Destruction Warlock DPS Spec, Builds, Talents, and Glyphs (MoP 5.4)

111 comments
General Information

On this page, we present the viable talent and glyph choices for Destruction Warlocks in World of Warcraft MoP 5.4. We detail what each of the talents and glyphs do and in which situations they should be taken.

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

About Our Reviewers

This guide has been reviewed and approved by two prominent Warlock theorycrafters: Gahddo, who maintains the Warlock profiles and rotations in Simulation Craft, and Evrelia, who raids in ScrubBusters and frequently publishes video on Youtube.

1. Talent Choices↑top

Level Choices
15 Dark Regeneration Soul Leech Harvest Life
30 Demonic Breath Mortal Coil Shadowfury
45 Soul Link Sacrificial Pact Dark Bargain
60 Blood Horror Burning Rush Unbound Will
75 Grimoire of Supremacy Grimoire of Service Grimoire of Sacrifice
90 Archimonde's Darkness Kil'jaeden's Cunning Mannoroth's Fury
+ show color blind markers - hide color blind markers
  • Performance-enhancing
  • Survival
  • Crowd Control
  • Movement
  • Utility
  • Situational

There is no longer such a thing as a default build. Most of the talents are now viable. They can easily be changed, thanks to Dust of Disappearance Icon Dust of Disappearance (and Tome of the Clear Mind Icon Tomes of the Clear Mind from level 86 to 90). You will frequently find yourself changing talents and glyphs between encounters, in order to adapt your play style to different mechanics. Therefore, it is important to understand what each of your talents does and how they affect your play style.

2. Tier 1 Talents↑top

Tier 1 talents give you the choice between self-healing talents.

  • Dark Regeneration Icon Dark Regeneration restores some of your life and increases healing received for 12 seconds. It also restores some of your pet's life. It has a 2-minute cooldown.
  • Soul Leech Icon Soul Leech is a passive ability that causes your important offensive abilities to grant you a shield for 15 seconds. The shield's strength depends on the damage you deal with your abilities, but it cannot exceed 15% of your maximum health.
  • Harvest Life Icon Harvest Life is a passive ability that improves Drain Life Icon Drain Life, by increasing its damage done by 50% and its healing done by 150%.

You can consider Soul Leech Icon Soul Leech to be the default talent of this tier, because it is entirely passive. If an encounter requires you to heal yourself at specific times, then you will want to choose Dark Regeneration Icon Dark Regeneration or Harvest Life Icon Harvest Life, depending on how often you need to heal yourself. Harvest Life Icon Harvest Life makes Drain Life Icon Drain Life very powerful, as a self-healing spell, but it comes at a DPS cost (this is especially true for Affliction Warlock who can combine it with Soulburn Icon Soulburn).

3. Tier 2 Talents↑top

Tier 2 talents give you the choice between several crowd control abilities.

  • Demonic Breath Icon Demonic Breath reduces the speed of all enemies in front of you, within 10 yards, or 6 seconds. It has a 20-second cooldown.
  • Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coil is both a crowd control and a survival ability. It causes the target to run in fear for 3 seconds and restores 15% of your maximum health. It has a 45-second cooldown.
  • Shadowfury Icon Shadowfury stuns all enemies within 8 yards for 3 seconds.

Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coil will be the default choice as it also grants a bit of healing. If you need AoE crowd control, then you will go for Demonic Breath Icon Demonic Breath or Shadowfury Icon Shadowfury depending on what your raid will require.

4. Tier 3 Talents↑top

Tier 3 talents offer damage reduction mechanics. You have the choice between the following talents.

  • Soul Link Icon Soul Link causes 20% of the damage you take to be transfered to your demon and causes 3% of the damage you do to be healed back to you and your demon. This ability is only active when you have a demon active. Fall damage is not transfered to your demon. If you choose Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice as your Tier 5 talent, then Soul Link passively increases your maximum health by 20%.
  • Sacrificial Pact Icon Sacrificial Pact causes your demon to sacrifice 25% of its current health to give you a 10-second shield that absorbs up to 400% of the sacrificed health. If you do not have a demon out, 25% of your health is sacrificed instead. Sacrificial Pact is on a 1-minute cooldown.
  • Dark Bargain Icon Dark Bargain prevents all damage (except fall damage) for 8 seconds. After the 8 seconds are up, 50% of the damage prevented is dealt over 8 seconds. It has a 3-minute cooldown.

Soul Link Icon Soul Link is usually the best option if you use a demon Tier 5 talent (Grimoire of Service Icon Grimoire of Service / Grimoire of Supremacy Icon Grimoire of Supremacy). With Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice however, the 20% health increase is not very useful, compared to the massive shield with short cooldown provided by Sacrificial Pact Icon Sacrificial Pact.

Note that when using a demon, the choice between Soul Link and Sacrificial Pact can be affected by damage pattern. For example, in the encounter against the Kor'kron Dark Shaman, there is a mechanic that does 100% of your life roughly every minute. In this case, Sacrificial Pact is a must have. On fights like Thok, where the damage is periodic, Soul Link is definitely the best option.

Dark Bargain Icon Dark Bargain is also a strong talent. On a 3-minute cooldown, it enables you to bypass encounter mechanics or to significantly reduce the damage you take during periods of high raid damage. That said, it is mostly interesting on encounters with high damage-spikes or when you want to soften the damage that you take at critical times, so that your healers can focus on other raid members.

5. Tier 4 Talents↑top

Tier 4 talents offer crowd control and utility abilities that cost health to use.

  • Blood Horror Icon Blood Horror causes enemies to run in horror for up to 4 seconds, if they melee you while Blood Horror is active. Activating Blood Horror costs 5% of your maximum health. Once activated, Blood Horror lasts 1 minute.
  • Burning Rush Icon Burning Rush is an ability that you can toggle on and off without restriction. While it is active, your movement speed is increased by 50% but you lose 4% of your maximum health every second. During Burning Rush, movement-impairing effects cannot reduce your movement speed below 100% (your regular running speed).
  • Unbound Will Icon Unbound Will removes all magic and movement-impairing effects, as well as effects that cause loss of control of your character. It has a 1-minute cooldown and costs 20% of your maximum health.

Burning Rush Icon Burning Rush is extremely useful on fights where you need to move quickly (especially if there is no damage while you have to move).

Unbound Will Icon Unbound Will can be useful to remove harmful debuffs, movement-impairing effects, and all effects that cause you to lose control of your character. Note that if you are a Human Warlock, then you already have Every Man for Himself Icon Every Man for Himself, which does almost the same thing, just that it does not remove harmful debuffs.

Blood Horror Icon Blood Horror is not normally advised for raiding, although it may be useful on fights where adds may attack you. It is very strong for solo content.

6. Tier 5 Talents↑top

Tier 5 talents provide various modifications to your demons.

  • Grimoire of Supremacy Icon Grimoire of Supremacy replaces your minions with more powerful demons that deal 20% more damage. See the Demons section of our rotation page for more information.
  • Grimoire of Service Icon Grimoire of Service grants you new abilities that share a 2-minute cooldown and allow you to instantly summon a second demon for 20 seconds. The abilities are Grimoire: Felguard Icon Grimoire: Felguard (Demonology-only),Grimoire: Felhunter Icon Grimoire: Felhunter, Grimoire: Imp Icon Grimoire: Imp, Grimoire: Succubus Icon Grimoire: Succubus, and Grimoire: Voidwalker Icon Grimoire: Voidwalker. The temporary demon cannot be controlled and will attack your current target. It is possible that the temporary demon you summon be the same as your currently summoned demon. In this case, you will temporarily have two instances of the same demon fighting for you.
  • Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice sacrifices your demon to increase single-target spell damage by 15% to 25% (depending on the specialisation) and to regenerate 2% of maximum health every 5 seconds. Resummoning a demon cancels the effect. If you have chosen Soul Link Icon Soul Link as your Tier 3 talent, you will be passively granted +20% maximum health when you sacrifice your demon. As a Destruction Warlock, Grimoire of Sacrifice also causes your Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt to deal 15% additional damage over 3 seconds. Finally, you gain one of your demon's abilities, which you should choose based on the boss you are fighting:
    • Imp: Singe Magic Icon Singe Magic (useful for removing 1 stack of most debuffs);
    • Felhunter: Spell Lock Icon Spell Lock (useful on fights where interrupts are required);
    • Voidwalker: Shadow Bulwark Icon Shadow Bulwark (default choice);
    • Succubus: Whiplash Icon Whiplash (can be helpful on fights with adds).

Currently, all talents are very close in terms of performance, so whichever you choose will have little effect on your DPS. That said, Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice is still better when you need to deal damage to other targets, in addition to your main target.

A typical example of a fight where Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice is better is a fight with many adds that do not need to be killed, but that you can use to provide yourself with a near-unlimited supply of Burning Embers. That said, you need to remember that Grimoire of Sacrifice only boosts single-target spells but not spells you cast with Fire and Brimstone Icon Fire and Brimstone. So, on AoE fights where you rely a lot on Fire and Brimstone, Grimoire of Sacrifice does not outrank the other two talents.

7. Tier 6 Talents↑top

Tier 6 talents provide situational DPS increases.

Archimonde's Darkness Icon Archimonde's Darkness is the default choice on any low movement encounter. For heavy movement encounters, use Kil'jaeden's Cunning Icon Kil'jaeden's Cunning (even though Patch 5.4 made it possible to use Fel Flame Icon Fel Flame to handle periods of movement, Kil'jaeden's Cunning still has its uses). Mannoroth's Fury Icon Mannoroth's Fury does not buff the damage of Fire and Brimstone Icon Fire and Brimstone, so Archimonde's Darkness is the better talent for AoE damage, although Mannoroth's Fury can be used on low movement encounters with adds or multiple targets (such as The Fallen Protectors).

8. Major Glyphs↑top

The potentially useful major glyphs are listed below.

9. Minor Glyphs↑top

Minor Glyphs are cosmetic and none of them will improve your performance while raiding. Two of them will be useful while leveling or questing and might have very occasional uses in dungeons or raids.

10. Changelog↑top

  • 20 Nov. 2013: More updates from Gahddo and Evrelia. Reworded advice for choosing talents in Tier 3, 4, 5, and 6. Gave Glyph of Eternal Resolve more importance.
  • 28 Oct. 2013: Slightly improved explanations for choosing your Tier 6 talent.
  • 13 Sep. 2013: Updated advice for Tier 5 talent choice. Added note about Fel Flame Icon Fel Flame and Kil'jaeden's Cunning Icon Kil'jaeden's Cunning.
  • 11 Sep. 2013: Patch 5.4 update.
  • 23 May 2013: Improved explanations for choosing your Tier 5 talent.
  • 19 May 2013: Evrelia's review and Patch 5.3 update.
    • Soul Link Icon Soul Link grants +30% health (and not 25%, as the guide was previously saying).
    • Made Burning Rush Icon Burning Rush the default Tier 4 talent.
    • Improved Tier 5 explanations for choosing your talent.
    • Slightly reworded opinions for Tier 6 talents.
  • 07 Mar. 2013: Patch 5.2 update.
    • Soul Leech Icon Soul Leech now provides a shield instead of healing, which makes it a lot more interesting for raiding.
    • Blood Horror Icon Blood Horror, which replaces the old Blood Fear, is useless for raiding.
    • The increased damage from Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice has been reduced.
    • Kil'jaeden's Cunning Icon Kil'jaeden's Cunning no longer has an active component.
    • Improved advice for choosing Tier 5 talent.
    • Glyph of Burning Embers is now baseline.
    • Removed Glyph of Dark Soul Icon Glyph of Dark Soul from the list of advised glyphs, as it is never a DPS gain.
    • Added a mention to insist on the importance of Glyph of Healthstone Icon Glyph of Healthstone for survivability.