Biggest Changes to DPS in Classic WoW if You've Played BFA
Welcome to our overview of the biggest changes to DPS classes in Classic WoW as compared to Battle for Azeroth! While DPS have been around since vanilla, much has changed over 15 years. If you've been playing BFA without any Vanilla experience but want to get into Classic, or are a Vanilla vet that wants a refresher course, these are the largest changes to DPS you should know about.
Before we get into the differences, we wanted to highlight our Classic DPS Class Guides, which cover everything from talent builds to Best in Slot gear:
Feral DPS Druid
Available Classes and Races
There are fewer races and classes available in Classic WoW--no Allied Races, Goblins, Worgen, Draenei, Blood Elves, or Pandaren. In addition, some DPS did not have access to as many original races in Classic WoW:
Druids cannot be Trolls
Hunters cannot be Gnome, Human or Undead
Mages cannot be Dwarf, Night Elf, or Orc
Paladins cannot be Tauren
Priests cannot be Gnomes or Tauren
Shaman cannot be Dwarf
Warlocks cannot be Dwarf or Troll
Three DPS classes were not present in Classic WoW--Death Knight, Demon Hunter, Monk. In addition, some classes had notable differences:
Rogues had the Combat specialization, not Outlaw.
Paladins were limited to the Alliance, while Shaman were limited to the Horde.
Hunters had an elaborate
Pet Loyalty system
, ammo/quivers and Survival was a ranged DPS spec.
Each class in Classic WoW has a series of class-specific quests with notable rewards, emphasizing the identity of their particular role. These can teach new abilities such as
or useful gear like
. Every class has a special questline that will take them into
at higher levels.
Hunters and Priests also have special class quests, starting from drops, for notable weapons:
Rhok'delar, Longbow of the Ancient Keepers - Hunter
Benediction / Anathema - Priest
If you're coming from Battle for Azeroth or any of the previous expansions then you might be accustomed to a simpler consumable system of 1 Flask and 1 Food Buff to increase your primary stat. In Classic WoW, there are many types of elixirs which all stack with each other, covering a variety of stats instead of the usual primary/secondary ones.
For example, you can have all the following buffs active as a DPS warrior:
. Learn about all the consumables available in Classic WoW and how they stack with the
Classic WoW Consumable Guide
There were also more consumables you could utilize in-combat. Engineering had explosives which can be used to deal extra DPS, such as
. Potions were not limited to one per battle, and so you could burn through more per encounter as well.
As bosses could only have sixteen debuffs active concurrently, raids had to plan what debuffs they wanted active--and what abilities players needed to avoid casting, to avoid knocking valuable debuffs off.
Some DPS provided valuable debuffs, such as:
are notable as they lower a boss' magical resistance, increasing the DPS casters can do the boss.
Some classes can apply unwelcome debuffs, such as
or DoTs, so players should generally avoid those abilities in groups. Learn more in the
Debuff Management Guide
Tier sets in vanilla were also hit-or-miss, providing bonuses that were somewhat useful to all roles, instead of bonuses that changed per specialization. While pure DPS generally had set bonuses focused on DPS, not all of these bonus were applicable to PvE, such as the 3-piece for
As there was no bonus for using a particular armor type, many DPS casters gravitated towards cloth armor pieces in vanilla WoW, and mail DPS leather, as it provided the best itemization. For example, pre-raid Hunters wanted the Leather Helm
, often associated with Rogues.
In addition, some classes preferred gear that could randomly roll a large amount of a + magic damage stat, such as
(Frozen Wrath) for Mages and
(of Shadow Wrath) for Warlocks.
Collecting gear overall in Classic will require a different mentality than BFA, as nothing can Titanforge. This means you will be working towards a clear Best-in-Slot set, targeting certain bosses for their drops. Players may also want to collect different sets for DPS and surviving resistance encounters.
Check out our BiS guides for more details:
Feral DPS Druid
Most Buffs in Classic WoW were party-wide, not raid-wide. This often led the raid leader to organize groups based who had the best buff synergy, creating "caster groups" and "Melee groups."
Some notable buffs that were party-wide include
Pure DPS vs Hybrids
In Battle for Azeroth, all DPS specs are created to be equally powerful. Some specs have different strengths and weaknesses, but all specs are suitable for DPSing throughout an encounter at a high level. While we have advanced tools now like Raidbots and Warcraft Logs to determine what is the very best DPS for each fight, as well as their gear setup, class balance overall is more even than it was in Classic for DPS.
Classic WoW had hybrid and pure classes. The concept of a "hybrid tax" meant that Hybrids could fulfill multiple roles, but a pure DPS (in theory) would perform better than a hybrid. This was to ensure there were reasons for taking a pure DPS, who could only fulfill one role, over a Hybrid that could perform many. Some hybrid specs struggled with sustained damage or mana usage, but there are still reasons to bring them to raids as detailed below and a hybrid with powerful gear can deal serious burst in PvP. Plus, some players view gearing up a hybrid as a fun challenge, and the sky is the limit for skilled players!
Unconventional DPS classes can also provide notable buffs for other players, such as:
Enhancement Shaman have the strongest buff totems due to
Feral Druids provide 3% melee Crit to the party via
Shadow Priests buff the Warlocks in the raid via
Fire Resistance, a stat which mitigates incoming magical fire damage, is very helpful for some Phase 1 Classic WoW encounters in Molten Core and Onyxia, especially if you need additional survivability. Do keep in mind that much of the pre-raid Fire Resistance gear is lacking in other stats, so while your survivability may increase, your raid performance otherwise will decrease.
Later in Classic WoW, players could collect Nature Resistance for Ahn'Qiraj and Frost Resistance for Naxxramas.
Over the years, many stats have been added and removed to World of Warcraft. While Mastery and Versatility were not present in Classic WoW, there are many stats modern players will be unfamiliar with when playing Classic.
Classic WoW Stats Guide
describes all stats in a bit more detail. Some things to be aware of as a DPS:
While we generally associate Plate with Strength and Leather with Agility wearers in BFA, both stats provided benefits for melee DPS.
Spell Damage could be broken down further into damage boosting just one school of magic. A warlock, casting mostly Shadow spells, would choose to collect BoE random suffix gear that only provided Shadow Damage, over a dungeon drop that had overall spellpower in a lower amount.
Critical strike, haste, and hit were around in Classic, but they were split between melee and spell variants.
Mitigation stats like resistances were important to surviving encounters like Ragnaros and Huhuran.
The talent system went through a major overhaul ever since Vanilla. In Battle for Azeroth, instead of having three trees of talents with mostly small tuning pieces, you must choose your specialization, which then unlocks the core abilities and traits of it. You can preview the vanilla talents in our
Classic Talent Calculator
In Battle for Azeroth, you can change your specialization at any time, without any cost, as long as you're out of combat. In order to change talents, you must be out of combat and you either need to be in a resting zone, like a major city or inn or to be under the effect of special items that allow you to change talents on the fly, like special Tomes.
In Classic WoW, players must visit a Class Trainer in order to change their talent tree selections. This process has a cost attached to it, which starts as a small fee but increases every time you perform it, up to a cap of . This cost is reduced by per month, to a minimum of . Therefore, players generally stick with one talent build as they level, instead of constantly swapping.
However, class specialization trees are less niche in Classic than they are in BFA; it's not uncommon to see someone with points in a DPS tree tank, or other hybrid builds of multiple specs. You can also play a DPS and have points in multiple DPS trees.
As for class abilities, they are awarded automatically as you level up in BFA, but in Classic, you must go back to your trainer to learn them at various levels. Many abilities also have ranks, with higher ranks providing stronger versions of an ability. You may also be surprised how "simple" the rotation is for DPS classes, you may be spamming one button repeatedly a lot of the time.
Threat is very important in Classic WoW. The more threat that the tank is able to generate increases the amount of damage your DPS players will be able to do before pulling threat (ideally they will never pull threat). All players can generate threat by dealing damage, healing, casting beneficial buffs and removing harmful debuffs--and threat is only wiped by a player death. If a non-Tank player is high on threat, they may hold back on casting abilities, which in turn hampers their performance.
Therefore, the higher a tank's TPS is, the higher a party/raid's DPS can be. You may hear the phrase "wait for 5 sunders to DPS" tossed around in order to ensure a DPS will not rip aggro off a tank at the start of an encounter.
Alliance players can more easily manage their threat generation due to the
, whereas Horde players must be within range of a
Learn more about this mechanic in our
Comprehensive Classic WoW Threat Guide
Weapon Skill for Melee
Weapon skill represents your proficiency with a type of weapon, and increasing your weapon skill reduces your chance to miss when attacking a target. Melee DPS will be very interested in increasing their weapon skill through items like
While seeming relatively basic and boring, this is one of the most powerful modifiers a Player can come across in Classic WoW. Every Weapon Skill you gain over 300 substantially reduces Miss chance, Block chance, Parry, Dodge, while also increasing your chance to Critically Strike!
Glancing Blows are Auto-Attacks that deal reduced damage to Creatures. When attacking a Creature or Boss with 15 Defense Skill higher that the Players Weapon Skill, Glancing Blows will have their damage reduced by 70%. Weapon Skill plays a huge part in lowering the damage reduction from a Glancing Blow.
Learn more in the
Classic WoW Weapon Skill Guide
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