Warlock talent builds are many and varied. Each tree is worth speccing up to 31 points in, and many Destruction builds invest more than 31 points in their primary tree.
Regardless of which path a player eventually chooses, it is sure to be littered with many tough choices.
Dark Pact (31/--/--)
This build is perhaps one of the best known builds to grind (killing monsters endlessly to get exp) with. It utilizes Improved Corruption, Siphon Life, and Drain Life (along with Fel Concentration) to "Drain Tank" (using Drain Life and Fel Concentration together to be able to take hits and deal damage at the same time) to kill. Many say that Siphon Life is not worth using unless the full duration is used up, but it can also be used to deal damage as fast as possible. With all the abilities to gain life, Improved Life Tap becomes a crucial component to this build because the warlock can Life Tap to convert HP to mana and then drain some more. This build will usually drain more HP than it will lose which is why Life Tap is used. Dark Pact is used in between fights. It is ideal to use an Imp because it has the largest mana pool of all the pets and also have the highest spirit therefore the highest regeneration rate, the Imp is also called the "mana battery" because of this use. The Imp will remain Phase Shifted to minimize the chances of it getting killed and to conserve mana to get Dark Pact'ed.
SM / Ruin 30/0/21
This talent specc focuses on Affliction/Destruction. This specc focuses on two talents, Shadow Mastery and Ruin. Shadow Mastery is the second-to-last talent on the affliction tree, and increases all shadow damage done by 10% (when maxed out). Ruin is near the end of the Destruction tree, and increases the critical strike bonus of Destruction spells by 100%. This allows your damage over time spells and your Shadowbolts to be as powerful as they can be, which are your main sources of damage in high level instances. This also is an average specc for PvP combat, as you can damage your oppenents with damage over time and Shadowbolt. Notice again that this build is extremely oriented on DPS. When used by a skilled player, this build is easily able to make you deal more damage than a mage with similar equipment! However, it's not so handy in PvP as you will take massive damage if hit by any attack. You have to decide whether you want extreme damage output (then take this build) or less damage but being virtually unstoppable (then take a x/31/x Soullink Build).
Soul Link builds perhaps have the best survivability of all the warlock builds. With the build's ability to split 30% of the damage taken to the pet (via Soul Link) and the ability to use Drain Life with a 30% chance of getting interrupted through (Fel Concentration), the damage taken is very minimal. However, this build requires a rather large amount of +damage/+shadow damage before it becomes efficient (around +300). The pet of choice is usually the Felhunter; the ability to counter (Spell Lock), dispel magic (Devour), deal damage, and have the second most hp and armor next to the Voidwalker makes it an ideal pet to use. On top of those properties, Master Demonologist allows the warlock to receive +60 resistance to all schools of magic at level 60. Above this, Nightfall allows Shadowbolts to be shot at instant speed.
Nightfall / Soul Link (20/31/0)
This will provide with lots of instant Shadowbolts through Nightfall along with lots of increased HP with Soul Linked pets, instant summon of a pet (Fel Domination), along with sacrificed demons for excellent buff opportunities. A strong PvP build that works with PvE end game raids as well.
Soul Link +2 (9/31/11)
Soul Link, but counters the disadvantage of speccing heavily in Affliction by providing more reliable Burst DPS (2.5 second Shadowbolts, and instant-cast Shadowburn).
Soul Link Allround (7/31/13)
Not much of a difference to the one mentioned before in terms of numbers... but you wouldn't believe what 2 talent points spent in improved Lash of Pain or improved Firebolt can change. However due to a bug only 1 point in imp. Firebolt is advisable as the 2. one has no effect so put it in +1% Crit or whatever you like. When playing with a succubus or imp these 2 points can significantly increase your overall DPS.
MD / Ruin (0/30/21)
Excellent DPS for raids. The -20% Threat Reduction (many guilds will ask you to have the Imp out anyway for the HP buff) and 2.5 second Shadowbolts + Ruin will allow you to put out the most damage before drawing aggro.
Heavy Destruction (--/--/31+)
This build is very similar to being a mage with it's ability to nuke (deal a lot of damage at a short amount of time). It uses Immolate, Conflagrate, and Searing Pain as main sources of damage. With Ruin, the critical hits are 50% more than the normal critical hits (making the critical hit deal 2 times more damage than normal). With Improved Searing Pain, the critical rate is very high and because Searing Pain has a short casting time, it makes it an ideal spell to use whenever Conflagrate is cooling down. The pet of choice is the Imp, with Improved Imp and Improved Firebolt, it can deal 125 every second and it also gives the warlock a stamina buff through Blood Pact. This build is mainly geared towards PvP because of the threat Searing Pain causes, and unless the tank is very good at holding aggro in a PvE environment, the warlock will be expecting to take some hits causing the tank some frustration. This build also eats through mana very quickly because of the amount of spells that are used.
Firemancer/Balanced Destruction Build (7/5/39)
This build is mainly meant for PvP with its majority of destruction talents. It can, however, have a great damage output in PvE too if played skillfully as it utilizes most of the Must-Have talents, inluding Improved Life-Tap for better Mana/Health efficiency, Demonic Embrace for the additional Health(15% addition to Stamina), Bane for increased DPS with Immolate(33%), Shadow Bolt(20%) and Soulfire(50%), Shadowburn for an additional finishing move and Ruin for better Critical hit damage. 5/5 Devastation gives this build a rather high natural crit % with all Destruction spells and Imp. Searing Pain makes Searing Pain a viable PvP tool with a very high natural crit %. Intensity and Pyroclasm gives the Warlock class better AoE abilities, with a 70% chance to resist interruption and 26% chance to stun enemies affected when channeling either Rain of Fire or Hellfire.
Destruction Spells along with damage without additions from equipment:
- Shadow Bolt(Rank9), 455-507(avg. 481) Damage, 2.5 sec cast. (481/2.5=192.4 DPS)
- Shadow Bolt(Rank10, AQ20), 482-538(avg. 510), 2.5 sec cast. (510/2.5=204 DPS)
- Immolate(Rank7), 348 Damage(+533-534 DoT), 1.5 sec cast. (348/1.5=232 DPS)
- Immolate(Rank8, AQ20), 375-376 Damage(+561 DoT), 1.5 sec cast. (375/1.5=250 DPS)
- Searing Pain(Rank6), 224-264(avg. 244) Damage, 1.5 sec cast. (244/1.5=162.7 DPS)
- Conflagrate(Rank4), 491-613(avg. 551) Damage, Instant Cast, 10 sec Cooldown.
- Soul Fire(Rank2), 773-970(avg. 872) Damage, 4 sec cast. (872/4=218 DPS).
- Shadow Burn(Rank6), 450-502(avg. 476), Instant Cast, 15 Sec Cooldown.
Also: With this build Life-Tap trades 424 HP for 508-509 MP, instead of the usual 424 MP.
Not all of these may be exact, but it should give a picture of what this build has to offer. No Criticals are counted in the avg. Damage because crit % is affected by Int and thus variable(and because I'm lazy ;))
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 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) is also great. After these mandatory choices, it's up to you wether 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 works well out 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 Shadowbolt. 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 Shadowbolts and Immolate in soloing and instances.