Classic WoW is the equivalent of the Wild West. The beauty and chaos of the game’s early days were defined by a distinct lack of balance, opportunists looking to boost their honor rank, and the screams of players who’d been ganked by a rogue for the seventh time in a row.
Gone are the starting days of most classes being completely unviable for PvP due to lack of gear, as all options are now on the table with Naxxramas (Phase 6 of Classic WoW) being actively farmed by end-game players. With the re-launch of Burning Crusade on the horizon, now is the time to make the most of Classic Vanilla and dominate the battlefields (or prepare for more Classic WoW when the progression servers are launched).
On that note, let’s get into the WoW Classic best PvP class and spec builds.
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WoW Classic Best PvP Classes
We have a few disclaimers to cover before we uncover the WoW Classic best PvP class. Firstly, it’s important to remember that rated PvP doesn’t exist in the conventional sense. Arenas and rated battlegrounds aren’t a thing yet, your weekly PvP participation determines your honor ranking, and you’re not likely to live very long if you don’t stick to your team like a Murloc to low-level players.
Secondly, PvP in Classic is very rock-paper-scissors. Certain classes will have an overwhelming advantage against yours. If you’re not equally geared, your only hope is either relying on allies to cover for your weakness or that the enemy has horribly misplayed and burnt their cooldowns.
Finally, we will be focusing on builds and recommendations for battlegrounds, as that’s where the bulk of your PvP fighting will take place. These recommendations are also under the assumption that you’re running end-game gear from Naxxramas.
7. Elemental Shaman
First on our list of WoW Classic best PvP class options? The elemental shaman.
With the might of the elements coursing through them, elemental shamans are a devastating force on the battlefield. Shocking multiple enemies with lightning before blasting them with various elemental shocks, elemental shamans hit hard and fast and even heal themselves in large chunks.
Positioning is everything for an elemental shaman, as you want to avoid being up close in combat while keeping your totems within buffing range of your allies. Lightning Bolt will be your go-to spell for the most part, paired with an occasional Chain Lightning if you’re trying to spread out the damage pressure. Frost Shock is a good burst spell that deals heavy damage and slows the enemy, cutting off their easy escape and making for a quick kill. Earth Shock is your next best friend, as it interrupts casts and prevents all casts from that school for two seconds (plus it’s on a six-second cooldown itself, which is insane for a Classic interrupt).
Elemental shamans do well with a versatile blend of damage and healing. While our spell list is pretty focused on damage, a versatile build grants you potent heals without too steep a mana cost, letting you save allies from immediate death while also giving your dedicated healers some breathing room. Furthermore, Nature’s Swiftness boosts your other spells by making either a long damage or healing cast instantaneous. All your totems are highly useful but do require some forethought and macros for different situations. We strongly recommend having Earthbind Totem out all the time, though, as the AoE slow is invaluable for kiting enemies.
As for weaknesses, classes that can kill your totems quickly or outlast your damage long enough to drain your mana are a massive threat. Without those totem passives, you’ll find yourself struggling for a bit more utility. Additionally, ranged classes that can stay away from your offensive totems can be quite troublesome if you have no help distracting them.
6. Affliction Warlock
Next on our list of WoW Classic best PvP class options is the affliction warlock. There is a simple but great joy in watching your enemies flee from you in horror before dropping dead from all the DoTs you’ve placed upon them. With a multitude of curses, DoTs, fears, drain spells, and your pets, the affliction warlock is a harbinger of pain and agony and a surprisingly tanky caster.
Maintaining your DoTs and curses on enemy players is the name of the game. While you can only have one curse active at a time per player, you have the flexibility of deciding which curse would be the most debilitating to each enemy. If you’re just interested in inflicting as much damage and chaos as possible, slap a Curse of Agony on everyone you see. Otherwise, Curse of Weakness and Curse of Tongues are great to slap on melee and casters, respectively. Curse of Exhaustion is also fantastic whenever you need to kite an enemy or slow them down enough for your team to catch up. Naturally, you’ll also want Corruption ticking on as many targets as possible to keep the damage pressure up as well.
With the build we recommend, you’ll also be able to sacrifice your pet to a powerful effect for thirty minutes. Typically, you’ll sacrifice the succubus to deal extra 15% shadow damage, but the Felhunter and Void Walker provide mana/health restoration respectively as an alternative. Furthermore, you can Life Drain or Mana Drain the enemy to further keep yourself topped off. Finally, you have three powerful fears in the form of Death Coil, Fear, and Howl of Terror. Proper usage of all three can keep an enemy almost indefinitely fear-locked while you whittle them away with your DoTs and drain spells.
As for weaknesses, the affliction warlock struggles with enemies who can decurse, such as mages or enemies who can render themselves immune to fears such as warriors. Additionally, if an enemy can force you to sacrifice your pet for survivability instead of damage, you’ll eventually find yourself just buying time in the hopes that someone will step in and save you.
5. Shadow Priest
One of the deadliest casters in battlegrounds, the shadow priest is a terrifying combination of channeled damage, self-healing DoTs, and bubble barriers. With multiple passives boosting your damage output, range, and resistances, you’re effectively a walking stat stick of death.
Whoever has the misfortune of being your target will find themselves afflicted with Shadow Word: Pain as you Mind Flay them as they’re forced to crawl to you. Should they actually reach you, they’ll now have to contend with punching through your Power Word: Shield. Maybe they’ll try to stun, fear, or silence you, only to discover you have a 20% chance to resist with an additional 20% chance to ignore spell pushback or interrupt effects if they critically hit you. Or you could just Psychic Scream and send all of them fleeing in horror as you execute them with Mind Blast in your Shadowform. Plus, every time you deal shadow damage, you have a chance of stunning the enemy for three seconds!
Beyond the shadow priest’s strong survival, she has another critical role on the team — disabling enemy casters. With the build we recommend, you’ll have access to an improved Mana Burn and a five-second Silence. It is a completely valid strategy to spam Mana Burn on an enemy’s healer or any mana-intensive class to render them useless.
With all these strengths in mind, it’s still important to note that the shadow priest has a crippling weakness in that she has to stand still to cast the majority of her spells. These spells also tend to focus on a single target, so dealing with multiple enemies can be problematic, especially if they’re not close enough to be affected by a Psychic Scream. Her passive defenses are heavily RNG-dependent, so they could be rendered moot through bad luck.
Despite her weaknesses, she still ranks among the WoW Classic best PvP class options, especially if you go with our build.
4. Holy Paladin
Considered the best healer for PvP in Classic, the holy paladin is a cornerstone of a team, keeping whoever is being focused alive in the fight and burning enemy cooldowns. With various buffs and blessings to keep their allies functioning at full fighting force, paladins can be the single reason the enemy is forced to remain on the defensive.
Holy paladins are a fairly straightforward class. You’ll predominantly be switching between Flash of Light and Holy Light to keep your allies alive, relying on crit procs to reduce mana costs and just negating massive chunks of damage. Your buffs and auras provide passive bonuses that you can swap out to fit your current situation. Additionally, you can actively cleanse debilitating effects from your allies, rendering poisons, diseases, and magical debuffs moot.
A few more powerful tools of the holy paladin lie in two specific abilities — Blessing of Freedom and Blessing of Protection. If one of your melee allies is struggling to catch up to an enemy who excels at kiting, Blessing of Freedom can turn the tide by allowing them to chase unimpeded. Blessing of Protection, on the other hand, has amazing value in warding off all physical attacks on a target to give you time to heal them or granting a friendly caster six seconds of safe casting. Your Hammer of Justice is also an invaluable ranged stun, while your Lay On Hands is the single most powerful emergency heal in the game (but it does drain all of your mana, so beware).
Unfortunately, the holy paladin’s simplicity is also its greatest vulnerability. Being interrupted or silenced renders you effectively useless for the duration of the spell. Faking a cast to bait out an enemy’s interrupt is a critical skill to learn and requires on-the-fly analysis of your opponent’s skill. Managing your mana costs is another weakness that you can mitigate through Blessing of Wisdom and getting in close with the enemy to proc Seal of Wisdom, but be careful of enemy warlocks and priests who can and will drain your mana.
3. Arms Warrior
At the start of Classic, warriors were generally considered one of the weakest classes due to being extremely gear dependent. Nowadays, they’re one of the most terrifying forces on the battlefield, cleaving their way through and retaliating ten-fold to execute their opponents as the best melee DPS in PvP.
To maximize the arms warrior’s potential, you’ll need to learn when to switch stances and manage your rage bar. Certain abilities can only be used in a specific stance — for the most part, you’ll be spending your time switching between Battle Stance and Berserker Stance. You will want to research macros for swapping stances and your weapons, particularly to take advantage of the interrupts and stuns in specific stances.
Arms warriors are considered the WoW Classic best PvP class for jumping into the heart of the fray. To be sure, the arms warrior thrives on close-range critical hits and pooling his rage to burst down an enemy whose healing has been crippled by Mortal Strike. Charge enemies before slowing them with a Hamstring, bleeding them with a Rend, and debuffing them with your various shouts. This combo leaves your opponent with no other choice but to feebly swing at you while you crit them into oblivion. If your enemy thinks they can dodge or parry your attacks, they’ll regret their life choices as you Overpower them, turning their defenses into a window of opportunity to use Execute.
However, despite the arms warrior’s strengths, he is incredibly reliant on having a pocket healer. Being the first one into the fray and taking increased damage when using certain abilities means that a focused healer like a holy paladin is a must-have. Additionally, enemies capable of kiting you are the bane of your existence, as the bulk of your rage is generated through your auto attacks.
2. Frost Mage
An unrelenting flurry of slows and snares, the frost mage is the bane of all melee classes in Classic and the best ranged DPS for PvP. If you’ve ever wanted to cackle maniacally as you kite a pack of angry players around in circles or casually chase down a frostbitten target, then choose frost mage. Plus, you’ll always have food and drink on hand!
Frost mage spells revolve around chilling your target and hopefully proccing a freeze on them to boost your critical damage. This class also takes advantage of various cooldowns like Frost Nova, Ice Barrier, and Ice Block to survive long enough to keep chipping away their enemies. Additionally, with Polymorph and their improved Counterspell silence, they can keep an enemy out of the fight even longer.
On the offensive side, Cone of Cold can be used for a massive burst of AoE damage, while Blizzard can rain icy death down on groups of enemies that are preoccupied with your allies. Need more pressure to seize a victory? Pop Cold Snap to reset all your cooldowns and pummel your enemy all again.
However, as a cloth-armor user, you’re still fairly squishy. If someone manages to stick to you, or even worse, resist your spells, you’ll probably find yourself skewered pretty quickly. Thankfully, your Blink spell can get you some distance as well as getting you out of stuns. Naturally, ranged classes will be less concerned with being frozen in place and will continue to focus fire on you to allow their melee allies to continue unimpeded.
1. Subtlety Rogue
Until diminishing returns are introduced, the subtlety rogue is the undisputed king of 1v1 combat and best control melee for PvP. With the ability to effectively stun-lock an enemy from 100% to 0%, the sweet screams of rage from your enemies will fill your ears as you continue to roam the battlefield from one target to the next. It’s easy to see why we’ve ranked it the overall best PVP class in WoW Classic.
With Kidney Shot, Cheap Shot, Gouge, Blind, and Sap in your arsenal, you’re a walking armory of CC abilities. Mastery of CCing your enemies is critical with keeping your targets’ allies out of the fight long enough to cut down your priority target, as most of your CC is broken with any tick of damage.
With our recommended build, you’ll be focused on maintaining control of the battlefield, locking down opponents and buying your team the critical windows of opportunity to kill the enemies’ healers. While it may not be the best at burst damage, it’ll give you the most flexibility in deciding what finisher move to use as you quickly build combo points with Hemorrhage.
However, the rogue’s greatest strength is also its biggest weakness. Being CCed yourself is almost a death sentence, as most enemies will dogpile you to take you out of the equation before you can recover and Vanish, but even that might not save you as you have no self-healing. Additionally, heavily armored enemies such as warriors or paladins are typically immune to your burst, so focus your damage on cloth casters.
A Quick Note on Hunters and Druids…
You might notice that hunters and druids are totally absent from this list of WoW Classic best PvP class options. While the classes themselves are still worth playing, there are a few issues that make them less viable in PvP.
While being an excellent ranged option, hunters have a single crippling weakness in PvP — the dead-zone. At five yards or less (effectively melee range), they can’t use the bulk of their abilities. With that in mind, sticking any melee class on a hunter ruins their existence in a PvP setting. Survival hunters have a bit more leeway as their reliant on traps, but this weakness is hard to overlook.
As for druids, they’re unfortunately just a bit mediocre in all aspects of Classic. “Jack of all trades, master of none” is the aptest way of describing them. Feral bears are less effective warrior tanks, Feral kitties are subpar rogues, restoration druids don’t stand up to priest and paladin healers, and balance boomkin is nicknamed OoMkin (Out of Mana-kin) for a reason. It’s not to say they can’t work; it’s just you’re probably better off playing another class that does the job more easily or effectively.
High Ground View
That’s it for our list of the best vanilla WoW PvP classes — thanks for reading! We hope this guide has helped you decide on a class for PvP in Classic. Subscribe to our email list and follow our social accounts for more content like this.