With TBC Classic we see a new meta emerging, but who comes out on top and who is destined for the bin?
Ah, Classic. With your raids full of Warriors, Rogues, and Mages. Thankfully, TBC fixes all the problems and finally sees balance restored to the meta. Right?.. Well, TBC certainly changes the meta, it will bring new classes to the front of the pack, and it certainly gives more classes a chance to shine. Sadly, we’re still going to see those top spots taken by purple and green DPS.
Ultimately, as this is Classic, and it has so much of the knowledge already known, we’re left with some pretty major standout classes. Below you’ll find our tier list for the best raiding/PvE DPS specs. This is with the caveat that Blizzard doesn’t make any #Changes for TBC. As always, you should always play the spec you find fun, this list is only to help guide you.
Classic TBC Tier List
- Destruction Warlock
- Beast Mastery Hunter
- Fire/Arcane Mage
- Demonology Warlock
- Combat Rogue
- Frost Mage
- Survival Hunter
- Enhancement Shaman
- Balance Druid
- Shadow Priest
- Elemental Shaman
- Affliction Warlock (pre-raid)
- Retribution Paladin
- Fury/Arms Warrior (Fury gets better later)
- Feral DPS
- Marksmanship Hunter
S Tier Picks
You’ll see a lot of Warlocks and Hunters in TBC Classic. From good ones to bad ones, they’ll likely fill out a lot of raid spots. Warlock, with the right crafted gear, will likely be topping almost every damage meter there is. A combination of good itemization, easy-to-use talents, and a rotation mostly made up of spamming Shadow Bolt makes Warlocks the top fel hound (dog).
BM Hunter comes in just behind, though the difference between a good and bad BM Hunter might be more apparent than the more gear-dependent Warlock. Hunter is a 1:1 rotation spec. Simply put, you’ll auto-attack, and cast Steady Shot right after. That’s pretty much it. Some numbers suggest that Arcane Shot is used from time to time, though it costs a lot more mana. Ultimately you’ll hear a lot about the “One button macro” as a Hunter (see below) and it’s not just a meme, it really is a rotation consisting of pressing one button.
The Hunter One Button Macro
So yeah, this really is a thing, and it works (we’ve tested it on the beta and PTR). The button works by taking your ranged attack speed and firing a Steady Shot in between shots, making sure not to clip an auto-attack. This can be done easily without a macro, however, this removes all human error (unless you forget to hit the button). The macro requires just one bit of information changing and is the only thing stopping it from basically playing the game for you.
#showtooltip Steady Shot
/castsequence reset=2.03 Steady Shot, !Auto Shot
/use [exists,target=pettarget] Kill Command
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear(); UIErrorsFrame:Show()
That’s the macro, and all you’ll need to change is the third line “/castsequence reset=2.03” replace that number with your ranged attack speed. This does mean that it can change when you gain Heroism/Bloodlust and any other haste increasing buff.
NOTE: Ranged attack speed is not weapon speed, see below.
Find this number by pressing “C” to open your character sheet
Before you raid, make sure to get attuned
A Tier Picks
A tier is your comfortable DPS picks. If you’ve already got a Mage, Rogue, etc, and want to carry on playing them, you’ll be fine. While Mage takes a massive hit in TBC, they’ll still be required, and the fact they have all 3 specs remaining relevant throughout TBC is unique to Mages (Paladin might be the only other exception). While Arcane and Fire are strongest and certainly will be at the start. Frost will come good in the end, and will be a strong leveling/solo content spec for those looking to farm. While we’re not talking about PvP here, Frost will also do well there.
Combat Rogue is our first melee spec, and while a lot of people will abandon the spec after Classic, Rogue should be ok. There’s one caveat, however, and that’s how long fights last. The worry is that TBC Classic fights end up being quite short, which could be bad for Rogue (unless they’re so short that Rogues can take down a boss on the first cooldown rotation). Rogue is also likely to be used as an Expose Armor tool. While Protection Warriors won’t be happy about it, it’s a better option, and having your Rogue spec into Improved Expose Armor will net a 3k drop in armor on bosses.
A switch from Sunder to Expose Armor was actually seen back in TBC when it launched. Early guilds seemed to use Sunder on kills, while SK Gaming appeared to use Expose Armor, notably so on their Kil'jaeden World First.
B Tier Picks
Enhancement Shaman is the next highlight for melee, and it’s a good time to be a Shaman with the class coming to Alliance in TBC. In raw numbers, Enhancement should top Elemental, however, much like the Rogue in tier A, fight length could impact that. Regardless, Enhancement is always wanted for their raid utility, while Elemental lacks anything extra that Enhancement can’t already bring.
Shadow Priest had a rough time in Classic. They did good damage, but they used up valuable debuff spots on a boss, and their threat generation was so high (and still is) that they just became a healer. Thankfully, TBC increases the debuff spots on a boss to 40, and with the reduced raid sizes (10 and 25) Shadow Priest will find a spot. The prevalence of Warlocks will also help Shadow, as their increased shadow damage debuff will be wanted by all Warlocks to maximize damage.
C Tier Picks
Retribution Paladin had it rough in Classic. While the Horde had the Shaman, a class able to DPS at range and melee alongside being a serviceable healer. Paladin was stuck being a Plate wearing class, left to pick up cloth drop scraps, and heal for an entire expansion. TBC changes that, kind of. Holy Paladin is still king, and the spec continues to improve in TBC, while Protection Paladin is likely to be very popular (even outside of boosters). As for Retribution it will find play in TBC, the community perception won’t change much, with the spec largely considered a bit of a joke, however, you’ll do good damage and bring amazing utility to boot.
Fury and Arms Warrior… oh how the mighty have fallen. Having spent the tail-end of Classic as the Kings and Queens of the damage charts, TBC will see them fall from grace. Sadly for any Warrior mains, this is the cycle of life for the class. The class always seems to struggle at the start of an expansion. While the Protection often starts out the strongest tank, and with so many people running dungeons early to unlock their dungeon and Karazhan attunements, it can be easy to pick up a shield.
And that’s it for the DPS in phase 1. This article will be updated with live data once TBC has been out for a while!