This is a page of old builds that were used at level 70. Most of them are now non-functional due to talent changes, but are here for posterity.
What builds are good for ... ?
The premier arena build for warlocks is generally considered to be Soul Link/Siphon Life for its survivability, instant cast DoTs and powerful life draining. Heavy affliction builds like Unstable Affliction/Shadowburn can also be effective due to the fact that they use many instant casts, allowing the warlock to stay mobile, powerful life draining and also include Unstable Affliction for use against dispelling classes.
The survivability offered by the arena builds also works in battlegrounds, and there are also several destruction builds based on offloading damage as quickly as possible that are also viable.
Affliction builds such as Unstable Affliction/Destructive Reach are good starter builds for new raiders as they are less dependent on gear for their damage. Once a certain gear level has been reached the Demonic Sacrifice/Shadow and Flame build becomes the highest damage raiding spec. The two most used Demonology raiding specs are variants of a Felguard raiding build and Demonic Tactics/Ruin, the second of which is especially useful for warlock resistance tanking fights.
As with leveling, various affliction builds and Felguard leveling builds remain the most effective specs for grinding gold and materials at 70 due to their lower down time. The arena builds are also competitive due to their survivability allowing them to engage and DoT or AoE several enemies at once and outlast them until they die.
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. Curse of Elements is often used instead to avoid this problem for Curse of Agony, though it still applies for other dots.
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.
- 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.
- If using this build for grouping, Malediction would be a solid addition. Points can be moved here from Improved Curse of Agony.
- Improved Healthstone can be taken for a real bonus in instances and especially in arena battles.
- Alternatively Improved Imp is also a worthy addition to this build as the warlock will usually have an Imp out both when soloing and grouping, though a Felhunter will likely be the pet of choice for PvPers.
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. It is a very potent instance/raiding spec until later in the game when the duration of boss fights exceeds 1-2 minutes. Then, Unstable Affliction clearly outnumbers Ruin. Ultimately at T5/6 gear level, 0/21/40 is the most devastating spec. The build offers excellent survivability paired with high damage output. In contrast to heavy destruction builds mana is rarely an issue. While there are many different tastes of SM/Ruin w/ DP the following elaborates a specific build in more detail trying to make the choice of talents comprehensible. Focus will be on the affliction talents as choice of talents in the destruction tree is comparatively straight forward. Shadowburn adds instant burst damage, thus addressing the greatest downside of affliction builds.
- Suppression reduces resists which translates into more damage. The number of points placed in suppression should be chosen to bridge the gap between your spell hit on gear and the cap.
- Improved Corruption, Empowered Corruption (with +dmg gear), and Malediction make Corruption the most important DoT of the build.
- Improved Lifetap means more mana per global cooldown which means more damage.
- Improved Drain Soul mitigates threat by 10% which means more damage. The mana return is a nice side-effect.
- Soul Siphon is a sensible tier breaker as it proves useful when health is an issue.
- Improved Curse of Weakness receives 0 points as Curse of Elements should be used in almost all situations.
- Fel Concentration receives 0 points as drain tanking is not the objective here.
- Improved Curse of Agony receives 0 points as Curse of Elements is used in almost all fights.
- Amplify Curse is a good investment to boost damage for the occasions when Curse of Agony is used. Both should be combined with a castsequence macro.
- Nighfall increases your SB output. Together with Malediction, Improved Shadowbolt, Devastation and Ruin it translates to more damage.
- Siphon Life adds to survivability and effectively increases the mana pool in longer boss fights. However, it should not be part of the standard cast rotation.
- Curse of Exhaustion proves helpful in end game raid content but only one warlock should skill it.
- Shadow Embrace counts as Affliction effect for Soul Siphon (despite 2.3 patch notes) which is the main reasoning to put a point in it.
- Malediction increases total raid/ group damage.
- Improved Howl of Terror receives 0 points as the build focuses on damage.
- 5/5 in Shadows Embrace is a decent choice for 25-man raiders to reduce damage on the tank.
- 2 points can be taken from the affliction tree (the maximum without losing Malediction) and placed into Improved Imp.
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.
Dark Pact/Mana Feed (Evolution of SM/Sacrifice) 33/28/0
Affliction/Demonology build 42/19/0
This build combines mana-efficiency with DPS. The curse of choice is Curse of Elements so Malediction is taken. Curse of Agony is unlikely to be used in raids or soloing so is given 0 points. Improved Drain Soul is taken for the threat reduction effect. Improved Imp is taken for the 30% increase to Blood Pact.
In the soloing build maximum points are placed in Fel Concentration to allow drain tanking, which are left out of the raiding build. Instead these points are placed in Shadow Embrace to give a raid buff. Improved Howl of Terror is taken for the soloing build, but these points are moved to Suppression for the raiding variant. Grim Reach could be a worthy addition to this build, but will require the warlock to move within 30 yards to take advantage of Nightfall procs. It is also difficult to find a place from which to take 2 points. Improved Healthstones, Fel Intellect, Fel Stamina or Improved Life Tap are probably the best possibilities.
In raids this build lacks any talents in shadow bolts, instead relying on boosted Drain Life to deal direct damage between refreshing DoTs. Even fully talented Drain Life is lower DPS than moderately talented shadow bolt or incinerate, so this build's damage is unlikely to match that of Unstable Affliction/Destructive Reach. In return it contributes Improved Blood Pact and considerably more stamina via the low level demonology talents, greatly increasing survivability.
The place where this build really shines is as a solo farming build. The combination of high stamina, Dark Pact, Improved Life Tap and powerful Drain Life will allow a warlock to grind with very few breaks to eat and drink.
Unstable Affliction/Destructive Reach raid build 44/0/17
This build a key warlock raiding build, and provides many important raid synergy effects, while providing decent damage to new warlocks.
Malediction provides much-needed damage boost to Curse of the Elements. Shadow Embrace reduces damage done by the debuffed target and helps reduce the healing required on the main tank. Curse of Exhaustion helps the warlock kite which is useful in certain situations, such as Vashj's Coilfang Strider adds.
This build excels for warlocks new to raiding. Affliction offers several raid buffs such as Shadow Embrace and Malediction, and your demon is not sacrificed or used for DPS, allowing you to keep an Imp out for Blood Pact. All of these will make you popular even when joining raids with those better geared than you. Much of the damage is done by DoTs, which have excellent mana efficiency. Suppression is available to make up for the lack of spell hit that most warlocks have before they obtain raid gear, making sure your DoTs land consistently. Between refreshing DoTs you have the talents to throw strong shadowbolts, each of which may apply Improved Shadow Bolt, further improving your DoT damage.
This is a DPS raiding build that is a cross between heavy affliction and 0/21/40 sac destro. It is generally NOT recommended for raid DPS because 42/0/19 variants and 0/21/40 are both generally considered superior in raid environments, but is here for completeness because it is an often discussed build.
Because your demon is sacrificed, progression through affliction stops before Dark Pact but 5/5 Shadow Mastery is obtained for DPS. Improved Shadow Bolt and Bane are taken to give punch to your shadow bolts. A succubus is sacrificed for an additional +15% shadow damage. Demonic Aegis is also picked up for some extra spell damage from Fel Armor.
As with other sacrifice builds, talents can be shuffled around the demonology tree between master summoner, healthstones, improved imp, voidwalker and succubus and others as desired.
The main criticisms are that while Demonic Embrace is taken, your demon is sacrificed so you do not benefit from Blood Pact which is offered by an affliction build so survivability is not significantly increased. It lacks the raid utility of an affliction build by not having a demon available and not having Malediction or enough affliction points spare for Shadows Embrace. It relies on shadow bolts as its main source of DPS, but lacks the big improvements of Devastation and Ruin offered by 0/21/40. Finally, the major attraction in the affliction tree, which is the Shadow Mastery talent, is matched and often surpassed by the Shadow and Flame talent taken by 0/21/40 at the kind of gear level where most warlocks start looking to move away from affliction raid support.
Felguard Raiding Build (7/43/11)
- A viable PvP spec
- Soul Link provides survivability
- Moderately DPS
- Decent grindability
- Different pets give flexibility
- Felguard can offtank and DPS - the lack of a taunt that affects more mobs than one is filled with high DPS, thus gaining more aggro as an offtank
- Succubus gives additional CC-ability, increases damage, and can cut mob damage down by decreasing attack speed by 10% with Soothing Kiss.
- Felhunter gives anti-caster ability and survivability in resistance fights
- Imp buffs party HP, minor fire resistance, and a damage shield
- Requires a lot of micro-management
- Felguard is vulnerable to area attacks
- Less synergy to a raid than an affliction-spec
Having a Felguard raiding spec require you to keep track on your Felguard's positioning, abilities and health. One of the major drawbacks for this spec is keeping your Felguard healed with Health Funnel, if the minion is used as an off-tank. Using the provides much-needed survivability for your Felguard, and the two-piece bonus of Corruptor Raiment greatly helps reduce the active healing the he requires. Having a shadow priest with Vampiric Embrace in the group also provides passive healing.
Buffs on your Felguard that increase his stamina and intellect, providing you with 15% per point spelldamage increase as per Demonic Knowledge. Therefore it is doubly important that he does not die, as he will lose all buffs on death. It is possible re-summon him, at full or almost-full health and perserve the buffs. The Fel Domination and Master Summoner talents reduce this downtime to half a second, as well as one additional second of Global Cooldown.
This spec is highly effective for tanking Leotheras' Demon Form, Grand Astromancer Capernian in Kael'Thas' fight, blue beam tanking at netherspite, and several other mobs with spell-based attacks.
Felguard Pure-Raiding Build (0/44/17)
This build is to maximize damage in 25 man raids but requires a lot of micro-management and understanding of all fights, even trash pulls. Talents that appear in the above spec but were not taken for this spec, like Mana Feed and Shadowburn, were not taken because they aren't needed for 25 man content since Cleave and Anguish will be off most of the time and Shadowburn is generally only for 0/21/40 raid builds. Since Shadow Bolt are the main source of damage, Devastation is crucial for the increased crit and Destructive Reach helps from hitting the Threat Cap too soon. This spec has high gear requirements and using it without at least 2 pieces of Tier 5 is generally inadvisable, the is also highly recommended to help minimize damage to your Felguard from AoE effects from bosses like Void Reaver.
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.
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.
Misc Builds: (instant dots and the area effect corruption nukes hit 2500+ each target)
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.
- Due to the heavy use of Drain Life and Corruption, Nightfall can be a powerful addition.
- It was originally stated that Shadow Embrace no longer benefits Soul Siphon. However, it has been experimentally confirmed that it does. The text in the notes was referring to other effects that would process on a debuff or other such effects.
Drain Tank/Felguard (20/41/0)
This is a good all around build, suitable for farming and 5-man instances, but it especially shines in PvP. It combines all the benefits of the Demonology tree with extra power to your Drain Life and Corruption spells. Improved Life Tap and Drain Life help reduce downtime for you, while Mana Feed helps your Felguard to regain mana at the same time. Between these and Health Funnel, it is very easy to keep both you and your pet up and running at all times, especially if you're farming for extended periods. If mobs or your opponents attack you instead of your Felguard, you can drain tank them quite well, although in PvP Fear then Drain Life, Shadow Bolt, or Incinerate (in addition to Corruption, Immolate, and a curse of course) is preferable. The downside of this build is that your affliction spells don't provide as much DPS as in most affliction-heavy builds. However, the Felguard is incredibly useful in just about any situation and provides great DPS. Moreover, the affliction talents geared towards drain tanking, together with the damage mitigation benefits of the Demonology tree, offer incredible survivability. Also, if you have enough health and aren't under attack, spamming Shadow Bolt or Incinerate (better than Shadow Bolt if Immolate is active) instead of using Drain Life can improve your DPS significantly as long as you have decent +Spell Damage gear.
Void Walker OT Build This build has not been tested. It gives the voidwalker abilities to tank elite mobs in Raids. USE THIS BUILD UNDER YOUR OWN RISK.
This is a key heavy damage raid spec.
Depending on the members of your raid you may want to make your build either shadow or fire. If you raid with a lot of fire Mages(Improved Scorch) then you may want to use the Fire DS/S&F raid spec, but if you raid with shadow priests(Shadow Weaving) then you may want to use the Shadow DS/S&F raiding build.
The fire build should sacrifice an Imp for bonus fire damage, while the shadow build should sacrifice a succubus for bonus shadow damage. The spec excels at raiding, whereas it is not particularly viable in PvP due to its huge mana consumption and restriction on character movement. As for solo PvE, it is best to sacrifice a void walker instead for health regeneration buff and life tap after each kill.
- 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 for either build.
- Improved Succubus gives extra time on Seduce for pulls where the extra CC offsets the damage lost by not sacrificing her. These points can be taken from Improved Healthstones or Master Summoner.
- Improved Imp can add utility to the warlock in a group or raid environment. A dead warlock with a dead tank does no DPS, so even with the high cost of not sacrificing this can be worth it. These points can be taken from Improved Healthstones or Master Summoner.
- Pyroclasm is an alternative place to put the single point in destruction that the shadow build places in Improved Immolate to add a low chance stun when AOEing. Note that this requires the warlock to use the Fire element for which they're not specialised, and to use Rain of Fire or Hellfire instead of the generally superior Seed of Corruption.
Shadow or Fire:
This is a hotly debated subject among end-game raiding warlocks. The damage done by the two specs is very similar, with fire often producing marginally higher personal DPS, however, the shadow warlock's Improved Shadow Bolt is a powerful raid buff that boosts shadow priest and other shadow-based warlocks' damage considerably. The fire spec has no corresponding buff for fire mages and warlocks. Hence raid composition has a great effect on which spec is best for a given situation.
Sacrificing a Voidwalker or Felhunter for health or mana regen is often suggested for solo grinding with this spec to offset its high mana consumption. The ability to summon a demon in 0.5 seconds with Fel Domination means that before engaging a tough enemy a voidwalker can be summoned, sacrificed for a strong personal shield, and then another pet summoned and sacrificed for the DPS buff.
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 committing 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.
Imp LT/Aegis/Shadowfury (7/13/41)
This build drops Demonic Sacrifice from the classic DS/SnF build and uses the point to pick up Shadowfury. Points are then reinvested from the more lackluster Demonology talents into Affliction to get Improved Life Tap, picking up instant Corruption along the way. The raw damage will not match up to DS/SnF, but the addition of Shadowfury and the ability to keep a demon summoned gives a great deal more utility. The addition of Improved Life Tap gives this build better efficiency than DS/SnF before needing a heal.
A variation on the shadow build is to take 4 points from Cataclysm and move them to Improved Immolate, then take a point from Nether Protection, Backlash or Soul Leech to obtain Conflagrate to give an additional instant cast direct damage spell.
Nightfall / Shadowfury (NF/Conf with Shadowfury) (18/0/43)
This build drops all demonology talents to progress in the affliction tree to Nightfall, arguably giving higher damage than 7/13/41 as Nightfall is generally considered better than Demonic Aegis. This decision only really makes sense with a shadow build due to Nightfall proccing to cast a shadowbolt only. The addition of Grim Reach allows better meshing of affliction and destruction spells, due to them both having the same range again. The addition of Soul Siphon and Fel Concentration allows the warlock to better drain life back from enemies when mana becomes scarce - this goes some way to offset the loss of stamina given by the low level demonology talents.
More points can be moved from the destruction tree into the affliction tree to enhance the affliction aspects of this build, such as completing Fel Concentration and Improved Drain Soul. A build-changing decision is even to drop Shadowfury and instead take Siphon Life, to further increase longevity in long fights.
Another variation is to take 4 points from Cataclysm and move them to Improved Immolate, then take a point from Grim Reach, Backlash or Soul Leech to obtain Conflagrate, to give an additional instant cast direct damage spell.
There is also with a few minor adjustments this with more emphasis on dot damage.
Firelock PvP Build (7/7/47)
This build is similar to the Fire LT/Aegis/Shadowfury build, but drops Demonic Aegis and Improved Blood Pact (and/or Improved Healthstones if preferred) from the demonology tree to obtain the Nether Protection and Soul Leech talents.
PvP Only - Shadow (28/0/33)
This build sacrifices the Shadow and Flame talent to pick up as many points in Shadow Mastery as possible without losing Backlash. It is intended entirely for PvP. It is designed around using the stopping power of shadow bolts when possible, and the drain tanking aspects of the affliction tree when not, while using the synergy between the trees of the Nightfall talent.
- 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)
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.