Destruction Warlock DPS Guide for the Mists of Pandaria


Destruction Warlock DPS Guide in Mists of Pandaria

Destruction Contents

  1. Destruction Warlock Talents
  2. Glyphs
  3. Destro Stats
  4. Rotations
  5. Gems
  6. Enchants
  7. Consumables
  8. Professions
  9. Races
  10. Leveling Quickly
This Destruction Warlock guide is primarily intended for use at level 90, in PvE environments and Raids. However, the some of the principals will still apply in PvP and during the leveling process, so if you’re looking for advice on leveling your Warlock, check out our Warlock Leveling Guide.

Other Warlock Guides: 

If you want the same in-game step by step leveling guide that we use to get to level 90 as fast as possible, take a look at our favorite in-game leveling guide.

The Fastest Way to Level 90, Click Here to Start



Destruction Warlock Talents

All three of these talents can be useful under varying circumstances.

  1. Dark Regeneration is an on-demand heal that also increases the effectiveness of healing for a short while after, not a bad option.
  2. Soul Leech provides a constant healing effect as your spells deal damage, ideal for fights with consistent damage.
  3. Harvest Life is ideal for AoE situations, but not much else.

  1. The optimal choice for most encounters is Mortal Coil as it provides an additional heal effect.
  2. Howl of Terror and Shadowfury are both viable in situations that demand Crowd Control, but otherwise inferior.

  1. All three survivability mechanics are viable choices with perhaps Dark Bargain being the most interesting of the three in that it provides the most powerful survivability mechanic, but on the longest cooldown.
  2. Soul Link allows you to tank big hits on a more consistent basis, but also puts your pet at more risk of dying.
  3. Sacrificial Pact provides an absorption shield on a relatively short cooldown. A strong talent.

Pick whichever your find most useful in a specific encounter.

Unbound Will is the most useful as it provides an invaluable debuff remover while the other two provide somewhat more situational benefits. Burning Rush could potentially be useful on movement heavy fights, not much else. Blood Fear seems rather useless for most encounters, or rather all of them.

  1. Grimoire of Supremacy has very competitive DPS and is a stable, easy choice.
  2. Grimoire of Service is the least appealing of the three, but has its uses on fights that require burst damage.
  3. Grimoire of Sacrifice provides optimal DPS.

All three talents are viable in certain situations.

  1. Archimonde’s Vengeance is great for situations in which you expect to take large amounts of damage.
  2. Kil’Jaeden’s Cunning is ideal for movement heavy encounters.
  3. Mannoroth’s Fury is the optimal choice for AoE fights where you need extra range on your spells.

Destruction Major Glyphs

  1.   Glyph of Burning Embers
  2. Glyph of Dark Soul
  3. Glyph of Conflagrate
  4. Glyph of Healthstone
  5. Glyph of Demonic Circle
  6. Glyph of Siphon Life
  7. Glyph of Soulstone

The Minor glyphs are all cosmetic, there’s no utility to any of them. Pick what you like.  

Stat Priorities

  1. Primary stats: Intellect >>> anything else.
  2. Secondary: Spell Hit to 15% > Critical/Mastery > Haste
  3. Useless: spell hit over 15%

Stats weights are for tier 14 gear as calculted by SimCraft. Values for secondary stats, other than Hit, will vary depending on your exact gear, team make-up, and style of play. Int is about twice the value of the Crit/Mastery and Hit is about 1.5 x Crit and Mastery.

Spell Hit combines your Hit rating, expertise, and expertise from racials. Any Spell Hit over 15% is useless.

Reforging: Make sure you have that 15% Spell Hit. If a piece of gear already has Hit on it then you can reforge the other stat to Expertise and that will add in to your total Spell Hit.

Destruction Warlock In-Depth Rotation

Destruction Warlocks use Burning Ember as their resource as opposed to the Soul Shards of Affliction and the Demonic Fury of Demonology.

Burning Embers: 

  1. Burning Ember is generated through the use of Incinerate and occasionally  Shadowburn, should the target of the spell die within 5 seconds of casting it, although as Shadowburn already costs a Burning Ember this is merely a cost-free Shadowburn rather than an extra Burning Ember.
  2.  Chaos Bolt, Fire and Brimstone, Ember Tap, Flames of Xoroth and Shadowburn all use one Burning Ember to cast.

Your first priority is using Conflagrate as it’s available to generate charges of Backdraft which reduces the mana cost and cast time of your Incinerate spell by 30%. Conflagrate operates on a charge system and each use of it generates three stacks of Backdraft. Using Conflagrate again will refresh the timer left on Backdraft and add an additional 3 stacks.

Maintain Immolate on your target at all times.

  1. Incinerate is your primary attack spell and should be cast as often as possible to build burning embers for Chaos Bolt and Shadowburn.
  2. Shadowburn replaces Chaos Bolt as your method of expending Burning Embers once your target reaches 20% health. If the target of Shadowburn fails to die within 5 seconds you will regain 15% of your total mana instead of having your Burning Ember returned.

When facing multiple targets use Fire and Brimstone to spread Immolate to your targets while otherwise maintaining your Incinerate use.

  1. Rain of Fire should be cast as often as possible as should Havoc.


  1.  Dark Soul: Instability boosts your critical strike chance by 30% for 20 seconds and should be used on cooldown.
  2. Summon Infernal and Summon Doomguard share a cooldown and therefore you will have to make a choice between the two depending on the encounter. The Infernal is superior for AoE encounters while the Doomguard is best used for single target DPS. Both last for 45 seconds with a cooldown of 10 minutes meaning it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to use them more than once or maybe twice at best during a single encounter.
  3. Grimoire of Supremacy upgrades the Infernal into Summon Abyssal and the Doomguard into Summon Terrorguard, however the recommend talent, Grimoire of Sacrifice, prevents you from using these anyway.
  4. Life Tap is used to regain mana, however as it costs life both the passive effect of Grimoire of Sacrifice being active and a number of other survivability cooldowns can be used to counter the loss of health necessary to refill your mana pool.
  5. Unending Resolve reduces all damage taken by 40% and prevents your spells from being interrupted or silenced for 8 seconds on a 3 minute cooldown.
  6. Soul Shatter reduces all threat by 90% on a 2 minute cooldown.

Tier 1 Talented Abilities:

  1. Soul Leech makes your Incinerate and Chaos Bolt spells heal you and your pet for 10% of the damage dealt.
  2. Harvest Life drains life from all enemies within 15 yards.
  3. Dark Regeneration instantly restores 30% of you and your pet’s maximum health and increases all healing received by 25% for 12 seconds. This ability has a 2 minute cooldown.

Tier 5 Talented Abilities:

  1. Grimoire of Sacrifice is the recommended choice for this tier. While the effect is active you regain 2% of your maximum health every 5 seconds, and the damage of Malefic Grasp, Drain Soul, Haunt and Fel Flame is increased by 50%.

Gems for Destruction Warlocks

Unless a socket bonus offers a solid Int bonus, it’s generally more effective to gem for pure intellect and ignore the bonus. (If you find yourself short of the cash needed to buy expensive gems then you should see this post.)

Note that gems with secondary stats have twice the value of gems with primary stats, so your Mastery gems are worth 320 points and your Int gems are 160. This does give some reason to match socket bonuses, though we recommend only doing it if it’s for a nice Int bonus. If you want to match socket bonuses you can use the Orange gems in the yellow sockets and purple gems in the blue sockets.

If you have the engineering helm then the 600 Crit/Mastery from the Tinker’s gears is better then the 160 Int from the Brilliant gems. Your Nethermancy adds to any Int gem and enchant bonuses, making them worth 5% more Int. That bonus does not add to other stats.

Destruction Gems
Meta Burning Primal Diamond: +216 Int & 3% Increased Crit Effect
Red Brilliant Serpent’s Eye: 320 Int, self-only Jewelcrafting gem
Brilliant Primordial Ruby: 160 Int
Yellow Fractured Sun’s Radiance: +320 Mastery
Smooth Sun’s Radiance: +320 Crit
Blue No appropriate blue gems
Orange Potent Vermilion Onyx: +80 Int & +160 Crit
Artful Vermilion Onyx: +80 Int & +160 Mastery
Green no appropriate green gems
Purple Veiled Imperial Amethyst: 80 Int and 160 Hit
Prismatic Brilliant Primordial Ruby: 160 Int
Cogwheel Smooth Tinker’s Gear: 600 Crit
Fractured Tinker’s Gear: 600 Mastery

Destruction Warlock Enchantments

Short on gold? If you want to buy the best enchants, fund all of your alts, donate to the guild, etc., but don’t have the cash, then see what the Tycoon Addon can do about about fixing your poverty.

Helm enchants are gone in Mists of Pandaria, shoulder enchants all come from the Inscription profession. As with gems your Nethrmancy bonus adds to the Int bonus from any appropriate enchants.

Destro Enchantments
Weapon Enchant Weapon – Jade Spirit: Sometimes increases Int by 1650
Shoulders Secret Crane Wing Inscription: 520 Int and 100 Crit rating, Requires Inscription 550.
Greater Crane Wing Inscription: +200 Int and 100 Crit
Cloak Enchant Cloak – Superior Intellect: +180 Int
Lightweave Embroidery – attacks can give 2k Int for 15 sec, requires tailoring
Chest Enchant Chest – Glorious Stats: +80 to all stats
Bracers Enchant Bracer – Super Intellect: +170 Int
Fur Lining increases Int by 500, requires leatherworking.
Socket Bracer – Pop in a gem, requires Blacksmithing 400
Gloves Enchant Gloves – Greater Haste: +170-Haste Socket Gloves – Pop in a gem, requires Blacksmithing 400
Belt Livingsteel Belt Buckle: Gem slot for a nice Int gem
Leggings Greater Cerulean Spellthread: +285 Int and +165 Crit
Boots Enchant Boots – Greater Precison: +175 Hit rating
Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step: +140 Mastery, slight run speed increase.
Rings Enchant Ring – Greater Intellect: +160 Int, Requires Enchanting 550


Note that if you could be a Pandaren you’d get twice the food buff, but you aren’t so you can’t. All food buffs last one hour and apply only one stat. Alchemists get about 30% more effect and an extra hour from Flasks and Elixirs. Foods



Professions for Destruction Warlocks

All of the professions provide some benefit for Warlocks of any spec, though clearly some are better than others. Even the gathering professions have some value, though you might be better served by using those to build a larger gold stash.

If you’re looking for the buffs then Blacksmithing might be the best choice wince you can slot two gems and gems with secondary stats have twice the value of those with primary stats, 320 Mastery Vs 160 Int, per gem, for example. It also gives you a bit more versatility with gem slotting, though you’ll most likely want to stick Int gems in those slots anyway. It does give you some more gemming versatility in any case.

Herbalism provides a 2,880 Haste cooldown, which might be rather nice even if Haste isn’t your best stat.

Your Nethermancy adds to any profession bonuses that have Int, including gems.

Destruction Professions
Tailoring Cloak enchant sometimes adds 2k Int.
Leatherworking Bracer enchant adds 500 int.
Jewelcrafting Make nicer gems for your own use.
Enchanting Enchant both rings, for a total +320 Int gain.
Inscription Shoulder enchant adds 520 Int and 100 crit.
Alchemy More effect from your own potions. Adds 320 Int and an extra hour to your main flask.
Engineering has lots of interesting toys, some of which have situational use, and Synapse Springs, which increases Int by 1940 for a short time. If you take this use a macro to activate it along with other short term buffs.
Blacksmithing gives two extra gems slots
Skinning provides 480 crit rating
Herbalism Small heal and 2880 Haste for 20 seconds
Mining 480 Stamina

Race Choice for Destruction

Orcs make pretty decent Destruction Warlocks, as do Gnomes, but it’s not by a lot.

Racial expertise can add to your spell hit (Orc, Gnome, Human,) but only if you’re equipping that weapon and if that’s the best weapon available.

Best Horde? Undead, just for the feel of it. You want efficiency? Orc (for the spell and pet damage and wand expertise) or Troll (berserk.)

Best Alliance? Gnome, for the Mana and dagger expertise.

Pandarens will not be able to become Warlocks.

Horde Races

  • Orc- Big, green, massive… Too bad you can’t use an axe as a Warlock.
    • Blood Fury increases melee and spell damage, the latter of which suits Warlocks just fine.
    • The increased pet damage (on command) makes the Orc one of the better Warlock races.
    • The decreased stun duration is nice for PvP and might have some occasional PvE utility.
    • Their weapon expertise applies to wands, equip a wand in your main hand and get +1% to your Sepll Hit.
  • Undead- What’s better for Affliction then being already dead?
    • Will of the Forsaken is a nice PvP skill (anything that breaks Fear, etc is a nice PvP skill) and it can break a few PvE mechanics.
    • Touch of the Grave drains life and heals you for the same amount. This is a passive effect which will actually add a bit to your DPS.
  • Blood Elf – Can a magically addicted elf make a good Warlock?
    • Arcane Torrent is a nice melee range silence which also restores a bit of mana. Well ok, they look good. A truly devastating Warlock Ability. Really.
  • Troll
    • Increased casting speed, when Berserk, is very nice.
    • More damage vs beasts is very nice for leveling and some PvE encounters.
    • Ranged weapon Expertise is useless to you.
    • Reduced duration of movement impairing effects (Da Voodoo Shuffle) might have some occasional use.
  • Goblins are just as willing to sell your soul as they are anything else.
    • Goblins can Rocket Launch forward, which is a nice movement/escape ability.
    • Increased Haste is nice in end-game raiding, even though it’s just an Ok stat for you.

Alliance Races

  • Human – A decent Warlock race.
    • The Human Diplomacy skill will allow for more rapid faction gain and
    • the escape ability is nice for PvP and a few PvE mechanics.
    • Sword Expertise will give you a +1% to your Spell Hit if you have a sword equipped.
  • Gnome – Now why would a Gnome be a Warlock? Shoudn’t they be able to summon mechanical demons?
    • Gnomes get an increased mana pool and
    • their escape ability might break some mechanics.
    • Sword Expertise will give you a +1% to your Spell Hit if you have the sword equipped.
  • Dwarf
    • Stone Form is a nice PvP talent, and occasionally useful elsewhere, since it washed bleeds and effects and reduces some damage.
    • Mace and Ranged Weapon Expertise is useless to you.
  • Worgen- Fur, fleas, snuffling… But they certainly look the part.
    • They can periodically move quickly, which is quite useful
    • An increased crit chance is nice.

Faster Destruction Warlock Leveling

Get the the level cap, ASAPAre you working on your Destruction Warlock to reach the end-game raids? Already there and leveling another class/spec? Need yet another 90 in your group? With thousands of quests and a few bazillion mobs to grind the trip to top level can take a while. A long while, even if you’re done it before.

There’s an easy solution which will speed up your leveling, by a lot, and that’s an in-game leveling guide: Zygor’s Guide. Zygor practically automates the whole leveling path for your ‘lock, regardless of which level you start from. You still have to play the game, of course, but the “where to go and what to do” part is neatly taken care of. You’ll never wonder what to do next, which makes the trip to 90 a whole lot easier.

Pick your starting point and Zygor will show you exactly where to go, what to do, and the best order to do it in. It automatically updates and advances as you complete tasks and quests, sets a waypoint arrow automatically (always showing you where to go next,) and includes all the important quest info. You will probably never need to look at your quest log again, much less stop mid-play to browse some website.

Zygor is always quickly updated for all patches and expansions and includes some nifty extras, such as an in-game talent advisor and more. Grab your copy here and get leveled fast, or read our Zygor review first.

Like this page? How about recommending it and/or commenting?

 Posted by at 5:12 pm

  2 Responses to “Destruction Warlock DPS Guide for the Mists of Pandaria”

  1. hey, is this updated for the current patch?

    • Mostly it’s Ok and should server you well for 5.4, but there are some things that need updating. A talent change (howl of terror being replaced by Demonic Breath,) to name one. I’ll put it in the queue and get to it soon.

      Thanks for the comment.

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