Havoc Demon Hunter DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Shadowlands 9.1
On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Havoc Demon Hunter 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 — Shadowlands 9.1.
Covenant Recommendation Change in Patch 9.1
Havoc Demon Hunter Rotation
Welcome to our Rotation page for Havoc Demon Hunters. Here we go over the details of how to play the spec in PvE scenarios in detail.
If the rotations below seem overwhelming to you, it might be better to start by visiting our Easy Mode page, which lays out a starter build to get to grips with everything before moving on to more advanced sections.
The content on this page is purely PvE-related. If you are looking for PvP oriented tips, please visit our PvP page below.
Single-Target Rotation for Havoc Demon Hunter
Havoc's single-target rotation hinges strongly on the combination of generation (either through active tools such as Demon's Bite or talents like Demon Blades) and your main spender, Chaos Strike. Past this, depending on talents, other spells enter into the priority adding depth, making it important to manage both your resource and your other spell cooldowns.
Use the below switches to tailor the rotation around the talents or situations you expect to be using, and it will populate the rotation priority list appropriately:
- Felblade + Demon Blades
- Unbound Chaos
- Glaive Tempest
- First Blood
- Essence Break
- Cast Metamorphosis if available and not active, make sure Eye Beam is on cooldown before this.
- Cast Immolation Aura.
- Cast Eye Beam.
- Cast Chaos Strike / Annihilation if at 50 Fury or above.
- Cast Demon's Bite to generate Fury.
Bear in mind that, no matter whether you take Demonic or not, in Shadowlands you will still be casting Eye Beam in single-target as usual, as this will trigger the Furious Gaze effect. It also remains a highly efficient Fury spender, but beware of when adds will spawn, so as not to waste damage in AoE situations.
With regards to Fel Rush, it is a very valuable tool to generate damage in the empty global cooldowns created by Demon Blades, so long as you can remain within auto attack range. Otherwise, using this is generally considered a slight loss, as it wastes partial global cooldowns that could be spent on generating or spending Fury.
How to Use Covenant Abilities as Havoc Demon Hunter
Havoc's Covenant abilities all focus on adding an extra cooldown tool and in most cases are simply used as the highest priority due to the base damage coupled with no resource cost. Some notes are:
- Elysian Decree is used on cooldown as the top priority, but remember this hits up to 5 targets for full damage, so saving it to hit extra enemies is preferred.
- Fodder to the Flame procs can either be held for up to 25 seconds or you can kill them instantly, depending on what timing is favourable in an encounter. Note that the Demon Soul also lingers for another 20 seconds so you do not have to immediately pick it up. Just use Throw Glaive to instantly kill it when you want to trigger the explosion.
- The Hunt should be used on cooldown on your priority target. In AoE situations try to position yourself so you will pass through other targets to apply the DoT effect.
- Sinful Brand is used on your primary target as the highest priority in single-target. In AoE situations, if playing Venthyr, you should consider holding Metamorphosis to apply it to multiple enemies so long as you will not lose extra uses.
AoE Rotation for Havoc Demon Hunter
In AoE, Havoc's rotation changes very little. Most of the high priority abilities come with cooldowns, and naturally cleave on their own. This means you will largely be playing the same way, but with an increased value on making sure you have buttons available for when additional targets are present. The only thing of note is that Blade Dance should generally only be introduced into the rotation at 3+ targets, unless you are playing First Blood which makes it rotational at 1.
This means that you need to make sure that you do not waste a cast of Eye Beam on one target, for example, if there is about to be a new wave of adds spawning briefly after. This extends to other AoE abilities, such as Glaive Tempest, Fel Barrage, and, to a lesser extent, Blade Dance. Making sure to pay more attention to your cooldown timers, so you can comfortably line these up without wasting uses, will net a huge boost to your AoE damage.
It is important to note though, if you play Cycle of Hatred you will rarely cast Blade Dance / Death Sweep as the value of reducing the cooldown of Eye Beam is significantly higher than the damage gained from casting them. The only worthwhile time to use Blade Dance or Death Sweep is if there are 3 or more targets active and a pull is about to end so you will not get a reset on Eye Beam in time.
Opening Rotation for Havoc Demon Hunter
- Pre-cast Immolation Aura, if taken.
- Cast Fel Rush (or Felblade, if taken) to engage.
- Cast Eye Beam to trigger Metamorphosis via Demonic.
- Cast Death Sweep, if playing First Blood.
- Cast Metamorphosis.
- Cast Death Sweep, if playing First Blood.
- Cast Eye Beam.
- Continue with Single Target Rotation.
The two casts following Metamorphosis are to make use of the Metamorphosis Rank 4 effect to trigger the reset on both abilities. Any points where you need additional Fury in this sequence can be replaced by Demon's Bite, proceeding down the list until these abilities are all cooling down.
Havoc Demon Hunter Cooldowns: Metamorphosis
Metamorphosis is a powerful 30-second duration buff on a 4-minute cooldown, with a flat 25% increase to Haste allowing for more ability uses while active. Pooling 100 Fury or above before entering Metamorphosis is extremely beneficial to allow for a surge of Annihilation casts, and draining excess Fury in the last 5 seconds of the buff will lead to the most efficient conversion of resource into damage during this period.
See our addons and macros page for a Metamorphosis macro.
For information about Mythic+ as a Havoc Demon Hunter and the rotation you need to use in this game mode, please refer to our Mythic+ page.
Optional Read: Notes on Optimizing Havoc Demon Hunter
Notes on Build Synergy
Havoc has a lot of talents that link up with each other in a strong way, usually having one pick having a powerful interaction with another elsewhere on the tier. Examples of this are Felblade paired with Demon Blades, and Blind Fury paired with Cycle of Hatred. In many cases, it is one enabling talent and another that rides the wave it generates, but for more information on the specifics, please refer to our talent page.
Tier 1 Talent Notes
Blind Fury, enhances your Eye Beam cast damage, alongside turning it into a generation tool that will refill your entire bar. Making sure you are as drained as possible before this comes off cooldown is important so as to not waste resource, so being aware of the cooldown and spend as aggressively as possible leading up these moments.
Felblade excels at purely single-target situations, but mandates a pick of Demon Blades to pair with it. The proc rate relies very strongly on the constant trigger chances from this, and also needs the extra space in the rotation to be able to cast it comfortably.
Demonic Appetite provides an extra requirement to you having to collect the souls for Fury during gameplay, which can sometimes be cumbersome. The Fury this generates is good, but the alternatives on the row have better synergy with better talents. It is however the only talent on the row that provides additional self-healing.
Tier 2 Talents Notes
Insatiable Hunger has very little impact on the rotation and is simply the quick and easy choice. The damage increase to Demon's Bite is mostly irrelevant, but the Fury generation this provides is the most consistent on the row.
Demon Blades slows down your pace by removing your active generation tool Demon's Bite, and replacing it with a 60% chance proc from auto attacks to deal additional Shadow damage and grant 12-20 Fury. This adds an element of reactionary play as you will no longer be Global Cooldown locked, instead requiring patience for Fury to passively generate from auto attacks. This makes the playstyle more chaotic in practice compared to the alternatives, and during high Haste periods demands some quick chains of Chaos Strike casts to burn off Fury.
Burning Hatred simply serves as a way to enhance the power of each of your Immolation Aura casts. Given that this is cast on cooldown in all situations, it provides a consistent bonus to your Fury generation, but will lose out on average to alternatives.
Tier 3 Talents Notes
Unbound Chaos, following its Patch 9.0.5 buff, provides the strongest single-target option as well as good, uncapped burst AoE assuming the encounter allows for its use. Due to the positional requirements, this is not always realistic, but makes for a very powerful Fel Rush cast following each Immolation Aura; it is a great pick when played correctly.
Glaive Tempest is a good all-round option providing very high damage per cast both in single-target and especially in AoE. This is worth the Fury cost, but you need to plan around enemy movement to avoid them moving out of the area when cast. You want to be aware of the cooldown to make sure you have enough Fury spare to cast this as soon as it is ready due to the low cooldown.
Trail of Ruin is a flat bonus to each Blade Dance / Death Sweep cast, applying a Chaos damage DoT to each target hit. This synergizes very well with First Blood to incorporate it into all aspects of the rotation, but without that supporting talent, Trail of Ruin is fairly underwhelming.
Tier 5 Talent Notes
Cycle of Hatred excels currently both in single-target and AoE situations. When playing this it shifts your playstyle heavily toward spending as much Fury as possible on Chaos Strike, which means even in AoE you will not be casting Blade Dance. The goal is to Eye Beam as often as possible, meaning Fury spent on anything less efficient is not worth it. If paired with Glaive Tempest, however, you will still cast that.
First Blood reducing the cost of Blade Dance to turn it into a cheap spender is a good rotational improvement but has a very single-target focus due to the damage bonus being oriented around your current target. This is a good pick and also has good synergy with the Chaos Theory legendary.
Essence Break is a new pick in 9.1 for single-target situations due to the buffs to Chaos Strike and some synergy with Momentum. Generally speaking, this is just cast on cooldown, and though you can pool some Fury to generate a burst window inside of it if needed, holding it for too long wastes valuable uptime on the effect.
Tier 7 Talents Notes
Demonic is, like Momentum alongside it on the tier, a damage boost window effect. It will naturally be triggered by your Eye Beam casts rotationally. Making sure to fill as many Global Cooldowns during the 6 seconds as possible with Fury spenders is crucial. Priming Immolation Aura before you trigger the window is great to set up some background generation, and try to minimize the number of committal generation tools such as Demon's Bite if possible. In some cases though, RNG simply stops that happening.
This talent is a very high skill cap option and, as such, if you are not comfortable with Demon Hunter and raid mechanics in general, it will be very punishing. Knowing when to use your charges, and when to bank them to use both in conjunction for the buff and to avoid mechanics or stay on targets at the same time is a skill that needs to be practiced. Below is an image to show the optimal paths to use your activation skills to stay on target and minimise possible displacement that can have a large knock-on effect.
With Momentum, there are two different effects that are triggered by your mobility abilities:
- Fel Rush with two charges on a 10-second recharge grants 6 seconds of 15% increased damage;
- Vengeful Retreat on a 20-second cooldown that generates 80 Fury over 10 seconds when it damages an enemy.
There are some fundamental rules when using Momentum to bear in mind during combat. First, the spells that activate Momentum do benefit from the buff they trigger. You should aim to never clip a Momentum window, and instead aim for maximum uptime. You should still ideally attempt to spread your windows out to make sure you are spending as few Global Cooldowns as possible on generation during the 6-second period it is active. This means you should aim to enter into a window with 80-120 Fury. You can also trigger passive Fury generation tools, such as Immolation Aura and Vengeful Retreat's Fury effect, before triggering the damage window to sustain yourself during the 6 seconds.
Fel Barrage is a 1-minute cooldown burst-AoE tool that must be channeled for 3 seconds. While this is channeling, you cannot cast any other abilities during the cast or it will cancel early. This is a very powerful burst tool for AoE situations, and should ideally be timed with as many buffs as possible, in particular Haste boost effects, such as Furious Gaze, as the tick rate rises. The ability to overlap this ability with strong burst window effects, however, has been reduced in Shadowlands with it being moved to the final row, so is less potent.
Core Concepts for Havoc Demon Hunters
Movement Abilities and Talents
One of the unique features of Havoc is that it can leverage its movement tools in Fel Rush and Vengeful Retreat to increase your damage output and Fury generation with certain talents. Managing this is important if these have been selected, and knowing whether it is safe to use them based on encounter types is especially important.
You can maneuver with Vengeful Retreat in one of two different ways. The first of these is a wall that you can consistently leap back into so that the displacement effect is muted and you remain in melee range of your target. Alternatively, the more consistent option is rotating your character before casting 90 degrees, so that you will move across the back of the target's hitbox, and remain in range upon landing against any reasonably sized target. Do note that at all times, this spell will vault you backwards, so you need to be aware of that when casting.
Fel Rush in much the same way requires a similar awareness of your environment to capitalise upon. Instead of focusing on moving backward, however, you need to face the direction you want to rush and then turn back to your target when you arrive.
Both of these spells incur a 1-second movement cooldown to prevent you using them to cancel each other's displacement effect out with animation canceling, and as such you need to treat each cast individually and prepare for the movement to minimize the downsides.
With Havoc being so reliant on its resource, you need to be very aware of situations that encourage spending vs. the requirement to build. The general rule is you never want to go into the range of wasting Fury due to going over the cap with a generator cast. This means the spend breakpoint is 90 Fury without talents, due to Demon's Bite having a potential maximum of 30 per cast. With Demon Blades this is more flexible, but given how fast multiple procs can happen, it is preferable to be spending more aggressively when not pooling for burst windows.
When playing Demonic Appetite that orbs will often spawn outside of the immediate range of your character, meaning that you can hold them until you are at a point where Fury starvation sets in. This means you can have a good catch up tool, assuming that there are not any dangerous mechanics that would prevent you from grabbing the orbs at a later moment.
Remember to adjust your rotation based on refunds from your Chaos Strike casts that refund 20 Fury due to the unexpected additional resources in your pool. In the same vein, successful interrupts through Disrupt and dispels using Consume Magic that grant 30 and 20 Fury respectively can also provide extra resources that you may need to spend aggressively to make use of. For Consume Magic and Disrupt macros, please refer to our macro page.
Fury Management with Demon Blades
When using Demon Blades, your Fury management is altered to account for the more sporadic nature of the generation. In single-target, more appropriate rotational rules to adjust the original priority look like this (keep in mind these are un-ordered notes and simply small things that can help to improve your gameplay):
- Cast Chaos Strike/ Annihilation as frequently as possible unless pooling for burst windows.
- Cast Felblade as frequently as possible, as long as you are below 80 Fury, as your active generation tool.
- Wait and allow Demon Blades to generate Fury again to continue the cycle.
- Cast Throw Glaive and Fel Rush if out of range of any targets, or in empty Globals.
- 28 Jun. 2021: Updated for Patch 9.1.
- 09 Mar. 2021: Page reviewed and updated for Patch 9.0.5, with changes to account for Unbound Chaos and Fodder to the Flame rework.
- 24 Nov. 2020: Page updated for Shadowlands launch
- 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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