Destruction Warlock DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Season 4

Last updated on Apr 22, 2024 at 12:50 by Motoko 55 comments
General Information

On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Destruction Warlock in both single-target and multiple-target situations. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your DPS. All our content is updated for World of Warcraft — Season 4.

If you were looking for WotLK Classic content, please refer to our WotLK Classic Destruction Warlock rotation.


Playstyle for Destruction Warlock

Welcome to our Rotation page for Destruction Warlocks. On this page, you will find everything you need to know about actually playing the spec in Raiding and Mythic+ scenarios.


Easy Mode

If the rotations below seem overwhelming to you, you might benefit from visiting our Easy Mode page, which outlines a close-to-optimal rotation with a much greater ease of use.



Since the content on this page is only relevant for PvE, we recommend the PvP page below in case you want specific PvP rotation information.


Ability Priority List for Destruction Warlock

The Destruction specialization revolves primarily around generating Soul Shards via your filler spells before unleashing them for a large burst of damage. This specialization does not follow a strict and consistent rotation; rather, the emphasis is on leveraging opportunities as they arise.

Warlock Destruction 10.2 Class Set 2pc Icon Warlock Destruction 10.2 Class Set 2pc and Warlock Destruction 10.2 Class Set 4pc Icon Warlock Destruction 10.2 Class Set 4pc do not influence the rotation if not for the mandatory talent required to trigger both bonuses.


Select Your Talents and Essences

By selecting talents and essences below, the rotations in this guide will update accordingly.

  • Talents
    • With the Eradication Icon Eradication talent selected.
    • With the Soul Fire Icon Soul Fire talent selected.
    • With the Roaring Blaze Icon Roaring Blaze talent selected.
    • With the Cataclysm Icon Cataclysm talent selected.
    • With the Channel Demonfire Icon Channel Demonfire talent selected.
    • With the Shadowburn Icon Shadowburn talent selected.
    • With the Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal talent selected.
    • With the Crashing Chaos Icon Crashing Chaos talent selected.
    • With the Dimensional Rift Icon Dimensional Rift talent selected.

Single-Target Priority for Destruction Warlock

  1. Maintain Immolate Icon Immolate at all times.
  2. Cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt if you are about to cap Soul Shards.
  3. Cast Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate if you have 2 charges, possibly to hasten a long cast such as Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt.
  4. Cast Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate to generate Soul Shards.
  5. Cast Incinerate Icon Incinerate to generate Soul Shards.

Cooldown Usage for Destruction Warlock

Destruction's main cooldown, Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal, is relatively simple. The Infernal does AoE damage and also deals damage and stuns when it impacts from the initial summon. Infernal will often be used on cooldown; however, if you can delay it for a little while in order to maximize cleave damage, it can be a net gain.


Opening Sequence for Destruction Warlock

  1. Pre-cast Incinerate Icon Incinerate.
  2. Pre-cast Soul Fire Icon Soul Fire.
  3. Pre-cast Immolate Icon Immolate.
  4. Use your trinkets and racials.
  5. Cast Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate.
  6. Cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt.
  7. Cast Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate.
  8. Cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt.

Multiple Target Priority for Destruction Warlock

Destruction can thrive in environments with steady cleave, as we do it efficiently. In many cases, the presence of secondary targets actually enhances our single-target output considerably, thanks to the additional resources generated.

  1. Maintain Immolate Icon Immolate on the main target.
  2. Apply Immolate Icon Immolate on any secondary target that will last a minimum of 10 seconds.
  3. Cast Rain of Fire Icon Rain of Fire if there are 5+ targets with Havoc Icon Havoc up, or 3+ if on cooldown.
  4. Cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt if you have 5 Soul Shards.
  5. Apply Havoc Icon Havoc if a secondary target is present.
  6. Cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt to spend Soul Shards.
  7. Cast Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate to generate Soul Shards and Backdraft Icon Backdraft stacks.
  8. Cast Incinerate Icon Incinerate to generate Soul Shards.

Mythic+ Rotation

We have a dedicated Mythic+ page if you want specific information about the best M+ Destruction Warlock rotation.


Important Notes for Destruction Warlock

There are several important nuances that are not common knowledge.


Soul Shard Generation and Consumption

You start every fight with 3 Soul Shards/30 Soul Shard Fragments. During combat, Soul Shards are generated through the use of your core abilities.

  • Dimensional Rift Icon Dimensional Rift generates 3 Soul Shard Fragments on cast.
  • Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate generates 5 Soul Shard Fragments on cast.
  • Immolate Icon Immolate generates 1 Soul Shard Fragment on normal ticks and has a 50% chance for an additional 1 Soul Shard Fragment on critical ticks.
  • Soul Fire Icon Soul Fire generates 10 Soul Shard Fragments on cast.
  • Shadowburn Icon Shadowburn (if talented) returns its Soul Shard cost if the target dies within 5 seconds.
  • Incinerate Icon Incinerate generates 2 Soul Shard Fragments on normal casts and an additional 1 Soul Shard Fragment on critical hits.
  • Fire and Brimstone Icon Fire and Brimstone generates 2 Soul Shard Fragments per target hit and an additional 1 Soul Shard Fragment on critical hits.

Soul Shards will mostly be consumed with the following abilities.

  • Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt consumes 2 Soul Shards/20 Soul Shard Fragments.
  • Rain of Fire Icon Rain of Fire consumes 3 Soul Shards/30 Soul Shard Fragments.
  • Summon Imp Icon Summon Imp, Summon Voidwalker Icon Summon Voidwalker, Summon Succubus Icon Summon Succubus, and Summon Felhunter Icon Summon Felhunter consume 1 Soul Shard/10 Soul Shard Fragments per cast.

Chaos Bolt

Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt costs 2 Soul Shards/20 Soul Shard Fragments to cast. Since we can only have a maximum of 5 Soul Shards/50 Fragments, this means that the maximum number of Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolts we will be able to reliably cast in a short window of time is Chaos Bolt → Chaos Bolt → Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate → Chaos Bolt. For these reasons, casting Chaos Bolt during beneficial procs is less of a priority now, as we cannot fit anywhere near the same amount of casts into a small window of time.

Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt should now primarily be used to maintain as high an uptime as possible on the Eradication Icon Eradication debuff (if talented). This will noticeably increase your Immolate Icon Immolate damage as well as increase the damage of your next Chaos Bolt. You should still look out for good windows to cast increased numbers of Chaos Bolts. This is your best spell for quickly bursting down high-priority targets.


Pet Choice

After 9.2 changes, Sayaad (Succubus or Incubus) has a clear advantage in terms of single target damage assuming no frequent distant target swap. However, pet choice is often dictated by the unique utility provided by each one:for defensive dispel, and if there are frequent swaps between distant targets, Imp will provide the highest uptime. Use Felhunter whenever an interrupt or a purge effect is required. Voidwalker can offer some additional AoE is due to its torment ability, but its biggest utility comes from a taunt. Succubus offers additional crowd control and permanent slow on a single target, which may be useful under certain situations.


Havoc Usage

Havoc Icon Havoc is one of your most important spells. Havoc copies any of your direct spells, however, and it does affect the Soul Shard generation of your Soul Shard generating abilities (i.e., you generate double Soul Shards). The Soul Shard-consuming abilities still cost the same amount, however, and only 60% of the total damage done will be copied.

It is best to use Havoc Icon Havoc to duplicate spells that are limited by Soul Shards, due to the efficiency of expenditure. If possible, try to lead into your Havoc Icon Havocs with several Soul Shards at the ready. Follow up by dumping Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt casts to debuff each target with Eradication Icon Eradication (if talented) and double your Shard efficiency.

Havoc Icon Havoc range is 60 yards after you apply the debuff on a target and is unaffected by line of sight requirements. Over time, you will develop the knowledge and instinct to take full advantage of the ability. A good way to go about building this experience is by paying close attention to your boss timers. If you know that an ad will be spawning in the next 10 seconds, you should hold on to your Soul Shards and Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate charges for Havoc. If you have 4 Soul Shards ready, you can immediately cast Havoc as soon as the add spawns. Cast Immolate Icon Immolate, then Conflagrate, dump 2 Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolts, Conflagrate again to generate a Soul Shard. When in doubt, however, use Havoc on cooldown when a second target is present.

Remember to cast Havoc Icon Havoc on the secondary target since it will only duplicate single-target spells at 60% of their original value.


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 Destruction Warlock. Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway can be highly effective in 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.

Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate can be used strategically to cover movement, as can Havoc Icon Havoc. Shadowburn Icon Shadowburn can also be a good choice on fights with high amounts of movement if targets are frequently dying, as you gain 2 charges of a new, instant-cast ability for you to leverage. You can mitigate the need to move by positioning in locations central to fight movement. For instance, if a boss is being kited in a circle, you should stay on the inside of the kite path to ensure minimal movement. You should also determine how your Demonic Circle Icon Demonic Circle can make a fight easier for you. There are many boss mechanics that can be trivialized with a clever portal, which can free you up to deal a lot more damage.

Soulburn Icon Soulburn used in conjunction with Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway offers a quick way to cover large distances and can be used in a rush when the need to reposition is immediate.


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 of 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, make your path as direct and decisive as possible.



  • 22 Apr. 2024: Reviewed for Season 4.
  • 19 Mar. 2024: Reviewed for 10.2.6.
  • 15 Jan. 2024: Reviewed for Patch 10.2.5.
  • 06 Nov. 2023: Updated for Patch 10.2.
  • 04 Sep. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.1.7
  • 10 Jul. 2023: Updated for Patch 10.1.5.
  • 01 May 2023: Updated for Patch 10.1.
  • 20 Mar. 2023: Added Madness section.
  • 24 Jan. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.0.5.
  • 11 Dec. 2022: Updated selectors for the openers and priority lists.
  • 28 Nov. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight launch.
  • 25 Oct. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight pre-patch.
Show more
Show less