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Demonology Warlock DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.1)

Last updated on Nov 12, 2016 at 21:04 by Furty 149 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 7.1. 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 and Reviewer

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.

This guide has been reviewed and approvied by Imakki, one of the best Demonology Warlocks. He raids in Exploding Labrats and you can watch his stream 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 (if it will tick).
  2. Cast Summon Darkglare Icon Summon Darkglare (if talented) on cooldown.
  3. Cast Call Dreadstalkers Icon Call Dreadstalkers on cooldown.
  4. Cast Grimoire: Felguard Icon Grimoire: Felguard (if talented Grimoire of Service Icon Grimoire of Service) on cooldown.
  5. Cast Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard on cooldown.
  6. Cast Hand of Gul'dan Icon Hand of Gul'dan at 4+ Soul Shards.
  7. Cast Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment if any Demons are currently not empowered.
  8. Cast Soul Harvest Icon Soul Harvest (if talented) on cooldown.
  9. Cast  Icon Thal'kiel's Consumption when it is off cooldown and will have maximum impact (see Thal'kiel's Consumption section for details).
  10. Cast Command Demon Icon Command Demon+Felstorm Icon Felstorm on cooldown.
  11. Cast Life Tap Icon Life Tap while moving if you are below ~60% Mana.
  12. Cast Demonwrath Icon Demonwrath to generate Soul Shards if there are 3+ targets stacked around your demons, or while moving if you are above ~60% Mana.
  13. 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. Important Notes

2.1. 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.

2.2. 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.

2.3. 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.

2.3.1. 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.

2.4. An In-Depth Look at AoE

The cleave/AoE rotation when playing Demonology is radically different from the single target priority and may be confusing to newer players. The Mythic+ dungeon playstyle, in particular, is quite different than how you might be playing in a raid. When there are 3+ targets present and stacked, you should begin the following rotation:

  1. Cast Demonwrath Icon Demonwrath to generate Soul Shards.
  2. Cast Hand of Gul'dan Icon Hand of Gul'dan at 4+ Soul Shards.
  3. Cast Summon Darkglare Icon Summon Darkglare (if talented & available).
  4. Cast Implosion Icon Implosion.
  5. Cast Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment for your Darkglare.
  6. Cast Demonwrath Icon Demonwrath to generate Soul Shards.
  7. Cast Hand of Gul'dan Icon Hand of Gul'dan at 4+ Soul Shards.
  8. Cast Life Tap Icon Life Tap or a filler global.
  9. Cast Implosion Icon Implosion.

Essentially the AoE rotation uses Demonwrath Icon Demonwrath to generate Soul Shards quickly while spending them on Hand of Gul'dan Icon Hand of Gul'dan to fuel our Implosion Icon Implosions. It is important to note that after casting Hand of Gul'dan Icon Hand of Gul'dan, the meteor has to travel and explode before the new Imps spawn, so you want to delay about three quarters of a second before following it up with Implosion Icon Implosion. You can also use this time to cast a filler such as Life Tap Icon Life Tap rather than just waiting.

2.5. 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.

2.6. 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.

2.7. 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.

2.7.1. Shadowflame Usage

You need to keep Shadowflame Icon Shadowflame at 3 stacks on your main target whenever possible for maximum effect. Cast your first Shadowflame Icon Shadowflame charge, then cast a few filler spells. You can usually fit at least 3 filler spells between each stack of Shadowflame Icon Shadowflame. You will want to refresh Shadowflame Icon Shadowflame when it has 2.4 seconds or less left on its duration. If/when your stacks drop off, wait until 2 charges before restacking Shadowflame Icon Shadowflame.

2.8. 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.

2.9. Implosion Usage

You should aim to cast Implosion Icon Implosion right before 1 or 2 sets of your Imps are about to despawn whenever possible. Pick a central target to ensure greatest splash. One good way of doing it without timers is to cast Implosion Icon Implosion immediately after a Hand of Gul'dan Icon Hand of Gul'dan cast, as the new Imps will take a second or so to spawn while the Hand of Gul'dan impacts. This will consume all the old Imps before the fresh Imps spawn.

2.10. 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.

2.11. Doomguard and Infernal

You should use Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard as your primary DPS cooldown for single target. Whenever 2+ targets will be present for the majority of the duration, you should instead use Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal.

3. 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.

3.1. 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.

3.2. Spooky Skull: Thal'kiel's Consumption

 Icon Thal'kiel's Consumption is our hardest hitting ability, and one that takes a little bit of practice to get a feel for. Essentially, your Artifact weapon drains 6% of the health from your demon pets and converts it into one large blast of damage. This means that the more pets you have out before casting  Icon Thal'kiel's Consumption the larger your explosion will be. Since Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment also increases the health of your demon pets, it is also very important you empower them before casting  Icon Thal'kiel's Consumption.

Special summons, like Grimoire: Felguard Icon Grimoire: Felguard, also add to the damage of  Icon Thal'kiel's Consumption, as well as the additional imps summoned by the Improved Dreadstalkers Icon Improved Dreadstalkers talent.  Icon Thal'kiel's Consumption also benefits from damage bonuses such as Soul Harvest Icon Soul Harvest and Sin'dorei Spite Icon Sin'dorei Spite. Try and overlap this ability with such bonuses whenever possible as it will result in much larger damage values.

Before every  Icon Thal'kiel's Consumption, you should:

As a rule of thumb, "bigger is better" when it comes to  Icon Thal'kiel's Consumption. What I mean by this is that generally speaking the larger pets result in more damage as they have higher health values. For example, 2 Dreadstalkers result in more damage than 4 Imps, and Felguards are overall the most beneficial.

3.3. 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.

3.3.1. 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.

4. Opening Sequence

  1. Precast Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment at 3.0 seconds on the countdown.
  2. Use Potion of Deadly Grace Icon Potion of Deadly Grace.
  3. Precast Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt/Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt.
  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/Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt.
  9. Cast Summon Darkglare Icon Summon Darkglare (if talented) and cast Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment.
  10. Cast Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt/Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt.
  11. Cast Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt/Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt.
  12. Cast Demonbolt Icon Demonbolt/Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt.
  13. Activate Soul Harvest Icon Soul Harvest.
  14. Cast Call Dreadstalkers Icon Call Dreadstalkers.
  15. Cast Hand of Gul'dan Icon Hand of Gul'dan.
  16. Cast Demonic Empowerment Icon Demonic Empowerment.
  17. Cast  Icon Thal'kiel's Consumption.
  18. Maintain Doom Icon Doom.

5. ChangeLog

  • 12 Nov. 2016: Added an AoE In-Depth section to further clarify how to play in Mythic+ and AoE scenarios.
  • 14 Sep. 2016: Added Shadowflame section and cleaned up APL.
  • 29 Aug. 2016: Updated for Legion's launch.
  • 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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