Gearing Up the Warlock

Blade of Dormant Memories
Binds when picked up
Main Hand Dagger
70 - 227 Damage, Speed...

Blade of Dormant Memories
Binds when picked up
Main Hand Dagger
70 - 227 Damage, Speed 1.80
(82.6 DPS)
+31 Stamina
+38 Intellect
Requires Level 80
Increases attack power by 386 in Cat, Bear, Dire Bear and Moonkin forms only.
Improves critical strike rating by 40
Improves haste rating by 27
Increases spell power by 408
As a pure damage dealing class we are lucky to not have to maintain multiple gear sets for our different talent schools. We can focus on improving our damage and utility by upgrading a basic set of attributes as we level. Our unfortunate limitation of cloth only kind of makes us a glass cannons, but that is why we have pets and tanks. There is nothing better than sitting back and letting them take the hits as we nuke and laugh.

What to Look For

As you level up you want to look for items that add to your desired stats. The best stats for a leveling warlock are, in no particular order:  
  • Spell Power: Adds to the base damage of your casted abilities.
  • Intellect: Increases your mana pool, Increases your critical strike rating.
  • Hit: Increases your chance to successfully hit your target.
  • Critical Strike Rating: Increases the chance your abilities will cause extra damage.
  • Haste: Increases the speed ability is performed
  • Spirit: Increases the speed that health and mana regenerate when not in combat, increases the amount of health converted to mana during lifetap, increases the amount of spell damage when using fel armor.
  • Stamina: Increases your base health.
Knowing why these stats are important and what they contribute is as important as having them. You are going to be given many chances to choose rewards or roll for gear as you level and you want to balance them with your play style. 

Keep an eye out for quest rewards that contain these attributes and crafting professions that allow you to make these items. Your first few levels are going to be limited to stamina, intellect and spirit. Ultimately you want all the stats, and will have no problem finding them.

Earlier on, professions are a great way to acquire gear. Tailoring is a simple profession because cloth is plentiful and drops off most of the humanoids you will be tasked to defeat. Engineering will also provide you with many items that will help you along the way but may be more limited. I have found engineering’s biggest advantage is for players more focused on PvP. The trinkets and bombs are invaluable and the shock of someone being turned into a chicken by a warlock is priceless.

The gear choices for PvP are also be different than gear choices for PvE. The player focused on PvP would want to pay more attention to survivability than a leveling or raiding warlock. This means a greater priority on resilience and stamina would be needed. Resilience will decrease the chance you will be critically hit and reduce the damage of a critical hit, making this a must-have for any PvP player and Stamina will increase the amount of health you have.

How does speccing affect the gear you should go after?

Once at higher levels, the school or spec you choose can have a big impact on the gear you should obtain. Each school benefits from different attributes. For example, haste rating would be more desirable by a destruction warlock then an affliction warlock because the decrease in cast time would impact the slower, harder hitting spell more than the instant cast DOTs. There are many thoughts on how to prioritize which attributes to which build and I have found the following to be the best.

Itemization By School for Raiding Warlocks
School Affliction Demonology Destruction
Higher Hit Hit Hit
Priority Spell Power Spell Power Spell Power
Critical Strike Haste Haste
Haste Spirit Critical Strike
Spirit Critical Strike Spirit
Lower Intellect Intellect Intellect

Notice each school benefits greatly from hit. I often quote “You can’t hurt that which you can’t hit." When raiding, any boss encounter requires you to hit the boss to damage it, Therefore hit is a massive priority. Second to hit is spell power because spell power equals damage. After the first two it becomes very subjective, but let me explain a few points. Each school will benefit differently because of talents they include. Demonology has a talent “Demonic Ages” which increases the effectiveness of fel armor and demon armor up to 30%, therefore effectively increasing spell power, which is more desirable than critical strike. Hence, a demonology warlock would benefit more from spirit than from critical strike because with fel armor, more spirit equals more damage

How important is the DPS of a weapon?

The actual DPS of any weapon is irrelevant. Caster classes such as Warlocks, equip the weapons to benefit from the attribute contribution it will provide, not for the physical damage it will do from melee combat. Wands could be an exception to the rule for some but I would never use a wand with good DPS over a wand that contributes more to my spell casting abilities. A wand is a good item to use in an emergency when you run out of mana and you are caught with your pants down but should be prioritized to contribute to the base caster stats. Weapon enchants should be used to increase your spell power or base stats and you should avoid enchants that add to the actual physical damage caused.

Useful Trinkets for Warlocks

Trinkets play in important part especially in end game content. This is true for both PvE and PvP. Trinkets can also provide useful stats for a particular encounter. There are many trinkets available and not all are specific to Warlocks but will help immensely.

PvP players will want to look for trinkets that boost the resilience rating and can be used to remove movement impairing effects. PvE players should look for trinkets that improve the spell power, haste or critical strike when equipped and have a chance to increase spell power, haste or critical strike on successful spell cast or damage.

What level do you change armor types?

Warlocks never progress beyond cloth armor. The only upgrade to equipment they ever receive is if they train in additional weapon types. Warlocks enter the world knowing how to use daggers and wands but may train at a weapons trainer to learn to use swords and staves. This can be done at any level and should be done during your first visit to your local weapons trainer.

Staves vs. One hand/offhand

Our journey to maximum level will offer us many choices for weapons. There is no correct choice between using a staff or using a dagger and off-hand. Both have advantages and you should make sure to train in both so you can expand your options as the opportunity presents itself. A Warlock’s weapon skill has no impact on the spell damage you can cause. When you’re lucky enough to win a roll on a new item, you can equip it immediately. I have found myself changing between the two handed staff and a dagger/offhand several times because the bonuses where much better.

How to get the gear you're after.

Until max level, just keep plugging away at quests and you’ll be able to keep yourself geared relative to the zones you visit. By level 20 your professions will fill the gaps for gear that you have not yet received. Around level 30, you can pick up a quest that will reward you with an excellent robe and another quest for an off-hand weapon that will last you until level 50 or so. At level 60 it’s time to start looking for higher quality items (blue) to replace the greens. There will also be some bargains on the auction house; these are worth visiting for the next 10-15 levels to help get you to and through Northrend. From 70-80 group up and grab as much blue gear from instances as you can so you will be prepared to start heroics when you hit 80. Once 80 jump into heroics and grab the best blues and any epic loot you can. Finally, grind Northrend reputation for the last few pieces and the item enhancements for head, and shoulders. This will put you in good position for the start of ten and twenty-five man raids.

See you in Naxx!

Level What to Get
1 - 20
  • Collect quest rewards and drops
  • Quest rewards and drops
  • Crafted items from tailoring and/or engineering
30-40 Warlock-only quests
  • Quest rewards and crafted items
  • Search the auction house occasionally
  • Replace green items with blue (superior) items, quested and crafted
  • Watch the auction house for puple (epic) gear for your trip to Northrend
  • Continue watching for quest rewards
  • Start collecting blue items from instances
  • Heroic instances for best in slot blues
  • Grind reputation for epic rewards and item enhancements (head and shoulder glyphs)
  • 10 and 25 man raid instances

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