Because of their access to some of the most powerful weapons in the game, Warriors tend to dominate the top damage rankings for DPS in World of Warcraft. This is especially true when they are outfitted with the best raid gear available, after which they are the clear winners in raw damage output. Their advantage over other melee classes is their AoE with abilities like Cleave and Whirlwind and with the right enchantments, buffs and flasks, some Warriors (and Rogues for that matter) are even breaking 1000 DPS.
Rogues, like Warriors tend to be at the very top of the DPS Rankings, both because of their access to very powerful weapons and their specialization in single target DPS. Where the Warrior gains advantage with access to AoE attacks, the Rogue doubles down on making sure a single enemy is deader than dead. This, coupled with their surprise and stealth burst damaging abilities, makes the Rogue an absolute powerhouse of damage, especially after they acquire their raid gear.
Like some of their caster compatriots, Hunter’s have always brought critical utilitarian abilities to any raid group, with abilities like Tranquilizing Shot and Trueshot Aura. This is one of the reasons that they tend to fall behind other pure DPS classes when it comes to straight damage. They are not the lowest damage dealers at all, easily keeping ahead of even the Mage, which is a feat in itself, but they fall somewhat noticeably behind the Rogue and Warrior. Another reason for this is, of course, the fact that they are the absolute masters of ranged DPS, bar none, which is why it’s important to make sure to gear them properly.
Mages, while also being extremely important providers of Crowd Control, are also the absolute masters of AoE DPS in the game. One of their main advantages, with respect to damage, is that many of their spells have a particularly high base damage, especially the AoE spells. Their single target DPS is impressive as well, though it pales in comparison to either of the top tier entries. In later phases, mages scale a lot better with access to spell power centric gear, but in the earlier game, they are limited to only being kind of awesome at everything but healing.
Warlock’s would be far higher in the DPS rankings, if not for a few glaring issues that hamstring them from point go. First, outside of PvP, Warlocks perform less well at AoE, because of threat, which means that if they want to do DPS, they must use Hellfire and be in melee range. Another issue with threat that plagues the class is the unusually high amount of it generated by Shadow Bolt, one of their staple damage dealing spells. While Warlocks are capable of damage that might even excel the Mage’s, their handicap with respect to threat management means that they are always going to be middling in the Raid DPS Rankings, unfortunately.
Shaman’s share a lot of their troubles with Druids, as both classes are built more for utility and their multitude of disparate abilities than for damage at all. They also both suffer heavily from a need for an abundance of extra mana. Elemental Shaman’s suffer even more, as they do not offer their raid group any sort of unique, or stackable buff. For these reasons, more often than not, most groups prefer a Restoration Shaman.
Never anyone’s first choice to fill the role of damage dealing, the Druid has an uphill slog to compete with most of the other classes, being outpaced, at time, even by the Shadow Priest. Because they have access to some of their BiS gear long before most other classes, they tend to hold a place of power for awhile. Right up until they are ready for raiding, where they fall behind. Druids’ main problem is that they were never designed to replace any one class at any specific role, but to supplement multiple roles and support other classes. So they can fill in as off DPS, but won’t ever get their damage quite as high as other classes that specialize in damage dealing.
Shadow Priests are deceptively adept at dealing damage in a Raid, trailing not at all far behind the Warlock, or even the Mage in the damage rankings. While they are limited to only a few spells that can actually be used in a raid situation and their AoE is non-existent, they still manage to maintain a surprisingly high spot on the tier. Their primary offering in a raid group is to increase a target’s Shadow Damage taken with Shadow Weaving, which increases the damage of Warlocks, other Shadow Priests and some Hunters.
Built far more to support and increase the overall damage of their allies, enhancement shaman have to rely both on their critical striking and good gear to get anywhere with respect to damage. Unlike Elemental Shamans, Enhancement Shamans don’t have any of the talents that directly increase the damage of their spells and abilities, just the amount of damage that their totems provide. It is exactly because of this that, while they don’t often do as much damage as their fellows, they are almost always a welcome addition to any raid group.
While almost always sought out for their healing efficacy, Paladin’s sometimes lag behind when it comes to damage in a raid situation. Their direct single target damage can be impressive, but their AoE is less than, though they can do some decent AoE when spec’d for tanking. All of that aside, their adeptness at tanking and their rare ability to heal while doing so often get them a spot in any Alliance raid group.
Another great class, built for utility that struggles mightily when it comes to damage output, the Balance Druid is almost unseen in a raid group where their Restoration counterparts are far more welcome. The main trouble that Balance Druids have is the same one that Feral Druids and Elemental Shaman have – mana. Most of their spells and abilities are mana hogs and aren’t as damaging as the spells of other classes. The one real contribution that Balance Druids can bring to a raid group is enhanced Crowd Control and the utility of their form shifting, but that’s not always enough to get them an invite.