Classes and Starting Attributes
Escape Artist (Instant cast, 1.75 minute cooldown)
Escape the effects of any immobilization or movement speed reduction effect.
Expansive Mind (Passive)
Intellect increased by 5%.
Arcane Resistance (Passive)
Reduces the chance you will be hit by Arcane spells by 2%.
Engineering Specialist (Passive)
Engineering skill increased by 15.
Here I go over each class with an analysis based purely on stats. A lot of people on forums like to ask what race their should pick for a certain class, and the answer they receive is always the same, “go for whichever race appeals to you most visibly”. But these people aren’t asking which race looks the prettiest, they are asking which one will help them the most with the character. The answer they receive is pretty valid, it really doesn’t matter. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t help as well.
While your race does not make a huge difference in the overall scheme of how powerful your character will be at end game, it can impact how well you do early on. Oftentimes a player will start a character and then decide within the first 10 levels whether or not they like the character. So, it’s important to start off with a solid race/class combination if you’re not one for sticking it out for a while to really give the character a chance.
If you ignore the long term and start out looking just at the base starting attributes then I find the following.
The Gnome racial abilities are similar to the Undead’s in that they aren’t specifically geared towards any one class, with one exception in Expansive Mind. Expansive Mind offers an excellent boost to your intellect and that boost is able to scale with you while you level because of it being a percentage increase.
Gnomes have the Escape Artist ability that allows them to break out of any root/snare effects used on them as well. While it does have PvE applications at times this is one of the better PvP racial abilities that are offered. This ability makes up half of the Every Man for Himself ability of the humans, with Undead’s Will of the Forsaken making up the other half.
While Arcane Resistance, or any other resistance for that matter, is not going to be used all the time, there are times when this is helpful. At only 2% it’s not a fantastic bonus, but every little bit helps when the situation for its use arises.
Gnomes are pretty well known for being Engineering Specialists, and they have the +15 bonus to back it up. This will save you from having to waste mats on some of the lower skill-level items while leveling the profession and it will also help save you the a lot of gold on much more expensive mats to get it leveled up later on. If you plan on leveling to your racial cap of 465, then you’re free to do so but as of right now in 3.2 there’s no reason to go beyond 450. I would imagine we get another 50-100 skill levels in professions once Cataclysm comes out though, so it doesn’t hurt to max the profession either.
Mage: This is an excellent choice for the gnome race because of their bonus to Intellect from Expansive Mind, which is calculated in even after gear bonuses. Gnomes are capable of having the highest mana pools of every race/class combination in the game. Higher mana pools means less down time for you. With a starting Intellect of 27 you also have more mana starting out that every other race/class combination in the game as well. The 19 Stamina could use a boost but it’s still decent so not a big deal, and 22 Spirit helps you to regenerate that large mana pool a bit faster.
Rogue: Rogues have a great bonus from being a gnome because of their Escape Artist racial. Since Rogues are only able to be a melee dps class it really hurts to not be able to close in on your target and being able to break roots and snares serves you well. With 26 Agility you make one of the best starting rogues in the game as well, though you do miss out on a bit of Attack Power with only 16 Strength. You finish off the primary stats with a 20 Stamina which is a solid start on a decent health pool. Engineering also happens to be one of the favored professions of the Rogue class.
Warlock: Much like the Mage, Warlock is an excellent choice for any Gnome. They fall slightly behind mages with 26 Intellect instead of 27, but you make up that point with 20 Stamina instead of 19, and you share the 22 Spirit. Increased Intellect from Expansive Mind helps to prevent mana issues, and Engineering Specialist is put to use by quite a few Warlocks as well.
Warrior: Warrior is a pretty common choice for gnomes, but from a straight attribute analysis it’s not the best choice for you. Your primary stat is low with only 18 Strength, so you lose out on some attack power and Block from your base stats. A 26 Agility helps to fix some of that though, providing you with extra Attack Power, Crit, and Dodge. Your high 26 Intellect goes to waste as does your Expansive Mind racial, but 21 Stamina puts you a bit above average and you can make great use of Escape Artist, especially in PvP when used alongside your Charge attack.
My personal preference for the Gnome is certainly a caster class. They make excellent Rogues as well, but I like my rogues to look a little more brutal than cute. If I were to pick a single favorite class for the Gnome race, it would be the Mage. Warlock is a close second, and Rogue is not far behind either. I don’t care for Warriors to begin with, but I would not personally consider a Gnome Warrior for anything other than low level PvP.