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Hybrid classes are classes which can fill more than one of the core class roles: tank, healer, or damage dealer (DPS). Realistically, no character can tank, heal, and dps at the same time, but hybrids are frequently flexible enough to serve in one role or another (no matter what spec they have) if they have collected the gear required to serve that function. Hybrid classes are differentiated from pure classes.
Definition of a hybrid
There are different views on how many possible functions are needed to consider a class a "hybrid". The most limited definition here would be any class that can fill any of the three roles, given the correct talent spec and/or gear. This definition would only consider paladins, druids and monks as hybrids. Blizzard consider hybrids to be any class that has two or more functions that they can spec for. If the definition is widened in this manner then shamans, warriors, death knights, and priests are added to the list of hybrids.
These classes are considered the truest "hybrids", as each of them can cover the three roles of tanking, damage, and healing.
The druid is a hybrid of a tank, healer, and DPS. Druids are the only class with four distinct play styles because they can DPS both melee (in Cat form) and ranged spells (enhanced by Moonkin form).
- Good innate healing abilities, and often quite effective even when not restoration specced. Feral druids inherently have an expanded mana pool but no mana regeneration enhancements. Balance druids have an expanded mana pool and enhancements to both damage and healing, but less mana regeneration than a restoration druid.
- Arguably, one of the more powerful buffs in the game, , providing a good general boost to most classes and specs.
- Shapeshift ability allows druid to serve as a tank (Bear form) and increases survivability if drawing aggro by accident, can scout (Cat form), and will render a druid immune to . The act of shifting will also remove Snare effects from the character.
- Tree of Life Form likely has the most mana efficient heals in the game, and is specifically geared to raid healing.
- Tank abilities viable for raids, optimal for single targets; sub-optimal for a very large number of targets.
- High-level talents in each tree provide a raid healing or DPS aura.
- Lightly armored in caster gear, just a little tougher than a cloth wearer in humanoid form. However, combined with or may provide enough damage mitigation (and time) for a main tank to re-acquire a mob. If you are in PvP combat, this same switch will often cause players (especially melee dps) to switch targets out of frustration with the greatly increased armor and hit points.
- Druid crowd control is generally weak. Entangling roots affects all types of enemy, but does not prevent enemies from attacking with ranged abilities. is only usable on beasts and dragonkin. is almost universally effective but only lasts a short time.
The paladin is often incorrectly thought of as a hybrid of a warrior and a priest, but actually a paladin's healing style differs greatly from a priest, and their tanking style from a warrior. Paladin tanks rely on magical Holy damage as the primary source of threat, and functions by the threat "multiplier" of rather than added threat effects like . A paladin heals by spamming efficient direct heals, and not by using HoTs or group heals.
- Armored in plate, paladins can take a lot of damage, and are widely regarded as the single hardest class to kill.
- Long-lasting, efficient single-target healers.
- Wide variety of important blessings for all classes.
- Several auras with various beneficial effects for the party.
- One of 3 classes capable of allowing quick recovery from a wipe with their (the other being warlocks and shaman).
- Able to use and to protect themselves from incoming damage or cast to protect other players from physical damage.
- Very little in the way of ranged attacks.
- Have relatively few protection against casters, especially those that can silence or use .
The monk is a hybrid who focus on fists and feet to pummel their opponents into submission while using traditional herbal medicine with Pandaren martial arts to heal allies.
- Brewmasters are capable tanks who use a combination of ancient martial arts techniques and drunken taunts to draw the attacks of their enemies and soak up damage. Brewmasters absorb and stagger damage, while provoking their enemies with traditional brewing-based attacks.
- Mistweavers are healers with a sideline in damage dealing. As well as a range of traditional healing techniques, Mistweavers can heal their allies through dealing damage to their enemies, with a number of special attacks enhancing the monk's healing.
- Windwalkers can use to attack more than one enemy.
- Have many healing abilities like and to keep themselves alive.
- Can use to move around faster.
- Can silence, disarm and snare enemies.
- Very few ranged abilities.
- Must build up chi to use powerful attacks.
The shaman is a hybrid of healer, melee and ranged damage dealer. They can also tank at early levels, but not very effectively.
- Can use / to increase haste of themselves and party members.
- A wide variety of totems can be used to buff party members and debuff opponents
- Ability to heal, resurrect and self-resurrect makes them very useful to a party.
- Powerful, instant-cast direct damage Shock spells with secondary effects (movement speed decrease, damage over time, and attack speed decrease)
- Only class capable of solo-recovering a raid via Reincarnation, albeit only once per hour.
- Arguably, one of the best multi-target healing spells in the game, .
- Jack-of-all-trades, but frequently overshadowed by other classes in "pure" roles.
- Not as Mana efficient as non hybrids.
The Priest has the ability to spec and gear for flexible healing through the Holy and Discipline trees; priests can also spec into DPS through the shadow tree.
- The only class with two distinct healing specs, the priest is a good healer for just about any situation.
- Shadow priests provide good DPS, as well as passive healing with the talent.
- A wide variety of utility and defensive spells, including , , , help party survivability and effectiveness.
- Several escape and aggro lowering abilities, , , though psychic scream is not very useful in instances.
- Cloth armor and no pets leave priests more easily damaged than other hybrid classes, though they do have defensive abilities such as and .
- In (necessary for priest to reach their true DPS potential), has no healing aside from
The warrior can spec into tanking mostly through the Protection tree or into DPS through the Arms and Fury trees.
- Can tank well in most encounters, and arguably are the best off-spec tank.
- Have numerous life-saving abilities when tanking.
- Good countering abilities against .
- Highly gear dependent in order to have good performance.
- No effective ranged attack. (Though they have several abilities to help them get in range of the enemy.)
- Vulnerable to snare effects.
The death knight is a melee fighter that wields dark magic and runeforged weapons who can tank or DPS.
- Start at level 55.
- Can enchant their weapons.
- Blood death knights can heal themselves.
- Use diseases to damage enemies over time.
- Can summon an army of undead that taunts and damages enemies.
- Must have a level 55 or higher character to create a death knight.
- With only six runes, death knights are limited on how many abilities they can use at a time.