WoW Classic Hardcore Best Classes - What Should You Play?

WoW Classic Hardcore Best Classes - What Should You Play?
Let's face it. Not all classes are equal in Classic WoW. And that goes double for the Hardcore Challenge. Let's rank 'em!

Hardcore Classic World of Warcraft has been rising in popularity lately, and with good reason. It’s a captivating game with the most immersive and effective MMO elements, made more potent by the high stakes of only having one life. But to complete the challenge, you must first make a character. Let’s look into each class and rank them for their Hardcore leveling proficiency.

9. Warrior

Even though warriors are considered the only viable tanking class for the late game, in Hardcore, they’re by far the weakest. While fun to play, they lack mobility and self-sustain and are generally on the low end of damage output. Because of this, the strategy for completing the HC challenge with a warrior tends to be to adopt a more defensive playstyle, often pulling mobs one by one. Warriors are highly dependent on their weapon progression, so make sure to find the best weapons possible for your level, be it from dungeons or quests. 

If you’re just starting out in Hardcore, it’s advisable not to pick this class and return to it once you’ve had your fair share of HC experiences. If you do, level up your Engineering to complement your kit.

What Warriors excel in:

  • Easy to find dungeon groups as a Tank
  • Uses Rage (saves money from drinks)
  • Can soak up a lot of damage in Defensive Stance

Pick a Warrior if:

  • You’re a lunatic

Warriors are TOUGH to play in HC. Even seasoned players struggle with them, so don’t get cocky.

  • You love dynamic combat

You’ll often have to switch between your weapons and stances to fit the situation, which makes for a very unique and engaging combat experience.

  • You want to tank in Hardcore raids

Despite their weaknesses, Warriors are still the most viable tanking class for late-game content. More and more hardcore guilds are trying to run Molten Core, Ahn’Qiraj, and BWL, which makes you an indispensable part of any dungeon or raid.

Warrior Details: 

8. Shaman

Shamans are good in Hardcore. But they’re not great.

They offer a good arsenal of self-sustaining abilities and CC while putting out a fairly decent amount of damage. You get a decent buff to movement speed from your Ghost Wolf ability, which puts you ahead of any other class pre-mount. Your Earthbound Totem can be used for kiting if done right. They’re also quite tanky due to their ability to wear mail armor.

While Shamans do pretty well independently, their kit still feels underwhelming at times. Not to mention the fact that they go out of mana ridiculously fast (so fast, in fact, that you’ll often find yourself drinking in between every fight.) And due to the rules of HC, you can’t even utilize the signature Ankh to resurrect.

A very decent class, but it requires patience as they slow down a bit in the 40s.

What Shamans excel in:

  • Utility & CC
  • Healing
  • Travel speed

Pick a Shaman if:

  • You prefer a slower pace

Due to mana issues and the general dynamic of the Shaman’s playstyle, you’ll need to slow down and prepare more. 

  • You’re looking for a diverse kit and a hybrid playstyle

Shamans have a huge artillery of spells which keeps your gameplay interesting. You’ll often deal ranged and melee damage, heal, slow, and much more.

  • You hate having to walk slowly for most of the game

Ghost Wolf significantly increases your leveling speed if that’s something you value. It can be nerve-racking to spend hours going back and forth. And besides, the wolf design in Classic WoW is cute as hell!

Shaman Details: 

7. Druid 

Druids are extremely self-sufficient while also being quite difficult to master.

Not only do the kings of nature have a ton of healing, but their utility is incredible. You can get away from most situations with your Entangling Roots or Hibernate, surviving impossible situations. Their kit allows them to adopt DPS, Healing, and Tanking roles, resulting in being loved by all (being the easiest class to find dungeon groups with.) And they scale surprisingly well with armor while in Bear Form!

Similar to the Shamans, they can move relatively quickly when outdoors and breathe underwater (and trust me, underwater quests are deceivingly dangerous.)

Overall, Druids are a very safe pick after level 20, although the difference between a good Druid player and a bad one can be astronomical. If you die on your first Druid run, don’t blame the class.

What Druids excel in:

  • Sustain
  • Utility & CC
  • Movement speed
  • Easy to find dungeon groups and adapt to situations
  • Armor scaling (can be tough tanks!)

Pick a Druid if:

  • You’re a Jack of All Trades

Not unlike the Shamans, Druids carry a rich kit that offers them the ability to Tank, Heal, and DPS in dungeons and solo situations.

  • You want a movement speed boost relatively early on

Cat Form will become stronger in your 20s, allowing you to move faster, like the Shaman’s Ghost Form, but without the cast time!

  • You're looking for flexibility and fun

You’ll be coming in and out of forms constantly. Having this flexibility is not only extremely useful but also super fun! With Druids, you’ll never be bored.

Druid Details: 

6. Paladin

Fun? Not for everyone. Great for HC? Absolutely.

There’s a lot of debate about whether or not Paladins are fun to play due to their nature of being an auto-attack-heavy class. But despite this, their kit is astounding for survival. Blessing of Freedom is a low-cooldown skill that makes you immune to slows; their healing is quite strong (Lay on Hands is basically a second life), and your Divine Shield is just straight-up OP (call it a third life). Pallies are plate users, too, so bulkiness is a given.

However, their damage highly depends on weapon quality. Their leveling speed significantly falls off later on too.

In any case, Paladins are a fantastic choice for Hardcore Classic WoW. You really have to try in order to die with one.

What Paladins excel in:

  • Survivability and sustain
  • Fighting Undead mobs
  • Relatively easy to play
  • Being good buffers

Pick a Paladin if:

  • You want to right-click and enemy and go watch a movie

Alright, maybe I’m exaggerating. Still, a Paladin’s combat style is very straightforward, and it might very well fit yours!

  • You need multiple get-out-of-death free cards

Pallies are amazing in that they allow you to make a few mistakes here and there. Being able to recover with your Bubble or Lay on Hands is very valuable - don’t take these spells for granted.

  • Massive auto-attack hits make you euphoric

Seals, strong weapons, and shiny gear. Combined, they will produce massive hits with a surprising amount of damage. Nothing better than a Ret Paladin’s crit. *chef’s kiss* Not bad for AoE pulls too!

Paladin Details: 

5. Priest

Priests are a safe choice for Hardcore WoW, offering high self-sustainability and group healing, making it a very effective class for getting out of sticky situations. They scale very well with Spirit and are exceptionally mana-efficient due to their main damage output being Wands.

That’s it - it’s pretty straightforward. It’s difficult to die on a Priest. You have a Fear too! But their downside is that their Wand-heavy playstyle is very repetitive and disengaging, making most players zone out for long periods of time. This is, at the end of the day, subjective, and there are many nuances to playing a Priest, should you choose to play one. They are perfect for safely learning the ropes of HC.

What Priests excel in:

  • Absolute BEASTS in self-sustain and group healing
  • Resource efficient
  • Fantastic buffers (Stamina buffs are massive in HC)

Pick a Priest if:

  • You love healing

Priests are mainly a supportive class in Classic WoW. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to heal both in group and solo settings.

  • You value safety more than damage

While Wands are a powerful source of sustained damage, in HC, Priests are more notorious for their ability to shield and heal. Don’t expect to mow down multiple enemies at once instantly.

  • You’re new to HC and need more breathing room for mistakes

The abovementioned sustain will definitely help a beginner player to explore the world and all of its dangerous intricacies. If you keep Power Word: Shield active at all times, very few things can surprise you.

Priest Details: 

4. Rogue

The Rogue is very powerful in HC but is relatively balanced due to the weaknesses inherent in the class. Learn to play around them, and you’ll be unstoppable!

A high utility class, Rogues offer a fine repertoire of survivability: Evasion, Cheap Shot, Gouge (great for kiting, using bandages mid-combat), and Sprint. And how can we forget Vanish? A seriously broken skill that can get you out of almost any lethal situation.

Rogues come with a high skill ceiling and a lack of sustain, as well as weak first 20-ish levels. Afterward, though, they shine, especially in combination with Engineering as a profession of choice. This class also SHREDS in terms of damage, especially with the right set of weapons.

What Rogues excel in:

  • Damage output
  • Utility & Escapability
  • Kiting
  • Uses energy, therefore, saves gold from drinks

Pick a Rogue if:

  • You’re a sneaky one

Using Stealth, Rogues can skip tons of dangerous areas like caves and towers and simply kill the boss or loot the necessary items. Quite safe, if you do it right.

  • The ability to escape fights is a priority

Vanish. Need I say more?

  • You’re looking for a steep learning curve

Rogues are easy to pick up but hard to master. This challenge will take your HC experience to the next level and help you learn more about the game’s core mechanics.

Rogue Details:

3. Mage

Frostbolt. Frostbolt. Frostbolt. Frostbolt. Frostbolt.

Okay, Mages aren’t actually that easy. Yes, they have unmatched CC and mobility, yet if you misplay, you can easily be destroyed by a group of enemies.

That being said… boy, do they have a GREAT kit for Hardcore. CC ranges from Frost Nova to the infamous Polymorph. Multiple shields, slows, and the ability to burst down enemies. Ah, and the almighty Blink allows you to kite and cheese elite quests with ease.

Mages are also the only class that can safely AOE-farm to level up.

Get First Aid, and don’t get overconfident - an overloaded spellbook can only get you this far.

What Mages excel in:

  • Damage output
  • Dude, you have Blink
  • Utility & CC
  • Saves gold by conjuring food and drink
  • AoE farming

Pick a Mage if:

  • You’re wary of difficult quests and want to farm mobs for EXP

In HC, you’ll have to surrender your ego and admit that some quests are better off being abandoned. Mages can catch up on this lost EXP by farming mobs. Just be careful - one inadequate pull, and it may be Game Over.

  • You want to use your brain while playing

The Mage is a very dynamic class, requiring complex CC coordination and even RNG. You have to use all of your resources effectively and get out alive. It’ll definitely make you think and appreciate the game even more!

  • You love hard CC and strategizing before fights

Prepping is part of the job. Conjuring food, making mana gems, using the right shields, polymorphing the right mob, and exploiting their weaknesses; are all things you need to remember before pulling. Because you are squishy, you can’t afford many mistakes, especially in the early levels when you don’t have access to your Ice Block.

Mage Details: 

2. Warlock

Pet classes are broken. Warlocks are no exception.

They literally have their personal tank minion at level 10, huge shields, self-sustain, crazy damage, and fears that allow you to cheese a lot of difficult quests. Warlocks are pretty damn fun too!

Just make sure to learn how to keep aggro on your Voidwalker and to know when to sacrifice him for a shield. It’s imperative to be careful not to pull mobs because of your pets’ AI. When in doubt, dismiss.

What Warlocks excel in:

  • Range
  • Having the safety of a pet
  • CC
  • DPS (insane DOTs and other damaging abilities)
  • Self-sustain (Healthstones, Drain Life, sacrificing minions, Life Tap)

Pick a Warlock if:

  • You’re new to HC and love caster classes

Warlocks are very strong in HC, making them a great pick for any caster-oriented player. Just because they have a pet doesn’t mean they aren’t super fun!

  • You want to stay safe

Your pet is your link to the one life you have. Use it effectively (usually the Voidwalker), and you’ll be safe.

  • You love having many ways to survive at your disposal

When in a sticky situation, Warlocks can take advantage of many tools that make them almost indestructible. It’s very engaging to have the luxury of choosing what works best for the situation.

Warlock Details:

1. Hunter

For many HC players, the hunter is the obvious choice for the easiest class to perform with. Not only do you have a pet, but you have massive kiting potential and the Feign Death skill, which is almost as powerful as the Rogue’s Vanish.

If you’re an absolute newbie at Hardcore and want to maximize your chances of making it to level 60, there’s no better way than making a Hunter character. More often than not, that would include speccing heavily into Beastmastery to make your pet a tanky force to be reckoned with. Hunters themselves get tanky at level 40, as they can learn to wear Mail armor.

What Hunters excel in:

  • Range
  • Kiting
  • Damage output
  • Utility & Traps
  • General survivability
  • Travel speed (Aspect of the Cheetah)

Pick a Hunter if:

  • You want to play the game on Easy Mode

It’s no coincidence that the term “Huntard” exists. Not only does your pet define your class, but you also have OP abilities unrelated to your companion.

  • Long-range is your cup of tea

Range means safety and the ability to kite. There are many ways to take advantage of your range as a Hunter, all of which are precious for Hardcore runs.

  • You want to off-tank in dungeons

Surprisingly, Hunters can offer their pets as off-tanks to complete more challenging boss fights. Sick!

Hunter Details:

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No stealth archers policy. Adrian is a prolific writer, inspired by stories and popular culture.
Gamer Since: 2009
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Outward
Top 3 Favorite Games:Mount & Blade: Warband, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

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