PVE Demonology Warlock Guide
Current as of Patch 5.4
This guide aims to provide all of the most critical details about how to play a Demonology 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.
As a Demonology Warlock your role in a group is to provide steady DPS. As of patch 5.4 Demonology Warlocks are theoretically one of the lowest DPS classes, however they still do good DPS. In addition to the DPS they provide, Demonology Warlocks also provide the following abilities and benefits:
- Can provide some CC in the form of banish, fear, seduction, enslave, howl of terror, and mesmerize.
- 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.
A lot has changed with talents and Glyphs in Mists of Pandaria and the Talent System 2.0, which means that for the most part you are free too chose talents and glyphs that you like rather than specific ones. There are however a few very specific talents and glyphs that are required for the best DPS performance in PVE content, for a Demonology Warlock, which are:
Grimoire of Supremacy or Grimoire of Service (Tier 5 talent) - Either of these teir 5 talents provide roughly the same boost to DPS. One provides it in a steady way over time by providing upgraded demons, while the other allows you to summon a second demon every 2 minutes for burst DPS.
Since you can control when you bring the extra demon in, and if you only summon it while you have other cooldowns activated, it actually provides a bigger overall DPS boost. However, if you are not fully geared and just learning the spec, then Grimoire of Supremacy will provide a nice steady no-maintance DPS increase that is not hugely lower than Grimoire of Service.
Archimonde's Darkness (Tier 6 talent) - This talent grants you Dark Soul ability a second charge, meaning you can use it twice as often. Since Dark Soul is such a big boost to Demonology Warlocks, it means that this is a must have talent.
For a Demonology Warlock there is only really one major Glyph that is required for a general DPS boost. Other glyphs can be chosen based on your preferance, but none provide a significant DPS boost like the one listed here.
Glyph of Imp Swarm (Major Glyph) Provides the ability to summon 4 wild imps to fight by your side for 20 seconds every 2 minutes. This disables your wild imps passive effect, but provides a great boost to DPS when you trigger it, which can then be timed to match up with other cooldowns.
The only other Glyph that really is worth discussing is the one that allows you tank in certain situations.
Glyph of Demon Hunting (Major Glyph) This glyph allows you to become a tank style character. This changes the whole way you need to play the Demonology class, and while an interesting option, it is not really viable at this point in time. While allowing you to tank, it does not allow you to tank well. It is something to play with when you are bored and over geared for content though.
It is important to understand your stat priority for any class you play, as going after the wrong stats can really hurt your DPS output.
The stat priority for a Demonolgy Warlock is:
Intellect > Hit (to 15%) > Haste (to breakpoint) > Mastery = Crit
- Hit - DPS players have been trained over time to highly value hit and reaching the hit cap and for a Demonology Warlock this is still a critical stat to remember. Any spell that you miss with wastes both time and mana and significantly lowers your DPS output. Therefore your highest priority with stats is to reach the 15% spell hit cap. Once you reach that point though, make sure you continue to adjust stats so that you are not over it by any significant amount as it wastes points that could be spent on other stats.
- Haste This stat boosts your DPS by lowering your cast time and increasing the number of ticks that you gain from your damage over time (DOT) effects. While any amount of haste will improve your DPS there are some key numbers that you should aim for that provide the highest benefit per stat point. The number to aim for with haste is 4720 assuming full raid buffs to reach the most critical haste breakpoint. At this rating you will get an extra tick on your Shadowflame DOT and 2 extra ticks on your Corruption DOT.
When reforging simply follow the stat priority for Demonology Warlocks and move the lowest stat to the highest stat that the piece does not have on it. 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 or Crit
Haste + Mastery
Do not Reforge
Haste + Crit
Do not Reforge
Mastery + Crit
Mastery or Crit
Mastery or Crit to Hit
There are only three main cooldowns to worry about as a Demonology Warlock. They are Dark Soul: Knowledge, Imp Swarm and your two large demon summons (Infernal and Doomguard).
Dark Soul: Knowledge This is your biggest cooldown since it grants an extra 30% mastery to your Master Demonologist bonus for 20 seconds on a 2 minute cooldown. This should be used as often as possible, but holding off until you have enough Demonic Fury to stay in demon form for much time as possible of its 20 second duration.
Imp Swarm - This is a cooldown that is granted by the Glyph of Imp Swarm. It allows you to summon 4 imps that attack your target and generate demonic fury. It is best to use this while Dark Soul: Knowledge is up for the biggest effect.
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.
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 Demonology Warlocks is a little more complicated than most classes though as it has two separate priority sequences.
The first is used to build up Demonic Fury and the second is used while in your Metamorphosised Demon form. You need to move between these two priority sequences throughout a fight. In addition to your rotation, your choice of pet is important for your DPS as well. As a Demonology Warlock you should ensure that you always have your Felguard active, or your Wrathguard if you selected the Grimoire of Supremace as your talent in tier 5.
The first sequence is used to build up demonic fury and is as follows:
1 - Curse of the Elements Put this debuff up at the start of the fight unless someone else can apply it.
2 - Corruption Apply this at the start of the fight and then keep it active with your Touch of Chaos ability.
3 - Hand of Guldan - Keep this active throughout the fight.
4 - Soul Fire Cast this whenever you gain a Molten Core proc.
5 - Shadow Bolt or Fel Flame - Use either of these spells when the higher priority abilities are already active on the target or when they are on cooldown. Use Shadow Bolt when you have time to plant in one spot and cast, and use Fel Flame when the fight requires you to be moving around.
The second sequence is used once you are in demonic form and is as follows:
1 - Metamorphosis - Use this to transform when you have more than 900 Demonic Fury.
2 - Doom - Keep ths active at all times. This is the spell that replaces Corruption when you transform.
3 - Soul Fire - As in normal form use this whenever you gain a Molten Core proc.
4 - Touch of Chaos - Use this to keep your Corruption ability active while in demonic form.
5 - Metamorphosis - Transform back to normal form once you are below 700 Demonic Fury.
The main challenge in maximizing your DPS is knowing when to shift in and out of demonic form. Essentially you are trying to keep both of your main DOT's (corruption and doom) active at all times even though they can only each be applied in one of your two forms. Also important to note is that you are transfering back to normal form with enough demonic fury left in case a big DPS boost comes along (such as Heroism) so that you can transform back to demonic form for the added DPS. Any time you get a DPS boost through buffs or procs or on use trinkets, you should be looking to go back into demon form to gain the biggest benefit to your DPS.
There are three different AOE style rotations for Demonology Warlocks, the first is for 2-3 targets, the second is for 4 or more targets, and the third is for burst AOE against multiple targets with low health that would not live through a full durration of your DOTs.
Against 2-3 targets - essentially use your single target rotation against a chosen enemy and keep your DOTs ticking on the rest of the enemies.
Against 4 or more targets - follow your basic single target rotation but swap in Void Ray instead of Touch of Chaos while in demon form.
Against many targets with low health - use the following burst AOE rotation while in your demon form::
1 - Metamorphosis - Transform to demon form, preferably over 900 demonic fury.
2 - Immolation Aura - To burn everything around you.
3 - Chaos Wave - Uses a lot of fury but worth it for the damage.
3 - Carrion Swarm Deals AOE damage and knocks back enemies unless you have Glyph of Carrion Swarm.
4 - Void Ray - Use this until you have killed the enemies or are forced back to normal form, at which point start generating demonic fury again.
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