i have notice that many questions are coming out regarding this issue, so i decided to took research for it ..
wish that this 'researched guide' will help a lot of gamers (especially new ones) out there...
What a lot of people don’t understand when they begin playing a game like World of Warcraft (WoW) is that their choice of class is very important when it comes to the type of role the character is expected to play in a group. Understandably, the reasons that lead a player to roll a particular class do not always align with how the class best benefits a group. This is especially true when the character is in a small guild, where organizing a group to complete an instance requires certain roles in the group to be played very well. After Blizzard lowered the player cap in the non-raid end-game instances from 10 to five, assembling the right classes, played the most effective way possible, is more important than ever. Unfortunately, a lot of players don’t really understand what roles their classes are expected to play, and their groups tend to suffer because of this.
This guide is not meant to be a highly-detailed look into every class, nor will it discuss the details of different talent builds for WoW classes. Rather, this guide is meant to explain group dynamics specifically as it applies to five-man instances, though much of what follows is also applicable to larger groups in both PvE and PvP environments, and can be adjusted accordingly.
Mandatory Role 1: Main Tank
Capable classes: Druid (Feral), Protection Warrior
The Main Tank (MT) is the front-runner of any group, whose job it is to always be in the middle of the fray, getting hit by enemies so that the enemies don’t go off and hit the MT’s allies. Contrary to the beliefs of many would-be MTs, however, the MT is not able to do his job by wearing heavy armor alone. Rather, the MT can only do his job by keeping the attention of enemy mobs on himself (”holding aggro”), which is only possible by doing significant damage, or taunting enemies. This is an immensely important point, because where most would-be MTs fail is in their inability to properly hold aggro; the term “tank” is not synonymous with “damage soaker”, as this is only part of what a tank does.
There are only two classes in WoW capable of being a MT: the Warrior, and the Druid. While the Paladin can take a very firm beating and still survive, and even do decent damage later in the game, the Paladin simply doesn’t have the ability to taunt opponents, which is often necessary to keep allies alive. As a result, despite the Paladin’s high armor, he is unable to be the MT in a group.
Unfortunately, many Warriors decide not to spend talent points in the right places, which could have a drastic effect as to how well they can play the role of MT. For example, many Warriors decide to focus heavily on the Fury talent tree, which may give the Warrior excellent damage-per-second (DPS), but will do little in the way of helping the Warrior tank. As noted, damage is only one of three factors that make up a MT. While the Fury tree may be excellent for Warriors who primarily engage in PvP battles, it is a poor build for instances, and very often, Warriors who are used to dealing damage through their Battle and Berserker stances fail to be effective in a group setting, where the Defensive stance, along with a one-hander and shield is preferred.
The Warrior’s Protection tree is ideal for a MT, as exemplified by such talents as Defiance (a blanket threat increase on all attacks made by the Warrior), and Improved Taunt (letting the Warrior use his Taunt ability more often). In addition, the Protection tree allows a Warrior to get more and better use out of his shield. While it is tempting for many Warriors not to use a shield so as to do more damage, it should be noted that it is not the MT’s job to deal out mass damage, but rather to dish out only enough damage to compliment his taunts, such that all aggro is on himself; without exception, any Warrior who intends to be the MT should use a shield, as a shield-less warrior simply does not have the armor potential to MT properly. Even with epic-level armor, a shield-less Warrior will require more heals, and become a greater liability to the group as a result.
The Warrior’s Arms tree is also quite useful, and allows the Warrior to increase his ability to parry (for surviving longer), and to hold Rage between stances (with Tactical Mastery). This is quite useful, since fights may begin with the Warrior charging in and using Sweeping Strikes to attack nearby opponents, which gathers aggro from numerous enemies at once. With abilities in the non-defensive stances, the Warrior can initially hold aggro with high-damage attacks, but should enemies begin to ignore the Warrior in favor of his allies, Tactical Mastery allows the Warrior to switch to the defensive stance and taunt enemies accordingly, and still have Rage left to power abilities in the defensive stance. This flexibility allows the Warrior to properly damage, taunt, and soak damage, which are the three requisites of a MT.
Unique to the Warrior are an array of abilities that have a high threat associated with them, such as Sunder and Revenge. A proper combination of these types of abilities will ensure that anyone the Warrior engages remains focused on the Warrior.
The only other class capable of being a MT is the Druid, as the Druid’s bear form not only matches the armor of a plate-wearing class, but the Druid can also taunt in bear form. While the Druid pales in comparison to a shield-toting Protection-specced Warrior, the Druid can easily serve as MT in almost any instance in the game. With the Druid’s Swipe ability, he may draw aggro from numerous enemies (akin to a Warrior’s Sweeping Strikes), and can immediately taunt enemies without the need to switch stances. Talents such as Feral Instinct in the Feral tree increase a Druid’s threat using attacks in bear form, and talents such as Heart of the Wild are blanket stamina increases to keep the Druid alive longer. While the Druid does not have as many abilities to pick and choose from as the Warrior does when tanking is concerned, the Druid can nonetheless utilize an area-of-effect (AoE) debuff, as well as Faerie Fire, to keep up his aggro. What a Druid lacks in shield use, he makes up for in (generally) a higher base armor, and he relies more on damage production to hold aggro than the shield-toting Warrior.
Unless there is no Hunter in the group, the MT should always pull mobs, as it immediately directs aggro in their direction. A Warrior can use a ranged weapon to accomplish this, while a Druid can use any of his caster abilities, but should use something hard-hitting, such as a Starfire followed by a Moonfire. If the instance is not indoors, a Druid MT can also use Entangling Roots for crowd-control, taking one enemy out of the fray.
Once enemies are close, the MT should use a multi-enemy attack or AoE debuff, cementing aggro on enemies that were not the MT’s main target. At this point, the MT should attack as fervently as possible, using available stuns to decrease the number of enemies attacking at any given time, and using taunts to keep enemies on them. Taunts should be used freely and when available, such that there is an assurance that all enemies on the MT stay on the MT. By cycling through enemies that are already on the MT, and using high-threat abilities accordingly, the group gains an assurance that there will always be enough enemies around the MT that multi-enemy attacks get their maximum effect. Only when the MT is taking so much damage that heals aren’t keeping up should the MT back off on using his highest-threat attacks.
In regards to taunts, there is a very important thing to remember: taunts do not have any effect on enemies that are already focused on the tank. Imagine that aggro is a numerical value that can be increased by pure damage or by certain abilities that have a high threat associated with them. When a tank loses aggro, a taunt makes the tank’s threat equal to the threat of the individual who pulled aggro off the tank. Therefore, if the tank is unable to increase his threat immediately after the taunt, the taunt will be ineffective. This is why a taunt should ideally always be followed by a high-threat attack.
Mandatory Role 2: Main Healer
Capable classes: Druid (Restoration), Priest
Every group, in order to survive, needs a character able to heal her allies. It is the job of the Main Healer (MH) to use whatever healing abilities are available for maximum effect. While there are four classes in the game capable of using healing spells, only two of these classes have the flexibility and healing efficiency to play this role: the Priest, and the Druid.
The two significant differences between the Priest and the Druid when healing is in how their respective healing abilities work. The Priest has the ability to heal almost instantly (Flash Heal), while the Druid does not. As a result, the Druid generally needs to wait until his ally’s health is much lower before applying a heal. However, the Druid’s advantage in combat is that her heals have healing-over-time (HoT) effects much better than those of the Priest.
Regardless of whether the MH is a Priest or Druid, she should spend a significant number of talent points in the appropriate tree, be it Holy for Priests, or Restoration for Druids. Gear that is high in Spirit and +healing is ideal for MHs, with Intellect being secondary.
It is the primary job of the MH to focus efforts on keeping the MT alive. If the MT is doing his job, he is minimizing who else in the party is getting attacked. As such, the MH has the luxury of healing one person rather than five, and can best do this by using healing abilities that do not over-heal. (Over-healing is when a heal brings the target to 100% health, and could have done so even if the target’s health were lower when the heal was applied. This is mana inefficient, as more mana was used for the heal than was necessary, since the maximum effect of the heal could not be realized.) Overhealing can be prevented by using lower levels of a particular healing spell, or using an appropriate user-interface (UI) modification that automatically selects the level of the healing spell to be used for a particular heal.
For a Priest, the Flash Heal spell is ideal to apply to the MT, while Renew is ideal for a Druid. Keeping a HoT spell active on the MT at all times while the MT is taking damage is also preferable.
Many inexperienced priests believe that Power Word: Shield (PW:S) is useful when applied to an ally, but in most cases such is false. Since PW:S prevents damage to a tank, the tank is unable to generate Rage from his opponent’s attacks, thusly decreasing his effectiveness. Furthermore, when surrounded by enemies, the mana used on PW:S is too high for the benefit PW:S provides, and the priest could have better used her mana on an actual heal. Furthermore, the aggro directed at the Priest for casting PW:S is another reason that it should be avoided. Generally, PW:S should only be used when the target’s health is too low to get a proper heal off.
If things go bad, and the MH is being attacked, there are a couple things that can be done. Firstly, if the MH is a Priest, she should cast Fade in an effort to remove aggro such that someone else can pick it up. Should that not work, the Priest can use PW:S to survive long enough for someone else to gain aggro back, else cast Fear as a last resort to keep the enemy at bay. Under no circumstances should the MH attack, however, since this will do nothing but make it more difficult to draw aggro off the Priest; even if being attacked, the Priest is a much greater aid to the party by continuing to heal the MT, and should not defend herself by casting offensive spells, or using her weapon or wand.
If the MH is a Druid, by nature of her armor class, she will survive direct attacks longer. A Druid can also switch into cat form and use the Cower ability to remove aggro. In most cases, like the Priests’s Fade, this will be enough to get the enemy away. It is worth repeating that the MH should never attack an enemy, as the MH’s damage is negligible compared to the aggro it will produce and the harm it will therefore bring upon the party.
While the general rule of thumb is that an MH should not engage offensively, there are some exceptions. If a few more hits are enough to bring the last enemy down, the MH may as well use offensive spells if he does not expect any more healing to be necessary. Similarly, in an engagement where the experienced MH does not expect to pour his entire mana pool into heals, the MH can use lower-threat attacks to help the group out. Fortunately, since patch 1.10 and the Priest revamp, an offensive non-shadow spec is possible, giving the Priest the option of using Holy spells to help his group do damage without the threat-generation that shadow spells natively provide.
While it is the MH’s job to keep the party alive, all efforts should be put into keeping the MT healthy, even if this means losing someone else in the party. The MT is the glue that keeps enemy aggro focused, and if he falls, the MH will likely be next.
Since the MH needs to conserve mana as much as possible, there are some classes that the MH should spend less time healing, since they should be able to take care of themselves. In reality, in addition to the MT, the only person a MH should have to heal on a routine basis is the Off-Tank.
Suggested Role 1: The Off-Tank
Capable classes: Druid, Hunter (Beast Mastery), Paladin, Shaman, Warlock (Demonology), Warrior
Any character capable of being the MT can serve as an Off-Tank (OT), since the OT benefits from the same three factors as a MT: armor, damage, and taunts. However, the OT does not necessarily require the ability to taunt, which allows the OT to be played by Warriors without a focus in the Protection talent tree, as well as Druids not heavily invested in the Feral tree, Paladins, and even Shamans.
It is the OT’s role to keep enemies off the MH. Even a good MT can lose enemies to the aggro generated by a MH’s healing spells. While the MT is busy fighting numerous enemies at a time, sometimes other enemies will aggro and won’t be within the MT’s striking range. For example, a Druid’s Swipe ability will strike up to three enemies, but a fourth enemy won’t be struck, and unless taunted, will be happy to attack the MH instead of the MT. As such, it is the OT’s job to make sure that fourth enemy stays occupied.
Since the OT will rarely need to fight more than one or two enemies at a time, the OT doesn’t need quite the armor a MT does, though it never hurts. However, the OT can forego some armor if it means significantly greater DPS, which allows the OT to steal aggro away from the MT should the MT be having too tough a time. In lieu of taunts, a class such as the Paladin or Shaman can bring benefits to a group and still grapple aggro from the MH, or from a MT who’s bitten off more than he can chew. While the Paladin has the armor and threat-production abilities to be a good OT, the Shaman can draw aggro with his enormous DPS, which can then quickly put an enemy down.
While the OT who is a Druid, Paladin, or Shaman can usually heal himself, since the OT can help minimize damage taken by the MT, and may have to attack numerous enemies should the MH get mobbed by same, the OT is better off using his mana offensively than defensively. That said, there is no excuse for an OT dying with a filled mana pool; an OT should only expect heals from the MH if he is actually making use of his mana pool, or in the case of a Druid, does not have the opportunity to switch forms.
Two classes, with interesting abilities that allow them to potentially OT well, are the Hunter and Warlock, who each have pets capable of drawing aggro by way of taunts. A Hunter, who has significantly invested in the Beast Mastery talent tree, has the ability to OT so long as he does not use high-threat abilities, and instead leaves threat-production to his pet. Similarly, a Warlock who has heavily invested in the Demonology tree can OT, so long as he properly manages his spells, particularly those that deal shadow damage (which are high threat). Unlike other OT-capable classes, the Hunter and Warlock require much greater management of battlefield resources, though the benefits are great: Hunters can heal their pets when health gets low, and can reduce aggro with pet abilities like Cower or with native abilities such as Distracting Shot, and Warlocks can siphon health from enemies firmly stuck to the MT, while siphoning that health back to their pet. In the case of both these classes, they should rarely, if ever, require healing from an ally, since they can easily use bandages while their respective pets fight.
Note that while there are a number of capable OT classes, only two of them (the Hunter and Warlock) have talent-tree requirements. All others may benefit from their talent-point distribution, but do not require a particular build to OT efficiently.
Suggested Role 2: The Off-Healer
Capable classes: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman
The Off-Healer (OH) is not a dedicated healer, and is more of a combat-healer than anything else. In cases where the group simply gets mobbed unexpectedly, or a boss battle is going on too long, the MH may simply not have the mana pool to keep up with the damage the MT and the OT are taking. Enter the OH, who should be able to fight in some capacity, and yet still heal a group.
Excellent OHs are Druids, who can play supporting combat roles in bear or cat forms while conserving their mana pools. If the MH’s mana pool goes dry, a Druid can simply switch to caster form, and use her unused mana pool to let the MH regenerate mana. Other classes that do well in this role are the Paladin and Shaman, who, when not playing the OT, can conserve their mana by not using mana intensive attacks, such that they have enough in reserve to cover healing issues. Both the Paladin and Shaman have talent trees specifically devoted to healing, and focusing on these respective trees will allow these classes to very effective OHs, and replace the MH if she gets killed.
The OH, while serving as backup for the MH, should also watch other group members. Since it is the MH’s primary responsibility to heal the MT, the OH should primarily watch everyone else in the group, and make sure their healing needs are covered while the MH is busy.
Suggested Role 3: The Damage Dealer
Capable classes: Druid (Feral), Hunter, Mage, Rogue, Shaman (non-Restoration), Warlock (Destruction), Warrior (Fury)
While survivability is needed in a group, being able to kill mobs quickly tends to minimize damage taken to the group. Enter the Damage Dealer (DD), whose responsibility is to do nothing short of issuing strong attacks. Numerous classes are capable of playing this role, though certain talent-trees are better-suited than others, and being able to deal damage can also be very dependent on what gear a character is carrying. It is important to realize that the DD should be able to hit hard, but not draw too much aggro. If the DD does draw aggro, they should be able to lose it quickly, and ideally, heal themselves.
A Druid properly specced with Feral talents, who attacks in cat form, is an excellent damage-dealer. Since the Druid can Cower to lose aggro, the Druid has the ability to back off from a fight and heal himself. Since patch 1.08, Blizzard has begun putting more Feral-specific gear in the game, allowing decently-equipped Druids to compete on the DPS meters with the traditional DPS classes.
Hunters are very viable damage dealers, with the bonus of having a high survivability thanks to their attacks being ranged. Since they do not need to use their pets to hold aggro in most situations, removing Growl from the pet auto-cast state and targeting the MT’s or OT’s target effectively gives Hunters free DPS without worry of having their pet get killed. When Growl is properly used to take attention of an add, a Hunter can deal damage to two enemies at once, and has abilities like Multi-Shot and Volley to attack additional targets when necessary.
The Mage is the highest multi-target DPS-class in the game thanks to his superior AoEs. A ranged class like the Hunter, the Mage is capable of dealing tremendous DPS when using fire-based attacks. However, the Mage’s enormous DPS tends to pull aggro very quickly, so to counter this, the Mage needs to use snares to keep enemies off himself, slow down the rate of casting to slow down aggro generation, or rely heavily on the OT to keep himself alive. That said, in cases where the Mage has been damaged, it is his job, when not engaged in combat, to bandage himself accordingly, conserving the mana of the group’s healers. Given the speed at which the Mage can take enemies down, he has ample time between kills to apply a first aid bandage before again attacking. With high spirit, the Mage can usually generate mana during this bandaging. Also, a Mage’s crowd control is very effective, as he can turn any living humanoid enemy into a sheep to make the battle easier on the group, or give him enough time to use a bandage. In all multi-enemy confrontations, the Mage should always have at least one enemy turned into a sheep.
The Rogue is arguably the highest single-target DPS-class in the game when played correctly. His use of poisons, fast weapons, and properly using Vanish and Preparation to add an extra Ambush attack are priceless. When a Rogue has drawn too much attention from an enemy, they can Feign to lose aggro, and have abilities like stuns and Blind to give them time to use bandages. A well-played Rogue should also rarely require heals. Additionally, a Rogue’s Sap ability allows the Rogue to take any humanoid target out of combat, akin to a Mage’s Sheep spell, albeit limited to the beginning of combat.
Shamans are highly-offensive, and spending points in Elemental and Enhancement merely solidify this. With Windfury on a slow two-handed weapon, Shamans can supplement their already frightening attacks with high-level shocks, which are instant attacks. With the ability to heal, Shamans can try to conserve some mana to keep an extra heal handy to help out the MH.
A Warlock who has invested in the Destruction tree has highly-potent attacks which, albeit not incredibly mana-efficient, deal enormous amounts of damage. Add to this the Warlock’s ability to place damage-over-time (DoT) spells on numerous enemies at once, and the Warlock becomes an intimidating adversary.
While all Warriors can do damage well, the Fury Warrior emphasizes damage over the previously-discussed builds, and foregoes the ability to draw aggro away from his allies in an effort to simply kill faster. In this, the Warrior does excellent work, and in a tight situation, can change stances to taunt if necessary.