Castle Nathria is the only raid available in World of Warcraft Shadowlands before update 9.1, when the raid The Sanctum of Domination will be added. While many guilds had trouble with Sire Denathrius at first, he has now been downed many times at Mythic difficulty.
Going into the next patch, knowing WoW dps rankings will be key in clearing the Sanctum of Domination efficiently. If you're a Raid leader, don't waste time recruiting specs that will only slow down the group's progression – instead, look back to Castle Nathria to easily determine which classes will be most useful. As a DPS, it's important to consider re-speccing if your chosen class specialization is at the bottom of Castle Nathria rankings.
Updated August 14, 2021 by Erik Petrovich: The 9.1 update brought a brand new raid to World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, being the Sanctum of Domination. Plenty of guilds will still be running Nathria, though, to catch up or pick up loot that hasn't been acquired quite yet. With the new update comes some changes to the Castle Nathria DPS Rankings. Classes like the Unholy Death Knight become more common, and classes like Arms Warriors fall sharply in the rankings. In general, it's best to play whichever class and spec calls to players the most – but be sure to optimize the rotation or, one's spot in the raid party might be passed to somebody else.
8 Below C Tier: Survival/Beast Master Hunter, Destruction/Demonology Warlock, Arms Warrior
These class specializations have few useful group utilities, and provide meager damage compared to other specs. These are specs that are useful in some situations, but not necessarily in Mythic raiding. If being the top DPS Shadowlands allows is important to the player, steer clear of these specs.
This spec has always been low on the damage charts, and Shadowlands did little to change this. It's fun for leveling, but not great for the end-game. It uses a number of trap-type abilities which bosses tend to avoid, and brings little utility to the raid group.
Beast Master Hunter
Beast Masters might have been supreme in Mythic Ny'alotha, but now are mainly single-target damage dealers. They're good for self-defense and self-sustain, but unless played well, their pets just tend to get in the way of tanks maintaining aggro.
This spec offers great AOE damage, but that rarely comes into play in Castle Nathria — and this class spec's single-target output is lacking. Liberal use of the Havoc ability throughout a raid can help to mitigate this, and the ability Rain of Chaos makes for amazing encounters.
This spec has high survivability in the use of Soul Link, but overall average damage across the board. It's worth re-speccing as Affliction just for Castle Nathria. The ability Summon Demonic Tyrant is a great boon for lengthening summon survival, but it's just a weaker spec than others.
Arms Warriors are excellent at single to two-target encounters, due to their Sweeping Strikes, and bring multiple cooldowns that aid the group. However, the class suffers from a lack of short cooldowns and a reliance on their cooldowns. They don't really shine until they can pop off Bladestorm and Avatar, but that happens only so often.
7 C Tier: Subtlety Rogue, Feral Druid, Frost Death Knight
These class specializations get a passing grade in Castle Nathria, but don't provide enough to the group to warrant being placed higher in the WoW Castle Nathria DPS rankings.
Subtlety rogues offer great durability and single-target damage output at the cost of being in melee range. Shuriken Storm and Black Powder give it pretty decent AoE damage, too, but several nerfs have left the spec wanting.
This spec has suffered for a short while, but is not bad at single-target damage. It has AOE with the finisher Primal Wrath, but it's not used much in Castle Nathria. Its lack of party-wide buffs and cooldowns often means it gets pushed out in favor of a more useful spec, though.
Frost Death Knight
While this spec does decent single-target damage and has utility with Death Grip, it's mostly used for the Anti-Magic Zone and Anti-Magic Shell talents. Compared to Unholy at least, Frost suffers from an inability to keep up damage on one enemy, like in boss encounters.
6 C+ Tier: Retribution Paladin, Arcane Mage, Enhancement Shaman
Class specializations in the C+ tier have about the same output as those in the C tier, but provide either slightly higher DPS or some form of group utility.
This spec just about matches the output of other C tier specs, but offers some of the best burst DPS and executioner abilities out there. The combination of Final Reckoning, Execution Sentence, Divine Toll, and Avenging Wrath make for a pretty medium-level DPS output all around.
Arcane Mages suffered some nerfs soon after the release of Shadowlands, but nonetheless provide good damage on small parties of enemies. Abilities like Rune of Power and Arcane Prodigy make cooldowns much shorter, and its group-wide buffs Arcane Intellect and Time Warp are must-haves.
Enhancement Shamans are an overall good melee spec who provides Windfury Totem to the raid, which increases DPS for melee fighters. Aside from this, though, the legendary passive Doom Winds is almost a requirement for the class, as it so vastly improves DPS that it can't be ignored.
5 B Tier: Frost Mage, Assassination Rogue, Havoc Demon Hunter
The B tier is the first tier where the WoW DPS rankings become a little bit less clear. The class specializations in B tier all work well for Mythic Castle Nathria, but are slightly outclassed in terms of damage output by higher tier specs.
This spec really shines in situations with three to five enemies. Icy Propulsion combined with Blizzard makes for pretty consistent DPS, but their single-target damage is underwhelming and they become more useful in larger fights. The abilities Ice Barrier and Ice Block can keep them alive without relying on healers, though.
With abilities like Flagellation and Vendetta, Assassination Rogues can put out a pretty good hunk of damage quickly. While this class has decent single-target damage, it's just not as good as an Outlaw Rogue or a Subtlety Rogue using the same upgrades – and it features less powerful party buffs.
Havoc Demon Hunter
Demon Hunters provide a 5% magical damage reduction to the whole party (!) and are effective against a few enemies at a time. Their long cooldowns hinder them, though. Eye Beam, Metamorphosis, and Chaos Strike make for incredible burst DPS.
4 B+ Tier: Fury Warrior, Outlaw Rogue
The B+ tier class specializations, like the C+ tier, offer similar output to those in the B tier but have additional functions within a Raid group. These eke it out over their B tier contemporaries thanks to these additional buffs and utility spells, though they aren't the top DPS in Shadowlands.
Like with Arms Warriors, Rallying Cry and Battle Shout are great raid-wide buffs, but Fury Warriors only top charts in small encounters and with their execution abilities. Fury warriors bring the Battle Shout buff, which is a necessary inclusion for any melee-oriented raid group.
A bit of a surprise to some, Outlaw Rogues can provide massive damage to multiple enemies with Blade Flurry, but lack single-target sustained damage. It's a pretty random class; however, it comes packed with a number of self-buffs, party buffs, and useful utility spells that make up for its relative lack in damage output (most of the time).
3 A Tier: Shadow Priest, Elemental Shaman, Marksmanship Hunter
The A tier encompasses class specializations that provide significant damage output over classes lower in the Shadowlands DPS rankings. The A tier classes have few downsides; however, every raid group should have a few of these, just to minimize time spent on bosses.
Shadow Priests are incredible damage-over-time DPS with multiple uses in a group. Power Infusion can buff an ally's output massively, and Power Word: Fortitude is a nice raid-wide buffer for some bosses. Mass Dispell is a great party-wide buff, while spells like Devouring Plague and Vampiric Embrace can whittle down enemies with ease.
Elemental Shamans are one of the best AOE specs, with the use of Chain Lightning and Maelstrom. Their single-target damage, though, is only OK. The Stormkeeper ability is very powerful in Nathria, though. Spiritwalker's Grace is also useful, as it gives the player the ability to walk while casting.
Marksmanship Hunters deal ridiculous damage bursts and have fantastic AoE, albeit on a cooldown. They're the best Hunter spec bar none for the end-game, for their Flayed Shot and similar spells. The class' recent update for Covenant abilities gave them a much-needed boost all around.
2 A+ Tier: Unholy Death Knight, Windwalker Monk
The A+ tier is those classes that are incredibly useful to have in a raid group for both their massive damage output and their very useful abilities in the Mythic setting. They might not top the DPS rankings, but they are sorely missed when not present.
Unholy Death Knight
Unholy Death Knights have perhaps the best single-target melee damage in Castle Nathria, as well as very powerful AOE. They bring a variety of useful spells like Anti-Magic Shell and Anti-Magic Zone to the raid, as well as a number of powerful abilities like the movement skill Death's Advance or the long-cooldown Army of the Dead.
Windwalker Monks deal the most single-target and AoE damage of any melee fighter in Shadowlands. They are great all around, but their mobility lets them get back to fighting when it's time to get out of range. Abilities like Mark of the Crane can be easily stacked throughout the raid, and Invoke Xuen is a fantastic burst DPS spell for Monks in Nathria.
1 S Tier: Balance Druid, Affliction Warlock, Fire Mage
The S tier is the class specializations that have few (if any) downsides and simply outperform every other specialization. While it's not a wise idea to stack lots of the same class specialization in a Raid group, the sheer power of these classes makes them necessary for any successful Castle Nathria attempt.
Balance Druids are the best DPS Shadowlands offers, at least in terms of ranged spellcasting. Their ability to set multiple damage-over-time effects at once, their burst damage, and their covenant abilities put them high above any other ranged spec. Convoke the Spirits and Celestrial Alignment are especially useful for the encounters throughout, alongside their mana buff Innervate.
Affliction Warlocks are the kings of damage-over-time, and are effective in both single-target encounters and group encounters. The fact that their damage-over-time spells are instant-cast puts it above the Shadow Priest, who must stand still while casting most spells. It's best to only have one Warlock in a typical raid group, though.
Fire Mages are the best Mage Spec for all-around damage output, and are amazing in both single-target and burst AoE situations. Frost Mages eke it out in small encounters, but Fire Mages are the go-to choice for several bosses in Castle Nathria. Their buffs and abilities include Blazing Barrier, Alter Time, and Cauterize to keep healers focused on the tanks.
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