Best Tank Tier List / Rankings for WoW Classic - Phase 1 Molten Core and Onyxia
Today we're taking a look at the best tanking classes in Classic WoW, based on Warcraft Logs analytics, and how the community utilizes them. Like our previous articles on
, this is largely community driven - classes are ranked based on raid representation and performance, but we've also made careful note of extra non-throughput related differences in our analysis below.
With over 22,000 tank parses so far in Phase 1,
only has data on two tanks, Protection Warriors and Feral Druids, with Protection Paladins seemingly completely devalued in favor of the others, which factors into our breakdown below. Unfortunately there aren't a lot of metrics for mitigation or threat per second, and tanking being such a specialized role there aren't a large number of parses to compare as most raids have far less tanks than DPS or healers, so Warcraft Logs is ranking tanks by
while tanking; while this isn't a perfect metric, damage
directly related to threat, and is the primary means of scaling a tanks threat in order to allow DPS roles to push harder. This is an important balance in many raid groups, as DPS outpacing an undergeared tank will need to throttle their damage in order to not pull aggro, while conversely an overgeared high threat tank is wasted if the DPS cannot keep up.
Although it shouldn't be overly surprising to see Warriors at the top of the list, with roughly 10 times as many parses as Druids they are clearly the predominant choice in Classic WoW. Their toolkit is simply unparalleled with
to immune fear, multiple taunts between
, as well as the powerful defensive cooldowns
. Overall, Warriors have the largest toolkit of damage dealing, threat control, and damage mitigation abilities of any tanking class, leaving little argument that they are the strongest tanks in Classic WoW.
From a damage dealing perspective, the two classes are
close, although Warrior does start to pull ahead in the
and wins at the
percentiles by a noticeable margin, much of that can be attributed to having far more parses in general, but also their far greater flexibility in talents and gear. Many Warriors will spec into
when survivability is no longer an issue and share much of their top threat gear with that of DPS roles, essentially becoming an extra DPS player while also holding threat. So far in Phase 1, the majority of highest performing tanks are decked out in numerous epics including
, as you would expect from the highest damage dealing tanks.
Protection Warrior Tank Guide
Protection Warrior Tank BiS Guide
Feral Druid tanking is often overlooked, mostly because of how common and versatile Warrior tanks are, but undervaluing them is a major mistake, especially early in Classic WoW. While their main liability is the inability to block due to not wearing shields, they have extremely high armor values which allow them to take less damage in general. This can become tricky for main tanks of some encounters, as it leaves them susceptible to crushing blows, but even then Feral Druids make excellent off tanks on fights where multiple are needed, such as
in Molten Core, as well as dungeon tanking.
Where Feral really falls short is in their toolkit. While they maintain strong AoE,
to taunt, and great damage mitigation from
, they lack the greater flexibility of Warrior tanks; most of their non-tanking supplementary abilities require them to drop Bear Form which is a much harsher loss than changing out of Defensive Stance, precluding them from using Innervate or their large suite of healing spells while tanking. From a gearing perspective, Druids do not benefit from weapon damage while in forms, only gaining the stats, making the low level
the best damage and tanking weapons for Feral Druids.
Feral Druid Tank Guide
Feral Druid Tank BiS Guide
Seemingly left out in the cold in Phase 1 raiding, Protection Paladins are another often overlooked raid tank due to their questionable design flaws. While Feral Druids can't block, Protection Paladins are unable to Taunt, which is an obvious issue, particularly in raid settings where there are so many more players and mechanics present - any kind of targeted threat wipe virtually cripples a Paladin, whereas other classes could simply taunt in order to place themselves back at the top of the meter. Despite lacking some of the other classes tools, however, Paladins can make fantastic AoE dungeon tanks with
, particularly in
groups as well as the undead dungeons Stratholme and Scholomance due to their extra undead-only abilities, although their lack of a normal ranged pull needs to be compensated for through engineering bombs or support from other classes. Paladins are also the only tank which utilizes Mana, creating unique issues that other tanks need not deal with, leading them to frequently downrank spells after establishing initial threat in order to manage their mana lest they end up unable to cast whatsoever, as well as a frequent need to drink between pulls.
It's important to remember that not
group is listed on Warcraft Logs however, as some groups raid without logging. Because of that, it's certainly plausible to assume that some groups are using Paladin raid tanks, and with proper planning around their problem areas they can even be quite effective. That said, Warcraft Logs shows a large enough sample size to show the community preference, though despite their flaws, Paladins
tank most content in Classic WoW so long as it doesn't strictly require taunting in order to succeed, and make excellent offtanks. We highly recommend taking a look at the
Raid Boss section
of our Protection Paladin guide for anyone interested in end-game Paladin tanking.
Protection Paladin Tank Guide
Protection Paladin Tank BiS Guide
There are also other tank-capable classes in Classic WoW; Shaman are technically able to tank and hold threat in some situations through the use of
, and even Hunter pets have rarely been used to tank mid-range content; however, they still lack the key tools found in other tanks - the ability to taunt, the damage reductions from inordinately high armor or blocking, and their threat doesn't scale the way primary tanks do. Historically, few fights take advantage of these "alternative tanks", most notably the Four Horsemen of Naxxramas due to most guilds simply being unable to field the abnormally high 8-tank requirement.
Leveling is an entirely different field, wherein tanking requirements are far more relaxed. Especially as most classes don't have their specialization or role specific tools until level 40+, there isn't much to differentiate a Protection Warrior and an Arms Warrior as Tank or DPS beyond simply who has threat. In lower level dungeons, virtually anyone can tank successfully so long as they're holding threat and capable of being healed, which is why it is not at all uncommon to see Arms Warriors tanking all the way through level 60 in order to establish greater threat through damage.
While this article sounds bad for anyone interested in playing a Protection Paladin, Classic is a much different game than Retail, with many more considerations beyond simply what a chart tells you, but those charts can help see how the community prioritizes things - a Protection Paladin is likely going to have a harder time finding a raid group as a main tank because they do lack the tools and abilities of Warriors and Druids, which is precisely why they're not well represented in raids. While everyone should feel free to play what they enjoy, understanding the pros, cons, and perceptions between the various classes is key to knowing what you're getting into, rather than spending a significant amount of time getting to level 60 only to realize that most end-game groups aren't interested in Paladin tanks. Ultimately Classic is an imbalanced game, which both gives it a certain amount of charm, as classes have wildly different tools and capabilities, but also comes with its own set of problems for both players interested in maximizing their chances of success and those who might struggle to find a place in such a community.
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