The very first decision that you make when you log on to create a character in World of Warcraft is what race your toon will be. WoW racials include a dozen different variations, six per Alliance and six per Horde, each bringing specific advantages to the questing, PVP, and raiding scene. Each of the Warcraft races begin in their own starting zone (although Horde Troll and Orc races, along with Alliance Dwarf and Gnomes, share starting zones) which are first explored and reveal the lore and history of the races. Determining which WoW racials would be best for your character depend upon your role in the game. As many of the class restrictions on WoW races have been lifted with the Cataclysm expansion set, you are free to choose nearly any race and class combo.
Tanking characters are needed for absorbing the brunt of damage from instances and boss fights. Only warriors, death knights, druids in Bear Form, and paladins are capable of performing the tank role: every other class lacks the armor capacity and skills needed to turn away as much damage as these classes do. On the Horde side, many tanks prefer to start off as Tauren. In vanilla WoW racials, Tauren were the only race who could play as a druid, making them ideal for any and all tanking roles. They receive a health bonus, a small nature resistance bonus, and the War Stomp ability that will stun nearby mobs. Their racial mounts are a kodo. On the Alliance side, there is no clear-cut best tanking race, but Dwarfs receive the Stone Form ability that adds extra armor and Night Elves have a small bonus to dodge attacks; Dwarfs ride mechanical birds while Night Elves ride panthers.
Your damage-per-second classes, known as DPS, require WoW racial abilities that reward attack damage, speed, or weapons proficiencies for optimal performance. The Horde’s Orc and Troll WoW racials have bonuses to attack damage and speed, respectively, giving them the ideal advantage for spell casters, ranged hunters, and melee classes like rogues and shamans. Raptors are their racial mounts. Alliance Gnomes get extra Intellect for larger mana pools of shadow priests, mages, and warlocks, while Humans gain sword and mace specialization for their melee classes.
Healers operate similarly to DPS roles, as their casting strength and speed should be boosted by WoW racials. The Horde’s Blood Elf race make good healers, as they can boost their mana pools with the Mana Tap ability; their racial mounts are hawkstriders. Alliance Draenei have a healing ability that increases with each level; their Heroic Presence buff is also valuable in any raid or instance and their mount is an elekk.
Should you be looking to create a PVP character, rather than an endgame raider, the choice of WoW racials is different. Horde Forsaken are excellent for PVP, as they can de-buff fear and charm effects, while being able to consume corpses for sustenance. Goblins have a strong jump to escape attacks in battlegrounds. Conversely, the Alliance Worgen has reduced curse and disease duration and has a speed boost that can be used to chase down enemy players.
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