WoW Classic Tank Tier List - who's the biggest threat to mobs?

wow classic tank tier list
Bartosh 10.09.2019 0

In WoW Classic the saying "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" has very peculiar meaning. When you enter a dungeon or raid instance, if you manage to survive and walk out with your shield (sometimes literally), you are stronger thanks to epic loot, that you've got. Or gold that you've got paid for assisting in a raid party.

 

End game bosses like Ragnaros from Molten Core, Onyxia, Nefarian or Kel'Thuzad are not easy enemies to take down. Quite frankly, in WoW Classic, Blizzard didn't provide easy enemies. Something with a much higher level will one-shot you. Something with a lower level than yours will survive annoyingly long due to glancing blows mechanic, which is why you form a dungeon or raid group.

 

And this is why you need someone to take a shot for you and focus opponents on himself — a tank.

 

What is the best tank in Classic WoW? Let's break it down.

 

What does 'tanking' mean in Classic WoW?

9 out of 10 times in gaming world 'tanking' will mean soaking up incoming damage, focusing the enemies assault on yourself, while rest of the squad is killing them. In WoW Classic, however, it is not as easy as it seems, since Threat mechanic is online, but we'll get to that.

 

What makes a good tank in WoW Classic?

Outside of your personal traits, there are a couple of factors that matter in terms of tanking in the Classic World of Warcraft.

 

Survivability

The first thing that comes upon our heads when talking about tanking is the ability to take damage and survive. Naturally whatever champion, character, vehicle or any other creature or device in-game, that effectively increases its defense stats can make an excellent tank. Any Armor, Resistance, Health or Damage Reduction buffs, are welcome. No retribution is needed, however, if tank is able to reply with damage, or in any other way provide utility, it's the dream.

 

However, the most crucial factor in this department is gear. With gear comes survivability. When you are allowed to equip your character with the sturdiest, hardest pieces of armor giving you defensive stats, you don't have to worry about defensive cooldowns that much, and you can build yourself towards Threat generation more.

 

Also, you have a couple of Healers behind you, who will restore your health bar. You just have to generate enough Threat for them not to pull the mob from you.

 

Threat management

In World of Warcraft, an ability to take damage and walkout is not everything when it comes to tanking. Sure, you can walk into a group of mobs, let them hit you and survive with the help of healers, while Mages will wipe the enemies. But what happens when mobs lose their interest in you and attack your healers and Mages instead?

 

How does Threat work in WoW Classic?

 

It doesn't. Many players live convinced that this is the most broken and unreliable mechanic in the whole Classic WoW, with only with Defias Pillagers difficulty being more broken. We could spend a whole week talking about it, or write books. 

 

Let us say that mobs are not that stupid, as they would seem. They will kind of understand that the person who deals the most damage is the greatest Threat. Or the one who heals and keeps that annoying tank alive - as long as Healer lives, the tank will not go down, so the Healer should be killed first.

 

Your job as a tank player is to convince the mob that you are the biggest threat to him.

 

What influences Threat value?

- dealing damage to a mob - the most straightforward way of taking a mob aggro is to deal damage to it. 1 damage dealt equals 1 threat point, so if you deal 100 damage, it generates 100 Threat to your name. Be careful and communicate, as sometimes your DPS may have to give your tank a second to generate enough Threat,

 

abilities - Warriors' Taunt or Druid's Growl ability will automatically pull a mob to them (if not resisted),

 

modifiers - some classes have their Threat modifiers, allowing them to increase and constantly maintain high Threat value; examples are Warrior in Defensive Stance or Druid in Bear form. Also, some Talent can modify the amount of Threat, like Warriors' Defiance,

 

items and enchants - for example, each time an item called Stealthblade procs, it generates a fixed amount of Threat per mob; same thing for Enchant Gloves - Threat, which has 1.02 Threat modifier,

 

power gains - if you gain Health, Mana, Rage or Energy in any other way than natural regen, you will generate Threat,

 

healing, buffing and debuffing - as you heal or give your tank any buff using an ability, you also generate Threat to yourself. However, healing transfers only half of its value to Threat count and is distributed equally between multiple mobs. Also using abilities like Battle Shout or Demoralizing Shout will affect it,

 

attack range - for characters that are attacking in melee range the threat value they need to generate in order to pull mob from you is 110%. For ranged, this value is 130%. This way Mages, Destruction Warlocks and Hunters shooting from far away are safe until they keep their damage under these thresholds.

 

There is also that thing called overthreat. Overthreat happens, when party members are not equal level. Say you are level 58 Warrior player trying to tank for level 59 Mage. The Mage player will automatically draw more of the mob's attention than you. Of course, this happens only pre-lvl 60.

 

So if you thought that tanking is just standing there, taking blows and getting healed like in LoL, you were wrong. Taking damage and surviving it is one thing, but forcing AI mobs to deal damage exclusively to you instead of DPS or healers is an entirely different animal. We'd even risk a statement that Threat management is more critical in tanking than high HP or Armor values, as tanky stats become useless when you are not being hit. In addition to that, the higher your TPS (Threat Per Second) is, the more damage your party can deal and the more heal you can receive without putting anyone into the risk of being hit.

 

Leadership

It is often believed that the main tank is the one that leads the party. It requires perfect game knowledge and ability to adapt to a situation, strategic thinking, planning, not just pressing random buttons and watching DPS addons go crazy.

 

Most of the times the raid or dungeon leader is a tank. It's his job to control and maintain Threat balance, choose the targets to focus, give orders when to hit, and when to wait. Not always, but very often it is advised that the tank should be the shotcaller on the TeamSpeak, Discord or whatever voice-commo.

 

Being a guild leader is a responsibility. You need to have respect among your players, hold the discipline, give orders, and supervise the execution. It's a burden, as you can read about it in our guild guide.

 

What is the best tank in WoW Classic, and why it is Warrior?

It depends on an instance the tanking is taking place. There may be a different pick for dungeon and different for raids. Raid is more about single target damage and Threat, while in dungeon environment ability to tank multiple mobs, AoE abilities and multi-target Threat is extremely sought after.

 

However, in most cases, guides, rankings, and class tier list Warrior will be an undisputed no. 1 tank in World of Warcraft Classic. Up until release of Death Knight class, and further expansions until Legion and Battle for Azeroth, there was no discussion about the best tank in the game.

 

#1. Warrior

What makes Warrior such a great tank in Classic WoW?

 

It's not an arcane conundrum, that Protection Warrior has it all. He can take a lot of damage, as well as produce enough Threat to keep the aggro on himself, allowing others to do the damage or healing without fear of being attacked. Can have the best tank gear set, plate armor, shield. He has outstanding utility in PvE raids and dungeons and paired with the likes of Holy Paladins, or Resto Druids does wonders in PvP battlegrounds. He's not a mana user. His resource bar is Rage, which is generated by attacking and taking damage - exactly what tank Protection Warrior does in WoW Classic!

 

What Warrior can do at level 60 when properly geared, is the greatest reward for pre-60 painful leveling stages. His power gets only higher with better gear sets.

 

Pros:

- abilities specific for managing Threat (Sunder Armor, Demoralizing Shout, Mocking Blow, Heroic Strike),

- strong durable when properly geared,

- can dish out decent damage while being extremely hard to kill,

- has Taunt ability, to keep mobs off of his party members,

- able to gear himself with plate armor,

- shield user,

- able to parry and block (including critical strikes and crushing blows),

- heavily demanded in PvE raids and dungeons throughout the whole community, especially Warrior Protection spec,

- able to provide attack power boost for 2 mins thanks to Battle Shout,

- can do a decent tank job with all specs and builds, with proper gear,

- fun to play.

 

Cons:

- lacks abilities to heal himself,

- expensive to gear, and quite weak without it,

- works wonders with Priest, but somewhat weak without it,

- you will still be nagged to tank, even if you went Arms or Fury Warrior,

- getting to the end game level is an annoying affliciton,

- not that good as a twink.

 

#2. Feral Druid

Druids are one of those classes that suffer from "hybrid tax". It means that although they are a very versatile class to fill many roles, they are not exquisite in any of these, just average at best. Long story short - what's for everything, it's for nothing. Sure, in a medium level of playing they will be useful, but later on, they will not be even close to a Warrior.

 

Pros:

- extremely durable in his Bear and Dire Bear form (levels of Armor unreachable even for Warrior),

- bigger health pool allows him to invest less in consumables and provide an easier barrier for entry,

- grants an aura to 4 top melees (+3% crit),

- grants the highest DPS buff compared to other tank classes,

- able to generate the highest single target Threat in-game,

- has built-in long-range pull ability,

- grants great Faerie Fire uptime, as most of the resto will not do it,

- can't be disarmed or polymorphed,

- more versatile in gearing department; can gear for healing or decurse,

- fast leveling, as opposed to other tanky classes.

 

Cons:

- one taunting ability less than Warrior; can't reduce its cooldown,

- unable to use a shield,

- unable to wear plate armor,

- unable to block or parry,

- unable to switch to MR position, if needed,

- not very good at AoE tanking mobs and adds,

- doesn't have the ability to "stance dance" (can change forms, however),

- cannot eat or drink while in form,

- unable to disarm or silence mob,

- sometimes unable to battle rez or innervate because actively tanking,

- incapable of providing Thunderfury debuff, if needed.

 

For many people, Feral Druid is a better tanking option than Warrior. However, we say that it is a matter of personal choice. If you don't want to struggle with leveling like Warrior or Paladin, feel free to pick Druid. 

 

#3. Paladin

Due to the fact that this Alliance-exclusive class has access to the best defensive gear in-game (Plate Armor, Shield) often considered a decent tank by many theorycrafters. However, in practice, his mediocre offensive potential and low Threat generating potential is what places him behind Warrior and Druid in this tier list, and forces the class to go Restoration or Holy to be useful.

 

Pros:

- able to gear himself with Plate Armor,

- shield user,

- has some Threat generating abilities and talents (Consecration, Seal of Righteousness, 

- can serve as an AoE tanking dungeons or off-tanking in some medium level of play raiding guild,

- has some exceptional mitigation abilities as well as raid party buffs,

- quite strong in PvP in duo with Warrior.

 

Cons:

- unreliable damage and Threat generation

- mana reliant,

- has huge problems reaggroing a mob, when it switches target to DPS/healer, due to lack of taunting ability,

- powerful in other aspects of raid/dungeon; forcing him to a tank is lowering his class potential,

- hard leveling.

 

As you can see, Paladin has, in fact, more cons, than pros in case of tanking. Sure, he is a viable option to some extent, but still, the ones mentioned above will be better. If you get really stubborn, you can go tanking as Paladin, but to be fair, no guild will enlist you for raid squad as a tank. Maybe some lesser guild will do, but the best ones will require at least a Druid.

 

#4. Shaman

There are more than enough people claiming that Shaman can tank in WoW Classic. But in our opinion, the fact that he CAN doesn't mean he SHOULD, or that he is GOOD AT IT. Despite the fact that whatever Shaman Tank aficionados say, Shaman is number 4 on our tier list just because any other class, except the ones mentioned above, is worse in tanking department.

 

Pros

- able to bear shield,

- has some Threat generating abilities,

- AoE auras via totems, (buffs generate Threat),

- Earth Shock is a powerful Threat-generating ability.

 

Cons:

- unable to get remotely close to Bear Druid Armor numbers,

- unable to get close to Warrior Threat capabilities,

- relatively squishy, can't gear plate Armor

 

Of course, there will be many players to state that in theory, you can tank with Shaman. Well, in theory, you can win Le Mans on a tractor. If there were no competition. The same thing with tanking Shaman - if there were no Warrior, Druid and Paladin, he would have been the best choice. Some people may hope, that it will change, but we doubt that Blizzard will give a green light for such implementations

Other classes and specializations

Some say that Hunters and Warlocks can effectively tank in World of Warcraft due to their pets, but we haven't found any quality guides confirming this theory. It could have been a single forum thread posted. Sure, Hunters and Warlocks pets can tank during their leveling stage, but can the animal or Voidwalker hold a pack of mobs on him? Or boss? Can it generate enough Threat for you to shoot a Shadow Bolt? If you don't have a Mage in the vicinity, who will AoE clear mobs, you're in trouble.

 

Moving on, you really don't want your Mage or Priest having aggro. There are some rules and laws in Classic WoW you simply don't go against. It would be a waste of resources and DPS to let these classes tank. If there was a tanking tier list in Classic WoW from A to E, where Tier A is the best, and Tier E is the worst, Mage, Priest and Rogues would be Tier X, Tier Y and Tier Z with Warlock and Hunter being slightly higher. Let's be honest, cloth armor with its threads and furbelows doesn't cope with guaranteeing survival. They'd die instantly. 

 

More seriously, these three classes are not made for taking damage and generating Threat in fights. Mages are pure DPS and crowd control machines. Their job is to clear packs of trash mobs in dungeons and output the highest possible single target DPS in a boss encounter. The Rogue class have 0.8x Threat modifier. Holy Priest are the best healers in-game, and this is what they should do. Or you can go Shadow Priest if healing is not your thing.

 

Which race is the best for tank in WoW Classic?

As we all know, tanking in WoW Classic is not only taking damage but also managing Threat and dealing damage. Some say that it's damage dealt that separates good tanks from the great ones. Thus in this guide, we will not focus only on defensive stats, but on the utility for tanking overall. However, there is no race tank tier list, as there is a class tier list because being the tank is more about gear and class-specific abilities.

 

Also, the choice between Alliance tank and Horde tank is exactly the same, like the choice between Alliance or Horde in general. You choose what is better from your point of view. There are faction enthusiasts, that will play one side no matter what. And even if Alliance tanks were better, if Paladin receives OP buffs, they will still choose Tauren or Troll.

 

Thus we will not tell you which Azeroth faction is better for the tank. The differences in racials are rather small and irrelevant for faction fanatics to change side. 

 

Alliance

For "the good ones" the choice will be Human. Let's look at racials:

- The Human Spirit - +5% Spirit,

- Diplomacy - +10% Reputation,

- Sword Specialization - +5 bonus to Swords (one-handed and two-handed),

- Mace Specialization - +5 bonus to Maces (one-handed and two-handed),

- Perception - increased Stealth detection for 20 seconds (3 minutes cooldown).

 

Do you remember what generates a Threat? Damage. Sword and Mace specialization will help with that. It also ensures that more hits are landed, and thus more Rage is generated, which also gives Threat. It makes Human Warrior the best option for Alliance in terms of both taking damage and managing Threat.

 

If you prefer going a little more defensive, then Dwarf might be your choice to go:

- Stoneform - one of the best racials in-game, giving you immunity to bleed, poison and disease effects,

- Frost Resistance - +10 Frost Resistance,

- Gun Specialization - +5 to Guns,

- Find Treasure - allows detecting nearby valuables.

 

If you are thinking about in PvP, you can also consider going Gnome. But you will rarely want to go tank in PvP.

 

What about Night Elf? Well, this race can do it, but if you are planning to commit to tank role, other races are simply better. NE does not have enough survi, Threat management abilities, or utility racials, except the Dodge chance and small resistance bonus.

 

Horde

Arguably the best PvE tank for Horde is Troll. Let's have a glance on his racials:

- Beast Slaying - +5% bonus damage against Beasts,

- Berserking - +10-30% attack and casting speed (based on missing health),

- Bow Specialization - +5 to Bows,

- Regeneration - +10 passive health regen, +10% total health regen during combat.

 

Obviously, Beast Slaying and Berserking will help significantly to generate enough Threat in dungeon/raid situations. 

 

Tauren as the race has the potential to be the beefiest (isn't he some sort of a cow after all?), with his racial traits being:

- Endurance - +5% total health,

- Nature Resistance - +10 to Nature Resistance,

- War Stomp - stuns up to 5 enemies for 2 seconds (2 minutes cooldown),

- Cultivation - +15 to Herbalism,

- larger hitbox.

 

Bonus HP is pretty much self-explanatory. War Stomp can be great ability to stall when waiting for combo points to unleash Sunder Armor and generate Threat.

 

No bonus damage, however, makes him worse than Troll in terms of keeping mobs interested in you. Also, larger hitbox and slightly longer attack range allow for pulling mobs from a little further away than usual.

 

For some players, Orc also makes a good tank. His racials are:

- Axe Specialization - +5 Axe (One-handed and Two-handed),

- Blood Fury - bonus base melee attack power with 50% healing reduce,

- Command - +5% to pet damage,

- Hardiness - +25% chance to resist stun.

 

Great in terms of generating and maintaining Threat.

His biggest downside is a healing reduction, while Blood Fury is active.

 

Undead are not considered tanks and may be seen as troll picks if specialized this way. The race has no inner bonuses that would help it either generate Threat or take damage. Their best racial, Will of the Forsaken, has the same effect as Warrior's Berserker Rage, but with a higher cooldown. There is no point of skilling Undead to the tank.

 

World of Warcraft Classic Addons for tanks

Unless you are Kim Peek, who could process complex calculations in his head on the fly, you will not be able to know, how much damage your DPS is allowed to deal and how much Threat have you amassed by the moment. For such things, you will need an addon.

 

ClassicThreatMeter - the ultimate "must-have" if you want to be a tank, essential in a high level of play. You will never be able to efficiently tank if you don't know at least an estimated value of Threat that you generate. And you don't want to slow down your DPS and Healers.

 

ClassicAuraDurations - pretty useful if you want to know how much longer particular buff will last, as buffs are also crucial in Threat management.

 

Classic Cast Bars - indicates the enemy cast abilities and allows you to counteract.

 

OmniCC - not exactly tank-exclusive addon, but it is so useful, that pretty much everyone should have it installed. It gives you a simple timer on your abilities cooldown. It lets you know precisely when they're up. With so many key abilities for Warrior or Druid, you want to know exactly when you have them up,

 

Real Mob Health - as numerical health values are not there in WoW Classic, this addon will attempt to estimate the mob's actual HP number based on the amount of damage you deal.

 

BigWigs Classic/Deadly Boss Mods - Classic - gives you warnings and timers on raid or dungeon boss mechanics.

 

Summary

The discussions all over many forums exist, sometimes red hot, and we can do very little about it. What is the longest river? The highest mountain? The wealthiest man? What criteria should we pick? From what point of view?

 

To this day, the question of what is the best tanking option in Vanilla is pretty clear-cut. It's Warrior, Druid, Paladin and Shaman, right in this order. It is the WoW Classic tank meta, and since we stick to some predetermined rules, it will stay like this. We don't know about the universe, wherewith the next patch Shadow Priest, Resto Druid, Elemental Shaman or Holy Paladin suddenly becomes tank meta. It is simply not happening. No reason to fight it.

 

Warriors will still have the most tank power, Rogue class will excel in PvP and battlegrounds, Hunter and Warlock will share the "leveling King" title, and gold will be hard to get. So if you were looking for guides or tank class tier list, here you have it all. Be sure to check our other fantastic WoW Classic guides as we have plenty (links:classes guide, Shaman guide, or Warrior guide).

 

Do you agree with our tier list? Or maybe from your view is different? Perhaps you are having massive success as a tank hunter in private realm? Share your experience with us. Sign in to post a comment. Follow us on Facebook and TT. We can't wait for your posts about our content.

 

FAQ

What is the best tank in WoW Classic?

Warrior, hands down. Every guide rank it this way.

Statistically and traditionally this class is unmatched in the tanking department.

 

Which classes can serve as a tank in Classic WoW?

Warrior, Druid, Paladin, Shaman. In this very order, however Shaman, although supposed to be a tank, does not serve the purpose very well.

 

What is the best tank for PvP and what for PvE?

For PvE as mentioned, Warrior.

For PvP, there is not much sense of going tank. There is no Threat to generate vs players.

 

What is a Threat in Vanilla WoW?

It is an estimated value of how much a mob is prone to attack you. Having the highest Threat value among the party guarantees that the mob will go onto you, and this is key to tanking.

 

How to tank in Classic WoW?

Maintain high TPS (Threat per second), let your friends Healers heal you and DPS do damage. Might seem easy, but it is the hardest role in the game to master.

 

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