Gnomish vs Goblin Engineering Specializations Guide

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  • Author: Pride
  • Date: September 24, 2022
  • Updated: October 7, 2022
  • Expansion: WotLK Classic

Since time immemorial (aka Classic), the two shortest races of Azeroth, Gnomes and Goblins, have been in a competition to determine which race produces the best feats of Engineering. Or in reality, who can make things (and people) explode the hardest. This conflict firmly continues in WotLK, with each different Engineering specialization (Gnomish Engineer & Goblin Engineer) offering unique perks for players.

This guide will list the benefits afforded by each specialization, and offer a few comments on which specialization is better and in which situation. If you have yet to level up your Engineering, feel free to check out our Engineering levelling guide!

Changing Specialization

You might be thinking to yourself, “does it matter which one is better? I picked X specialization back in Classic and I can’t be bothered to drop Engineering & re-level it for a small benefit”.

Well, I have good news for you — you can actually change your profession’s specialization at any time, without having to drop your profession entirely and re-levelling it from scratch. Simply visit Narain Soothfancy in Tanaris (shown in the pictures below) and interact with the Book “Soothsaying for Dummies”, which allows you to drop your current specialization for 150g. You may now go back to your Engineering trainer, and learn whichever specialization you desire.


Blizzard significantly reduced the amount of specialization-exclusive recipes for Engineering in WotLK. Each specialization gets 2 exclusive recipes, and that’s it.

Gnomish Engineers get a fun toy in Gnomish X-Ray Specs, which allows them to see players around them naked. Additionally, in Phase 4, they get access to a recipe (Plans: Iceblade Arrow) which allows them to make Iceblade Arrows, the strongest arrows that players can have in WotLK.

Goblin Engineers meanwhile get access to the most powerful explosive in the game, Global Thermal Sapper Charge. Then, in Phase 4, they get a recipe (Plans: Shatter Rounds) which allows them to craft Shatter Rounds, the strongest bullets that players can use in WotLK.

Comparing the Specializations

If you read the Perks section, you’re probably thinking that this decision is a no-brainer. Goblin Engineers get a item that actually boosts your character’s strength, while Gnomish Engineers get a toy that doesn’t help your character whatsoever. However, that’s not the entire truth.

Global Thermal Sapper Charges are undoubtedly the most powerful explosive in the game, dealing 2500 Fire damage on average. However, they have an incredibly long cooldown of 5 minutes, which means that in a 3 minute fight, they’ll only do ~14 DPS. Saronite Bombs will do 22-29 DPS in that same timeframe, while Cobalt Frag Bombs will do 15-19 DPS — making both of them of them superior in terms of DPS, despite doing less damage initially. That’s not to say that Global Thermal Sapper Charges are useless; they are still very powerful on short fights, and they have a wider radius, making them very good on fights against multiple enemies that tend to not stack up very nicely for you to hit them easily with Saronite Bombs. However, they’re not as powerful in practice as they are on paper.

So with Global Thermal Sapper Charges not playing a decisive role here, we will have to examine the ammo that the two specializations get in Phase 4 in order to make a decision. At first glance you may think that this is a tie as well, as the Iceblade Arrows and Shatter Rounds have the same DPS. Once again, however, that’s hiding an important detail: the best ranged weapons in Phase 4 are bows & crossbows, which require arrows rather than bullets. This means that the Iceblade Arrows will be in significantly higher demand. Of course, you don’t need to be a Gnomish Engineer in order to use these arrows — they can be bought and sold on the Auction House. This means that Gnomish Engineers will have an easier time making money in Phase 4, and Hunters in particular will benefit by having the ability to make their own ammo, saving a lot of gold in the process.

But that’s not all there is to the comparison here. See, Engineering isn’t all about the new gadgets — some old gadgets come into play as well. Remember the Gnomish Battle Chicken from Classic & TBC? It’s still very much relevant in WotLK, still offering the same 5% melee haste boost that it always has. This technically makes Gnomish Engineering the strongest profession out there for most classes, as no other profession can really keep up with buffing your party with a 4-minute 5% melee haste buff, which stacks. This bonus is so strong that WarcraftLogs ended up banning it in parses, which may or may not be a concern to you — if your guild isn’t particularly interested in parsing, you’ll see a significantly higher DPS boost from Gnomish Engineering than from Goblin Engineering. The only downside here is that you only need to be a Gnomish Engineer in order to craft the Chicken, not use it — so you could technically level up Gnomish Engineering until you can craft the Chicken, then pay the 150g to swap to Goblin Engineering and get access to both the chicken & Global Thermal Sapper Charges.


So, what’s better, Goblin Engineering or Gnomish Engineering? Our verdict is that neither is really strictly better, it all depends on your character’s focus.

If your main interest in the game is maximizing your character’s parses on WarcraftLogs, Goblin Engineering has a small advantage as Global Thermal Sapper Charges can occasionally be useful, though they won’t be the explosive of choice most of the time and even when they are useful, their benefit isn’t massive.

Gnomish Engineering meanwhile will be significantly stronger if you don’t care about parsing, thanks to the Gnomish Battle Chicken. It will also be significantly better for gold generation in Phase 4 thanks to the ability to craft Iceblade Arrows, and Hunters in particular are advised to go Gnomish so they can craft their own arrows, as that will end up saving them a very significant amount of gold.


About the Author


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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6 months ago

Solid info! I know exactly which I want to go thanks

1 year ago

Your bit about sapper charges is just plain wrong. You use a sapper at the start of the fight and then saronite bombs every minute after that. I don’t know where you got the idea they are mutually exclusive. Have you just not bothered looking at longer fights and assumed you can’t use both?

Reply to  Jeff
6 months ago

I am sure responses are always welcome, however maybe use a little less critical detail bashing. Like this comment where your reply sounds more like a pouty nerd getting their ass beat at recess. What you should have wrote was. “Thanks for the hard work of putting this information out there for all to read, I use the Sapper charge a little different. I use the Sapper then followed by Saronite Bombs repeatedly every minute.

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