Secret Design of WoW PvE: Your role in a PvE raid

The series: [Intro­duc­tion, and a call for com­ments, Solo Dif­fi­cul­ty vs Group Dif­fi­cul­ty, PvE vs PvP, Vari­ety vs Spe­cial­iza­tion, Solo Per­former vs Group Util­i­ty, Your role in a PvE raid]

This is how every tal­ent tree of every class fits into a pve raid.

This list assumes play­ers at the same skill and gear lev­el. Every­one knows some­one who will say “how can you say that X does more dam­age than Y, my friend is Y and zomg pwns all in a big raid guild, blah blah”. The guild you men­tioned does­n’t have the same qual­i­ty at every per­son, your friend hap­pens to be the best play­er in that guild. Your friend would prob­a­bly be the best at any class they chose.

Also, many raid encoun­ters specif­i­cal­ly high­light one class’s fea­ture over anoth­er. So these com­para­tors don’t hold true for every event in the game.

Now, notice that I’m not list­ing every pop­u­lar build. The typ­i­cal hunter beast­mas­ter build is 41/20/0 or 41 points in Beast­mas­ter, 20 in Marks­man­ship, 0 in Sur­vival. The typ­i­cal com­bat rogue build is 40-odd points in Com­bat, 20 or so in Assas­si­na­tion. This isn’t a cat­a­log of every build for every class, just sweep­ing gen­er­al­iza­tions by tal­ent tree.

Final­ly, if I’ve made any errors, please leave a com­ment, and I’ll update this list.

Last updat­ed 2008-07-18. Includes revi­sions from Kiki­das (war­lock), Las­sira (hunter), and Kadir.

Com­mon to All roles

Druid - good gen­er­al pur­pose raid buff, good debuffs, good cast­er util­i­ty with inner­vate, good raid util­i­ty with in-bat­tle resurrection

Hunter - good ranged phys­i­cal dam­age, nice vari­ety of debuffs, best aggro man­age­ment, can help man­age the aggro of oth­ers, infi­nite dura­tion of dam­age (unique for ranged class­es), awk­ward crowd control

Mage - excel­lent ranged sin­gle target/aoe dam­age, pure dam­age class, cast­er raid buffs, decent aggro man­age­ment, good crowd con­trol, free food/drink

Pal­adin - excel­lent raid buffs via bless­ings, mul­ti­ple pal­adins stack very well in raids due to wide vari­ety of these bless­ings, good vari­ety of par­ty buffs in auras, nice buff/debuff melee option in judgments

Priest - decent raid buffs, good threat man­age­ment, lim­it­ed crowd control

Rogue - pure dam­age class, excel­lent sin­gle-tar­get melee dam­age, good aggro management

Shaman - excel­lent group util­i­ty via totems

War­lock - excel­lent sin­gle target/aoe dam­age, best dam­age over time, good debuffs to either do dam­age or enhance any­one else’s, free health potion equiv­a­lent between fights, lim­it­ed crowd con­trol, good raid wipe recov­ery via soul­stone, lim­it­ed aggro management

War­rior - enhances par­ty health or melee dam­age, good aoe melee debuffs

Dam­age / Dps

Druid (fer­al) - good melee phys­i­cal dam­age, enhances raid melee dam­age, dam­age does­n’t scale through endgame due to itemization
Druid (bal­ance) — good ranged mag­ic dam­age, enhances group cast­er damage

Hunter (beast­mas­ter) — excel­lent ranged phys­i­cal dam­age, enhances group dam­age of any type
Hunter (marks­man) — PvP dam­age spec, can also be excel­lent PvE dam­age with mid-tier raid­ing gear and up, good phys­i­cal dam­age group buff
Hunter (sur­vival) - PvP survivability/control. Also good raid util­i­ty in deep endgame PvE raid­ing via Expose Weak­ness, enhances all phys­i­cal damage.

Mage (fire) — high­est sus­tained ranged mag­ic damage
Mage (frost) — PvP survivability/control, low­est burst dam­age and high­est duration
Mage (arcane) — PvP burst dam­age, high­est burst dam­age and low­est duration

Pal­adin (ret­ri­bu­tion) — PvP dam­age. Also excel­lent par­ty dam­age buff in large raids.

Priest (shad­ow) — decent ranged mag­ic dam­age, good debuffs, excel­lent group util­i­ty in con­stant mana and health regen, dam­age does­n’t scale through­out endgame due to itemization

Rogue (com­bat) — high­est sus­tained melee phys­i­cal damage
Rogue (assas­si­na­tion) — my wife says, “Good ques­tion, what do full assassination/mutilate rogues do that com­bat rogues don’t?”
Rogue (sub­tle­ty) — PvP survivability/control.

Shaman (enhance­ment) — good phys­i­cal melee dam­age, great­ly enhances group melee damage
Shaman (ele­men­tal) — PvP nuking.

War­lock (afflic­tion) - excel­lent dam­age against boss­es, excel­lent raid util­i­ty via var­ied mob debuffs; aggro prob­lems due to most dam­age being DoT and there­fore hard to slow down when prob­lems arise.
War­lock (demonolo­gy) - good raid dam­age, most self-boost­ing abil­i­ties, ver­sa­til­i­ty via dif­fer­ent pet sacrifices
War­lock (destruc­tion) - PvP burst dam­age; can be excel­lent in deep endgame raids with appro­pri­ate crit gear. (look­ing for more info)

War­rior (arms) — PvP dam­age; how­ev­er, with suf­fi­cient phys­i­cal dam­age sup­port (usu­al­ly in mid/deep endgame) mob debuffs enhance phys­i­cal dam­age to make an arms war­rior useful.
War­rior (fury) — good melee phys­i­cal dam­age, good melee aoe


Deathknight - best tank for cast­er tar­gets (accord­ing to cur­rent pre-expan­sion information)

Druid (fer­al) - best tank for melee tar­gets, best sin­gle-tar­get off­tank, gear is prob­lem­at­ic in scal­ing through­out endgame (also, can switch with­out respec to cat-dps between fights)

Pal­adin (pro­tec­tion) - best tank for mul­ti­ple targets

War­rior (pro­tec­tion) - 2nd best at every­thing deathknight/druid/pally are good at, also great gener­ic sur­viv­abil­i­ty tricks for boss fights


Druid (restora­tion) - best heals over time, best heal­er on the move

Pal­adin (holy) - best sin­gle-tar­get healer

Priest (holy) - 2nd best at every­thing druid/pally/shammy are good at
Priest (dis­ci­pline) - PvP heal­er, good raid cast­er buff

Shaman (restora­tion) - best mul­ti-tar­get healer

More Words!

7 thoughts on “Secret Design of WoW PvE: Your role in a PvE raid”

  1. To start with… I’m biased towards a hybrid afflic­tion spec (my own: dark pact/ruin), so take what I say with a grain of salt. 

    Afflic­tion: Mul­ti­ple var­i­ties of afflock. High­est raid dam­age is Unsta­ble Afflic­tion war­lock, which has the most DoT’s of any spec of war­lock. If they use male­dic­tion, their curse of elements/curse of shad­ow bonus dam­age is increased — which makes mages, war­locks and shad­ow priests hap­py (can’t wait until it’s just one curse!). Most afflocks keep their infi­nite mana potion (aka IMP) out and phased. Rarely run out of mana due to life tap + siphon life + dark pact. Aggro is an issue (for all war­lock specs), as though you don’t spike quick­ly, you just keep going and we have a sin­gle 5 minute cooldown 50% aggro dump… which usu­al­ly isn’t good enough. We also tend to NOT do good DPS against trash mobs, unless we ignore our DoTs and just SB spam. :) Con­sid­ered the most ‘raid friend­ly’ spec due to blood pact, fire shield and improved CoS or CoE. 

    Demonolo­gy: Again, mul­ti­ple var­i­ties of demolock. From my under­stand­ing of this spec, usu­al­ly you sum­mon a min­ion only to sac­ri­fice it for the indi­vid­ual buff you gain, and spam SB. This spec, iirc, has the most self-boost­ing abil­i­ties for per­son­al dam­age, rather than raid boost­ing. Demonolo­gy locks can do very good raid dam­age, but may have mana issues. (life tap and drain health only) I’m not over­ly famil­iar with it. Fel­guard is the big bonus to this spec, but the fel­guard’s cleave makes micro­manag­ing it a must. 

    Destruc­tion: Destrolocks/Firelocks are tout­ed as a PvP spec, but has via­bil­i­ty in raids. Poor mana con­ser­va­tion (life tap and drain health only), but good spike dam­age. Spike dam­age with a 5 minute cooldown on your only aggro-dump abil­i­ty = bad. Which is prob­a­bly why this is usu­al­ly seen more in PvP than in raid­ing war­locks? This is the spec I have the least knowl­edge of. :) Who knows.. maybe the best raid­ing war­lock out there is a demo-dest warlock? 

    AoE: at 70, we get Seed of Cor­rup­tion (which over­writes Cor­rup­tion). SoC is arguably the best AoE abil­i­ty out there. It takes a while to go off, so you can stack SoC on mul­ti­ple mobs. When one SoC goes off, the rest do too (due to dam­age applied to the mob set­ting off SoC). SoC = 2000plusDPS + dead warlock. :)

    Won­der­ful series of posts, by the way. 

    There are I think some­thing like 16 or 18 dif­fer­ent “approved” specs of war­locks, and prob­a­bly a few more indi­vid­u­al­ized ones. Depend­ing on what spec you are, gear desires will alter. Demo/Destro locks are more crit inter­est­ed than an afflock. 

    Of the vari­ety of mana depen­dent dam­ag­ing class­es, war­locks are unique in most war­locks would rather have a high­er health pool than a high­er mana pool (at least in my expe­ri­ence. Life Tap = Love)

  2. Its prob­a­bly worth men­tion­ing: a Sur­vival build for hunters is not just about PvP via­bil­i­ty. The raid-wide Expose Weak­ness buff seems to be much sought-after in end-game (read: T6) con­tent, where the gear the hunter would be wear­ing real­ly makes the EW buff shine. (Expose Weak­ness pro­vides a buff of 25% of the hunter’s Agili­ty as Attack Pow­er to all attack­ers, raid-wide.)

  3. Kiki­das, thanks for the war­lock primer. I took a stab at a war­lock sec­tion, would you word any­thing differently?

    Las­sira, thanks much for the knowl­edge, I revised that entry to reflect your comments.

  4. Looks good to me! I’d hard­ly pre­sume to tell you how to rewrite some­thing. :) It does have the most lines devot­ed to it (4 lines in the ‘com­mon’ para­graph! Woot woot), which is appro­pri­ate since war­locks are bet­ter than any oth­er class. (I jest.) 

    I wish I could give you bet­ter infor­ma­tion on dest/demo, but I just haven’t played with it enough. 

    War­locks have the most num­ber of crowd con­trol abil­i­ties.. I think? Seduce, Ban­ish and Enslave and we can do two at once. Seduce + Ban­ish, or Ban­ish + Enslave. (Not count­ing fear as a ‘crowd con­trol’ abil­i­ty, but it is.)

    But that’s a whole oth­er sto­ry. :) Won­der­ful posts, like I said ear­li­er. Thank you.

  5. Kudos to that war­lock per­son up there too.

    And this sum­ma­ry rules. It’s much bet­ter than the one on WoWin­sid­er that I showed my guild leader months ago.

    Demo is all about sur­viv­abil­i­ty — like BM it’s decent until the pet dies, then it’s mediocre. It does have less effi­cien­cy than afflic­tion but come on… afflic­tion is the most mana effi­cient spec in the game. Demo locks have dam­age reduc­tion and a larg­er health pool and some­times a bet­ter health stone, so they can get away with tap­ping more. They also have sur­pris­ing­ly good per­son­al (not pet) dam­age thanks to Mas­ter Demo­nolo­gist and Demon­ic Knowl­edge, which scales with raid buffs afaik. Sac­ri­fic­ing is usu­al­ly what hybrid aff/demo or destro/demo locks do because it negates all of the pet tal­ents. Demo demons are stur­dy crea­tures, keep them alive and you’ll be fine.

    Destro I don’t know too well but basi­cal­ly, it’s a fire mage with DoTs. 0/21/40 is sup­pos­ed­ly the best lock build of all time once you get endgame gear; the first time our guild beat Kara, the top DPS was a destro lock with 4 000 000 dam­age total.

    Ret­ri­bu­tion pal­adins bring one decent debuff (tech­ni­cal­ly two, but one won’t touch boss­es) and an aura that increas­es par­ty dam­age. Speak­ing of which… you did­n’t men­tion auras for pal­adins. VERY impor­tant. Con­cen­tra­tion Aura with the appro­pri­ate tal­ents can give heal­ers 100% uninterruptibility.

    Assas­si­na­tion rogues have Improved Kid­ney Shot, which works well on any­thing that can be stunned. Sub rogues have Hemo of course. For those odd cas­es where there are no war­riors, Expose Armor will help a bear tank.

    You are cor­rect about ele­men­tal shamans — PvP most­ly, because shamans are the least mana effi­cient class in the game and the gener­ic ele­men­tal shaman build does not max out Unre­lent­ing Storm.

    There’s a strange vari­ant of the holy pal­adin called the Shockadin, which does mag­i­cal dam­age in PvP. Spe­cial men­tion per­haps? :) You might want to men­tion that holy pal­adins are con­sid­ered best sin­gle tar­get heal­ers main­ly because of mana effi­cien­cy (ie Flash of Light).

    Also, for priests, “ver­sa­tile” sounds bet­ter than ‘sec­ond best’ IMO, since the read­er already knows who’s best. They keep groups and sin­gle tar­gets alive and switch between them with lit­tle fuss.

  6. Thanks for the feed­back, Kadir.

    I’m try­ing to avoid going into too much detail regard­ing each spec and how it achieves its goals and just try­ing to stick with “Briefly, why are raid lead­ers inter­est­ed in X char­ac­ter?”. There are plen­ty of oth­er sources that go into great detail if some­one gets curi­ous about the nuts and bolts.

    I appre­ci­ate the catch on pal­ly auras, though. Can’t believe I for­got them!

  7. Hel­lo!, this blog entry was very use­full for me. But it was dif­fi­cult to find it with Maybe you should improve it with seo word­press plu­g­ins for word­press like WP seo. Just a tip ;) (=

Comments are closed.