Classic Warlock DPS Spec, Builds, and Talents
On this page, you will find out the best PvE talent choices and builds for your Warlock DPS in WoW Classic.
Warlocks are exceptionally strong damage dealers, but are sadly limited in raids. Corruption, Curse of Agony, and even Immolate are damage increases to use, but they take up debuff slots. In WoW Classic, you can only put a maximum of 16 debuffs on an enemy at any given time, meaning you need to carefully choose what debuffs to use. For Warlocks, this means that you cannot use most of your DoT abilities since they simply are not valuable enough for the raid's DPS. Some Warlocks will be in charge of putting a curse such as Curse of the Elements on the target, and leftover debuff slots are usually given to some Warlocks to use Corruption, but that is the extent of how much you can DoT. Instead, your damage will be based around Shadow Bolt.
Since your damage is based almost entirely around Shadow Bolt, your talent build will reflect that. There are two main builds that Warlocks will play in raids, known as DS/Ruin and SM/Ruin.
Warlock Leveling Builds
If you were looking for leveling builds, please refer to our leveling guide for Warlocks.
This is the most popular Warlock raiding build, known as DS/Ruin. The build is named for the two main talents you take, Demonic Sacrifice and Ruin. Demonic Sacrifice allows you to sacrifice your Succubus to get a +15% shadow damage buff, which is great since your rotation is entirely built around Shadow Bolt. Ruin increases your critical strike damage bonus by 100%, meaning your spells will critically hit for 200% of their normal damage instead of the standard 150%.
Most of the points in this build are not open to change due to a lack of better options. Your 21 points in the Demonology tree are purely to pick up Demonic Sacrifice, with the first 20 points being not nearly as important. However, the talents not taken in the Demonology tree are all related to making your pets stronger, which will be useless to you since you will be sacrificing your pet for the buff that Demonic Sacrifice gives. Fel Domination is also quite useful since it effectively gives your a defensive cooldown when you need it. You can use Fel Domination to quickly summon a Voidwalker to use Sacrifice, putting a large shield on yourself that could potentially save your life. If you want to move points around at all here, you can move Fel Stamina and Unholy Power since they provide no benefits.
The points placed in Destruction are also quite rigid. Remember that you will only be casting Shadow Bolt for damage on a single target, making all of the talents that affect your fire spells useless. You could choose to move the 2 points in Suppression from the Affliction tree to Cataclysm for better Mana efficiency, but this is only worth doing if you do not have an assigned curse and if you are not going to be allowed to use Corruption. The points in Affliction are again very rigid since Improved Life Tap is absolutely required for raiding as Life Tap is your main source of mana during fights.
This is the second most popular Warlock raiding build, known as SM/Ruin. The build is named for the two main talents you take, Shadow Mastery and Ruin. Unlike DS/Ruin, this build goes deep into the Affliction tree to pick up Shadow Mastery instead of going for Demonic Sacrifice. Shadow Mastery is only a 10% shadow damage increase instead of the 15% offered by Demonic Sacrifice, but you do not have to sacrifice your pet to get the buff. This build is always run by at least 1 Warlock per raid since it allows your to use an Imp, which has Blood Pact. Blood Pact provides a nice Stamina buff to your party, so the Warlock playing SM/Ruin with an Imp can be in the tank group to buff them, which is especially important early on.
Traditionally SM/Ruin is considered to be less damage than DS/Ruin build since the 15% damage buff from Demonic Sacrifice is greater than the 10% buff from Shadow Mastery. However, this is not always true. As SM/Ruin, you have two small advantages that can potentially result in more damage. First, you have Nightfall, which sometimes will make your next Shadow Bolt instant when Corruption ticks. If you are one of the Warlocks allowed to cast Corruption, then this can be a nice benefit. More importantly though, SM/Ruin Warlocks can still use their pets. In an ideal situation, your pet will do more than the 5% damage difference, especially early on when you do not have a ton of Spell Power on your gear. This ends up not working in practice because keeping pets alive is incredibly hard on lots of fights since pets take full damage from boss abilities in WoW Classic. Additionally, your Imp is your highest damage pet, but it does fire damage. This will be a problem early on since many bosses and enemies in the first few raids have significantly higher fire resistance than normal, with some even being immune to fire damage.
As for talents, this build offers a bit more room for movement. Improved Drain Soul and Fel Concentration are both optional, and can be traded for Improved Curse of Weakness if your raid needs Curse of Weakness placed on the boss. Curse of Exhaustion is also optional for raids, but can be nice to have for farming out in the world and for PvP if you do not want to swap builds. One of the other benefits of SM/Ruin is that it is better for solo farming and PvP since you get Siphon Life, which is strong in both. In the Destruction tree you can choose to take the points out of Improved Firebolt if you are not using an Imp, and can move them to either Cataclysm for better mana efficiency or Improved Lash of Pain if you want to use a Succubus for damage instead. Lastly, if you are a fresh 60 stepping into Molten Core and your tanks really need the boost of health, you could take 3 points out of Shadow Mastery to get Improved Imp for the extra Stamina from Blood Pact, but this would be a big damage loss and should only be done as a last resort.
This is the last build that you will see Warlocks use in raids, and is the least common. This is a last resort build for when you are simply doing too much threat and need to do less. Master Demonologist reduces your threat by 20% while you have your Imp out, which could potentially be necessary if you are doing too much threat. Shadow Bolt is a hard hitting spell that generates a ton of threat, which is a problem that Warlocks will deal with for a majority of WoW Classic. If you are generating too much threat, then this build is worth considering since being able to do some damage is better than not being able to cast spells while you wait for the tank to generate more threat. This will be a much bigger issue for Horde Warlocks since Alliance Warlocks have access to Blessing of Salvation from Paladins which reduces their threat by 30%. Horde Warlocks can get Tranquil Air Totem from Shamans, but it is much less common since Shamans are usually put into the melee groups to drop Windfury Totem for them instead.
- 23 Aug. 2019: Page added.
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