Warlock Destruction Talent Builds

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Destruction is still a popular talent tree, despite the buffs to Affliction and Demonology. 2.01 brought more damage and a little bit more survivability to Destruction.

Tier 1

Improved Shadow Bolt rank 5/5
Your Shadow Bolt critical strikes increase the next 4 sources of Shadow damage dealt to the target by 20%. Effect lasts a maximum of 12 sec.

Comment: Every time you crit, all shadow damage dealt to the target is increased by 20%. An incredible talent.

Solo: ** (or 1/2) - You generally don't want to grind with a lot of Shadow Bolts, as they are highly mana inefficient. More damage is a good thing, but after a Shadow Bolt crit, your mob is probably almost dead anyway!
Raid: ***** - A must-have for raiding builds.
PvP: ** - Not really a big deal, but much better than Cataclysm unless you never plan on using Shadow Bolt. This allows you to follow up a crit Shadow Bolt with a 20% buffed Shadowburn.

Notes: DoT ticks do not consume Improved Shadow Bolt, but still receive the bonus damage. Builds that don't use Shadow Bolt obviously aren't going to get much use from this talent. See Shadowbolt's raid guide for more detailed information concerning the DPS benefits of this talent.

Cataclysm rank 5/5
Reduces the Mana cost of your Destruction spells by 5%.

Comment: A terrible talent. After 20 Shadow Bolt/Incinerates, you'll have saved enough mana to cast one more - that's a little more than 400 mana over 50 seconds. I get almost three times that much from a single Life Tap.

Solo: 1/2 (or *) - Only useful if you NEVER, EVER plan on Shadow Bolting, but you want to grind with a nuke build.
Raid: 1/2 - Even if you don't plan on using Shadow Bolt as your standard nuke, most builds will benefit more from having the option to switch to it when you have a Shadow Priest around.
PvP: 1/2 - No.

Notes: Some builds will take it despite it's terrible score, because certain builds will NEVER use Shadow Bolt, and because Destruction lacks fillers at certain tiers even for builds that only use Shadow Bolt.

Tier 2

Bane rank 5/5
Reduces the casting time of your Shadow Bolt and Immolate spells by 0.5 sec and your Soul Fire spell by 2 sec.

Comment: Increases Shadow Bolt DPS by 20%. Faster casts are always helpful.

Solo: ** (***** for Dest) - You shouldn't be farming or grinding with a Destruction build... but if you are, this is a very important talent.
Raid: ***** - The most important talent for Shadow Bolt spam, and helps keep those Immolates up for Incinerate spam.
PvP: **** - Shadow Bolt is a good nuke for PvP, but not all teams and specs will have the time to cast it.

Notes: Does NOT reduce Shadow Bolt or Immolate's +damage coefficient. This talent obviously isn't that great if you don't plan on nuking. Otherwise, it's pretty much essential.

Aftermath rank 5/5
Gives your Destruction spells a 10% chance to daze the target for 5 sec.

Comment: Small chance for your nukes to apply a 50% "daze" type snare on your opponent. Sucks because of the low proc rate and the nature of the Destruction spec, especially considering the talents that it's competing with.

Solo: 1/2 (or *) - Destruction Warlocks generally want to grind with a Voidwalker. Some grind with an Imp, and an Aftermath proc would help a little bit to keep the mob from gettiing close to you. Sucks.
Raid: 0 - Worthless.
PvP: * - A low chance to proc a weak snare? No thanks.


Tier 3

Improved Fire Bolt rank 2/2
Reduces the casting time of your Imp's Firebolt spell by 0.5 sec.

Comment: Greatly increases your Imp's DPS.

Solo: * - Most Warlocks don't grind with an attacking Imp. This talent is essential to the ones that do, though.
Raid: * - Atttacking with the Imp puts him in danger of AoE, and if he dies, you lose Blood Pact. However, he is a decent source of DPS with seperate threat from yourself, if you do use him for it.
PvP: * - Most Warlocks don't use Imp for PvP.

Notes: This talent gets (****) for builds that plan on using the Imp for DPS - make sure you get Improved Imp if you do that. Note that Fire Bolt's +dmg coefficient and this talent were both heavily nerfed in a recent patch.

Improved Lash of Pain rank 2/2
Reduces the cooldown of your Succubus' Lash of Pain spell by 6 sec.

Comment: This talent improves your Succubus' DPS a little, but it's not like she's going to become a DPS machine because of it.

Solo: 1/2 - Destruction Warlocks seeking a DPS pet for grinding should probably use Imp.
Raid: 1/2 - The DPS increase is not worth your 2 points, considering the tree this talent is in.
PvP: 1/2 - Succubus generally doesn't attack much in PvP, due to her low HP and slow movement speed.

Notes: This talent can actually be detrimental to your Succubus, since using Lash of Pain every 6 seconds means she'll never get to regenerate mana if you have autocast on.

Devestation rank 5/5
Increases the critical strike chance of your Destruction spells by 5%.

Comment: 5% crit is great, especially considering the location of this talent in the tree. Also helps proc more Improved Shadow Bolts, which is beautiful. Oh, and it's a prerequisite for Ruin.

Solo: ** (***** for Dest) -You shouldn't be grinding with Destruction, but if you are, it's essential.
Raid: ***** - Assuming you're only spamming nukes, 5% crit = 5% more dps if you have Ruin. But since you have Improved Shadow Bolt (you do, right?!!), it's actually much better than just a 5% improvement.
PvP: **** - Boosts burst capacity considerably, but won't fit into most builds.

Notes: The bonus to crit will not show up on your character sheet, because the talent states that it only benefits "Destruction" spells, and that sheet doesn't describe tree-based bonuses.

Shadowburn rank 1/1
105 Mana 20 yd range Instant cast 15 sec cooldown Reagents: Soul Shard: Instantly blasts the target for 91 to 104 Shadow damage. If the target dies from Shadowburn, and yields experience or honor, the caster gains a Soul Shard.

Comment: For one talent point, you get to have an instant cast nuke that hurts only a little bit less than Shadow Bolt. Essential for PvP, but it'll eat up your shards unless you're careful (I'm not).

Solo: *** - Inefficient, but effective for finishing off mobs without having to wait for DoT ticks or long cast times.
Raid: * - Only useful for trash mobs.
PvP: ***** - Gives you a decent amount of instant, reliable burst, but not all builds have room for it.

Notes: Almost every build with more than 10 points in Destruction gets this talent, PvP or not.

Tier 4

Intensity rank 2/2
Gives you a 70% chance to resist interruption caused by damage while channeling or casting any Destruction spell.

Comment: Very useful in certain situations.

Solo: **** - Almost essential to Destruction builds as you'll most likely pull agro from your pet while grinding.
Raid: ** - Useful at times, especially for tanking. Mostly a filler talent.
PvP: **** - Pushback in PvP can lose you battles. It won't save you from a Pummel or from a Counterspell, but it's definately useful, especially with Searing Pain.

Notes: With Paladin Concentration Aura, you hvae a 0% chance of having your spell pushed back.

Destructive Reach rank 2/2
Increases the range of your Destruction spells by 20% and reduces threat caused by Destruction spells by 10%.

Comment: Essential to nuking builds for both PvE and PvP.

Solo: ***** - Longer range means you can pull from further away and it takes longer for mobs to get to you. Every step taken to get into range is a waste of time - extra range helps. Also good to pull less agro from VW.
Raid: ***** - 10% threat reduction makes this talent pretty much essential. Helps you avoid those AoE's and makes you have to spend less time readjusting your range.
PvP: ***** - Absolutely essential for nuking builds.

Notes: Range talents are almost always essential to all ranged classes.

Improved Searing Pain rank 3/3
Increases the critical strike chance of your Searing Pain spell by 10%.

Comment: 15% crit (5% from Devestation) isn't going to make you crit all the time, but it's still pretty good. Too bad about that threat modifier on Searing Pain.

Solo: 1/2 (*** for Dest) - You generally won't cast many Searing Pains as Destruction for soloing, though it's probably your best option upclose.
Raid: 1/2 - The threat modifier makes this spell practically worthless unless it is your intention to pull agro.
PvP: *** - Some Warlocks prefer Searing Pain over other nukes because of the short casting time and the lack of a bolt animation. However, most builds don't have room to put pointsto into Improved Searing Pain.

Notes: Mileage greatly varies on playstyle. Unfortunately, Searing Pain doesn't benefit from talents like Bane and Shadow and Flame, and therefore does not scale as well with gear.

Tier 5

Pyroclasm rank 2/2
Gives your Soul Fire, Rain of Fire and Hellfire spells a 26% chance to stun the target for 3 sec

Comment: It sounds awesome, until you find out that Rain of Fire and Hellfire only have a 26% chance to proc Pyroclasm over their entire duration, meaning each tick only has a tiny chance to proc.

Solo: ** - Helpful if you open with Soulfire a lot, but not essential by any means.
Raid: 0 - No.
PvP: ** - Pyroclasm procs on Soul Fire are devestating. Soul Fire isn't used very often in PvP, though.

Notes: Early after WoW was released, people thought that this talent was broken because it seemed never to proc off Hellfire. It was later confirmed that it was working, just the chance to proc per tick was ridiculously low.

Improved Immolate rank 5/5
Increases the initial damage of your Immolate spell by 25%.

Comment: Turns Immolate into a pretty nice spell and helps improve your burst capacity. Prerequisite to the incredible Conflagrate.

Solo: *** - Immolate is often used by Destruction grinders, and is a prereq anyway.
Raid: ** - The initial damage of Immolate won't make up a large portion of your DPS, but it's there.
PvP: ***1/2 - Helps improve your burst capacity.

Notes: Don't bother getting this talent unless you're going for Conflagrate.

Ruin rank 1/1
Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Destruction spells by 100%.

Comment: One of the defining talents of the Destruction tree. Spell crits normally do 1.5x the damage; with Ruin, they do 2x. An incredible talent for burst DPS, a pretty good one for sustained.

Solo: ***** - Mobs generally don't last long after eating a Shadow Bolt/Incinerate crit boosted by Ruin.
Raid: ***** - A very good boost in DPS, considering it only costs one talent point, though it isn't as important as some people think.
PvP: ***** - Essential for Destruction, but Destruction isn't very good in arena.

Notes: Before patch 1.9, a Warlock could potentially crit for 4x damage, thanks to the old mechanics of CoS/CoEl that allowed for 1.25x/1.5x/1.75x/2x damage through vulnerability bonuses.

Tier 6

Emberstorm rank 5/5
Increases the damage done by your Fire spells by 10% and the casting speed of Incinerate by 10%.

Comment: This talent suffers because the spells that it enhances are not essential to raid DPS and a build this far into Destruction will be weak in arena. However, the recent change to it has made FIre competitive in PvE.

Solo: **** - Essential if you plan on grinding with Incinerate and/or Searing Pain.
Raid: 0 or ***** - Recent theorycraft models have found fire wielding versions of 0/21/40 to have significanly higher DPS than shadow based builds. Whether or not this is worth the lack of Imp. SB procs is up to the guild.
PvP: *** - Helps maximize Immolate/Conflagrate burst potential, but many builds will not have room for it.

Notes: Yes, it scales with gear. In patch 2.4, this talent was changed to also increase the casting speed of Incinerate by 10%, meaning it casts faster.


Nether Protection 3/3
When hit by a Shadow or a Fire spell, you have a 30% chance to become immune to all Shadow and Fire spells for 4 sec

Comment: A class-hosing talent, worthless against some classes in PvP and most mobs in PvE, pretty much overpowered against the classes it DOES affect.

Solo: 1/2 - Not very important, considering the relatively low number of mobs that nuke and the nature of their AI.
Raid: * - This talent would've been incredible for Vael. There's a lot more magic damage in instances than outside, but that doesn't mean this talent is crucial.
PvP: **** - This talent owns Fire Mages, Warlocks, and Shadow Priests. It's practically worthless against everyone else, but it's worth it for how great the benefit is against those classes.

Notes: An incredible talent that would be extremely overpowered in PvP if it were in any other talent tree.

Tier 7

Backlash rank 3/3
Increases your chance to critically hit with spells by 3% and gives you a 24% chance when hit by physical damage to reduce the casting time of your next Shadow Bolt or Incinerate by 100%. Backlash can only proc once every 8 seconds.

Comment: Punishes physical DPSers for attacking you. Suddenly I don't really mind that Hunter pet biting my ankles now...

Solo: **** - 3% crit is good, and throwing that instant Shadow Bolt or Incinerate to finish off the mob that hit you helps.
Raid: ***** - Great for the +3% crit.
PvP: ***** - One of the only reasons to spec Destruction.


Conflagrate rank 1/1
165 Mana 30 yd range Instant Cast 10 sec cooldown: Ignites a target that is already afflicted by Immolate, dealing 206 to 261 Fire damage and consuming the Immolate spell.

Comment: A spec-defining talent. Conflagrate is a very nice "instant" burst option that is rather mana efficient and helps with burst DPS. Unfortunately, it doesn't scale that well with gear.

Solo: ***1/2 - A good option for finishing off a mob if Immolate is still on it.
Raid: * - General consensus is that it's not worth the GCD and Immolate tick(s) it eats up and is mana inefficient. Decent on trash mobs, at least.
PvP: **** - One of the main sources of burst damage for Destruction builds, but suffers from extreme mana inefficiency due to the requirement of Immolate, and poor scaling.

Notes: It used to have a 20 yard range, 1.5 second cast, and lower damage!

Soul Leech rank 3/3
Gives your Shadow Bolt, Shadowburn, Soul Fire, Incinerate, Searing Pain, and Conflagrate spells a 30% chance to return 20% of the damage caused by the spell.

Comment: It looks a lot cooler on paper than it really is. Your nukes have a chance to heal you a bit. The average 70 Warlock gets 400-600 health from these procs.

Solo: **1/2 - Reduces downtime, but downtime is inevitable for Destruction builds.
Raid: **1/2 - The healing you gain is nice for Life Tap, but note that if you are topped off, you are not making use of Soul Leech procs. Your mileage will vary depending on the healers in your raid.
PvP: *1/2 - You might get lucky with a chain proc here and there, but it's not reliable by any means.

Notes: Primarily a PvE talent, and even then it isn't crucial. Fel Armor will improve the healing from this talent.

Tier 8

Shadow and Flame rank 5/5
Your Shadow Bolt and Incinerate spells gain an additional 20% bonus from your spell damage bonuses.

Comment: Improves the +dmg coefficient on Shadow Bolt and Incinerate. Very nice, if you have +dmg gear.

Solo: **** - Would get 5 stars if it were useful for people with terrible gear.
Raid: ***** - Turns Shadow Bolt into one of the best scaling spells in the game.
PvP: **** - More damage is nice, but it can be difficult to land the 2.5 casts in the arena.

Notes: The modifier is added directly to the spell, changing Shadow Bolt's +dmg coefficient from ~85% to ~105%.

Tier 9

710 mana, 30 yard range, 0.5 cast, 20 second cooldown: Unleashes Shadowfury, dealing 612-728 Shadow damage and stunning all enemies within 8 yards for 2 sec.

Comment: A very nice and versatile AoE spell. It can be used defensively or offensively. For example, it can add some duration to your Seduce nukes, cause catastrophic explosions with Seed of Corruption, or you can cast it to stun people to hit them with Fear/Howl of Terror. Adds to Destruction's burst capacity too.

Solo: ** - Useful in mobby situations, but not essential.
Raid: * - Because of its cooldown, it's not going to be that great of a contribution to your DPS. Useful sometimes though.
PvP: ***** - See comment.

Notes: Shadowfury does not incur a global cooldown. Unfortunately, it also doesn't scale that well with gear, and does not benefit from a lot of the talents in the Destruction tree. Note that Shadowfury is targeted like a grenade, meaning you use it and it brings up a green circle which you target and cast the spell.

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