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A Newbie’s Guide to World of Warcraft Class Groups

Updated on December 22, 2011

This is a quick and easy guide to explain the different class groups in World of Warcraft for newbies, nubs, noobs or my favorite: women who want to spend time with their boyfriends or husbands so they create a character for that special date on the beaches of Strangethorn Vale.

If you’re an Elitist Jerk or just one of those guys/gals who likes to brag about everything everyone else doesn’t know about WoW, then this is not for you. This is for the person who is (1) new to the game; especially MMoRPGs (2) started playing, but stopped early on because the class they picked was not right for them or (3) wants to spend time with their WoW addicted love one and has little interest to do any hardcore research and would rather have someone tell them what to play so it’s as painless as possible.

Need To Know Terms

Here are some ‘need to know’ terms for any new WoW player: (1) Tank: this is the person who should be getting hit in a 5 man group or 10/25 man raid. Also called a meat shield. (2) Healer: this is the person who heals the entire raid and keeps everyone alive, except for pets…that’s their owner’s job. (3) DPS: this is the person killing stuff. Their job is to kill stuff and try not to pull agro (AKA take the attention of the enemies off the tank). (4) Randoms: instances or dungeons where groups are formed with 4 other players to kill stuff for gold and shiny new gear to wear. (5) Talents: abilities or spells a character can learn or upgrade. Your first talent point is given at level 10 where you can begin down a path to define your character as tank, healer or dps. (6) Dual Specing: Available at level 40, grants the ability to play two different types of talent trees (or specs). Helpful if you want to DPS while also allowing you to switch to a healer or tanking role if needed.

Most of us forget it when we get our fancy tier gear, but just remember…everyone starts off as a newbie. It just takes a lot of time, some reasonable ability to learn from your mistakes and patience as you’re running back to your dead body in the form of a ghost (AKA doing corpse runs). It starts with the class you pick, but it’s your smarts and a little common sense that can make the difference when you play.


Races: Night Elf, Tauren Troll, Worgen

Type: Healer (Restoration), DPS (Balance/Feral), Tank (Feral)

Druid’s are a hybrid class that can apparently do just about anything. But if you’re new to WoW and especially MMORPGs, this should be a class you tackle after getting used to the gaming style, world and lore. They are a fun class to play, but a difficult one to master if you’re not used to gaming. If you insist because you play Horde and you really like cows, go Boomkin aka DPS balance. Tanking on a druid is not easy, so remember that though tanking will get you into randoms faster, you can guarantee that your group will boot you and quick if you can’t keep agro. It isn’t terribly difficult to be a healer, but it isn’t quite as efficient for leveling a toon.


Races: Night Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Tauren, Trolls, Blood Elves, Draenei, Undead, Goblin, Human, Worgen

Type: Ranged DPS

Hunters have only one job, kill something and for that reason (and a few others) they are the class I suggest every new WoW player starts playing with. They are fairly easy to learn and teach the mechanics of the game as you level. Many new players start off or default to a hunter, which is why they’ve been called huntards. So wear that title and wear it with pride! It allows you to play like a newbie and no one will care because they’re already expecting it.

The most important thing the class teaches a new player is an agro table since they have a pet. Tanks will appreciate it if you understand that doing too much damage will cause Loken to hit you and kill you. Always bad news. They are great at long range fighting, but can also fight hand to hand if needed. One nice bonus is that they upgrade from leather armor to mail armor at level 40, which means you can take a few more hits while you’re figuring out what button to push. And if all else fails, hunters also have the very cool ability to feign death, which gives you an out when you do pull agro.

There are different specs for hunter (Marksman, Beast Mastery and Survival). All have ups and downs, but I suggest either Marksman or Beast Mastery for new players which are both fairly easy to learn and adapt to. Marksman is focused on raising arrow damage to kill an enemy before it gets to you. Beast Mastery focuses on giving skills to your pet to make it stronger and give it more DPS so that you essentially have a pocket tank at your disposal. They are also very efficient when it comes to leveling your toon because you will want to kill things as fast as possible.


Races: Humans, Gnomes, Undead, Trolls, Blood Elves, Draenei, Orcs, Goblins, Dwarves, Night Elves, Worgen

Type: Ranged DPS

Mages are a fun and fairly easy class to play. They do lots of damage and kill things very quickly. However, since they can only wear cloth armor they also tend to die pretty fast. They do damage and also have several effective agro drops. However, they are casters and have tons of spells which means just as many of buttons and memorizing what everything does and when to cast what. It can be confusing and take some time to get used to.

The big question for mages is how to spec them. And WoW makes that more difficult every patch since they tweak their skills often, making one spec the extra special snowflake during one patch, then change it to another the next patch.

A quick note: mages are great at making a little extra gold on the side selling access to ports for people. Never say no if you don’t have much gold and if someone asks you always let them set the price. Its 60 silver for the materials to make a portal, so 1 gold for the portal is still a profit. Their offer might go to 10 gold or higher depending on what time it is and how desperate they are.


Races: Humans, Dwarves, Blood Elves, Draenei, Tauren

Type: Tank (Protection), DPS (Retribution), Healer (Holy)

Paladins (AKA: Pallys) are an interesting class because they are melee based with spell-casting abilites. If it appears that pallys can do just about anything, I will mention now that tanking and healing on a paladin are not easy. Tanking requires you to know and understand the many different ways to pull agro off of DPS who can’t control their agro (and yes I’m speaking of huntards). Paladins have many, many different ways to build up agro, but not many ways to pull it off of a DPS that can’t control him/herself. If you don’t know them, you will inevitably hear, “Where’s your consecrate. nubsauce?” Or something similar and more profane. If you’re interested in learning how to heal, paladins are nice because they have direct heals and several bubbles (AKA: Magical shields) to prevent you from taking too much damage.

Speaking of healing, my suggestion is DON’T DO IT! I may be a bit biased, but it is based on playing with them in 5 man instances, raids from vanilla WoW to Cataclysm. They are good a single-target healing, which is OK for instances with a good group and good for a raid where the pally only has to focus on one target (ie. the tank). Technically, they can heal two characters with a spell called Beacon of Light, but it is still way too difficult. Other than that? They suck and I mean that in the most polite way.

If you’re going DPS, you can spec Retribution or Protection. Either works. Prot makes it harder for mobs to kill you and you are able to make more enemies at a time. Ret just helps you kill things faster and with the least amount of buttons to push.


Races: Humans, Dwarves, Night Elves, Undead, Trolls, Blood Elves, Draenei, Tauren, Goblin, Gnomes, Worgen

Type: Healer (Holy/Discipline), DPS (Shadow/Discipline)

Priests are one of the most difficult to level, especially for a new player. It’s downright painful and slow as holy (trust me I’ve done it and never, ever again). They are great healers, but you should avoid specing holy until you can dual spec at 40. When you can, holy priests can be a nice way to learn how to heal since their healing spells are well rounded. I suggest doing many randoms at 40 to get used to healing a group and continue to do instances as your talents increase so that you grow with your talents while leveling. That way, when you do reach 85 you have some experience already.

It’s a bit slow to level shadow in the lower levels, but does start to pick up the further down the talent tree you go. Between shadow and discipline, shadow does the most damage and is the easiest to adapt to. Shadow priests have several damage over time spells (dots), so they become useful when fighting longer fights. This might become an issue as you level since most fights shouldn’t last long and considering priests wear cloth armor, you don’t want to be standing there taking hits while the DoTs slowly kill your target. Remember both DPS specs are also considered utility, meaning you might be expected to replenish mana, mind control, dispel or use boosted shields, so be careful when you join groups/raids. There is a lot of timing involved with using priests, so be wary if you choose to play one.


Races:Gnomes, Humans, Dwarves, Night Elves, Blood Elves, Orcs, Undead, Trolls, Goblins, Worgen

Type: Melee (hand to hand fighting) DPS

Rogues, like the other pure DPS classes, are meant to be killing machines. If hunters are not your thing, I suggest playing a rogue since though they have a lot of attacks, they are easy to learn and do tons of damage. Though the highest level of armor they can wear is leather, they can’t usually take more than a hit or two from a boss, but have several tricks to drop agro since all rogues pull it as a general rule. Be careful on how often you do pull agro since, unlike huntards (who pull from afar and have feign death), rogues are right next to the tanks. If you pull agro off of Princess Theradras, she turns kills you then goes about her business of trying to kill your tank.

Another thing to keep in mind when you’re leveling a rogue is to keep up your lock picking skills. There are certain lower level dungeons where that skill makes it much easier to bypass troublesome areas; not to mention the fact that you can make money opening locked chests for other players and earning yourself extra loot opening your own.

Rogues are so easy to level quickly that they might go so fast you won’t get used to your skills fast enough. Honestly? There are worse problems in Azeroth.


Races: Orcs, Tauren, Trolls, Draenei, Goblins, Dwarves

Type: Healer (Restoration), DPS (Elemental/Enhancement)

Shamans are another hybrid class, except they use totems, Totems, TOTEMS! It is because of the totems that they can become a little confusing; you will have to memorize each totem’s ability, where they’re at and activate it in enough time for it to be effective. Your totems also have the ability to call on pets like a hunter, but they are short lived and are on a long cooldown (the time before you can cast that spell again).

DPS wise, you have the choice of spell heavy DPS (Elemental) and melee DPS (Enhancement). If you’re really into doing melee go for a rogue because Enchance is a harder to master and it levels slower than Elemental, which plays very similar to a mage only with lightning bolt and FROST SHOCK! If you insist on playing a shammy, go for Elemental it has the least amount spells/attacks to have on your bar and it does lots of damage.

If you’re interested in leveling a character to heal, the easiest healer in the game to learn is a shammy. And why is that? Chain Heal. When all else fails spam chain heal on your tank and at least you know he’ll live and hopefully you will too and that’s all that matters in the end.


Races: Gnomes, Humans, Orcs, Undead, Blood Elves, Goblins, Worgen

Type: Ranged DPS

Warlocks are an interesting class since they are like a hunter (because of their pets), mage (because they have some spells) and shadow priest (because they also utilize dots) packed into one. Well that is if you took some of the most important parts of those classes and got rid of them. Take away the high armor, feign death and traps from the hunter. Take away agro drops from the mage and shadow priest and there you go. A dps class with lots of agro pulling potential and no outs. That’s why locks are the toughest class to master. There’s also the little fact that by the time you’re level 40, you can’t fit all of your spells, mounts, skills and other quick cast buttons on hot key bars, and that’s using all four of them. It’s a pain to say the very least.

The three talent trees are Destruction (mage-like), Affliction (shadow priest-like) and Demonology (hunter-like). Be wary, locks may seem to play like many other classes, but they truly are an enigma of their own.

Like mages, locks have the ability to make a little gold on the side using a summoning portal, but it requires two other players to be in the group besides the lock and the person being summoned so it isn’t often requested. The cost of the summoning is 0, so any gold they give you is profit.

Death Knight

Races: All

Type: Tank, DPS

Death Knights are not only easy to level, but they do tons of damage without really having to know what you’re doing until the end game. However since you must have a toon at level 55 or higher to even make a death knight you really should get to know some of the basic classes first. But if you insist on leveling your first toon to 55 just to get a DK then good luck, have fun and don’t take it too personally when people curse at you, won’t help you in general chat and boot you from instances because not only do you not know how to play your toon, you probably have no idea how to play WoW altogether. Having a DK implies you are familiar with WoW in some manner. Sounds harsh. I know, I apologize, but its better that you hear it from me now then to wait until you’re in game and you begin building your bad rep quickly.


Races: All

Type: Melee DPS (Fury/Arms), Tank (Protection/Arms)

Warriors are the quintessential tank class. Both prot and arms can be tanking specs, but if you insist on tanking as your first character, go Warrior and go prot. You can tank and do reasonable dps as arms, but prot gives you the best potential for the highest armor and the best ability to take more hits. Of course if you really want to tank, I suggest going fury first until it’s time to double spec then you’ll want to practice tanking in lower level dungeons before entering a random at level 85 thinking you’ll keep agro off of a huntard or mage in even little ole Nexus. I can guarantee that you won’t. If you don’t mind leveling a little slower, try arms that way you can have more dps while still being able to do some tanking. You won’t be as efficient as going either prot or fury, but for those with little gold to pay for dual specing it’s a way of getting the almost best of both worlds.

Of course, the fastest way to level is fury wielding two two-handed weapons. It’s insanely fun and goes faster now that warriors have an ability to heal themselves.

It's Supposed To Be Fun, So Have Fun!

So, to sum up, for newbies: Hunters are the easiest class to play and stay away from Warlocks. If you insist on playing a healer, play a shammy and if you feel like taking a risk and tanking, play a warrior. You will hear from others that pallys or mages or whatever class is the best, but your first character is your training toon. You’ll figure out what class fits you best soon enough.

And remember it’s just a game. It’s meant to be for fun.


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    • vmartinezwilson profile imageAUTHOR

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 

      7 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      Thanks Daniella!

      I also began playing because of my then fiancee, now husband. Some people don't understand, but the game allows for quality time with your significant other as well as friends who live far away. That's become one of hte main reasons I still play now. We moved to a different state, but still talk (via Mumble or Vent) and hang out together ingame.

      I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

    • Daniella Lopez profile image

      Danielle Lopez 

      7 years ago from Spain

      "...women who want to spend time with their boyfriends or husbands so they create a character for that special date on the beaches of Strangethorn Vale."

      I LOVE this part! This is the whole reason why I started playing WoW 3 years ago. =P

      Great post, I wish I had come across something like this when I first started playing... Voted up!


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