In the face of demonic power, most heroes see death. Warlocks see only opportunity. Dominance is their aim, and they have found a path to it in the dark arts.
These voracious spellcasters summon demonic minions to fight beside them. At first, they command only the service of imps, but as a warlock’s knowledge grows, seductive succubi, loyal voidwalkers, and horrific felhunters join the dark sorcerer’s ranks to wreak havoc on anyone who stands in their master’s way. (source)
This page is a general overview of the Warlock class and does not go into any depth. For that, check the links under “other Warlock guides,” just below.
Warlock Class Guide
Other Warlock Guides
Warlocks are World of Warcraft’s 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 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 play-style gained whenever alternating talent specializations, demonology, affliction, destruction – neither is similar to the other, and that’s refreshing.
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 player’s day.
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 even raiding, making it an easy class to enjoy as you have no fear of picking the ‘wrong’ path for a given pursuit in game.
The Warlock Talents and Abilities
Warlocks are all-around engines of destruction, each and every of our specializations (specs) is specifically designed to improve our killing ability, just in a variety of different manners.
Additionally, each one 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.
Abilities by Specialization (Spec)
Affliction Warlocks are the masters of drains and DOTs (Damage Over Time spells.) The Affliction Warlock can use Drain Tanking to great effect. Set the pet to round up targets, DOT ’em up, use the drains to stay healthy, rinse and repeat. You can use the same abilities to great effect in both PvE and PvP.
Demonology gives you massive increases to all survivability and solo capabilities. Things just get better as you level. Demonology is, in many cases, the easier leveling build, depending on your style of play. By speccing into Demonology you will be doing lots of damage and have lots of survivability and a pet to take any additional pressure.
Destruction is great for endgame raiders due to consistently high DPS, it’s also a lot of fun when blasting away people in BG’s with conflagrate or massive shadowbolt criticals. Destruction is also a very viable leveling build, raining death on all manner of opposition.
You can change your specialization any time you are out of combat. Start as Demonology, for example, then do the next thing as Destruction, do a Battle Ground as Affliction, etc.
You can change the actual talent picks any time you are in a “rested XP area.” That’s basically either the big city or an inn.
Which talents you pick depend on what you want to do.
As for our recommended builds, rotations, specific spec abilities, etc, drop down to any one of these pages for details:
- Warlock Leveling – here’s what you need to know.
- Affliction Warlock PvP
- Affliction Warlock for PvE
- Demonology Warlock PvE guide
- Demonology PvP
- Destruction Warlock DPS guide
- Destruction Warlock PvP
Abilities Shared by all Warlocks
All Warlocks share a set of abilities and those are listed here, on the Warlock Leveling page. Abilities particular to each specialization (spec) are also on that page.
Links to end-game talents are above.
The suggested leveling talents for each spec, including PvP talents (if you like to level with War Mode on, are also on the leveling page. As are the variety of demons to take your soul…er…um… fight the enemy. The demon list.
Want more on Warlock leveling? You can find leveling tips here and a guide that will get you leveled much faster, below.
See the individual spec pages for exact stats and how they apply to the different specializations, this section is just a general overview. Note that your demons get the benefit of any stat boosts you have.
- Int is #1 over all else.
- If you’re leveling then the item level of a new pieces of gear is more important than the stats, if that pieces has Int. (A trinket might not, for example.)
Shadowlands has introduced a “diminishing returns” system for your secondary stats (Haste, etc.) Basically that means that the higher your level of the stats, the less value you get from them. For example:
- Up to 30% of a stat and you get the full value
- 31-40% and you get, for example, 90% of the value.
- 41-50% might be 75% of the value. So +10% would really only be +6%.
- 50 – Cap might be 50% of the value.
- There is a cap. If you are able to hit a certain number in that stat, then anything past that number has zero value to you. At one point that was 126% and is probably different now.
Warlords of Draenor killed off Hit and Expertise across the board. Since then Resilience and PvP Power are dead, too. Various other stats have also gone away. Attuned Stats were around briefly, then died. Souls sucked out.
Versatility, Speed, Avoidance, Leech, Indestructible, and gem sockets are your remaining “extra” stats.
- Intelligence is your #1 stat and will be on all of your gear. It boosts any damage or healing that you do, more than either Mastery or Versatility.
- Mastery appears at level 80 and is generally the best stat (other than Int) for any flavor of Warlock as it increases the damage of important spells.
- Crit lets a strike hit for 100% more damage (50% more in PvP.)
- Haste speeds up your casting times, lowers cooldowns, etc. Decent stat, but the others are usually of more use.
- Versatility is a straight up % add to any damage or healing you do. It also, at half value, adds to your damage reduction. You can see how it might be more valuable for PvP than other areas of the game.
Warlocks in PvP
Yes, Warlocks can be very effective in Battleground, Arena, or world PvP, as long as they stay aware of their strengths and certain limitations, eg: cloth armor.
See our individual spec pages for Warlock PvP builds, rotations, etc.
- Affliction, Demonology, Destruction
- More Warlock PvP tips can be found on the ‘lock PvP page.
- Always protect your healers
- 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 end 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 where 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 consider working with people who are better than you. 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.
Leveling Tips for Your Warlock
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. About the only concern will be “where to go next?”
Also, see our Warlock leveling guide and these ten tips.
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. You should be pretty fast and efficient with your spells, and work well with groups, if you’re going to do that. All the dungeons come with quests that will help maximize your XP and gear.
- At level 10 you become eligible to enter the battlegrounds. Battleground PvP can provide some very fast XP, especially on the BG weekends if your team wins.
- Questing still has plenty of value and is as fast as dungeon leveling. You can do it on your own time and don’t have to deal with the occasional whiny or irritating group.
- Note that grinding (just burning down endless mobs without a quest) is much slower than questing. It’s only value is as practice or because the mobs drop something useful, like that cloth your tailoring skill wants.
- Make sure you have the largest bags you can afford and that you keep stuff that you aren’t using in the bank or mail it to an Alt.
- Always log out in an Inn or a bi city for the rest XP bonus.
Some of the professions, eg: Engineering, have really useful items for leveling and world events. They’re not usable in raids, however (sigh.. no firing rockets at the boss…)
Get Tailoring if you want to make your own gear, Herbalism and Mining if you are leveling (for the XP.) Skinning is good for gold, but provides no XP.
|Blacksmithing||Mail and Plate armor and weapons. Keys for opening locks.|
|Engineering||will let you create a number of useful items, such as rockets, shields, a stealth device, etc. These cannot be used in rated PvP, but that can be used elsewhere, such as World PvP or in Highmaul Coliseum.|
|Jewelcrafting||Useful rings and neck items, pretty gems, gemmed mounts.|
|Inscription||Glyphs, some trinkets, caster weapons, fortune & Darkmoon cards, and more.|
|Alchemy||Chemistry is fun, unfortunately you can’t make acids or bombs. You can make flasks and potions to boost stats and cause other interesting effects. You can also make a very nice DPS trinket.|
|Enchanting||Enchant all those items and you can cast illusionary enchants. These are basically transmogs for your current enchant. Want your current enchant to look like an older one? Then this is for you.|
|Tailoring||Cloth armor, bandages for 1st aid, flying carpet, murlock chew toy and allows you to make nets (Embersilk Net) and battle standards (such as: Fearsome Battle Standard)|
|Leatherworking||Leather armor. You can also make Drums of Fury for a Heroism type buff (25% Haste for 40 sec.)|
|Archeology||will let you pick up the occasional interesting items, which are bind on account. Also lets you add to the lore of the game.|
|Skinning||For gold gathering and for leatherworking|
|Herbalism||Earns XP. For Inscription, Alchemy, and gold gathering.|
|Mining||Earns XP. Making gold and powering Blacksmithing and some engineering.|
Faster Warlock Leveling,
all the way to the Level Cap.
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 Warlock leveling guide is just what you need to get yourself to the level cap as quickly as possible.
Zygor’s Guide is our guide of choice. It will note your level, what you have done, and get you moving from wherever you are. Showing you where to go as well as what to do.
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 some website 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.
Whether you’re brand new to the game or an old hand decked head to toe in heirlooms, Zygor has your back. Not only that, but what if you want to play around with different specs? Zygor’s comes with a nifty talent advisor which covers all specs of all classes.
Zygor’s is always quickly updated for all expansions and patches. Get your copy now and get to the level cap ASAP.
Like this page? How about recommending it?
- Warlock Leveling, go here to get leveled faster
- Affliction PvP, Affliction PvE
- Demonology PvE, Demonology PvP
- Destruction PvE, Destruction PvP
I was hoping to see a recommended spell rotation for the various specs since 3/4 of the spells I used to rely on are gone now.
You have to drill down to the spec pages for rotations, they’re all there. Affliction, Demonology, and Destruction.
Not to seem rude but,in the spec guide part, you seemed biased on Destro, they did simulation crafting on noxxic and found that actually the order of highest dps is,
Affliction 105054K Full Tier 14 gear + gems and enchants, and full raid buffs
Demonology 99113K Full Tier 14 gear + gems and enchants, and full raid buffs
Destruction 91697K Full Tier 14 gear + gems and enchants, and full raid buffs
Not sure where you found a Destro bias there, the page is intended to be a Warlock overview and we try to avoid the “flavor of the minute” discussions. They will will probably change after the next hotfix/patch anyway. The Sim info is good to know, however. Thanks :).
Keep in mind that Sims play with an “all things are equal” system, and sometimes they aren’t, but a 15% lead over Destro probably more than covers that. If you want to play with the sims yourself you can go the Simcraft page and download your own tool to work with.
Thanks for guide. Please consider, in your Gem Chart, posting optimal gems for non-PVP types like myself. Oddly, this was not an issue in the Enchantment chart.
Uh, all of those gems are there. I’ll re-word things a bit.
Head enchants have been removed from the game so Arcanum of Hyjal, for example, is unavailable.
True. I simply haven’t updated that page to reflect that fact. I will, now. Also, all shoulder enchants are covered by the Inscription profession.