Warlock talent builds are many and varied. Each tree is worth spec'ing up to 41 points in, and many Destruction builds invest more than 41 points in their primary tree.
Regardless of which path a player eventually chooses, it is sure to be littered with many tough choices.
To play around with the build talents and maximize DPS for raids and instances, be sure to check out this Warlock DPS Calculator
- See also
Leveling to 60
Before level 60, one must consider whether or not a full-Demonology build is viable, since level 50 is the earliest one can obtain a Felguard. With the availability of respeccing, a warlock might consider taking a hybrid destruction/affliction build with access to Shadowburn and instant-cast Corruption, both of which provide more immediate benefits. Full Demonology builds only start to show comparable benefits around level 40. Around level 50, then, the warlock can respec to receive their Felguard. Demonology builds are used more for survival, and do not have the capability of killing mass amounts of things without drinking water or eating food.
However, a warlock that goes down the affliction talent tree can use an imp(on passive) and drain life to keep at full life, then at the end of the battle gain all mana back with dark pact leaving little to no down time.
Summed up you can say that an affliction build is clearly the way to go when leveling. Demonology genereally deals much less damage while destruction is even worse due to many downtimes. All you need to use affliction to its full extend is some pratice with your DoT spells and Fear/Howl of Terror. You can pull several mobs at once, use some DoTs on them and fear them away. After that just use Drain Life to fill up your hitpoints which you can then convert back into mana.
The DoTs Curse of Agony and Corruption are some of the most mana-effective spells available for the Warlock. That is, the amount of damage per mana is higher compared to Direct Damage spells like Shadow Bolt. The Affliction talent tree can improve on these even more.
There are problems using DoTs in parties and raids. There is a risk that the mob is killed before the completion of a DoT. This is especially bad for Curse of Agony, that causes more of its damage near the end of its duration. If this happens, then mana and time will be wasted.
Unstable Affliction/Shadowburn 45/5/11
This build goes to the end of the affliction tree to get another DoT (Unstable Affliction) which does a large amount of instant damage if dispelled and silences the dispeller. It also has 11 points in Destruction to get Shadowburn and 5 points in Demonology for Demonic Embrace.
- 2 points in Suppression gives a 99% chance of hitting an equal level character, which is the most possible. Points from Shadow Embrace or Empowered Corruption may be moved here if combating higher level mobs/players.
- 1 point in Shadow Embrace improves Soul Siphon bonus draining and acts as a debuff that may be dispelled (dispel effects are chosen randomly) instead of one of your more valuable debuffs.
- Improved Howl of Terror, Contagion, and Unstable Affliction at the end of the tree make this build much more suitable for PvP.
- Shadowburn and a faster Shadow Bolt give the build an extra punch.
- You may want to change this build to 43/7/11 and get the improved Healthstone which is a real bonus in instances, battlegrounds and especially in arena battles.
Contagion/Demonic Sacrifice (SM/DS with Contagion) 40/21/0
This build mainly leaves out Unstable Affliction to get Demonic Sacrifice. It combines heavy DoT damage with the main benefits from the Demonology tree, including DS, which offers a lot of flexibility. In general, sacrificing the Succubus for extra damage or the Voidwalker for extra health regeneration is preferred.
The major downsides of this build are the losses of the minion and of two Affliction ultimates, namely Dark Pact and Unstable Affliction. Whereas the former spell can be partly replaced by a sacrificed Felhunter or Voidwalker (at the cost of another sacrifice), the latter has no viable substitution (neither as an additional DoT nor as a powerful weapon against dispelling classes).
Dark Pact/Ruin (SM/Ruin with DP) 40/0/21
This build enhances the SM/Ruin-build with Affliction talents, mainly to improve Shadow Bolt's damage potential and DoTs.
Dark Pact/Emberstorm (Natural Evolution of SM/Ruin) 31/0/30
This SM/Ruin-build focuses on the Destruction tree to give the Warlock more flexibility with the two schools.
This build combines mana-efficiency with DPS. Improved Curse of Weakness, Improved Curse of Agony, and Malediction were all taken so any of the curses you are in charge of are all more effective. Improved Drain Soul was taken for the threat reduction effect. Improved Imp was taken for the 30% increase to Blood Pact.
Felguard Leveling Build (7/41/11)
This spec is focused on three things:
- Low to Zero Downtime
- High DPS
The general strategy is to send the Felguard in, and while you have mana, Shadowbolt or Immolate. Once you are out of mana, Life Tap to full and Drain Life. Grinding mobs becomes a cycle of fast kills followed by much slower kills.
Corruption and CoA are generally avoided when soloing with this build because a lot of the DoT ticks will never have a chance to hit the already dead mobs. If you find that you're wasting mana with Corruption, you may want to put the first 5 points in the Affliction tree towards Suppression instead.
Demonic Tactics / Ruin (MD/Ruin with DT) (0/40/21)
This spec would provide the basic beneficial survivability and stat boosting abilities from demonology, while getting bonus crit damage from destruction.
The ideas behind this talent specification are:
- The Demonology talents give a lot of +dmg, especially with a summoned pet. It is not unknown to use an Imp on passive which will lessen threat, but a Succubus will add additional 10% damage instead (matching Shadow Mastery in the Affliction tree), as well as acting like a DoT.
- Demonic sacrifice can be used for cases where there is no use of a pet (especially some boss fights and fights with AoE problems).
- Soul Link is as always nice to have in PvP, but also because of the additional 5% +dmg.
- The main damage in this build is based on only doing CoA (in case the mob lives long enough), and then spamming Shadow Bolts. This will take good advantage of the improvements in the Destruction tree.
- While +crit is of less interest for affliction builds, this build will benefit highly from it.
- An alternative build is to spend 5 points on improving the Succubus (Improved Succubus and Improved Lash of Pain) instead of 5% increased crit chance (Demonic Tactics). While this will lessen the Shadowbolts a little, it will allow for a more deadly Succubus with improved seduction. Can be quite useful in many instances.
- Talents in healthstones are benefitial for raids, as a player can hold up to 3 of the varying amount they heal (2080/2288/2496) for the different amount of talents you put in it (0/1/2). Very useful if other warlocks in your guild are lacking talents in this.
Some points of interest with this basic talent specification:
- It may be a good idea to set 2 talent points on Improved Health Funnel instead of Improved Healthstone. Especially for solo grinding where you will Health Funnel a lot, but only use the Healthstone sometimes.
These builds are for demonology/affliction based PvE leveling and soloing. The combination of a buffed pet and Improved Drain Soul greatly reduces the chance to pull aggro from your minion. Drain Life becomes viable for damage and health/mana regen at lvl 30, and using your minion as a strong tank leaves plenty of life left to tap. Lay down DoTs, Drain Life or Shadow Bolt spam (mana efficiency vs. DPS) till mob is almost dead, then Drain Soul (rank 1) at last second for 15% mana regen. Life Tap between fights. This maintains mana with high survivability and good DPS. As a bonus, you will have plenty of souls and enough mana for the occasional shadow bolt spam.
A re-spec is recommended while leveling because Voidwalker and Felguard benefit from a few different talents. Since the demonology tree is very defense-heavy until the upper tiers (soul link, demonic knowledge, master demonologist), affliction talents are used before the Felguard becomes available.
Start with Improved Corruption and Improved Drain Soul. Second, fill demonology down to Improved Voidwalker. Finally, increase your DPS with the affliction tree until you reach level 50-55, when you can re-spec to the Felguard based build. This will noticeably increase your DPS, while building up your mana/life regen on the road to 70.
SL/SL (Soul Link and Siphon Life) (21+/31+/0)
This build combines the survivability provided by the Demonology tree and the health regaining abilities from the Affliction tree. It particularly shines in solo and small-scale PvP, where it normally allows to "tank" enemies by constantly draining their life.
The negative aspects are its susceptibility to dispel effects and the relatively low damage output, compared to pure damage builds.
- The point in Shadow Embrace is important, as it serves as a dispel protection for DoTs. (As of patch 2.3.2 Shadow embrace no longer counts as an affliction effect for the purposes of soul siphon.)
- Due to the heavy use of Drain Life and Corruption, Nightfall can be a powerful addition.
Firelock PvP Build (7/7/47)
This is an extremely high damage PvP spec.
This build empowers the Warlock's direct damage abilities (of which most are Fire-based, which gives the spec its name). It provides the Warlock with good burst damage (mainly due to Conflagrate, Shadowburn, and Backlash) and high crits (Ruin). It is very good against other Fire- or Shadow-based classes (especially Fire Mages, Shadow Priests and other Warlocks). Soul Leech allows the Warlock to heal themselves. The build also includes talents from other trees which are often considered necessary, namely Demonic Embrace, Improved Corruption, and Improved Life Tap.
The downside of this build is its relatively high mana consumption.
This is a heavy damage raid spec.
This build is similar to the old lvl 60 DS/Ruin build except instead of sacrificing the Succubus to buff your Shadow Bolts, you sac your Imp to buff your Fire spell damage. With all damage increasing talents, the warlock does quite devastating damage. Another advantage is the opportunity to switch to a greatly improved Shadow Bolt whenever Fire is not a viable choice.
The spec excels at raiding, whereas it is not particularly viable in PvP and solo PvE, especially due to its huge mana consumption.
- Soul Leech is a powerful talent in a raid environment, allowing the warlock to keep their mana and health relatively high. One option is to take it instead of Backlash.
An alternative point of view regarding the 0/21/40 spec, and increasingly the dominant one amongst raiding guilds, is that the 0/21/40 warlock should use Shadow Bolt exclusively, in order to maximize the uptime of Improved Shadow Bolt, whenever there are multiple warlocks and shadow priests present. The high standalone dps of Shadowbolt, coupled with the prolonged uptime of ISB, gives the 0/21/40 shadowbolt-oriented lock both powerful dps along with amazing raid utility. If the warlock decides to opt for this approach, it is possible to spec into Soul Leech as well as Backlash, as no points are necessary within fire talents.
Comments A common misconception with 0/21/40 is to Sac your imp for the + fire damage, however, due to the fact that even with Emberstorm (+10% to fire spells) a warlocks Shadowbolt will still have a better spell coefficient than Incinerate(http://www.wowwiki.com/Spell_Damage_Coefficients#Warlock_Coefficients). Even before factoring in the ISB talent, the "firelock" is generaly less dps and less mana efficient in raids. Further more any +fire damage a mage applys to the target is the same or in most raids less than the +shadow damge a shadow priest applys.
Blazing Fury (7/13/41)
This build is similar to the one above but without Demonic Sacrifice. The basic idea is to keep up Curse of Elements, cast an Immolate, two-three Incinerates and blow up the Immolate with Conflagrate. DS is not to be recommended because it requires you to sacrifice your pet, which means that you will loose Blood Pact, which is very essential while grouping. Instant Corruption and Improved Life Tap are more useful than the talents beyond 13 points in Demonology. This is a very high damage group build which offers a very good alternative to a heavy Affliction spec. This is a very good spec for both PVE and PVP. If you are looking for a change from spamming Shadowbolt this spec might be just for you.
Nightfall / Shadowfury (NF/Conf with Shadowfury) (18/0/43)
Heavy Destruction (Heavy Destruction 2.0.1) (--/--/41+)
This spec has many of the benefits that a 0/21/40 spec has, but lacking in solid damage output. The only major difference is Shadowfury, which could be very useful in certain situations where aoe is necessary, and in pvp.
If you are commiting this many talents into this build, its hard to justify putting the rest of the talents in affliction, as corruption will not be used very often, except on longer fights, trash mobs will go down too fast to make it practical without your damage focused on it like an affliction lock would, and the only reason would be improved Life Tap (although very nice to have). And also you will lack the talents to gain anything useful from Demonology, although healthstones are benefitial to everyone (and a player can have up to 3 healthstones in their inventory)and bonus stamina,health, mana, and the talents in Demonic Aegis are well worth getting.
Shadow Conflagrate (7/0/44)
This build is a good balanced PvP and PvE build. It can deal great amount of damage in little time. It also has a variety of talents that help a lot in PvP such as nether protection which will make you defeat shadow priests/other warlocks without it/fire mages 70% of the time with a 30% chance to become immune to most of their spells. Intensity gives a 70% chance to resist interruption in any destruction spell which makes you able to shoot shadowbolts while a warrior/rogue is beating on you. With backlash and devastation you got a total of +8% crit chance with spells. In raiding PvE the DPS is very good. It is comparable with SM/ruin and other older builds because shadow and flame adds a 20% more of spell damage to your shadow bolts which makes up for the loss of 10% damage in shadow with SM or 15% with succubus sacrificed. Improved life tap lets you have better mana efficiency in raids.instant corruption is great for spamming in PvP. Soul leech is more friendly in a PvE environment but still useful sometimes in PvP because it has a good list of spells that have a pretty big chance to heal you(30%). Shadowfury is a great spell to play with in PvP it is an AoE stun doing around 500ish damage with the ability to crit(The only other warlock AoE with this ability is Seed of Corruption). Shadowfury doesn't prove that great in PvE but it isn't bad if you consider it as a shadowburn with no shard cost and a stun.
This build is perfectly balanced between PvP/PvE(raiding)
Also, you may put the remaining 10 points into Affliction to get Nightfall. This will make you have 2 chances for an instant shadowbolt. 17/0/44
PvP Only - Shadow (28/0/33)
This build is intended entirely for PvP, no thought is given to PvE applications, and uses Shadow damage exclusively with Shadowbolt as the main DD spell.
-Improved Shadow Bolt (Procs an effect to increase next SB damage)
-Bane (Reduces casting time for SB)
-Ruin (Increases SB critical strike damage)
-Devastation (Increases SB critical strike chance)
-Backlash (Instant cast SB chance upon getting struck)
-Nightfall (Instant cast SB chance upon Corruption or Dain Life tick)
-Shadow Mastery (Increased damage for all spells of this build)
Combine this with:
-Improved Corruption (Instant cast Corruption for more Nightfall procs)
-Soul Siphon (For drain tanking and Nightfall procs)
-Fel Concentration (Less wasted ticks from Drain Life)
-Empowered Corruption (Corruption does more damage)
-Siphon Life (req'd for Shadow Mastery and also increases Soul Siphon effect)
-Shadow Embrace (Increases Soul Siphon effect)
-Shadowburn (Benefits from Shadow Mastery and adds another instant cast DD)
In addition to quicker-casting Shadowbolts, this build offers the talents for instant-cast shadowbolts. Also includes increases healing from both Siphon Life and Drain Life. Throw on Curse of Shadow, Corruption, and start Drain Life. The two DoTs benefit from many talents, including Shadow Mastery, and do good damage. The Curse benefits PvP teammates. If an enemy attacks backlash can proc, or alternatively Nightfall could proc from Drain Life or Corruption. There is an element of luck in this talent in that it includes Nightfall and Backlash. An argument for this arrangement is that (a) If you're not getting attacked then you are free to Drain Life to proc Nightfall or even cast Shadowbolt. (b) Warlocks have no nice instant cast DDs, which are very important due to interrupt when getting attacked. Therefore between Nightfall and Backlash you have a good chance of getting an instant cast DD with this build that you would not get otherwise. This build does only one damage type, shadow, so is weak against any player with a lot of shadow resistance. Therefore some spell penetration from gear is recommended.
PvP Only - Fire (20/0/41)
This build is intended entirely for PvP, and uses Fire damage almost exclusively.
This build is similar to the Shadow build above it, but uses a few more instant cast DD spells. Incinerate, Immolate, Conflagrate, Shadowburn, Shadowfury, as well as Shadowbolt, from Nightfall and Backlash procs give this build the best possible burst damage a warlock can achieve. The first three of which benefit from Emberstorm are expected to constitute the majority of the offensive spell makeup. As with the previous build, this build can be weak against resistant players, so some spell penetration from gear is recommended.
Here are two, good level 70 Demonic Sacrifice builds, 0/21/40 (Shadowbolt spammer) - high damage but lack of efficiency on longer fights in raids because of very high Shadowbolt damage. 19/21/21 (Pretty much a jack of all trades) - little harder to play than the above but better efficiency on longer fights and a little more damage in that build. You put Curse of Shadow, Corruption and spam Shadowbolt and always refresh your Corruption for the chance to get Nightfall to proc. Your Drain Life hits harder than the previous build, your Shadowbolts hit for less, but with Corruption, you get that damage back it's a little easier for your aggro since you get less spike damage.
One thing you should know: These builds are good for leveling, but still flexible enough to work for both PvP or instancing. Demonic Sacrifice grants the abilities to grind solo without even buying water or food (Sacrifice the Voidwalker for 3% health regen every 4 seconds. Seeing as you should have 3000 - 4500 HP pre-MC, depending on your gear, this should be a piece of cake). Nightfall is great for grinding as it allows you to fire off instant Shadowbolts, improvements on drain life (Imp. Drain Life / Fel Concentration) are also great. After these mandatory choices, it's up to you whether you want to put 12 points in Destruction for better PvE DPS or crits, or rather just do Shadow Mastery and Siphon Life for better grinding. Both work out well in any case, it's up to you. Of course, you need to have instant Corruption and Demonic Embrace for this talent build to work out. Seeing as there's no better places to put the points anyway in the first tier of Demonology and Affliction, it should hardly be a problem anyway. If you choose to use the 12 points in Destruction after getting Nightfall and Amplify Curse in Affliction, you should also get [Bane] and Improved Shadow Bolt. This is about what you should need to know here.
This is a variation of the above builds, still centered around Demonic Sacrifice, but paired with Ruin instead of Nightfall for unlimited high damage Shadow Bolts and Immolate in soloing and instances.