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Demonology Warlock DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.0.3)

Last updated on Jul 24, 2016 at 13:15 by Furty 55 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Demonology Warlock core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Legion 7.0.3. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Demonology Warlock.

The other pages of our Demonology Warlock guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Author

This guide has been written by Furty who raids in Serenity, one of the top World of Warcraft guilds. He plays most classes at the highest level. You can follow him on Twitter and watch him play on Twitch.

1. Ability Priority List

Demonology is a very consistent and reliable specialization, meaning you should always be able to easily predict how your cooldowns will overlap. There are no rotational procs to throw a curveball into the mix, so this specialization focuses primarily on using your most important abilities exactly on cooldown without delay. This ability priority list assumes you are using the recommend talent build(s) from our Talents page.

  1. Maintain Doom Icon Doom at all times.
  2. Cast Summon Darkglare Icon Summon Darkglare (if talented) on cooldown.
  3. Cast Call Dreadstalkers Icon Call Dreadstalkers on cooldown.
  4. Cast Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard on cooldown.
    • Immediately buff your Doomguard with Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment and ensure it stays empowered for its entire duration.
  5. Cast Hand of Gul'dan Icon Hand of Gul'dan at 4+ Soul Shards.
  6. Cast Grimoire: Felguard Icon Grimoire: Felguard (if talented Grimoire of Service Icon Grimoire of Service) on cooldown.
  7. Cast Soul Harvest Icon Soul Harvest (if talented) on cooldown.
  8. Cast Command Demon Icon Command Demon+Felstorm Icon Felstorm on cooldown.
  9. Cast Life Tap Icon Life Tap while moving if you are below 60% Mana.
  10. Cast Demonwrath Icon Demonwrath if there are 5+ targets stacked around your demons, or while moving if you are above 60% Mana.
  11. Cast Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt (or Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt if talented) to generate Soul Shards.

The core component of this specialization is to fluidly maintain a flow of demons while ensuring all your major summons are immediately empowered. Budgeting Soul Shards is very important, as bankrupting yourself before Call Dreadstalkers Icon Call Dreadstalkers comes off cooldown or a major cooldown is available will accumulate into major damage losses. Keep especially close track of Doom Icon Doom on multi-target so you do not overcap from Soul Shard influx when Doom Icon Doom ticks. While this specialization does not output much burst, your sustained damage is quite good, which is why maintaining all the components of it is so important.

2. T18 4-Piece + Fragment of the Dark Star Rotation

If you are currently using the T18 4-piece bonus and a Fragment of the Dark Star Icon Fragment of the Dark Star of any item level, you should ignore the rotation listed above. When using the combination of these items, it is no longer worth the Soul Shard cost to cast Call Dreadstalkers Icon Call Dreadstalkers. You will instead focus on summoning as many Wild Imps as possible by casting low shard (1-2) Hand of Gul'dan Icon Hand of Gul'dans. The idea is to obtain a lot of extra imps from your Fragment of the Dark Star Icon Fragment of the Dark Star, which has an equal chance to proc no matter how many shards are used by Hand of Gul'dan. For this reason, casting Hand of Gul'dan at 4 Shards is no longer efficient. The more Wild Imps you currently have summoned, the higher more demons will be summoned by your T18 4-piece bonus, which will result in extremely high single target damage.

2.1. When to Empower Imps

Generally speaking, you should cast Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment every other 1-Shard Hand of Gul'dan Icon Hand of Gul'dan cast. Ideally, you want to empower your Imps when you have 4-6 of them active and not empowered.

3. Important Notes

3.1. The Importance of AddOns

The redesigned Demonology features a very heavy amount of pets, timers, debuffs, and resources. Unfortunately, this means that Weak Auras (or a similar aura tracking AddOn) is absolutely required to play this specialization at a very effective level. This is discussed more on the AddOns page. It should be noted, however, that playing this specialization without AddOns is completely possible. If your goal is to master this specialization and perform at a high level, however, it is encouraged you look into optimizing through Weak Auras.

3.2. Soul Shards

Just like the other two Warlock specializations, Soul Shards are your primary resource. Properly managing them is crucially important to success as this specialization. One of the most important interactions of this specialization is the interplay between Call Dreadstalkers Icon Call Dreadstalkers and Hand of Gul'dan Icon Hand of Gul'dan. Hand of Gul'dan consumes up to 4 Soul Shards and Call Dreadstalkers consumes 2 Soul Shards. Since you have a maximum of 5 Soul Shards, that means there is no possible way to cast Call Dreadstalkers after dumping Soul Shards via Hand of Gul'dan unless you are playing Soul Conduit Icon Soul Conduit and/or Demonic Calling Icon Demonic Calling. Pay close attention to your current Soul Shards with respect to your Call Dreadstalkers cooldown so you do not end up delaying the summon due to lack of Soul Shards. The same applies to Summon Darkglare Icon Summon Darkglare, as this should be used nearly exactly on cooldown.

This level of planning is not as urgent for Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard and Grimoire: Felguard Icon Grimoire: Felguard, as they have lengthier cooldowns.

3.3. Demonic Empowerment

One of the most important aspects of this specialization is ensuring that your demons are always buffed by Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment. If you forget, or are late to use this spell, you gain zero benefit from your Mastery: Master Demonologist Icon Mastery: Master Demonologist. Due to the significant Haste buff with Demonic Empowerment, your pets will get off nearly 60% more attacks during their lifespan if you correctly maintain the buff.

3.3.1. Empowerment Overlap

It can be very efficient to overlap Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment when using Grimoire: Felguard Icon Grimoire: Felguard and Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard. For example, conceptualize a player casting Summon Doomguard and then Demonic Empowerment, then following that with Grimoire: Felguard Icon Grimoire: Felguard and Demonic Empowerment. In this situation, it would be much more efficient for the player to instead cast Summon Doomguard followed by Grimoire: Felguard, then casting Demonic Empowerment to buff them both. If you are fast enough, you will still be able to empower the Doomguard before it even finishes its first cast, meaning there is no loss of damage.

This overlap effect is very useful when dealing with Grimoire: Felguard Icon Grimoire: Felguard and Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard. Most of Demonology revolves around a very short set of cooldowns, which puts pressure on using your important spells on cooldown. Doomguard and Grimoire have long enough cooldowns, however, that delaying them by a few seconds to fit a convenient rotational timing is often a gain. Using Grimoire: Felguard Icon Grimoire: Felguard then Call Dreadstalkers Icon Call Dreadstalkers and immediately buffing them both with Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment is a good way to save globals that could be spent on generating Soul Shards. To reiterate, this concept can be applied to all your lengthier cooldown summons. Bear in mind, however, that the shorter cooldown the summon, the more pressing it is to use the summon on cooldown, as it results in significantly more spellcasts over the course of an encounter. Long cooldowns, however, such as Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard, will likely not get penalized in this fashion if they are delayed by a few seconds, as you will only get to use it several times anyways.

3.4. Demon Choice

Always use a Felguard, your Demonology-specific demon. If you chose Grimoire of Supremacy Icon Grimoire of Supremacy as your Tier 5 talent, then use the Doomguard for all situations. Command Demon Icon Command Demon is very useful for the Felguard, as the Felstorm Icon Felstorm deals solid damage on both single target and AoE. Command Demon Icon Command Demon should not be used if you are playing with a Doomguard, however, as it only provides Spell Lock Icon Spell Lock (an interrupt).

Remember to turn off your Felguard's Threatening Presence Icon Threatening Presence.

3.5. Darkglare and Hand of Doom

Summon Darkglare Icon Summon Darkglare can be extremely potent on fights where you can take full advantage of it reliably. This is best paired with the Hand of Doom Icon Hand of Doom talent to ensure the Summon Darkglare Icon Summon Darkglare is hitting everything (as long as they are stacked). A good way to overlap Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment when combining this talents is to stack 5 Soul Shards, cast Hand of Gul'dan Icon Hand of Gul'dan and immediately Summon Darkglare Icon Summon Darkglare, then use Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment. This will apply Doom Icon Doom to all the target Hand of Gul'dan Icon Hand of Gul'dan hits, and empower all your demons evenly.

3.6. Tier 1 Talents

The more globals you have available to cast Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt or Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt, the better Demonic Calling Icon Demonic Calling becomes. Demonic Calling also scales well with Haste, as you will be able to cast more times before Call Dreadstalkers Icon Call Dreadstalkers comes off cooldown. The difference between Shadowy Inspiration Icon Shadowy Inspiration and Demonic Calling is very small in terms of overall DPS delta, and largely comes down to a matter of preference. Eventually in Legion Demonic Calling will outscale Shadowy Inspiration at high gear levels.

3.7. Tier 2 Talents

These talents are all interchangeable depending on the fight, however, you will most commonly use Improved Dreadstalkers Icon Improved Dreadstalkers. It is the best for 1-2 targets, is extremely simple to use, and has good synergy with Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment. Implosion Icon Implosion overtakes this talent on situations where there is heavy AoE. The ideal way to play when using Implosion Icon Implosion is to wait for your Wild Imps to be nearly ready to despawn, then use Implosion Icon Implosion. That way, you get the full benefit of their lifespan and the damage from Implosion Icon Implosion. Wild Imps last 12 seconds, and the best way to track this is through an AddOn. Impending Doom Icon Impending Doom is only useful on encounters that have 3 long lived targets that are stacked. In this situation, Impending Doom Icon Impending Doom gains value as you can couple it with Hand of Doom Icon Hand of Doom.

3.8. Tier 4 Talents

Hand of Doom Icon Hand of Doom outscales Soul Harvest Icon Soul Harvest once there are 2 or more stacked targets for the majority of the encounter. Power Trip Icon Power Trip is inferior to both talents in all situations.

3.9. Grimoire Selection

Grimoire of Synergy Icon Grimoire of Synergy is the best choice for an encounter with heavy AoE, though it also presents the most randomness of the 3 choices. Grimoire of Service Icon Grimoire of Service is better in all other scenarios.

3.10. Defensive Utility

Take full advantage of your defensive spells. The Tier 5 talents, in particular, offer an array of movement and defensive cooldowns. In many situations, the mobility advantage from Demonic Circle Icon Demonic Circle or Burning Rush Icon Burning Rush gives you more survivability than Dark Pact Icon Dark Pact. Unending Resolve Icon Unending Resolve is a solid damage reduction that can be used any time you feel threatened.

4. Core Concepts

Demonology is a very predictable and procedural specialization. Much of the optimization comes from paying close attention to your cooldowns and minimizing fundamental errors. There are 3 major concepts that form the central trinity of optimizing for success:

  1. Soul Shard & cooldown management;
  2. Thal'kiel's Consumption;
  3. movement management.

4.1. Cooldown Management

This concept essentially combines much of what we talked about earlier in the guide and concerns the practical application of how you manage your cooldowns. Ensuring you always have enough Soul Shards to immediately cast Call Dreadstalkers Icon Call Dreadstalkers, correctly overlapping Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerments to save global cooldowns, etc. There is nothing new to discuss that we have not already talked about, but it is very important that you give this the proper attention and respect as it forms the majority of the skill cap.

4.2. Thal'kiel's Consumption

This is one of the core components of Demonology in Legion, however, it is not yet released into the game.

4.3. Movement Management

While it is difficult to describe the best ways to position and move during a dungeon or raid encounter, it is essential to your success as a Demonology Warlock. Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway can be highly effective on many encounters, and is under appreciated by many players and raid groups. Think of Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway as a raid cooldown that can instantly teleport your entire raid group 40 yards, and the potential this ability holds quickly becomes clear. Ask your group if they want Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway anywhere specific; if not used for your strategy, use it instead as a personal cooldown. Use Life Tap Icon Life Tap to cover most of your movement, as it is inefficient to waste globals using it in the regular rotation. If your Mana pool is already healthy, you can use Demonwrath Icon Demonwrath instead. Finally, always try to position yourself in a location central to fight movement. For example, if the boss is being moved in a circle, try to stay on the inside of the kite path to ensure minimal movement.

4.3.1. Quiet Movement

Many players will unconsciously move during fights, despite it being unnecessary. For example, sometimes the boss or adds will be moved by the tank a couple yards, and though you are still in range to cast, you subconsciously mirror that movement, costing you global cooldowns. Consciously work to "quiet" your movement, and reduce unnecessary movement to a minimum. The best way to see this in action is to take a video of your raid, then watch yourself play. Most players will be surprised by the amount of wasted movement they commit. When you are forced to move, don't forget to use Life Tap Icon Life Tap, and make your path as direct and decisive as possible.

5. Opening Sequence

  1. Precast Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment at 2.0 seconds on the countdown.
  2. Use Draenic Intellect Potion Icon Draenic Intellect Potion.
  3. Cast Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt.
  4. Apply Doom Icon Doom.
  5. Cast Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard.
  6. Cast Grimoire: Felguard Icon Grimoire: Felguard.
  7. Cast Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment.
  8. Cast Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt.
  9. Cast Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt.
  10. Cast Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt.
  11. Cast Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt.
  12. Activate Soul Harvest Icon Soul Harvest.
  13. Cast Call Dreadstalkers Icon Call Dreadstalkers.
  14. Cast Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment.
  15. Cast Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt.
  16. Cast Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt.
  17. Apply Doom Icon Doom.

If you are playing with Summon Darkglare Icon Summon Darkglare, replace all the Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt casts with Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt. Cast an extra Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt at the start of the encounter, then Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard, Grimoire: Felguard Icon Grimoire: Felguard, and Summon Darkglare Icon Summon Darkglare before casting Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment.

5.1. Opener with T18 4-piece and Fragment

There is some variance in this opener depending on your Soul Conduit Icon Soul Conduit and Power Trip Icon Power Trip procs.

  1. Precast Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment at 6.0 seconds on the countdown.
  2. Use Draenic Intellect Potion Icon Draenic Intellect Potion.
  3. Precast Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt at 4.0s on the countdown.
  4. Precast Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt at 2.0s on the countdown.
  5. Apply Doom Icon Doom.
  6. Cast Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard.
  7. Cast Grimoire: Felguard Icon Grimoire: Felguard.
  8. Cast Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment.
  9. Cast Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt.
  10. Cast Hand of Gul'dan Icon Hand of Gul'dan.
  11. Cast Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment.
  12. Cast Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt.
  13. Follow normal priority for T18 4-piece and Fragment.

5.2. Tier 18 Bonuses

The T18 2-piece bonus gives you a stacking buff called Demon Rush Icon Demon Rush whenever you cast Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt or Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt. Demon Rush stacks up to 10 times, each time increasing the damage of your demons by 2%. You should always maintain this buff.

The T18 4-piece bonus gives a chance to spawn a demon when your Wild Imps cast Felfire Bolt Icon Felfire Bolt. These demons do not interact with your rotation and simply provide a passive DPS gain.

6. ChangeLog

  • 24 Jul. 2016: Added section explaining the 4-piece + Fragment "cheese" playstyle and additional opening sequence.
  • 18 Jul. 2016: Updated for the Legion pre-patch.
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