Warlocks are World of Warcrafts rendition of the classic soul-devouring life-stealing demon summoning class that everyone loves, or at the very least I do. Quite honestly there’s nothing better than ruling the battlefield with massive amounts of life, ample damage resistance, and the ability to bring down multiple targets at once via a slow and painful, yet inevitable death.
Warlocks rank amongst the caster classes yes, but they stand head and shoulders above both Priest and Mage when it comes to sheer survivability. Plus, due to an increasing emphasis on high health levels combined with reasonable damage, you’ll find that you generally fair better in the latter raid instances and become less of a target in PvP as well.
I find warlocks to be one of the more fun caster classes simply due
to the large change of playstyle gained whenever alternating talent
specializations, demonology, affliction, destruction – neither
is similar to the other, and that's refreshing.
Sure, all builds of warlock will likely end up using the base-line spells such as shadowbolt, deathcoil, and the various DoT’s from time to time, but gameplay becomes dramatically different when you have use of a Felguard for interception-interruptions or when proccing an instant shadowbolt mid-fight via nightfall.
Then again running as an affliction build can be quite a bit more
interesting, at least so far as Battlegrounds and AoE grinding is concerned. Hiding
behind an obscure bush, rock, or tree and throwing off DoT after DoT
at unsuspecting players as they run by is a fun way to ruin the other
However, AoE grinding is one aspect I see very rarely utilized by affliction warlocks, likely due to the fact that it requires either immense preparation and practice or the assistance of a healer. Nonetheless, it is indeed a viable method of leveling.
Through strategic DoT placement and pulling affliction warlocks can take on up to 5, 6, sometimes even 7 or more packs of mobs at a time, all it requires is necessary shielding, healing, and perhaps more than a little bit of luck.
Finally, destruction warlocks, my personal favorite as usual,
for I possess an immense obsession with the art of total annihilation,
and nothing suits that better than a warlock knocking down targets
in six seconds flat with some well timed, and hopefully critical, shadowbolts.
All in all warlocks have it great, all three talent builds are excellent for leveling, PvP, and likely even raiding to a certain point, making it an easy class to enjoy as you have no fear of picking the ‘wrong’ path for a given pursuit in game.
Buffs and Nerfs
With the 4.0 patch, any big patch, class balance goes all to heck.
Class A becomes a doormat and class B becomes Unstoppable. Shortly
after 4.0 Warlocks were solidy in the class B camp. Some of those quakes
seen in the game come from Warlock crits, not some giant dragon thing.
This will be tweaked and hot fixed and Warlocks will join the "normal"
folk. With 4.1, and whatever the next expansion happens to be, it will
all happen again.
Since it's hard to track the flavor of the minute we won't
do it here. Instead we'll focus on stuff that looks a little more evergreen.
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4.1 Warlock Patch Notes
Dark Intent: The friendly target of this ability now receives 1% (stacking
3 times to 3%) periodic spell damage and healing bonus instead of 3% (stacking
3 times to 9%). The casting Warlock still receives 3% (stacking 3 times to
Rain of Fire damage has been increased by 25%.
Seed of Corruption damage has been increased by 20%.
Haunt damage has been increased by 30%.
Shadow Mastery (passive) has been increased to 30%, up from 25%.
Unstable Affliction damage done when it is dispelled has been doubled,
but this damage can no longer be critical.
Mana Feed now restores more mana (four times as much) when the
warlock is using a Felguard or Felhunter.
Doomguard's damage has been increased by 50%. The
Doomguard is intended to be the best guardian for single-target damage,
and the Infernal the best when there are multiple targets.
Pain (Succubus) damage now scales with level, reducing the damage
done at lower levels such that it will deal 50% damage at level
20, and 100% damage at level 80 and above.
Shadow Bite (Felhunter)
damage and effect has doubled.
Glyph of Soul Swap now increases the cooldown of Soul Swap by 15
seconds, up from 10 seconds.
Best Horde? Orc (pet damage) or Troll (berserk.)
Best Alliance? Gnome, for the Mana.
Orc - Blood Fury increases melee and
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 we can ignore the increased
damage with axes.
Undead - Underwater Breathing is nice
for some quests, especially once you hit Northrend, but nothing a
cheap potion can't handle. Will of the Forsaken is a nice
PvP skill (anything that breaks Fear, etc is a nice PvP
skill.) Cannibalize is
useful when you just have to rub it in to that other player you killed.
Maybe that's good enough reason to go Undead.
Blood Elf - Arcane Torrent is a nice
spell interrupt with some PvP utility, but since it's melee range
and you don't want to be in melee range... Well ok, they look good.
A truly devastatng Warlock Ability. Really.
Troll (Cataclysm) - Hmmm...
Increased casting speed, when Berserk, is very nice. Regeneration
is increased, but it's trivial. More damage vs beasts is very nice
for leveling and some Dungeons, not much PvP utility, though, unless
you consider Draenei to
be beasts (of burden?) Reduced duration of movement impairing effects
is always nice.
Goblin (Cataclysm) - Goblins like to blow things up and Warlocks
consort with demons. A match made in heaven? Well, maybe not... Goblins can Rocket
Launch forward, which might be a nice escape ability. Their Rocket Launcher will
be of little use to you, as will Vendor Discounts and your Personal Bank, though
both are nice for other reasons. Increased Haste will be nice in end-game raiding
since Haste is a very nice thing for Warlocks.
Human - The Human Diplomacy skill will
allow for more rapid faction gain and the escape ability is nice
for PvP, but it's too bad that the Stealth Detection is
gone. Maces, Swords, and a Spirit increase? Who cares? Go Human
if you want to waste less time gaining faction.
Gnome - Escape artist is very nice for
PvP, as is their small size, and they
get an increased mana pool. Wow.
Dwarf (Cataclysm) - Various Dwarves
factions are putting away their differences and joining forces after
the Cataclysm and that's where the Warlocks are infiltrating...er...
coming from. Their Stone Form is a nice PvP talent, and occasionally
useful elsewhere, but they have no special Warlock abilities otherwise.
Worgen(Cataclysm) - They can periodically
move quickly, which is a nice escape talent, and they have a reduced
duration of curses and diseases (affecting them.) An increased crit
chance is always nce.
As with all caster classes, tailoring is
the way to go, it’s just impossible
to pass up on the massive gear upgrades available by the set-item cloth armor
craftable at high levels, many would even rank it higher than a lot
of heroic gear.
Enchanting is a very expensive profession to level up, but you can disenchant the goods you make through Tailoring, and use or sell the parts, saving you considerable gold. So those two professions work well together.
Even so, you better have a good gold stash before
starting those two professions or good money making skills. If you
don't have either then consider waiting till much higher levels when
you have a decent cash flow.
Additionally, a commonly sought combination with tailoring is either one of the
three gathering, and thus money making professions – Mining, Skinning, and Herbalism.
All of the Crafting professions, except Blacksmithing,
have their uses, but they are also all expensive to level. Heck, even
Blacksmithing will allow you to add a couple of gem slows to your
Cooking is a good profession to take, partly for the healing foods (even if you're undead,) but more for the buffing foods you will be able to create.
First Aid is a handy skill for those times when you just didn't quite drain enough life.
Professions for End Gaming:
For those who are into the min-maxing game, each of the
professions offers a self-only buff which has some nice benefits.
Blacksmithing and Jewelcrafting might be the best profs for this game.
All the main profs give a roughly 80 Int boost via self-only skills.
increased results to you from certain potions
& flasks, including those that boost Int.
Blacksmithing can put sockets on gloves and belts
(but the belt socket is tradeable.)
Enchanters can enchant their own rings with increased spellpower
Engineers get a "haste" for their gloves and a nice cloak upgrade.
Their gadgets stack with enchants on some armor pieces for the
moment. This may be a bug.
been improved and it now offers Haste rating (about 480 points worth
for 20 seconds) in addition to a heal.
Leatherworkers get a fur lining which
adds more Spellpower to
your bracers than any enchant.
Jewelcrafting makes some nice self-only gems that are better than
Mining adds Stamina, which is great for tanks, not so hot for DPS.
Skinning provides ~40 crit rating, which is not only lower than the
other ratings provided by other profs, but crit also seems to be weaker
than other stats (eg: haste, hit, etc.)
Tailors get the Lightweave Embroidery which offers a chance
for a big Spelpower boost.
Warlock Abilities & Leveling
Warlocks are all-around engines of destruction, each and every
tree open to us is specifically designed to improve our killing ability,
just in a variety of different manners. Additionally, each tree
presents an increase to either our survivability, mass killing abilities,
or PvP capabilities in its own manner, making them all viable choices
for any stage of the game.
Primarily I would say that affliction enhances killing speed in general PvE, that is to say grinding, leveling, dailies, etc. It focuses entirely on our DoT’s and allows you to drain tank monsters, basically ending fights with 100% life/mana.
Demonology enhances survivability without truly sacrificing
much DPS comparative to other builds while leveling. The differences
however for those fully fel-guard specced will become more apparent
once you hit 80-85 and start PvP or PvE raiding.
Finally destruction is the premier raiding spec for endgame
raiding, once you’ve achieved the required gear from medium-level
raid bosses you’ll find that it pulls away from affliction for
overall DPS. Destruction is a viable choice of
build for Arena/battlegrounds.
With the 4.0 patches Destruction is also a very viable leveling
At level 1 all Warlocks will get an Imp as their pet. At level 10
the Demonology spec will get the Felguard.
Considering all the multitude of grinds possible in this game, leveling
a warlock is comparatively relaxing. Likely you’ll never
find yourself feeling too slow, quests too hard, or really any distress
whatsoever considering how easy the process should be.
DoT’s take mobs down with a dual purpose of efficiency and effectiveness,
our direct damage spells scale quite well once you pick up some +shadow damage,
and of course we always have pets to make up for any given weakness within a fight.
But of course, like most classes the Warlock has more than a few styles of leveling,
and there’s always a way to maximize your XP per hour.
Learn to fight multiple mobs at the same time and do as many quests
as you can at the same time.
Look into the Dungeon Finder tool and sign up for the random dungeons.
Or, if you want to be more organized, look at our dungeon
leveling guide. All the dungeons come with quests that will help
maximize your XP and gear. With 4.0 the quest givers are actually
insides each dungeon, making it easy to pick up and return their quests.
At level 10 you become eligible to enter the battlegrounds. Battleground
PvP can provide some very fast XP, especially on the BG weekends and if
your team wins.
Questing still has plenty value. The stories are tighter since 4.0
and you'll gain rep with the various factions. You can do it on your
own time and don't have to deal with the occasionaly whiney
or irritating group. Leveling through questing is also much faster
since Bliz tightened everything up.
Affliction is the build I see most commonly
either with leveling warlocks or those who chose to run the arena route
having completed the leveling grind. It
presents an interesting and wildly powerful survivability strategy.
Additionally Affliction is the warlocks one true method of
mass grinding through any given area of mobs. This is accomplished
by utilizing either personal survivability or a healer and proceeding
to run through the target area, picking up as many mobs as possible
to hold at once and proceeding to drain tank while the healer keeps
End result if all goes well is a massive amount of XP and at the worst
a fifteen second mana/life break before commencing pulls again. Then
again once you've passed beyond the leveling side of things, and should
you choose the endgame raiding path, Affliction is still a highly viable
build throughout the earlier and mid-rank raiding spectrum, only being
noticeably surpassed by destruction far later once extreme gear is available.
Talents gained upon choosing the Affliction spec:
You're a master of shadowmagic and have an assortment of Fears, Drains,
and DoTs (Damage over Time spells.) Traditionally Drain Tanking has
been a feature of this specialization. You and your pet work in close
synergy to bring down the opposition.
Unstable Affliction - This is a DoT which, when dispelled,
damages and silences the dispeller
Shadow Mastery - increases shadow damage by 25%
Mastery: Potent Afflictions: (obtainable at level 80)
increases your periodic damage. Stacking Mastery Rating will
increase this effect.
Affliction Warlock Leveling
as Affliction is the recommended build above all others,
specifically for the reason that it becomes quite possible to attain
an infinite level of grinding without fear of downtime whatsoever,
a perk no other build, and few builds for any class, can begin to
Drain tanking is essentially the secret behind Affliction's
success, a strategy whereby you utilize Dark Pact in combination
with drain life and lifetap. Essentially
what you do isdark pact or life tap for
mana, and then proceed to drain life to recover any lost HP.
End result is that, whether you life tap or dark pact, you have
practically endless mana reserves as well as recharging your life bar continually
via drain life in each fight – Nothing works better for grinding
and this is the most efficient, effective method of leveling for warlocks.
Demonology is one of my original favorite talent tree specializations
and the reason I actually rolled warlock in the first place: demons. Demonology gives
you massive increases to all survivability, solo capabilities and,
with 4.0, an immensely capable pseudo-warrior pet at level 10.
Initially the imp gives you a nice additional DoT, and improving it
can be potentially useful at higher levels, and just not while within
the leveling process.
Regardless, one the initial talent of choice will be demonic
embrace which giving you a massive health increase
and dramatically increasing the viability of lifetap due to your
new life pool.
All in all the demonology tree is well rounded and very useful to
first-timers or those favoring the more demonic side of operations.
These are the Demonology specific abilities gained at level 10:
Summon Felguard - Summons a demonic warrior with a big axe.
Demonic Knowledge - 15% more Fire and Shadow damage
Mastery: Master Demonologist - Your pets, and you, while in demon
form, do more damage and this is increased by stacking more Mastery
Demonology Warlock Leveling
the second fastest leveling Warlock build and in many cases the easier
build, depending on your style of play. By speccing into this
talent tree you pick up large amounts of extra life, which helps an
extraordinary amount considering life
tap, as well as numerous
other survivability improvements.
by talenting up your summoned demons they
become somewhat more than either crowd control (succubus) or a
throw-away tank (voidwalker,) instead you can actually and effectively
utilize the voidwalker as a reasonable tank to around
level 30 or so should you desire, and switch off to the succubus
if you find yourself pulling aggro more often than not.
Previously (before WoW 4.0) upon reaching level 50 your Felguard would
take over the tanking duties making the occasion of you being injured,
much less killed, far rarer than ever before – Even
better, it deals amazing DPS, making Demonology a fair contender for
leveling against Affliction.
Now, as Demonology spec, you get this beastie at level 10 and your
Voidwalker can maybe go back to playing Solitaire, except that the
Void has more health and a better taunt.
For more on
the Demonology spec, including builds, PvP, and leveling, see our Demonology
spec page and check out our Warlock
leveling page for more leveling info. Also see our recommended 1-85 leveling
Destruction is the build of choice for both myself in PvP and endgame raiders for
consistent high DPS, it’s also a hell of a lot of fun when blasting away people
in Arena and BG’s with massive shadowbolt criticals or conflagrate.
Before the 4.0 patch leveling as Destruction lost some of its luster, mana efficiency
went down the drain early on and it was
highly recommended that you either use it in a team setting/instancing or simply
skip it entirely and go for affliction or demonology. After 4.0 mana is no longer
an issue and damge is rather good, making for a fast leveling experience.
Destruction Warlock Leveling
Warlock is indeed good at what it’s supposed to do: destroying
things in spectacular and often speedy fashion. But that’s not
what all leveling is about. Leveling is about efficient, consistent
killing, and this is where destruction used to fall
With the mana and damage changes in patch 4.0, assuming they stay anywhere
near the current levels, Destruction is now a very viable
leveling build, raining death on all manner of opposition.
Backup your teammates, especially the ones you might want to have helping you
If your teammate is carrying a flag so what you can to peel the defenders away from him, eg: fear, CofE, etc.
If it's your flag being carried do what you can to strip buffs and slow the carrier, allowing melee and casters to catch up.
Never stop moving or that Rogue (or feral druid) who's stalking you will try to gank you.
Arathi Basin - Kill the enemy and they have to run a lot
farther to get to your nearest base than that on the other side
of the map. So if you're Horde, Holding the Farm is better than the
Stables for that reason. You have a short run to get there, they
have a long one. Hold three bases and you will win. Always fight
at the flag, never in the middle/road.
Warsong Gulch - Protecting your flag carrier and killing the guy carrying your flag are far more important things to do than fighting random peeps in the mid-grounds.
Eye of the Storm - Forget the flag. Hold three bases and you win. Hold three and it doesn't matter how many flags the other side gets. Fight at the flags, not in the mid-grounds.
Altarac Valley - You need enough defense to break their assault and enough offense to break their defense. Burn their towers and try to hold or recap yours. Towers are more important than graveyards, but GYs close to the other base are important. They're crowding the entry to your area? Drop an infernal into the middle of their group.
Strand there is no point to fighting behind their group. If you're on Offense then fear their attackers away from your tanks. If on D then abondon your position when they pass you. Stay in front of them.
Use terrain to your advantage. If you can position yourself to cast spells whenre they can't easily see (or find) you then you're golden.
Get your PvP trinket from the Honor Gear vendor as soon as you can. Get the cheap one. The "break free" will save your hide more than once.
While hot gear is nice skill counts for more. Skill will also get you into good gear faster. So practice your skills.
Set up hot-keys for your most used abilities and macros for those abilities that might require several commands, such as the DoT caster above.
Keep alert at all times. Be aware of your teammates and what they're doing. Help them whenever you can.
If you're really serious about PvP then practice seriously and treat yourself yourself to a full blown PvP guide. You'll get far more in-depth detail on how to kill any class, win any BG, and learn to get some pretty good arena ranking. Do it now and get a big edge over the other guy.
With the 4.0 patch the numbers of interest have been adjusted. In
order of importance, for raiding:
Hit rating above all else until you hit the 17% rating cap.
Int is a close second as it now provides Spellpower, as well as some
crit and, of course, manapool.
Mastery - Yeah, it's not so hot.
Crit - not hot right now.
Spirit is useless with 4.0
Strength, and Agility are useless.
Stamina has definite value in PvP, as does...
Resilience - decreases player damage by an amount depending on the
current state of Res. buffage. Lots of Resilience is nice when looking
at Rogue Ambushes.
Warlock Level 85 Gear
the iLevel 365 PvP gear, Vicious Gladiator, purchased with Conquest
points (from arena or rated BG).
Here is the iLevel 352 PvP gear, Bloodthirsty Gladiator, purchased
with Honor points.
Your tailoring (525) skill can create the iLevel 339 PvP gear (and
you can also buy these items off the Auction House if you have
Your main gem will be the Brilliant Inferno Ruby, with its +40 Int.
You should place this gem into sockets of any color, unless the socket
bonus is at least 20 Int (since you lose at least 20 Int by not placing
this gem in that socket.)
This gear list is for level 70 raiding, and is for the player looking
to get into karazhan raiding or similar level dungeons, EX: Gruul,
Magtheridon, etc. This is is for the players who want to try raiding
at that level or who have not upgraded to Wrath of the Lich King.
Some of the gear may become unavailable when Cataclysm launches,
but similar gear should be available.
Leveling with a 'lock can be easy, fun, and fast, but there's
still a bazillion quests to do and mobs to kill. If your friends
are already high level, or if your guild needs a Warlock, or you
just want to get into that juicy endgame raiding and/or PvP, then
a full blown Warlock leveling guide is just what you need
to get yourself to 85as quickly as possible.
Guide is our guide of choice. Just pick your starting
point and the guide shows you where to go as well as what
Zygor's automatically updates and advances as you complete quests,
sets a waypoint arrow automatically, and includes all the important
quest info. You will probably never need to look at your quest
log again, much less browse Thottbot or WoWhead for quest info.
You'll also level faster than you ever have before.
While Zygor's Guide is a questing guide, oriented towards the
solo player, it's smart enough to realize that you might be doing
some of your leveling in the dungeons or the Battlegrounds. Come
back to your quests and ZYgor's will detect your new level, advance
forward to the appropriate quests, and help get rid of obsolete
quests. You don't even have to start at level 1.
Not only that, but what if you want to play around with different
specs? Zygor's comes with a nifty talent advisor which coveres
all specs of all classes.
Zygor's is fully Cataclysm ready and is always quickly updated
for whatever the new patch is. Get your copy now and get to 85
ASAP. Grab it here.