We all know that each race in the World of Warcraft has it’s own unique set of racial abilities. Most of us even know that depending on the class you choose, the racial abilities can make a significant difference in your character's effectiveness.

Some races allow you to be better at PVE or PVP, some make you a better healer, some allow you to do more DPS than others.  So with all the variation, which races are the best in the game and why?  That’s what we look at here as we count down the Best Five World of Warcraft Races.

To decide on the list I first stated looking at all the races and tried to come up with some criteria on which to decide.  While thinking about all this I came up with the following list of things: History, Popularity, Voice, Looks, Starting Zones, Class Choices, and Racial Abilities.

While I considered all of those things, in the end, I had to base a whole lot of the decision on the Racial Abilities and their effect on the game. After all, the rest of the items are cool and important, but not nearly as important as the difference the abilities make in playing the character. This led to some interesting choices, even ones that surprised me in my ranking.  But anyway, on to the countdown of the Best 5 World of Warcraft Races.

#5 - Humans


Ok, you can't fault them too bad, after all we are them, but kind of boring for a fantasy setting.

In at the number five spot is the Human race.  Personally I have to give Humans negative points since playing as a Human to me in a fantasy game takes away part of the fantasy element of the game, for many they want to play a character that looks like themselves. However, as a race in the game, Humans have an awful lot going for them.

For starters Humans can play almost any class they want. The only exception being denied to them is playing as a Druid or Shaman. This makes sense game wise and even real life wise, as when was the last time Humans were ever really in touch with nature or the elements.

Humans also have some great racial abilities such as Diplomacy that allows them to get reputation faster than any other race and The Human Spirit which grants a 3% boost to spirit which is awesome for casters and mana regen. They also have Mace Specialization and Sword Specialization which grants expertise which means you can soft cap that stat as a melee class easier while using one of those weapon types saving points for other stats. All of these are great PVE abilities and are solid racial abilities that make selecting a Human a good idea.

The big one, however, is Every Man for Himself which can remove all movement impairing effects or loss of control effects on a 2 minute cooldown.  While only situationally useful in PVE content, it is amazing in PVP situations. The reason for this is that even though it shares a cooldown with the PVP trinkets, it still means you have a PVP trinket ability even when you don’t have a trinket equipped.  Meaning that you can keep a trinket equipped that helps you in other ways, for example better stats, or other secondary abilities.

Every Man for Himself really puts Humans above many other races in PVP situations so if you plan on high end PVP this really is a race to consider.  Humans also make very good Priests due to the extra spirit, and are great Paladin, Death Knight, or Warrior tank choices due to the weapon specializations and Every Man for Himself to get out of boss stuns.

#4 - Orcs


A bit better on the fantasy level, but kind of plain. They do have some nice abilities though.

In the number four spot are the Orcs.  The Orcs are one of the original classes in the game of WoW and in fact it was the Orcs and Humans that started it all way back in the first Warcraft game.  So it’s fitting that they are both in our top 5 list, but also kind of sad that they do not top the list.  Orcs have a great over all look, being humanoid but much bulkier and different looking enough to stand apart from humans. 

Class wise Orcs can play most of the classes, but are not allowed to play as a Druid, Paladin, or Priest. This allows many choices and some excellent combinations especially with their four racial abilities: Axe Specialization, Command, Hardiness, and Blood Fury.

Axe specialization is a bonus to expertise while using axes which helps reaching soft cap as a melee class freeing up points to move into other stats.  Hardiness is a 15% reduction to stun effects which can have it’s use in PVE content, but is more important in PVP. Command grants an extra 5% damage boost to Death Knight, Hunter, and Warlock pets, meaning that it is only useful as one of those classes.  If you are, however, it makes you one of the best of those classes due to the damage increase.

The most important ability though is Blood Fury, which grants increased attack power and spell damage for 15 seconds on a 2 minute cooldown.  Used properly this ability can make a significant difference in your damage output or healing ability.  This allows higher overall DPS or Healing in PVE content, and more burst ability in PVP content.  Being on a 2 minute cooldown also means it is available several times per boss fight in raids. 

The boost to pet damage from Command and the boost to their own damage from Blood Fury means that Orcs make some of the highest DPS Hunters, Death Knights (especially Unholy), and Warlocks (especially Deomonology) in the game.  Teamed with Blood Fury being a great ability no mater your class choice, Orcs secure the #4 spot on our list.

#3 - Tauren


Who can resist being the biggest baddest bull in the game?

Right in the middle of our countdown of the top 5 races in World of Warcraft we find the Tauren.  The Tauren are a perennial favourite of many WoW players for many different reasons. First up, their appearance, they are huge beefy humanoids (yes, pun intended) that put every other race to shame size wise. Secondly until Cataclysm they were the only choice for a Horde player if you wanted to play as a Druid.

Once you got by the first parts they also had one of the best vanilla WoW starting zones, full of history and lore.  The quests and background made many question why the Taurens were even aligned with the Horde as they appeared far more docile than the Orcs and much more focused on a communal peaceful love in with nature style of life.  Until the Death Knight Starting zone, and then the Worgen and Goblin zones in Cataclysm, nothing else compared to the Tauren zones.

Class wise Taurens can play as almost any class they chose other the outright DPS classes of Mage, Rogue, and Warlock.  While Hunters are pure DPS as well, they are allowed as it makes sense for a nature-based society to hunt, even if a cow hunting is a little disturbing. 

Onto their racial abilities now, the first two are of no real consequence being Cultivation which is a boost to Herbalism, and Nature Resistance which is exactly what it sounds like, a small boost to your nature resistance.  The next two are big ones through.

War Stomp has constantly been hated by every other class in the game as overpowered in PvP situations.  It is an 8 yard radius stomp that stuns up to 5 enemies in it for 2 seconds.  In PvE content this doesn’t mean as much, although it is still very useful as an interrupt against casters.  In PvP though it’s huge, in addition to interrupting casting, it is another stun available to stop incoming damage, a brief time to escape, and more.

Endurance is however the ability that really sets the Tauren race apart.  It is a 5% increase to their base health, meaning that no other race can have as much health as the Tauren do. 

The above abilities make the Tauren the best race to have as a tanking class since they will have an extra stun ability to stop incoming damage, interrupt spells, or stop a running enemy, as well as having more health than any other race in the game.

#2 - Worgen


The ability to look normal, and like a beast? All along with great DPS abilities? Sign me up!

In the number two spot, and in my heart the #1 spot, is the Worgen. This race was added in Cataclysm and is one of the most popular in the game.  The Worgen are awesome looking humans that can transform into a werewolf form, what’s cooler than that!  Ok, well, maybe pirate-ninja-zombies, but that’s a whole other point.

Besides having the whole werewolf thing going for them, they also have some of the best voice acting in the game, and the absolute best starting zone.  The starting zone is an amazing place and just has to be experienced. If you haven’t played through it yet, I strongly suggest you do so it is some of the best story telling in the game.  If you need some help with it we have a guide right here: The Worgen Experience.

The Worgen are allowed to be any class other than Paladin or Shaman, which provides a lot of options.  Where they really shine though is as a DPS class due to their racial abilities.

The first racial ability has already been discussed and is their transformation abilities that allow them to change back and forth between human and werewolf. Next up is a pair of mediocre abilities called Aberration that provides a small amount of shadow resistance and Flayer which grants extra skinning ability and speed.  They also have Running Wild which allows them to run in wolf form instead of getting on a mount.  While a nice touch it doesn’t really add anything to the game.

The two racial abilities that really matter are Darkflight and ViciousnessDarkflight is a sprint type ability that increases your movement speed by 40% for 10 seconds on a 2 minute cooldown.  This is an awesome ability in PVP and PVE situations.  In PVE it allows you to close on an enemy, escape an effect, or reposition quickly, all great things.  In PVP it does the same thing, but since movement, pressure and escapes can be even more important in PVP, especially in the arenas, this becomes a huge ability.

Viciousness is a straight 1% increase to your critical hit chance.  Which is a huge number at high levels since it takes so much crit rating to get a single percentage point, 179 points at level 85 in fact! 

The ability to reposition quickly combined with a higher crit chance than other races, allows the Worgen to be one of the highest DPS races.  They make especially good Hunters, Rogues, and Warriors due to these abilities, but are a solid choice for almost any class.  In fact other than the next race having a much better racial ability, I would pick Worgen as the best race in the game, however…

#1 - Trolls


While not my cup of tea, there is no arguing with the Troll abilities!

Onto the #1 spot, and this one bugs me a little because I am biased and would not play one because of their looks.  However I really can’t fault them other than that, they have a lot going for them.  So, in the number one spot is the Troll race.  Trolls have a lot going on for them, including great voice acting, great class choices, and even better racial abilities. For many their looks are even an asset.  They are close enough to Humans to be familiar looking, yet different enough with their gangly limbs, protruding tusks, and varied skin and hair colour to be different.

Trolls are allowed to be any class other than Paladins or Warlocks.  They are the only class beside Taurens on the Horde side that can be Druids which has made them even more popular since that changed with Cataclysms release.

Trolls have many racial abilities that make them interesting.  Beast Slaying increases their damage by 5% against beasts, which isn’t always useful but can effect DPS on some fights. Bow Specialization and Throwing Specialization grant 1% critical chance increase to each of those types of weapons which can boost DPS as well. Regeneration is a great ability that increases health regeneration by 10% and allows 10% to continue while in combat.  While it isn’t a whole lot, it does add up, and next time you are hit and drop to 1% health in a fight, remember that Regeneration probably kept you alive there.

Da Voodoo Shuffle is an ability that reduces movement impairing effects duration by 15% which can be situationally useful in PVE content and life saving in PVP situations.  Any time you are slowed means that you are likely taking more damage and doing less, as more time is take to adjust position in either PVE or PVP.

Lastly is the amazing Berserking ability, which increases your attack and casting speed by 20% for 10 seconds, on a three minute cooldown.  This ability grants huge DPS or healing boosts in a burst as needed.  This makes it great for both PVE and PVP content and while soloing or in a group.  Even though its only for 10 seconds, it can be very significant. As a DPS class it allows you to burst through the last little bit of health on an enemy before they kill you, and as a healer it grants a speed boost big enough to be able to save that tank or player that you were sure was going to go down. 

All of the above combine to make the Trolls the best race in the game. Well OK, for me it’s mainly just their abilities, especially Berserking, as I really dislike their look.  This is especially true if you are playing a Hunter. Troll Hunters are far and above any other Hunters race for DPS ability with only the Orcs and Worgen coming anywhere close.

World of Warcraft - Related Content
The Worgen Experience | WoW Races | Death Knight Starting Area

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.