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How to choose your World of Warcraft class

How to choose your World of Warcraft class
Troy Zaher

Troy Zaher

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Picking a class in World of Warcraft can be a grueling task. You won’t really know how much you’ll like a class until you’re deep into the game. By then, you’ll have too many hours invested to want to start over. Many players will try to find out more about the class, to try and get some insight into what they may like. Below we’ve compiled a list of each class, with an explanation of what playstyles they typically have, to help you narrow down your choices.

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How to choose your World of Warcraft class

Classes and Roles:

Before looking at each class individually, it’s important to understand the roles of WoW. Warcraft follows the standard MMO model of having three roles that a class can be: Tank, Healer, and someone who fights with damage per second (DPS). While each class has its own way to play these roles, each role has its own general playstyle, particularly in group content like dungeons and raids. Tanks take enemy aggro and have damage reduction abilities, Healers heal the tank (and any allies that may have gained some accidental aggro), and DPS are the main damage dealers to enemies.

Since each class has three specializations (except Druid), many classes are capable of fulfilling multiple roles (though not at the same time). For example, Druids have a tank specialization, a healing specialization, and two DPS specializations, so they are able to fulfill any role depending on the specialization you have equipped. Additionally, all units have at least one DPS specialization, with many featuring more than one DPS option.

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DPS only classes

Despite not having the ability to heal or tank, many of these classes are able to summon creatures to tank for them or are able to stealth their way through most content.


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Despite being a solely DPS class, Hunters have a surprisingly large amount of versatility. This is primarily due to their beast companion. They are able to tame any beast in the game and make it a companion of theirs. This means that there are hundreds of pets to choose from that provide different options for the Hunter to have. Additionally, Hunters have the option of being a ranged or melee DPS class.

Hunters are also one of the best classes for soloing. Since they have a beast companion, they are able to use that companion to tank for them in many situations, and they can even heal their tanking pet periodically. Depending on their spec and beasts, they may even be able to take on some multiplayer content with just their beasts.

  • Marksmen – Ranged DPS that typically forgo the use of your pet to make your ranged damage even more powerful.
  • Beast Mastery – A spec that increases the power of your beasts, and even lets you summon more than one at a time.
  • Survival – Melee DPS class that with a specialization in traps and poisons.

Hunter is a great class to choose for solo-play or lovers of animal companions. They are also the only non-magical ranged class, so they are a great choice for anyone who likes ranged DPS but doesn’t want the cast times.


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Rogue is the only pure DPS class without a pet option. However, Rogues makes up for this with their agility, stealth, and poison abilities. Each Rogue spec can take some time to master, but the payoff is fantastic for anyone who likes stealthy characters. In some ways, they follow the classic thief and rogue archetypes of older RPGs, but they have a much more diverse set of abilities through their specializations. There are only a few other choices that are on par with the Rogue when it comes to an agile and stealth-based playstyle, and the Rogue is the only class to carry this playstyle between all specs (though some are more based around it than others).

  • Subtlety – Stealth spec. This spec is all about maximizing your stealth skills and becoming an untouchable and unseeable force of danger.
  • Assassination – Poison, bleed, and general status ailment spec with some additional focus on dual daggers. Assassination Rogues are the middle ground between full offense and subtle killing.
  • Outlaw – The closest thing to a pirate class you’re gonna find. It makes the Rogue similar to a swashbuckler by increasing their sword damage and giving them the ability to use a pistol as well. While they retain the Rogue’s stealth abilities, this spec is known for having a more up-front playstyle.


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This is a class that any RPG player will be at least somewhat familiar with, as it follows a standard mage archetype of a high damage frail magic user. Lovers of magic will not be disappointed by this class, as each specialization does an excellent job at making you feel like the powerful mage you are.

Despite having some DoT abilities, mages are mostly known for having high damage nukes that take a while to cast. Other DPS classes are typically doing consistent damage or slow ramping damage. This makes them highly immobile, which doesn’t fit everyone’s playstyle. Nevertheless, they have a pretty nice variety of spell options in each spec, so if you don’t mind a cast-time playstyle, you can have a lot of fun with this class.

  • Fire – As the name implies, this spec uses fire to deal damage to enemies. It combines damage over time with extremely powerful blasts of fire to scorch enemies.
  • Frost – Frost is a specialization of chilling spells that will often slow or freeze your enemy. Since it has its own summoned creature (water elemental) and it has a lot of slowing abilities, this is typically a good specialization to focus on if you’re going to be playing a lot of content solo.
  • Arcane – This is your generic magic specialization. It has more standard magic spells like Arcane missiles. It forgoes those status ailments that the Fire and Frost specs cause in order to focus on pure damage. It also has some unique out of combat spells, such as conjuring food and teleporting.


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Warlocks are somewhat similar to Hunters where they have a constant pet. Their pets, however, are not nearly as numerous as the Hunters. Instead, they make up for this lack of diversity, with highly specialized demons. Each demon they are able to summon has its own focus and developing strengths (such as Voidwalker being a tank pet). On top of these demons, they also have specializations in damage of time abilities. Their primary damage comes from fire and fel magical abilities which can be fun as a dark alternative to the Mage class.


Affliction – Damage over time. As with most DoT specs, this is a pretty mobile DPS spec, and one of only a few coming from a highly magical class. These spells focus on the Warlock’s fel magic and often provide some draining abilities and debuffs.

  • Destruction – Nuke damage. Very similar to the Mage’s Flame spec, Destruction uses fire magic to demolish enemies. However, they tend to have a higher focus on AOE and less on DoTs than the Mage’s Flame spec.
  • Demonology – Demon mastery spec. This is very similar to the Beast Mastery Hunter spec, as it increases the strength and a potential number of your permanent demon pets.

Healer, and DPS classes


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Shamans have a little of everything in their arsenal, but they are unique among the classes as an area-controlling class. They can set up totems and use these to manipulate the stats, health, and various other factors of the allies and enemies around them. There aren’t any other classes that are focused on buffs like the Shaman is. While this isn’t the primary benefit of the class, it definitely sets Shamans apart from everyone else. As a master of the elements, you can really have a lot of fun with the spells at the Shaman’s disposal.


Restoration – Healing spec. Shamans borrow a little bit of healing from each healing playstyle. They have some healing over time, some proactive healing, and some reactive healing. This makes them fairly mobile but primarily allows them to switch the type of healing the use to fit the situation best.

  • Elemental – Ranged DPS. Elemental Shamans have a strong specialization towards single target damage and are able to output some of the highest single target damage in the game. They also are able to summon elemental pets, much like the Frost Mage. Elemental Shamans are typically seen as an easy but effective class to learn and are great for new players who struggle with understanding class rotations.
  • Enhancement – Melee DPS. This is one of the only magical melee specs in the game, where you use magic to enhance your melee weapons in various ways. You also can use typical shaman spells, so there is some general magic thrown into this spec as well.


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This is the generic RPG healer class. At least that’s the way it comes across. Unlike the Mage who follows it’s RPG archetype through each spec, only the Holy Priest plays like a traditional healer. That being said, the Priest is the only class with two healing specs to choose from, making it the only healer with varied playstyles. Additionally, the Priest can forgo their holy abilities to indulge in the Shadows. A Shadow Priest is a pretty unique DPS that slowly gets more power as it does continuous damage. With the reactive healing of Holy and the proactive shielding of Discipline, there is a lot more to this class than meets the eye.


Holy – Healing spec. The standard reactive healer of WoW. This means they mainly try to react to damage taken. So when you see your tank take damage you heal them. This may seem obvious, but other healing specializations are more gimmick inclined or are healing over time classes. Holy Priests are the most classic version of a healer, and this means that their spells are some of the most potent healing spells in the game. Their only downside is less involved gameplay and a large lack of mobility.

  • Discipline – Healing spec. While Holy is the standard reactive healer, Discipline is the standard proactive healer. Their defensive spells are primarily based around shielding allies before they receive damage, rather than trying to heal damage after it has been done. Although, they also have the ability to heal allies who are shielded, based on the damage they deal with enemies. This allows them to have a slightly more offensive playstyle, which can be a nice change for healers.
  • Shadow – Ranged DPS spec. A ramping DPS spec that will continually stack damage so that it gets stronger the longer a fight goes on. It tends to plow through mana more than any other class, but by the time you run out, your enemies will most likely have been completely obliterated. Also, unlike other “caster” classes and specs, it primarily uses channeled abilities rather than cast time, which can give it some extra mobility. While this spec is more single-target focused compared to other DPS specs, they can provide some of the highest damage to these single targets, making them great against strong enemies.

Tank, Healer, and DPS classes

Since these classes can play as any role, they may be a good choice for players who haven’t chosen the role they want to play yet or want to switch between all three.


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The only heavy armor healing class, and one of very few heavy armor DPS classes, Paladins can survive no matter what spec they are in. This makes them a very versatile class, as not only are they able to play as any of the three dungeon roles, but they can be a great party member in any team setup. They can even be used to solo most content since any spec has the ability to tank through their armor.


Protection – Tank spec. An incredibly CC heavy tank spec, Protection Paladins often mitigate damage by preventing their enemies from doing it in the first place.

  • Holy – Healing spec. As stated above, Paladin is the only healer to use heavy armor, making it one of the naturally tanky healers in the game. Much of their healing happens around them, so their tankiness will often end up being used as you will be much closer to your allies in the front line than other healers. Other than that, they work similarly to the Holy Priest as a reactive healer.
  • Retribution – Melee/magic DPS spec. Unlike most melee specs, Paladins are largely cooldown focused and can be popular among mage players for this reason. Understanding the rotation for Ret Paladin is incredibly important for players of this class which can give it a slightly higher skill cap. That being said, players who take the time to learn this spec will feel very rewarded by the damage they can output.


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This class is based on different styles of martial arts and things related to martial arts like chi. This makes them highly mobile and gives them a heavy focus on melee attacking no matter which spec they reside. Most classes feature a variety of playstyles throughout their specs, while the Monk tends to stick to the same speedy brawler in all three specs. Their variety comes in their ability to play any dungeon role. This can be nice for people who want to stick to the same playstyle but potentially juggle roles.


Brewmaster – Tank spec. You basically get to play as a traditional drunken master. You can even throw kegs and use other explicitly “drunken” behavior in order to pull the aggro of your enemies. As with all monk specs, they are a highly mobile class, making them one of the few tank specs based around mobility (the other being Demon Hunter).

  • Mistweaver – Healing spec. This is a pretty unique healer as they actually use melee attacks to increase the potency of their healing. This makes it feel more like a DPS class for those who want the option to heal but prefer a melee DPS playstyle.
  • Windwalker – Melee DPS spec. This is one of the most agile and speedy specs you’ll find among any classes. It’s full offense unlike most other speed-based specs (which typically have a stealth feature like feral Druid). However, their attacks are so fast you’re sure to have fun if you’re a fan of melee DPS.


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Druids are well known for their versatility, as they are the only class with four specializations. They have the ability to shapeshift into a variety of forms, which can allow them to be their own mount even underwater. Druids typically specialize in “over time” effects. Their cat form (i.e Feral DPS spec) focuses on bleeding effects and stealth attacks, while their restoration/healing spec focuses on healing over time abilities. Even their balance/magic dps spec has a large focus on instant cast DoTs. Their bear form is a standard tanking class that can mitigate different damage types, and have one of the largest health pools in the game. Even without a healer, the bear will take a long time to die.

Druids are a great choice for players who are new to the MMO genre and are unsure of which role they would prefer playing, or if you just want to mix up your playstyle every now and again. They are also great for saving money, as you get a land, water, and flying form, so you don’t have to buy any of those mount types. They also use leather armor despite having a tanking spec, which is typically more expensive to keep up with.


Guardian – Tank class that improves their bear form. It has the ability to mitigate various types of damage, as well as CC enemies so that it can take the time to be healed by its allies.

  • Restoration – Healing class that specializes in healing over time abilities. Unlike most healing abilities, Restoration Druids use instant cast HoT, so they can still move around while they are healing their allies. No other healing spec is as mobile as the Restoration Druid.
  • Feral – Melee DPS that improves their cat form. It has a major focus on bleed damage and dealing more damage to enemies who are already bleeding. They also have stealth abilities that are similar to the Rogue specs.
  • Balance – Magic DPS that gives them a magical chicken-like form. Their magic is based on the sun and moon, and it provides a combination of DoT abilities and high damage high cast time abilities. This spec alone has its own high level of versatility.

Tank and DPS classes


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The last standard RPG archetype that WoW has, the Warrior is exactly what the name implies, a Warrior. However, while most generic warrior classes are slow and tanky, the WoW Warrior class is relatively fast in comparison. Of course that mostly depends on the spec you go with, but in general, Warrior has everything a melee fighter could want: decent speed, decent health, and good damage. The playstyle of the Warrior feels like a standard action-adventure playstyle, and any fans of that genre may enjoy playing as a Warrior.


Arms – Two-handed melee spec. As with most traditional two-handed RPG classes, the Arms Warrior is primarily focused on burst damage. This gives it a slightly slower playstyle than it’s Fury counterpart but instead having more upfront damage.

  • Fury – Dual wielding melee spec. As stated above, this is the faster Warrior class with more damage per second and less damage upfront than the Arms class.
  • Protection – Tank spec. As a weapons specialist class, this spec rounds out the Warrior’s weapon options by providing the Warrior with a shield and 1-handed weapon (as opposed to the two-handed weapon of Arms and two 1-handed weapons of Fury). Using this shield will help the Warrior mitigate damage. Through their stamina boosts, easy playstyle, and critical hit-reduction abilities, the Warrior is often seen as a great tank choice for any player, but particularly new ones.

It should be noted that while there are some differences between Arms and Fury (primarily that Arms is a two-handed spec, and Fury is a dual wield spec) they are fairly similar. This is unlike most specs that share the same damage type in the same class (such as frost and fire mages being incredibly different ranged DPS specs). As such, choosing a Warrior gives flexibility in aesthetic and speed, rather than damage output playstyles like other classes often do. This can be really nice for players who prefer more straightforward classes and is probably the reason the Warrior is one of the most popular classes in WoW.

Death Knight

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An undead warrior with unique rune abilities, the Death Knight has some of the most major differences between its specializations. You could play as a necromancer, a vampire, or a chilling Dark Knight in order to take on your enemies and protect your allies. They support a very melee heavy playstyle. Players who enjoy the non-healing aspects of the Paladin, and are looking for a darker alternative may enjoy the Death Knight.

As this class starts at level 55, it is not recommended for new players to try.


Blood – Tank spec. This is essentially the vampire spec, as it not only draws aggro as all tanks do, but it’s main tanking abilities come from healing yourself by using blood magic on the enemy.

  • Frost – Melee DPS spec. This works similarly to the Mage’s Frost spec but doing melee damage to cause the chill and slowing effects.
  • Unholy – Magic DPS spec. If you’ve ever wanted to play a necromancer in WoW, then this is your opportunity, as this spec focuses around raising the dead and controlling an army of skeleton minions.

Demon Hunter

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Like Death Knight, Demon Hunter’s will never start at level 1. They instead start at level 70. Uniquely you will have to have at least a level 70 character on your account in order to unlock this class. For this reason, it is not only not recommended for new players, but fairly difficult for new players to even access.

They have the edge-y demon vibe, with an incredibly mobile playstyle. This allows them to be an alternative pick for either the Rogue or Warlock classes.


Havoc – Melee DPS spec. This spec gives the Demon Hunters a combination of agility, demon magic, and even the potential to turn into demons. Players who prefer mobile classes will love this spec, as it is one of the most mobile in the game, and it’s definitely the flashiest of the agility-based classes.

  • Vengeance – Tank spec. This tank is largely based around its mobility, which can be difficult for some players to adjust to, but well worth it for those that enjoy this playstyle.

Wrapping up

Hopefully, this guide can help you learn the differences between each class and specialization in order to pick the best class for you. Who are you going to choose for your next playthrough? Let us know in the comments below! 

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Troy Zaher

Troy Zaher

Troy Zaher is a professional writer and journalist for Softonic, specializing in gaming and social media news. He is a 2018 graduate of Fitchburg State University with a bachelors of English.

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