This top five list will be based on raiding, with an eye to the first two raids of Classic, Molten Core and Onyxia’s Lair. Several specs will show major changes as Classic goes through phases and bosses change (sorry fire Mages). Most of these specs translate perfectly fine into any top-end PvE content and should serve you well into later raid tiers, even if you have to shift to an alternative spec within the same class.
When it comes to tanking in Classic WoW, you really can’t look past Prot Warrior. Other specs are fine, some specs can even beat the Warrior in some aspects of tanking but Prot Warrior is the King, Queen and Warchief of tanking when it comes to Classic.
The build we want to look at is 11/5/35 with the main focus being pure survival. When you hit 60 you’re going to be weak, so these talents will focus on you surviving that early onslaught. You will pick up all the key defence talents like Last Stand (30% max HP CD) Defiance to improve threat, improved taunt to reduce its CD. With these Prot talents, we have 11 points to go into arms right down the middle, picking up 5% parry, rage retention on stance swapping and lower out of combat rage loss.
The Horde only class for Classic, the Elemental Shaman is one of the best ranged damage specs in the game with great self-healing, good raid utility and solid DPS; Elemental is a standout amongst Horde damage specs. One negative early on is you need to use leather gear before mail becomes available at level 40, at which point you’ll have little to no competition for gear, which is always a plus.
For Elemental we’ll be looking for 31/0/20 — Elemental Mastery is our final talent, it gives your next elemental spell a 100% crit and reduced mana cost which is great for picking off a weak target or a surprise engage. Lightning Mastery will also reduce the spell cast time of lightning spells. The spec also has great self-healing with Improved Healing Wave and 1 point in Healing Focus.
As long as you can stomach the pre-raid farming of Soul Shards, Affliction Warlock has a lot to offer and is one of, if not the strongest specs in PvE (and PvP). Affliction has a gameplay style not dissimilar from BFA, DoT lots of targets and fill with Shadow Bolts to do maximum DPS plus you’ll also have some pets by your side to give you an additional DPS increase and bonus to your group.
We’ll look at 30/0/21 for Affliction. The build is focused on applying Corruption to one or more targets to take advantage of the Nightfall talent that allows you to generate as many Shadow Bolt procs as possible, dramatically increasing DPS. In terms of raw damage, demonology can do more than Affliction due to Nightfall procs however, when the procs do line up Affliction will come out as one of the best specs in the game. Just make sure to farm a lot, and we mean a lot, of Soul Shards.
At the start we mentioned this was raid specific — we present to you the Frost Mage, overall not as strong as Fire Mage but certainly better in Molten Core. Frost is in a funny place in Classic with two main paths to go down. The one we will focus on is mostly an Arcane Mage build but casting with Frost Mage spells.
31/0/20 is the way to go unless you’ve been tasked with the Winter’s Chill build for your team (19/0/32). This build will focus on the Arcane talent tree to bolster the damage you do in frost whilst getting key Frost spec talents to reduce cast times, reduce resistance chance and frost crit damage. Frost is a mean spec in MC, however, once the gates of AQ open you’ll want to go Fire.
The Holy Priest is by far the most consistent healer, great throughput, solid mana pool and able to heal through most situations. The build below will also give you the perfect setup for almost all content, so very little need to pay respect fees.
21/30/0 is what we’ll be going with, utilising the best of Discipline like Divine Spirit to give you a spirit buff, Mental Agility to reduce the mana of instant cast spells plus Meditation for increased in-combat mana regen. In the Holy tree, we want most of the talent, though we’ll avoid the 31 point talent Lightwell as it’s simply not worth the point.