Havoc Demon Hunter DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Shadowlands Pre-Patch 9.0.1
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 Pre-Patch 9.0.1.
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:
- Demon Blades
- Unbound Chaos
- Glaive Tempest
- First Blood
- Cast Metamorphosis if available and not active.
- Cast Immolation Aura.
- Cast Eye Beam.
- Cast Chaos Strike / Annihilation if at 40 Fury.
- Cast Demon's Bite to generate Fury.
Bear in mind that, no matter whether you take Demonic or not, in the Shadowlands pre-patch, you will still be casting Eye Beam in single-target as usual, due to Furious Gaze remaining. 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 global cooldowns that could be spent on generating or spending Fury.
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, meaning 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.
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.
Opening Rotation for Havoc Demon Hunter
- Pre-cast Immolation Aura if taken.
- Cast Fel Rush to engage.
- Cast Eye Beam to trigger Metamorphosis via Demonic.
- Cast Death Sweep.
- Cast Metamorphosis.
- Cast Death Sweep.
- Cast Eye Beam.
- Continue with Single Target Rotation.
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 Trail of Ruin paired with First Blood. 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.
Demonic Appetite will usually end up winning out, due to the remaining Azerite traits in the Pre-Patch, with Eyes of Rage and Furious Gaze synergizing strongly with the effect. In situations where you can consistently collect the souls, this will always end up winning out, but if you cannot do this reliably, then it becomes significantly weaker, and in some cases a liability. Do remember, however, that it is the only talent on the tier that increases your survival, via the healing provided from the souls.
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.
Tier 2 Talents Notes
Insatiable Hunger has very little impact on the rotation and is simply the quick and easy choice, slightly bumping the damage of your Fury builder and granting a good amount of consistent Fury generation.
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.
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.
Tier 3 Talents Notes
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 is AoE focused.
Unbound Chaos has the highest potential damage, but also the biggest execution requirement. The Inner Demons trigger that occurs on each Immolation Aura cast has an infinite duration, meaning you can prime it before AoE is needed and allows you to pool for a double tap Fel Rush by weaving Immolation Aura casts in. This also requires you to sacrifice Fel Rush casts purely for damage instead of movement, but the payoff due to the uncapped AoE burst is worth it.
Glaive Tempest is a good burst AoE option, but requires foresight when dropped to know that targets will remain in the area for 3 seconds. Making sure you have Fury ready for when you see an opportunity is also important here, and, due to its low cooldown, targets moving out is not as much of a disaster as it may be for other ground-targeted tools.
Tier 5 Talent Notes
Cycle of Hatred in the Shadowlands pre-patch is living off the power of Azerite via Furious Gaze and Eyes of Rage, and these combined create a recursive cooldown increase that increases your Metamorphosis when playing with Demonic. Has extremely high potential during the Pre-Patch.
First Blood adding a cheap spender in Blade Dance is great for having something that is flexible, without requiring a large amount of Fury to capitalise upon. It also serves well as a high front-loaded opener of damage during burst windows, such as Momentum, without committing too much Fury and potentially draining yourself. It serves as a rotational button you keep on cooldown at all times, due to its high damage-per-Fury conversion, and works well with Demonic windows.
Essence Break has huge potential to be useful in Shadowlands, but, in the Pre-Patch, it may struggle to find ideal use, due to the outside sources of damage coming from Essences. It serves as an extra burst window that can be pooled for, and unloaded when combined with other short window talents, like Momentum and Demonic. This has a lot of room to become a strong tool, but is unlikely to be a good pick right now.
Tier 7 Talents Notes
While in the future all 3 of these options will likely have their place to shine, in the Pre-Patch, Demonic is extremely dominant, due to leftover Azerite traits like Furious Gaze, so bear that in mind.
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. Pairing this with Immolation Aura (especially combined with Burning Hatred) to allow for background generation instead of committal generation tools, such as Demon's Bite, can be useful to make the most out of this period, but, in some cases, you may be forced into it due to bad RNG.
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.
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.
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.
- 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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