Thursday, October 21, 2010

You Can Has Demons

At raid last night I (finally!) got to bring my warlock back to ICC to burn stuff in the face. It was seriously fun, totally awesome, and I loved it. It's no secret that I enjoy being dps, sitting in the back, nailing that rotation (excuse me, priority list), and watching the big numbers fly. In celebration, today's post is a guide to Demonology Warlocking in the 4.0.

Because this turned out way longer than I expected, here are some breakers:
Other Guides
The Spec
The Glyphs
The Priority
The Stats, Reforing, and Gems

Don't Panic
You'll have to imagine these letters are large and friendly.

I know rolling a warlock can be a daunting idea. We're powerful casters with intimidating minions and a snappy fashion sense. Don't Panic. There are number of warlocks who are more than willing to help out fledgling power-seekers. (You should stay away from the one's who aren't willing, though, they can be mean.) Here we're going to talk Demonology - the unquestioned master of minions.

As a demonologist you will get an exclusive minion - the fearsome felguard. At lower levels he's a fairly capable tank (though in some situations you will still want your blueberry Voidwalker) and at higher levels he provides some serious melee damage (feel free to take him to dungeons instead of rogues). You will also get an increased chance to create mini-minions from your Bane of Doom spell and a longer duration on your demon guardians. YOU are the pimp of the demon world - rolling with an entire possy of minions. You can even BE a demon, that's how cool you are.

These Aren't the Information You're Looking For
As stated, this all about Demonology. You may want to visit some other guides to get quality information about Destruction or Afflication warlocking. Don't worry. I'll still be here when you decide Demonology is right for you.

Poneria over at Fel Concentration and Fulguralis at Killing 'em Slowly had a great discussion about Affliction PvE in the 4.0. Read Ful's post here and Pone's response here.

Cynwise at Cynwise's Battlefiend Manual has a fantastic post about Destruction PvE. Find it here.

Growing Up Demo
This guide is aimed at a level 80 warlock in the pre-Cataclysm 4.0. If you're just getting started in the wide world of warlockery, Abi over at Kungaloosh is starting a series of posts about leveling Demo.
Levels 1-10
Levels 10-20

Cata; lol wut?
Abi also has a post about what we can expect the Demonology spec to look like at 85. Find that post here.

Give it all to me in a picture

If all you want is basic, distilled information above is the link to my own Demonology build and glyph set. It serves me well.

Lets Break it Down
The link above is not the only way to build a demonologist, so let's start with a break down of the talent tree.

Tier 1
Demonic Embrace: Increases Stamina by 4%/7%/10%. Not a necessary talent for PvE builds, but you may want to spend some of your floater points here.
Dark Arts: Increases damage done by your minion. Necessary. Actually, every warlock spec should put some amount of talent points in this talent. As a demonologist, you will want all of them.
Fel Synergy: A 50%/100% chance to heal your pet each time you do damage. Arguably necessary. Most healers will not be paying attention to your minion and in most boss fights some mechanic or another will lead to your minion taking damage. With 2 points here, you won't have to pay attention to it either.

In a nutshell: Put 3 points in Dark Arts and 2 points in Fel Synergy. Revisit Demonic Embrace if you have floater points later.

Tier 2
Demonic Rebirth: If your minion dies, you can resummon at 50%/100% reduced cast time. Arguably necessary. The only other way to get an instant-cast demon is to spend a Soul Shard. During a boss fight, you should have more interesting things to spend shards on.
Mana Feed: You get mana when your minion crits. Necessary. Since they've changed Glyph of Life Tap (it no longer grants a spell power bonus), it's nice to have ways other than Life Tap to regain mana.
Demonic Aegis: Increases the effects of Demon Armor and Fel Armor. Necessary. You should always be using an Armor, so this talent will always be doing something for you.
Master Summoner: Reduces the mana cost of summoning a minion by 50%/100%. Not necessary.

In a nutshell: Put 2 points in Mana Feed, 2 points in Demonic Aegis, and 2 points in Demonic Rebirth. Revisit Master Summoner if you have floater points later and want to. Personally, I like the Demonic Rebirth/Master Summoner combination. Then, if your demon dies, recasting is not only instant its also mana-free.

Tier 3
Impending Doom: Increases the chance Bane of Doom will summon an Ebon Imp by 10%/20%/30%. Also gives Shadowbolt, Incinerate, and Hand of Gul'dan a 5%/10%/15% chance to reduce the cooldown on Metamorphosis. Necessary. More Ebon Imps = More Damage. Reducing the cooldown on demon form is nice too, especially when the three spells listed are Demonology's primary fillers.
Demonic Empowerment: Does something PvP related to your minion. Not necessary - skip this point.
Improved Health Funnel: Increases health granted to your minion via Health Funnel and decreases the amount of health donated by you. Not necessary - skip this point.

In a nutshell: Put 3 points in Impending Doom. Put 1 point in Demonic Embrace or Master Summoner.

Tier 4
Molten Core: Gives you a 2%/4%/6% chance to gain the Molten Core effect when Immolate deals damage which will empower 3 Incinerates or Soul Fires. Necessary. This used to be when Corruption dealt damage, but has been changed to Immolate.
Hand of Gul'dan: New damage dealing spell. Increases chance targets within 4 yards will be critically hit. Necessary.
Aura of Foreboding: Roots enemies in 4 yard radius around Hand of Gul'dan. Not necessary.

In a nutshell: Put 3 Points in Molten Core and 1 Point in Hand of Gul'dan. I would recommend putting 1 point in Aura of Foreboding. The root could be useful, but I wouldn't spend the extra point in increasing the effect by 1 second. Alternatively, put 1 point in Demonic Embrace or Master Summoner.

Tier 5
Ancient Grimoire: Increases the duration of your guardians. Necessary.
Inferno: Increases the radius of Hellfire and allows channeling while moving. Lolworthy, but necessary for moving down the path.
Decimation: Reduces cast time of Soul Fire by 20%/40% when target is below 25% health. Necessary.

In a nutshell: Put 2 points in Ancient Grimoire, 1 point in Inferno, and 2 points in Decimation.

Tier 6
Cremation: Gives Hand of Gul'dan a 50%/100% chance to refresh Immolate. Necessary. If you can time it right, you only need to cast Immolate once per fight. Then, you can refresh with a spell that also does damage.
Demonic Pact: Increases your spell damage by 2% and the raid's spell power by 10%. Necessary. Additional spell damage and spell power is win.

In a nutshell: Put 2 points in Cremation and 1 point in Demonic Pact. Put the 2 floater points in whatever talents make you smile.

Tier 7
Metamorphosis: Transforms you into a demon. Necessary. This is what we came here for, after all.

The extras
At level 80 you have 5 additional talent points to spend. The Tier 1 talents of the other two trees both have extremely useful talents and you could arguably take any combination of those talents that you want. I personally like the ones from the Destruction tree.

Bane: Reduces the cast time of Shadowbolt and Immolate by .1/.3/.5 seconds. I like this one because I like to cast faster. With Shadowbolt being our filler spell, casting it quicker is always a good plan.
Shadow and Flame: Increases the damage of Shadowbolt and Incinerate and has a 33%/66%/100% chance to cause Improved Shadowbolt debuff. The most popular demonology builds put only 2 points in this talent. However, by doing that, we are relying on a Fire Mage to ensure the 5% crit debuff is on the target OR putting our faith in RNG that 66% is enough of a chance. If you never run with a Fire Mage, you may want to put all 3 points in here.
Doom and Gloom: Increases the crit chance of Bane of Doom by 4%/8%.
Improved Corruption: Increases the damage dealt by Corruption by 4%/8%/12%. All specs are also using corruption at the moment for a net DPS increase. Spending points here will make that dps increase even higher.

Prime Glyphs
Glyph of Metamorphosis: Increases the amount of time you spend as a demon.
Glyph of Immolate: Increases the damage of your primary dot.
Glyph of Incinerate: Increases the damage done by incinerate.
Glyph of Felguard: Increases the damage done by your Felguard's Legion Strike.

The first two are necessary. Of the last two, the Elistist Jerks suggest using the Incinerate glyph for higher dps. I would argue that this dps increase is dependent on your Molten Core procs, so your mileage may vary.

Major Glyphs
Glyph of Shadow Bolt: Decreases the mana cost of Shadowbolt.
Glyph of Life Tap: Decreases the global cooldown on Life Tap.
Glyph of Fear: Causes the target of your fear to tremble in place.
Glyph of Demonic Circle: Decreases the cooldown on Demonic Circle.

The first one is necessary. Again, Shadowbolt is the filler spell for Demonologists, so requiring less mana to cast it is extremely helpful. Glyph of Life Tap is another recommendation from the Elitist Jerks - it would allow you to cast it multiple times in a row which may not endear you to your healer(s). Poneria made a great argument for Glyph of Fear. It causes your target to stay in one place instead of running around and aggroing the entire instance. In a PvE situation, this gives warlocks a more reliable CC. Personally, I like Glyph of Demonic Circle. It lets you teleport to your circle more often, which is useful when Valkyrs are trying to drop you off the side of ICC or when Sindragosa is pulling you to her.

Minor Glyphs
None of these are necessary. Amuse yourself with whatever strikes your fancy. I personally like Glyph of Souls for reducing the mana cost of Ritual of Souls, Glyph of Unending Breath for increased swim speed, and Glyph of Kilrogg for maximum kicks and giggles with the Eye of Kilrogg.

The Priority
Now that I've tossed around terms like 'filler spell' and 'primary dot', lets talk about what that means. WoW has moved away from things that resemble hard rotations and into a world of 'priority casting'. This means, you should case whatever spell or ability is the MOST IMPORTANT and move down the line to the next most important spell until you get to some thing that isn't so important but since you should be casting something you cast it (that's your filler).

Hand of Gul'dan
Bane of Doom
*Immolation Aura
Decimation + Soul Fire
Molten Core + Incinerate
Soulburn + Soul Fire
Shadow Bolt

*These spells require you to be in melee range. I don't like to be there, so I usually leave them out of my priority. They will increase your dps, but please look out for cleave and other melee nasties.

What does this all mean? Well, you should start by using Metamorphosis whenever it is off cooldown. It increases your damage by 20% for 36 seconds(glyphed). Then, you should ensure that Immolate is always on your target. Then, you should use Hand of Gul'dan if its off cooldown. Then, Bane of Doom and then Corruption. You don't have to worry about clipping your dots anymore, so you can recast your dots before they fall off. However, casting them too often will lead to a net dps loss. I would recommend recasting them about 1-2 seconds before they fall off for Bane of Doom and Corruption. Immolate should be refreshed through the use of Hand of Gul'dan.

Decimation appears when you hit a target with less than 25% health. At this point, Soul Fire becomes a much quicker cast and that should be the only direct damage spell you cast (continue to cast Bane of Doom, Corruption, Hand, and Metamorphosis as necessary). If Molten Core appears on top of Decimation, continue to cast Soul Fire.

Molten Core appears whenever it feels like it. At this point you should cast three Incinerates.

If all your dots are up and neither Decimation nor Molten Core are up, burn a Soul Shard for Soulburn. This will allow you to cast one instant Soul Fire. (I have Soulburn and Soul Fire macro'd together for this purpose.) Soulburn has a cooldown of 45 seconds, so when its on cooldown cast Shadowbolt.

Clear as mud, right? I recommend practicing on a target dummy to really get a feel for how this all fits together. It can take some work to learn the priority and figure out when its best to cast or recast your dots. I mentioned that its possible to cast Immolate only once per fight and keep it up with Hand of Gul'dan. It is possible. However, it involves casting Hand of Gul'dan almost as soon as it goes off cooldown every time. And, unfortunately, a certain amount of Haste rating is necessary.

The Stats
Prior to the patch a demonology warlock wanted all the spell power they could get their hands on. Essentially, this hasn't changed. What has changed is that spell power will no longer be available on armor and that intellect will directly affect spell power.

So let's just stack intellect! Not so fast, there. Demonology warlocks now heavily rely on the "right" amount of haste.

From the Elitist Jerks:
"There is not an optimal amount of haste so much as particular thresholds for Demo locks to avoid. The first, as Warlocomotif mentioned, is at 10% haste. If you have 9.99% haste, your Immolate will last 13.64 sec, which can make it difficult or impossible to refresh with HoG. ... Here is a list of the thresholds to avoid as Demo locks. Note that you are safe if your haste is equal to or greater than one of these thresholds, but you should try to gain (or possibly lose) haste if your haste is slightly lower than any of these numbers:" 10%, 30% 50%.

Also, don't forget that all casters now have to reach the 17% hit cap on their own (unless they're a Draenei).

So your stat priority looks like this:
Hit (17%) > Haste (10%, 30%, 50%) > Intellect > Spell Power = Mastery

Whats this mastery business? Mastery is a passive bonus you can learn at level 80. For demonologists, this gives us a straight 12% bonus to damage done by our minions and by us in demon form. Then, each point of mastery increases this bonus by 1.5% However, mastery isn't going to start showing up on gear until Cataclysm. The only way to get it now is to reforge your gear.

Reforging lets you take 40% of a secondary stat and turn it into a different secondary stat. To get some practice, find your nearest reforger and reforge all of your gear with spirit on it. You don't need spirit at all anymore, so anything you reforge it into will be better than spirit.

The Elitist Jerks recommend starting with Hit and I agree for the most part. You may want to first check that your meta gem is activated (remember that the Chaotic Skyflare Diamond - which you should be using - requires 2 blue gems to activate). The only useful blue gems are now Rigid Majestic Zircon and Veiled Dreadstone. I would recommend grabbing two Veiled Dreadstones and try to match +9 or +7 Spell Power socket bonuses. Then, take your spirit and reforge it into hit until you get 17%. After that, turn it into haste wherever possible and mastery otherwise. You may also consider reforging crit into haste or mastery.

Since I touched on the subject of gems, I want to finish that thought. Brilliant Cardinal Rubies and Reckless Ametrines are your best friends. Veiled Dreadstones are generally only useful for activating your meta, getting to the hit cap, or matching socket bonuses for obsessive/compulsive people. (I'm not taking a dig at people with OCD - I cringe every time I put a gem in the wrong color socket.)


  1. That's a lot to read about warlockery.

    Also, Shiny layout is shiny :)

  2. Warlockery is srs business! It is a lot of information... I had no idea it would end up being that long.
    Thank you. :)

  3. Every time I sit down to write a full piece on How2Warlock, I'm always surprised by how detailed and nuanced you have to be to play it well. Like understanding how Haste affects Hand of Gul'dan -- that's not simple, but at the highest levels of play you /have/ to get why it's important to avoid those plateaus.

    I raided as Demo for the last 9 months in ICC, and even though I've switched to Destro for now, it's great to have guides like this to get me kick-started into specs I'm not as familiar with. Thanks!

  4. Absolutely superb post. I especially like how you did not merely cut and paste from sites like EJ, but that you also explained how things works.

  5. Why do I suddenly feel too stupid to play this game. How I managed to get to a level 80 I have no idea. LOL