Kainnee's Warlock guide

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Kainnee
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Kainnee's Warlock guide

Postby Kainnee » Thu May 07, 2015 5:40 pm

Hey there

I've written a small Warlock guide for the DO forums and since the warlock section here is so empty I've done a quick copy&paste from there.
I don't claim to be 100% accurate and I often prefer actual game experience over raw theorycrafting. However, there will be some theory in this guide too. If you've got anything to add or to contradict feel free to do so. Since I'm no native english speaker there may be some errors here and there, I beg pardon for that.

1. Role in PvE
2. Specs
3. Stats
4. Pre-raid gear
5. Consumables
6. Other

1. Role in PvE

The Warlock is primarily a damage dealer with a couple of supporting functions. A Warlock basically boosts raid dps across the board, casting debuffs for other Warlocks and Shadowpriests (CoS, imp. SB), Mages (CotE) and physical dd's (CoR). Warlocks also bring a wipe protection (SS) and boost the stamina of group members via their Imp (BP). They provide basic cc measures (Fear, HoT, Banish, Seduction) and supply the raid with Healthstones.

There are two possible ways of setting up Warlocks in a raid roster:
2-3 Warlocks and no Shadowpriest: Minimum amount of Warlocks that should be in a 40 man raid. 2 Warlocks are enough to provide CotE for Mages, CoR for physical dd's, BP and HS's for tanks and SS's for wipe protection. A third Warlock can debuff CoS and makes HS trading a bit easier. This is a progress setup for AQ40/Naxx.
4-5 Warlocks and a Shadowpriest: Especially in early raiding (MC, BWL) Warlocks can deal massive dps and coupled with a Shadowpriest are often able to top the damage charts. More Warlocks also means more HS's to trade and SS's to use in combat.

2. Specs

There are many ways to spec a Warlock. All the below builds are tested by me. Every build has it's pro and cons and you should feel free to spend points differently than I did. Currently I'm sticking to DS/ruin for personal reasons, NOT because it's the best build available.


This is the go-to cookie cutter build for a Warlock. It features a high damage output both in PvE and PvP and solid solo farming capabilities. It provides an Imp for the tanks, high DoT damage for multiple targets and good direct damage on bosses.


A spec usually used by horde Warlocks because of the improved aggro handling via MD and Imp. A MD/ruin Warlock can decide to either use his Imp for the imp. BP and 20% aggro reduction or to sacrifice his Succubus for an additional 15% Shadow damage.


Similar to MD/ruin, only that this spec sacrifices the ability to use Imp+MD for PvE and Succubus+MD for PvP for better dps in PvE (imp. Corruption, imp. LT).


Often considered a PvP build it doesn't do too bad in PvE either, especially in AQ40/Naxx, where mobs don't have fire immunity and Mages use imp. Scorch. It features high burst damage and improves direct damage casts with a short cast time (SP and Immolate). As a plus it brings an improved Imp without downsides.


Similar to Full Desctrution, it only sacrifices a bit of SP crit and Demonology survivability for even more damage. Along with SM/ruin THE glass cannon build for a Warlock.


The best farming build. It combines SM and DS for a massive +25% Shadowdmg. It has all the Affliction and Demonology utility but lacks direct damage talents. It's great for farming and for PvE encounters where you can deal most of your damage with DoTs.


While SM/ruin is a PvE build that can also be used for PvP, SL/Sburn is a PvP build that can also be used for PvE. It features SL, MD and improved Demons for maximum survivability and Shadow Burn for additional burst damage. Upon reaching the twin emperors in AQ40, one Warlock should spec this build to make the fight easier until the encounter is on farm status.


The beast spec for PvP. SL, MD and DL make killing this Warlock extremely difficult and NF provides the lock with the much needed burst damage, although it's a bit RNG. Counting gear, talents and life drained this Warlock can take far more than 10k damage punishment and still live. It is the worst imaginable spec for PvE though.

3. Stats

There are many different opinions on stats and it's the main source for theorycrafting. I try to combine personal experience with objective theorycrafting. So let's take a look at stats:

Strength: No caster stat, it does virtually nothing for us.

Agility: A bit of dodge and armor, that's it. You can think about enchanting agility on your gloves until we get the AQ enchant, but imo it's not really worth it.

Spirit: Basically worthless for a Warlock, as we usually don't pause casting to get the 5 second rule to work and have no means to enable Spirit mana regeneration while casting.

Intellect: One point of Intellect gives 15 MP and 60,6 Intellect = 1% crit. Since our Manapool doesn't matter that much because of LT and the damage increase is negligible, Intellect should be considered a secondary stat. Take it where you get it, but don't sacrifice too much for it. Rule of thumb: 4-5 Intellect = 1 spelldmg.

Stamina: There are different views about Stamina out there. Some say you shouldn't ever prioritise stamina over stats which provide additional damage. In my opinion that's bullshit. A Warlock's lifebar is his mana and you want a healthy buffer when using LT. A big HP pool also reduces overheal and makes fights safer, especially since Warlocks have little other means of damage absorption than their HP pool. I prioritise Stamina up to ~4k HP unbuffed (including +15% from DE) and keep stating it up until ~4,5k HP. From there I neglect it and try to maximise my damage. Fully buffed I can have over 7k HP.

MP/5 & HP/5: Take it where you get it but don't care too much about it.

+Spell damage: Your most important stat and base for every damage calculation. If you weight one item against another you should try to convert all the itemstats into raw spell damage. For a cast to receive the full benefit of spell damage (increases damage by up to) it has to have an umodified cast time of 3,5 seconds. For example your Shadow Bolt receives 86% of your spell damage value (3/3,5) while Searing Pain only gets 43% (1,5/3,5). Instant casts are considered 1,5 second casts (one gCD). DoTs receive 100% from spelldamage if they have at least 18 seconds duration. Immolate receives 85% from spelldamage, split on the direct damage part and the DoT.

+Shadow damage: With the exception of a full destrution lock most of your damage is shadow damage. Since shadow damage is cheaper than spell damage in itemstats, you usually want to go for items with +shadow damage instead of +spell damage.

+crit: Only makes sense if you've specced Ruin and imp.SB. If you're interested in more theorycrafting I can recommend the addon Theorycraft. As a rule of thumb 1% crit = 10-15 spelldmg at this point, depending on the spelldmg you already have and your spell rotation. In a best case scenario the scaling can go as far as 20-22 spelldmg. Due to imp. SB +crit scales better with +spelldmg than +hit on direct damage.

+hit: Your base chance to hit with spells is determined by your level versus the level of the target. The hitcap for casters is 99%, you'll always have a 1% chance to miss. For a lvl 60 character the chance to hit is as follows:
96% vs. 60
95% vs. 61
94% vs. 62
83% vs. 63/bosses
This means you'll need 16% hit to cap out against bosses and 3-5% hit to cap out versus most trash. Hitcap in PvP is 3%. There are two different theories about how hit and crit are calculated. The One Roll theory says that there is only one roll for crit, hit and miss. With 10% crit and 0% hit against a lvl 63 target you would have a roll of 1-10 crit, 11-83 hit, 84-100 miss. With 10% crit and 5% hit against a lvl 63 target it would be 1-10 crit, 11-88 hit, 89-100 miss. The Two Roll theory says that you have to land a hit in order to crit as both are on seperate dice rolls. Your total critrate would only be applied to a spell that has hit in the first place. +hit would therefore increase your total crit by a little. It was never revealed which system is in place or was in place in retail vanilla and I'm not sure what system the mangos emulator uses. As a rule of thumb you can count 1% hit = 1% crit, prefering hit in a draw scenario until 5% hit (cap for lvl 62 mobs) and crit from there on. But keep in mind that this is also situational: Crit doesn't affect non-direct damage spells and hit is quickly capped out against lvl 60-62 targets while it's basically impossible to cap out crit. Targets you use DoTs against are usually only lvl 60-62 (adds) as the boss (main target) won't have many free debuff slots, which means that most of your damage against the targets where hit is hard to cap out is direct damage and can crit (this is the reason why I didn't bother to spec Suppression). Both hit and crit do nothing for your LT, unlike spell/shadow damage. It is noteworthy that hit is cheaper on the itembudget than crit, meaning that items with +hit on them have more other stats than items with +crit, assuming the same itemlvl.
TL:DR: Hit = Crit = ~10-15 spell damage.

Spell Penetration: Doesn't play a big role so far. CotE and CoS take most of the targets resistance away and all boss mobs have base resistances that can't be lowered. Spell Penetration becomes interesting in late AQ and Naxx, where some mobs have higher resistances.

4. Pre-raid gear

Since I got asked by several people about pre-raid BiS lists now, I've decided to add one to this guide. This list will include everything you can get by yourself without the help of a raid, either with a 5/10 man group or by buying stuff from the AH. Excluded are profession-only items and PvP rewards. I list the items in descending order, but if you already got any of these items for the slot you are good to go and don't have to upgrade that slot to have a good time raiding. If you think I forgot an item, feel free to post a comment.

Head: 1. , 2. , 3. (the D2 chain isn't really worth it for Warlocks so I wouldn't recommend to get this)
Neck: 1. , 2. , 3. Any of these will do, they have about the same dmg-value for a pre-raid Warlock.
Shoulders: 1., 2. , 3. , 4. Green shoulders with at least 27 shadow dmg.
Back: 1. (BoE drop in Winterspring, will be expensive on the AH), 2. , 3. (reward from one of the Hinterlands Elite quests, can easily be done solo at 60; if you got this, you are good for raiding)
Chest: 1. (well worth it; if you are a tailor you won't replace this until naxx/AQ) 2. (a bit cheaper but you'll replace this sooner; worth it if you get this at lvl 52 for leveling) 3.
Wrist: 1. (get these, you won't ever replace them) 2. , 3. , 4.
Hands: 1. , 2.
Waist: 1. , 2. , 3.
Legs: 1. , 2. , 3.
Feet: 1. , 2. , 3.
Ring 1: 1. , 2. 3.
Ring 2: 1. , 2. , 3.
Trinket 1: 1.
Trinket 2: 1. , 2. , 3.
Twohand/staff: 1. , 2. , 3. , 4.
Onehand: 1. (not worth it imho), 2. , 3. , 4.
Offhand: 1. , 2. , 3.
Ranged: 1. , 2. , 3.

5. Consumables

Consumables play an important role in vanilla WoW. Here's what you should bring to raids (I don't include unique buffs, as they are a bit unhandy to farm:

Standard consumables for every raid:

Bufffood, for example , , : Cheap, easy to make, gives good boni.
: You should carry a few of those for situations where extra dps are required. Unlike Life Tap they don't cause a gCD and no healer has to fill you up after using them.
: Carry a few of those as well, sometimes you need quick HP more than MP.
: These things are awesome. They basically are a Major Healing Potion coupled with a Major Mana Potion. Perfect for those Life Taps. Get as many of those as you can. They aren't THAT expensive to make - one could say that Major Mana Potions are more expensive - and more than awesome for Warlocks. I have the recipe and will craft them for free for raidmembers.
: These are awesome. They make you immune to physical attacks for 6 seconds, dropping aggro for that time. Lifesavers.
, , , and : Stock up a few of those for encounters with lots of magic AoE damage (Ragnaros, Kazzak, Onyxia, Vaelastrasz, AQ and Naxx bosses).

Advanced consumables for every raid:

: Increases Stamina by 15, stacks with everything. Requires fishing. Can best be fished from Floating Wreckages.
: Cheap, some HP/5 to go along with our Demon Armor and maybe some items (T2 and Sash of Whispered Secrets).
: Another cheap Elixir, increases HP by 120 which stacks with everything else and isn't increased by BoK and DE.
: A bit more expensive but worth it. Increases your dmg by 35 for 1h, that's more than some BiS items currently give you.
: More MP/5 means less LTs.
: Unless you're using the more expensive Brilliant Wizard Oil you should have Wizard Oil applied to your weapon at all times for up to 24 additional spell damage.

Progression consumables:

: A massive 150 spelldmg increase. Especially useful for progress encounters where wipes are to be expected, as it lasts 2h and persists through death.
: 36 damage and 1% crit are well worth the costs for these. Persist through death.
: Increases your shadow dmg by 40, even better than Greater Arcane Elixir. If you're not a herbalist and short on gold save these for progression encounters when they really count.
: Replace Mighty Troll's Blood Potion with these.

5. Other

Spell rotation: There isn't much to say about spell rotation. Nuke the main target with Shadow Bolts and put up DoTs as often as you can on targets that aren't filled up with debuffs and live long enough to let the DoT deal at least 75% damage. Make sure that your assigned curse is always up on the current focus target.

Life Tap: Strangely as it sounds, life tapping is an art and smart tapping can add quite a bit to your dps. On encounters where you don't have to move a lot and that take longer than it takes you to empty your mana pool, life tap as soon as you can without mana getting wasted. That's usually after your curse, possibly Corruption and 3-4 Shadow Bolts. On threat sensitive encounters you can downrank your lifetap to rank 3 or 4 and use it once to fill up mana after you've set curse and DoT, giving the tank 1,5 more seconds until the first Shadow Bolt hits. If your HP look good and you have to move for whatever reason (run out of AoE, reposition, outrange a fear etc.) and can't cast a DoT on a target, life tap instead. Don't waste the few seconds running around, doing nothing.

Healthstones: Healthstones are not on the potion CD but on the utility CD, meaning that you can use both. However they share a CD with Demonic/Dark Runes, Felwood Food, Mana Gems and Thistle Tea. One important thing is that you can carry multiple Healthstones if they have a different rank (Major and Greater Healthstones) or are improved via talents. This means that you can effectively carry up to 6 Healthstones with you (1 0/2 Major HS 1 1/2 Major HS, 1 2/2 Major HS, 1 0/2 Greater HS, 1 1/2 Greater HS and 1 2/2 Greater HS).

Enchants: Enchant your gear! For easy access to enchanting materials level a bankalt to lvl 5, learn enchanting and disenchant all BoE items you find. My prefered enchants are:
Head: Hoodoo Hex (+10 Stamina/18 spell damage, ZG enchant)
Shoulder: Zandalar Signet of Mojo (+18 spell damage, ZG enchant)
Back: Greater Resistance (+5 all resistances), later Subtlety (-2% threat, AQ)
Chest: Major Health (+100 HP)
Wrist: Superior Stamina (+9 Stamina)
Hands: Shadow Power (+20 Shadow damage, AQ)
Legs: Hoodoo Hex (+10 Stamina/18 spell damage, ZG enchant)
Feet: Greater Stamina (+7 Stamina) up till 4,5k HP, Minor Speed if above 4,5k HP
Weapon: Spell Power (+30 spell damage)

Addons: Bongos Action Bars, Buffalo, DoTimer, eCastingBar, KTM, Prat, Recap, SCT, SW_stats, TheoryCraft, Titan + plugins, xPerl. Try them out and keep what you like. I use a lot more addons, but those are the basic ones.

Hope I was able to help a few people, thanks for reading.

Regards,
Kainnee
Last edited by Kainnee on Fri Oct 21, 2016 5:18 am, edited 9 times in total.
aka Zerkee on Horde.
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Chalupabatmn
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Re: Kainnee's Warlock guide

Postby Chalupabatmn » Fri May 08, 2015 3:28 am

Progression consumables? More like every raid consumables..
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Kainnee
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Re: Kainnee's Warlock guide

Postby Kainnee » Fri May 08, 2015 9:12 am

aka Zerkee on Horde.
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Chalupabatmn
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Re: Kainnee's Warlock guide

Postby Chalupabatmn » Mon May 11, 2015 3:29 am

Fuck that... That's why I bring Invuln Potions with.
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Enthrall
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Re: Kainnee's Warlock guide

Postby Enthrall » Mon May 11, 2015 11:40 pm

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Kainnee
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Re: Kainnee's Warlock guide

Postby Kainnee » Tue May 12, 2015 10:56 am

aka Zerkee on Horde.
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Kainnee
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Re: Kainnee's Warlock guide

Postby Kainnee » Wed May 04, 2016 12:19 pm

Updated with a pre-raid BiS list.
aka Zerkee on Horde.
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Devilicious
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Re: Kainnee's Warlock guide

Postby Devilicious » Thu May 05, 2016 3:41 pm

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Re: Kainnee's Warlock guide

Postby ALlastair » Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:34 pm

Nice guide, thanks for putting it together!

I think on the Pre-raid BiS list, as a solid option for helmet, we have Bloodvine Goggles (+2 Hit, +1 crit, +9 MP5). They require Engineering 300 to be used, but I think it is worth mentioning as they contribute greatly for the hit cap. I've been trying to get Drakk's Turban forever, it never drops, so I crafted those for myself and I am rolling with them. You lose some Spell Power as they don't give any, but the extra crit and hit make up for it nicely.
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Re: Kainnee's Warlock guide

Postby Jimjam » Mon Jul 25, 2016 4:11 pm


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