Welcome to Simple Carry's DPS Class & Spec Tier List for the new raid featured in Dragonflight Season 1, Vault of the Incarnates. Based on their throughput and overall usefulness in Patch 10.0, we shall list all classes and their respective specs in this article from strongest to weakest.
Want a premade raid team to run you through Vault of the Incarnates and give you all the loot? Click HERE to buy a boost today!
How the Specs Were Rated
For DPS, the following definitions apply to each tier:
- S: Classes that we anticipate will predominate in raid configurations and damage meters. Due to their strong damage output, useful damage profiles, and frequent other valuable utility or defensive options, the typical number of copies of specs in this tier is usually three or higher.
- A: Excellent specifications that are versatile. We'd be shocked to see raid setups with fewer than one of these missing. These specs almost always have a high single target damage output, but many also have a number of other strengths. Also prevalent in these specs are sought-after utility effects.
- B: These are strong specifications that will frequently, but not always, make up the top raid compositions. We anticipate that they will lag somewhat behind the A tier specs in either utility or damage, but they will still be popular options.
- C: These are strong specs that it wouldn't surprise us to see in some raid compositions, but we don't anticipate them to be stacked and we also wouldn't be surprised if they weren't present in many compositions. These are specifications that occasionally feature situational damage profiles that are useful in particular kinds of battles and might be immensely useful if the crucial battles of the tier have those damage profiles.
- D: Specs have significant problems that become obvious when trying to use them in a raid environment, they may perform well in extremely specialized situations that hardly ever occur in raid, but single target damage is often a significant challenge for specs in this category. DPS are absent from this tier.
- F: A horrifyingly weak standard that requires quick developer attention and that we doubt is used in many raid setups. DPS are absent from this tier.
Vault of the Incarnates DPS Rankings & Explanations
Havoc Demon Hunter (A Tier)
Demonology Warlock (A Tier)
Balance Druid (A Tier)
Enhancement Shaman (A Tier)
Assassination Rogue (A Tier)
Outlaw Rogue (A Tier)
Subtlety Rogue (A Tier)
Arcane Mage (A Tier)
Fury Warrior (B Tier)
Devastation Evoker (B Tier)
Frost Mage (B Tier)
Fire Mage (B Tier)
Shadow Priest (B Tier)
Beast Mastery Hunter (B Tier)
Windwalker Monk (B Tier)
Frost Death Knight (B Tier)
Elemental Shaman (B Tier)
Destruction Warlock (B Tier)
Marksmanship Hunter (B Tier)
Feral Druid (B Tier)
Unholy Death Knight (B Tier)
Arms Warrior (B Tier)
Affliction Warlock (C Tier)
Retribution Paladin (C Tier)
Survival Hunter (D Tier)
S Tier Specs for Vault of the Incarnates
When a spec is giving S Tier this basically means that the class is absolutely strong and borderline overpowered if not overpowered. We actually didn't give any specializations S Tier in this list because we feel that there are not any strong outliers this tier. Most specs are performing well enough and at the end of the day we recommend you play what you enjoy and excel at.
A Tier Specs for Vault of the Incarnates
Great specs, A Tier DPS Specializations are expected in any raid composition. These specs almost always have a high single target damage output, but many also have a number of other strengths. Also prevalent in these specs are sought-after utility effects.
Havoc Demon Hunter
Throughout the Dragonflight Beta, the Havoc Demon Hunter dealt incredible damage, but recently, it received a tiny number of damage reductions that, in our opinion, have placed it more in line with the other outstanding DPS options in Vault of the Incarnates. Havoc has excellent mobility and survivability, including a damage immunity in Netherwalk, and it is effective in single target and AoE situations.
The Havoc will profit from the abundance of cleave encounters in the Vault of the Incarnates because they may easily provide solid additional damage to several targets without depleting their single target DPS.
The first Havoc Demon Hunter represents a truly large amount of raid damage, but we believe the spec is strong enough that multiple are likely to be piled on all but the most melee-unfriendly situations. To top it all off, Havoc delivers one of the game's biggest raid buffs in Chaos Brand.
The Demonology Warlock seems to be best positioned to be the go-to choice on single target engagements that aren't too mobility or mechanic intensive. There's usually a Warlock spec sitting towards the head of the pack. With the inclusion of the Warlock Class tree in Dragonflight, Demo's already remarkable resilience has become even more astounding.
To give you some context, here are simply the defensive abilities chosen for our Demonlogy Standard Raid Build: Soul Link, Fel Synergy, Demonic Embrace, Demonic Fortitude, Demon Skin, Fel Armor, Dark Pact, Frequent Donor, Sweet Souls, Mortal Coil, and Dark Accord. Warlocks can play very unethically and withstand intense damage thanks to all of their defenses.
With the inclusion of Nether Portal, Demonology's rotation has gotten slightly more complex. Although it's not tough to play, the spec can be difficult to use in intense bouts where you're juggling both the spec's mini-games and the boss's own mechanics. Destruction might be the better option in those situations, but Affliction might have a chance to shine in encounters with a lot of Cleave (particularly Spread Cleave) and AoE.
We anticipate that the progression-focused kit of the Balance Druid will continue to position it well to be used in progression raiding for Vault of the Incarnates. The Balance Druid kit will successfully utilize the raid utility skills Stamping Roar, Nature's Vigil, and Innervate, which all function well in multiples.
Although the damage of a Balance Druid seems to be about average, given its kit and the recent addition of Mark of the Wild, it seems likely that many guilds will have several Balance Druids. In terms of damage, many ranged options appear average, which traditionally benefits choices like Balance Druid and Warlock because they are often the most stackable ranged options.
Since the addition of Windfury Totem, Enhancement Shaman has seen a resurgence of play in high end Mythic Progression because it generally means the spec represents a ton of damage as long as it has a group that can make good use of the totem. On its own merits, Enhancement has also done fantastic damage in both Single Target and Cleave situations - you may have heard about the 25% damage nerf that the spec received a few weeks ago and assumed that the spec was dead, but since then they’ve had most of that damage re-buffed back, and look likely to sit near the top of the meters when played well. T
he challenge for many guilds will be in finding a solid player of this spec, as it has a fairly challenging rotation, especially when mechanics start getting involved, and though it has fairly strong defensive tools like Astral Bulwark, Spirit Wolf, Earth Elemental, and Brimming with Life, it doesn’t have an immunity (unless you want to count Reincarnation).
Outlaw has solid cleave and may be the Rogue spec of choice on encounters where that can be leveraged, especially those without much damage downtime. Their single target is good but not as exciting as Assassination's, and whenever an Outlaw is forced to stop attacking the boss, their damage suffers more than Assassination, so on some encounters that spec may really pull ahead. Defensives and Utility are both strong suits of the Rogue class in general ( Cloak of Shadows, Cheat Death, Feint, Atrophic Poison) and Outlaw specifically, with Combat Stamina and the Grand Melee Roll the Bones buff both offering extra durability to the spec.
There’s been a lot of hype around Arcane in recent weeks, after a moderate buff to the spec. It seems like a solid possibility that Arcane will put out the best damage in the game in most raid encounters. THis is particularly useful on fights with damage checks such as Kurog Grimtotem, Sennarth, and potential on Raszageth.
This increases the potential to see multiple Arcane Mages on some fights. Like Fire, Arcane’s damage is quite bursty, though it generally loses more damage from mechanically intensive fights that require repositioning. Mages in general have a strong defensive toolkit, especially when buttons are pressed proactively, though Arcane lacks the Cauterize and Cold Snap benefits of Fire and Frost respectively.
Rogue has gained a potent raid buff in Atrophic Poison, and Assassination looks to be the default carrier of this effect on most single target encounters, especially those where there’s valuable execute damage. This is due to Zoldyck Recipe, an incredibly powerful talent that activates when the target is below 35% health, often the most valuable place for damage on the hardest encounters.
Assassination’s damage also suffers less from brief periods of downtime than most melee dps due to their DoT based damage profile. Like all rogue specs, Assassination has fantastic defensive value through class talents like Feint, Cloak of Shadows, and Cheat Death.
Subtlety has traditionally occupied the Priority Damage niche, and it remains able to fill this role though it’s by no means the only or even necessarily the best spec at this job ever since receiving massive nerfs back in Patch 8.1. It remains a competitive choice if that priority damage is valued, however, but Vault of the Incarnates doesn't look like it'll have another Zul where that sort of damage is extra valuable.
Subtlety has frequent, small burst windows, which means they’re vulnerable to disruption during more of the fight than Assassination Rogues generally. This does come with the upside of being particularly potent on late Vault of the Incarnate encounters (specifically Raszageth) as these windows of burst AOE are very strong. Of course, they are still Rogues, and still boast the strong class-wide effects of Cloak of Shadows, Cheat Death, Feint, and Atrophic Poison.
B Tier Specs for Vault of the Incarnates
B Tier DPS Specializations are good specs that will be in many but not all of the top performing raid compositions. These are expected to be slightly behind in either damage or utility when compared to the A tier specs, but to still be very frequent choices.
For fights that feature both single target and AoE, Fury can step in and deal effective damage in a way that Arms cannot. Though Fury lacks a damage immunity, they have incredible self healing and several good defensive buttons like Enraged Regeneration, Bitter Immunity, and Spell Reflection, with the latter two both being extremely good against certain mechanics.
Fury also has unique burst timings, featuring big damage every 90 seconds with Recklessness, Ravager, Spear of Bastion, and Avatar, plus smaller windows every 45 seconds with Odyn's Fury and Titan's Torment. This is quite good against several fights of Vault of the Incarnates, which often feature frequent short bursts of AoE before returning to hitting a single target boss.
Evoker lacks a powerful raid buff, with Blessing of the Bronze being largely forgettable, meaning the class will not have a guaranteed raid spot. That being said, its damage has seemed solid throughout Beta, and the tested versions of most Vault of the Incarnates encounters seem unlikely to punish its 25 yard range too heavily.
Evoker looks strongest in situations that aren’t pure single target, which does appear to be several fights this tier, though it remains to be seen if these are the important “wall” bosses where performance matters the most. Devastation does bring a Bloodlust effect, but in raid this is not really notable because generally multiple other lust classes are already in the raid.
Its Mastery: Giantkiller is interesting, though damage to high health targets is often much less valuable than damage to low health targets, unless Raszageth dies at 45% like Sylvanas did! Evoker is also mediocre defensively, with a few strong buttons like Renewing Blaze and Obsidian Scales but without an immunity or substantial sustain.
In a world of bursty classes, Frost is one of the few specs that instead deals sustained damage. In some cases, this can be valuable, as some solid sustained DPS can help fill the gaps left behind when the burst classes are cooling down, though generally it’s a liability as it means that lost uptime leads to more lost damage.
Frost is at its best when there are lots of moderately important targets around a single high priority target, dealing solid AoE damage while also funneling extra damage into the primary target, and there are encounters that might feature this damage pattern in Vault of the Incarnates, such as Broodkeeper Diurna. Of course, as a Mage, Frost does bring a strong set of defensives that are amplified by the spec specific Cold Snap, and it buffs the raid with Arcane Intellect.
Fire is a great choice for encounters where mobility is key, especially during execute when Searing Touch is active. This makes them a great choice to be the person assigned to handle specific mechanics as they’ll often lose the least damage doing so. With Cauterize and Ice Block, they are also unlikely to die while out of range of healers or when doing a dangerous job. Their damage looks to be a little less exciting in a vacuum than other classes, and potentially even other Mage specs, due to some pretty significant Ignite nerfs late into Beta. Even with this, Fire has always done a great job of doing better in the real world than it does on paper.
Shadow's damage looks to be pretty solid, especially when you factor in the Power Infusion that they offer someone else in the raid through Twins of the Sun Priestess.
Mobility is a weakness of the spec, both in terms of quickly getting from point A to point B and in terms of dealing effective damage while doing it. Shadow has surprisingly good defensives in raid, through self healing, several small defensives, and the massive damage reduction of Dispersion, though it does lack an immunity, and it does bring a raid buff in Power Word: Fortitude, though it’s likely most top Mythic progression teams will already have access to this through a healing priest.
Beast Mastery Hunter
Beast Mastery Hunter's damage looks to be solid but not phenomenal. Hunters as a class suffer from a few problems: first, a lack of survivability when compared to other classes - they do have Aspect of the Turtle and have gained a few options with the Talent Tree, but have lost the powerful Marksman’s Advantage conduit, meaning they’re likely to remain one of the most fragile classes against most Mythic bosses’ raid damage patterns.
The other class-wide problem is the lack of a raid buff, which is acutely felt and means that Hunters’ raid spots are never guaranteed and rely on a combination of tuning and player skill within any given guild.
Beast Mastery has the unique advantage, among ranged DPS specs, of being highly mobile, which may mean they lose less damage to mechanically intensive fights than other specs, and end up being able to top the meters under the right circumstances. There are many fights in Vault of the Incarnates that have potential for long term intense movement, working to Beast Mastery’s advantage.
Windwalker has had a strong Beta cycle and looks positioned to be a solid damage dealer in raid, a part of the game where the spec often struggles. This is off the strength of what looks to be generally pretty good damage tuning, with solid single and multi target numbers.
Defensively, Windwalker has many active abilities that it can use to survive tough fights, though it lacks an immunity or the incredible passive defenses that some classes have instead (*cough* Warlocks *cough*). Windwalker is also, of course, an option for carrying the Mystic Touch buff into the raid - if Brewmaster and Mistweaver turn out to not be exciting options then the first copy of a Windwalker will skyrocket in value.
If, on the other hand, Melee spots are in short supply, Windwalker may be on the chopping block.
Frost Death Knight
Frost DK's Breath of Sindragosa windows pump quite a bit of damage this expansion, though the spec is quite vulnerable to disruption during this time frame, and there are many fights that could potentially interfere with Frost enough to end its breath early and send it crashing to the bottom of the damage meters. If that doesn’t happen, they may well be the best DPS Death Knight option, though like Unholy, they aren’t especially mobile and lack an immunity, though some Magic mechanics can be immuned with Anti-Magic Shell.
Both Death Knight specs appear to be far enough behind on Single Target throughput may, depending on what the fights of Vault of the Incarnates prioritize, cause the class to see little play in high-end Mythic progression, especially without a Raid buff. There are also some encounters where Anti-Magic Zone can find a fair bit of value, though it requires the damage to be magical and the group to be stacked in order to be fully effective.
Elemental seems quite a bit better going into Vault of the Incarnates compared to the historical value of the spec. The spec is currently a Jack of All Trades master of none type of spec that deals neither top tier Single Target nor top Tier AoE. Survivability is decent, and raid utility is lacking in some areas. With the absence of a raid buff, Elemental would likely need to have considerably favorable tuning to get out of this B-Tier band.
As it currently stands though, it is an incredibly solid Ranged DPS choice for a role that historically has the most open slots in a raid. A strong Elemental player could see themselves in for most, if not all of progression in Vault of the Incarnates.
Marksmanship's damage numbers appear to be considerably lower on Single Target than Beast Mastery’s, and though its mobility is solid it’s nowhere near as good as BM’s. Careful Aim gives MM a strong opening burst as well as Target Swapping power, meaning when piloted well it can dramatically overperform, but it is quite possibly the most dangerous DPS spec to pilot in Mythic progression as its defensive tools are extremely limited outside of Aspect of the Turtle.
Their burst AOE is some of the absolute highest in the game and after an aura buff + Heavy Ammo buff it seems as if Marksmanship can have a niche on some specific scenarios.
The ultimate reason it is in B-Tier is due to the fact that while it is not plug and play on every encounter, it does have some encounters it particularly excels at. They will likely be one of the strongest DPS on Primal Council and depending on how they are utilitzed on Broodkeeper and Dathea, they could be very potent there as well.
Destruction may be the go-to lock spec for fights where Demonology struggles to find good value due to frequent unpredictable movement. That's because Destruction loses a lot less when forced to move than the current builds of Demonology do, although it still suffers if forced to move too often, just less than Demo does.
Destruction may also be a consideration on its own merits, as its sustained single target is strong and there are many fights, like Kurog Grimtotem, which seem perfect for frequent two target Havoc burst windows. Like the other Warlock specs, Destruction is very hard to kill.
Feral has historically had a very tough time breaking into the high-end Mythic Progression setting, generally only piloted in a few top 100 guilds by players that are extremely good at the spec as well as being among the strongest overall players on their rosters.
This expansion shows some signs of shifting this paradigm, with Feral’s damage numbers looking solid, especially on cleave. Though they bring Mark of the Wild, it’s likely that many raids will be interested in at least one Balance, Restoration, or Guardian Druid as well, so it’s unlikely that the Feral Druid will be the sole carrier of the buff, though of course if there are no other druids then the value the Feral brings goes way up!
Arms is one of the best recipients of the Windfury Totem effect from Enhancement Shaman, but if that’s not available their damage can be subpar. Like Survival, they need to choose between Single Target and AoE builds, meaning fights that reward both damage types are punishing for the spec. Defensively, Arms has some tools but it lacks an immunity and isn’t especially durable when compared to other classes.
As a Warrior, it brings Battle Shout, though that may already exist from a Protection Warrior, in which case it’s only bringing an extra copy of Rallying Cry, which is fantastic but does have diminishing returns.
Their damage across the entire raid seems a bit lackluster if you are trying to exclusively play arms, but they have seen great success on specific parts of Raszageth and Kurog.
Unholy Death Knight
Unholy can deal great damage, especially in situations featuring some combination of Burst, AoE, and Execute damage. They struggle when losing uptime on bosses, or when forced to move or change targets. Unholy is quite sturdy, though depending on the fight it can be less strong if it’s forced out of melee range or if the incoming damage is predominantly physical.
Though they lack an immunity, Death Knights bring potent utility in Anti-Magic Zone and Death Grip, which can range from useless to key depending on the encounter. It remains to be seen how Vault of the Incarnates will favor these cooldowns - from testing, it seems like Anti Magic Zone will likely have several fights where it finds solid value.
Getting from point A to point B can also be a struggle for Unholy, so movement intensive encounters may lead to more DPS lost for them than other specs.
C Tier Specs for Vault of the Incarnates
C Tier DPS Specializations are solid specs that aren't expected to be stacked and wouldn’t be surprised to see them missing from many compositions. Sometimes these are specs with situational damage profiles that will have value on specific types of fights, and may be incredibly valuable if the important fights of the tier have those damage profiles.
Affliction Lock deals strong AoE damage and specializes in niche of spread cleave, but the other Warlock specs have proven to be a better choice on all Mythic encounters this tier, with Destruction showing up on the fights where Demonology wasn't preferred. Affliction does of course bring the full Warlock defensive suite and utility kit, but Warlock players that can play multiple specs are almost all playing the other specs this tier.
Ret Paladin brings solid damage during burst windows with Crusade, but their overall single target and AoE damage looks underwhelming. They have a strong utility suite and provide Devotion Aura if it’s missing, though many top Mythic teams seem likely to already have a Holy Paladin providing that.
Defensively, Ret has a fairly weak kit when compared to other classes, though it does of course have Divine Shield. Mobility is also a problem for Retribution, which often means they’ll underperform their theoretical damage numbers in the real world.
This combination of factors means that Ret is relying on solid tuning to be brought for Mythic progression, which currently seems to not quite be there.
D Tier Specs for Vault of the Incarnates
D Tier DPS Specializations are specs with significant weaknesses or extremely situational uses that don't line up with the current suite of boss encounters.
Survival damage doesn’t look phenomenal in Dragonflight. Though it can specialize for Single Target or AoE, it’s tough to compete with the best of either niche, and on fights that involve both types of damage, Survival must choose one to specialize in. The melee nature of Survival is also a drawback, though among the melee they do have some tools to operate at range if necessary, as well as strong mobility options.
Survival has some defensive tools, including an immunity, but compared to most other classes, Hunters tend to be the most fragile to heavy incoming raid damage. Survival is a bit better than Marksmanship or Beast Mastery against certain incoming damage patterns, featuring some self sustain, but defenses remain a weakness when compared to other classes.