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Warlock Guide - Combat

Updated Mon, Aug 29, 2011 by Messiah



If you want to know how to use your Warlock in combat, its likely you have already completed the arduous task of picking a race and spec for your Warlock. Now its time to move on to even more important matters; learning to play your Warlock. Be aware that most of your skill will come from in game experience and much trial and error, but with this guide you can hopefully get a nudge in the right direction.

Warlock Solo Play

Soloing as a Warlock could be a tricky process. Thanks to their inability to wear anything but cloth, Warlocks could easily be taken down by mobs, even with their amazing damage. However, Warlocks have more than damage up their sleeves. Making use of their demon companions, Warlocks are more than able to take on a mob or even a group of mobs with ease. Because soloing has become so simple, there is no reason to worry about any real spell rotation here. Throw up your DoTs, use any other spells you want to throw out there, and send your pet companion out to assist you in the battle, then sit back and watch as the bodies pile up at your feet.

Affliction Warlock DPS

The Affliction Warlock, as mentioned in the Basics section of this page, focus mainly on the use of DoTs to do the grand majority of their damage. By taking a quick look over the talent tree you will find that many of the talents either amplify or otherwise boost the affects of the Warlock’s DoTs in some form. Affliction Warlocks are currently the top DPS amongst the three specs. Below you will find a brief explanation of the rotation you should use to maximize your damage:

The Affliction Warlock should begin by placing Haunt on a target, then Demon Soul and continue to use both spells when their cool downs are up. After these two spells the Warlock should keep Unstable Affliction, Corruption, and Bane of Doom active as much as possible on the target. If you find yourself with any down time fill it in with some Shadow Bolt spam. The Affliction Warlock will want to rely on the Felhunter as their demon of choice.

If its AoE damage you are after, Affliction Warlocks will find themselves Soulburn: Seed of Corruption, and Soul Swap. For fights with more than two targets, the Warlock should use Soulburn: Seed of Corruption and then spam Seed of Corruption. On the other hand with fights with only 2 main targets the Warlock may find they do more damage by using the glyphed version of Soul Swap to transfer DoTs from one target to the other.

While the basic and most commonly accepted rotations for both single target and AoE DPS are presented above, don’t be afraid to shake things up with experimentation. Remember, the best way to play is to discover what works best for you!

Demonology Warlock DPS

Demonology Warlocks as mentioned in the Basics section of this page, rely heavily on their demon companions and because of this the majority of talents found in their talent tree reflect this. Demonology Warlocks are currently in the number 1 spot for Warlock AoE DPS. Below you will find a brief explanation of the most basic and commonly accepted rotation a Demonology Warlock should use in a raid or group environment:

Demonology Warlocks are all about cool downs. Watching these and using the correct spells (such as Demon Soul and Metamorphosis) are what will make or break your DPS. Immolate, Bane of Doom, and Corruption should be kept up at all times, and the Hand of Gul’dan should be used on cool down. Several spells vital to Demonology Warlocks should only be used when other spells proc such as; Incinerate (when Molten Core procs), and Soul Fire (if Decimation is up). If these procs are not active, the Warlock should instead revert to using Shadow Bolt. The Felhunter should be your Demon of choice for the Demonology Warlock in a single target DPS situation.

Looking to do some serious AoE DPS? The Demonology Warlock has two options: channel Hellfire, Felguard Felstorm, Infernal, and use Shadowflame and Immolation Aura while in Metamorphosis to dish out some hefty DPS in a setting where aggro is not a factor. If more controlled DPS is what you are looking for simply tab target mobs and place Corruption and Immolate on each. From there you may use the single target rotation as given above to complete this AoE style. The Demonology Warlock should bust out their mighty Felguard to allow them to do the most DPS in an AoE siutation.

While the basic and most commonly accepted rotations for both single target and AoE DPS are presented above, don’t be afraid to shake things up with experimentation. Remember, the best way to play is to discover what works best for you!

Destruction Warlock DPS

Destruction Warlocks as mentioned in the Basics portion of this guide, focus heavily on improving your single target DPS spells. Taking a quick glance over the talent tree you will be able to see this for yourself. That is not to say that the Destruction Warlock will not use DoTs or that they cannot produce AoE. Destruction Warlocks are easily capable of both single target and AoE DPS. Find out the basics to be effective in both below:

When entering a combat situation, the Destruction Warlock should always open with Soul Fire (this buff should be kept active at all times). Demon Soul, Conflagrate, and Chaos Bolt should be used on every cool down. From there the Destruction Warlock is charged with simply casting and keeping up Immolate, Corruption and Bane of Doom. Destruction Warlocks should use the Doomguard for single target DPS.

Need to dish out some AoE? Don’t worry! The Destruction Warlock can choose from one of two options here. For controlled AoE, placing Immolate and Corruption on all mobs (that are not being crowd controlled) then proceeded with the rotation for single target DPS mentioned above will be effective. If threat is not a problem, Rain of Fire, Infernal, and Shadowflame can all be used to provide the AoE damage you need.

While the basic and most commonly accepted rotations for both single target and AoE DPS are presented above, don’t be afraid to shake things up with experimentation. Remember, the best way to play is to discover what works best for you!

Warlock Demons (Pets)

Warlock pets, like Hunter pets, usually can be directly controlled by the player and can and should be used as an extension of the Warlock. Pets of any kind can either be a benefit or hindrance to the player and the rest of their group. Knowing how to use your pet and which pet to use based on your spec is important. You may find the right type of demon to use with each spec listed in the descriptions above and below you can find some handy tips on how to make the best use of your demon companion:

  • Be sure to know the strengths and weaknesses of your current pet.
  • Be aware of every demons’ abilities so you can pull at the correct pet for every situation.
  • The Warlock must be aware of not only their threat, but the aggro their pet it gaining as well.
  • Be sure that your pet is always doing something whether it be DPS, removing buffs, or crowd controlling enemies.

For more information on Warlock pets, please see the Demon section of this guide!

Warlock Soul Shards

Soul Shards were once cumbersome tools Warlocks were forced to carry around in outrageous numbers in order to make use of many of their powerful spells. Thankfully in 4.0 Blizzard finally heard the pleas of Warlocks everywhere and changed the mechanics of how Soul Shards work.

Soul Shards will no longer be an item kept in the inventory, instead they will be a resource that will appear below the Warlock’s health and mana bar. Soul Shards will also no longer be the deciding force in the majority of a Warlock’s spells. Instead Soul Shards will only be required for one newly added spell; Soul Burn. Soul Burn does nothing on it’s own, however it does empower some of the Warlock’s other spells to react differently. For example with Soul Burn active Drain Life will channel twice as fast, or when Soul Burn is combined with Summon Demon the summon becomes instant.

It should be noted that when Soul Burn is activated players will only have a 15 second window to use one of the corresponding spells. Soul Shards can be recovered by using Soul Harvest, a channeled spell that allows the Warlock to restore Soul Shards over a short period of time. All Soul Shards can also be recovered if a mob dies while the Warlock is using Drain Soul. With this new Soul Shard mechanic Warlock bags everywhere will be just a little bit lighter.

Managing Warlock Aggro

One of the most important things that every DPS class should know is how to manage their aggro. Remember, if you are dead, you aren’t doing any damage. To begin let’s go over a simple definition of aggro and how it works.

Aggro is the rated aggression or threat a mob has towards a certain player. Each mob has a table that tracks the threat points for all targets that it is currently aware of. Ignoring abilities that generate extra threat, each point of damage generates one point of threat. The mob will attack (aggro) the target that it has the most threat points against.

Threat gain can become very complicated and confusing, especially when dealing with large groups of mobs. Almost any action a player takes (heals, shields, damage) will gain aggro on one or more mobs. Learning what to cast, when to cast, and when to stop casting will come after much trial and error. However, for an easy way to gauge your threat, consider downloading one of the many great threat meters out there (such as Omen). Or if you don’t like to introduce add ons into your game; simply make use of the one provided by Blizzard in game.




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