Destruction Warlock PvP Guide in Battle for Azeroth (BfA 8.1.5)

Last updated on Apr 28, 2019 at 10:59 by Mysticall 5 comments

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to play in a PvP environment. The guide will cover everything from talent choices, PvP talents, gameplay and rotation, and useful racial bonuses. It is most applicable to Arena content, but most talents and racial bonuses will work in Rated Battlegrounds and skirmishes.

1. Spec Overview / Place in the Current Meta for Destruction Warlocks

Destruction Warlocks are capable of some of the strongest single target damage in the game. Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt is one of the most feared spells in the game, and for good reason. If you give a Destruction Warlock a chance to chain together multiple Chaos Bolts, the game will surely be over.

1.1. Strengths of Destruction Warlocks

  • Great control
  • Strong burst damage
  • Multiple interrupts

1.2. Weaknesses of Destruction Warlocks

  • Struggle to stay alive against melee teams
  • Hard to cast against teams with multiple interrupts
  • Very few defensive cooldowns

2. The stat priority for Destruction Warlock in PvP is as follows:

The stat priority for Destruction Warlock in PvP is as follows:

  1. Intellect;
  2. Haste;
  3. Mastery;
  4. Critical Strike;
  5. Versatility.

Intellect is the best stat in all situations. Haste is the strongest secondary stat at all times due to it reducing the Global Cooldown on abilities and reducing your cast time. This will help you cast your Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt and Cataclysm Icon Cataclysm quicker.

3. Azerite Traits for Destruction Warlocks

Azerite traits are unlocked in you helm, shoulders and chest. With each Azerite level in your neck, you get closer to unlocking the center trait in your gear. These traits vary from increasing damage or healing of certain abilities to helping increase your survivability. Depending on what traits you use, it can completely alter your playstyle and what talents you should be using.

3.1. Outer Rings

Below are the best Outer Ring traits.

  1. Flashpoint Icon Flashpoint
  2. Chaotic Inferno Icon Chaotic Inferno
  3. Bursting Flare Icon Bursting Flare
  4. Crashing Chaos Icon Crashing Chaos

There is one trait you are going to want in all pieces of your Azerite gear and it should be Flashpoint Icon Flashpoint. You need to maintain Immolate Icon Immolate on all enemies and you will have increased Haste for almost the entire game. Chaotic Inferno Icon Chaotic Inferno and Crashing Chaos Icon Crashing Chaos both improve your Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt, but the downside is you will not be able to complete many Chaos Bolt casts in an arena match. Bursting Flare Icon Bursting Flare gives you a solid stat increase to your Mastery after using Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate on a target affected by your Immolate Icon Immolate.

3.2. Middle Ring

Below are the best Middle Ring traits.

  1. Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power
  2. Elemental Whirl Icon Elemental Whirl
  3. Earthlink Icon Earthlink
  4. Gutripper Icon Gutripper

The Middle and Inner rings are important for additional damage. Elemental Whirl Icon Elemental Whirl, Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power, and Earthlink Icon Earthlink give an increase to your stats. These are minor stat boosts, but still increase your damage. Gutripper Icon Gutripper will help increase both your single target and spread pressure.

3.3. Inner Ring

Below are the best Inner Ring traits.

  1. Resounding Protection Icon Resounding Protection
  2. Gemhide Icon Gemhide
  3. Longstrider Icon Longstrider
  4. Self Reliance Icon Self Reliance

All of these traits give you additional ways of surviving. These are all passive, but are crucial to have.

4. Gear Recommendations

4.1. General Guidelines

In general, Destruction Warlocks want to get trinkets that line up well with Dark Soul: Instability Icon Dark Soul: Instability. These trinkets can have a passive or on-use effect. The stat you want to be increasing is Intellect. The reason you want to increase Intellect is because it drastically increases your overall damage output.

To be successful in 3v3 arena, you need to have at least 2 pieces of gear with the Flashpoint Icon Flashpoint trait. You will also want either Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power or Heed My Call Icon Heed My Call in the second tier.

Below, we list the items that have these traits.

4.1.1. Helms

4.1.2. Shoulders

4.1.3. Chest

4.2. Recommended Items

Sinister Gladiator's Maledict Icon Sinister Gladiator's Maledict is absolutely the best trinket you can have. The on-use damage and healing absorption is capable of forcing defensives by itself. This can be used by itself or while you are using your burst rotation to force multiple cooldowns out of enemy teams.

Sinister Gladiator's Safeguard Icon Sinister Gladiator's Safeguard is a mandatory trinket if you think the enemy team can swap to you and kill you. This provides an additional defensive for when you drop to low health. If you do not think a team will swap to you and kill you, you can use replace this one with any of the trinkets below.

Sinister Gladiator's Badge Icon Sinister Gladiator's Badge is strong for the Versatility and the on-use Intellect effect. The 2-minute cooldown lines up well with Dark Soul: Instability Icon Dark Soul: Instability.

Sinister Gladiator's Insignia Icon Sinister Gladiator's Insignia has a good amount of Versatility on it and has a passive effect. This effect increases your Intellect. This increases your sustained damage.

4.3. Weapon Enchant

Enchant Weapon - Quick Navigation Icon Enchant Weapon - Quick Navigation is the best weapon enchants. This enchant provides a proc that gives you more Haste. This reduces the cast time of your important spells and results in an increase to your overall damage.

5. Talent Choices for Destruction Warlocks

Level Choices
15 Flashover Flashover Eradication Eradication Soul Fire Soul Fire
30 Reverse Entropy Reverse Entropy Internal Combustion Internal Combustion Shadowburn Shadowburn
45 Demon Skin Demon Skin Burning Rush Burning Rush Dark Pact Dark Pact
60 Inferno Inferno Fire and Brimstone Fire and Brimstone Cataclysm Cataclysm
75 Darkfury Darkfury Mortal Coil Mortal Coil Demonic Circle Demonic Circle
90 Roaring Blaze Roaring Blaze Grimoire of Supremacy Grimoire of Supremacy Grimoire of Sacrifice Grimoire of Sacrifice
100 Soul Conduit Soul Conduit Channel Demonfire Channel Demonfire Dark Soul: Instability Dark Soul: Instability

While the above table provides a generally accurate overview of the viability of talents, some finer points are discussed in the sections that follow, and we recommend you read those for a deeper understanding.

5.1. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents

Flashover Icon Flashover is the best choice in this tier. This makes your Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate do much more damage and also gives you an extra charge of Backdraft Icon Backdraft.

5.2. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents

Reverse Entropy Icon Reverse Entropy is the best choice in this tier. This is just a passive talent that gives your abilities a chance to give you Haste. This is great for faster Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolts and strong Immolate Icon Immolates.

5.3. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents

Demon Skin Icon Demon Skin is the best choice in this tier. This defensive talent allows you to passively heal throughout an arena match. This is crucial for your survivability against most teams.

5.4. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents

Cataclysm Icon Cataclysm is the best choice in this tier. This is a strong ability that will help you spread Immolate Icon Immolate without have to cast it multiple times. Cataclysm Icon Cataclysm can be used on teams that are trying to line of sight your damage. More importantly, you can use it to prevent Rogues and Druids from using Stealth Icon Stealth.

5.5. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents

If you are playing against at least one caster, Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coil is the best choice in this tier. This gives you extra control over the enemy caster(s) with instant crowd control.

If you are playing a team with two melee that will be focusing you, Demonic Circle Icon Demonic Circle is the best choice in this tier. This will make it easier for you to avoid or get away from teams when using their burst cooldowns.

5.6. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents

Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice is the best choice in this tier. The abilities that this talent gives your pets makes it the best talent in this tier. However, if you want to focus on damage output, Grimoire of Supremacy Icon Grimoire of Supremacy is the best choice. This makes your Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal a burst cooldown and forces teams to play defensively.

A quick note on pets: Against a team that has multiple magic crowd control for your healer (Hammer of Justice Icon Hammer of Justice, Polymorph Icon Polymorph, Fear Icon Fear), you should sacrifice your Imp for Singe Magic Icon Singe Magic. Against any other composition, you should sacrifice your Felhunter for Spell Lock Icon Spell Lock.

5.7. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents

Dark Soul: Instability Icon Dark Soul: Instability is the best choice in this tier. This talent gives you an additional burst cooldown that will crush teams that stay in your line of sight. Use this ability when you are using your burst rotation.

6. PvP Talents for Destruction Warlocks

The first PvP talent tier will give you a choice between Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion, Relentless Icon Relentless, and Adaptation Icon Adaptation. Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion is the best choice in this tier. It is great for removing crowd control on you that your healer cannot dispel. You will normally save your trinket for a stun, followed by Demonic Circle: Teleport Icon Demonic Circle: Teleport.

You can choose 3 of the following PvP talents. Each of them has their uses, but some are better for certain strategies than others. The top three choices are the most useful, but can be replaced with other PvP talents, depending on your team's goal.

Focused Chaos Icon Focused Chaos causes Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt's damage to be increased by 65%, but no longer strike additional targets afflicted by Havoc Icon Havoc. This makes your Chaos Bolt a much more scarier ability. This is also a significant increase to your single target damage.

Fel Fissure Icon Fel FissureChaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt creates a 5 yd wide eruption of Felfire under the target, reducing movement speed by 50% and reducing all healing received by 25% on all enemies within the fissure. Lasts 6 sec. This PvP talent is powerful when playing with a teammate that has a stun for your kill target. This will also help you punish players that are out of position or do not notice the Fel Fissure Icon Fel Fissure animation.

Nether Ward Icon Nether Ward surrounds the caster with a shield that last 3 sec, reflecting all harmful spells cast on you. This is a crucial talent to take against all casters. You also want to use this talent versus teams with a Shaman, Death Knight or Demon Hunter. This is because their kicks are magical and this will prevent you from being interrupted while it is active.

Entrenched in Flame Icon Entrenched in Flame causes Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate to root the enemy target for 3 seconds. This effect does not break from damage. This is a crucial talent to help increase your survivability against teams with multiple melee players. You should replace Nether Ward Icon Nether Ward with this PvP talent.

Demon Armor Icon Demon Armor increases your health and armor by a significant amount. This is a crucial PvP talent when playing against teams with two melee on it because you will likely be the main target for them. You can replace Nether Ward Icon Nether Ward with this PvP talent.

7. Racial Bonuses for Destruction Warlocks

Racial bonuses can provide interesting PvP benefits. Here are the best races to choose for each faction.

7.1. Horde

Orc is the best race for Destruction Warlocks, thanks to the passive Orcs have (Hardiness Icon Hardiness) reducing all stuns, thus greatly improving survivability.

7.2. Alliance

The Human bonus (Every Man for Himself Icon Every Man for Himself) is a great way to escape stuns. However, because you will the primary target for most people, the racial from Void Elves (Preternatural Calm Icon Preternatural Calm) will help you cast your spells without a delay.

If you do not want to play Human or Void Elf, the Iron Dwarf racial (Fireblood Icon Fireblood) is a great defensive that can also help increase your burst damage.

8. Playstyle for Destruction Warlocks

The Destruction Warlock has two roles when in an Arena: set up kills with large Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolts and survive. Destruction Warlocks are powerful because they have strong single target damage and the ability to crowd control enemy teams. Most of your damage and kills will come from your Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolts. You will survive by using Fear Icon Fears and Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coils on enemies. You can also use your Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway to create distance.

8.1. Before Gates Open

Have a plan for who you will be mainly using your crowd control on. Destruction Warlocks are able to use their main crowd control, Fear Icon Fear, along with Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coil. You also have Shadowfury Icon Shadowfury. This has a somewhat short cast time and will AoE stun anyone that is in range for a small period of time.

You should also use Create Soulwell Icon Create Soulwell to generate Healthstones for you and your teammates.

You will also want to use Summon Felhunter Icon Summon Felhunter. This gives you access to the Spell Lock Icon Spell Lock ability.

8.2. Offensive Playstyle

8.2.1. The Opener

The opener refers to your team's opening crowd control chain and damage done as soon as you get out of the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns.

If the enemy healer uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble. In the opener, Destruction Warlocks should focus on using Immolate Icon Immolate, Incinerate Icon Incinerate, and Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate to generate Soul Shards.

This is the rotation you should use on your target at the beginning of the game.

  1. Cast Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway from your pillar to another part of the map.
  2. Use Demonic Circle Icon Demonic Circle (if talented into it) and place it behind a pillar.
  3. Apply and maintain Immolate Icon Immolate on all enemies to generate Soul Shards. If the enemy team starts behind a pillar, you can use Cataclysm Icon Cataclysm to put your Immolate Icon Immolate on all of them.
  4. Cast Incinerate Icon Incinerate to generate Soul Shards.
  5. Use Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate to slow the enemy player and generate Soul Shards. With the passive Backdraft Icon Backdraft, Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate will also reduce the cast time of your Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolts or Incinerate Icon Incinerates.
  6. Once you have at least 4-5 Soul Shards and the enemy healer is in crowd control, you will be able to use your burst rotation.

8.2.2. Burst Damage

  1. Make sure you have 2-3 stacks of Backdraft Icon Backdraft.
  2. Use Curse of Fragility Icon Curse of Fragility (if you have taken this talent).
  3. Use Havoc Icon Havoc on the enemy you are not targeting.
  4. Use Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coil on the enemy you are focusing.
  5. Use Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal if the enemy team is stacked or you need an interrupt.
  6. Use Rain of Fire Icon Rain of Fire.
  7. Use Dark Soul: Instability Icon Dark Soul: Instability with 10+ stacks of Grimoire of Supremacy Icon Grimoire of Supremacy.
  8. Cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt.
  9. Cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt.
  10. Use Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate to generate Soul Shards.
  11. Cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt.
  12. Cast Immolate Icon Immolate if you need to refresh the DoT.
  13. Cast Incinerate Icon Incinerate as a filler.

If you get interrupted when casting Incinerate Icon Incinerate, you should immediately start casting Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt or Cataclysm Icon Cataclysm.

8.2.3. Sustained damage

Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available.

  1. Apply Havoc Icon Havoc and follow it up with a Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coil to prevent enemy players from interrupting your damage.
  2. Maintain Immolate Icon Immolate on all enemies.
  3. Cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt when you have 4-5 Soul Shards.
  4. Use Rain of Fire Icon Rain of Fire if multiple targets are stacked and you are about to cap on Soul Shards.
  5. Cast Cataclysm Icon Cataclysm if multiple targets are stacked and you need to generate Soul Shards.
  6. Use Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate to generate Soul Shards and generate stacks of Backdraft Icon Backdraft.
  7. Cast Incinerate Icon Incinerate to generate Soul Shards.

8.3. Defensive Techniques

Unending Resolve Icon Unending Resolve is your primary defensive ability and should be used if your healer has no defensive cooldowns and you are at high health. You cannot use this when you are stunned. You will not be interrupted while this is active so you can use this time to cast Fear Icon Fear to stay alive or Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt for damage.

Demon Armor Icon Demon Armor is an absolutely mandatory PvP talent. This talent is what makes Destruction Warlocks so tanky and should be used against every single team.

Healthstone should be used when you are at very low health and your healer does not have defensive cooldowns to keep you alive.

Demonic Circle Icon Demonic Circle, if talented, should be placed away from the enemy team, but close to your healer. Make sure you coordinate when you will be using this so your team can position themselves accordingly. You will want to use this when the enemy team is using their offensive cooldowns and you need to create distance between you and them. Use the same concept when you need to take Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway.

Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal should be used to stun enemies that are trying to chase you. This will typically best used when enemies are using their burst cooldowns and you are close to dying.

9. Best Team Compositions for Destruction Warlocks

Now that you have the correct talents and understand your damage rotation, it is time to step into the arena with your team. The combination of Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt damage and crowd control make Destruction Warlocks a very scary caster.

9.1. 2v2 Arena

In 2v2 Arena, there are not many options. Your primary goal is to get a full Fear Icon Fear on the enemy healer while your teammate stuns the kill target and cast multiple Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolts. If the enemy team is stacked and trying to line of sight your damage, use Cataclysm Icon Cataclysm to generate Soul Shards or Rain of Fire Icon Rain of Fire if you have a high amount of Soul Shards. It is important to note that if you are interrupted while casting Fear Icon Fear, you can still cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt.

Here is a list of the best team compositions for 2v2:

  • Destruction Warlock + Holy Paladin;
  • Destruction Warlock + Restoration Shaman;
  • Destruction Warlock + Restoration Druid;
  • Destruction Warlock + Holy Priest.

9.2. 3v3 Arena

Your role in 3v3 is similar to 2v2 Arena. You are trying to find a time to use Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coil on both DPS and cast multiple Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolts on your kill target. It is best to be playing with another caster so you are not the only person being interrupted. Use Fear Icon Fear on the enemy healer and have one of your teammates stun your kill target. Teams will try to run away from your damage behind a pillar, use Rain of Fire Icon Rain of Fire when they do this. It is important to note that Fear Icon Fear should also be used to help your teammates. If you or a teammate is struggling to stay alive, use Fear Icon Fear on an enemy DPS without a trinket. If they both have trinkets, use it on whichever enemy you want.

Here is a list of the best team compositions for 3v3:

  • WLS (Destruction Warlock + Arms Warrior + Holy Paladin/Restoration Shaman);
  • Shadow Play (Destruction Warlock + Shadow Priest + Restoration Druid/ Holy Paladin);
  • Destruction Warlock + Elemental Shaman + Restoration Druid/ Holy Paladin;
  • Shadowplay (Destruction Warlock + Shadow Priest + Holy Paladin/Restoration Druid).

10. Useful Macros for Destruction Warlocks

Macros are crucial to be successful in PvP. They allow players to use abilities on enemies without having to target them. This helps increase overall damage/healing and general awareness in the arena. Here are a few macros that all Destruction Warlocks can benefit from.

10.1. Fear 123 Macro

  • #showtooltip Fear
  • /cast [target=arena1] Fear

Using this macro will cast Fear Icon Fear on arena enemy 1. This makes it easier to crowd control an enemy while staying focused on your target. If you want macros for the second and third enemies, simply change the arena1 to arena2 or arena3.

10.2. Fear Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip Fear
  • /cast [target=focus] Fear

If you find that you do not have much room on your action bars, you can use a focus macro. This is much simpler to use than the arena123 macro. Put an enemy on focus and this macro will cast Fear Icon Fear on that player while you are still focused on your target.

10.3. Spell Lock Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip
  • /cast [target=focus] Spell Lock

This macro will use Spell Lock Icon Spell Lock on whichever enemy you have on focus. Because you will be primarily using Spell Lock Icon Spell Lock on the enemy healer, you should only need this focus macro.

10.4. Havoc Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip Havoc
  • /cast [target=focus] Havoc

This makes it so you can use Havoc Icon Havoc on your focus target while still damaging your main target.

10.5. Mouseover Banish Macro

  • #showtooltip Banish
  • /cast [@mouseover] Banish

This makes it so you can use Banish Icon Banish on another Warlock's demon or an elemental pet while still damaging your main target.

11. Changelog

  • 28 Apr. 2019: Made several changes to the guide.
    • Updated Azerite Traits.
    • Updated Gear section.
  • 08 Apr. 2019: Made several changes to the guide.
    • Updated Talent Table.
    • Updated Tier 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7 regular talents.
    • Updated Burst Damage rotation.
    • Updated Sustained Damage rotation.
    • Updated best 3v3 team compositions.
  • 14 Mar. 2019: No major changes needed for Patch 8.1.5.
  • 31 Jan. 2019: Updated Gear Recommendations.
  • 12 Dec. 2018: Minor changes made for Patch 8.1.
    • Updated PvP talents section.
  • 23 Nov. 2018: Added Gear Recommendations section.
  • 08 Oct. 2018: Added Azerite traits section and talent table.
  • 02 Oct. 2018: Removed PvP Gear and War Mode sections.
  • 01 Sep. 2018: Updated guide for Patch 8.0.1.
    • Updated Introduction and spec overview.
    • Added Stat priority.
    • Updated tier 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 talent sections.
    • Added PvP (War Mode) talents and gear sections for the new BfA system.
    • Updated Racial Bonuses section.
    • Updated Burst Damage and Sustained Damage sections.
    • Updated Defensive section.
    • Updated Macros section.
    • Removed Gear section.
    • Removed Artifact Traits and Relics sections.
  • 02 Jun. 2018: Added an Arena Compositions section.
  • 19 Apr. 2018: Made several updates to the guide and its structure.
    • Added sections for Macros, Strengths, and Weaknesses.
    • Moved Gear, Artifact Traits, and Relics sections to the end, since they are not that important.
  • 21 Jan. 2018: No major changes needed for Patch 7.3.5.
  • 08 Dec. 2017: No major changes needed for Patch 7.3.2. Updated "About the Author".
  • 18 Sep. 2017: Made multiple changes for Patch 7.3
    • Updated recommended tier 5 and 7 regular talents.
    • Updated recommended tier 6 honor talents.
    • Updated sustained and burst damage rotations.
  • 22 Jul. 2017: Guide created.
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