Monday, February 22, 2010

3.3 Demonology Warlockery

For some time now, I've been running my second spec as Demonology. I primarily use the spec for the daily random heroic that I run, but I've also lately found it quite fun in Battlegrounds. I want to go on record here at that start saying that everything I learned about this spec, I learned from the late Abigore (not that he's died, mind you, just moved on to other things) and his wonderful guides.  Since he's no longer blogging, I wanted to take the time to continue what he started, even if my advice will be somewhat more casual and less involved.  The spec is a great spec, and it deserves to be broadcast in it's own right.  I will still (and probably always) raid Affliction, but Demonology has strengths where Affliction has weaknesses, making it perfect for a second spec.

The Strengths
What strengths, you may ask.  Here's just a few:
  • Good Burst Damage.  
  • Great finishing damage (under 35% you really heat things up).
  • An engaging rotation.  Not just DoTs, but procs too.  
  • High Survivability.  For a 'lock, it's the best you can get.
  • Great buffs.  Raid wide spellpower? Yes, please.  Not to mention our normal crit buff.
  • A badass pet.  The Felguard really is the bomb.  Does a hefty amount of DPS too.
The Spec
Caught your eye yet?  Well, here's the spec: 2/54/15.

This is a slight modification of Abi's 0/56/15 spec.  Basically, I'm not keeping two sets of gear and I don't value Crit very high on my Affliction set, so instead of Improved Demonic Tactics, I choose to improve my Corruption.  Perhaps it's my inner aff'lock, but I just think I'll get a lot of mileage out of those two points since Corruption should always be up.  I thought about taking Aftermath in the Destro tree as well to improve my Immolate ticks, but I let Immo drop under 35% (more on that in a bit), so I wouldn't get as much use I think.  If this is your main spec and you have a lot of Crit stacked, you probably want to take Improved Demonic Tactics.

The aim of this spec is similar to my DK DPS spec.  That is to say, it is not first and foremost a min/maxed raiding spec, but one that I'm aiming more for general usage: heroics, BGs, and occasional raids that I overgear.  Abi correctly points out that the demo spec won't top an all-warlock DPS meter, but it will bring great utility to the raid and survivability to the table.  Those are things I prize in my heroics and BGs as well, so it's a great all-around spec.  Also, by "not top", we're only talking a few hundred DPS lower than Affliction or Destro on average.  It's not like it's way off.  Blizz has done a great job of making this spec competitive on the meters even with all it's advantages.

The Glyphs
Here are the glyphs I'm going with:
  • Major Glyph of Quick Decay - Great boost to Corruption and another reason I talented as I did.  I've always seen the Corruption spell as the backbone of any warlockery, and machinate around that.
  • Major Glyph of Felguard - A straight 20% bump to his attack power.  Good stuff.
  • Major Glyph of Life Tap - Operates like a SP trinket, and gives you something back for something you'll need to do anyways.
  • Minor Glyphs - Unending Breath, Souls, Drain Soul.  All pretty worthless as far as DPS goes, so just pick what you think you'll use the most.  Warlock minors still suck.
The Rotation
Before you do anything, make sure your buff yourself.  All 'locks should be popping on their Fel Armor, but you'll also want to make sure your Soul Link is active.  That is something special to Demonology that will share 20% of your damage with your pet.  Good stuff.

Above 35% Health
Curse > Corruption > Immolate > Shadowbolt Spam

It's pretty simple, only a few dots to keep up.  Curse choice is the same as for Affliction.  CotE if it's not covered elsewhere (Moonkin, Unholy DK, or other 'lock), otherwise CoA (or CoD for longer living stuff if you wish).  Also similar to my Affliction rotation, I like to get on the instants quick before moving to cast times. Crit shouldn't be an issue for this rotation (Edited as per comments).

When you see Molten Core procs, you may want to weave in a few Incinerates.  I believe the math has shown that just continuing to spam Shadowbolts is better DPS, but not by a whole lot.  I enjoy using my MC procs with three Incinerates as it keeps me on my toes, but only if I'm feeling clever.  So, if you want, you can do this.  Otherwise, just ignore the proc.

Under 35% Health
At this point, Soul Fire will become a part of our rotation.  Once you see Decimation proc, then you should spam soul fire as much as possible.  In 3.3 they changed it so that Soul Fire resets the Decimate buff, so it's almost spammable.  I say almost because we still want to keep Corruption, ISB buff, and our Curse up.  We can let Immolate fall off.  We keep up Corruption for the molten core procs, and the ISB buff for the group-wide (as well as self) implications.  The Curse is the same thing.  If you're using CoA, you may choose to let it drop off, but you must keep CotE up if that's your duty.  You don't have to do anything special when MC procs here, as your Soul Fires will use it up.

This is where you get to be big, purple (epic), and winged.  It is perhaps my favorite part of the spec, though it is by no means the "main part" as you've seen so far.  Meta is mostly a "Super Trinket" in that it does a whole bunch of cool stuff, primarily boosting your damage by 20% and your armor by 600%.  Awesome stuff.  As such, we want to use it judiciously.  It has a rather short cool down that is similar to a trinket, so you should plan according.   I would not recommend macro'ing this into a spell as we do our trinkets, since the key to proper Meta usage revolves around situational awareness.

You see, with Meta usage, we gain access to four new spells while in demon form.  The two we're actually concerned about are Immolation Aura and Demon Charge.  The aura will give you a >1k DPS DoT that radiates from you in melee range, and the charge will get you in range to use it.  You have to be aware that the aura is a pretty beefy AoE, so don't get yourself killed by pulling aggro.  Charging in, popping the aura, a Shadowflame, and then Rain of Fire amounts to a ridiculous amount of AoE damage.  Even my uber-geared pally partner has a hard time keeping the mobs off me when I do this.

Apart from the AoE goodness, you will just want to cast as normal.  If you're using this on a boss fight, say, then after you charge in (being careful not to get yourself cleaved or whirl-winded or something), pop the aura, then go back to your normal rotation.  If you're under 35%, use Soul Fire just the same.  There really isn't too much of a "trick" as far as when/how to use meta, you just have to be smart about it.  Any time you'd be gimping your normal DPS with things like moving, or strange "stop casting" mechanics, or awkward boss phases, you probably want to save you "Super Trinket".  After all, if you pop it and then have to stand there waiting while the Black Knight talks and rezzes and all that crap, then you've wasted some good bonus time.  Think of it as a personal Heroism (that you can use multiple times in a longer fight) that you have to try and use at the best times possible.  Also, don't forget to use this on trash too, since it's only a few minute cool down.

The Stats
Stat priority isn't all that different from Affliction, except for a two notable changes.

Hit (until capped)>SP*>Crit>Haste>Spirit>>Int.

First of all, Crit and Haste swap in terms of importance here.  I don't have clever pawn numbers, but Crit is going to be a better stat on this build.  After all, Crit is synonymous with "burst" and this is a burstier spec.  Second, I put a star next to Spellpower because it really is almost the only stat you should stack.  Because of Demonic Pact (which grants a raid-wide buff for 10% of your Spellpower whenever your pet crits), you really want to maximize your SP number.  Also, since the buff it dependent on Crit, that's just another feather in the cap of the Crit Crew.  Gem, enchant, and stack accordingly.  Still, apart from those considerations, you still have to hit cap, and those other stats are still pretty good for you.  Nothing earth shattering here.

Wrap Up
That's it for this primer.  I want to again voice thanks to Abigore, formerly of several WoW blogs (now doing a general gaming thing at 8-bit Gamer) who taught me everything I know.  His guides are still worth checking out from the link above if you'd like to look deeper into this spec.  I tried to just skim the surface and give the basics, but even that started to get a bit lengthy.  This is a really fun spec.  I run 98% of my heroics in it as it nets me good numbers (since it's burst and everything dies real fast) and keeps me on my toes watching procs, buffs, and thinking about when to pop meta. The survivability can also come in handy when you find yourself pulling off of the tank (whether it be your fault or the tank's)Plus, like I mentioned, it can be quite fun in BGs.   In any case, I plan to try to keep up with the the Demo information as well (hence writing this as a starting point). 

As always, tips and feedback are most welcome.  Also, definitely let me know if I missed a typo.


  1. I would have to look more deeply into the spec but I feel that this would be similar to the Hunter's beastermaster spec in that it would be not only perfect for Heroics & end-game stuff, but it would be ideal for leveling as well. I believe that this might be the route that I take for my warlock.

    Thanks for the info :)

  2. Also, for anyone who cares... I updated the raider 101 listing with some of this stuff as well.

  3. Plus i added the raider 101 link on my left hand resource bar... if you're looking for the "introductory" information to every raiding spec out there... great resource.

  4. Nice guide to demonology. I haven't tried the spec since the days of decimation "weaving" and it seems to have changed a lot.

    I am surprised that with the molten core change that Incinerate isnt used more - the buff seems like a big one to me, surely this gives a boost over shadowbolt?

    "Incinerate - Increases damage done by 18% and reduces cast time by 30%."

    Also, you posted this:
    "Since we're once again relying on the Crit from ISB, you may want to lead off with a shadowbolt to get that buff up so that your DoTs get it. "

    I may be mistaken, but corruption will not be able to crit without the requisite affliction talents which this spec does not have? And immolate cannot crit - at least until patch 3.3.3 is out!

    But anyway, a good post and my interest is demonology has been revived and I look forward to giving it a bash - the aoe in particular sounds pretty savage for heroics.

  5. Ah. Good catches.

    RE: Incinerate. I use it with MC because I think it does. I've seen various maths that say various things but I haven't found anything conclusive. So, to me, right now it's a personal choice.

    RE: Crit. I forgot that was an Affliction talent and not just in general. I'll go remove that I think.

  6. Demo's great for heroics and trash, and brings a lovely, lovely raid buff which will soon have much closer to 100% uptime. When you're peaking at over 6k spellpower, that's a heck of a raid buff, Brownie.

    One thing to note: Immolation Aura extends beyond melee range. On Sindragosa, for example, you can stand back and nuke her, and still have the aura hit. She does have a gigantic hit box, though. Probably from spawning all those wyrms. (Also worth noting on Sindragosa: if you pop Lollidan and the aura before getting ice tombed, you'll help burn it from the inside.)

  7. I'm glad the guides came in handy for you and that you're still enjoying the spec. They'll fade and be out of date eventually so it's cool that you're interested in keeping everyone up to snuff on Demonology!

  8. Someone had to carry the banner. Besides, I've really loved the spec and it's preformed very well :-).

  9. This is a great guide.
    One thing that I would change those two points in Imp Corruption.
    Move one of them into Demonic Empowerment. The main reason for this is that that's a huge dps boost that you can macro to your shadowbolt and incinerate. 20% dps is a good thing for your felguard... Comes out around a 5% dps increase overall for felguard.
    The other point I'd put into Imp Demonic Tactics to get some extra crit from your demon.

  10. Both great suggestions. Like I said, I put them there since I'm running an affliction gear set (lighter on the Crit) so IDT may not be as beneficial. I also didn't want to add another button to remember to push on my bar (demonic empowerment). I'm not really raiding in this spec, so I don't need the max, but those are both probably better places to spend the points. Macro'ing it is especially a good idea if you run the spec a lot. Since I'm mainly just doing heroics and PvP in demo, it's not as big of a deal for me.

  11. Great mini-guide, except for a couple of things:
    1) Incinerate will always have a higher DPET over Sbolt with MC up. So it's an actual DPS boost switching to Incinerate whenever the debuff's up.
    2) Stats priority for this spec should be:
    Hit > SP > Haste > SPIRIT > Crit
    Haste is a very good stat for all specs. The only thing one should remember is that the primary reason you would be raiding as a Demon lock (as it is still lags behind Aff and Destro in terms of pDPS) is to provide the spellpower buff. Which means that more spirit = more spellpower = higher Demon Pact buff for the entire raid.

  12. If you check out the Simulationcraft numbers from Elitist Jerks, they rate Crit higher than Haste for Demonology builds. It's very slight though. As for Spirit, I agree if you're raiding since it should help your buff, but I've pointed out that I'm not raiding as this spec.

    Either way, good info to keep in mind. Thanks.

  13. Honestly some of this stuff is nice, but the rest of it needs a bit of working with. With scaling spellpower and haste, the incinerates that will come out of a MC proc will be WELL above the dps that just spamming shadowbolt would be, it just takes good timing and correct usage of GCD. Also when you are going Meta for AoE, i'd suggest Immo Aura + Seed of Corruption, and after a good 6-8 seconds of SoC spams throw in a Soulshatter, it sure is fun to see 25k DPS on 6 mobs.

  14. Fulguralis said...

    @Metztli - Since my main raid spec is Affliction, I've definitely not looked as hard into scaling and things like that for the Demo spec. That makes sense though and thanks for the input. Have you seen somewhere that they've done the math to really prove the Incinerate over SB argument? Last I'd looked around it was still sort of a "meh" advantage: better but not *tons*. Admittedly, I haven't looked recently, so I would love a more up-to-date reference and will link it in the post to update my info.

    The only reason I use RoF when AoE'ing is because it's more controllable of a spell. I've read that the damage between the two spells is actually pretty comparable as long as you're not missing mobs because of RoF's smaller range. Since I'm mostly using my Demo spec in situations where I generally might outgear folks (random heroics), RoF has always been my go-to. SoC is definitely a great AoE spell though and should be used when you're not as worried about control.

  15. This has been a tremendous help. I have just started playing my lock again and was almost completely lost. lol. thanks again and i will ne a dedicated reader. Kalamar

  16. With the 4pc t10 bonus, do you think it then becomes worth it to keep up Immolate during Decimation?

    "Each time your Immolate and Unstable Affliction spells deal periodic damage, you have a 15% chance to gain 10% damage done by you and your pet for 10 sec."

    The chance at +10% damage on everything, especially Soul Fire, sounds worth it, but I'm not familiar with theory-crafting that sort of thing.

  17. That's a good question. I would head over to Elitist Jerks if you want the truly mathy version (which might be hard to find). Here's my off-the-cuff thoughts though...

    1. Since I raid primarily Affliction, I haven't worried too much about it. Demo to me has always been a utility/fun/alternate spec, so I don't really min/max on it.
    2. I only went 2p10 because I only raid ten man and there are better ten man pieces for many of the slots (chest, hands, etc from emblems). So, again, it doesn't really apply to me, personally.

    With those two caveats, I would just try it an see. If you can test it in "the field", I think that's always a better indicator than theory crafting. Just do it one fight and check your recount. You can analyze individual spells and see what your average and overall Soul Fire was for. If you wanted to get even more into it, you could compare what you gain to what you lost, but I would just check my overall number and damage done. You could even leave recount up to watch you number peak. Also, a service like World of Logs is good for this sort of thing since you can look at the damage level throughout the fight. I'm not the expert on this kinda stuff because I prefer to keep it simple.

    For a short answer: I would probably do it because I enjoy a bit more complication in my rotation (rather than just spamming). I might only refresh it at the same time as Corruption though (which we're supposed to keep rolling anyways). If you hit it right after a Corr, you're probably only losing one Soul Fire, right? I would think an extra 10% to everything would make up for that, but I don't know for sure.

  18. Fulguralis, I know some may be picky on the style, stats and what spells best fit, but I'd like to say that I am a fresh 80 and have followed the Demonology spec using your guidelines, advice and strategy and I must say that I am VERY happy with the results.

    Even with a GS of 4330.. I was in a Utgarde Pinnacle Heroic for my random this morning and Out DPS'ed everyone and was 2nd on the most damage overall! The others in the group had a GS ranging from 5068 - 5412.. they did give me a hard time because they accused me of "cheating" but I just figured they probably felt humiliated and that was their only way of dealing with it.

    Right after the instance, I just felt I had to come to your thread and say Thank You for everything. =) I don't usually get good results from most websites on my characters but this is a first and I am very pleased with it. =)

    The only change I made was I placing 2 points in Nemesis instead of 3 and I put 3 points in Suppression only because my hit rating atm still needs work on but once I am capped, I will readjust the talent points to 3/3 Nemesis & 2/5 Corruption.

    You did a remarkable on broadcasting about a spec that not many locks these days look at to take advantage of all the dynamics that could boost their dps/dmg.

  19. Aw TY - I'm glad you found it helpful! I had a great teacher in Abi too so I'm happy that I was able to relate the collective knowledge in an accessible manner :-).