|Gnome, Human, Orc, Undead, Blood Elf
|Affliction, Demonology, Destruction
Mages have always found an important part of the society they work in, but mages crave power. And when they turn to other potential sources of power, they might find some...more sinister, more questionable places to draw energy from. Warlocks are essentially mages that use demonic energies to fuel their powers, including the use of an enslaved demon. Their actual spells are a good bit different.
Warlocks are considered a DPS class, being most renowned among the classes for abilities dealing damage over time. They also have pets that are good for different situations, unlike the hunter's pets that are essentially all the same. Warlocks have some very good crowd control options, and are a surprisingly robust and diverse class.
The three focal areas for warlocks are Affliction, Demonology, and Destruction. Affliction spells focus on suffering and causing pain and misery across time. Destruction is more oriented toward spells that have immediate effects, or are fire-based. Demonology is focused on the warlock's pets and on other items they can summon or conjure.
Although not a hybrid class, warlocks have a lot of versatility. They can deal damage directly or over time to a large number of targets. They can fear, banish and seduce to manage battles against multiple opponents. They can regain mana at the expense of health, and regain health through "healthstones" they create and by siphoning it from their opponents. The class also gets a free mount at level 40 called a Felsteed.
However, they are not invincible, contrary to some popular opinions. They only wear cloth armor, making them susceptible to physical damage. (Warlocks often wear high stamina gear to offset this since they are less mana-dependent than other casters.) Additionally, many of their abilities require a Soul Shard which can only be obtained from killing an opponent while channeling the Drain Soul ability. These consume a considerable amount of bag space to keep a decent supply of, and all pets except their basic imp require one to summon, making it difficult to get started if they have no shards.
Stamina is one of the key Warlock attributes, especially for Demonology Warlocks. The main reason for this is that a Warlock can convert his health to mana through the spell Life Tap, thus allowing Stamina to mostly fill the role for Intellect as well. Many Warlocks also depend on large health pools as their main source of defense.
As a primary spell caster, the Warlock also has great use for all the standard caster attributes, such as Intellect and Spell damage. Consequently Warlocks have no use for Strength and also little use for Agility. Spirit regenerates health and mana for Warlocks very slowly, giving it no practical use when compared to abilities such as Life Tap and Dark Pact. The value of Spell crit depends on the talent build. With Ruin and the use of direct damage spells, it is very good. But for an Affliction Warlock that mostly uses DoTs, it is worth very little. The Demonology talent, Demonic Knowledge, gives the Warlock bonus spell damage of an amount equal to 5/10/15 percent of their active demon's Stamina + Intellect, which are bolstered by the Warlock's own Stamina and Intellect values.
In a raid scenario, Spell hit rating becomes significantly more valuable, taking precedence over all other stats and it is advisable that you reach the spell hit rating cap (16%; 202 hit rating). After this point, however, spell hit rating is useless.
The value of item attributes varies greatly for Warlocks depending on their talent choices and their main focus in the game whether it be leveling, raiding or PvP. Below is an example of the Attribute values for a raiding Warlock (in descending order).
Spell hit (until capped with Suppression) > Spell damage > Spell haste & Spell Crit
Spell hit > Spell damage > Spell Haste > Spell Crit
Spell hit > Spell Damage > Spell Crit > Spell Haste
In PvP for Warlocks the focus is some what different as survivability takes precedence often forcing Warlocks to greatly sacrifice DPS in order to obtain higher survivability in high end arena regardless of talent choice although all these stats have to be balanced relative to each other for the best results.
Resilience (until the 400+) > Stamina (until 12k-13k hp) > Spell Damage > Spell Crit
It is expected that a warlock will try to provide their group with healthstones, and also to perform a Ritual of Summoning to bring far-flung party members to the group. While this second option is less important with the presence of meeting stones, it is still an ability that can be useful.
Most warlock quests are themed after getting each new pet. At a very early level, warlocks will acquire a small task to learn how to summon an imp. At levels 10, 20, and 30 come quests to learn to summon a Voidwalker, Succubus, and Felhunter. At levels 60, the warlock gets a quest that allows them to upgrade their Felsteed to a Dreadsteed, which is an epic ground mount.
A large number of the Warlock's skills and spells rely Soul Shard reagent. They are obtained by using the Drain Soul spell. To create a soul shard, the warlock must be channeling this spell as the target dies. Only targets that would give experience (or honor in the case of a PvP target) to the warlock will yield a Soul Shard.
Shadowburn (talent) also creates a soul shard if the enemy dies within five seconds of casting it if the target rewards experience, reputation or honor, but since it also costs a shard to cast, the net effect is zero shards (or less if the cast is mistimed or spell is resisted).
Soul Shards are used to summon all minions except for the imp. They are used to enslave demons, cast many high level spells (such as Soul Fire), and create Healthstones, Soulstones, Firestones, and Spellstones. Additionally, they are required for the Ritual of Summoning spell that allows a Warlock to summon party members to the Warlock's location.
Before level 10, a warlock will only be able to summon the Imp, which is a pet that fires fireballs at enemies. It can gain access to a stamina buff called Blood Pact, as well as a damage shield called Fire Shield. The Imp is the only pet that requires no reagents to summon.
In general, the Imp represents the mage type of pet. Lots of damage output, but not a lot of hitpoints. They are best NOT taking damage alone (if you can take some for the pet he'll live longer), and they are best suited for cases when you are in a group where someone else can tank. If you use the Imp alone, you are best suited using the pet to deliver the most amount of damage as it can, while you do the same. The key with the Imp is to kill the monster before it can do too much damage to either you or the Imp.
Warlocks that have specced into Dark Pact use Imps often because of their high Spirit and Intellect. They can leave an Imp Phase Shifted and steal its mana, and the Imp will never take damage or draw aggro while it regenerates mana during the whole fight. The Imp is essentially a mana battery in these cases. The Blood Pact stamina bonus, when improved by talents, can be as effective as a Power Word: Fortitude in some cases. This also allows for quicker regeneration of mana since you have more health to fuel Life Tap.
After level 10, the Imp is generally not used for solo playing unless the warlock has run out of soul shards, since his utility for leveling is outstripped by the voidwalker and succubus. Though, some warlocks choose to "AoE" grind mobs like some mages do by casting all DoTs on one target, choose new target, DoT that one, and so on. For this the imp is useful as both a mana battery and for the stamina buff.
In end-game raids the Imp is useful primarily for Blood Pact. The fact that phase shift prevents him from dying as long as he doesn't use firebolt is also a plus. The Blood Pact ability is regarded so high that there are guilds that require warlocks to always use the Imp. However, many players that request the presence of an Imp don't have a full understanding of Blood Pact (which is limited to a 20 yard range). As warlocks are a ranged class, they will usually try to stay at a maximum range, which will be around 30 yards. That means that the melee class in the party may not get the benefits of the Blood Pact. In boss fights, a good warlock will step forward and request the Imp to stay at a position where most players are inside the 20 yard range, and then step back again to a safer distance.
At level 10, after completing a quest, you will be able to summon the Voidwalker. This pet is a tank, meaning he can absorb a lot of damage, but is not very useful at dealing it. The key ability of the Voidwalker is Torment, an ability which acts as a taunt. What that means is that he can cause monsters to find him more threatening than you. That is a good thing, as letting the Voidwalker absorb damage will keep you from having to, and he has much better armor. And if it comes down to one of you being killed...well, better him than you.
Later abilities of the Voidwalker include Sacrifice, which kills the Voidwalker to give you a stronger version of the priest spell Power Word: Shield, Suffering, which is an AoE taunt, and Consume Shadows, an out of combat pet self heal. Sacrifice can be particularly useful if your Voidwalker's health is low and he's about to die regardless.
To summon a Voidwalker, you will need to use a Soul Shard. If you don't have any, you're stuck with the Imp until you get one. For this reason, it is best to always have a few Soul Shards handy in case your pet dies, and you need to replace him. Beginning with patch 1.12, a soul shard is refunded to the caster any time a summoned pet despawns rather than dies (for example, if you move too far from your pet).
The tactics used with the Voidwalker are usually centered around letting him take the damage, while you hurt the monster in a controlled manner. After ordering the Voidwalker to attack your selected target, most experienced Warlocks start out with Curse of Agony. Using Curse of Weakness is not normally effective when soloing because while it decreases the amount of damage the target does per hit, the lack of damage from not using a Curse of Agony means the battle will take longer and the monster will get in more of those hits. The net result is a longer battle with the same or more total damage done to your Voidwalker. Curse of Agony is applied before the other DoTs because it takes the longest to complete its full duration (24 seconds). After Curse of Agony comes Corruption (18 second duration at most ranks), and then Immolate (15 seconds for full damage).
This DoT order has several advantages. First, it ensures that full damage from all the DoTs is done in the shortest amount of time. Second, it does the least amount of damage in the beginning. Neither Curse of Agony nor Corruption do any damage for 3 seconds after you cast them, and Curse of Agony starts off slow. This allows your Voidwalker to get a taunt in before you start really pissing off the monster. Third, it allows you the most flexibility. It's not uncommon for your Voidwalker to have his taunt resisted, but since the damage you've done is so low in the beginning, the monster might not turn to attack you. Even if it does, it won't be hard for the Voidwalker to get aggro back. If you see your Voidwalker being resisted, you can always hold off on Immolate until after he's built up more threat.
The strategy of finishing off the monster after this depends on the talent spec of the Warlock. Affliction Warlocks will use a combination of Life Tap and Drain Life to do additional damage while restoring health and mana. Destruction Warlocks will use a combination of Shadow Bolt, Conflagrate, and Immolate to finish the monster off a good deal faster, but without the replenishment.
In longer fights, you may need to use Health Funnel to give your pet some needed life, but be aware that those heals will raise your threat level a good amount, and may result in the monster going after you.
At level 20, you will get the rogue pet, the Succubus. Besides having a 'distinct' look, the Succubus is capable of dealing out damage. While it is contended by users, the Succubus is intended to deal out more damage faster than the Imp, but be less able to absorb damage than the Voidwalker. Basically the succubus is a middle ground pet. It is important to remember that she will also need to be summoned with a Soul Shard, so you need one ready to call her.
The Succubus starts with an ability called Lash of Pain. This is basically an instant-cast direct damage ability that deals about 30 damage (rank 1) to the target. Later the Succubus will gain Seduction which is a charming ability. This is useful against humanoid encounters, and can help you deal with multiple monsters at once.
The tactics around the Succubus are similar to the Imp: deal damage fast and share the pain between you. Approach the combat in the same way as the Voidwalker: open with a curse, DoT, follow up with DD, but in this case, do not hold back on the damage being dealt, even if it puts the monster on you. The damage absorption of the Succubus will only help slightly, so you'd rather just dish out the pain.
The Succubus is the best pet with which to practice a soloing technique called "drain tanking." Attack with the pet and apply DoTs of your choice. Eventually the aggro generated by your spells will pull the mob onto you, at which point begin spamming Drain Life to offset the damage you're taking from the mob, as well as Life Tapping to replenish your mana. Meanwhile, your Succubus should be ideally positioned to apply Lash of Pain to the mob's back. Drain tanking is only feasible as a play style if you take some key talents in the Affliction tree, but if done well you can take down mobs surprisingly fast and come out with only a small net loss of health/mana.
Succubi also seem to be very useful in a group where a tank is already present. Having the ability to dish out more damage, and even the occasional charm is definitely worth using. She also tends to create some oohs and ahhs because of her scantily clad appearance. The distinctive look of the Succubus will also make it clear what to target, and her reduced size compared to the Voidwalker makes fighting at close quarters easier.
Despite her lack of taunting, the Succubus can generate some hate on herself with her damage output (mainly when you have talents that increase her DPS: Unholy Power, Improved Succubus, Improved Lash of Pain). To keep your somewhat fragile pretty alive, Soothing Kiss will reduce the aggro toward her (similar to the rogue's Feint ability) and keep her dealing out damage without risk of dying. Always have Soothing Kiss on autocast when in a group, and never when playing solo.
An alternative strategy for using the Succubus is this:
1. Stay as far away from the mob as possible 2. Use Curse of Shadow on the mob (will also increase the Succubus' damage) 3. Let the Succubus attack at the same time 4. Wait a few seconds, so that it builds some aggro and does some damage 5. Cast 1 or 2 Shadow Bolts 6. Finish off with wand or Shadowburn, if needed
If timed perfectly, the mob will start running towards you in the end but spend some time running. If you share the damage with the Succubus, you minimize recovery time as you both regain lost hp at the same time. This strategy takes into account that the Succubus can't take much damage, and so using DoTs is too slow. Using the talents Improved Succubus and Improved Lash of Pain really makes this strategy shine.
At level 30 you get the Felhunter. The Felhunter is very useful against other casters, using spell lock, which interrupts an enemy caster's spell, and--for six seconds--prevents the caster from casting any spell from the same class of magic. The felhunter's "Devour Magic" ability removes negative magic on you (or positive magic on an enemy) and heals the felhunter every time he performs it. The felhunter is the PVP pet of choice yet lacks in PVE due to threat generation, it is best to use the voidwalker when not playing in a group.
Don't discount him as a tank pet, either. His Tainted Blood ability reduces attacker's power significantly if you let him take a few hits before you enter the fray. This in combination with Curse of Weakness can keep your Felhunter from taking much damage at all.
Careful threat management can make fighting with the Felhunter smooth and painless. Send the Felhunter in to attack, and watch the mob's health bar. As soon as the Felhunter hits the enemy for the first time, cast Curse of Weakness -- this will not cause enough threat to draw the mob away. Wait until the mob's health bar has decreased visibly by a tick, then cast Corruption (and Siphon Life if you have it). You may want to use Life Tap at this point to recoup the mana you have used.
Wait until the mob's health has decreased a significant fraction -- experiment with different enemies and see how this varies. Then use further attacks, such as Immolate, Shadow Bolt, your wand if you have one, or perhaps even a direct melee weapon attack. You can also use Drain Life to restore the health you lost by using Life Tap. If the mob does turn away from your Felhunter to attack you, don't panic; just cool it for a moment, stop attacking, and it'll go back. At this point some of your DoTs may be wearing off; you can judge whether and when to put them back based on how easy it is to draw the threat back onto you. It takes finesse, but you can usually dispatch enemies your level and come out with almost full health and mana. Your Felhunter may be a little worse for the wear, but pets recover very quickly.
At level 50 you can get the Infernal. The quest is extremely hard to solo until the high 50's, so you may need help. The infernal is not a pet you will be using frequently, seeing as it can only be summoned once per hour, it requires a reagent, and it breaks free after 5 minutes.
The spell to summon the infernal has a 2 second cast time, and when the infernal lands it will deal a small amount of shadow damage to all enemies around it as well as stunning them for 2 seconds. The Reagent needed to summon one is called an "Infernal Stone"
The infernal comes with a good chunk of health, fire immunity, fear immunity, and a permanent immolation aura that deals fire damage to every enemy around it every 3 seconds. It also hits pretty hard, and tanks well in PvE if you ever decide to use it for that.
Its fear immunity makes it a useful tool against enemy priests.
The infernal is useful for attracting attention in group PvP. If you send your infernal in to attack an enemy group, chances are they will focus their firepower on the infernal, giving your group members an easier time.
Prior to a certain patch, the summoned Infernal would roam free. Now, he comes enslaved after summoning and will break after five minutes.
Before patching, the only way to get the ability to summon an Infernal was to find a Book in Lower Blackrock Spire (LBRS). While the book is still available in LBRS, the spell can also be learned through a quest chain in Bloodvenom Falls, given by Niby The Almighty. After defeating Kroshius (55 Elite Infernal) and El Pollo Grande (Niby's summoning, non Elite) you will get the spell.
At level 60, you obtain the Curse of Doom spell, and can quest for the Ritual of Doom. Curse of Doom, when dealing the killing damage to any mob, has an estimated 10% chance of summoning a Doomguard. Ritual of Doom will always summon one, at the cost of the life of a party member. A Doomguard must be enslaved in order to command him. The Doomguard is more frail than the Infernal, but has far more abilities. He attacks in melee, and has a devastating crippling attack (a spell called "Cripple") which slows opponent's attacks and movement, and he can stun with War Stomp. He can cast Rain of Fire, although this consumes most of his mana. The tactics for using Doomguard are similar to the Voidwalker, except that Doomguard does tremendous amounts of damage and may require some healing. Generally, you turn off the autocast for Rain of Fire, but let him warstomp and cripple at will. In PvP, Doomguard will wreak havoc on the enemy with his stuns and cripples, unless one of those enemies is another warlock, in which case he can be banished immediately.
As always, cast a Curse of Shadow before enslaving. When your five minutes are almost up on the Doomguard, have him use up his mana by casting a Rain of Fire and get ready for a fight when he breaks enslavement.
Ideally when you suspect you will not be able to enslave again (demons become more resistant to it the more you recast it on them) try to get it killed. Even if you forget that it is about to break out, and it has all of its mana and health, defeating a Doomguard solo is not too hard. Banish it first since it will probably get on you if you've forgotten about the time anyway. Then back up (and bandage if needed), and fear it. Oddly enough, this huge hulking mass of evilness is scared of you.
Warlocks can get this pet from investing 41 points in the Demonology tree. The Felguard's aggro-holding ability is significantly better than the voidwalker's. This goes for his melee damage as well, comparable to the succubus, and for this reason makes them both obsolete except for sacrifice, seduce, and the versatile Master Demonologist's buffs that these demons grant. His abilities, which must be acquired through purchased grimoires, include a Demonic Frenzy, taunt, cleave, and intercept (which charges an enemy and stuns them for 3 seconds). He is great for PvP and soloing, and can even hold his own in a raid if kept healed. When facing an enemy warlock who has one, it is advisable to banish it, hence removing the buffs this demon gives him.
An effective method of grinding mobs with a Felguard: Attack the first mob, DoT it two or three times while the Felguard builds some aggro, and then let the Felguard continue with the next mob before the first is dead. That way, the Demonic Frenzy will stay at +50% attack power.