With Mists of Pandaria, warlocks can begin choosing their talents beginning at level fifteen. As of Mists of Pandaria talents are no longer tied to specializations. Players may choose a new talent from the same group of three talents at periodic levels (15, 30, 45, etc.).
Pre-Mists of Pandaria
Starting at level 10, a Warlock can begin spending talent points to gain new abilities and spells, strengthen existing abilities, and specialize how he/she functions. See the entry on Talents for more information about the Talent system. Warlock Talents have undergone significant changes with the 1.6 patch, and further changes with the 2.0.1 and 3.0 patches.
Some Warlock talent builds have become quite popular. There's a tendency to describe talent builds with the names of their highest-tier talents, or by the numbers of points spent in each tree (30/0/21 means 30 points in Affliction, no points in Demonology, and 21 points in Destruction); the trees are listed in alphabetical order, which is the order in which they appear in the game. Also, there are usually many options available on the way to the top-tier talents; there can be many variations of these depending on each Warlock's individual taste and style.
Do keep in mind that a leveling build is a very different thing from an end game 80 raiding or pvp build. The latter depend on the availability of all talent points as well as stacking stats like Spell Power and haste (which you only do past level 60) to be really effective, so picking a level 80 build right at the beginning and adding points toward it as you level up is a bad idea; you will get very few or none of the benefits of that build until you reach the high 70s. It is better while leveling to target a build for level 40, level 60, level 70 and level 80 and respec to them when you get to that level as these are the stages where key talents and spells are unlocked. With warlocks, you typically need one build to 40 (something like the old SL-SL) that focuses on survivability and uptime without depending on Spell Power, another to 80 that does and a third at 80 for endgame content (raiding or pvp).
Which talent tree to choose ?
Warlocks can only take the role of damage dealers (also known as dps), so it's not clear at first moment how each talent tree improves damage or how the warlock's play style changes when choosing talents from specific trees.
A simple explanation considers that, since the warlock is a damage dealer, then each talent tree must improve damage in a different way. The warlock has many ways of causing damage, like DoTs and curses (ie, "marking" the target with spells that keeps "ticking" or weakening them), channeled spells (ie, a spell that drains energy or mana), damage caused by minions and direct damage spells (ie, spells that have a cast time, followed by a single instant or nearly instant damage burst). Considering this point of view, each talent tree improves damage on the following ways:
- Affliction: this talent tree improves damage caused by DoTs, curses and channeled spells.
- Demonology: this talent tree improves damage caused by the warlock's minions, empowering the warlock through their minion.
- Destruction: this talent tree improves damage caused by direct damage spells.
Since the type of spells improved are different, the spells used by the players will vary according to the tree.
Talents as task solvers
A second view of talent trees is considering that there are many different tasks that the warlock may want to do in the game and that certain tasks are better accomplished by certain talent trees. Consider the following tasks: leveling, doing quests, farming, playing PvP and playing with a group in dungeons and raids. Each task may be done better by fullfilling certain essential requirements:
- leveling, questing and farming: requires fast player versus environment game, which translates to both medium to high damage and low downtime due to lack of health or mana, that is, some amount of survival capability.
- playing pvp (many types): there will be cases when good damage is necessary and other cases where exceptional survival is more important than damage (specially when a group with well defined roles is not available).
- playing in a group: the warlock has a well defined role here, maximal damage is desired.
How each talent tree is related to each task and which task is better fullfilled by each talent tree ? If we consider that we would only pick talents from a single tree, the following discussion would apply:
- Affliction: besides improving damage, affliction also improves healing generated by certain DoTs and drains. Also, it improves mana efficiency of those spells, as well as improving ways of generating mana. Affliction has a good spell damage, coupled with moderate survival support, so it's well suited for leveling, questing and farming. The DoTs and drains, although improved, don't have excellent dps on single targets, so affliction warlocks should fight against multiple enemies at any time, which further improves farming speed. This also applies to PvP: affliction warlocks may curse many enemies at a single time when in a group, but may have trouble when solo fighting against high dps enemies. Raids are possible and exceptional dps can be achieved, but affliction warlocks should also concentrate on cursing enemies so that they're weakened and other players are able to improve their damage.
- Demonology: this tree improves not only minion's damage, but also other minions abilities. For example, voidwalkers may tank better and the felguard becomes available a high damage tank. Together with health improving and damage mitigation talents, it's possible to increase the focus on the minion and greatly improve the warlock's survivability. Even the warlock may transform into a demon, becoming a hybrid warrior warlock for a few seconds. The demonology is specially suited to pvp situations where extreme survival is a must. It's not as suited for leveling as affliction, because there are so much points to spend in survival, that damage dealing is not improved in the same proportion. On the other hand, it's good against single targets, to the point that it's possible to solo elites with a Voidwalker or Felguard that would otherwise require a 3 or 5 people group. Again, since the spell power is not improved very much it may not be well suited for playing instances and raids.
- Destruction: this tree is focused in improving damage, with a few talents for mitigating damage and healing. This bends much more towards dealing damage, so this is well suited for raiding. Destruction is not suited for leveling, because, even though damage is greatly improved, downtime is caused by lack of mana. PvP may be well suited in the opposite case of Demonology, that is, when the goal is to kill the opponent as fast as you can, leaving the responsibility of survival to a partner, for example.
How this translates to practical, real world talent builds ? If you need to go leveling or making quests, affliction is by far, the least downtime, most mana efficient talent tree, so get as much points as you can. If you need a lot of survival when playing pvp, specially against damage bursts, the demonology offers the most health improvements and damage mitigation, so get lots of points in demonology. If you play pvp, but doesn't require a lot of survival, spend some points in damage and some points in healing in affliction or destruction. If you need guaranteed damage in raids, choose destruction talents. Alternativelly, if you think you can cope with more complex DoT rotations (thus dealing with more varied cases) and still mantain great damage in raids, put points in affliction.
As a useful hint, even though the best talents are deep in each tree, complementing some tree in higher levels with another that improves something that the original tree lacks is almost always done in popular builds. For example, the "Shadow embrace/ruin" is a 56/0/15 that spends 15 points on a single destruction spell to complement damage for this affliction spec. Similarly, the "PvP-Destro" 0/20/51 improves the high damage pvp spec with many survival tricks.
What about playing with the "wrong" build ? The above discussion does not prove that certain builds are correct and others are wrong, they only relate each tree with certain tasks. So, a warlock would want to level up with destruction and cope with high downtime, simply because he finds boring casting DoTs. That wouldn't be a "wrong" build, that would be the right build for him.
The Affliction tree gives a Warlocks specialization in stable damage over time spells with more powerful curses and drains, better DoT ability, and in the end more powerful Shadow spells in general as well as a new way of recovering mana. There are also two additional DoTs and a new curse.
|Improved Curse of Agony||none||2||Increases the damage done by your Curse of Agony by 5%/10%.|
|Suppression||none||3||Increases your chance to hit with spells by 1%/2%/3%, and reduces the cost of your Affliction spells by 2%/4%/6%.|
|Improved Corruption||none||5||Increases the damage done by your Corruption by 2%/4%/6%/8%/10%, and increases the critical strike chance of your Seed of Corruption by 1%/2%/3%/4%/5%.|
|Improved Curse of Weakness||5 Affliction||2||Increases the amount of attack power reduced by your Curse of Weakness by 10%/20%.|
|Improved Drain Soul||5 Affliction||2||Returns 7%/15% of your maximum mana if the target is killed by you while you drain its soul. In addition, your Affliction spells generate 5%/10% less threat.|
|Improved Life Tap||5 Affliction||2||Increases the Mana awarded by your Life Tap spell by 10%/20%.|
|Soul Siphon||5 Affliction||2||Increases the amount drained by your Drain Life and Drain Soul spells by an additional 3%/6% for each Affliction effect on the target, up to a maximum of 9%/18% additional effect.|
|Improved Fear||10 Affliction||2||Causes your Fear spell to inflict a Nightmare on the target when the fear effect ends. The Nightmare effect reduces the target's movement speed by 15%/30% for 5 sec.|
|Fel Concentration||10 Affliction||3||Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks, while casting Drain Life, Drain Mana, Drain Soul, Unstable Affliction and Haunt by 23%/46%/70%.|
|Amplify Curse||10 Affliction||1||Reduces the global cooldown on your Curses by 0.5 sec.|
|Grim Reach||15 Affliction||2||Increases the range of your Affliction spells by 10%/20%.|
|Nightfall||15 Affliction||2||Gives your Corruption and Drain Life spells a 2%/4% chance to cause you to enter a Shadow Trance state after damaging the opponent. The Shadow Trance state reduces the casting time of your next Shadow Bolt spell by 100%.|
|Empowered Corruption||15 Affliction||3||Increases the damage of your Corruption spell by an amount equal to 12/24/36% of your spell power.|
|Shadow Embrace||20 Affliction||5||Your Shadow Bolt and Haunt spells apply the Shadow Embrace effect, increasing all periodic damage dealt to the target by you by 1/2/3/4/5%, and reducing all periodic healing done to the target by 2/4/6/8/10%. Lasts for 12 sec. Stacks up to 3 times.|
|Siphon Life||20 Affliction||1||When you deal damage with your Corruption you are instantly healed for 40% of the damage dealt. In addition, the damage done by your Corruption, Seed of Corruption and Unstable Affliction damage over time effects is increased by 5%|
|Curse of Exhaustion||20 Affliction
1 Amplify Curse
|1||Reduces the target's speed by 30% for 12 sec. Only one Curse per Warlock can be active on any one target.|
|Improved Felhunter||25 Affliction||2||Your Felhunter regains 4/8% of its maximum mana each time it hits with its Shadow Bite ability and the cooldown on that ability is reduced by 2/4 sec. In addition, increases the effect of your Felhunter's Fel Intelligence by 5/10%.|
|Shadow Mastery||25 Affliction
1 Siphon Life
|5||Increases the damage dealt or life drained by your Shadow spells and your Felhunter's Shadow Bite ability by 3/6/9/12/15%.|
|Eradication||30 Affliction||3||When you deal damage with Corruption, you have a 6% chance to increase your spell casting speed by 6/12/20% for 10 sec.|
|Contagion||30 Affliction||5||Increases the damage of Curse of Agony, Corruption, and Seed of Corruption by 1%/2%/3%/4%/5% and reduces the chance your helpful Affliction spells and damage over time effects will be dispelled by an additional 6/12/18/24/30%.|
|Dark Pact||30 Affliction||1||Drains 1200 of your summoned demon's Mana, returning 100% to you. (Removed in patch 4.0.1)|
|Improved Howl of Terror||35 Affliction||2||Reduces the casting time of your Howl of Terror spell by 0.8/1.5 seconds.|
|Malediction||35 Affliction||3||Increases your spell damage by 1/2/3% and increases the periodic critical strike chance of your Corruption and Unstable Affliction spells by 3/6/9%.|
|Death's Embrace||40 Affliction||3||Increases the amount drained by your Drain Life by 10%/20%/30% while your health is at or below 20% health, and increases the damage done by your Shadow Spells by 4%/8%/12% when your target is at or below 35% health.|
|Unstable Affliction||40 Affliction
|1||Shadow energy slowly destroys the target, causing X damage over 15 sec. In addition, if the Unstable Affliction is dispelled it will cause Y damage to the dispeller and silence them for 5 sec. Only one Unstable Affliction or Immolate per Warlock can be active on any one target.|
1 Unstable Affliction
|1||Grants the periodic damage from your Corruption and Unstable Affliction spells the ability to critically hit for 100% increased damage, and increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Haunt spell by 100%.|
|Everlasting Affliction||45 Affliction||5||Your corruption and Unstable Affliction gain an additional 1/2/3/4/5% of your bonus spell damage, and your Drain Life and Haunt spells have a 20/40/60/80/100% chance to reset the duration of your Corruption spell on the target.|
|Haunt||50 Affliction||1||You send a ghostly soul to the target, dealing X Shadow damage and increasing all damage by your shadow damage-over-time effects on the target by 20% for 12 sec. When the Haunt spell ends or is dispelled, the soul returns to you, healing you for 100% of the damage it did to the target.|
The Demonology tree gives a Warlock more powerful demons and conjured Stones, as well as more stamina and some buffs that take effect when the demon is present. It also increases the effectiveness of enslaved Demons and end-game summons, and in the end there's a new way to make the Warlock very hard to kill.
|Improved Healthstone||none||2||Increases the amount of Health restored by your Healthstone by 10%/20%.|
|Improved Imp||none||3||Increases the effect of your Imp's Firebolt, Fire Shield, and Blood Pact spells by 10%/20%/30%.|
|Demonic Embrace||none||3||Increases your total Stamina by 4%/7%/10%|
|Fel Synergy||none||2||You have 50%/100% chance to heal your pet for 15% of the spell damage caused by you|
|Improved Health Funnel||5 Demonology||2||Increases the amount of Health transferred by your Health Funnel spell by 10%/20% and reduces the health cost by 10%/20%. Demon takes 15%/30% less damage during Health Funnel.|
|Demonic Brutality||5 Demonology||3||Increases the effectiveness of your Voidwalker's Torment, Consume Shadows, Sacrifice and Suffering spells by 10%/20%/30%. Increases Felguards Demonic Frenzy by 1%/2%/3%.|
|Fel Vitality||5 Demonology||3||Increases the Stamina and Intellect of your Imp, Voidwalker, Succubus, Felhunter and Felguard by 5%/10%/15%. Increases your maximum health and mana by 1%/2%/3%.|
|Improved Succubus||10 Demonology||3||Reduces the cast time of your Succubus' Seduction by 22%/44%/66% and increases the duration of Seduction and Lesser Invisibility by 10%/20%/30%.|
|Soul Link||10 Demonology||1||When active, 20% of all damage taken by the caster is taken by your Imp, Voidwalker, Succubus, Felhunter or Felguard demon instead. The damage cannot be prevented. Lasts as long as the Demon is active.|
|Fel Domination||10 Demonology||1||Your next Imp, Voidwalker, Succubus, Felhunter, and Felguard Summon spell has its casting time reduced by 5.5 sec and its Mana cost reduced by 50%.|
|Demonic Aegis||10 Demonology||3||Increases the effectiveness of your Demon Armor and Fel Armor spells by 10%/20%/30%.|
|Unholy Power||15 Demonology
|5||Increases the damage done by your Imp, Voidwalker, Succubus, Felhunter, and Felguard's melee attacks and your imps firebolt by 4%/8%/12%/16%/20%.|
|Master Summoner||15 Demonology
|2||Reduces the casting time of your Imp, Voidwalker, Succubus, Felhunter, and Felguard summoning spells by 2/4 sec and the Mana cost by 20%/40%.|
|Mana Feed||20 Demonology
|1||When you gain mana from Drain Mana or Life Tap spells, your pet gains 100% of the mana you gain.|
|Master Conjuror||20 Demonology||2||Increases the combat ratings gained from your conjured Firestones and Spellstones by 150%/300%.|
|Master Demonologist||25 Demonology
5 Unholy Power
|5||Grants both the Warlock and the summoned Demon an effect as long as that Demon is active. Imp - Increases your Fire damage by 1%-5%, and increases the critical effect chance of your Fire spells by 1%-5%. Voidwalker - Reduces Physical damage taken by 2%-10%. Succubus - Increases your Shadow damage by 1%-5%, and increases the critical effect chance of your Shadow spells by 1%-5%. Felhunter - Reduces all spell damage taken by 2%-10%. Felguard - Increases all damage done by 1%, and reduces all damage taken by 1%-5%.|
|Molten Core||25 Demonology||3||Your Shadow spells and damage over time effects have a 5%/10%/15% chance to increase the damage of your Fire spells by 10% for 12 sec.|
|Demonic Resilience||30 Demonology||3||Reduces the chance you'll be critically hit by melee and spells by 1%/2%/3% and reduces all damage your summoned demon takes by 5%/10%/15%.|
|Demonic Empowerment||30 Demonology
|1||Grants the demon Empowerment. Succubus - Instantly vanishes into an improved invisibility state, removing snares, stuns and movement impairing effects. Voidwalker - Increases health by 20% and threat generated fromm spells and attacks by 20% for 20 sec. Imp - Increases spell critical chance by 20% for 30 sec. Felhunter - Dispells all magical effects from the Felhunter. Fel Guard - Increases the Fel Guard's attack speed by 20% and breaks stun, snare, movement impairing effects and makes them immune. Lasts 15 sec.|
|Demonic Knowledge||30 Demonology||3||Increases your spell damage by an amount equal to 4%/8%/12% of the total of your active demon's Stamina plus Intellect.|
|Demonic Tactics||35 Demonology||5||Increases the melee and spell crit chance caused by you and your summoned demon by 2%/4%/6%/8%/10%.|
|Decimation||35 Demonology||2||When you Shadowbolt or Incinerate a target that is at or below 35% health, the cast time of your next Soul Fire is reduced by 35%/60%/. Soul Fires cast under the effect of Decimation cost no shard. Clasts 10 sec.|
|Improved Demonic Tactics||40 Demonology
5 Demonic Tactics
|3||Increases your demons critical strike chance equal to 10%/20%/30% of your critical strike chance.|
|Summon Felguard||40 Demonology||1||Summons a Felguard under the command of the Warlock.|
|Nemesis||40 Demonology||3||Reduces the cooldown of your Demonic Empowerment, Metamorphosis, and Fel Domination spells by 10%/20%/30%.|
|Demonic Pact||45 Demonology||5||Increases your spell damage by X%, and your pet's criticals apply the Demonic Pact effect to your party or raid members. Demonic Pact increases spell power by Y% of your Spell Damage for 45 sec. This effect has a 20 sec cooldown. Does not work on Enslaved demons.|
|Metamorphosis||50 Demonology||1||You transform into a demon for 30 sec. This form increases your armor by 600%, damage by 20%, reduces chance you'll be critically hit by melee attacks by 6% and reduces the duration of stun and snare effects by 50%. You also gain some unique demon abilities in addition to your normal abilities. 3 minute cooldown.|
Destruction improves the direct damage spells of the Warlock. There are talents to increase the speed at which your pets attack here, as well as to improve your damage-dealing spells, their chances to get critical effects, and the damage done when critical effects occur.
|Improved Shadow Bolt||none||5||Increases the damage done by your Shadow Bolt spell by 2%/4%/6%/8%/10%, and your Shadow Bolt has a 20%/40%/60%/80%/100% chance to cause your target to be vulnerable to spell damage, increasing spell critical strike chance against that target by 5%. Effect lasts 30 sec.|
|Bane||none||5||Reduces the casting time of your Shadow Bolt, Chaos Bolt and Immolate spells by 0.1/0.2/0.3/0.4/0.5 seconds and your Soul Fire spell by 0.4/0.8/1.2/1.6/2.0 seconds.|
|Aftermath||5 Destruction||2||Increases the periodic damage done by your Immolate by 3%/6%, and you Conflagrate has a 50%/100% chance to daze the target for 5 seconds.|
|Molten Skin||5 Destruction||3||Reduces all damage taken by 2%/4%/6%.|
|Cataclysm||5 Destruction||3||Reduces the Mana cost of your Destruction spells by 4%/7%/10%.|
|Demonic Power||10 Destruction||2||Reduces the cooldown of your Succubus's Lash of Pain spell by 3/6 seconds, and reduces the casting time of your Imp's Firebolt spell by 0.25/0.50 sec.|
|Shadowburn||10 Destruction||1||Instantly blasts the target for 87 to 99 Shadow damage. If the target dies within 5 seconds of Shadowburn, and yields experience or honor, the caster gains a Soul Shard.|
|Ruin||10 Destruction||5||Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Destruction spells and your Imp's Fire Bolt spell by 20%/40%/60%/80%/100%.|
|Intensity||15 Destruction||2||Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting or channeling any Destruction spell by 35%/70%.|
|Destructive Reach||15 Destruction||2||Increases the range of your Destruction spells by 10%/20% and reduces threat caused by Destruction spells by 10%/20%.|
|Improved Searing Pain||15 Destruction||3||Increases the critical strike chance of your Searing Pain spell by 4%/7%/10%.|
|3||Increases your critical strike chance with spells by an additional 1%/2%/3% and gives you an 8%/16%/25% chance when hit by a physical attack to reduce the cast time of your next Shadow Bolt or Incinerate spell by 100%. This effect lasts 8 seconds and will not occur more often than once every 8 seconds.|
|Improved Immolate||20 Destruction||3||Increases the damage of your Immolate spell by 10%/20%/30%.|
|1||Increases the critical strike chance of your Destruction spells by 5%.|
|Nether Protection||25 Destruction||3||After being hit with a spell, you have a 10%/20%/30% chance to gain Nether Protection, reducing all damage by that spell school by 30% for 8 sec.|
|Emberstorm||25 Destruction||5||Increases the damage done by your Fire spells by 3%/6%/9%/12%/15%. Also reduces the cast time of Incinerate by 0.05/0.10/0.15/0.20/0.25 sec.|
3 Improved Immolate
|1||Consumes an Immolate or Shadowflame effect on the enemy target to instantly deal damage equal to 60% of your Immolate or Shadowflame, and causes an additional 40% damage over 6 sec.|
|Soul Leech||30 Destruction||3||Gives your Shadow Bolt, Shadowburn,Chaos Bolt, Soul Fire, Incinerate, Searing Pain, and Conflagrate spells a 10%/20%/30% chance to return health equal to 20% of the damage caused.|
|Pyroclasm||30 Destruction||2||When you critically hit with Searing Pain or Conflagrate, your Fire and Shadow spell damage is increased by 2%/4%/6% for 10 seconds.|
|Shadow and Flame||35 Destruction||5||Your Shadow Bolt, Shadowburn, Chaos Bolt, and Incinerate spells gain an additional 4%/8%/12%/16%/20% of your bonus spell damage effects.|
|Improved Soul Leech||35 Destruction
3 Soul Leech
|2||Your Soul Leech effect also restores mana to you and your summoned demon equal to 1%/2% of maximum mana, and has a 50%/100% chance to grant up to 10 party or raid members mana regeneration 0.25 of maximum mana per second. Lasts 15 sec.|
|3||When you cast Conflagrate, the cast time and global cooldown of your next three Destruction spells is reduced by 10%/20%/30%. Lasts 15 sec.|
5 Shadow and Flame
|1||Shadowfury is unleashed, causing 343 to 407 Shadow damage and stunning all enemies within 8yds for 3 sec.|
|Empowered Imp||40 Destruction||3||Increases damage done by your Imp by 10%/20%/30%, and all critical hits done by your Imp have a 33%/66%/100% chance to increase your spell critical hit chance for your next spell by 100%. This effect lasts 8sec.|
|Fire and Brimstone||45 Destruction||5||Increases the damage done by your Incinerate and Chaos Bolt spells to targets afflicted by your Immolate by 2%/4%/6%/8%/10% and the critical strike chance of your Conflagrate spell is increased by 5%/10%/15%/20%/25%.|
|Chaos Bolt||50 Destruction||1||Sends a bolt of chaotic fire at the enemy, dealing 837 to 1061 Fire damage. Chaos Bolt cannot be resisted, and pierces through all absorption effects.|