The moment Cataclysm launched I immediately race changed my Night Elf Rogue to a Worgen. I'd been thinking about that change since Worgen were announced and a Worgen Rogue just made sense to me. The Worgen racial abilities also lent themselves to the Rogue class. Besides looking like a savage werewolf, the big bonus was the Viciousness racial bonus, which increases your critical strike chance by 1%. That's a very handy increase, arguably not ground breaking, but for the 'min/max' brigade it's probably the best racial the Alliance has to offer.
That got me thanking about racial abilities as a whole, and, in particular, which ones had the ability to provide the greatest benefit to a characters damage output
I used my hunter as an example. He had been a Night Elf since the day I started playing. I chose a the Night Elf at the time with no understanding of what racial abilities where, and what they could do. I chose Night Elf because, at the time, I simply thought they looked the coolest. Time passed, I played the game, and came to the realisation that, as aesthetically pleasing as I may have thought the Night Elf was, the there was no benefit from selecting the Night Elf race that would help me perform my role better. A hunters primary job is to dish out damage while the Night Elf racial abilities are situational and defensive at best. If I'm to be dishing out the damage then I need me some skills that help me do that better dammit! Looking around it's pretty clear that some classes have stronger offensive racial abilities than others, and at a glance you could make a case that in that regard a majority of the Alliance races have drawn the short straw.
I decided I would plug in my Hunters details into FemaleDwarf.com. In a cookie cutter Survival spec, my DPS as a Night Elf is listed as 11,663.
Note: All data below is based on a Level 85 Hunter, in gear of average iLvl 329, that is right on the hit cap. The character has a bow equipped.
So basically what I found was that if I wanted to maximise my DPS as a Hunter, in choosing a Night Elf I'd made the wrong choice, both race and faction. This didn't surprise me as, in terms of racial abilities it is obvious that Night Elves have nothing that contributes to DPS directly. If you were selecting an Alliance race to play a tanking role, a Night Elf is a very good choice. As a DPS race, there are not a lot of benefits. For min/max'rs, you can basically rule a line through any of the races ranked 5 and below.
If you absolutely have to play on the Alliance side, then rolling a Worgen Hunter is the best choice if you want to maximise your DPS. That 1% critical strike chance increase is too good to pass up. On paper 1% doesn't sound like much, but look at it another way. At level 85 you need 178.8 Crit Rating for a 1% Crit chance. Currently rare gems give a 40 Crit Rating. If you were to gem for the 1% Crit Chance then you'd use almost 4.5 gem slots. Critical Strike may not be the number one Hunter stat, but it's way better than Spirit! Dwarves can increase their chance to critically hit by 1% as well, although they are required to use a gun to receive there racial reward. When random loot drops are random, you cannot always rely on a specific weapon type dropping for you. To put it another way, if you could choose between a flat 1% Crit Chance increase or a 1% Crit Chance increase only if you equip a gun, what would you choose? What happens if the Hunter best in slot ranged weapon is a bow, or even a butt ugly crossbow?
Draenei are actually the Alliance dark horse - or goat - as their racial, Heroic Presence has the potential to provide a very good increase to DPS subject to your character being below the hit cap. The reason that they appear so low on my list is that in running these numbers I assumed my character was already hit capped and therefore the 1% hit chance was wasted. With reforging now available you could assumed that in taking the Draenei racial you can then do without 1% hit on your gear which could then be reforged into something more useful. I did some experimenting with reforging on FemaleDwarf and reforging the 1% hit to crit/haste/mastery brought the Draenei roughly equal to the Night Elves. So while the hit bonus could potentially be useful it's value is not as high as some of the other racial bonuses, even less so when you consider that as our gear improves it's likely that we'll see slightly more of every stat - including hit - popping up.
The best race to play a Hunter on the Horde side is the Orc. They have a couple of racial traits that provide a clear boost/benefit to their DPS output. First up is Blood Fury, which - at level 85 - increases attack power by 1169 for 15 seconds remaining. Blood Fury has a 2 minute cooldown. When I was playing an Orc Hunter I had Blood Fury macro'ed in to a few of my shots to trigger whenever it was off cool down. I've actually seen people QQ on forums about how Blood Fury is 'under powered' and 'needs to be buffed'. You really have to laugh, 1169 attack power for 15 seconds every 2 minutes might not equal huge numbers at 85, but playing a DPS role would you prefer Blood Fury or Quickness? Orc's also get another nice bonus from their passive (ie. always on) racial ability Command which increases damage dealt by pets by 5%. For a Hunter this is a very nice bonus. All Hunter pets, not just the Beast Mastery variety, contribute a decent amount of a Hunters DPS. Giving that a 5% boost is only going to have a positive impact upon a Hunters overall DPS.
Taking Trolls out of the equation - as their Racial relies on a specific weapon type - Goblins come in a clear second all races able to play the role of the Hunter. Goblins have two abilities that give a nice boost to DPS output. Time is Money provides a 1% increase to attack and casting speed while Rocket Barrage is a free engineering tinker that can be triggered every 2 minutes without the need of engineering.
There are quite a few things to note about these figures.
The first being that they were run as a snapshot based on my own Hunter at a certain point in time, and that the data that FemaleDwarf should be viewed as an educated estimate, or best guess.
The second factor consider is that these figures were done with a Bow equipped. Obviously this impacted the Troll data - due to their Bow Specialization Trolls have a 1% increased chance to critically hit when using bows. It also impacted Dwarves - who share a similar racial ability that rewards the use of guns. If I'd run the data using a gun with the exact same stats, I'd expect that the DPS output of Trolls would drop while the output of Dwarves would rise. That said, the DPS output of Trolls would not suffer from using a non-preferred weapon as they still retain their Berserking racial ability as well as Beast Slaying which is a situational DPS increase (5% damage increase when fighting beasts).
It's pretty obvious that some racial abilities have a bigger impact upon DPS output than others. While the methods used to arrive at my 'findings' are not exactly scientific, and may not stand up under the scrutiny of scientists, mathematicians and cosmonauts, I'd expect that if, one day, an accurate study was conducted the results would be very similar.
It does seem that when it comes to DPS racial abilities, the Alliance drew the short straw.So if you're rolling a new Hunter, or any DPS toon for that matter, and you're wanting to wring the most DPS out of your toon as possible then Alliance side, there's only one choice, Worgen. Horde side, it's hard to go past the Orcs, but if you did, Goblins and even Trolls aren't a bad option either.