 gear, with our damage being 100% physical. Thus, we find ourselves in the C-tier, since, unfortunately, most Phase 1 fights are single-target focused.

Furthermore, it would appear that Blizzard had a bone to pick with Arms Warriors in PvE, as our utility is severely nerfed compared to TBC. Our Battle Shout no longer stacks with Blessing of Might, and Combat Rogues can bring our previously exclusive Blood Frenzy. Even our shiny new debuff, Trauma, is applied automatically by a much more powerful spec, Feral Druids.

Many Warriors will roll Arms for Phase 1, as it’s generally stronger than Fury, while being more fun to play and easier to gear to boot. However, Fury starts outscaling us as early as Phase 2, so have as much fun as you can spinning-to-win with Bladestorm in Phase 1, but prepare a second two-handed weapon in the meanwhile!

Destruction Warlock

Well, well, well, how the mighty have fallen. Destruction Warlocks go from an undisputed S-tier spec in TBC, to the lower echelons of the tier lists under the C-tier in WotLK. It’s pretty clear that this has, in large part, happened due to the removal of the Demonic Sacrifice spell and a lack of new abilities to replace it — newcomer Chaos Bolt simply doesn’t do enough to close the gap.

Our single-target damage is decent, and our AoE damage is still very competitive. Yet, we simply do not excel in either category. This is further compounded by the fact that Destruction has virtually non-existent utility in WotLK — the only Destruction-exclusive utility we have is Replenishment (Improved Soul Leech), which is also offered by significantly stronger specs. We, of course, have access to Warlock staples, like Demonic Soulstones, but our other specs are better, so there’s unfortunately no reason to bring a Demonology Warlock.

Destruction sees a brief jump in power during Phase 2, reaching the A-tier temporarily. So, if you enjoy Destruction, you could stick with it for a while. However, only the biggest Destruction die-hards will play Destruction past that point, as most of the Warlocks will gravitate towards our other specs.

Fury Warrior

A titan has fallen. Fury went from the #1 single-target and top-3 cleave DPS spec in TBC, to the pits of the C-tier during WotLK’s Phase 1. “How could that even happen?” some may ask, since barely anything changes for Fury in the expansion. If anything, our weapons are bigger thanks to Titan’s Grip, and we get instant Slams with Bloodsurge, so we should be stronger, surely?

It’s tragic, but all of our damage is physical, and there’s almost no armor penetration in Phase 1, so our powerful 2-handers hit like wet noodles. Our single-target damage is comparable to Arms, but their cleave damage is significantly better, so Fury tragically finds itself replaced by our traditionally weaker brother. It should be noted that our cleave damage is still okay, so it could be argued that we’re perfectly viable, but Arms’ is just better.

Our utility is nothing to write home about either. We gain access to the 5% crit buff with Rampage, but Feral Druids still have it and are all-around way better than us, so we usually don’t even pick up the talent. Meanwhile, our Battle Shout no longer stacks with Blessing of Might, so our utility has seen an overall nerf, which puts the last nail on our titanic coffin.

The good news is, this is all temporary. Fury Warriors famously have the best scaling in the game next to Fire Mages, becoming better with every phase. Every single phase sees us jump up a tier, until we’re finally the strongest DPS spec in the game during Phase 4 — truly a “zero to hero” line of evolution. So, if you’re looking for a DPS spec to play, don’t let Fury’s low place in the Phase 1 rankings deceive you — it just takes a while for it to reach its potential.

Beast Mastery Hunter

Beast Mastery is last in the line of specializations that fell from grace. An S-tier single-target DPS spec in TBC, now near the bottom of the totem pole in Wrath. How did things go so wrong?

You may have heard this story before, but all of BM Hunter’s damage is physical, so the lack of armor penetration on Phase 1 gear cripples us. Our only major change is the addition of Beast Mastery, which pushes our single-target damage to acceptable levels (at best), while doing nothing for our sub-par cleave and AoE damage. Ret Paladins also offer our BM-exclusive utility, Ferocious Inspiration, so there’s no real reason to play BM over any of our other specs.

Unlike many of the other “fallen titan” specs that find themselves lower in the DPS rankings than where they used to be, things don’t ever get better for BM. Our damage is never truly and utterly garbage, but it’s never good either — meaning that only the most dedicated Beast Masters will run this spec.

D-Tier

Simply put, specs in the D-tier are considered to be not viable. They can be fun to play, but you will struggle to get invited to raids when playing one of these, and you may even find yourself getting kicked from groups, as your damage will be really bad.

Blood Death Knight

Blizzard tried their best to make all 3 of the Death Knight specializations viable as both tanks and DPS. At the start of the expansion, Blood was actually the strongest DPS spec, since Death Knights in general were wildly overpowered. However, in Classic, we have to play on the last patch of the expansion, which sees Blood’s DPS nerfed to being completely lackluster. This spec shines as a tank instead, due to a plethora of self-healing and mitigation abilities which give it a distinct edge over other specs when it comes to tanking.

Yet, our damage is the worst in the game, plainly put — both single-target & cleave. However, it can be argued that we’re better than the other D-tier specs due to our exclusive access to Hysteria, the most powerful buff in the game. Sadly, though, a tank Blood DK can offer this buff all the same, and no sane guild will bring a DPS Blood DK just for an extra Hysteria.

Blood DPS is sadly a meme, and not all memes can be dreams. If you’re interested in a DPS spec that can moonlight as a tank, have a look at Feral Druids — they’re actually very good.

Subtlety Rogue

Subtlety is traditionally a PvP-focused spec, and Blizzard made no effort to change that in WotLK. Our new cooldown, Shadow Dance, gives us okay damage for 8 seconds, but then we go back to dealing some of the worst damage in the game. Coupled with the fact that Subtlety has no unique utility whatsoever, you get a highly undesirable spec for PvE.

Frost Mage

Frost Mages cause terror on their enemies inside battlegrounds and the arena… but, unfortunately, their reign of terror does not extend beyond PvP, as they’re an awful PvE spec. Blizzard made an effort to make us more PvE-viable with Deep Freeze, but it was simply not enough — our single target damage is so low that several classes can beat us while half-AFK.

s tier dps rankings
a tier dps rankings
b tier dps rankings
c tier dps rankings
d tier dps rankings
  1. Feral Druid (S-Tier)
  2. Combat Rogue (S-Tier)
  3. Affliction Warlock (A-Tier)
  4. Demonology Warlock (A-Tier)
  5. Assassination Rogue (A-Tier)
  6. Unholy Death Knight (A-Tier)
  7. Frost Death Knight (A-Tier)
  8. Arcane Mage (A-Tier)
  9. Survival Hunter (A-Tier)
  10. Marksmanship Hunter (A-Tier)
  11. Fire Mage (A-Tier)
  12. Destruction Warlock (B-Tier)
  13. Retribution Paladin (B-Tier)
  14. Balance Druid (B-Tier)
  15. Fury Warrior (B-Tier)
  16. Shadow Priest (B-Tier)
  17. Elemental Shaman (B-Tier)
  18. Enhancement Shaman (C-Tier)
  19. Arms Warrior (C-Tier)
  20. Beast Mastery Hunter (C-Tier)
  21. Blood Death Knight (D-Tier)
  22. Frost Mage (D-Tier)
  23. Subtlety Rogue (D-Tier)

Armor penetration starts become more common in Phase 2 with the introduction of the Ulduar raid, which means that physical DPS classes are starting to ascend towards their most powerful states. Everyone gets a little bit stronger, and specs with good scaling in particular start moving higher in the DPS rankings.

The main difference of this raid tier compared to Phase 1 is that there are a lot of AoE- and cleave-type fights in Ulduar. This has major implications on the metagame, with some big winners (as you can see on the tier list!), and some specs that are visibly starting to lag behind.

S-Tier

The S-Tier represents the most powerful classes in the current meta – those with the highest damage and utility. These specializations are usually recruited in larger numbers due to their outstanding performance.

Feral Druid

Like a predator pouncing suddenly from within the darkness, Feral Druids leap straight onto the top spot of the S-tier in Phase 2. This is owed in part to armor penetration starting to find its way onto equipment.

The main reason, however, is that both of the set bonuses of our new Tier 8 set (Nightsong Battlegear) are absolutely amazing. They help our single-target damage a ton but, more importantly, they push our already stellar AoE damage to realms other specs simply cannot tread into. Swipe (Cat)‘s main drawback is the high energy cost, which is now circumvented by the fact that you’re procing Clearcasting constantly thanks to the 2-set bonus. This allows you to spam Swipe (Cat) like there’s no tomorrow, topping the DPS meters comfortably on the many AoE-heavy fights.

Combat Rogue

Combat Rogues humbled themselves long enough, and now bid goodbye to the lower tiers for good as they return to the S-tier, where they rightfully belong in Phase 2. This is in part because of our superb scaling and the armor penetration stat finally becoming more widely available, but largely because of our new Tier 8 set (Terrorblade Battlegear) with its 2 fantastic set bonuses.

Both of these set bonuses are great for our single-target damage, where we’ll typically be unrivaled. However, the 2-piece set bonuses have major implications on our AoE damage. Our Fan of Knives ability already does top levels of AoE damage, but the fact that it applies your poisons (including Deadly Poison for the 2-set bonus effect) means you’ll also be constantly regenerating a high amount of energy on AoE-heavy fights, thus overcoming Fan of Knives‘ major weakness — its high energy cost. You won’t be putting out quite as much damage as Ferals with their Swipe (Cat) spam, but we have the superior single-target damage, so, overall, we remain extremely competitive within this tier.

A-Tier

The A-Tier represents strong DPS specializations that offer a great amount of damage and utility, but not offering the best possible damage output. They will be found in almost every raid group and it will be common to see more than one of each.

Affliction Warlock

Affliction remains incredibly strong in Phase 2 and, in fact, it could very easily be argued that they’re a low S-tier rather than the best A-tier spec; the reason why is no mystery: there are a lot of great haste items in Phase 2, such as the Scales of Fate trinket, with haste greatly boosting our damage. In addition, our Tier 8 set (Deathbringer Garb) has 2 very solid set bonuses which elevate both our single-target and cleave damage.

Affliction remains very much a “jack of all trades, master of none” type of a spec. We have incredible single-target, cleave, and AoE damage, meaning there’s no fight where we perform poorly but, conversely, we usually won’t be at the #1 spot either. The 2-set bonus improves our single-target and cleave by a modest amount thanks to the boost to Unstable Affliction, while Seed of Corruption ensures we remain incredibly competitive on AoE fights — which Ulduar has a whole lot of.

Demonology Warlock

Demonology is in an interesting spot in Phase 2. On one hand, fights are starting to get longer, so we experience a slight drop-off in damage due to having a lower uptime on Metamorphosis. On the other hand, there are a lot of AoE-heavy fights, allowing us to spam Seed of Corruption with Immolation Aura for some incredibly high burst AoE damage. So, while we don’t gain quite as much out of our Tier 8 set (Deathbringer Garb) as the other 2 specs do, Demonology is still very competitive, finding itself near the top of the A-tier.

Furthermore, as our gear sees improvements, so does our Demonic Pact — the main reason why many caster-heavy raids will be bringing a Demo Warlock anyway. So, while our single-target starts to noticeably fall behind, you have no reason to fear as a Demo Warlock at all.

Assassination Rogue

Assassination Rogues have to bitterly watch our Combat brothers steal our S-tier spot, as we find ourselves somewhere in the middle of the A-tier instead in Phase 2. The main culprits for this are, of course, our inferior scaling and the fact that we don’t gain as much out of the Tier 8 set’s (Terrorblade Battlegear) 4-set bonus, as we normally prefer using Envenom over Rupture, which Combat has natively used anyway.

Your single-target damage will still be superb as Assassination, and your AoE damage will be top-tier, as we still get to exploit the 2-set’s Fan of Knives boosting gimmick with Deadly Poison, which we apply more often than Combat anyway. However, Combat beats us slightly in single-target damage, and significantly so in cleave damage, meaning that we are unfortunately rather redundant as a spec — though, you could still play Assassination if you enjoy the playstyle, as it’s very viable.

Unholy Death Knight

Unholy finds itself near the middle of the A-tier in Phase 2. Both of our new Tier 8 set’s (Darkruned Battlegear) set bonuses and addition of strong armor penetration items (such as Mjolnir Runestone) help keep our single-target damage highly competitive. However, it’s in the multiple AoE fights of this phase where we truly shine.

Monsters have higher health in this Phase, so we finally get to use our diseases to the fullest. Meanwhile, the sheer number of enemies you get to disease in many fights causes some of our stronger AoE talents, like Wandering Plague, to truly take off in damage, coupled with our improved critical strike chance due to gear. While Frost will have a tiny leg up over us on single-target, we finally get a small jump over them in AoE fights.

Frost Death Knight

Frost Death Knights remain extremely competitive in Phase 2, finding ourselves right alongside our Unholy brethren in the middle of the A-tier. While we don’t gain as much of a benefit out of the armor penetration stat found on Phase 2 gear, the Tier 8 set (Darkruned Battlegear) has 2 incredible set bonuses for Frost.

Our single-target damage is still top-tier in this phase, as we continue to hit like absolute trucks. However, our cleave and AoE damage starts to lag very slightly behind what Unholy can do, as our Howling Blast‘s 8-second cooldown means we don’t get to spam it as much as we’d like. Still, there’s no way you could call Frost’s damage poor by any metric so, if you enjoy the playstyle, there’s no real reason to swap to Unholy if you don’t want to.

Arcane Mage

Mages get 2 seriously powerful set bonuses out of the new Tier 8 set (Kirin Tor Garb) obtainable in Ulduar, and Arcane gets great use out of both of them. However, fights start to get a bit longer in this phase, meaning our mana problems start showing up.

Your single-target damage will still be incredible as an Arcane Mage. Your AoE damage will also be pretty good, but the fact that we have to be right in the middle of the action to use it due to Arcane Explosion‘s low range can be problematic. However, as mentioned previously, it’s the fact that you can now start running out of mana unless you get Innervate that holds our potential back in this phase.

Survival Hunter 

Survival Hunters start lagging behind in Phase 2, as we simply don’t scale as well as some of the other specs, and we don’t get as much out of armor penetration as they do. Our Tier 8 set’s (Scourgestalker Battlegear) 4-set bonus is pretty strong, but it benefits Marksmanship more than us. Still, our damage is decent, landing us solidly in the A-tier — albeit near the bottom of it.

While our single-target is now noticeably falling behind Marksmanship’s, we do have a very important gimmick: our primary nuke, Explosive Shot, deals AoE damage, so we’d always be very good in this AoE-heavy phase. One thing that should be said, however, is that it becomes a lot more dangerous to lay down Explosive Traps in this phase. So, while our AoE overall is incredible, it’s not as convenient as for some of the stronger AoE specs above us.

Marksmanship Hunter

Marksmanship once again finds itself in a solid position, just behind our Survival brothers, near the bottom of the A-tier. We’re starting to carve out a very decent niche for ourselves thanks to our amazing single-target damage brought about by our superior scaling, new armor penetration items (such as Mjolnir Runestone), and the powerful 4-piece set bonus of our Tier 8 set, Scourgestalker Battlegear.

Our single-target damage is starting to get noticeably better than Survival’s, though we can’t quite keep up with their incredible AoE damage. Still, the 2 specs are so close to each other in power that, if you prefer Marksmanship over Survival, you could switch during this phase — though, it’s recommended that you pick up some Ulduar gear before doing so.

Fire Mage

And so begins the ascent of the Fire spec! Being one of the best-scaling specs in the game we obviously benefit tremendously from our gear improvements in Phase 2, with our critical strike chance increasing and thus giving us more and more Hot Streak. Coupled with the incredibly powerful set bonuses found on the new Tier 8 set (Kirin Tor Garb) we can obtain in Ulduar, Fire Mage finally manages to reach the A-tier, albeit barely so.

Arcane still has the superior single-target damage, though, as mentioned in their section, they’re starting to get held back by their mana issues. However, Fire has slightly better AoE damage, thanks to being able to use Flamestrike from afar. You’ll still likely see better performance by staying Arcane in this phase, but every single Ulduar item you get shrinks that gap a little, and by the time you’re fully Ulduar-geared, you could switch to Fire without any issues if you prefer the playstyle, or want to prepare in advance for the phases to come.

B-Tier

The B-Tier represents mediocre damage specializations. They are still considered viable, as they do a decent amount of damage, but they typically cannot compete with the A-tier specs on the damage meters. However, in many cases they provide valuable raid buffs that make them worth bringing anyway, as their utility makes up for their deficiency in raw damage.

Destruction Warlock

Destruction sees a temporary surge in power in Phase 2, surprisingly finding itself at the top of the B-tier as a spec that’s commonly considered “bad”. This is partly because both of the Tier 8 set’s (Deathbringer Garb) set bonuses are very good for Destruction. More importantly, however, is that we have access to something that very, very few other specs do: an AoE stun in the form of Shadowfury, with a pretty low cooldown to boot. This is incredibly useful on this phase, as it finally introduces hard-mode versions of fights that pose a greater challenge, and having an AoE stun there makes them significantly easier to manage.

Our single-target and cleave damage is just about average, and our AoE damage won’t be anywhere near as strong as the other 2 specs. So, if it wasn’t for the Shadowfury AoE stun gimmick, there’d be no reason to ever play Destruction in this phase. However, many hard-mode oriented guilds may decide to bring one for the stun, so Destruction will finally see some play — at least temporarily.

Retribution Paladin 

Retribution holds steady in the B-tier. Our Tier 8 set (Aegis Battlegear) lacks any impressive set bonuses similar to what some of the higher tier specs get. Moreover, our Divine Storm is limited to only damaging up to 4 targets — meaning we’re great on those cleave fights, but not so much on AoE fights. Still, things aren’t worse for Ret Paladins either, and their incredible utility means that they’ll still be very commonly brought to raids.

Balance Druid

Balance drops into the B-tier in Phase 2. Despite 2 incredible set bonuses on our Tier 8 set (Nightsong Garb), we lack the single-target damage to compete with some of the “big boys” above us. However, thanks to Starfall, we have great AoE damage during an AoE-heavy raid tier, meaning you’ll very often find yourself decently high on the damage meters. Coupled with the fact that our utility is still highly desirable, Balance remains a very strong spec overall.

Fury Warrior

It’s taking us a while, but Fury Warriors are starting to get, well, furious! When we are equipped with Ulduar BiS gear (including the new Mjolnir Runestone and its tasty armor penetration proc!) we can do some incredible single-target damage. As Fury, we also get a lot of use out of the Tier 8 set’s (Siegebreaker Battlegear) 2-set bonus. Our cleave damage is still exceptional as well, though our AoE damage is highly lacking, which means we’re simply not favoured by the meta during this phase. Still, our damage is finally good enough for us to claim the spot of the strongest DPS spec from Arms, and for you to start seeing yourself “up there” on the damage meters.

Shadow Priest

Shadow is in an incredibly similar boat to our fellow hybrid DPS brothers, Balance Druids. Despite 2 very strong set bonuses on our new Tier 8 set (Sanctification Garb), we simply lack the single-target damage we’d need to compete with the DPS superstars, so we drop to the B-tier. However, we make up for this flaw by having excellent cleave damage (thanks to multi-dotting) and AoE damage (thanks to Mind Sear). That, along with our strong utility, renders us a very desirable spec for raids.

Elemental Shaman

Elemental Shamans get 2 very decent set bonuses with the new Tier 8 set, Worldbreaker Garb. However, compounded by our mediocre scaling, neither of these bonuses really boost our damage to the point where we can complete with most of the specs listed above, hence our position at the bottom of the B-tier. Furthermore, we also don’t really have all that much AoE damage to speak of, so we can’t take advantage of Ulduar’s AoE meta. Regardless, you’re unlikely to lose your raid spot as an Elemental Shaman if your raid is bringing you for the totem buffs, as those are still vital. Yet, you probably won’t be topping meters on most fights.

C-Tier

The specializations that make up the C-Tier are on the weaker side of the DPS spectrum. They can still be considered viable, occasionally offering useful buffs and debuffs, and can very often be very fun to play. However, you aren’t likely to be on the top places of DPS meters with these specs, and you won’t have the easiest time finding a raid group, as they aren’t in high demand.

Enhancement Shaman 

Enhancement gets 2 incredibly powerful set bonuses from our Tier 8 set (Worldbreaker Battlegear), and decent use out of the additional armor penetration we gain in Phase 2. As a result, we have some incredibly solid single-target damage… and, sadly, nothing else. Ulduar fights are very heavily slanted towards cleave or AoE damage and, as we have almost none of that, we suffer, thus finding ourselves on the top of the C-tier. If your raid brought you along for your totem buffs in Phase 1, they’ll likely still continue doing so, but don’t expect to see yourself near the top of the damage meters on any of these AoE-heavy fights.

Arms Warrior

Arms finds itself in the very unfortunate position of being outclassed by Fury, which has now ascended to the B-tier, while we remain firmly in the C-tier. We have a lot of the same upsides that Fury does — armor penetration items such as Mjolnir Runestone help us a lot, and both Tier 8 set bonuses (Siegebreaker Battlegear) are great. Our cleave damage is still great, but our single-target damage is starting to fall off. As a result, most Warriors will likely be switching to Fury in this phase, after they’ve gotten a few upgrades and a 2nd powerful two-handed weapon.

Beast Mastery Hunter

Nothing has really changed for Beast Mastery, as it finds itself at the bottom of the C-tier once again. The Tier 8 set’s (Scourgestalker Battlegear) set bonuses aren’t particularly amazing for Beast Mastery, and we lack the scaling to keep up with the other specs, so it remains a fairly redundant spec that only the most die-hard Beast Masters will play. Its damage teeters on the edge of viability, which isn’t really a compliment.

D-Tier

Simply put, specs in the D-tier are considered to be not viable. They can be fun to play, but you will struggle to get invited to raids when playing one of these, and you may even find yourself getting kicked from groups, as your damage will be really bad.

Blood Death Knight

The gap between Blood’s damage and that of the other DK specializations becomes larger in this phase, as we sorely lack any AoE tools. We still offer an extra Hysteria buff, but tank Blood can do that all the same, so there’s just no reason to play Blood DPS, unfortunately. If you’re interested in playing a class / spec that can alternate between a tank and DPS, try Feral — they’re extremely powerful damage dealers.

Frost Mage

Nothing changes for Frost — it still suffers from poor damage due to a large PvP focus on a lot of its talents. It has decent AoE, but that does not begin to patch up its horrible single-target damage.

Subtlety Rogue

Subtlety is in the same boat as Frost is for Mages — the majority of our talents are tailored for PvP, so in the D-tier we remain. While we have access to Fan of Knives all the same (as the other Rogue specializations), we have no talents to make it stronger. So, we have by far the worst version, along with terrible single-target damage and non-existent cleave damage.

s tier dps rankings
a tier dps rankings
b tier dps rankings
c tier dps rankings
d tier dps rankings
  1. Frost Death Knight (S-Tier)
  2. Unholy Death Knight (S-Tier)
  3. Fire Mage (S-Tier)
  4. Marksmanship Hunter (S-Tier)
  5. Arcane Mage (A-Tier)
  6. Combat Rogue (A-Tier)
  7. Fury Warrior (A-Tier)
  8. Feral Druid (A-Tier)
  9. Assassination Rogue (A-Tier)
  10. Survival Hunter (A-Tier)
  11. Retribution Paladin (A-Tier)
  12. Shadow Priest (B-Tier)
  13. Balance Druid (B-Tier)
  14. Affliction Warlock (B-Tier)
  15. Demonology Warlock (B-Tier)
  16. Enhancement Shaman (B-Tier)
  17. Elemental Shaman (B-Tier)
  18. Destruction Warlock (C-Tier)
  19. Arms Warrior (C-Tier)
  20. Beast Mastery Hunter (C-Tier)
  21. Blood Death Knight (D-Tier)
  22. Subtlety Rogue (D-Tier)
  23. Frost Mage (D-Tier)

The third phase of Wrath of the Lich King sees the introduction of the Trial of the Crusader raid, a mini-raid that not many players remember very fondly, and the return of Onyxia from Classic, as a level 80 raid boss.

Almost all of the bosses of Trial of the Crusader raid are cleave-type fights, featuring 1-4 adds, while the rest are single-target fights. This greatly slants the meta in favour of specs with stronger single-target and cleave-type damage, while AoE-focused specs unfortunately suffer. Meanwhile, armor penetration is now found as a passive stat on gear rather than a trinket proc, and equipment is overall way stronger in this phase, which greatly favours physical damage dealers, and specs with good scaling respectively.

S-Tier

The S-Tier represents the most powerful classes in the current meta – those with the highest damage and utility. These specializations are usually recruited in larger numbers due to their outstanding performance.

Frost Death Knight

Those who played during WotLK may remember that the Death Knight Tier 9 set, Thassarian’s Battlegear, got nerfed very quickly after TotC was released, as the set bonuses were incredibly overpowered. The good news here are that, even with the nerfed set bonus, Frost DKs are extremely powerful, finding themselves on the top spot of the S-tier, as both set bonuses remain extremely strong.

With armor penetration found all over Phase 3 gear, Frost DKs get to deal an ungodly amount of single-target damage, meaning they are highly favoured by the meta. Our Unholy brothers located just one spot below us tend to have slightly superior cleave damage, but our single-target superiority gives us the top spot. Many raids will be heavily stacking Frost DKs in this phase.

Unholy Death Knight

Just like with our Frost brothers, the DK Tier 9 set, Thassarian’s Battlegear, confers extremely powerful set bonuses on us that propel us straight into the S-tier. The 4-set bonus in specific previously used to affect Icy Touch as well (a Frost staple), and was quickly nerfed to only affect Blood Plague, which is our domain — meaning we arguably get a superior benefit to them.

The presence of armor penetration as a regular stat on Phase 3 gear also does wonders for us, greatly increasing the damage of our auto-attacks and a lot of our abilities, so our single-target damage is stellar. Furthermore, the Trial of the Crusader raid consisting primarily of cleave-type fights means we get to go to town with Pestilence and Wandering Plague, topping damage meters. Our Frost brothers have slightly better single-target damage, so some may gravitate towards that spec, but the difference is minimal. So, if you prefer the Unholy playstyle, by all means, go for it.

Fire Mage

Fire Mages have finally gathered their power and are terrible on unleashing awe-inspiring critical strikes on their foes, all while sitting on their rightful throne in the S-tier. With TotC gear giving us upwards of 45-50% crit chance, our Hot Streak activates repeatedly for massive damage, as we finally overtake Arcane in nearly every single aspect. It obviously helps a lot that both of our Tier 9 set’s (Khadgar’s Regalia) set bonuses were practically designed for Fire!

Our single-target damage is in a league of its own, with very few classes capable of catching up to us, particularly when we get decent luck with critical strikes. Furthermore, while our cleave damage isn’t the highest in the game, the ability to apply Living Bomb on multiple targets and then spamming Pyroblasts means we’re not doing bad at all in that department either. Most Mages will swap to Fire here for this reason, and many guilds will start stacking Fire Mages.

Marksmanship Hunter

Marksmanship Hunters have risen up! After hovering in the A-tier for a while, the copious amounts of armor penetration gear they can get in the Trial of the Crusade raid, coupled with their exceptional scaling, allows them to break through the A-tier’s ceiling and enter the prestigious S-tier. Their scaling is so strong, in fact, that they can completely ignore the fact that both of their Tier 10 (Windrunner’s Battlegear) set bonuses are completely terrible for Marksmanship.

Marksmanship excels at single-target damage, particularly the burst damage. Unlike many of the other ranged DPS specs, they aren’t really penalized by having to move, as most of their spells are instant cast anyway — which is a very big bonus in TotC, with many of the fights requiring frequent movement. Their cleave damage is limited to Multi-Shot, which isn’t the strongest cleave ability out there, but the overall damage you deal will be good enough that that’s not a major issue. Most Survival Hunters will swap to Marksmanship in this phase, and it’ll be common to see a couple per raid.

A-Tier

The A-Tier represents strong DPS specializations that offer a great amount of damage and utility, but not offering the best possible damage output. They will be found in almost every raid group and it will be common to see more than one of each.

Arcane Mage

Phase 3 fights typically aren’t too long, and single-target damage plays a big role in nearly all of them. This is the ideal situation for Arcane Mages, which is why they’re on the top of the A-tier. But, unfortunately, our Fire brothers take off so quickly during this phase, that most Arcane Mages won’t have time to enjoy their Arcane Blast crits, as they prepare to switch to Fire. It doesn’t help that both of the Tier 9 set’s (Khadgar’s Regalia) set bonuses are significantly more beneficial for Fire than they are for Arcane.

Our single-target damage is more than just fine — it’s great. Only the S-tier specs will consistently manage to match or surpass us, which is very good news for us. However, we do suffer from a complete lack of cleave damage, and our damage suffers massively when moving, which makes playing Arcane significantly harder in Phase 3. The reward for playing well is, sadly, worse than it would be if you were Fire, so most Arcane mages will respec after they get close to that 45-50% crit chance point, despite doing very respectable damage as Arcane.

Combat Rogue 

After getting a glimpse of the S-tier, Combat Rogues are unfortunately knocked down to the upper echelons of the A-tier in Phase 3. Some may be wondering why this is, given that TotC gear is incredibly powerful and absolutely loaded with armor penetration, which are ideal circumstances for Combat. Part of the answer to that question is that our Tier 9 set’s (VanCleef’s Battlegear) set bonuses are both just kinda “meh” when compared to the absolutely bonkers set bonuses that some of the specs above us get.

Don’t get me wrong, our single-target damage is still incredible, as is our AoE damage — that hasn’t changed at all since last phase. However, we also suffer from a relative lack of reliable cleave damage when compared to the specs ranked above us. On 4+ targets, we become DPS gods with Fan of Knives, but against 2-3 targets we only really have Blade Flurry to work with, which is good, but doesn’t really compare to what some other specs have. Still, Combat Rogues are incredibly powerful, and it won’t be rare to see 2-3 of them per raid in Phase 3.

Fury Warrior

Observant readers may have noticed that Fury has crept up a tier yet again, finally managing to find its way into the A-tier. And it’s no mystery why: Phase 3 gear is loaded with armor penetration, which is to Fury what jet fuel is to airplanes. Blizzard is conspiring to keep us down, with our Tier 9 set (Wrynn’s Battlegear) having 2 completely lukewarm set bonuses, when compared to what some of the other kids at school got for Christmas.

Fury’s single-target damage is starting to ramp up. It’s still not quite “up there” with Death Knights, Fire Mages, and Marksmanship Hunters, but it’s very respectable. However, in this particular phase, their exceptional cleave damage will carry them to the upper ranks of the DPS meters. If you hesitated to switch from Arms last phase, don’t hesitate any longer — grab yourself a second two-handed weapon and go Fury. Most raids will be happy to take 2-3, particularly in preparation for the next phase.

Feral Druid

Feral Druids suffer a temporary setback in Phase 3, as they drop from the top spot of the S-tier, to the middle of the A-tier. Unfortunately, the abundance of armor penetration on TotC gear, which greatly enhances their damage, cannot really make up for their below-average Tier 9 (Malfurion’s Battlegear) set bonuses.

The main issue Ferals have is similar to phase 1: a lack of cleave. Our single-target damage is great, but Swipe (Cat) doesn’t have the best damage efficiency when you only get to hit 2-3 targets with it. It’s still very much decent, but the specs above us simply have better options in that area. Still, you won’t see people swap out of Feral or anything like that — it’s very much a strong, more-than-viable spec, it just doesn’t smash the competition as badly as it did in AoE-filled Phase 2.

Assassination Rogue

Assassination Rogues are in a pretty peculiar spot in Phase 3. Their single-target damage is good, great even, entirely capable of keeping up with some of the “big boys”, hence our position in the A-tier. However, they’re slowly deflating, like those balloons you never took down after your kid’s 6th birthday party because it was too much work. The thing that made them really strong in Phase 1 — their Nature damage ignoring armor — is quickly becoming their greatest weakness, as they don’t get the massive benefit of armor penetration that Combat Rogues and other melee DPS specs get.

As mentioned previously, your single-target will be fine — despite the lack of armor penetration scaling, and the 2 terrible set bonuses on our Tier 9 set, VanCleef’s Battlegear, not doing much for us at all. The main thing holding us back here is the lack of reliable cleave damage to keep up on these cleave-heavy fights. Stacking up poisons and bleeds really just doesn’t work as well as it sounds, unfortunately, rendering Assassination obsolete.

Survival Hunter 

Survival is in a very awkward spot in this phase, similar to Assassination Rogues, though they arguably have it slightly better. Our poor scaling is starting to show itself, as our main strength from Phase 1 — our magical damage which ignores armor — leaves us unable to scale with the large amounts of armor penetration found on Phase 3 gear. Furthermore, just like with our MM brothers, our Tier 10 (Windrunner’s Battlegear) set bonuses do next to nothing for us, which makes things even worse.

We have the opposite issue of Marksmanship in many respects — our single-target damage is “meh”, but our cleave and AoE damage is very decent, thanks to Explosive Shot dealing AoE-damage. This is the only reason why we’re in the A-tier, even though our single-target damage would qualify us for the B-tier, or even C-tier. We also have the same strength that MM Hunters have: nearly all of our abilities are instant, so we fare far better than other ranged DPS specs when a fight demands that we move. However, in all honesty, MM will perform better than us in most cases, and thus most Survival Hunters will switch to MM in Phase 3, after getting some solid armor penetration pieces.

Retribution Paladin

After a lot of effort, Retribution manages to climb into the bottom levels of the A-tier… though, just barely. Everything is stacked up against the poor Ret in Phase 3, which honestly makes it impressive that they even got up here. Their scaling is alright, but they don’t get as much benefit out of the new armor penetration gear in Phase 3, since a large portion of their damage is Holy, which ignores armor anyway. Furthermore, Blizzard seems determined to hold Retribution down, as the set bonuses on their Tier 10 set (Turalyon’s Battlegear) are both unimpressive.

The one thing Rets really have going for them is their powerful cleave damage, thanks to Divine Storm. Adds will very often not have armor-reducing debuffs on them for a while, and thus Divine Storm‘s Holy damage which ignores armor will be a major asset for Rets. Unfortunately, that’s where the benefits end, as Ret single-target damage is B-tier. But, their good cleave damage, coupled with their extensive utility, largely justifies their raid spot. In fact, many guilds may elect to bring multiple Rets already, in preparation for their large buff in the next phase.

B-Tier

The B-Tier represents mediocre damage specializations. They are still considered viable, as they do a decent amount of damage, but they typically cannot compete with the A-tier specs on the damage meters. However, in many cases they provide valuable raid buffs that make them worth bringing anyway, as their utility makes up for their deficiency in raw damage.

Shadow Priest

Shadow Priests are a mixed bag in Phase 3. On one hand, their single-target damage remains lacklustre, due to average scaling and 2 mostly uninspiring set bonuses on their Tier 9 set, Velen’s Regalia. On the other hand, the boss encounters in this phase are an absolute godsend to them — most fights have multiple targets for them to DoT up, thus “hiding” their main weakness. While not reaching the top of the DPS meters, they’ll typically be very highly competitive, while still offering some incredibly strong utility.

Balance Druid

Boomkins hold steady at the upper ranks of the B-tier. Their Tier 9 set’s (Malfurion’s Regalia) set bonuses are decent but, just like it has been the case since Phase 1, they lack the single-target damage to keep up. Thankfully, most fights in this tier are cleave-heavy so, just like with Shadow Priests, they can largely hide this weakness using Starfall and their damage-over-time spells. You won’t be reaching the top spots of the DPS meters as a Boomkin, but you’ll be doing very well anyway, and everyone in the raid will love you for your utility.

Affliction Warlock

Affliction Warlock suffered a very unfortunate accident while riding their bicycle around town, tripping and falling, breaking a couple of bones in the process. The doctor has prescribed a temporary stay in the B-tier for them, at least for a couple of months, while the bones heal. In the doctor’s words, “I’m sorry, little Timmy, but Drain Life cannot actually fix a broken kneecap.”

All jokes aside, Blizzard played a bit of a prank on Affliction Warlocks here: the Tier 10 set’s (Kel’Thuzad’s Regalia) 2-set bonus buffs pets, which Affliction doesn’t care too much for, and the 4-set bonus buffs 3 of our DoTs by 10% — which is nice for Affliction, but nowhere near as big as what some of the other classes are getting in this tier. Therefore, while their damage is by no means bad, they fail to excel in any one area. Additionally, with Fire Mages rising to the S-tier, we now have significantly more loot competition, so we temporarily have to chill in a lower tier.

Demonology Warlock

Demonology doesn’t fare any better than Affliction, also finding itself in the B-tier. Some may be perplexed by this, seeing how the Tier 10 set’s (Kel’Thuzad’s Regalia) 2-set bonus is basically tailor-made for Demonology but, the truth is, that only boosts our single-target damage — the area where we aren’t particularly strong regardless. Furthermore, our cleave damage is significantly less impressive than our AoE damage was last phase, and, as a result, Demonology Warlocks in Phase 3 are mostly there for the Demonic Pact buff, as their damage noticeably falls off.

Enhancement Shaman 

There are lot of mixed emotions for Enhancement in this phase. For one, single-target damage is significantly more important than it was in last phase, and that’s an area where Enhancement does decently well in — particularly as armor penetration, now found all over their gear, helps their damage a good bit. However, cleave is also very important in this phase, and as Enhancement we have very little of it — a fact that stings more when you notice that our Tier 10 set’s (Thrall’s Battlegear) set bonuses both only boost our single-target damage. Like in the previous phase, it’s unlikely you’ll lose your spot as Enhancement if your guild needs your totem buffs, but the damage gap between you and the top dogs isn’t getting any smaller.

Elemental Shaman

A cleave-heavy phase! Hurray, says every Elemental Shaman ever, as they finally get a taste of that sweet, sweet B-tier. Elemental finally get some really good value out of their iconic Chain Lightning spell. This works to counter-balance their poor single-target damage, an issue that’s made all the worse by the subpar set bonuses on our Tier 10 set, Thrall’s Regalia. You won’t be topping meters any time soon as Elemental, but you will be doing better than in previous phases, while your utility remains a good reason for guilds to keep bringing you along if they’ve brought you before, when your damage was worse.

C-Tier

The specializations that make up the C-Tier are on the weaker side of the DPS spectrum. They can still be considered viable, occasionally offering useful buffs and debuffs, and can very often be very fun to play. However, you aren’t likely to be on the top places of DPS meters with these specs, and you won’t have the easiest time finding a raid group, as they aren’t in high demand.

Destruction Warlock

“All good things must come to an end”, goes the popular saying, and so our brief stint in the B-tier is over. Destruction continues doing unimpressive damage, as the Tier 10 set (Kel’Thuzad’s Regalia) doesn’t really patch up our weaknesses. We get a surprisingly good bit of value out of the 2-set bonus thanks to the Empowered Imp talent, but that’s nowhere near enough to patch up our non-existent cleave damage during a cleave-heavy phase — particularly as the 4-set bonus is “meh” for us, at best. With our Shadowfury gimmick being largely unneeded, most Warlocks will shift back to Affliction for this phase.

Arms Warrior

“Oh boy, a cleave-heavy phase?! And it’s raining armor penetration?! Even my mug has armor penetration on it?!” thought the Arms Warrior, looking at Phase 3. While those things are certainly true, and Arms is, indeed, a very potent cleave spec, the unfortunate reality is that our Tier 10 set (Wrynn’s Battlegear) has thoroughly unimpressive bonuses, which do absolutely nothing to patch up our atrocious single-target damage. You’ll top damage at the start of fight as you Bladestorm a couple of enemies, and then go back down to the bottom of the DPS meter. On the plus side, Fury’s doing great!

Beast Mastery Hunter

BM Hunters reading this are probably looking at the Tier 10 set’s (Windrunner’s Battlegear) 4-set bonus and getting excited for this phase. Yes, it’s a very strong proc, boosting our damage by a decent bit… but, unfortunately, it’s just not enough to put us on the damage meters for real. Our single-target is alright, serviceable for now, but our cleave isn’t really impressive enough for this to have an impact. Meanwhile, Marksmanship is truly taking off, landing on the S-tier, so there’s really no reason to be BM in Phase 3, unfortunately.

D-Tier

Simply put, specs in the D-tier are considered to be not viable. They can be fun to play, but you will struggle to get invited to raids when playing one of these, and you may even find yourself getting kicked from groups, as your damage will be really bad.

Blood Death Knight

The Death Knight Tier 9 set (Thassarian’s Battlegear) is extremely powerful, but even that is sadly not enough to bring our damage to par with some of the weakest damage-dealing specs out there. Hysteria will still be the only reason to bring an extra Blood DK along, but the sad reality is that they’d be better off as a tank anyway.

Subtlety Rogue

The PvP-ish encounter in the Trial of the Crusader raid might have you thinking that there’s merit in bringing the PvP-focused Rogue specialization along, but, alas… no. The damage is still just too bad.

Frost Mage

Just like with Subtlety, having a Frost Mage won’t help you with the pseudo-PvP boss fight here, unfortunately. Go Fire, burn some monsters instead.

s tier dps rankings
a tier dps rankings
b tier dps rankings
c tier dps rankings
d tier dps rankings
  1. Fury Warrior (S-Tier)
  2. Fire Mage (S-Tier)
  3. Combat Rogue (S-Tier)
  4. Feral Druid (S-Tier)
  5. Retribution Paladin (S-Tier)
  6. Unholy Death Knight (A-Tier)
  7. Marksmanship Hunter (A-Tier)
  8. Affliction Warlock (A-Tier)
  9. Frost Death Knight (A-Tier)
  10. Shadow Priest (B-Tier)
  11. Balance Druid (B-Tier)
  12. Arcane Mage (B-Tier)
  13. Assassination Rogue (B-Tier)
  14. Demonology Warlock (B-Tier)
  15. Enhancement Shaman (C-Tier)
  16. Destruction Warlock (C-Tier)
  17. Survival Hunter (C-Tier)
  18. Elemental Shaman (C-Tier)
  19. Beast Mastery Hunter (C-Tier)
  20. Arms Warrior (D-Tier)
  21. Blood Death Knight (D-Tier)
  22. Subtlety Rogue (D-Tier)
  23. Frost Mage (D-Tier)

The last phase of Wrath of the Lich King sees the introduction of the raid that everyone has been waiting for: The Ruby Sanctum! Just kidding — we’re, of course, referring to the Icecrown Citadel, featuring the final battle against Arthas, the Lich King himself.

Our gear is at its absolute prime in this phase, with many of the scaling DPS classes finally maturing into their final, most powerful states. This holds doubly true for physical damage dealers, as Icecrown Citadel items are overflowing with the armor penetration stat, allowing them to hit like jet-powered trucks. The raid itself features a good balance of single-target, cleave, and AoE fights, so specs that excel at different types of damage will all get their turn in the spotlight.

S-Tier

The S-Tier represents the most powerful classes in the current meta – those with the highest damage and utility. These specializations are usually recruited in larger numbers due to their outstanding performance.

Fury Warrior

It took us a while, but we’re finally here, back at the top spot. All of the armor penetration on Icecrown Citadel gear, coupled with our great scaling makes Fury Warriors a force to be reckoned with, offering the best single-target and some of the best cleave damage in the game. Our Tier 10 set’s (Ymirjar Lord’s Battlegear) bonuses aren’t as game-breaking as some other class’ set bonuses, but we really don’t need them — we’re incredibly strong anyway.

Many guilds will choose to run multiple Fury Warriors at this point, as their damage is unparalleled. The main issue you’re likely to face in this phase is that there’s simply only so many Shadowmournes, and if you run multiple Furies along with Rets & DKs, you’ll likely have to wait a while before you truly “pop off” with your legendary weapon.

Fire Mage

Phase 4 gear gives us more crit than we know what to do with, allowing us to continue to be Hot Streak monsters in the S-tier. Our Tier 10 set (Bloodmage’s Regalia) having 2 incredible set bonuses is just the icing on the cake that is the Phase 4 for Fire Mages.

It should be said, however, that while Fire Mages have jaw-dropping single-target damage in this phase, many specs have us beat in the cleave department. Icecrown Citadel having a good amount of multi-target fights means that, in practice, you won’t be on the top as cleanly as Fury Warriors will. Still, this isn’t a very big issue, and many raids will elect to bring multiple Fire Mages in Phase 4, as having ranged damage dealers putting out this much DPS is a godsend.

Combat Rogue

Our brief stint in the A-tier is over, and in Phase 4 we return to our rightful place once more. Our Tier 10 set (Shadowblade’s Battlegear) doesn’t have truly broken set bonuses like what some of the other classes get, but our incredible scaling firmly carries us into the S-tier anyway.

We have outstanding single-target damage and decent cleave damage but, in Icecrown Citadel, our Fan of Knives does a lot of heavy lifting for us, as there’s lots and lots of AoEing to be done — an area where we actually beat the DPS specs ranked above us. Many raids will choose to bring multiple Combat Rogues in Phase 4, which is great, as it further allows us to improve our damage by trading the Tricks of the Trade buff with one another.

Feral Druid

Those pesky Death Knights knocked us off our throne during Phase 3, but we’re back with a feral vengeance. The abundance of armor penetration on gear during this phase, coupled with our bleed effects means armor barely affects us, improving our damage drastically. Furthermore, our Tier 10 set’s (Lasherweave Battlegear) 4-piece bonus gives us some extra crit scaling, which gives us that last push we needed to get back into the S-tier.

The issues we faced in previous phases still trouble us in Phase 4, however. Our single-target damage is top-tier and our AoE is amazing, there’s no doubt about that, but our cleave damage isn’t quite as good as some of the other specs in the S-tier — hence our position near the bottom of the S-tier. As a result, most guilds won’t be heavily stacking cats like they will be Fury Warriors, Fire Mages, and Combat Rogues, though our ability to off-tank when necessary still means we’re highly desirable regardless.

Retribution Paladin

Retribution Paladins have been waiting and biding their time, ready for this very moment. The newly-added Shadowmourne legendary weapon, along with our hilariously overpowered Tier 10 set’s (Lightsworn Battlegear) 2-piece bonus propel us from the realm of mediocrity straight into the S-tier, in a way that’s so thematically appropriate — we spring into the action right as we march up to Arthas’s doorstep.

Ret Paladin single-target damage is finally competitive. Our cleave damage, meanwhile, is simply outrageous, at a lack of a better term. In fights where there are consistently 2-4 targets, Retribution Paladins will stand at the very top. Coupled with our truly incredible utility, this makes Retribution Paladins an extremely desirable spec in Phase 4 — many guilds will typically bring 2-4 Retribution Paladins, so raid spots will be easy to come by.

A-Tier

The A-Tier represents strong DPS specializations that offer a great amount of damage and utility, but not offering the best possible damage output. They will be found in almost every raid group and it will be common to see more than one of each.

Unholy Death Knight

Phase 4 sees Unholy Death Knights drop from our status as overpowered DPS gods in Phase 3, to a more modest spot at the top of the A-tier. Phase 4 adds the legendary axe, Shadowmourne, which seriously pushes our damage capabilities. Notably, we finally get to come out of Frost’s shadow, firmly establishing ourselves as the strongest DK specialization for DPS in Phase 4.

The reason for this is simple: while our single-target damage remains about equal to Frost, an abundance of AoE- or cleave-heavy fights where the targets don’t die before our DoTs can tick finally give us the edge, as Pestilence propels us to heights that Frost simply cannot reach. We’re not quite as strong as some of the “big boys” above us, so raids likely won’t heavily stack Unholy DKs, but it won’t be uncommon to see 2-3 in a raid, as our formerly Frost comrades switch to Unholy.

Marksmanship Hunter

Marksmanship sees a slight drop in power in Phase 4, falling to the A-tier as some of the classes with better scaling overtake us. This is by no means a big drop, however, as we’re still near the top, offering some top-tier damage thanks to our very workable scaling and the abundance of armor penetration on Phase 4 equipment.

From a purely single-target damage perspective, Marksmanship would normally qualify for the S-tier, typically beating Feral Druids and Unholy DKs on some of the more melee-unfriendly fights. Yet, our main issue is that we don’t have the AoE and cleave damage that the specs above us offer, and Icecrown Citadel has a decent chunk of AoE-centric fights, meaning we don’t get to claim the top 4-5 DPS spots often. Regardless, our damage is more than fine, and Misdirection is a massive boon for any raid, so it won’t be hard to find a spot as an MM Hunter — we just won’t be stacked as much as some of the specs above us will.

Affliction Warlock

Our short slump in Phase 3 is over, as Affliction returns to the A-tier in Phase 4. And it’s not hard to see why: our Tier 10 set’s (Dark Coven’s Regalia) 4-piece bonus heavily favours Affliction over Demonology, and Icecrown Citadel bosses having a lot more HP means we get to go to town with Drain Soul, dealing some really good damage. The addition of the Phylactery of the Nameless Lich trinket, which greatly boosts DoT-based casters, helps a lot, too.

Affliction’s role in Phase 4 can be described as a jack-of-all-trades. While we don’t have the raw single-target, cleave, or AoE damage of some of the S-tier specs, we make up for that downside by having no real weak points — we do great single-target, cleave, and AoE damage. Moreover, we do it safely from afar, with our DoTs constantly ticking — meaning we aren’t phased by things like “melee-unfriendly,” or by movement-heavy fighths.

The one downfall of the Affliction Warlock in Phase 4 is called Fire Mages. Those Warlock-wannabes unfortunately surpass our single-damage potential by a moderate amount in this phase and, as we directly compete with them for gear, it’s hard to justify having more than 1 or 2 Affliction Warlocks in a raid. Still, we very much justify our spot, so Affliction mains have nothing to worry about.

Frost Death Knight

Phase 4 plays a very evil prank on Frost DKs: we finally get to yield a shard of Arthas’s iconic Death Knight weapon, Frostmourne, known as Shadowmourne… a two-handed axe. Frost being a dual-wield-centric specialization means that we, unfortunately, don’t get to use this weapon at all. We could have been the absolute kings of single-target DPS in Phase 4, but Blizzard’s cruel designers decided we’ll be at the bottom of the A-tier instead — a perfectly fine spot, all jokes aside.

Our single-target damage is about middle-of-the-pack here, but our cleave and AoE damage are still very good. However, Unholy is sadly better at both, so, as a result, most Death Knights will re-spec to Unholy at this point, unless your raid happens to urgently need the Improved Icy Talons buff — which a Blood DK tank could provide anyway, by spending some extra points in the Frost tree, limiting our usefulness.

B-Tier

The B-Tier represents mediocre damage specializations. They are still considered viable, as they do a decent amount of damage, but they typically cannot compete with the A-tier specs on the damage meters. However, in many cases they provide valuable raid buffs that make them worth bringing anyway, as their utility makes up for their deficiency in raw damage.

Shadow Priest

Phase 4 sees the addition of the Phylactery of the Nameless Lich trinket, which is a massive boon for Shadow Priests, as the bulk of our damage comes from our DoTs. However, we unfortunately lack the raw scaling that Fire Mages and Affliction Warlocks have, so we end up at the top of the B-tier.

Just like in previous phases, our single-target damage is fine, but our true strength lies in our multi-dotting. With Icecrown Citadel having a decent amount of multiple-target encounters, we get to exploit that strength to its fullest — meaning our damage will be very competitive. We also get to “soak up” several powerful spells by using our Dispersion defensive cooldown to absorb the damage, making us a very desirable spec overall.

Balance Druid

Boomies still refuse to leave their spot in the middle of the DPS meters in Phase 4, finding themselves near the top of the B-tier yet again. We get two very powerful set bonuses from our Tier 10 set (Lasherweave Regalia) but, just like our hybrid brothers, Shadow Priests, we simply lack the scaling to match the big boys.

There’s good news for Boomkins in Phase 4, however: there are multiple cleave- & AoE-heavy fights, so our trusty Starfall can still get us to the top spots of the DPS meters on several fights. Sure, our single-target damage is bottom tier at this point, but we more than make up for it with our AoE potential.

Arcane Mage

Phase 4 sees the gap between our Arcane and Fire specializations widen even more, as the incredible scaling of our Fire brothers propels them into the S-tier, while we sink into the B-tier, finding ourselves amongst the so-called “hybrids”. Hah!

Simply put, fights are just too long in this tier, so we run out of mana while Fire can just keep pumping out damage. Our Tier 10 set’s (Bloodmage’s Regalia) set bonuses are amazing, but, unless your guild has a whole lot of Druids happy to give you their Innervate, you will run out of juice and fizzle out anyway.

Assassination Rogue

Assassination is unfortunately the polar opposite of Fury Warriors: where they got stronger every phase until they were in the S-tier, we started in the S-tier and only got weaker with every phase — we now find ourselves near the bottom of the B-tier. The main reason for this is, ironically, the thing that made us so powerful in Phase 1: Phase 4 gear is loaded with armor penetration, and we get significantly less use out of it than Combat does, hindering our scaling.

Our single-target damage is actually S-tier. The main issue that we face as Assassination is similar to several other specs: Combat does the same things we do, but better, effectively rendering us obsolete. This is particularly evident in cleave-based fights, where our lack of Blade Flurry results in us being near the bottom of the damage meters when there are consistently 2-4 targets in a fight, while Combat still fares more or less okay.

Demonology Warlock

Blizzard plays a bit of a cruel prank on Demonology Warlocks in Phase 4: we have a significantly harder time proccing our Tier 10 set (Dark Coven’s Regalia) 4-piece set bonus than Affliction does and, as a result, we start falling behind. Moreover, fights tend to last longer in this phase, so we end up having a lower uptime on our bread-and-butter cooldown, Metamorphosis, which severely hampers our damage potential — both single-target & AoE.

The good news is that our Demonic Pact buff hits its peak in this phase, so caster-heavy raids will still very much run 1 Demonology Warlock. It’s unlikely that they will use any more than 1, though, so make sure you communicate with your other Warlocks if one of you has to respec.

C-Tier

The specializations that make up the C-Tier are on the weaker side of the DPS spectrum. They can still be considered viable, occasionally offering useful buffs and debuffs, and can very often be very fun to play. However, you aren’t likely to be on the top places of DPS meters with these specs, and you won’t have the easiest time finding a raid group, as they aren’t in high demand.

Enhancement Shaman

Enhancement Shamans hold steady in the C-tier in Phase 4. If this didn’t bother you before, it likely won’t bother you here either. Despite our Tier 10 set (Frost Witch’s Battlegear) having 2 very decent set bonuses, we just lack the single-target damage necessary to keep up with others, and our AoE & cleave is still sub-par. If your guild has been bringing you for the totem buffs, they’ll likely continue going so, but you’re not very likely to find yourself on the DPS meters without scrolling down.

Destruction Warlock

Destruction is nothing if not steady, finding itself in the C-tier for the 3rd time. Our issues remain the same: lackluster damage, and a complete lack of cleave damage, which Affliction excels at. We have no unique buff like Demonology, so there’s no reason to bring even a single Destruction Warlock to a raid — they’d all be better off switching to Affliction.

Survival Hunter

Survival has seen better days, one could say by looking at their position in the C-tier. That’s true — Phase 4 is absolutely not kind to us, as our lack of scaling comes to haunt us. There’s a whole lot of armor penetration on our new gear, but more than half our damage is magic and thus doesn’t even benefit from it at all. With how big our gap with MM has become, all but the most die-hard Survivalists out there have switched to MM by now.

Elemental Shaman

Elemental finds itself in the C-tier for the 3rd time, and it’s not hard to see why — our single-target damage just isn’t there, as our poor scaling and a disappointing Tier 10 set (Frost Witch’s Regalia) have let us down. Regardless, if your guild has kept you around as Elemental up to this point it’s very likely that they needed your totem buffs, so they probably won’t be swapping you out all of a sudden. Just don’t expect to see yourself on the DPS meters without scrolling down, a lot.

Beast Mastery Hunter

Beast Mastery Hunters continue to be the weakest spec that’s still considered viable — though barely so, as our damage is completely uninspiring. Marksmanship, unfortunately, does everything we can do, but better. And, with Ret Paladins becoming ubiquitous in this phase, the 1 piece of utility any raid could’ve wanted us for — Ferocious Inspiration — is rendered obsolete. It is generally not advised to play Beast Mastery outside of 5-man dungeons.

D-Tier

Simply put, specs in the D-tier are considered to be not viable. They can be fun to play, but you will struggle to get invited to raids when playing one of these, and you may even find yourself getting kicked from groups, as your damage will be really bad.

Arms Warrior

In this phase, Arms finally joins the other “PvP specs” in the D-tier. This is largely because of our non-existent scaling, causing our single-target damage to fall too far behind other specs, to the point where our decent cleave damage can no longer compensate. Couple that with our non-existent raid utility, and you get one highly undesirable spec — you’re very likely to not get invited to raid groups as Arms.

Blood Death Knight

Blood is actually doing okay(-ish) damage-wise in this phase, thanks to the armor penetration stat — you can typically keep up with some of the weaker single-target specs, like Elemental Shamans and Balance Druids. Moreover, our Hysteria is still great — it’s just our cleave & AoE that are truly bad. The main issue is the opportunity cost, once again — you could be doing far superior DPS as Unholy, or be a very solid tank as Blood, so there’s no reason to be a weak damage dealer as Blood.

Subtlety Rogue

Just like in previous phases, Subtlety simply cannot keep up with other DPS specs, as the majority of its talents focus on PvP.

Frost Mage

Just like in previous phases, Frost simply cannot keep up with other DPS specs, as the majority of its talents focus on PvP.

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