I love your Wow Alone blog, and as I've been mulling this question over, I couldn't think of anyone better to contact. I've played a human mage for a good number of years now, but am looking to dip my toes into the Horde waters, and so want to make an alt (Goblin, preferably). On this alt I'm going to focus on seeing as much of the Horde side as possible and doing as much Horde stuff as possible - achievements, exploration, dungeons, questions. The majority of this will be solo.
My question then is this: at this point in Cataclysm from what you know, what classes would be able to solo BC raids/heroics and (if possible) WotLK normals, heroics, even maybe some 10 man raids? Because I want to see as much of the game as possible as I go, Death Knights are out, and would like it to be a goblin, so non-druid and paladin if possible. How would an enhancement shaman be for this? Protection warrior? Warlock? Hunter? All/none? (Would love something with the option to heal or tank in an occasional group as a change of pace from my mage, but the main goal is to be able to solo hard stuff for fun and rep.)
I appreciate your time, and keep up the GREAT work on the blog!
(I'm leaving his name out in case he wishes to remain anonymous)
Well my friend, the answer isn't that simple but I will try nonetheless. First, I can't say I like goblins a lot. Second, I haven't played a lot on the Horde side, though I have taken an orc shaman to level 66 or hereabouts.
In what follows, I'll try to analyze each available class for goblins and try to figure out what their strengths and weaknesses are for solo-ing Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King content. I will assume that my friend would like to try solo-ing these dungeons at level 85, for best results. Personally I wouldn't try any lower and not until I've gotten some nice Cataclysm gear. Burning Crusade dungeons are easy for most classes at level 80 or even lower but since he wishes to solo Wrath content as well, it's safer to be level 85, in my opinion. It's true that people have solo-ed level Wrath dungeons at level 80 but these fellows are experts and have probably agonized endlessly about tactics and what-not.
My experience with mages ends at level 79 because that's how far I managed to take my human mage. Having said that, I don't think mages are particularly well suited for solo-ing content. They hit hard but can't take more than a couple of hard blows and they also can't heal themselves.
To me, priests are in the same category as mages. Healing priests obviously won't be able to kill anything, while shadow priests might have more of a chance but I still doubt they will get very far with some of the more powerful bosses of Wrath.
Rogues have been known to solo content due not in small part to their stealth. A rogue can sneak through the whole dungeon right to the bosses. Rogues hit hard and they have very good avoidance. I've heard that there are "rogue tank" builds and people have actually used rogues to tank instances so I'm sure it can be done. Overall I'd say that rogues have more potential than both mages and priests. Personally I dislike rogues and I've delegated my level 76 rogue to bank alt duty.
Here's where things are starting to look up. I'm sure that a good demonology build could be used to solo a lot of the older dungeons. I have very little experience at playing a demonology warlock though so I can't comment beyond this but I do have a personal example of how a demonology warlock can solo an elite. One of the main strengths of a warlock is that they can heal their pet while keeping dots on the target.
I've never played a warrior beyond level 20 so I have no idea how they operate at higher levels. Therefore, warriors are definitely not my first choice for solo-ing content.
Shamans, and enhancement shamans in particular, are interesting. I'm sure that with the right equipment they can solo a pretty large chunk of content. That's because the enhancement shaman has access to Ghost Wolves which are both a huge burst of damage and a source of constant healing while they're active, meaning that bosses can be brought down quickly with minimal damage to the shaman. Enhancement also has the awesome Maelstrom Weapon and he can use the procs to heal himself if needed. Despite this, I'm not positive that they'll be able to solo all Wrath bosses. Once the Spirit Wolves expire, the shaman is on his own.
Hunters are probably THE class for solo-ing all kinds of content. The reason is simple: they are the best pet class in the game. A max level hunter with powerful gear will devastate any Burning Crusade dungeon (in fact this was valid even at level 80) and I'm sure he'd be able to solo most, if not all of Wrath content. I would imagine that most hardcore solo hunters spec into Beast Mastery but gear and choice of pet also counts. From what I've heard, it is important to have gear with lots of stamina and to spec the pet into lots of avoidance and mitigation (dodge, armor, etc).
I'm not very good at death knights but I've heard people using them to solo powerful dungeons so I know that it can be done. Death Knights seem better equipped to handle this kind of work than warriors because they can heal themselves to a certain extent. Before Blizzard destroyed the Blood spec and morphed it into a tanking spec, I would have sworn that Blood was the way to go, but now I'm not so sure anymore. This still seems to be the case but I don't know anything about this spec anymore.
This has been a brief article and unfortunately I wasn't able to get into more detail but my final advice (and personal preference) for my reader would be to pick a hunter. Yes, I am biased towards hunters but few can deny that they are a damn good solo-ing class, perhaps the best in the game. While it is possible to solo powerful dungeons with other classes, no other class seems as straightforward as hunters, at least to my mind. So I would say this: pick a hunter and enjoy the convenience of having your very own tank that you can also heal in between dealing damage. Hunter pets are powerful and they can get you out of many sticky situations. Hunters are fun and... hell, everyone should level at least one!