Classic WoW PvP Class Tier List - Best Classes for PvP
Classic WoW Phase 2 is on the horizon, and with it comes the addition of the much anticipated PvP Honor System, incentivizing PvP throughout the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. Although Battlegrounds won't be added until later phases, players will be out in droves, fighting in places like Hillsbrad Foothills, Stranglethorn Vale, and other contested zones.
With that in mind, we're taking a look at all the Classic WoW classes and their popular PvP specializations, to see how well they fare in PvP combat and what they bring to the table. Unlike previous rankings, this Classic PvP Class Tier List isn't made up from WarcraftLogs statistics, and is instead based on our experience with Classic WoW and the opinion of our Class Guide authors, so feel free to let us know what you agree or disagree with in the comments below.
We're already well aware that the different classes and specalizations of Classic WoW are not created equal. Some specializations flat out deal more damage, do more healing, or have better tools for certain situations. While that can make a very big difference in PvE content, such as trying to play a Fire Mage in Molten Core, the much more dynamic pace of PvP combat allows every class more opportunity to shine, as they can better bring their full range of spells and abilities to bear.
As there are realities to competitive play, this article will still attempt to rank those various classes and specializations, but the intent is not to tell anyone what they should consider fun or decide to play; many players find joy in playing competitively underrepresented classes, and a skilled player in PvP will always find a way to shine. If you're not already familiar with PvP in Classic WoW, take a look at our
WoW Classic Class Guides for PvP Overview
in order to familiarize yourself with the basics of each class in PvP.
Honor System Overview
Honor Sets and Rewards
WoW Classic Classes in PvP
Classic PvP Class Tier List
Please keep in mind that WoW Classic is built off of patch 1.12 balance and design, which means some aspects of Classic classes differ from Vanilla. The analysis below is based on current performance in the Classic client, using Patch 1.12 abilities, but before they've obtained full Rank 14 gear, BiS Naxxramas, or other end-of-content inflation. Likewise, keep in mind that not every single specialization is listed, as many classes typically hybridize rather than invest fully in one tree or another, while other specializations such as Fire Mage are largely underplayed during Phase 2, though each section of the write up below will include a link to typical talent builds along with comparable alternatives provided by our authors, and you can find a list of our PvP Class Guides at the bottom of the article.
Demonology Warlocks have arguably the best defensive toolkit in the entire game. Between Voidwalker
, as well as access to their Felhunter's dual offensive/defensive dispel, they can go toe to toe with any other class and survive even in intense group combat
are also extremely viable, trading some of the pet focused survivability for exceptionally high burst damage potential through a combination of
, which can be smart trade when when properly supported by healers in group content.
Frost Mages are one of the strongest PvP classes due to their wide range of offensive and defensive abilities. Frost Nova is capable of locking down entire groups of players at once, allowing the opportunity for players to use Goblin Sapper Charges and other strong AoE abilities to nuke them down. Mages bring strong single target and multitarget damage, the ability to slow enemies while dealing damage, excellent kiting potential, Blink to get out of bad situations and create space, Ice Barrier on a short cooldown, and Ice Block to immune damage and remove any form of crowd control. Their toolkit is near unparalleled and lends itself well to both dueling and group combat. Full Fire or Arcane typically aren't prioritized at this stage of the game, though there are a few talent variations which invest into both alongside Frost, between
Improved Counterspell Frost
for better interrupting and survivability or
Critical Mass Shatter
for greater damage potential from
, but they all use the Frost tree as a basis due to its kiting tools, survivability, and the damage potential of
Holy Paladin is hands down one of the best specializations in the game, as they take everything that already makes them strong in PvE and adds even more situations for their impressive list of utility abilities to shine. Paladins are the quintessential support class which never focuses on just one thing - a Holy Paladin doesn't just bring strong heals, it's buffing allies with Blessings and Auras, judging and stunning enemies, removing snares, bubbling friendly players, and dealing damage through auto attacks all at the same time, while plate armor helps keep them alive longer than other healers. These builds invest heavily in Holy, with the option of
dipping into Protection
points in Retribution
is regarded as one of the best Solo PvP Classes in all of Classic WoW. With an array of powerful offensive Spells such as
can really dish out damage. But Shadow Priests aren't known just for their "face-melting damage", they are also extremely tough to take down, thanks to defensive Spells such as
, and flat damage reduction from
Classic Mage PvP
Classic Shadow Priest PvP
Classic Holy Paladin PvP
Classic Warlock PvP
Arms Warriors can be downright terrifying in PvP combat, bringing high damage, defense, mobility, a wide range of crowd control, and one of the most important debuffs in PvP,
. Although individually susceptible to kiting and attrition due to their own lack of self healing, a well supported Arms Warrior is nearly unstoppable unless outplayed or overwhelmed. Any healer pairs well, though Paladins are especially useful due to
countering one of the Warriors major weaknesses, allowing them to maintain constant pressure on enemy combatants with downright disgusting burst potential through
general Arms pvp spec
is very similar to the leveling/dungeon spec, which makes for an easy transition, although take care to match the weapon specialization talent with whatever weapon you intend to use, as they're all viable in their own right.
Assassination and Subtlety Rogues are incredibly popular in PvP, with a reputation for ganking, lockdown, and generally running circles around their opponents when operated by skilled players. They do lose a little bit when pushed into heavily populated group PvP situations, such as the kind seen in the infamous Tarren Mill v Southshore or Gurubashi Arena combat, better served picking off stray players on the sidelines rather than getting deep into the mix, as a focus fired Rogue very quickly turns into a dead Rogue. As Rogues are very cooldown driven, typical builds split between
Assassination and Subtlety
to quickly burst down unwary targets, along with
in order to refresh those cooldowns when needed, although several variations which dip further into Combat for
Survival Hunter is a bit of a misnomer, as most Hunter builds revolve around Marksmanship, but this build invests more points into Survival in order to gain both strong offensive and defensive talents
, all of which help counter a Hunters biggest weakness - being caught in the dead zone of melee range in which they cannot use their ranged weapon.
Investing in Marksmanship
is still crucial however, as
is extremely useful for setting up traps, kiting, and escaping deadly situations. Alternatively,
pet focused Beast Mastery builds
eschew the points in Survival in order to gain increased pet damage and
, though it requires much more pet management, as losing it will severely reduce damage potential.
Elemental Shaman has a lot of overlap with Restoration, as many of the talents are good for both damage and healing, allowing the spec to be very versatile. Unlike many hybrids however, Elemental maintains very high damage potential, capable of bursting down other players very quickly while also keeping up a respectable amount of healing. Elemental builds have a choice between the
, which can be used both offensively or defensively as needed, or trading that point for
for greater burst potential.
Restoration Shaman differs from Elemental in that it invests almost entirely into Restoration, with the leftover points split between Elemental and Enhancement. Although the Elemental builds listed above can certainly be played with a focus on healing, this
Deep Resto build
is fully focused on increased healing with
and sustain through
. Whether or not that's worth the loss of versatility from heavy investment in Elemental is up to the user, although the sustain can be very useful when engaged in constant group combat.
Classic Arms Warrior PvP
Classic Rogue PvP
Classic Hunter PvP
Classic Elemental Shaman PvP
Classic Shaman Healer PvP
Discipline Priests are respectable healers, but really shine in their ability to stay in the fight as several talents focus on mana cost, regeneration, and reducing cast time, as well as greatly empowering allies with
. Discipline also brings a bit more offensive power through
, which lends itself to a support role in group situations where there are several healers. The typical build focuses on
maximum sustain and survivability
for extended combat.
Restoration and Balance Druids fill very similar roles in that both tend to focus on
for damage and healing alike. While the build is fully capable of focusing on either damage or healing, a well played Druid is capable of doing both as the situation warrants - the greatest strength of the class is its flexibility, able to deal damage, heal, tank, stealth, crowd control, and
; this is why Balance builds often
forgo the keystone talent
, as although it is very attractive, it locks them out of their greater toolkit. That said,
deeper Restoration focused builds
certainly exist, such as the
hybrid, which focuses much more on healing with minimal investment into Balance and Feral support talents support. Which is better is really up to the user and their intended role in PvP combat.
Classic Priest Healer PvP
Classic Druid Healer PvP
Holy Priests still invests heavily into Discipline talents, but trades some of the survivability and power advantages for more raw healing power. While not quite as versatile, their healing contribution shouldn't be overlooked, especially in larger groups where there are a more incoming damage to keep up with. Unfortunately the keystone talent,
, is still rather worthless, but
all contribute to increasing the Holy Priest's output in the
standard Holy build
Retribution Paladins are much more versatile in PvP than PvE combat, finally able to bring their wide range of abilities to bear. In PvE, the stale rotation is a hindrance, as there isn't much else to do while auto attacking, but in PvP that downtime affords them the opportunity to buff, spot heal, cleanse, freedom, shield, or stun other players. Like Holy Paladins, their strength is in their versatility, and a Paladin should never really be trying to do just one thing - their strength is the ability incapacitate an enemy with
while healing an ally, using
on a friendly Warrior, and protecting an allied caster with
, all while building up charges of
and fishing for
procs with auto attacks. The standard Retribution PvP build goes all the way to Repentance, splitting the remaining points between
Holy and Protection
, though a
alternative exists in order to take
Classic Priest Healer PvP
Classic Ret Paladin PvP
Fury Warriors are unfortunately wholly outshined by Arms, due to both the absence of Mortal Strike and the additional penalties associated with dual wielding. Really the biggest strike against them is the fact that the best parts of the Fury specialization are located high up in the talent tree, where Arms will have access to them anyway - things like
; the only real loss is the lack of
more than makes up the difference in group combat. As Fury is the go-to raid specialization, the
typical PvE spec
will serve well enough for more casual PvP players, though there are several tweaks which can be made in order to better optimize with
, or even
if you so choose.
Enhancement Shaman are controversial, as the specialization is pretty mediocre until the stars align and Windfury globals someone. Many players will disagree with placing the specialization this far down precisely because those moments feel
, but the uncontrollable RNG nature makes it hard to depend on and get out when it's really needed. It's the type of specialization that lends itself well to a highlight reel, and can be insanely fun with things
, but also a little frustrating when things don't go your way. Outside of that, they continue to make a good supporting class with spot heals and totem buffs, though unlike PvE the amount of movement involved can make keeping allies in range of totems a bit difficult. Virtually all Enhancement builds are based around
, with the option of building into
Elemental for offense
Restoration for survivability
Feral Druids, that is to say players actually fully specced as Feral meaning to stay in Cat or Bear Form the majority of the time, can be very strong in Battlegrounds as flag carriers, stealth cappers, and literally run circles around some other players in one on one situations, but that doesn't really do much for them in open world PvP combat outside of ganking solo players. The reliance on combo points, without the ability to burst down other players like a Rogue leaves them somewhat lacking in damage, while focusing solely on Feral only limits their flexibility in group situations. Druids of any specialization are at their strongest when they hybridize, serving as a mix of damage dealer, healer, harassment, and lockdown, and playing that way can easily cause them to jump up one or even several tiers, but focusing on just one thing is a disservice to their expansive toolkit. The
typical Feral Druid build
actually tends to invest very little into the Feral tree, in order to pick up important tools from all three specs,
, and even
Classic DPS Warrior PvP
Classic Enhancement Shaman PvP
Classic Feral Druid PvP
Tanks in general are weak in PvP. While they can play a role as flag carriers in Warsong Gulch or raid boss tanks in Alterac Valley, it will still be several months before we see those Battlegrounds introduced and until that time they just don't bring much to the table. That doesn't mean they can't be
in PvP however, but their role is generally going to be harassment, slowing, stunning, and interrupting targets while the rest of the team does the heavy lifting.
Protection Warrior in particular brings a bit more to the table in that regard, as it has several short duration crowd control abilities and an offensive dispel, which can allow it to play a strong nuisance role in PvP, but it's no one man army - charging into the enemy's back line expecting to AoE fear and lock down an entire group is a quick ticket back to the graveyard. Arms and Fury both bring 90% of the toolkit with better damage capability, though a
properly specced Protection Warrior
Protection Paladins unfortunately has a lot working against them, as they're not only fairly mana intensive, but lacking ranged abilities, and don't really bring anything that Holy or Retribution don't already do as well or better. Their
invests deep enough for
with the rest put into Retribution, but at that point they're functionally playing as Retribution rather than a tank-like Protection spec.
Classic WoW Class Guides for PvE
Did any class stand out to you from our tier list? Click on the links below to read our detailed PvP Class Guides, for details on best talent builds, gear, consumables, and races.
Feral DPS Druid
Feral Tank Druid
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