This guide exists to provide all of the most critical details you need to know to play a Destruction Warlock at level 90 in PVE content.  It covers talents, glyphs, stats, reforging, and rotations. 

It is assumed that since you are level 90 you will be able to take the basic information and run with it, simple topics like addons, macros, targeting, and more are not covered.

The Role of a Destruction Warlock

As a Destruction Warlock your role in a group is to provide DPS.  Unfortunately, as of patch 5.4 Desctruction Warlocks are theoretically only a middle tier DPS classes, even though they are the top Warlock spec by quite a bit. This is a dramatic change from the start of the Mists of Pandaria expansion where the were in the top 3. In addition to DPS, Destrcution Warlocks also provide the following abilities and benefits:

  • Can provide some CC in the form of banish, fear, seduction, enslave, and mesmerize. 
  • Can bring party members back to live with their soulstone ability.
  • Can buff the groups spell power by 10% with Dark Intent and cause enemies to take 5% more damage from spells with the Curse of the Elements debuff.
  • Can provide healthstones to players for a quick 20% heal, as well as resurrecting players with Soulstones.
  • Can provide some group mobility with Demonic Gateway. 

Destruction Warlock Talents and Glyphs

While you are more free to select talents and Glyphs in Mists of Pandaria that you like rather than following cookie cutter builds, there are certain talents and glyphs that provide more benifit than others. As a Destruction Warlock the key talents and glyphs that you should seriously consider are as follows.

Grimoire of Supremacy (Tier 5 talent)- This talent lets you summon much stronger versions of your demonic pets than normal. As such it is a serious DPS boost and one that shouldnt be ignored.

Archimonde's Darkness (Tier 6 talent) - This talent grants you Dark Soul ability a second charge, meaning you can use it twice as often. Dark Soul is a big boost to your DPS as a Destruction Warlock to start with, making the ability to use it twice as often a must have talent for this spec.

Glyph of Conflagrate (Major Glyph) – Provides the ability to snare your target without having to cast immolate.

This talent boosts your snare and kiting ability by removing the requirement to have to stop and cast immolate on a target before your conflagrate will snare it when hit. Most of the time you will want to cast immolate for the DOT it provides, but in some cases when kiting an enemy you may not have time.

Glyph of Siphon Life (Major Glyph) – Heals you for 20% of the damage that your Immolate DOT deals.

This talent provides both a survivability boost and an indirect DPS boost by providing health which you can turn into mana to keep casting in long fights.

Destruction Warlock Stat Priority

It is critical to understand your stat priority for any class as going after the wrong stats can really hurt your DPS output.
The stat priority for a Destruction Warlock is:

Intellect > Hit (to 15%) > Haste = Mastery > Crit

Important Notes:

  • Hit - DPS players have been trained over time to highly value hit and reaching the hit cap.  This continues to be the case with Destruction Warlocks, if you miss you cause no damage, therefore getting to your hit cap is the most important stat after intellect.
  • Haste or Mastery – These two stats are marked as equal but really are not. Their position in the list is determened by your target priority. If you are aiming for the highest single target damange than Haste is more important than Mastery, but if you are looking for the highest multi-target damage then Mastery is more important than Haste. Given that generally AOE trash damage is not important, I would suggest aiming for Haste and then Mastery for the best boss DPS, but any boss with adds will allow you to get higher DPS with the reverse of that.

Reforging as a Destruction Warlock

When reforging simply follow the stat priority for Destruction Warlocks and move the lowest stat to the highest stat that the piece does not have on it. When aiming for the highest single target DPS you can also follow this simple table:

If your gear has these two stats…

Reforge this stat…

… to this stat (to hit cap)

… this stat to this stat (after hit capped)

Hit + Haste

Do not Reforge

Do not Reforge

Hit to Mastery

Hit + Mastery



Hit to Haste

Hit + Crit



Crit to Haste or Mastery

Haste + Mastery



Do not Reforge

Haste + Crit



Crit to Mastery

Mastery + Crit



Crit to Haste


Destruction Warlock Cooldowns


There are only two main cooldowns to worry about as a Destruction Warlock.  They are Dark Soul: Instability and your two large demon summons (Infernal and Doomguard).

Dark Soul: Instability – Use this one on cooldown, but try to get to maximum Burning Embers first. Once active use your Chaos Bolt as much as possible to get the most effect since it gains damage based on your crit rating.  The only real exception is when an trash mob is within a few percentage points of dying, then you may want to save it for the next enemy or boss.

Summon Infernal or Summon Doomguard – These two demons share a 10 minute cooldown.  They should be used for any boss fight when they are off cooldown as appropriate, meaning the Infernal for AOE and the Doomgaurd for single targets.

Destruction Warlock Single Target Rotation

As with most classes now there is no specific rotation for abilities, but rather a priority based list that should be followed for highest DPS output. 

The priority rotation for Destruction Warlocks against a single target is:

1 - Curse of the Elements – Put this debuff up at the start of the fight unless someone else can apply it.

2 - Shadowburn – Use this if the target is below 20% health. Requires Burning Embers.

3 - Immolate  - Keep this active at all times.

4 - Conflagrate – Use on cooldown to provide the Backdraft buff. Generates Burning Embers.

5 - Rain of Fire – Cast this on the targets area and try to keep it active as much as possible.

6 - Chaos Bolt - Use this when you have max Burning Embers, however do not use it if Backdraft is still active, in that case move down this list to use Incinerate. Requires Burning Embers.

7 - Incinerate - Use this to consume the Backdraft buff from Conflagrate and to generate Burning Embers.

Destruction Warlock AOE Target Rotation

There are two AOE style rotations for Destruction Warlocks, the first is for 2-3 targets, and the second is for 4 or more targets.

Against 2-3 targets, essentially use your single target rotation against one enemy and apply Immolate to as many of the other targets as possible.

Against 4 or more targets as an Destruction Warlock use the following rotation:

1 - Rain of Fire - Keep this active on the area with the most enemies as much as possible for maximum DPS.

2 - Fire and Brimstone+ Immolate – Applies Immolate to all nearby targets at once.

3 - Fire and Brimstone + Incinerate – This consumes Burning Embers to hit all nearby targets with your Incinerate ability.

4 - Havoc – Use when available on your main target and then cast damage spells at other targets to duplicate them to your primary target.

Comments on Destruction Warlocks

Feel free to have your say on how to play an Destruction Warlock in a PVE setting by commenting below.


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Last Updated: Mar 13, 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.


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