When I get a chance to play World of Warcraft (WoW) these days, I find that running an instance as a PUG (public group) is more difficult than it used to be. I blame this primarily on the fact that there are less low-level players than there used to be, since everyone is running Heroics lately; running end-game instances as a PUG seems much more common.
In any case, the lack of groups forming for low-level instances means finding the perfect class setup isn’t much of an option. Nonetheless, the potential for running a kickass group is there, and changes in WoW from the early days of my playing have drastically changed my outlook on what my five-man PvE dream-team is. For those not around during my previous musings about the subject, my traditional ideal five-man team was made up of a Protection Warrior, Holy Priest, Feral Druid, Mage, and Beastmastery Hunter. Things have since changed:
Now capable of truly tanking, the Paladin class offers things that Warriors don’t, such as a quicker method for building aggro from the start of combat, to a ranged taunt that doesn’t require the tank to pursue enemies that are going after another team member. Since a Paladin’s abilities are fueled by mana, and since he gains mana whenever healed, and since tanks will be healed more than anyone else, a Paladin tank will not need to worry about not being able to use his abilities. In addition, a Protection Paladin’s ability to AoE grind means this team member will be able to tackle traditional AoE scenarios that were risky for cloth-wearing types. Paladin buffs are another bonus.
As we already have a Paladin in the group, we’re down to three choices for healers, but we’re going with a Shaman because she offers the group a number of situation-specific buffs by way of her totems. Such luxuries include Mana Tide, which will be quite useful because the group we’re building will be mana-heavy. A Shaman will also offer the tank Earth Shield, and will allow the Paladin to get more use out of his seals with Windfury procs. With more healing options than a Holy Paladin, more buffs than a Priest, and more survivability than a Restoration Druid, the Shaman is a great fit, whose comparative mana inefficiency will not be a huge issue in this group.
The first of our DPS classes will be able to take damage better than other cloth wearers because of Shadow Form, and will offer the group additional healing and mana, which will help power the abilities of almost everyone in this team. The Priest will also offer the option of using Shackle against undead opponents, and he also has a method for reducing aggro if necessary.
While a Beastmastery Hunter could very well fit into this group, we’re instead going to go with additional crowd control (CC), allowing this group to tackle mobs with greater ease. Since the Hunter will be pulling in our instance runs, the option to Feign Death a second time should the first be resisted is a nice bonus. Effectively, the Hunter in this team will be a CC master, whose sustained DPS will in great part be maintained by abilities offered by the Shaman and Priest.
For our spec, we’ll go with a DPS-oriented build. As the only non-mana-using DPS class in the group, the Druid will nonetheless keep a mana pool handy in case he needs to heal. Since he can drop an Innervate when needed, he offers the Shaman more sustained healing, and if it’s not necessary, the Innervate can go to any of the other mana-using classes depending on the current needs of the group. The Druid will offer yet another “oh shit” recovery factor, and like the other DPS classes in this group, can reduce aggro when necessary.
This five-man team offers significant survivability and sustained damage and healing. What I love about the setup is that it uses a non-traditional tank, a non-traditional healer, and two off-spec builds. With mana being returned to the group by two of its members (and a possible a third by way of Innervate), fueling abilities should be a non-factor. Also, controlling aggro is easy in this group, since all of the DPS classes can reduce their own aggro, and both the Paladin and Shaman have buffs to further reduce aggro for those who need it.
Sadly, I won’t get a chance to try out this five-man team for some time, but if I were re-rolling with friends, I’d definitely propose this setup.