Warlock Combat Tactics

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Warlocks have a few various playstyles, one of them focuses more on direct damage and the other focuses more on the Damage over Time spells (DoTs). Both of them use the DoT spells extensively, although while an Affliction Warlock may apply another DoT, a Destruction Warlock would simply Shadow Bolt.

Upon reaching endgame, all 3 types of warlocks will behave differently. Affliction warlocks will focus on upkeeping DoTs and maybe throwing a free shadowbolt whenever their Nightfall ability comes up, while Destruction Warlocks will focus solely on keeping Curse of Elements (Or Shadows!) up, and attacking with Incinerate and Immolation as much as possible. If you're a Destruction warlock, you will benefit from very high burst damage!

Warlocks with Demonology may just sit back and let their pet tank as they combine a little of both. While not the fastest killers nor the best mana conservers, they're great for PvP and endurance.

PvE Combat

In PvE combat, after level 10 (when you have your Voidwalker) combat should look like this. You pull an enemy with Curse of Agony (or have the Voidwalker attack the enemy himself then cast Curse of Agony). Then use Corruption followed by Immolate. As the enemies health ticks down calmly wait while your Voidwalker builds more and more aggro (aggression, making the enemy want to attack it more and more).

If you’re good on mana or Destruction talent spec’d at about 50% health you can begin nuking it with Shadow Bolt, Conflagrate, and at higher levels follow up with either a talent DD spell from Destruction or Incinerate. If you’re not good on mana (and especially if you’re Affliction spec’d) then Life Tap and Drain Life are used to deal additional damage while replenishing your health and mana.

Now, some mobs may need to be fought differently, but for the majority of enemies out there this will work. If you run into any trouble you can generally just Fear the enemy and take it down as fast as possible. Fear though has the nasty habit of making an enemy find other enemies to drag back with it, making a bad situation worse. Keep in mind many new monsters (especially unique or quest targets) will not be able to be feared, as this was a game-breaker pre-expansion. If you're going to be using fear, make sure you're clear from other monsters since many of the newer types will link up and gang up on you.

Group Combat

In groups the role of the Warlock can be difficult to describe. Most the time the Warlock will be focusing on doing direct damage to non-elites/DoTs to elites and using its curses to benefit the group.

For non-elites the Warlock is generally best just outright Shadow Bolting it. The enemy will probably die way before the DoTs can do any real damage. For elites, they generally live long enough that the DoTs are a great way for the Warlock to do damage AND to avoid pulling off the tank.

For curses, in instances against any enemy that runs away rank one Curse of Recklessness (rank one is good enough) is very helpful in keeping enemies from running away. Curse of Tongues is great against spell casters and Curse of Elements will generally make any Mages in the group REALLY happy.

Outside of that, Warlocks should function like they normally do. In groups often the Imp is the preferred pet unless a need for the Voidwalkers tanking ability arises. A Demonology spec’d Warlock would obviously always prefer to have their Felguard out.

When two or more Warlocks group up it’s generally a good idea to split up who uses which Curse. The various DoT spells DO stack, although they use debuff slots. Any one enemy can only have up to 16 debuffs on them at a time.

Always make sure a healer who can resurrect is soul stoned. If there is more then one Warlock or if it’s a raid work out who soul stones who.

Once you reach higher end instancing, it will be a good idea to add all your possible debuffs to the monsters since they tend to have more HP than a regular 5man, and will end up helping your cause if you have extra damage ticking on them. Now that you can have many debuffs going, they don't go to waste.

Don't forget to drain soul until you fill your extra slots with soulshards, you will be needing lots of them if you want to be effective, especially if you use Shadowburn and hand out healthstones / soulstones every now and then. A common tactic is to shadowburn every single battle you have, near the end, so you do that little extra burst damage to avoid a hit or two on the tank, or an ability being cast on the group.

Don't forget you have Death Coil and Banish! Both are really underestimated in a group environment at times, as well as Enslave Demon, and are well worth looking into. Death Coil prevents annoying abilities from being cast by non-undead enemies for a few seconds, Banish will work just as well as any other CC (Especially within Tempest Keep), and Enslave Demon will help you and your group out should you be low on people who are able to crowd control. This is especially useful in places like The Mechanar and the Botanica!

PvP Combat

When you begin talking about PvP you start to get into the very deep tactics that can only be learned through experience. Generally though in PvP your average Warlock will fear an enemy then apply as many DoTs as possible while gaining distance. Unaided, the majority of players will die from the DoTs as the Warlock is a safe distance away. If, of course, they have the ability to remove the DoTs then it comes down to either doing direct damage while fearing or using various combinations of pets (for instance the Felhunter against casters) and any openings to reapply the DoTs.

Although, really, PvP depends on your talent spec and how you play. When on large scale PvP, your best bet is to fear and DoT enemies, but if you only see one or two enemies coming at you, regardless of spec, you will be trying to overpower them quickly with your best abilities so that they're out of the way before their help arrives. This can be achieved by ample use of Fear and Howl of Terror, as well as Death Coil and Shadowburn along with DoTs to either cripple or increase your damage against them.

If you're demonology, you work best in a small group, since heals will do way more to you and your pet will be sharing damage with you. This makes you a very strong presence in the battlefield who can DoT away and nuke some like the rest, albeit with lesser damage. Well-geared demonology warlocks are very hard to defeat in PvP due to the sheer amount of HP they have.


Fear is the ability to make an enemy “run in fear” for a period of time. While running they can’t use any abilities nor can they attack, so they are effectively shut down. In PvP there is an immunity to fear (a player can only be feared so much) and there is also a limit of a total of 12 seconds a player can be feared. In PvE there is no such immunity nor is there any limit to the duration of fear. Warlocks can only have one thing feared at a time with the “Fear” skill and 5 with the “Howl of Terror” skill. Undead (non-players) can not be feared, but most everything else can be.

Fear has a chance to break on damage, with DD (direct damage) skills this chance is pretty high while DoTs have a much lower chance to break. This said, the basic tactic here is apply as many DoTs as possible then fear an enemy while their life is slowly sapped away. Alternatively you can Shadow Bolt the enemy while it is running in fear, although this has a pretty good chance of breaking the fear.

Death Coil doesn’t count as a fear and can not be countered with anti-fear mechanisms (such as Fear Ward or Will of the Forsaken). It causes “horror” which is different then fear and doesn’t set any fear immunities. A popular tactic both in PvE and PvP is to Death Coil initially, and subsequently fear to prolong the effect giving you an instant advantage.

Soloing Elites

Warlocks are known for their ability to solo elite enemies, although it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Elite enemies generally need to be the same or lower level then the Warlock and the Warlock will need to have a decent amount of gear. The basic strategy is to repeatedly fear the enemy while applying DoTs and casting Shadow Bolt. Anytime fear begins to fade, recast it. A Voidwalker can be used as a quick HP shield and it’s Sacrifice ability can help give you some extra time to refear the enemy if it decides to break fear and attack.

This will work against most of the elites in Azeroth, but in Outland, you have another powerful way of dealing with seemingly impossible Elites. The name? Demons. Usually there will be a camp or two with powerful elite demons in most areas, you can use them to your advantage by enslaving them and quickly running to your target(s), this way, you can defeat many named quest monsters that others need to group for, or perhaps that elite that blocks your way or has good loot being a rare spawn!

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