Choosing a main for 2020: Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

But what if I don’t want to heal though? Or, how to choose an unexpected main twice in a row.

So after the last post about choosing a new main (spoiler, I chose a Monk), I thought to myself about healing, and how likely am I to actually do that?

My main interest is in covering or playing as a Tank again, so would that change things up?

Right off the bat it does.

The Choices

Paladin becomes immediately more of a prospect, considering I don’t like Holy as a spec, but do enjoy Prot & Ret.

Similarly Death Knight, which is a class I also really enjoy playing more than one spec in (Blood & Frost).

Warrior gets a bump, but for me when playing solo, I’d much prefer a tank with decent self-sustain. Especially when farming for transmog in relatively recent content.

Demon Hunter is fun enough, but it’s not a class I’ve gelled with as well as Paladin or DK.

Druid is fun, but if Healing’s not a consideration then I’m sitting with two DPS specs I don’t particularly enjoy, leaving Guardian alone.

With Monk I enjoy both Brewmaster and Windwalker, so it’s still in the mix.

Looking at that, that means I have 3 choices still on the slate:

  • Paladin
  • Death Knight
  • Monk


There are several criteria that are important to me for a Tank/DPS hybrid spec, so we’ll rank them all in each category:

  1. Self-sustain
  2. Active Mitigation
  3. Overall Tank Playstyle
  4. Overall DPS Playstyle
  5. Current DPS Output
  6. Aesthetics
  7. Nostalgia

The best in each category will get 2 points, middle choice gets 1 point and last gets zero.

Criterion 1: Self-sustain

Obviously the king of self-sustain here is going to be the DK. With their self-heals baked into their rotational abilities DK can pretty much withstand anything as a tank. DPS wise their self-sustain isn’t to be sniffed at either, but obviously Blood will rule the roost here.

Paladin also has great self-sustain, with Hand of the Protector, Flash of Light etc etc. However the Paladin’s self-heals aren’t a core part of the rotation, but that doesn’t make much of a difference tbh. Great, but not on a par with Blood/Frost.

Monk’s self-sustain, I’m afraid isn’t great. Playing my monk at 120 after levelling her at the weekend I’ve noticed how rare it is to get a healing orb to generate as Brewmaster. Back in MoP and WoD these healing spheres were plentiful, meaning Brewmaster had a decent amount of self-healing while not completely overboard. This doesn’t stand in the Monk’s favour.

Winner: Death Knight
Loser: Monk

DK 2 – Paladin 1 – Monk 0

Criterion 2: Active Mitigation

DK’s don’t have a lot of AM. Their toolkit is more of a re-active mitigation, using Death Strike etc to heal back up after a large hit. However not on a par with Stagger, then again nothing is.

Paladin’s AM isn’t as good as it used to be, and now Shield of the Righteous can’t provide 100% uptime, which leads to holes in AM uptime. Still a solid tank, but not as good a choice as the other two available.

Then we get Brewmaster and the power of the Stagger mechanic. Best AM in the game bar none.

Winner: Monk
Loser: Paladin

Score: 3-1-2

Criterion 3: Overall Tank Playstyle

DKs are a bunch of fun to play, regardless of spec. Frost & Blood especially are a lot of fun, with a slower harder-hitting style of gameplay. Individual abilities feel more meaningful to use, and certainly more powerful. The reactive playstyle of Blood is a LOT of fun, and the self-heals shenanigans Blood can pull off is amazing. AoE CC with mass grip is immensely useful.

Paladins are fun, but not as much as Blood or Brewmaster. A bit more mobility than DK, but nowhere near as much as Monks. Decent long range ability with Avengers’ Shield and Consecration gives decent AoE aggro holding ability.

Monks are just fun all round. Mobility for me is a factor in how fun I find a spec, and this is another area where Monks just shine. Managing stagger is a nice mechanic, and Keg Smash & Rushing Jade Wind are handy for maintaining aggro in AoE situations.

Winner: DK & Monk tied for first place
Loser: Paladin

Score: 4-1-3

Criterion 4: Overall DPS Playstyle

Frost is a lot of fun, with good AoE and Single Target damage, and it being a DK it has decent self-heals built in. However DK does have the lowest mobility of the three choices.

Ret is fun, a bit behind Frost but feels more impactful than Windwalker, while not quite as mobile. Definitely a middle-ground between the two.

Windwalker is fun to play, but the abilities themselves don’t feel overly impactful. Bring a Monk it does have very good mobility though.

Winner: Death Knight
Loser: Monk and Ret tie for second place.

Score: 6-2-4

Criterion 5: Current DPS Output

This is based on current performance in Heroic & Mythic Eternal Palace. And whilst, yes, this can all entirely change between now and Shadowlands, it does have some bearing on the gearing process between now and 9.0, and getting myself ready and familiar with the relevant specs.

Frost is very strong at the moment, and looks to be currently the strongest of the three on‘s rankings for Mythic Eternal Palace. Heroic sees it in 11th position out of the 24 DPS specs in the game atm. Mythic sees a jump up to 5th position, just ahead of Havoc and just behind Fury.

Ret is bottom to mid tier in Mythic and Heroic, ranked 18th. Not a lot else to say there except that it’s a shame to see Ret where it is right now.

Windwalker is solidly in last place here. And when I say last place, I mean LAST. In Heroic EP it has the lowest DPS output in the whole of Heroic Eternal Palace right now, rising to 3rd bottom ahead of Demo Lock & Frost Mage in Mythic EP. Very disappointing.

The pattern holds across all 3 main difficulties in Eternal Palace right now: Frost ahead, then Ret then Windwalker in last.

Winner: Death Knight
Loser: Monk

Score: 8-3-4

Criterion 6: Aesthetics

DKs are just cool aesthetically. Be it Blood, Frost or Unholy, DK’s are amazing looking. And with Shadowlands being kind-of based on the DK sphere of aesthetics, DKs will fit right in with the look and feel of the entire expansion. A strong plus point, including all the amazing looking transmogs available to DKs.

Paladins are very strong class here, probably the strongest IMO. I love the whole religious iconography associated with the Paladin, always have done. In fact it’s what made me fall in love with the class to begin with in Wrath. Definitely a high point for Paladins overall.

Monks here are the weakest of the three in this regard. Monk transmogs aren’t hugely great, and with tier sets not being class specific anymore, this won’t improve over time.

Winner: Paladin
Loser: Monk

Score: 9-5-4

Criterion 7: History & Nostalgia.

Death Knights are a class I’ve had immense fun in playing in the past. That said, they’re always one of the last classes I tend to get levelled and geared in any given expansion, so I keep missing out on playing them across an entire expansion.

Paladins are always one of my perennial favourites. My paladin is always one of the first characters I get levelled in an expansion, and the class holds a massive place in my heart after being a Paladin main for over 8 years.

Monks are the class I have least history with. I’ve only really played Monk as a sometimes alt, but always had great fun playing them. I do tend to level them before DKs though, borne out by the fact that I have two monks at 120, and my two DKs are both sitting at 111 at the time of writing.

Winner: Paladin
Loser: 2nd place tie between DK and Monk

Final Score: 10-7-5


After a lot of points on the board, the ranking comes out as this:

  • Death Knight
  • Paladin
  • Monk

Removing healing from the equation made a massive difference, more than I was expecting when I went into this thought process.

The real choice here is between Monk & DK, or rather healing vs not.

Paladin unfortunately won out on neither process, in this article or the last, so the crux of the matter comes down to two questions:

  • How often will I heal within a raid environment?
  • How often will I heal outside of a raid environment?

In all honesty, outside of a raid environment I’m not likely to heal at all. I tend to play DPS specs in non-guild group content such as LFR and dungeons, and so healing becomes less of a general consideration outside of raids. And obviously when doing daily stuff like WQs and farming runs for transmogs, Healer would not be the go-to spec.

Inside of raids it’s harder to get a decently geared Tank willing to play the role than it is someone with an Off-spec Healing set of gear. In addition weaker/lesser-geared healers can be “covered for” to a greater degree, mainly due to the higher number of healers in a raid, than is possible with only 2 Tanks.

So with regards to roles I would put priority on Tanking over Healing both in terms of what I’m likely needed to cover and what I’d like to cover or play as main spec.

When all is said and done, at the end of this process that means it’s likely that I’ll actually play Death Knight in Shadowlands instead of Monk.

Double Huh.

The incidentally good thing? Once 8.3 drops, I’ll be able to have a Void Elf Death Knight now that Death Knights have been freed from previous race restrictions. I’d begun looking forward to playing a Void Elf again after levelling my Void Elf Monk over the weekend, so it looks like I’ll get to do that anyway.

The Void still hungers…

Man, the feeling when choosing a main doesn’t work out as you’d expect, after it didn’t work out as you expected to begin with…