Uncover the power dynamics with our Season of Discovery class tier list for Phase One.
Table of Contents
Rankings based on potential for diverse roles that extend beyond their traditional functions in Classic, adaptability, overall viability, and strong rune choices, considering factors like damage output and survivability:
- S-tier classes: Shaman, Warlock
- A-tier classes: Paladin, Hunter, Druid
- B-tier classes: Priest, Rogue
- C-tier class: Mage
- D-tier class: Warrior
We will update the tier list with more accurate information once the Season of Discovery is officially launched.
The highly anticipated launch of Season of Discovery is scheduled for November 30, 2023, at 1:00 PM (PST). Beyond a myriad of new features, the allure of this revamped WoW Classic lies in the unprecedented freedom for players to forge hybrid class combinations. You can have a Tank Rogue, a Healer Mage, or whatever it is that your imagination is capable of coming up with. This prompts an intriguing question: “What is the strongest class combination for Phase One of Season of Discovery?” To answer that question, we’ve assembled a convenient tier list for your consideration.
Before we dive in, it’s important to note that this tier list ranking is formed based on speculations and predictions using the currently available information about the Season of Discovery. This includes runes, talents, and other relevant aspects for all nine classes in WoW Classic. We will update it with more accurate information once the Season of Discovery is officially launched.
Tier List Criteria
The main criteria for ranking classes in our tier list are:
- Potential for diverse roles: The class’s adaptability and proficiency in a range of diverse roles, extending beyond their traditional functions in Classic, and potential for delivering a well-rounded and flexible gameplay experience.
- Overall viability: The overall effectiveness of each class, taking into account factors such as survivability, damage output, and utility.
- Strong rune choices: The class’s access to potent rune choices that will let you optimize your characters with impactful enhancements.
Now that you know how the list is formed, let’s break down what each tier means:
- S-tier: The top-performing specializations in their roles demonstrate exceptional proficiency across raids, dungeons, and PvP.
- A-tier: Just a step below S-tier. These combinations are a bit less effective but still perform exceptionally well in all outlined criteria.
- B and C-tiers: Middle-range specializations. While not as strong as the higher tiers in one or more aspects, they still have a good chance of being formidable.
- D-tier: Not the best choice at the moment based on the criteria.
WoW Classic Season of Discovery Class Tier List Phase 1
Shaman can easily stand at the top spot, given it’s a highly flexible class. It can tank, heal, and deliver both close-up and ranged attacks. The Enhancement Shaman, specializing in dual-wielding, has great hit probabilities for both melee and ranged strikes. With access to the potent Lava Burst, Elemental Shamans prove themselves as formidable raid contenders. This class’s versatility, combined with the infusion of new runes and abilities, renders it an exceptional choice for players seeking a multifaceted role.
You don’t have to rely solely on spamming Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning. The Elemental Shaman DPS gets a considerable boost in SoD. The synergy between Overload and Lava Burst substantially increases damage output. Thus potentially solidifying Elemental Shamans as a legitimate DPS specialization.
Enhancement Shamans gain notable advantages from their dual-wield specialization. It boosts their chances to hit with both spells and melee attacks. Utilizing abilities like Lava Lash as fillers enhances their combat capabilities. Currently, topping the damage charts might be a challenge for them. Yet, if they obtain the Maelstrom weapon in a forthcoming rune, it has the potential to enhance their damage output notably.
Shaman Tanks are about to receive proper abilities to fulfill their role more effectively in Season of Discovery. For example, they can acquire the Way of the Earth rune, transforming their Earth Shock into a taunt and bolstering their health pool. Shamans can use shields to block incoming damage and reduce the impact of critical hits. However, the innate abilities of Shamans grant them immunity to critical strikes. Thus reducing the necessity to prioritize stacking defense stats through items. The efficiency of threat generation for Shaman tanks remains uncertain. There’s an expectation that they might excel notably in dungeon scenarios rather than being considered the optimal choice for raids.
The Restoration Shaman has received a few iconic abilities from future expansions. For instance, Healing Rain and Earth Shield. However, as of now, these additions aren’t particularly outstanding. Restoration Shaman appears to have received the least attention regarding enhancements or updates among the healing specializations.
Elemental Shamans can dominate group PvP by dishing out significant damage. They might face challenges in one-on-one scenarios due to a lack of effective crowd control or escape abilities. But in group battles, these Shammies are the beasts of DPS.
Enhancement or melee-focused Shamans might face challenges in maintaining target engagement. But with Windfury procs, their damage output will be boosted significantly, resulting in impressive performance during encounters.
While Restoration Shamans might not match up to the top-tier healing classes, they remain a viable choice in the PvP landscape.
The Warlock class stands out as a versatile option. They can be a powerful caster, and they can also be a formidable tank. Their new Talent, Metamorphosis, offers increased armor, threat generation, and critical hit immunity. It enables them to step into tanking roles within dungeons and raids effectively. Furthermore, spells like Shadow Bolt and Chaos Bolt solidify the Warlock’s position as a top-tier caster.
Warlocks are leaning into a rune package emphasizing fire damage through spells like Chaos Bolt and Incinerate. While the potential to surpass Mage DPS remains uncertain, Fire Warlocks are poised to be competitive, possibly even surpassing Shadow Locks in damage output.
Warlock Tanks offer a unique but somewhat uncertain choice. It’s considered one of the less effective tanks alongside Rogues. In SoD, Metamorphosis becomes a permanent ability with a charge and AoE taunt. Despite a substantial 500% increase in armor, their ability to reduce damage falls short, making them vulnerable to significant harm. While their threat generation is decent, they lack the defensive strengths seen in other tanking classes.
Warlock Tanks are shaping up to be strong contenders in PvP scenarios. With abilities like Haunt, Master Channeler, and a substantial 500% armor boost alongside their usual toolkit of fear spells, defensive dispels, and Soul Link, Warlock Tanks emerge as formidable duelists in Season of Discovery. However, their demon form’s vulnerability to Paladins is a significant weakness.
The Paladin class has undergone significant improvements in the Season of Discovery. Their tanking capabilities have notably increased with the ability to taunt and utilize Avenger’s Shield for ranged pulls. Retribution Paladins now possess a more defined melee rotation with two new damaging abilities, offering a better overall experience. While not as versatile as Druids or Shamans, Paladins bring diverse abilities that make them a valuable asset to any group.
In the Season of Discovery, Retribution Paladins benefit significantly from runes. They might not claim the top DPS spot. However, the improvements in their utility address previous concerns about their team contribution. This transformation is noteworthy. If you still remember, Ret Paladins’s struggles in the original Vanilla WoW earned the spec a less-than-favorable reputation. Back then, many Paladin players felt compelled to stick with the Holy specialization. So, this is a substantial upgrade for Ret and a welcome change for Paladin DPS enthusiasts who have long awaited this transformation.
The addition of Beacon of Light represents a substantial healing boost for Paladins. They might not surpass Priests in raw healing output. But they can proudly stand among the rank of formidable healers.
Paladins now possess a taunt ability, suggesting they might excel in AoE tanking situations. The introduction of Aegis runes implies they could become exceptional mitigation tanks. However, they might fall behind Warriors and Druid in generating single-target threat unless they enhance their defense stats to achieve higher passive mitigation levels.
Retribution Paladins now have an interrupt ability and various potent damaging skills. They may not ascend to the status of PvP legends without additional support. Yet, their anti-demon abilities could make them effective counters, particularly against Warlock Tanks, who are anticipated to be quite formidable in PvP.
The Hunter class stands strong with its renowned soloing prowess and straightforward leveling. With the new runes, you can choose to play as a Melee or Ranged Hunter. The class is highly versatile with abilities like Carve, Flanking Strike, Explosive Shot, and Chimaera Shot. You can also decide to play with or without a pet, making Hunter a reliable pick for those who like ranged damage without having to deal with spells.
Hunters experience significant rune enhancements, amplifying their ranged DPS capabilities. Ranged Hunters will gain some abilities from the Retail version, such as Chimaera Shot and Explosive Shot. They may not surpass Mages in ranged damage output. But these buffs can give a big boost to their overall damage potential.
Melee Hunters have a promising outlook with significant rune support. However, their path to securing a top-tier DPS spot is uncertain in practical scenarios. Raptor Strike is now an instant spell with a chance to reset cooldowns of other damaging abilities. Moreover, melee Hunters have gained a powerful AoE ability called Carve, allowing them to hit multiple enemies in front of them.
Hunters can be nightmarishly evasive thanks to their kiting. The addition of a disarm feature through Chimera Shot brings a new dimension to Hunter PvP mechanics. However, there has yet to be a groundbreaking change in this aspect.
Like the Shaman, the Druid class stands out for its ability to take on various roles. Tanking, healing, both melee and ranged DPS, the Druid has got it all. With new runes and abilities like Mangle and Savage Roar, Feral Druids have become more viable in raid settings. The Druid’s flexibility in different roles, added healing spells for Restoration Druids, and improved abilities for Balance Druids make it a strong and versatile contender.
Feral DPS benefits greatly from rune support by adding Windfury Totem to their abilities. Paired with Leader of the Pack, this makes them excellent melee support DPS. Their personal DPS might still be slightly lower than Warriors and Rogues’s. However, Ferals are now approaching, if not already achieving, optimal performance in speed run raid compositions.
The Bears were already nearly on par with the Warriors in their tanking abilities. Now, with the addition of Windfury, they can achieve critical hit immunity along with a 20% damage reduction. Coupled with Lacerate, Bears will likely be the top tanks in the Season of Discovery. Even though they don’t have the same passive/active mitigation as Paladins and Warriors, their increased health bars and armor buffs can compensate for it.
Balance Druids gain some practical talents, but nothing is particularly outstanding for now. Currently, they might fall in the middle to lower end on the DPS meter. But watch out for potential future improvements.
Restoration Druids receive decent support through Living Seed and Lifebloom. The new ability in SoD, Fury of Stormrage, lets healer Druids cast Wrath without using mana, boosting their healing abilities. This opens up the possibility for a hybrid DPS and healer playstyle for them. However, they might still be on the lower end of the healing meters as they lack significant upgrades.
Feral Druids acquire interrupt and charge abilities, which are beneficial in PvP scenarios. However, in one-on-one encounters, they might not surpass Warlocks or Rogues. And in group damage, they might not outperform Shamans. But if left uninterrupted, they can still deal substantial damage.
The Priest class is already renowned for its healing prowess. Now, it’s even showcasing significant damage-dealing capabilities in the Season of Discovery. With new additions like Penance and Mind Sear, along with the introduction of new runes, Priests become a versatile choice for players looking for a balance between healing and DPS roles.
Shadow Priests can benefit a lot from rune support. In SoD, the Shadow spec excels at delivering effective AoE damage with Mind Sear. They also acquire a new damage-over-time spell called Void Plague. Looking forward, future runes, especially Homunculi, could play a crucial role as a raid cooldown for bosses. However, while these improvements suggest a noticeable enhancement in viability, they might not immediately propel the class to the optimal position. It’s also worth noting that limitations on critical hits for Mind Flay and damage-over-time effects somewhat constrain the class.
In Vanilla WoW, the Priest was acknowledged as the most potent healer at level 60, and it seems this dominance will persist. They have acquired several new tools that enhance their healing abilities. For instance, Power Word: Barrier could notably assist in managing specific raid mechanics. Penance remains a highly effective heal. However, none of the new abilities obtained from Runes stand out as particularly exceptional. Nonetheless, Priests continue to be a consistently reliable option for anyone intending to heal in SoD.
Shadow Priests possessed resilience in PvP due to their durability as casters. The addition of DoTs and Shadow Word: Death enhances their viability, particularly in duels. They might not dominate group PvP like Elemental Shaman or Mages. Still, they’re now more than capable of holding their ground.
Rogues, known for their engaging PvP gameplay and crowd control abilities, have received significant enhancements. The newfound ability to use ranged weapons and potential raid tanking, courtesy of new runes, brings added versatility. Nonetheless, Rogues primarily function as DPS. And it’s somewhat limiting their role choices compared to other classes.
As DPS, Rogues continue with the traditional assassination rotation of poison abilities. The expected boost in single-target DPS from stealth marks a notable improvement over the existing combat daggers build. While their effectiveness may rise, they might still remain in the shadows compared to Warriors.
Presently, moderately geared Rogue Tanks face challenges due to their limited armor. And so, boss attacks can be lethal to them. However, with future runes and gear, there’s potential for them to become the most formidable tank spec, possibly achieving a staggering 100% avoidance. While they won’t excel at launch, keep an eye on this evolving spec.
Rogues have long held a high position in 1v1 PvP due to their chains of crowd control. As of now, none of their runes seem to be game-breaking for PvP. Nevertheless, it appears that Rogues won’t be giving up their position as one of the strongest classes in PvP anytime soon.
Mages are renowned for high damage output, efficient farming, and crowd control. Even in SoD, they remain a steady choice as they will receive more single-target spells and even healing abilities.
Fire Mage DPS was always the best caster in traditional Vanilla. In SoD, the spec gains significant buffs with runes like Burnout. However, the potential dark horse for Mage DPS lies with Arcane Blast. Combine Burnout with Arcane Blast, and the Mages’ damage output could skyrocket. The tricky part is handling such intensive mana consumption.
Mage healing shows promise despite having limited abilities. Their significant mana regeneration with gems and Evocation makes them suitable for prolonged fights where efficient healing is crucial. They could serve as viable raid healers in the Season of Discovery, though not as potent as traditional healing specs.
Frost Mages were formidable in PvP even before the Season of Discovery. Now, with upgrades like Ice Lance, Icy Veins, and Fingers of Frost, their damage in PvP is significantly boosted. It’s anticipated that Frost Mages will continue to maintain their top-tier status.
Warriors remain among the top-tier tanks and melee DPS in the game, although they haven’t seen as many changes as the other classes in the Season of Discovery. The new Victory Rush rune provides a smoother gameplay experience. But for those seeking a completely different playstyle than usual, Warriors might not be the best choice.
Fury Warriors receive significant DPS runes for their spec. Despite these runes appearing ordinary, they could lead to a minimum 25% DPS increase, thanks to Flagellation. Given their already strong position, it’s unlikely that other classes will be able to catch up with them once SoD enters later phases, allowing Fury Warriors to maintain their top DPS position. Nevertheless, as the class fails to meet the above criteria, its standing is within the D-tier.
Protection Warriors might lag behind Bear Tanks. Sword and Board Tanks could still excel in mitigation, but Paladins may offer better alternatives.
Warbringer presents a game-changing addition for PvP warriors, enabling the use of Charge in combat. This enhancement could make Warriors exceptionally persistent, even without defensive dispels. Coupled with healers in PvP scenarios, they will become an unstoppable force.
This wraps up our Season of Discovery Phase 1 class tier list. Please do keep in mind that this list is entirely speculative, relying on predictions from the information available. It represents just one opinion among many. And while tier lists can provide guidance, the true essence of WoW Classic Season of Discovery lies in exploring and finding the best specs, runes, and rotations for your chosen class. Play with the class that resonates with you and brings the most enjoyment. Happy adventuring!