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The Best Warlock DPS Build Guide for WoW Classic

The Best Warlock DPS Build Guide for WoW Classic

In-depth guide on becoming a DPS Warlock in WoW Classic

Warlock PvE DPS Build
Odealo's Pocket Guide

Warlock

You can find all our Pocket Guides for other WoW Classic Classes builds right here: Best WoW Builds

If you have just started leveling your Warlock, you may want to check out our Warlock leveling Guide first

 

Overview

In WoW lore, Warlocks derive pleasure from cursing and hurting their enemies. They are masters of the Shadow and Destructive magic and can bind powerful demons to their will. In WoW Classic, they are versatile Damage Dealers who suffer a bit from limited debuff slots. Despite that limitation, they are still very popular as a Class thanks to their grim flavor, great utility spells, and the ability to humiliate inexperienced enemies in PvP. Their second main limitation - the fact that pets take 100% damage from AoE abilities, is countered by the most popular Warlock DPS build, that sacrifices a pet in exchange for increased Shadow Damage.

When in a Raid or a Dungeon group, Warlocks provide Soulstones that allow an in-Combat resurrection of a pre-designated party member, Healthstones that work like Health Potions, and the Ritual of Summoning that makes assembling a Raid much, much easier. Contrary to what their lore background might suggest, Warlocks are best friends of any Player that likes to run through any kind of group content. They also provide various powerful debuffs that come in handy in a multitude of situations. Moreover, they don't have any Sustain problems, thanks to their Life Tap ability which allows them to perform at the highest level even during long encounters.

 Pros  Cons
 Great Sustain  Below average mobility
 Good Single-Target and AoE DPS (for a caster, at least)  Soul Shard mechanic forces you to grind more than other Classes have to.
 Great Raid/Group Utility  Managing Threat as a Warlock is challenging
 Strong Debuffs  Pets tend to die from AoE Damage during encounters (this will not matter if you pick a proper build, however)
 Good survivability (that, however, is somewhat Build-dependant)  Competition for Cloth Caster Gear tends to be very high

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The Best Race Choice

Note: Here, we will point you only towards the best PvE DPS Warlock Race. If you'd like to know more about other race picks, please check our WoW Classic Beginners Guide, where we dive deep into all available Mage's race choices for both factions.

Alliance
Alliance

Human racials do not boost Warlock's PvE capabilities at all. This makes Gnome the best choice if you want to capitalize on every minor advantage available. His Intellect Racial is very strong as it provides additional Mana and Spell Critical Strike Chance. Engineering Specialization is surprisingly valuable because Engi is a go-to PvE profession, and Escape Artist will allow you to escape death from AoE damage from time to time.

Horde
Horde
Both Horde Races that can choose the path of a Warlock are pretty much equally good for PvE, so the choice is purely up to one's preference. If you want to have some more utility in a form of Cannibalize and Will of the Forsaken, go for Undead. If you want to pursue DPS at all costs, Orc will be the best choice for you, thanks to his Pet Damage increasing Racial (this will not matter if you pick the DS/Ruin Build, however).

The Best Professions Choice

There are two professions that make a real impact in Raids and they are Engineering and Tailoring (Alchemy is also a decent option, but you can buy Flasks, Elixirs, and Potions from other players, which makes it much less impactful). Engineering gives you access to powerful explosives that increase your AoE and Single-Target DPS. Moreover, Engi gadgets come in handy in many back-to-the-wall situations. The fact that Engineering is also considered the best PvP profession is an added benefit to its power in PvE environment. Tailoring, a seemingly mediocre PvE profession, gives you access to a powerful Bind on Pickup Robe - Robe of the Void which is a pre-Raid BiS that is great during phase Phase 1 and stays competitive in Phase 2. Getting it will definitely raise the power level of your character during the first few Phases of Classic.

At the start, you should pick Mining to supplement your Engineering Skill, you should also stock up on Cloths instead of vendoring/selling them. After you max out Engi, you should switch Mining to Tailo, as it can be easily (and rather cheaply) leveled without a supporting profession.

Note: If you want to know more about all available professions and secondary skills, please check our detailed WoW Classic Professions Guide.

Statistics Priority

  1. Spell Damage/Shadow Damage - Increases your Damage done with Spells. The damage bonus from Spell Damage is calculated differently for different Spells and their Ranks, but in general, this is the best statistic for Warlocks.
  1. Spell Critical Chance - Gives you a chance to do additional (Critical) Damage with your offensive Spells. This statistic has a lot of value for Warlocks thanks to Talents, like Improved Shadow Bolt and Ruin, which are staples of competitive Warlock builds.
  1. Spell Hit Chance -  Increases your chance to hit with all your offensive Spells. You need a total of 16% Hit Rating. Getting Hit-Capped should be your one of your priorities while gearing up for Raids.
  1. Spell Penetration - Allows your spells to bypass some of the Target's Spell Resistance. This statistic allows you to deal more damage against Shadow-resistant Bosses.
  1. Intellect - Increases your total Mana Pool and provides you with additional Spell Critical Chance (59,5 Int = 1% Spell Critical Strike Chance).

Statistic Priority for a Warlock:

Spell Damage/Shadow Damage  Spell Critical Chance  Spell Hit Cap  Spell Penetration Intellect

Note: Because of the Life Tap ability and the Demonic Embrace Talent, Stamina is more valuable than Spirit, but these stats should not be prioritized.

 

The Best Talent Builds

Proper Talent allocation is essential for maximizing Damage output. Here, we will describe the most optimal spec and lead you through the Talent Trees level-by-level to explain some choices.

There are two competitive Warlock DPS Builds to choose from if you are DPS-oriented:

  • Demonic Sacrifice + Ruin Build (DS/Ruin) - By far the most popular build. It utilizes the Demonic Sacrifice Talent from Demonology Tree to provide +15% Increased Shadow Damage at the cost of sacrificing a pet. Despite the fact that all Demonology Talents up to DM are rather mediocre (and some are straight-up useless because they boost Warlock's pet that gets sacrificed anyway), the build is considered as the best when it comes to raw DPS numbers. The fact that Demo Talents other than DS are not that useful allows you to tinker with the build and adjust it to your liking. We feature a version that gives you an additional defensive option, thanks to Fel Domination, Improved Voidwalker and Master Summoner Talents (the idea is that, in a case of emergency, you quickly summon your Voidwalker and sacrifice it immediately to shield yourself from incoming damage).
  • Shadow Mastery + Ruin Build (SM/Ruin) - The less popular, but still competitive build that doesn't force you to sacrifice your pet. The build provides 5% less bonus Shadow Damage than the DS/Ruin variant, but it lets you take advantage of your pet's buffs. You can be sure than at least one Warlock will be forced to run this build in the Raid environment to provide Tanks with Imp's Blood Pact Stamina buff. Your Damage output with this build will rise considerably if you meet two conditions. Firstly, you have to be allowed to cast Corruption (to take advantage of the Nightfall Talent), and secondly, you have to keep your Imp alive. If you manage to meet these two conditions, you might even deal more DPS than DS/Ruin Warlocks.

DS/Ruin Warlock PvE DPS Build
Talent allocation for DS/Ruin Build

Affliction Tree:

  • 2/5 Suppression - Provides you with 4% additional Affliction Spell Hit Chance. Ideally, you'd want 6%, but other Talents are more important.
  • 5/5 Improved Corruption - This makes your Corruption instant-to-cast. Even if you won't be allowed to cast Corruption on bosses, this Talent will make your AoE/trash mob rotations smoother.
  • 2/2 Improved Life Tap - This is a must-have Talent as Life Tap is your main Sustain source. Note: Just remember that Healers don't like it when you use Life Tap too liberally (during an AoE damage-heavy phase, for example...)

Demonology Tree:

  • 2/2 Improved Healthstone - 20% extra Health from a Healthstone can save your life. Pretty much every Raid member will want an Improved Healthstone, so be prepared.
  • 5/5 Demonic Embrace - Extra Health at the cost of decreased regeneration. Worth it as it allows you to use Life Tap more.
  • 3/3 Improved Voidwalker - As previously mentioned, we take this to make Sacrifice shield stronger. 
  • 1/1 Fel Domination - A component of DS/Ruin Warlock's defensive shield combo.
  • 5/5 Fel Stamina - Treat these 5 points liberally.
  • 2/2 Master Summoner - Another component of DS/Ruin Warlock's defensive shield combo.
  • 2/5 Unholy Power - Another 2 points that can be placed liberally. Putting them here is good if you farm/grind solo from time to time.
  • 1/1 Demonic Sacrifice - The only reason you go this far up the Demonology tree. It allows you to sacrifice your demonic pet to gain a pet-specific buff. You will want to sacrifice a Succubus to receive a 15% Increase in Shadow Damage dealt.

Destruction Tree:

  • 5/5 Improved Shadow Bolt - Your rotation consists of, well... only a Shadow Bolt and this Talent makes it better.
  • 2/5 Cataclysm - Makes your Destruction spells more efficient. You might consider putting 4 points here (at the cost of Suppression), but Life Tap should be enough to sustain you without that.
  • 5/5 Bane - Faster Shadow Bolt casts = more DPS.
  • 5/5 Devastation. 
  • 1/1 Shadowburn - Gives you an Instant-cast damaging Spell that can be used when you are relocating to optimize your DPS by minimizing downtime.
  • 2/2 Destructive Reach - More range on your Shadow Bolt will provide you with additional room for maneuvers.
  • 1/1 Ruin - Makes your Destruction Spell Critical Strikes deal 200% instead of standard 150% Damage.

SM/Ruin Warlock PvE DPS Build
Talent allocation for SM/Ruin Build

Affliction Tree:

  • 5/5 Suppression.
  • 5/5 Improved Corruption.
  • 2/2 Improved Drain Soul - treat these two points liberally; you can allocate them to Improved Curse of Weakness if needed.
  • 2/2 Improved Life Tap.
  • 3/3 Improved Curse of Agony - good Talent if you are allowed to use CoA.
  • 1/5 Fel Concentration - treat this Talent point liberally. You can transfer it to the Improved Curse of Weakness Talent if needed.
  • 1/1 Amplify Curse - a handy tool that improves your next Curse cast. This will definitely find a lot of uses in a Raid.
  • 2/2 Grim Reach - additional range on your spells is always welcome.
  • 2/2 Nightfall - this Talent will visibly increase your DPS if you are allowed to use Corruption, that is.
  • 1/1 Siphon Life - Solid damage over time effect that also heals you. It increases the build's PvP viability by a lot.
  • 1/1 Curse of Exhaustion - useful for kiting adds, especially when combined with Amplify Curse, but there are must stronger slow effects out there.
  • 5/5 Shadow Mastery - Increases damage dealt by your Shadow spells by 10%; 5% less than Demonic Sacrifice, but you are allowed to keep your Pet.

Destruction Tree:

  • 5/5 Improved Shadow Bolt.
  • 5/5 Bane
  • 2/2 Improved Firebolt - Increases your Imp's DPS; if you manage to keep it alive which is quite a feat in some engagements.
  • 5/5 Devastation. 
  • 1/1 Shadowburn.
  • 2/2 Destructive Reach.
  • 1/1 Ruin.

 

Where to get Pre-Raid/Raid BiS Gear

In order to maximize your DPS, you should aim to assemble the best possible Gear. This applies to both Pre-Raid and each of the Raid Tiers/Phases.

Note1: The list will be updated with new items concurrently with the introduction of new Raids/Phases, so remember to visit this page after a new Raid opens for an update on what current best Warlock items in each lot are.

The Best Warlock Items
Main Hand
  • Pre-Raid - Dire Nail of Shadow Wrath (Drop from Shade of Eranikus, Sunken Temple)
  • Phase 1 - Azuresong Mageblade (drop from Golemagg the Incinerator, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Off-Hand
  • Pre-Raid - Drakestone of Shadow Wrath (Drop from Weaver, Dreamscythe, and Hazzas, Sunken Temple; note: The item has a Random Enchantment)
  • Phase 1 - Drakestone of Shadow Wrath
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Ranged
  • Pre-Raid - Lunar Wand of Shadow Wrath (BoE World Drop; can be purchased on AH; note: The item has a Random Enchantment)
  • Phase 1 - Lunar Wand of Shadow Wrath
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Trinket 1
  • Pre-Raid - Eye of the Beast  (Quest Reward from "HordeFor the Horde!" / "AllianceGeneral Drakkisath's Demise", Upper Blackrock Spire)
  • Phase 1 - Eye of the Beast
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Trinket 2
  • Pre-Raid - Briarwood Reed (Drop from Jed Runewatcher, Upper Blackrock Spire)
  • Phase 1 - Talisman of Ephemeral Power (drop from Baron Geddon, Gaar, Golemagg the Incinerator, and Magmadar, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Neck
  • Pre-Raid - Star of Mystaria (Drop from Balnazzar, Stratcholme)
  • Phase 1 - Choker of the Fire Lord (drop from Ragnaros, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Ring 1
  • Pre-Raid - Songstone of Ironforge (Quest Reward from "AllianceThe Princess's Surprise", Blackrock Depths) / Eye of Orgrimmar (Quest Reward from "HordeThe Princess Saved?", Blackrock Depths)
  • Phase 1 - Ring of Spell Power (drop from Shazzrah, Lucifron, Gehennas, and Sulfuron Harbinger, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Ring 2
  • Pre-Raid - Maiden's Circle (BoE World Drop; can be purchased on AH)
  • Phase 1 - Maiden's Circle
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Head
  • Pre-Raid - Crimson Felt Hat (Drop from Magistrate Barthilas, Stratcholme)
  • Phase 1 - Nemesis Skullcap (drop from Onyxia, Onyxia's Lair)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Chest
  • Pre-Raid -  Robe of the Archmage (Tailoring Recipe that drops from Darkmaster Gandling, Scholomance; note: the robe is Bind on Pickup, which means that you have to craft it yourself. It does not require Tailoring Skill to use, however)
  • Phase 1 - Robe of Volatile Power (drop from Lucifron, Shazzrah, Sulfuron Harbinger, and Gehennas, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Legs
  • Pre-Raid - Skyshroud Leggings (drop from Highlord Omokk, Lower Blackrock Spire)
  • Phase 1 - Nemesis Leggings (drop from Ragnaros, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Gloves
  • Pre-Raid - Hands of Power (drop from Quartermaster Zigris, Lower Blackrock Spire)
  • Phase 1 - Hands of Power
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Boots
  • Pre-Raid - Master's Boots of Shadow Wrath (BoE World Drop; can be purchased on AH; note: The item has a Random Enchantment) / Omnicast Boots (drop from Golem Lord Ardelmach, Blackrock Depths)
  • Phase 1 - Master's Boots of Shadow Wrath
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Shoulders
  • Pre-Raid - Eternal Spaulders of Shadow Wrath  (BoE World Drop; can be purchased on AH; note: The item has a Random Enchantment)
  • Phase 1 - Eternal Spaulders of Shadow Wrath
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Wrists
  • Pre-Raid - Master's Bracers of Frozen Wrath (drop from Lord Incendius, Blackrock Depths; note: The item has a Random Enchantment)
  • Phase 1 - Master's Bracers of Frozen Wrath
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Belt
  • Pre-Raid - Ban'thok Sash (drop from Ok'thor the Breaker, Blackrock Depths)
  • Phase 1 - Mana Igniting Cord (drop from Golemagg the Incinerator, Garr, Baron Geddon, and Magmadar, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Back
  • Pre-Raid - Archivist Cape of Shadow Wrath (drop from Archivist Galford, Stratcholme; note: The item has a Random Enchantment) / Master's Cloak of Shadow Wrath  (BoE World Drop; can be purchased on AH; note: The item has a Random Enchantment)
  • Phase 1 - Master's Cloak of Shadow Wrath / Sapphiron Drape (drop from Onyxia, Onyxia's Lair)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA

 

The Best Enchants and Consumables

Proper enchants and consumables will greatly increase your Damage output. While getting enchants is a one-time-deal, farming consumables might be a real chore, but it is still worth it as numbers clearly show.

The Best Enchants
Weapon (1H) Enchant Weapon - Spell Power (+ 30 Spell Damage)
Weapon (TH) Enchant Weapon - Spell Power (+ 30 Spell Damage)
Head Lesser Arcanum of Voracity (+8 Intellect, available from Libram of Voracity Quest in Burning Steppes)
Chest Enchant Chest - Greater Stats (+4 to all stats)
Legs Lesser Arcanum of Voracity (+8 Intellect, available from Libram of Voracity Quest in Burning Steppes)
Hands Enchant Gloves - Riding Skill (Minor Raiding Speed Increase)
Feet Enchant Boots - Minor Speed (+8% Run Speed)
Shoulders Chromatic Mantle of the Dawn (+5 to all Resistances)
Wrists Enchant Bracer - Greater Intellect (+7 Intellect)
Back Enchant Cloak - Greater Resistance  (+5 to all Resistances)

The Best Consumables
Flask of Supreme Power
Flask of Supreme Power
+150 Spell Power for 2 hours; effect persists through death. Created by Alchemy. The recipe can be dropped from Ras Frostwhisper, Scholomance. 
Major Mana Potion
Major Mana Potion
Restores 1350 to 2250 Mana. Created by Alchemy. Recipe drops from various high-level mobs, elites, and Bosses.
Greater Arcane Elixir
Greater Arcane Elixir
+35 Spell Damage for 1 hour. Created by Alchemy. The recipe can be dropped from Fireguard Destroyers in Blackrock Depths and Scareshield Raiders in Blackrock Spire.
Demonic Rune
Demonic Rune
Restores 1356 mana at the cost of 862 life. Drop from Demons in Azshara, Felwood, and Blasted Lands (Satyrs and Fel Guards).
Major Healthstone
Major Healthstone
Instantly restores 1200 Health. Created by Warlocks.
Cerebral Cortex Compound
Cerebral Cortex Compound
+25 Intellect for 1 hour. Obtained from "Infallible Mind" repeatable Quest, Blasted Lands
Nightfin Soup
Nightfin Soup
It provides 8 mana per 5 seconds for 10 minutes. Created by Cooking.
Wizard Oil
Wizard Oil
+24 Spell Damage. Created by Enchanting. This is applied to a Weapon.

 

Rotations

In Classic, Warlock follows more of a priority list than a strict rotation. This means that if you have multiple spells available for casting, you should always choose the one that is higher on the list.

Note: most of the time, you'll want to use your Cooldowns at the start of combat, so that you'll get a second (and a third in long encounters) charge before the fight ends.

Note2: You might not be allowed to cast your DoTs (Corruption/Curse of Agony) and/or tasked with maintaining a specific Curse on a Target.

Please use the following Priority List for sustained Single-Target Damage output:

  1. Maintain Curse Debuff (if designated for it)
Curse of Weakness Curse of Recklessness / Curse of Elements Curse of Shadow
  1. Maintain Corruption (if you were allowed to use it)
Corruption
  1. Shadowburn while relocating to minimize downtime
Shadowburn
  1. Spam Shadow Bolt as your main Damage source
Shadow Bolt 
Please use the following Sequence while in the Multi-Target Engagement:
  1. Use Hellfire / Rain of Fire (if getting into melee is dangerous) if dealing with adds is a priority
Hellfire + Rain of Fire
  1. Cast Corruption and Siphon Life (if applicable) on all Targets
Corruption / Siphon Life
  1. Resume your Single-Target Rotation
Shadow Bolt 

 

Tips and Tricks for aspiring Warlock Raiders

  1. If you want to deal more Damage and stand out from your Raid competition, Stack Consumables. Spending some additional Gold or a few extra hours grinding might secure you a spot in a Raid, as Raid leaders prefer dedicated and well-prepared players.
  1. Make sure that you have enough Soul Shards before a Raid. This will allow you to avoid awkward situations. In other words: always remember about the basics of your Class!
  1. If you plan on using the SM/Ruin Build, learn how to micromanage your pet effectively. Keeping your Imp alive will increase your overall DPS by about 10%.
  1. Always try to improve. Get an addon that tracks your performance and try to optimize your equipment and rotation.

 

END NOTE

This Guide should help you to prepare yourself for that legendary Vanilla  Raiding Experience and allow you to progress through Raid Tiers efficiently and with a good amount of fun.

We hope that you have found this guide useful and informative.  If we have missed a piece of information that is important to you, please let us know! 

Please do note that this is an early version of our guide, and we will be happy to receive constructive criticism, that will help us improve it, so leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

Pictures used in this article are the intellectual property of Blizzard Entertainment Inc.