World of Warcraft Classic Compendium
Boatschl last edited by Boatschl
This guide is also available on Google Docs.
A not so short guide touching all major aspects of Classic "Vanilla" WoW aimed at people that have never played Vanilla or at least never played on a private server in recent years. This is not an in depth class or leveling guide!
Classic WoW has been promised to be released during the summer of 2019 but no exact date has been officially announced yet. The only thing required to get into the game will be a subscription to retail WoW but there is no need to buy Battle for Azeroth though.
When browsing the web there is a ton of good stuff regarding all aspects of the game but most of the information is buried inside private server forums, old Reddit posts or YouTube videos and it is somewhat inconsistent because pservers can use their own mechanics that are often “blizzlike” but may not represent the state of the game in 2006.
In this guide I want to touch on all important aspects of Classic WoW in written form, so you don't have to watch hundreds of videos to get an overview of the game. I put a lot of time into it so it got a bit lengthy, sorry...
This guide is mainly aimed at people that either never played Vanilla, but are not new to the game, so I will use a couple of common abbreviations like BiS for “best in slot item” or DD for a damage dealing class or role. Furthermore some mechanics I mention in the class section will be explained later so you might have to read everything before asking questions.
The main focus of this guide is to help people choose what class to play in Classic and highlight some of the specific mechanics and shortcomings the game has compared to a modern MMO and BfA.
I will not put up any links to items or videos for formating reasons but I always offer suggestions on the topics or video to google for.
Expect this guide to evolve once we learn more about the game and the mechanics Blizzard implements that are not truly vanilla.
In Classic many class specs that are common in retail were not yet made viable. While some guilds will allow single people to play non "meta" specs in raids because of RL friends or a less than hardcore attitude, I will mainly try to highlight the worthwhile specs here. Furthermore in 5 man dungeons or once severely overgeared several specs can do good, but you will never see a non meta spec in a progression raid.
Note that everything I write in this chapter assumes patch 1.12, so all classes had their talent trees overhauled already!
Basic role model for raids in Classic, ordered from generally best to worst assuming end game raid gear:
Tank: Warrior > Druid
Healer: Priest > Shaman, Paladin > Druid
Ranged DPS: Mage > Warlock > Hunter
Melee DPS: Warrior > Rogue
So what is the best raid DPS class in Classic?
Generally speaking fury Warriors will pull ahead already from pre BiS gear levels, followed by Rogues. But there are a couple of encounters where you can either not bring many melees because of certain boss abilities like chain lightning or even encounters where melees can train their bow skill... Furthermore a lot of bosses either cleave or have a tail lash making it impossible to attack the boss from behind, which is suboptimal for melees. Therefore you will usually find more spots for ranged DPS classes than melees and all in all over the course of the raid the damage will even out. Remember: The best DPS is one, that is not dead and almost every other boss in any raid instance has some kind of attack to one shot any non tank (gets actually ridiculous in Naxx).
When you want to play a tank you have no choice other than playing a warrior. Druids can tank to a certain degree, but generally as offtank, while Paladins don’t work at all because of mana issues and lack of threat generating skills or even a taunt.
If you want to run a healer there is no clear recommendation as measuring the potency of a healer by looking at raw numbers doesn't do the role justice.
Healing in Classic is actually pretty involved as all classes can run out of mana in seconds if played incorrectly so you will almost never use the maximum ranks of your healing spells (besides that instant cast "oh shit button" shamans and druids get).
Priest are generally the best all around healers because of potent heals, a HoT, shield and group heal while having the biggest mana issues. Paladins are the best single target (tank) healers and offer the best utility spells, shamans are by far the best raid healers because of chain heal and although druids are by raw numbers the worst healers they still bring valuable assets to the raid.
Take your time to decide what class you want to play as rerolling is not really an option in Classic because of the complete lack of catch-up mechanics. If you don’t mind falling behind the curve on release you can always level a couple of classes to level 20ish and see what gameplay you like best (classes start to differ after level 10). I am totally not recommending trying out what you like on a pserver beforehand but...well… let’s just get started with the classes.
Note that the race recommendations I give here are highly debatable so take it with a grain of salt because the margins are relatively narrow, especially in PvP!
Well rounded strong ranged damage class that excels in PvE and PvP and also offers great group utility and CC abilities.
- Great damage throughout all stages of the game
- Easy to level in Frost Spec
- Strong in PvP with kiting in Frost Spec or one-shotting people with "PoM+Pyro" and has Blink to get out of most CC
- Can create the best food and water in the game (Level 55, not available from vendors)
- Can create portals to major cities for the party
- Arguably the best CC in the game: Sheep + Frost Nova
- Best AoE farming class thanks to Improved Blizzard + Frost Nova
- Only class that can AoE grind effectively while leveling
- Can buff: Intellect, Dampen or Amplify Magic
- Can cure: Curse
- Suffers from mana problems and must drink often when gear is bad and while leveling
- Forced into Frostbolt centered spec in T1 and T2 content
- usually glass canon because of low HP and armor
- T0 and T1 sets are trash, but T2 8-piece bonus is good
- All Tier sets look arguably bad compared to other classes
- Talent trees:
- Arcane: viable in PvP if you have decent gear to one shot people (ZG trinket or similar required) and in early content if you are not the one speccing into Winter’s Chill
- Fire: Most mobs and bosses in the T1 and T2 content are immune to fire. Comes online in T2.5 and T3 content offering ridiculous damage, once you have decent spell damage and crit chance through the Ignite talent
- Frost: Recommended leveling spec, very good in PvP, required raiding spec for at least one person per raid in T1+T2 content
- Alliance PvE: Gnome
- Alliance PvP: Gnome
- Horde PvE: Troll
- Horde PvP: Undead
- Whether a mage or a warlock does more damage in raids usually comes down to skill and gear, but both classes are really close throughout the game. In MC mages are slightly better because warlocks lack +hit gear early on, later warlocks can pull ahead as long as they are not limited by the amount of aggro they do, in Naxx one mages overtakes everyone else in the raid because of Ignite. In dungeons mages offer more utility because of their hard reliable CC.
- When talking about farming speed mages do better when AoE grinding, warlocks can solo multiple elites, but both are really good to run solo!
- Video recommendation: "Vurtne" (PvP) and "Even stupider mage tricks" (PvE)
- What raiding looks like: spam Frostbolt or Fireball
Best overall healing class in the game that suffers from mana problems early on. Offers great damage in PvP.
- Best allround healer in PvE
- Solid leveling spec in Shadow + has a talent that increases wand damage
- Shadow melts faces in PvP
- Instant AoE fear in PvP
- Can reduce agro in PvE
- Can CC: undead
- Can buff: Stamina, Shadow Resistance and Spirit (with a talent)
- Can cure: Magic (also from opponents), Disease
- Very mana hungry healing
- Suffers from low HP and cloth armor in PvP
- Forced into healing in raids, which makes farming hard
- Each race has two unique spells (see below), which makes some races arguable worse than others
- Shadow not competitive in raids because mind flay has only 26m range, dots are prohibited/overwritten and suffers from mana problems
- No mobility spells
- Discipline: improves shields and mana, grants buffs. Alternative to Holy in later content
- Holy: default healing spec in PvE (complemented by Discipline talents)
- Shadow: great in PvP and while leveling, at most one per raid
- Raiding: almost all priests will be healing (as holy), one shadow priest or healer with enough talents to get Shadow Weaving (to buff the warlocks) per raid is acceptable
- Alliance PvE: Dwarf (Fear ward)
- Alliance PvP: Dwarf (Fear ward + Stoneform)
- Horde PvE: Troll
- Horde PvP: Undead (WotF, Devouring Plague) or Troll (Hex)
Race dependant abilities
- Feedback (attacks against you burn opponents mana)
- Desperate prayer (instant self heal without mana cost)
- Fear ward (grants Immunity to one fear effect, the reason you must run Dwarf)
- Desperate prayer (same as humans)
- Night elf
- Elune’s Grace (reduces ranged damage taken and increases dodge change)
- Starshards (channel to deal arcane damage)
- Touch of weakness (next attack against you reduces damage done by attacker)
- Devouring Plague (strong dot that heals you)
- Hex of Weakness (reduce damage caused and healing received)
- Shadowguard (similar to Shaman’s lightning shield)
- Alliance should seriously go Dwarf, no other racial comes close to competing with Fear Ward.
- What raiding looks like: spam different ranks of low level heals, throw out the occasional shield, ask Druids for Innervate
Warlocks offer great group utility and damage are easy and fast to level up thanks to their pets. They start off rather slow but scale very well with gear.
- Great group utility: health stone, soul stone, party summon
- Great group buffs: Blood Pact (Imp), Curse of Shadows/Elements/Recklessness
- Easy to level because of gameplay centered around pets, dots and Fear
- Solid damage throughout all stages of the game, scales insanely well
- Free 60% mount at level 40
- Strong in PvP because of Fear and many instant casts
- Can theoretically solo a couple of level 60 dungeons
- Can cure: Magic (friend or foe, only using Felhound pet, but has long CD)
- Annoying shard mechanic (actually the reason people rather play a mage)
- Not competitive in (usually world) PvP with the wrong pet active
- Can only reliable CC Elementals in PvE (fear is prohibited in dungeons)
- Lots of different spells + pet, which makes the class very complex in PvP
- Lengthy quests for pets and 100% mount
- Terrible T0 and T1 sets for PvE
- Severe aggro problems in raids once geared
- No mobility spells
- Alliance only: Fear not as impactful as Undead can remove it with racial ability in PvP
- Affliction: focuses on dots and shadow damage, great for leveling, best all-round spec
- Demonology: empowers pets, early talents great for leveling, talent to sacrifice your demon for a long time buff, godlike in duels, solid in group PvP
- Destruction: empowers fire spells, great for PvP, useless in PvE because of the amount of threat generated and lack of a nuke spell
- Recommended for leveling: affliction plus talents that improve the voidwalker in Demonology or full Demonology on PvP servers
- Raiding: SM+Ruin (more utility) or DS+Ruin (best dps)
- Alliance PvE: Gnome
- Alliance PvP: Gnome
- Horde PvE: no clear winner
- Horde PvP: no clear winner
- see Mage chapter for Warlock vs Mage comparison
- PvP video recommendation: "Drakedog" series
- What raiding looks like: summon your raid, put up curse and soul stone on healer, spam shadow bolt
Alliance only class that is a great healer without mana problems for PvE and PvP and has a huge array of buffs. Can slowly tank dungeons but gear is hard to come by.
- Strong single target healer without mana problems
- Best assortment of different buffs in the game, including reducing threat generated
- Bubble + hearth stone
- Can heal or AoE tank
- Tanky healer in PvP because of plate armor
- Free 60% mount at level 40
- Warriors will love your Blessing of Freedom in PvP
- The reason why Alliance is overall considered better than Horde in group PvP
- strong contender for Sulfuras hammer
- Can cure: Magic (friendly targets), Disease and Poison simultaneously
- Alliance only
- Buffs only last 5 or 15 minutes + one buff per class instead of one per raid
- Plate healing gear bad before BWL, so you will wear a dress
- boring and slow to level (Seal + afk)
- No AoE healing
- Does not benefit from spirit
- No mobility spells (which greatly diminishes Retribution’s effectiveness in PvP)
- Holy: healing spec, use this
- Retribution: leveling spec, works in PvP
- Protection: can work for tanking 5 mans, does not generate enough threat in raids though and must drink after each pull, limited gear choices, no taunt ability
- Alliance PvE: Dwarf
- Alliance PvP: Dwarf
- Tank spec is really bad, but for some trash packs it can be beneficial to have a holy paladin get some defensive talents and tanking gear and just spam consecration, as warriors need some windup time to tank huge blobs of mobs.
- What raiding looks like: spam different ranks of holy light or flash of light, rebuff raid
Horde only class with great AoE healing and very strong group utility in PvE and PvP, damage is lackluster though.
- Strong unique buffs through totems
- Access to best melee group buff in the game: Windfury
- Best AoE healer with solid mana regeneration options
- hilarious in PvP with Stormstrike and windfury or elemental burst spec
- hybrid melee and spell casting gameplay while leveling
- strong contender for Sulfuras hammer
- Ghost Wolf at level 20
- Grounding and Tremor Totem strong in PvP
- Has a totem for every occasion (resistance, regeneration, etc) which offers a very unique gameplay
- Can cure: Poison, Disease (also via totem)
- Horde only
- only one raid spec: healing
- totems weak in raids where you have to move a lot
- totems expensive to set down, only affect own party
- totems take up 4 inventory slots
- most different spells in the game
- resetting talents will reset your two handed mace weapon skill (Enhancement only)
- Elemental: improves your damaging spells, works well in PvP once geared
- Enhancement: good for PvP with a good two handed weapon, solid for leveling
- Restoration: raid spec, everyone will love your Mana Tide totem, great AoE heal
- For leveling a mix of enhancement and elemental talents are best, leveling pure elemental can work but needs a lot of mana (and thus down time), but gets better after level 40
- For raiding don’t even think about going anything other than Restoration since it offers the same utility but doesn’t “waste” a DPS slot.
- Horde PvE: Troll if healer, (Orc if melee)
- Horde PvP: Orc
- PvP video recommendation: "Unbreakable"
- What raiding looks like: place totems, spam 2-3 different ranks of chain heal or healing wave
- If you level with a two handed weapon Windfury is a trap, Rock Biter is better!
Best tank in the game, insane damage in PvP and PvE but highly gear dependant and slow to level.
- Best tank in the game
- Can be a tank or a DPS
- three viable talent trees
- Best PvE damage in the game with the correct items as Fury
- with the right gear and a healer can 2v5 in PvP
- Very strong short self buff on a long cooldown
- Can choose from all 8 races
- Easy to find dungeon groups, if you have some tank gear
- As a main tank you have the best chance of getting Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker, but Furys may get it as well
- Extremely gear dependant
- Slowest class to level by a mile because of missing self healing and no mobility, prepare to die often
- rather skill dependant class, requires lots of macros
- DPS specs in raids usually required to have tank gear available
- Weak when tanking groups of mobs without setup
- Furys have a lot of loot contention with Rogues
- Susceptible to kiting in PvP
- cannot effectively solo farm as tank
- Fury: great damage spec for DW that generates a lot of rage, leveling spec early on
- Arms: great PvP spec, but needs a healer to shine, not viable in PvE because of the debuff limit, strong power spike at level 40 (you might want to respec your talents to get that Mortal Strike)
- Protection: tank spec
- Alliance PvE: Human for DPS (sword skill), Night elf for tank (Dodge)
- Alliance PvP: Dwarf or Gnome (active racials)
- Horde PvE: Orc (active + axe skill) for DPS, Tauren (+HP) for tank
- Horde PvP: Orc
- PvP video recommendation: “Maydie”
- For farming as DPS I recommend pairing up with any healer so you can effectively farm elites, as a tank you might want to run dungeons with or as an enchanter.
Strong melee damage class in PvE and PvP that can stealth.
- there is a reason WoW Classic PvP was called "World of Roguecraft"
- Strong damage in PvE once geared, only second to Fury warriors
- one shot or stun lock builds really strong in (world) PvP
- not gear dependant in PvP
- stealth mechanic helps during leveling to avoid unnecessary pulls
- lock picking
- Strong contender for Thunderfury bindings after tanks
- Good T1 set compared to other classes
- Can pick from 7 races (cuz cows ain’t sneaky)
- weapon dependant and takes a lot of damage while leveling
- very cooldown dependant in PvP
- long lasting dots in PvE disable your stealth (esp. in EPL)
- Poisons and lock picking are professions that must be leveled separately
- one of the most played classes in Classic thus lots of contention for items and group/raiding spots
- no group utility
- only one mobility spell on a long CD
- pre raid BiS items hard to come by or expensive
- weak in battleground PvP
- Assassination: supplements combat tree
- Combat: raid and leveling spec (sword and dagger are viable)
- Subtlety: for PvP
- Alliance PvE: Human
- Alliance PvP: no clear winner
- Horde PvE: Orc
- Horde PvP: Orc or Undead
- PvP video recommendation: "World of Roguecraft"
- What raiding looks like: Sinister Strike/Backstab + Slice’n’dice + Eviscerate
- To generate gold pick pocketing in dungeons is viable
- Rogues gain 20 energy every two seconds, so keeping an eye on those ticks with an addon is really important (also applies to Druid’s cat form)
Mana efficient PvE healer that can also tank a bit and deal limited amounts of damage in melee. Very hard to take down in PvP.
- Can be a healer or a tank (offtank in raids)
- Innervate for your holy priests
- mana efficient healer in PvE
- best flag carrier in PvP (WSG)
- combat rezz
- works as offtank in raids and solid tank for dungeons
- overall exceptional mobility, Travel Form at level 30
- very fast leveling speed (only second to hunters)
- high skill ceiling in PvP to make best use of the different forms
- Least played class in general with next to no loot contention
- Teleport: Moonglade, where you have access to your class trainer
- Can buff: all stats
- Can cure: Curse, Poison
- No out of combat rezz, problematic in 5 man dungeons
- Healing spec in raids does not utilize hots, you only spam healing touch
- leveling pretty slow until level 20ish (cat form plus some skills)
- Pretty hard to play optimally in PvP
- limited to one race per side: Tauren and Night elf
- Balance: “Oomkin” suffers from low damage and mana problems, simply forget this even exists unless you get some talents for PvP
- Feral: leveling, melee dps, and tanking spec
- Restoration: healing spec
- What raiding looks like: spam rank 4 healing touch, give innervate to priests.
- Multiple hots of the same kind do not stack on one target!
There is a reason why all "China farmers" are playing hunter: fastest leveling class and unrivaled solo farming speed with great mobility.
- Pet is great for solo farming and leveling
- fastest leveling speed in the game because of lack of downtime and mobility
- great mobility via Aspect of the Cheetah at level 20
- Only class to remove frenzy ability from bosses like Magmadar (MC)
- Best for kiting specific bosses like General Drakkisath
- Freezing Trap can be used as CC in case there is no mage in the group
- Better than average T1 set
- Very strong in PvP because of kiting, very good defender in AB and WSG
- Feign Death
- very common class in Classic, so group/raid spots are hard to get
- Pet must be tamed, leveled, fed
- Pet can aggro adds in instances (i.e. when jumping down a wall)
- power discrepancy between pets
- Not competitive damage in raids later on
- some gear contention (with rouges, fury warriors)
- usually not more than 2-3 spots in a raid group
- Beast mastery: pet focussed, best for leveling or farming
- Marksmanship: ranged spec for raiding
- Survival: for PvP in combination with Aimed Shot
- Alliance PvE: Night elf (higher base agility)
- Alliance PvP: no clear winner
- Horde PvE: Troll (Berserking)
- Horde PvP: Orc (Stun resist and pet damage)
- While hunters can do more damage in T1 content than mages or warlocks, both caster classes scale way better into the later content.
- What raiding looks like: weave in aimed shot between auto attacks
- You can (and have to) Feign Death and then drink mana during boss fights
After talking about the classes I want to quickly talk about the races as well, although I have already outlined what race is best for each class from a min-max standpoint. I am pretty sure everyone that has played WoW at least once will be familiar with what races are available but I want to quickly mention the unique percs that each race has. If you are not trying to min-max your character I suggest playing the race whose fantasy or style is most appealing to you. If a race has one outstanding racial perk, it is highlighted in bold (may not apply to all classes equally).
- Available classes: Warrior, Paladin, Rogue, Priest, Mage, Warlock
- Gain 10% increased reputation
- Perception active ability: Increase stealth detection
- Spirit increased by 5%
- One and two handed mace skill +5
- One and two handed sword skill +5
- Available classes: Warrior, Paladin, Hunter, Rogue, Priest
- Stoneform active ability: Removes bleed, poison and disease effects, also grants 10% armor while active
- Gun skill +5
- Frost resistance +10
- Find treasures: Display chest + some quest items on the minimap
- Available classes: Warrior, Rogue, Mage, Warlock
- Escape artist active ability: Remove immobilize and movement reduction effects
- Intellect +5%
- Arcane resistance +10
- Engineering skill +15
- Available classes: Warrior, Hunter, Rogue, Priest, Druid
- Shadowmeld active ability: Same as rogue stealth but cannot move
- Dodge chance +1%
- Movement speed while dead by +50%
- Nature resistance +10
When doing PvP Orc and Undead are the master races of the Horde for almost every class because one gets the 25% stun resist, which is better against Rogues, Hunters or Paladins while the other one gets the oh-shit-button WotF that is strong against Warlocks and Priest and Warriors.
- Available classes: Warrior, Hunter, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock
- Blood Fury active ability: Increase attack power by 25%
- Stun resist chance +25%
- Hunter and warlock pet damage +5%
- One and two handed axe skill +5
- Available classes: Warrior, Rogue, Priest, Mage, Warlock
- Will of the Forsaken active ability: Remove and gain immunity to charm and fear effects
- Cannibalize active ability: Regenerate 7% max HP per second, requires a corpse
- Underwater breath +300%
- Shadow resistance +10
- Available classes: Warrior, HUnter, Rogue, Priest, Shaman, Mage
- Berserking active ability: Increase casting and attack speed by 10-23% based on missing HP
- Health regeneration +10%, in combat regeneration 10%
- Damage against beasts +5%
- Throwing and bow weapon skill +5
- Available classes: Warrior, Hunter, Shaman, Druid
- War stomp active ability: AoE stun up to five targets
- Total health +5%
- Herbalism skill +15
- Nature resistance +10
You can learn up to two primary professions at any given time, which are divided into two groups: gathering and production. The former are relatively easy to level and a good source of income while the latter are expensive to level but offer great rewards at higher skill levels. There are three secondary professions and you can learn all of them at once.
Professions can be pushed to a maximum level of 300, same as all other skills in the game.
The initial skill (up to 75) can be trained from an NPC in the first quest hub or any major city. For the next step (up to 75-150) you need to go to any of the major cities, the next step (150-225) is located in one place easily accessible while the master trainers (225-300) are oftentimes located in very inconvenient places. The worst example is Enchanting, where the trainer is in the Uldaman dungeon, surrounded by level 40ish elite mobs. Note that master trainers will not give you any new recipes around skill 250, so reaching 300 is a bit of an expensive grind and you will need BoE patterns to advance. You can increase your skill level at most by one rank per item looted or crafted, even when the recipe is displayed in orange.
In case you want your twink to learn any (crafting) profession you will need to be at least level 35 to train the 225+ skill.
Gather herbs used by Alchemists which can be found all over the world. Most herbs only grow in specific locations and in regions of a set level range, e.g. Bruiseweed can only be found next to buildings or Earthroots are always found at elevations. The most rare herb is the Black Lotus which is required for Flasks and requires skill 300 to pick up. Easy to train while leveling up. To gather Bloodvines in Zul Gurub you need skill 315 (obtained via a special dagger).
Skin beasts for leather and hides used by leather workers. Can later skin dragonkin for scales. To skin Onyxia or the Beast in UBRS you need skill 315 (obtained via a special dagger). It is common to train this while leveling for some additional gold and replacing it by a crafting profession later on.
Gather minerals and jewels used for Blacksmithing and Engineering. Nodes only spawn near mountains or elevations, the type of node also depends on the level of the zone. Reaching skill level 300 can only be done by mining large Thorium veins. Easy to train while leveling. Can mine black-iron ore near and inside Blackrock mountain needed for e.g. fire resistance gear.
Create potions and elixirs from herbs. To craft Flasks, after you have obtained the recipe and venture deep into either the Scholomance or into BWL to find a crafting table. Can create arcanite bars and transform elemental items into other types on CD. Best combined with Herbalism. Does not produce any BoP items.
Recommended class: any
Create mail and plate items from metal bars and stones. Two specializations: weapon smith, further divided into sword, axe and hammer smithing, and armorsmith, which is required to make fire resistance gear for tanks. Best combined with mining. Expensive to level because of the amount of materials needed. Does not have any long cooldowns but can create items required by other professions. Many good recipes can be purchased once you have increased your reputation with the Thorium Brotherhood or found in raids.
Recommended class: Warrior, Paladin
Destroy magic items to gain dust and shards used to enchant your or other’s weapons and armor. Very expensive profession to level but does not depend on a gathering profession, so best combined with a gathering profession of tailoring. I suggest saving all green BoE items you find from level 50 onwards and let a enchanter disenchant those for you. Requires an enchanting rod, created by a blacksmith. Easiest time to level is during the AQ opening event because of the free green items you get from the turn ins.
Recommended class: any
Create different kind of toys and gadgets, which are mandatory if you are serious about doing PvP. Has two specialisations: Goblin and Gnome engineering. Best combined with Mining. Most items can only be used by an engineer and on-use items may have a chance to fail. Can create stun grenades which are game changer in PvP.
Recommended class: any class for PvP, also provides a DPS boost in PvE
Create lether and mail items from leather and hides obtained via skinning. Has three specializations: tribal (agility and intellect leather gear, most common), elemental (agility leather gear) and dragonscale (mail intellect gear). Can create leg enchants for agility and stamina and the Core Armor Kit. Expensive to level, least common profession in the game, can craft the BoE pre-raid BiS Devilsaur set and Hide of the Wild (tribal only). Can create Refined Deeprock Salt (used for Cured Rugged Hide) every three days.
Recommended class: Rogue, Druid, Hunter, Shaman
Tailor items from cloth found killing (mainly) humanoid mobs. Can create leg enchants with intellect or spirit. Best paired with Enchanting or any gathering profession. Some pre-raid BiS items are BoP. Can create one mooncloth every four days.
Recommended class: mage, warlock, priest, maybe also other heal classes
Secondary profession where you can create bandages used to heal yourself. Mandatory for raids and PvP, should always be trained while leveling (unless you absolutely want to level Tailoring). Very fast to level via the AH as it only requires cloth. Skill 150+ can be trained from a book obtainable in Arathi Highlands (Alliance) or Dustwallow Marsh (Horde) but don’t buy it from the AH. For skill 225+ you have to do a quest in Dustwallow Marsh (Alliance) or Arathi Highlands (Horde).
Secondary profession that can be used to create buff food, best paired with Fishing. Recipes are sold from vendors distributed all over the world. Fast but expensive to level via the AH.
Secondary profession where you sit at a pond and fish for fish duh and all kinds of (mostly grey) items that can be sold. Very slow and tedious to level as it can not be sped up by buying stuff from the AH or wearing T3 gear. Good source of income for classes that can’t solo farm very well. Best paired with: Netflix subscription
I will only mention dungeons here that are relevant for pre BiS items or important quest chains but will omit all level up dungeons. While leveling I suggest only doing a dungeon you have at least a couple of quests otherwise they are not worth the time invested, unless you do them for fun with a couple of friends or get boosted by a level 60.
Located in Desolace and actually a level up dungeon but some bosses drop nature resistance gear. Two wings that lead into a final part that is the interesting one, but you will need a key to teleport to the last part, which requires a lengthy quest chain in Desolace. Some classes can farm gold here.
Blackrock Depths (BRD)
The biggest 5 man dungeon in the game with a variety of quests, located inside Blackrock mountain. There are different paths you can take depending on what bosses you want to kill and what level you are since the mobs in the instance span 10 levels. It is the only place to melt down dark-iron ores and craft fire resist gear. Contains the attunement for MC. Most notable loot is the epic mail chest for fury warriors from the arena, the schematic for the repair bot (engineering recipe) and Hand of Justice as well as Ironfoe from the last boss.
All instances listed from here on are most suitable for level 60. While you can do them with 1-2 people at 58 it will take considerable more time to clear and all of them are really big to begin with.
Dire Maul (DM)
This dungeon, located in Feralas, is divided into three wings (west, north and east) and while the easiest east wing is intended for people around level 54 most people will run if at 60 because you can skip some trash by jumping down at the start and running past some packs. Some classes can AoE grind very well in here.
All wings offer a couple of nice items that are arguably better than what you get from the other level 60 dungeons but most people come here to do the “tribute run” in the north wing. This requires you to skip at least one of the first four bosses using a couple of intended tricks like luring one away wearing an ogre costume and after killing the final boss a chest will spawn that yields loot which is generally better than what the previous bosses would drop. But the main reason you do this run though is being able to get three buffs by talking to the bosses afterwards (they are now friendly to you as you are now their “king”) that are mandatory in many guilds for raiding (200 attack power, 15% stamina, 3% spell crit, each lasts two hours). The instance was added shortly after release and might not be available when the first people hit max level, depending on Blizzard’s release schedule (planned to be released at stage 2).
All wings have a low chance to drop a class specific BoE item which starts a quest that leads to a trinket. The final step of the epic mount quest for Warlocks and Paladins takes place at the end of the western wing. Requires a key from the eastern wing or a Rogue to open the front door.
Located on an island in the WPL suitable for level 60 which hosts a variety of undead creatures. The room with the Lich contains a crafting table which is the only way to create Flasks until BWL. Most notable loot is the ultra rare Headmaster’s charge from the final boss (although it is not that great by itself) and the recipe for Flask of Supreme Power from the Lich. To open the door to the instance you will need a key, lockpicking or someone opening from inside. Killing mobs inside yields reputation with the Argent Dawn faction, but also remember to wear your insignia!
Located in EPL and divided into two wings both suitable for level 60. The first one is the “living” wing where you first fight large stacks of mainly non elite undead monsters and later on the Scarlet Crusade. Most notable loot is the Flask of Distilled Wisdom recipe from the final boss and the Crusader Orbs from the humanoids.
In the “undead” wing you will fight… undead monsters and there is a timed event where you have to beat the wing in under 45 minutes to get bonus loot, which is doable in a coordinated group if you have some gear. The final boss can be a bit of a gear check as the healer will have to heal a lot but has the unlikely chance of dropping an epic undead horse mount. All undead mobs in Stratholme give reputation with the Argent Dawn faction (wear the insignia, again!).
Lower Blackrock Spire (LBRS)
From my PoV the worst max level instance in the game, located in Blackrock mountain, which is very long and you will have to run it at least twice to do your Onyxia attunement. The key to UBRS can be collected here (4 pieces) but you will have to do multiple runs to finish it.
Upper Blackrock Spire (UBRS)
10 man level 60 dungeon (you can’t call it a raid) with some decent loot located in Blackrock mountain. Needed for the BWL and Onyxia attunement. Half of the runs will only go as far as Rend Blackhand, which drops the Rogue/Fury BiS weapons, but the final boss drops T0 chests and the Flask of Titans recipe. The famous “Leeroy Jenkins” video took place here. Requires a key to open and the door cannot be lock picked.
There is no such thing as the perfect raid setup for Classic. The boss fights in T1 and T2 content are all relatively easy when looking at boss mechanics as most of them only have one phase (and maybe an enrage timer) but the main challenge in raids early on is the amount of players needed. Getting 40 people together into an instance is the biggest issue with raiding in vanilla.
That being said let’s look at the raid composition: Generally you want to have around 3 tanks (you need more in AQ40 and Naxx), 12-14 healers and the rest DPS, some of who might have to flex on some bosses or trash packs. There is no general rule but here are the minimum numbers you should bring to a raid per class only regarding buffs and utility for T1 content, assuming you have not outgeared the raid yet:
- Protection Warrior: 3
- Fury Warrior: 2 (to flex to tank gear)
- Hunter: 2-3 (for Tranq Shot, 2 is sketchy if you miss)
- Mage: 1 (Int Buff, Water)
- Warlock: 3 (all three curses, one with Imp out for MT, Banish, Teleport)
- Priest: 1 (Stamina and Spirit buff)
- Paladin: 4 (All Major Buffs + Auras)
- Shaman: 4 (At least one per melee group)
- Druid: 1 (MotW, on encounters where people are likely to die (like Onyxia) having multiple battle rezzes might be good)
- Rogue: Do not have any raid buffs but can distract a patrol to prevent a face pull
If you are progressing into AQ40 and Naxxramas some additional warlocks and mages might be beneficial to replace some melees since many encounter punish melees in there really hard!
If you are already running around in T2 gear but are still doing MC (which you should, the chance to get a Thunderfury binding is justification enough and you will also always try to gear up that one new guy that joined the guild recently) you can drop a couple of healers and full tanks in favour of more DPS. For speed running a Fury warrior or Feral druid will generate the most threat possible so DPS can “go full ham”.
Molten Core (MC)
The entry level raid instance for 40 people located inside Blackrock mountain. Many items are subjectively worse than pre raid BiS items in patch 1.12. Most notable loot at the two Thunderfury bindings and the Eye of Sulfuras. To enter you need to have completed the attunement quest “Attunement to the Core”, a simple quest where you need to loot an item inside BRD. Expect to run through this rather quickly but especially the tank and healing gear is desperately needed if you want to start running BWL. Killing mobs will net you reputation with the Hydraxian Waterlords faction, which does not yield any rewards, and to get to the last two bosses you need to use a one-use item to deactivate a rune after each boss (unlimited charges on a CD at revered reputation level). Resets during weekly maintenance.
Located in Dustwallow Marsh this 40 man raid contains four trash mobs and one boss, the broodmother Onyxia. She drops two T2 head pieces and a couple of other neat items and can be skinned by someone having Skinning level 315 (300 +15 from a dagger from UBRS). The scales you get are used as an ingredient for a cloak that is mandatory for all tanks for the three dragon bosses in BWL and mandatory for all players for the last boss Nefarian, as it protects the wearer from the shadow flame ability that will otherwise kill you instantly. To enter you need to complete a lengthy quest chain that leads you into several dungeons. The fight is considerably easier if everyone in the raid brings a greater fire protection potion.Turning in her head will give a two hour buff to everyone on Orgrimmar or Stormwind, which is mandatory for progress raiding. Resets every five days. Recommended video: “50 DKP minus”, the most famous rant in the history of WoW.
Black Wing Lair (BWL)
This 40 man raid instance is intended as a second step after guilds have progressed through MC. The second boss is a gear check encounter blocking the rest of instance off to guilds that have not progressed far enough into the previous content (if ZG is already available items from that instance help a lot progressing into BWL). Requires a simple attunement quest where you have to kill the final boss in UBRS. Some encounters require the Onyxia Scale Cloak to defeat. Turning in Nefarian’s head will give a two hour buff to everyone in Orgrimmar or Stormwind, which is mandatory for progress raiding. Resets during weekly maintenance.
Zul Gurub (ZG)
20 man raid located in Stranglethorn Vale which was released after BWL intended as a catch-up instance since some of the items are way better than what is available in MC. Offers a couple of unique boss mechanics. Has one optional boss that requires 300 fishing skill to lure out. In general the instance is a bit easier than BWL. Killing mobs and the bijous dropped will increase your reputation with the Zandalari Trolls faction. This is the first instance that has set tokens instead of set items dropping directly. Resets every three days.
Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj (AQ20)
To enter AQ20 and AQ40 a serverwide event is held where all kinds of materials have to be handed in at NPCs located in the main cities. Only when all requirement are met the gates will open and a lot of raid level mini bosses will swarm Silithus. Only one person per server can initiate the opening and will get a unique mount (bug mount usable outside AQ40 and the title “Scarab lord”).
20 main raid instance located in Silithus with its difficulty rated around ZG levels, below BWL. The loot isn’t that great if you are decked out in BWL gear already but it is another catch-up instance. Killing mobs will increase your reputation with the Circle of Cenarius, a faction in Silithus that sells patterns for nature resistance gear. Resets every three days.
Temple of Ahn’Qiraj (AQ40)
Does not need an attunement but a server wide progression event, see AQ20.
40 man raid instance located in Silithus intended as a next step after BWL. Some encounters require everyone to have around 100 nature resistance, tanks should have 250, for Huhuran’s enrage 15 people need even higher resistance. The second boss Satura is a gear check. Has three optional bosses that can be skipped. Trash mobs have a chance to drop a bug mount, available in four colors, that can only be used inside the instance but works indoors to traverse this huge instance way faster. You will need at least five fully equipped tanks. Killing mobs and bosses will give reputation to the Brood of Nozdormu and you will get a nice ring that can be upgraded with each reputation rank.
The last two bosses, the Twin Emperors and C’Thun, and their trash mobs are quite a bit harder to beat than the rest of the instance. Resets during weekly maintenance.
The infamous Vanilla Naxxramas, a raid instance so expensive to get into and so tough to beat, that only a few people on the world actually cleared it back in the day and Blizzard decided to revive the content in Wrath of the Lich King. The items that drop here are that good that the top guilds in the world cleared the initial raid content of TBC wearing those items within days of its release. 13 years and many pserver raids later the content isn’t that scary anymore but only the most dedicated guilds will be able to clear this since the last three bosses require the whole raid to be decked out in the best gear.
The instance is divided into five wings with 2-4 bosses each. After you have cleared the first four wings the Frost wing opens which lets you wrestle with the two hardest encounters in Classic WoW: Sapphiron and Kel’Thuzad. The four winged layout gives you the freedom to choose from four different bosses to begin with but your whole raid must be decked out in AQ40 items to even have a chance of success here but it is also a viable strategy to simply farm trash (which is already hard on its own) because of the random drops (leather chest with 40 strength and crit? hell yeah!).
Since I don’t play retail I can’t compare the dungeon’s difficulty to Mythic+ but I’d say it is harder simply because of the many one shot mechanics and having 40 people in the raid instead of 20.
To enter the instance you need to be at least honored with the Argent Dawn faction and have to “simply” turn in a couple of expensive crafting materials to complete the attunement. At reverded the amount of materials is severely reduced and at exalted you are free to enter (thanks). Resets during weekly maintenance.
I recommend to check out Hamsterwheel's video WoW Vanilla - Was old Naxxramas really that hard, if you want to know more about this instance.
There are six world bosses available in the game, the first two at phase two, the latter four added later via a patch. The problem with those fights are that once they spawn everyone rushes to their location and oftentimes a lot of PvP action happens around them. They all respawn every 3-7 (random!) days to make them less predictable. The importance of those bosses cannot be estimated yet but most players probably will never face them in a raid group anyways.
- Lord Kazzak (Blasted Lands)
- Azuregos (Azshara)
- Ysondre (Ashenvale)
- Emeriss (Feralas)
- Taerar (Duskwood)
- Lethon (Hinterlands)
The first two offer solid T1 levels of gear but especially Azuregos can be a bit of a pain to bring down because of a debuf he puts on players once they die. The four dragons of nightmare offer some decent loot, especially the nature resistance gear is really helpful when progressing into AQ40.
In March of 2019 Blizzard released a revised release schedule for the content timeline in Classic WoW. This schedule involves six phases, two more than the four announced at BlizzCon 2018, and includes the release of dungeons, raids, tier sets and more. Note that it is yet unclear at what point in time the updated PvP system (PvP rank rewards) and the battlegrounds will be released, but they almost certainly will not be available at launch. There are some wild speculations about the time after the release of Naxxramas, but nothing has been communicated by Blizzard yet.
- Molten Core Raid, Onyxia Raid, Maraudon, T1 Set
- Dire Maul, Lord Kazzak, Azuregos
- BWL raid, T2 set, Darkmoon faire, Darkmoon card sets
- Zul Gurub, Dragons of Nightmare
- Ahn’Qiraj event and raids, T2.5 set, T0.5 set quest chain
- Naxxramas raid, Scourge invasion event
I have already mentioned some mechanics before but want to dive a bit more into some specific topics. This is more of an advanced topic though so if you are a casual reader only interested in what class you want to play you can skip this.
Five second rule
This is the core concept of mana regeneration in Classic. It is of uttermost importance for healers in raids and also for leveling and farming to reduce downtime.
Your mana regeneration is based on the amount of spirit you have and 100% of that regeneration is active while outside of combat. Once you complete to cast any spell that costs mana, your mana regeneration completely stops for the next five seconds unless your class has a special mechanic to allow some regeneration to continue, e.g. Priest’s Mediation talent lets a percentage of your regeneration continue to tick. Note that the tooltip says “while casting” which implicitly means “even during the five second rule”. Therefore it is important to not throw out one spell every 4 or so seconds but cast many in quick succession and then take a break. This is easy while leveling as you can front load all your damage and then finish off the mob with your weapon, wand, pet or similar. While raiding healers will usually start casting their preferred healing spell but if the target is at 100% HP they will cancel the spell by moving one step or a stop cast macro and immediately start casting the next spell. Only completing to cast a spell will trigger the five second rule, starting to cast does not!
The other mana regeneration stat in the game is mana per five seconds or “Mp5” which continues to tickle no matter what your character does.
Health regeneration is also based on the amount of Spirit you have but it is not active in combat unless you are playing a Troll (10% via racial ability).
The following formulas can be used to calculate the amount of mana you get every five seconds through Spirit:
- Priest, Mage: 13 + (Spirit / 4)
- Hunter, Shaman, Paladin, Druid: 15 + (Spirit / 5)
- Warlock: 8 + (Spirit / 4)
Debuff slot limit
Everyone will have heard about this topic by now as it is one of the most unique perks of vanilla WoW. When vanilla launched in 2005 the maximum number of debuffs that could be present on any target at any given time was 8 which meant any kind of dots were prohibited because overriding the tank’s five sunder armor stacks could mean losing agro and thus a wipe. Therefore those slots were reserved for e.g. warlock curses and other damage amplifying debuffs.
Once the ZG patch hit the servers this limit was increased to 16, which is still not even near the unlimited number of slots you have in retail, but was actually a big steps since now e.g. warriors were allowed to spec into deep wounds (bleed effect after a crit) and mages could run fire spec outside of MC and BWL. Although the limit was increased don’t even think about applying a minor dot like a Hunter’s poison sting to the target, or you might get thrown out of the raid pretty quickly…
From what we know Classic will launch with 16 debuff slots, which was the state of the game in patch 1.12.
This is a list of the most important debuffs that should always be present on the target in raids:
- Sunder armor
- Taunt or Mocking Blow (not always up but takes one slot for three seconds)
- Faerie fire
- 3 Warlock curses
- Improved Shadowbolt
- Winter’s Chill or Scorch
- Ignite (after MC/BWL)
- Shadow weaving (if there is a shadow priest)
The following primary stats are available in the game. The numbers given are all relative to one stat point on a level 60 character.
- attack power (2 for Warriors, Paladins, Shamans and Druids, 1 for all other classes)
- increases the amount of damage blocked by your shield
- 2 ranged attack power (only for Hunters, Rogues, Warriors, not for wands)
- 1 melee attack power for Rogues, Hunters and Cat form Druids
- melee critical hit chance (Rogues: 29 Agi, Hunters: 53 Agi, others: 20 Agi = 1% crit)
- dodge chance (Rogues: 14.5 Agi, Hunters: 26.5 Agi, others: 20 Agi = 1%)
- 2 armor
- Stamina: increases maximum HP by 10
- increases maximum mana by 15
- spell critical strike chance (roughly 60 Int equal 1%, Paladins need around 30 Int)
- improves the chance to get a weapon skill level up
- Spirit: improves your HP and mana regeneration while out of combat or outside the five second rule. Some classes have talents to let a percentage of their mana regeneration continue while casting.
Note that Strength does not increase your Parry chance and Spirit does not influence energy or rage generation. Relevant for tanks: Your Taunt is a spell and as such has 17% chance to miss and you can’t use it while silenced!
The following secondary stats are available:
- Armor: reduces the amount of physical damage dealt to the target, does not scale linearly, caps at 75%
- Critical strike chance: only for melees attacks and Hunters
- Hit chance: only for melee and ranged attacks. Default miss chance for your main hand against bosses (defense skill 315) is 9% and 28% when dual wielding*. For hunters base miss chance for auto attacks and abilities is 8.6% Blizzard confirmed this recently
- Attack power: increase damage for melee hits (14 AP = 1 DPS)
- Critical strike chance with spells (Dots and channelled abilities can NOT crit): works on offensive and healing spells alike
- Critical strike chance with healing spells (Hots cannot crit)
- Hit chance with spells: Default chance to miss with spells against bosses is 17%, can at most be reduced to 1%
- Spell damage: Increase damage of offensive spells and healing spells alike, can be for all schools of magic and thus healing or e.g. only fire damage
- Healing: Increase healing done
- Mana per 5 seconds (Mp5): flat combat mana regeneration that is always active
- Parry chance: parrying a frontal melee attack causes it to miss and hastes your swing timer by 40%. (haste is disabled for specific “tank buster” bosses like Broodlord Lashlayer or Patchwerk).
Note: Blizzard confirmed that boss mobs have 14% parry in Classic (instead of the 5.6% used on pservers).
- Dodge chance: dodging a melee attack causes it to miss
- Defense: for tanks to get immune to crits
- Block chance: increases chance to block an attack, reducing physical damage by your shield’s block amount
- +Skill with weapons: There is no expertise rating in the game yet so those highly sought after items reduce your chance to miss with melee white and yellow attacks. +5 sword skill for instance let’s the game calculate your melee damage roll as you were a level 61 character swinging a one handed sword and more importantly also boosts the damage of a glancing blow on auto attacks
- Resistance to either fire, frost, arcane, nature, shadow increases your chance to resist a part or all of the magic damage dealt to you. See below for details.
If you want to raid as a tank or damage dealer I recommend diving into the topic of how hits and crits are calculated, as this is an advanced topic I will omit from this guide on purpose. While not hit capped 1% hit chance is usually more valuable than 1% crit chance since you need to hit with an ability (“yellow hit”) for the game to roll for a crit (does not apply to auto attacks or “white hits”).
In PvP you will need 3% hit as a caster, 5% as a melee and 24% if you are dual wielding (since opponents will be on the same level as you are).
Weapon and defense skill
Every class in the game can equip different types of weapons. Swinging at an enemy with that weapon may increase your skill level with that weapon up to a cap, that is based on your character’s level (5 times your level, caps at 300 like all other skills). For all physical damage based classes this is very important as it influences their chance to hit. The opposite of the weapon skill is the defense skill, which makes is less likely for an opponent to hit or crit you. This is obviously most important for tanks but relevant for all classes. If you want to level your weapon skill faster be sure to equip some intellect gear and get a mage buff, as it increases your chance to get a skill point.
Spell damage and healing
How much a spell benefits from bonus spell damage and healing from gear depends on the base cast time of the spell otherwise instant cast spells would be very overpowered in comparison. The base formulas are as follows although there are some exceptions to it.
Direct spells based on untalented cast time divided by 3.5 (so spells with less than 3.5 seconds cast time get less than 100%, caps at 200%)
Instant casts are treated the same as 1.5 cast time: roughly 43%
Dots and hots: duration / 15, max 100%
Channeled abilities: duration / 3.5, max 100%
AoE spells: cast time / 7 (so half of what direct spells get)
Additional modifiers: -5% if the spell has a special effect like a chill
Downranking a spell incurs a complicated modifier, spells learned below level 20 are punished even more
The complete explanation can be found here
Diminishing returns (DR)
Everyone that has stepped into the PvP arena just once will know, that the effect of the second CC ability used against a player is halved, the third is halved again and afterwards the target is immune to CC for 18 seconds (15 seconds in vanilla). In retail the longest possible CC time for one spell is 8 seconds.
In Classic this system was already in place but it worked a little different. First of all many CC abilities lasted way longer as for instance a Mage’s Sheep could lasts up to a whooping ~45 seconds in PvP and the only way the CC could break early besides items and spells were resistance to that school of magic. Secondly many classes had different CC abilities on different DR timers. The reason that a rogue’s stun lock was so terrifying was because Kidney shot did not share a DR timer with any of the other stuns like Cheap Shot while Blind and Gouge were not considered stuns.
Only very few spells were susceptible to diminishing returns in Vanilla PvP (this list might be incomplete): Frost Shock (Shaman), Entangling Roots (Druid), Frost Nova (Mage), Freezing Trap (Hunter, added in patch 1.10).
I already mentioned a couple of times that for healers to be competitive in raids you cannot use the maximum ranks of your spells. This is mainly due to the high mana costs and comparably low mana pool or to prevent overhealing the target and is important for all classes even though a penalty is incurred on how much spell damage or healing is applied to a spell. For instance when leveling a Priest you should use rank 1 fear as it is cheaper but has the same effect and duration as the maximum rank. Same goes for Frost Nova and many other abilities where you only need the effect of the spell, not the damage. Another use of rank one spells are AoE abilities like Rain of Fire that can be used to reveal a Rogue in stealth or a rank 1 Frostbolt to apply the slow effect.
Warriors and Rogues cannot do this as the only have the highest rank of their spells available in the spellbook.
In retail items with a proc mechanic have an internal cooldown which was not the case in classic.
This lead to crazy effects like from the famous “Hand of Justice” trinket, which gives a chance on melee swing to get two additional swings (similar to windfury). Because the trinket lacks an internal cooldown the additional two swings each have a (small) chance to proc the two swings again resulting in very high burst damage.
Note: Stacking the trinket effects like Zandalarian Hero Charm and Talisman of Ephemeral Power was removed in patch 1.10 so once you activate one of them the other goes on a short cooldown, but the effects still stack with Berserking or Arcane Power.
The way buffs can be stacked in Classic is very different to modern wow or even TBC. Flasks prevent you from consuming an elixir in retail, but back in the day you could stack them on top of each other. Furthermore there is a variety of other buffs that can be farmed or obtained that can all be applied at the same time. In the Blasted Lands you get a buff that boost one of your primary attributes, there are different types of cooking food, buffs from the Darkmoon Faire and countless others. Furthermore there are the buffs gained when handing in Onyxia’s or Nefarian’s head and also the DM:N buffs. When progress raiding it was not uncommon to have three rows of buffs on your character.
Resistance to magical spells and effects can be gained via buffs or items with the resistance stat on them. There are five schools of magic against whom you can acquire resistance: fire, frost, arcane, nature and shadow.
Once a spell has been calculated to not miss the target (based on hit chance) the game checks what resistance against that school of magic the target has. Resistance stacks up to 300 as every other skill in the game but since bosses are considered 3 levels above the player tanks need 315 spell resistance to fully resist.
The target can then partially resist 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% of a spell’s damage and the last case also prevents any effects from being applied to the target. Spells like Fear or Frost Nova can not be partially resisted and higher resistances mean that a CC spell might break early.
There is no resistance against holy damage. Warlock curses and a couple of items reduce the target's resistance by a fixed amount of points but even reducing a targets resistance to or even below zero will not cause a spell to do more than 100% of its intended damage!
There are different levels of gear obtainable throughout the game. Note that there is no gear score in the game and depending on your class your BiS item in one slot may require level 42 (feral druid staff). I will only talk about PvE gear here as there is a dedicated PvP chapter below.
- Leveling: It is very common to run around in white items around level 20 as there are just not enough quest rewards. Headpieces or necklaces with actual stats start to appear around level 30, trinkets around 40ish. Some items from dungeons are so good that you can stick to them for 10 or more levels. Always grab the best you can but only run a dungeon if you have multiple quests for it (or are getting a leash by a level 60).
- T0 dungeon set: obtained from various level 55+ dungeons, but for most classes those items are suboptimal at best. Once the AQ content is launched those items can be upgraded to the T0.5 set which gives some decent stats but require lengthy quest chains and quite some gold in the bank.
- Pre raid BiS (assuming patch 1.12 items): This is what you should work towards once you hit 60 and want to raid. There are lists on the internet what to get in each slot but those items are usually obtained from level 60 dungeons, high level crafting recipes or random world drops (thus the AH). Some of those items will only be replaced once you reach BWL level gear.
- T1 Molten Core: The first 8 piece raid set gives decent stats to a couple of classes like tank Warriors or Rogues, while it is complete trash for others, like Warlocks or Mages. Furthermore most set boni are usually not worth getting. The final boss, Ragnaros, drops the T2 pants and loot that is way better than the rest of the dungeon.
- T2 BWL and Onyxia: Onyxia drops the T2 headgear, while the rest of this 8 piece set (apart from the pants) drops in BWL. This tier level is where some classes really start to come online. The sets are aimed at the same class specs as the T1 set but the set boni start to get rather good for some classes (like mage 8 pieces).
- Zul Gurub: Offers some really strong items, some of which are not even epic (like the Bloodvine tailoring set), and are BiS until AQ40. The set tokens available here require a specific reputation to turn in which make them useless for runner-ups.
- AQ20: Here you can loot new ranks for some of the most used abilities like Fireball for the Mage (all books are BoE). The three piece sets (ring + back + mainhand) are good in some cases.
- T2.5 AQ40: This set only features 5 pieces and is for some classes not aimed at the meta specs so some underused specs can start rolling with this. AQ40 is quite a bit harder to clear than BWL though.
- T3 Naxxramas: The T3 set consists of the same 8 pieces known from T1 and T2 but gets complimented by a 9th piece, a ring dropped from the last boss. You only need 8 pieces to get the full set bonus though. BiS for all classes that the set is tailored to (e.g. Warriors get a tank set).
Gearing up in Classic is really slow. A typical raid boss in any of the instances will drop 2-3 items, only the final boss will drop more and you can kill them once per week. That means a full MC run will net your guild around 25 epics for 40 people, 5 of which will be completely useless because T1 items are oftentimes worse than the pre BiS items you should be wearing.
There are three legendary weapons in Classic, all of which require a hefty amount of items from raids as well as crafting materials and tons of gold to complete.
The first one is Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros, the two handed hammer wielded by the final boss of MC. It is arguable the worst legendary compared to the other two since the stats are comparable with Ashkandi from BWL, bosses in the T1 and T2 content are immune to the proc and the fact that two handed weapons are not viable in PvE for any class. That being said the odds are good this item might go to a Paladin or Shaman or Warrior for PvP. To complete the item you will need ten Sulfuron Ingots from Golemagg (who drops at most one per raid), a couple of regular materials and cash and a blacksmith with the recipe to create the Sulfuron Hammer. Having that you will need the Eye of Sulfuras, a ultra rare drop from Ragnaros, to form the hammer.
Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker might be the most famous legendary of all times in WoW history. It has an awesome lightening effect and is BiS for tanks even way into TBC content. What makes this weapon so strong is the the proc that creates a kind of chain lightning and more importantly lowers the attack speed of the primary target by 20% that works on all bosses! To get this blade you will need two separate super rare bindings from Garr and Geddon in MC as well as 10 elementium ingots (drops from goblins in BWL, can drop multiple per raid), 100 arcanite bars and a heap of cash. Who the weapon goes to is up to the guild or raid lead, but the main tank is usually the prime candidate.
Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian is the staff of Medivh the guardian, a very important figure in the Warcraft lore. It is by far the rarest item in WoW history because of how few people cleared Naxxramas on the official servers. To assemble the staff you will need 40 Splinters of Atiesh, that can drop from any boss in the first four wings in Naxxramas. After you have those you need quest items the final bosses of AQ40 and Naxxramas. The staff can be obtained by Druids, Priest, Warlocks and Mages. If has a different glow effect and slightly different stats for each class. As a bonus you can use it to create a portal to Karazhan, which is more of a gimik since that is a level 70 raid instance not in the game in Classic.
An honorable mention goes to Andonisus, Reaper of Souls, which can be used against the demon you have to kill for the final stage of the Atiesh quest chain. If you disarm the demon he will drop this sword and it can be used against him in the fight. The item will despawn after 10 minutes of after leaving the instance but is the hardest hitting one handed melee weapon in the game by a mile.
Another honorable mention goes to the Talisman of Binding Shard, a legendary but stats wise undesirable amulet that dropped in MC before BWL was released. At that time T1 and T2 sets dropped in MC and this item could drop. It will not be available in WoW Classic since it was already removed from the loot table back in 2004. Why this item was actually in the game is one of the unsolved myths, some people believe it was originally intended as being part of the Thunderfury quest chain. Rumor has it only one person in the world ever obtained this item!
Another important topic I have to mention is resistance gear. Three types of gear are required throughout the raid progression.
The first on is fire resistance gear. It is mandatory for all tanks to tank certain bosses in the T1 and T2 content. In the early stages of Vanilla killing Ragnaros required the whole raid to have some fire resistance but nowadays you can instead simply mind control a mob at the entrance of LBRS and buff everyone in the raid with a 86 fire resist buff, which makes this gear unnecessary for everyone besides the tanks. Furthermore Greater Fire Resistance Potions boost your survivability against attacks like Deep Breath from Onyxia. Fire resistance gear for plate requires large amounts of dark iron ore that can be found everywhere around or inside Blackrock mountain and some materials looted from trash mobs in MC.
The second gear you will eventually need is nature resistance for AQ40. There are only a few items available for crafting so you might have to rely on green random world drops or a couple of items you can find in the Maraudon dungeon. The four dragons of nightmare and also some AQ40 bosses drop that kind of gear as well. Some gear is mandatory for the whole raid, while melees will need more at least for the enrage in the Huhuran encounter.
The last resistance you will need is frost resistance which is absolutely mandatory for everyone in the raid for the Sapphiron and Kel’Thuzad encounters in Naxxramas. This gear is available for purchase within the instance and you will need a skill 300 tailor, leather worker and blacksmith (one per guild is sufficient) and a lot of materials (for 40 people!) that also drop in Naxx.
I already mentioned what classes and specs are good in PvP in the class section so I am going to focus on other topics in this chapter. If you want to do PvP there are basically two options:
You can do world PvP which means running around in zones where many high level players are questing, running to dungeons or are also looking for PvP opportunities. Prime spots for this are the entrance of Blackrock mountain, Light’s Hope Chapel in EPL and the Nessingway camp in STV (lots of level 60 protecting their level 30 friends from other 60s). In the very beginning of Vanilla, before the launch of the PvP system, Tarren Mill was the place for huge 100 vs. 100 man PvP raid battles, as there were no battlegrounds yet, server lags guaranteed!
If you kill a player of the opponent faction that is not too low level (not gray) you will get honor points. The amount of points awarded depends on the other player’s PvP rank (see below).
Once battlegrounds are enabled you have three options to choose from, while world PvP will at this point probably degrade to ganking people leveling or farming:
- Warsong Gulch (WSG) is a 10 vs. 10 capture the flag battleground. If you are serious about getting high warlord/grand marshal you will want to get a premade 10 people group for this as it offers the most honor per time invested.
- Arathi Basin (AB) is a 15 vs. 15 point control map where both teams try to hold five capture points over time. The battleground is way brawlier than WSG.
- Alterac Valley (AV) is a giant 40 vs. 40 man battleground where you must destroy enemy bunkers (by capping and holding a flag point for 5 minutes) to weaken the final boss that you are supposed to kill. In the early times these battlegrounds sometimes lasted more than 24 hours while later it resolved around who could rush the opponent’s boss the fastest.
Every weekend from Friday afternoon to Sunday one battleground is chose to give bonus honor and reputation so keep an eye on the emissary NPCs in the major cities. Completing a battleground or an objective therin yields a set amount of honor, which is normally way more than what you get from killing players so from a competitive standpoint it is in your best interest to win or lose fast instead of brawling endlessly.
Another important aspect of battlegrounds is that each one has a dedicated faction associated with it. You gain reputation buy completing a battleground (more if you win), delivering the enemy flag in WSG, at a certain number of points in AB and for destroying towers in AV.
While the rewards in WSG and AB are good but not outstanding getting to exalted in AV is really beneficial for caster classes because the epic rewards at exalted are BiS until AQ40 for raiding. Melees get a big two handed mace that is great for PvP.
Some people will start equipping twinks - mainly Rogues and Hunters - to do level 19 WSG once they have obtained all their gear on their main character and thus get bored so if you are a runner up on an existing server you might want to avoid that, although doing battlegrounds while leveling is a waste of time anyway.
Which brings us to the next topic: the honor system. Per faction there are 14 PvP ranks you can climb but the higher you get the harder it gets to get an additional rank and the higher the honor decay is. If you kill a player of the opposing faction or complete an objective in a battleground you get honor points.
Each week during server maintenance all players on the server are ranked based on the number of honor points collected during the week. Then a different set of points (invisible to the player) is given to each player based on their position in the list (percentage based). Furthermore you lose a percentage of your already accumulated points, more if you are at a high PvP rank already. The number of points you have then determines your rank for the following week.
Each rank gives a couple of rewards that you can buy from the quartermaster in Stormwind or Orgrimmar. Rank 2 gives you the insignia, ranks 7,8,10 give you a solid blue armor set en par with pre raid BiS, 11 gives you access to epic mounts, 12 and 13 give you a very good epic armor set (BWL item level) and rank 14 gives you access to all kinds of weapons (also en par with BWL items).
While it is pretty doable to climb up to around rank 9 if you “only” invest 3-4 hours every day grinding battlegrounds, climbing higher is insanely time consuming and because of the rank decay you cannot afford to not play even one day if you are working towards rank 14.
Every week only one player per faction can be rank 14 at any given time, so should you reach it, buy all the weapons you can equip, because the week after you won’t have the rank anymore and thus cannot buy the items anymore (applies to all ranks but at the top the decay rate is pretty ridiculous).
Keep in mind that the honor system will not be available at the initial release of Classic.
Leveling in WoW Classic is slow, painfully slow but it is part of the Vanilla experience since the game starts at level 1 opposed to retail that starts at max level...
The world record for the race to level 60 on a fresh server back in the day is 4 days 20 hours /played time by Joana. If you are a casual player with a job and do not focus on your professions too much, you can make it to level 60 in around 8-14 days of ingame time, but it is not uncommon to spend 20 days getting to 60. If you run out of quests and have to grind from 59 to 60 it will take you more than 48 hours to do so. Therefore once the Classic servers launch expect the speedrunners to race to 60 within a week with most of the players reaching 60 around 1-3 months later.
While the first zones are all quite solid from a game design standpoint, all goes slowly down the drain from there on. Assuming you did all the quests, you will leave your starting area around level 5.5 and the area around your main city at 11-12. Afterwards you oftentimes have to walk quite a bit to get to the next hub. For example Taurens after leaving Mulgore have to walk though the Southern Barrens littered with level 20 mobs to get to the Crossroads, the next major quest hub, so be prepared to die if you are not careful.
The higher you get in levels the more you have to move between zones. If you do not switch between two zones you will run out of yellow quests and either have to grind 1-2 levels or have to do green or gray quests just to get the follow up quests.
This leads to the next issue because the world is incredibly large. When you want to level in two zones at once or want to grab new ranks of your spells every 2 levels you will spend a lot of time running around. Remember that you only get access to your mount at level 40 but people may not be able to afford the 90 gold at that point unless they have grinded for it. Hunters and Shamans get a big speed boost at level 20 and Druids at level 30 but all other classes will have to run on foot. There is usually only one flight point available per zone that you have to visit once to activate it and not many possibilities to switch between continents.
Here are two examples of really good leveling zones:
You will most likely go to the Un'Goro Crater around level 52, where almost all mobs and quests will be yellow. Due to the amount of quests this comparably small zone can give you two easy levels in no time. The cauldron quest chain obtained from the Bulwark at the western exit of the Western Plaguelands is another great example where you can head around level 55 and make a quick level up as it involves around twelve steps that give lots of XP without much travel time involved.
Another problem with leveling in Classic is that the world is littered with elite mobs and if you do not have any friends to help out you will have to skip those quests, which are usually the end of a lengthy chain you have been chasing and would sometimes even give you a nice (blue!) item. Some classes can solo elites by kiting as long as they are higher level than the mob they are trying to kill and maybe bring some consumables.
Five man instances are another topic. Due to the length of most dungeons it is only beneficial to run a dungeon at most once if you have a couple of quests for it. But you will soon realize that in many zones the longest quest chain will eventually lead you to the dungeon, thus if you skipped the zone or did not do those pre-quests, you won't get any for the dungeon. The worst example of this is presumably the Maraudon key quest for the third wing. The only reason to run a dungeon without quests is if it gives a really good item that yields a giant power spike, as leveling will be much faster afterwards (mainly applies to Warriors, Rogues, Paladins, Shamans). A good example for this are the Scarlet Monastery items that will last you into your 50s.
Honorable mention regarding quests for people a bit behind the leveling curve: At level 51 you can accept a bunch of quest for the Alterac Valley battleground. Those give huge amounts of XP but if your group only rushes to the boss you will most likely not complete many of them, so it depends on the server.
Eventually you will die at some point because you accidentally pulled two mobs or you are questing the Stranglethorn Vale (and thus got ganked by a level 60) and will quickly realize that most zones only have one graveyard so be prepared for a couple of long corpse runs. Also keep in mind that there is no "return to spirit healer" button, so if you run in the wrong direction or fall down a cliff you might be in for a long walk.
Here are a couple of tips that help speed up your leveling, apart from what I mentioned earlier:
- Immediately get all movement increasing spell or talents you have access to
- Use your cooldowns, even on PvP servers! Using a Rogue’s evasion in PvE 10 times will in the long run probably give you more XP than getting ganked once and not having it available
- Don’t die. If you see in chat that a spot is getting ganked by high level players, don’t go there (STV!).
- Always bring food/water and consume any potions you might find during leveling rather than selling them to the vendor.
- Don’t bother with professions besides First Aid. You can farm everything once you are 60, but bank items you will need later or sell them on the AH.
- Always log off inside an inn or city for that sweet rested XP bonus
- Always do quests solo unless they are dedicated group quests you can’t do alone or multiple people are waiting for that one NPC to respawn
- You will get access to a new skill or new rank every two levels (always even numbers). Check a resource like wowhead if it is worth the time investment to go to a trainer or not and also only buy skills you actually need as they are really expensive to train.
- Spirit is a really good stat for all classes since it increases your mana and health regeneration while running to the next mob. Don’t gimp your stats for it, but don’t toss those items away immediately either, even as a Warrior or Rogue. An outfitter addon helps a lot for this!
Finally there are many factions in the game where you can increase your reputation by simply killing mobs, at least in the higher level range. Many of them, like the Timbermaw furbolgs in Felwood offer great rewards so simply grinding a level by killing those mobs can be a good idea. Before doing so check the rewards for the faction though.
If you want to level really fast and efficient I recommend checking out "Joana's Vanilla leveling guide", it is the best detailed leveling guide out there. It also showcases nicely what I said about zone hopping.
Once you finally hit level 60 you should start working on any or all of the points below (healers can start running dungeons at 58 to work on their gear):
- respec talents into a dungeon, pvp or farming spec (you won’t need your raid spec yet unless you are a runner up and your guild needs you to heal in MC)
- farm for your epic mount (~900g)
- start on the attunement for Onyxia (yields at least one pre BiS item). MC and BWL attunements are only one quest each and can be done on the fly.
- work towards your pre raid BiS items
- learn and push your professions, at least up to level 250
- join a guild if you haven’t done yet, find some friends, WoW is a social game!
- finish any class quests that you might have skipped while leveling that yield new spells, e.g. the warlock’s Succubus is irrelevant for leveling but will take at least an hour to complete without a mount when done at level 20.
Economy and Gold
Gold is a major factor in Classic for multiple reasons: Repair costs scale with gear (plate is more expensive than cloth to repair), all the different buff foods especially flasks and pots are really expensive, your epic mount costs around 900g, respeccing your talents gets expensive over time and gold is really hard to come by in general. When you are progressing into Naxxramas it is not uncommon to spend several hundred gold per raid night on consumables!
The first reason for this is that there are no daily quests available, so once you have leveled through all high level areas, which you will need to do to get level 60 anyways, you are out of options on this front. Furthermore many quests do not even give gold on completion, only the final stage of a quest chain does.
This means that you have to farm to get gold. If you are playing a DPS class it is very easy to farm crafting mats dropped from mobs like Rune- or Felcloth or elemental items and sell them on the AH or just sell grey items to the vendor (DM:E lashers come to mind).
On the other hand you can make some money with professions. Only high skilled crafting professions with rare recipes like the Crusader or +heal on weapon enchant can make a lot of money by offering their services but everyone can pick up a gathering profession.
If you are a healer professions are usually your only option to get gold, while tanks can make some by offering "rent a tank" services due to their really high demand. Furthermore some professions have long cooldowns you can sell for gold, e.g. Transmute Arcanite, Mooncloth.
Last but not least you can simply run dungeons and ideally disenchant all the stuff that drops and roll for the shards. One common route is running the living part of Stratholme and roll for the Crusader Orbs, which are needed for the best melee weapon enchant in the game “Crusader” and if you get lucky you might even get the flask recipe at the end of the run.
Some classes like Hunters, Warlocks or Feral druids can solo farm lower level dungeons like some bosses in Maraudon or DM:E to get gold. There are guides on YouTube on the classes and routes for this. Warriors preferably team up with any healer and grind elites for silver and BoEs, Rogues can pickpocket in BRD for extra cash.
Ultimately Classic has a lots of different epic BoE random world drops. They can usually drop of any mob of a certain level and some of them can be sold for a premium, depending on the average gear and gold level of the server.
Which brings me to the last point about money: as always in WoW - if you like doing this - the Auction House is the best source of income if you are patient, have a good feeling about what items are in demand and use a solid auctioneer addon. On a fresh server the best time to sell specific items is either once people have leveled to 60 and start boosting their professions or once new content is added (e.g. when Naxxramas launches everybody will want to buy Grave Moss).
We don’t know yet what addons will be available in Classic since the game is based on the Legion 7.3.5 client, whose API is way different to what was available in the Vanilla 1.13 client. Therefore I will complete this chapter at a later point.
Thanks for reading!
Last change: May 10th, 2019
@Boatschl Many thanks for your contribution. This is stupendous. By the way, if you want a custom thumb for this, please let me know. Also, the thumb you chose seems to be cropped. If you would like, you can send it to me. Melderon#1287 on Discord to make it look better
This guide gives a very good overview of the game! It reminds me of the old school wow website, great work!
Excellent piece of work, thanks for putting so much effort into this. A great resource to share with people coming back after so long
thank you for all of the great work you have put in to this. It bring a lot of good info together that is spread all over the deep dark internet.