What DPS Should You Play in Season 4 of Mythic+?
Figuring out which character to play in Mythic Plus can be a daunting prospect, so this article, written by Dratnos, will take a look from a few perspectives to try and help you make the best choice on what DPS to play in Season 4.
About the Author
Hello everyone. My name is Dratnos. I stream on
and make videos on
focused on the high-end Mythic Plus and raiding scenes. I also create the Weekly Routes at
and make content for Method. Come by my stream and say hi, or get in touch through Discord!
What Keystone Levels Does This Analysis Apply To?
Whenever I put forward a Tier List or any sort of content that compares classes, a very common response is something along the lines of "this doesn't matter except in +25 keys, below that level anything works." To some extent that is true - in BFA Season 3, every spec completed keys at level 23 or higher (except Affliction Warlock, which has only managed a 21 at the time of writing).
There are basically three factors that determine how much a player contributes to the dungeon - Gear, Skill, and Spec. For players pushing keys at the highest levels, all three of these need to be maximized, but below that level you can make up for playing a worse Spec by being very good at it or by overgearing the content. However, if Gear and Skill are held constant, bringing a better Spec improves the group in a +10 key just like it does in a +20 key.
All that being said, which specs are good in +10 keys is a little different than which specs are good in +20 keys. For example, damage that takes a while to ramp up, like Balance Druid's DoT based damage, tends to be more viable as the keystone level gets higher. The Tier List presented below is created with keystones level 15 or higher in mind, though only a few specs would be impacted by that level going down.
Factors to Consider When Choosing your Class
Play what you like!
The most important thing to make sure you do when deciding which character to play in Mythic Plus is to ensure you're playing something you'll enjoy. I always advise expanding your horizons and trying out new things, but with the large barrier to playing alts in the current state of the game, many players are understandably only maintaining one character this expansion.
Play what you can gear!
This patch, the difference in gear between a character who only does M+ and a character who raids or PvPs in addition to that M+ will be dramatic, so if you are going to do raids or PvP, you will benefit immensely if you also focus your Mythic Plus efforts on those characters.
Play what synergizes well with your group!
If you have a set group of players, you can play something that covers the weaknesses or complements the strengths of the other members of your group. For instance, if you're planning to DPS and your group doesn't have a Restoration Druid, you may want to select something that has a Battle Rez.
Play something that gets easily invited to groups!
By contrast, if you're not planning to play with a set group, you may want to make sure you're playing something that players are likely to invite to groups. The community perception of which specs are good updates a little more slowly than the patch cycle, so sticking with specs that are commonly thought of as the best, like Outlaw Rogue or Havoc Demon Hunter, are likely to be your best bet for getting quickly invited to PUGs. Having a higher item level is also very helpful for getting invited. If you end up having trouble here,
the best thing you can do is create your own groups
, as this will make the scarcity of groups in the group finder work to your advantage rather than disadvantage.
The Tier List
S: Outlaw Rogue, Havoc Demon Hunter
A: Fire Mage, Assassination Rogue, Balance Druid
B: Elemental Shaman, Unholy Death Knight, Fury Warrior, Windwalker Monk, Beast Mastery Hunter
C: Frost Mage, Marksmanship Hunter, Frost Death Knight, Subtlety Rogue, Feral Druid, Enhancement Shaman, Shadow Priest, Retribution Paladin, Arms Warrior, Survival Hunter.
D: Demonology Warlock, Destruction Warlock, Arcane Mage
F: Affliction Warlock
Explaining the Tier List
The higher up on the tier list a spec is, the better I think it when examining its
Damage, Survivability, and/or Utility
, using statistics of what did well in previous seasons as a starting point. Generally, Melee Specs perform better than Ranged ones, as BFA dungeons tend to favor the shorter interrupt cooldowns, faster damage ramp-up, and increased Mob Control that Melee tend to have. This is why most high-end groups play 2 or 3 Melee and usually only up to 1 Ranged.
What's Changing with 8.3?
There are four main changes coming with Patch 8.3:
There are many direct buffs and nerfs coming (
Read about them here!
), and there are indirect buffs and nerfs to Essences and Azerite Traits.
, along with a set of new Raid trinkets are on the way. Some specs benefit more from these than others, and as these enter the game, most Eternal Palace items will become obsolete, though things like an off-hand
are likely to remain BiS for many specs until Shadowlands.
Learn about the new affix here!
In many dungeons it will allow groups without a Rogue to execute skips that were traditionally done with
often prevented the pulling of multiple groups at the same time, so classes that function well in bigger AoE may benefit from the affix change.
The two halves of Operation: Mechagon are entering the dungeon rotation, raising the total number of dungeons from 10 to 12. These dungeons largely favor the same specs as the other BFA dungeons, so it doesn't impact the tier list much, though it's worth noting that there are relatively few kicks required in the Workshop half of Mechagon, so that dungeon may join dungeons like Temple of Sethraliss as a dungeon where double-ranged is a strong comp.
Tier List Explained
The S Tier
This spec has been fantastic for the past two seasons of Mythic Plus, and there are no signs of it stopping. Like all Rogue specs, it brings
, which is slightly less important with Awakened active, though there continue to be many skips that are worth doing in most dungeons.
Outlaw in particular features very high damage on any number of targets without a dependence on cooldowns, and they have an incredible amount of tools to control enemies, like
. They are also very hard to kill, with two seperate immunities that combine to cover most abilities,
Havoc brings massive damage no matter the pull sizing, and they increase the magic damage of the entire group with
They require next to no healing with their
and leech, and can combine
, which may be very useful
one of the Awakened Mini-boss abilities
The A Tier
is absurdly powerful, and Awakened is very likely to be a good affix for it - big pulls for the Mage to melt may now be more possible without Emissaries, and Awakened also adds four Mini-bosses that are perfect Combustion targets to each dungeon.
Fire is reliant on
Azerite, which is available on every piece of Ny'alotha armor, and
, which can be farmed from Operation: Mechagon Mythic Plus. They have fantastic defenses as well, with
, and bring a short cooldown AoE disorient with
. As a ranged spec, they are still somewhat limited and are unlikely to show up in multiples or alongside other DPS specs with kicks on longer cooldowns than 15 seconds.
is a huge tool that Assassination gets just like Outlaw. Their damage tends to require a little more specialization than Outlaw - they can choose massive AoE, cleave, or Single Target, but they can't really do all three with the same build.
may be gaining value this tier as an Awakened Mini-boss killer, though the standard Assassination build featuring
suffers from the instant combat upon entering N'Zoth's Realm, preventing re-stealths.
Balance brings an unmatched Utility toolkit, and can put out fantastic damage in Single Target and small cleave situations. They're taking a few small nerfs this Patch, but they're also getting a buff in the form of a 12%
Vision of Perfection
Resto Druids losing metagame share, which may happen, is also good news for Balance, as the suite of Druid utility will become far more valuable.
The B Tier
Elemental can sustain impressive damage numbers, and bring
which can deal with the three
put out by one of N'Zoth's Lieutenants. Elemental are also the only Ranged spec to have a short cooldown on their interrupt, which means they can potentially fit into groups that already have a ranged player without compromising the kick situation.
In the MDI, Unholy is likely to reign supreme as they
scale quadratically with the number of targets they're fighting
. This means in a sufficiently large pull, their DPS can be truly ridiculous. In keys on the live servers, pulls are rarely quite this big, though they're likely to move a little bit in this direction with the removal of Emissaries, as those often got in the way of massive pulls.
Fury does incredible Single Target damage, and their cleave up to 5 targets is phenomenal with
(which is conveniently on all their Ny'alotha Azerite). Unfortunately, above 5 targets, their cleave stops scaling well, due to a target cap on the buff conferred by
. If massive pulls become the new normal, this will be very bad news for Fury, but if the focus of the new season is instead on murdering N'Zoth's Lieutenants and their small set of adds, Fury will be fantastic.
Monks are getting a small set of single-target buffs, but in Mythic Plus they were already quite good due to a strong AoE kit that doesn't require any serious single target sacrifices. If Brewmasters fall in popularity, Windwalker may benefit as their
will be more in demand.
Beast Mastery features fairly good damage at any number of targets, especially big AoE, and
can be very useful to take some pressure off the tank.
I don't see too much changing for Beast Mastery this patch, and expect them to continue to perform at about the level they did in the last few seasons.
The C Tier
There are rumblings in the Mage community of a resurgence of Frost in 8.3, and they are an incredible spec if the strategy involves pulling big and then kiting (something we've already seen Frost used for in Tol Dagor), as they can control a large number of mobs indefinitely with their slows.
Like Fury Warrior, Marksmanship suffers from a 5-target cap, which may be bad news for the spec if pulls are increasing in size.
Frost is a Spec that I believe to be underrated, and one of the ones I'm most hopeful will outperform its C Tier ranking this season. With good damage at many pack sizes, and the unique strength of
, this is my sleeper pick for Season 4.
Subtlety remains in the bad place that Blizzard created for it with a heavy set of nerfs in Patch 8.1. They still bring
along with other Rogue utility, so if your group doesn't have a Rogue, a Subtlety Rogue is still likely to be a better addition than any other class - the problem is that the Rogue could play Outlaw or Assassination instead and bring the same utility with much more damage.
Feral lacks a niche, and is in many ways an Outlaw Rogue with similar damage at best and far less merit in the defensive and utility categories. The Druid utility they bring may be more valuable, however, if Resto Druids end up being less popular in Season 4.
Enhancement continues to exist in the shadow of Elemental, which brings generally better damage from the safety of range, and a few additional pieces of utility.
Shadow is taking a heavy set of nerfs. They may eventually be able to outscale these nerfs in Raid, but in Mythic Plus I worry that their damage will not recover.
The cadence of Big Pull into Awakened Mini-Boss might be good news for Retribution, whose
is somewhat like Fire Mage's
. This is another potential sleeper pick for a spec that may make its way out of the C Tier this patch, especially with their favorite Major Essence,
Vision of Perfection
, receiving a 12% procrate buff, but until proven otherwise I'm going to predict that in the highest level of keys they'll continue to put out slightly lower overall damage than the A- and S- tier Specs.
Unlike Fury, Arms does not have a target cap, and that may cause them to outperform Fury in an Awakened world. Arms is a much less durable spec than Fury by default, with much less self healing, a generally weaker defensive cooldown, and no passive damage reduction, so I worry that a world where Arms outperforms Fury is one where Fury has fallen a few tiers rather than Arms having risen.
Compared to Beast Mastery, Survival is likely to continue to bring little upside. The only notable improvement is the shorter interrupt cooldown, but historically their damage profile has worked less well in Mythic Plus than BM's.
The D and F Tiers
Demonology is generally the strongest of the Warlock specs in Mythic Plus, as they are less cooldown dependant and their damage ramps up more quickly. They are happy about the
Vision of Perfection
buff, but they will continue to suffer from their inability to interrupt without losing damage, and the fact that their damage profile still compares poorly in Mythic Plus to the non-Warlocks.
Destruction is also excited to see
Vision of Perfection
buffed, and their cooldown-dependence can perhaps be put to good use if massive pulls are the new normal. Unfortunately, the numbers are still not quite there for this spec both in and out of their Cooldowns when compared to something like Fire Mage.
Arcane can put out big damage, though they need to choose whether to heavily damage one target or do some AoE, unlike Fire which can do both at the same time. They also lose defensives and utility when compared to the other Mage specs, and their heavily cooldown based damage is interrupted much more by movement than Fire's.
Affliction is the only spec I've placed in the F tier - due to the tragic way their damage profile translates to Mythic Plus. In Legion, the Spec was carried by effects like Sow the Seeds, Soul Flame, powerful legendary items and massive natural tankiness, all of which were nerfed or removed going into BFA. Now their damage relies on cooldowns, takes forever to ramp up, and even at best struggles to keep up with most C Tier specs.
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