wotlk classic best races & racial bonuses guide featured image
  • Author: Pride
  • Date: September 23, 2022
  • Expansion: WotLK Classic

Your character’s race is one of the first choices you make in the game. It also happens to be one of the most important choices, as the different races offer very different bonuses, some of which are exceptional for some characters, while others aren’t all that good. Blizzard doesn’t do a great job of explaining how powerful your choice of race will make your character, and as a result many people make unfortunate choices that result in a character that’s significantly weaker than what it could be.

This guide aims to inform you on the various racial bonuses that the different races have, explaining how useful (or not useful) they are, and offers some recommendations depending on your class.

Wow Horde Crest Horde

The Wow Horde Crest Horde has some exceptional racial effects, with none of the races being completely useless. Having said that, just like it has always been the case, there are some clear winners and some clear losers, with Wow Orc Crest Orcs and Trolls having a leg up over the other races in PvE, while the Wow Undead Crest Undead are a clear favourite in PvP for most classes.

For raids, we’d recommend:

  • Physical DPS: Wow Orc Crest Orc >Troll > Wow Blood Elf Crest Blood Elf > rest
  • Tank: Wow Orc Crest Orc > Wow Tauren Crest Tauren > Troll > rest
  • Caster DPS: Troll > Wow Orc Crest Orc > Wow Blood Elf Crest Blood Elf > rest
  • Healer: Troll > Wow Blood Elf Crest Blood Elf > Wow Orc Crest Orc > rest

For PvP, we’d recommend:

  • Warriors: Wow Orc Crest Orc > Wow Tauren Crest Tauren > Troll > Wow Undead Crest Undead
  • Everyone else: Wow Undead Crest Undead > Wow Orc Crest Orc > Wow Blood Elf Crest Blood Elf > Wow Tauren Crest Tauren > Troll

Orcs are quite possibly the most iconic Horde race, with the first ever Warcraft game being called “Orcs & Humans”. It isn’t a coincidence that they’ve also historically been one of the strongest races for the Horde. In WotLK, they’re an incredible choice for melee DPS & tanks thanks to their expertise-boosting racial, Axe Specialization, while Command makes them great Hunters and Warlocks as well. They’re a great all-round race, though, as Blood Fury is a very powerful racial effect for any class in the game.

  • Axe Specialization increases your expertise by 5 when using axes or fist weapons. There are a lot of very powerful axes out there, including Shadowmourne, the strongest two-handed weapon in the game, thus this racial is extremely powerful. This racial on its own makes Orc the best race for melee DPS classes, and even tanks that rely on their weapon attacks, such as Death Knights.
  • Blood Fury is an on-use spell that increases your attack power, spell power or both (if you’re a Shaman), scaling with your level. At level 80 it will provide +322 attack power and/or +163 spell power for 15 seconds on a 2-minute cooldown. This effect is incredible powerful — you can add it to your other abilities with a macro, and see a very large DPS increase for those 15 seconds.
  • Hardiness is the racial that most PvP players are familiar with, being infamously overpowered during Classic & TBC. WotLK sees it reworked: it now reduces the duration of stun effects on you by 15%. While this is a pretty substantial nerf, it’s still a very strong PvP racial.
  • Command is a passive effect which increases your pet’s damage by 5%. It only benefits Hunters, Warlocks and Death Knights, which can be seen as a fairly serious downside, but 5% is a pretty substantial increase — pet classes will be very well served by being Orcs.

PvP servers tend to be filled with Undead Rogues, Mages, Priests, Warlocks, etc, and for good reason — Undead have an absolutely incredible racial in Will of the Forsaken, with fear being an extremely common CC effect in PvP. While they are almost completely useless in raids due to a complete lack of PvE-centric racials, they’re so strong in PvP that it won’t be uncommon to see multiple Undead in raids, as people gear up their characters for PvP. Note that Warriors generally don’t to be Undead, as they already have a partial immunity to Fear effects, making Will of the Forsaken somewhat reduntant.

  • Will of the Forsaken is an on-use spell that instantly removes all fear, charm and sleep effects off the caster, on a 2 minute cooldown. While this can situationally be handy in raids, as a few bosses have some of those effects, this racial truly shines in PvP, where an extra way to break Fear is massive for everyone who isn’t a Warrior, as they already have a way to break Fear effects in Berserker Rage. Note that this racial gets nerfed substantially in WotLK: using it now causes your PvP trinket (f.e. Medallion of the Horde) to go on a 45 second cooldown, and vice versa. It’s still an incredible powerful racial nonetheless.
  • Cannibalize is an on-use spell on a 2 minute cooldown, which causes you to consume a nearby Humanoid or Undead corpse. This in turn heals you for 7% of your total HP every 2 seconds for 10 seconds, healing 35% of your HP all in all. This isn’t too useful in raids or in PvP, though it can help make levelling a lot faster, particularly for classes that don’t have healing spells of their own, like Rogues and Warriors.
  • Shadow Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Shadow spells by 2%. This doesn’t really help you all that much in PvE, as you don’t want to rely on a boss randomly missing you with an attack in order to survive. Most players will make sure they have enough spell hit that they nullify this effect in PvP, so it’s not too useful in there either.
  • Underwater Breathing allows you to breathe underwater 233% longer than normal. There aren’t too many situations where this is bonus is helpful, but it can make some annoying quests slightly less annoying.

Blizzard gave Trolls a lot of love in WotLK, improving their racials and even adding a new, PvP-centric racial. This is still not enough to make them surpass the Undead in PvP, unfortunately, but they’re now an exceptional race in PvE, typically being the race of choice for caster DPS and healers.

  • Berserking is an on-use spell that offers +20% increased attack & casting speed for 10 seconds on a 3-minute cooldown. This effect is incredible powerful — you can add it to your other abilities with a macro, and see a very large DPS increase for those 15 seconds. Classes that appreciate haste, such as Rogues and casters, will absolutely love this racial.
  • Beast Slaying increases your damage dealt to Beast type enemies by 5%, which is very powerful. Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of Beasts in Wrath of the Lich King, specially inside raids, making this racial better on paper than it is in practice.
  • Bow Specialization and Throwing Specialization increase your critical strike chance with bows & throwing weapons by 1%. Only Hunters really get a noteworthy benefit out of these 2 racials, and even for them, 1% crit isn’t a game-breaking benefit. Still, it’s a very nice bonus that helps solidify Troll as a great race for Hunters.
  • Da Voodoo Shuffle passively reduces the duration of movement slowing & immobilize effects on you by 15%. A new racial added in WotLK, intended to make Trolls a better PvP race, and for melee in particular. Sadly, it doesn’t really compare to what other races get for PvP, so Trolls are still firmly the worst race for most classes there. But it’s still a very welcome little bonus in the few situations when it does apply!
  • Regeneration increases health regeneration by 10% and allows you to regenerate health during combat at 10% of the your normal regeneration rate. This racial effect used to be seen as a complete meme, arguably the worst racial out there, next to the Night Elves’ Wisp Spirit. Blizzard improves it slightly in WotLK, with several classes getting health regeneration (not healing!) effects, such as Warriors and their Enraged Regeneration, Blood Craze and Second Wind, making it surprisingly OK for them. Still a weak racial, but not as terrible as it used to be.

Blood Elves were the new race introduced in TBC, and they took the world by storm, making up as much as 50% of the Horde’s entire population at times. It’s not hard to see why — many would consider them by far the most visually appealing race of the Horde, which doesn’t say much in a faction full of monster races! Their racials aren’t the best, being somewhat decent in PvP and pretty bad in PvE, but most people will typically pick Blood Elf for their looks anyway, or because they’re the only Horde race that can be Paladins.

  • Arcane Torrent is an on-use spell on a 2 minute cooldown that silences all enemies within 8 yards for 2 seconds, while also restoring 15 Energy / Runic Power or 6% of your total mana. The silence effect is very nice in PvP, specially for Paladins, who lack an inherent silence or interrupt ability. It can also come in handy in dungeons and while leveling, though most raid enemies are immune to silence. The Energy regen effect is alright for Rogues, while the mana regen effect is legitimately very good for healers, making Blood Elf one of the better races for healers.
  • Magic Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Magic spells by 2%. This essentially combines all of the various Resistance-type racials out there, making it surprisingly flexible. Just like the individual resistance effects however, this doesn’t really help you all that much in PvE, as you don’t want to rely on a boss randomly missing you with an attack in order to survive. Most players will make sure they have enough spell hit that they nullify this effect in PvP, so it’s not too useful in there either.
  • Arcane Affinity increases your initial and maximum Enchanting skill by 10. All this racial essentially accomplishes is making levelling your Enchanting skill slightly cheaper and easier, though the difference is so small ultimately that it doesn’t matter at all. Never mind that the racial does nothing if you don’t have the Enchanting skill.

The Tauren have been an iconic race among the Horde, since their introduction in Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos. These big beefy boys and gals make for a decent tank race, though unfortunately their racials aren’t anything to write home about for everyone else, being almost completely useless in PvE, though surprisingly decent in PvP.

  • Endurance increases base health by 5% — meaning your natural health at level 80, without your extra health or stamina from equipment, buffs, etc. This will result in a +~480 HP boost passively, the equivalent of 30-40 stamina for most tank specializations, or one extra tank gem. Given that tanks have well over 30 to 40k HP, this bonus isn’t all that powerful, but it’s still something, particularly for squishy caster classes with low HP!
  • War Stomp is an on-use spell that that stuns all enemies within 8 yards for 2 seconds, on a 2 minute cooldown. This racial can be situationally useful in raids, as there are some occasions where stunning multiple enemies can help a lot. However, it is obviously far more useful In PvP — particularly for caster classes who typically lack a stun effect of their own, and who can use these 2 seconds of a stunned enemy in order to quickly cast a very important spell that they’d normally be unable to cast safely.
  • Nature Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Nature spells by 2%. This doesn’t really help you all that much in PvE, as you don’t want to rely on a boss randomly missing you with an attack in order to survive. Most players will make sure they have enough spell hit that they nullify this effect in PvP, so it’s not too useful in there either.
  • Cultivation increases your initial and maximum Herbalism skill by 15. All this racial essentially accomplishes is making levelling your Herbalism skill slightly easier, though the difference is so small ultimately that it doesn’t matter at all. Never mind that the racial does nothing if you don’t have the Herbalism skill.

Wow Alliance Crest Alliance

The Wow Alliance Crest Alliance, to its credit, has very solid racial balance. With the exception of Wow Night Elf Crest Night Elves, who unfortunately are terrible, most classes can pick whichever race looks best to them and just roll with it, without having an insurmountable object ahead of them. Wow Human Crest Humans are of course famously the best race for PvP by a long shot, but in PvE, the 4 remaining Alliance races are all pretty competitive.

For raids, we’d recommend:

  • Physical DPS: Wow Human Crest Human > Wow Dwarf Crest Dwarf > Wow Draenei Crest Draenei > rest
  • Tank: Wow Human Crest Human > Wow Dwarf Crest Dwarf > Wow Draenei Crest Draenei > rest
  • Caster DPS: Wow Human Crest Human > Wow Gnome Crest Gnome > Wow Draenei Crest Draenei > rest
  • Healer: Wow Human Crest Human > Wow Draenei Crest Draenei > rest

For PvP, we’d recommend:

  • Everyone: Wow Human Crest Human > Wow Gnome Crest Gnome > Wow Gnome Crest Dwarf > Wow Draenei Crest Draenei >Wow Night Elf Crest Night Elf

Humans are the most iconic race of the Alliance, with the majority of lore-significant characters being Humans, and being 50% of the original Warcraft game: “Orcs & Humans”. It’s no wonder that Blizzard wanted them to be a very powerful race then, as they completely dominate the PvP side for every class, while on the PvE side they make exceptional melee DPS & tanks, and great caster DPS & healers.

  • Every Man for Himself is an on-use spell which instantly removes all crowd control effects from the caster, on a 2 minute cooldown. This racial is completely overpowered in PvP, as it allows Humans to use 2x powerful PvE trinkets, eliminating the need for a PvP trinket (Medallion of the Alliance). As a result, Humans will do significantly more DPS / healing in PvP than other races. The fact that it can dispel crowd control of any kind means that it will very often be useful in PvE as well, though obviously nowhere near the same level as it is in PvP. A whole lot of PvP-focused players will switch to a Human character just for this racial alone.
  • Sword Specialization & Mace Specialization increase your expertise by 3 when using swords or maces. This is lower than the 5 expertise that other races get with equivalent expertise boosting racials, but this affords Humans some very useful versatility in their weapon selection, being able to pick between swords and maces where other races are typically restricted to one weapon type. 3 expertise might not seem like much, but it can definitely make a difference, and as a result Humans are typically considered the best race for melee DPS characters.
  • The Human Spirit increases your spirit by 3%. This racial has always been very useful for healers, and that is still the case in WotLK, despite being nerfed pretty harshly. Moreover, in WotLK most caster classes gain a portion of their spirit stat as spell power, which means that Humans now have a racial that benefits casters as well, and those caster classes who have spirit scaling will typically prefer to be Human.
  • Perception passively increases your stealth detection level by a small amount. There aren’t all that many stealthed mobs, which makes this racial pretty useless in PvE, but Rogues and Druids are two fairly popular races in PvP, and this racial helps with both of them. Human Rogues in particular are incredibly strong, as thanks to this racial they have the ability to see other Rogues in stealth, while they themselves cannot be seen.
  • Diplomacy increases the rate at which you gain reputation by 10%. This makes it so you need to grind slightly less in order to reach your reputation target, essentially. 10% is a decent boost, undoubtedly, but with reputation grinds not really having all that many useful rewards in WotLK, this racial isn’t the most useful one out there.

Introduced in TBC, the Draenei quickly became a fan-favourite race, thanks to their impeccable racials — and by that I mean looks, of course. WotLK sees their most useful racial, Heroic Presence, getting a pretty substantial buff, and as a result the Draenei are now in much higher demand, with every raid requiring 4-5 Draenei in order to maximize their benefit. Unfortunately, they don’t offer much at all besides Heroic Presence, which means that they’re only the race of choice for classes that don’t gain a substantial benefit from one of the other races; caster DPS and healers broadly make for the best Draenei in your raid.

  • Heroic Presence increases the chance to hit with spells and physical attacks by 1% for you and all party members within 30 yards. That’s right, the 2 separate spell hit & physical hit racials got merged into 1 racial in WotLK, which makes this racial extremely solid. Every single DPS group (so 4-5 groups, depending on your raid) will want to have a Draenei player in it, allowing players to spend fewer stat points pursuing their hit caps, and thus maximizing their damage output.
  • Gift of the Naaru places a heal-over-time effect on a single target that lasts 15 seconds, with a 3 minute cooldown. This spell is now instant cast and heals for much higher amount, typically healing most non-tank players for 20-30% of their maximum HP over its 15 second duration. That’s still not all that great as it generally won’t be enough to save your life in a sticky situation, but it can be pretty nice while questing or grinding, helping reduce your downtime.
  • Shadow Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Shadow spells by 2%. This doesn’t really help you all that much in PvE, as you don’t want to rely on a boss randomly missing you with an attack in order to survive. Most players will make sure they have enough spell hit that they nullify this effect in PvP, so it’s not too useful in there either.
  • Gemcutting increases your initial and maximum Jewelcrafting skill by 5. All this racial essentially accomplishes is making levelling your Jewelcrafting skill slightly easier, though the difference is so small ultimately that it doesn’t matter at all. Never mind that the racial does nothing if you don’t have the Jewelcrafting skill, and it only offers a 5 point boost to your Jewelcrafting compared to 10 or 15 for other racials, making it even weaker than what other races get.

Dwarves have never been the most popular race, though players still tend to like them a lot. WotLK sees them buffed very significantly, with a brand-new & pretty powerful racial effect in Mace Specialization. This makes them a lot better for melee DPS characters and tanks, though it’s still unfortunately not enough to close the gap with Humans completely. Dwarves are a great race for tanks, thanks to their Stoneform racial.

  • Mace Specialization increases your expertise by 5 when using maces. 5 expertise is nothing to sneeze at, but unfortunately most of the strongest weapons you could use tend to be axes and swords, making this racial better on paper than it is in practice. Regardless, it is incredibly powerful if you’re using maces.
  • Stoneform is an on-use spell that gives you +10% increased armour for 8 seconds and instantly dispels all poison, disease and bleed effects on a 2-minute cooldown. The armour increasing component is obviously very nice for tanks, serving as a minor cooldown for them to use when things get tough. The dispel component meanwhile is very strong, particularly in PvP and for classes that lack an inherent poison / disease dispel. Dispelling bleed effects is also very powerful, as no class inherently has the ability to do that, and it can also occasionally be useful in PvE as well.
  • Gun Specialization increase your critical strike chance with guns by 1%. Only Hunters really get a noteworthy benefit out of this racial, and even for them, 1% crit isn’t a game-breaking benefit. Still, it’s a very nice bonus that helps solidify Dwarves as a great race for Hunters.
  • Frost Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Frost spells by 2%. This doesn’t really help you all that much in PvE, as you don’t want to rely on a boss randomly missing you with an attack in order to survive. Most players will make sure they have enough spell hit that they nullify this effect in PvP, so it’s not too useful in there either.
  • Find Treasure is a tracking-type effect, which passively allows you to track treasure on your map until it is cancelled. This is pretty cool from a roleplay perspective, and it can even net you a little bit of gold by helping you spot treasure chests that you might have otherwise missed. Not a very strong racial by any means, and it is highly situational, but undoubtedly a very fitting racial for Dwarves!

Gnomes continue to innovate by being the most loved and most hated race in WoW at the same time. Their big brains render them a fairly good caster DPS race, while Escape Artist (now instant cast!) means they’re also very decent in PvP, particularly for melee DPS. You likely won’t see too many Gnomes around, as they suffer from being a weaker version of Human in almost every way, but you should never underestimate them anyway — they’re evil!

  • Escape Artist is an on-use spell which removes all movement slowing and immobilizing effects on a 1 minute cooldown. This effect can occasionally be useful in PvE, but PvP is no doubt where it shines the brightest. The sad reality here however is that while its 1 minute cooldown is very nice, the fact of the matter is that Every Man for Himself is just better, thanks to its ability to remove every type of crowd control from the caster. For Warriors for example, it’s a surprisingly good racial.
  • Expansive Mind increases your total Intellect by 5%. This in turn boosts your character’s spell crit chance and mana pool slightly, making this racial very handy for caster DPS specs.
  • Engineering Specialization increases your initial and maximum Engineering skill by 15. This is slightly more useful than other profession-boosting racials, as Engineering has guardian-type summoned pets, which scale with your Engineering skill. This racial makes your summoned pets level 83, which makes them a decent bit stronger, but as there aren’t many useful guardians, this racial isn’t really ground-breaking. Still, it’s a nice little quality of life boost, and with Engineering being ubiquitously popular, that can definitely come in handy.
  • Arcane Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Arcane spells by 2%. This doesn’t really help you all that much in PvE, as you don’t want to rely on a boss randomly missing you with an attack in order to survive. Most players will make sure they have enough spell hit that they nullify this effect in PvP, so it’s not too useful in there either.

Ah, poor Night Elves. One of the most popular races in Warcraft 3, helping shape up the game for years on end. Blizzard still won’t acknowledge their existence and do something about their sad state. Most people will only play Night Elf if they absolutely need to (for instance, Alliance Druids can only be Night Elves), and for good reason — they have no useful racials, for neither PvE or PvP.

  • Quickness passively reduces the chance you’ll be hit by melee and ranged attacks by 2%. This racial is surprisingly decent for tanks, allowing them to easily reach the so-called “crit cap” easier than other races. Most players will have enough hit rating to nullify this racial in PvP, so it sadly won’t apply there, but the PvE effect for tanks is pretty neat.
  • Shadowmeld is an on-use spell that instantly causes you to vanish from sight, even in combat, on a 2 minute cooldown. When cast, this spell causes you to also drop all threat you have on every enemy you’re currently engaged in combat with, though the moment you exit the Shadowmeld state (by moving, using any abilities or taking damage), all of that threat will be restored. This racial is just terrible, if we’re being frank — it’s almost completely useless in PvE, and in PvP it doesn’t even come close to what other races have.
  • Elusiveness reduces the chance to be detected while stealthed. This is a nice little bonus for Druids and Rogues (particularly so in PvP!), while everyone else only gets to benefit from this racial while Shadowmelded, which is a very unfortunate situation for this racial.
  • Nature Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Nature spells by 2%. This doesn’t really help you all that much in PvE, as you don’t want to rely on a boss randomly missing you with an attack in order to survive. Most players will make sure they have enough spell hit that they nullify this effect in PvP, so it’s not too useful in there either.
  • Wisp Spirit increases your movement speed by 75% while dead. As you generally don’t want to be dead, this racial should never help you — thus making it completely useless as far as racial effects go!

 

About the Author

Pride

Classic WoW is my jam, with a passion for PvP. Most know me as Baranor, the ret paladin guy, but I'm secretly a druid main, don't tell anyone. In my free time I play Switch games, particularly JRPGs. Some day I'll be making my own games and I humbly hope you play those too!
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