How to play a Warlock in WoW dungeons

Are your party shouting at you? If you keep making mistakes while learning how to play a warlock in WoW, our guide for new players will help you.

I keep dying!

Don’t use too much AoE.

Generally speaking, the mobs should be hitting the tank, not you. If they’re hitting you, you may have accidentally caused too much threat. Make sure not to use too many AoE abilities. In particular, don’t use Rain of Fire or Hellfire if you’re likely to catch mobs that the tank does not yet have under control.

Don’t stand too close to the boss

A warlock is a ranged damage-dealer. That means that, for most fights, you should be standing some distance away from the boss, hitting him at range with your spells and abilities. If you’re too close to the boss, you’re in danger of receiving damage from the boss’s close-combat abilities.

Some bosses require you to stand close to the boss. See our quick start dungeon guides to find out when that is.

My teammates say I am a “ninja”

Don’t roll need on armor that is not suitable for warlocks

Warlocks can only ever wear cloth armor, so you won’t be able to roll on any leather, mail or plate armor. Even if the armor is cloth, though, it may not be suitable for you. If the item gives a bonus to your Spirit, it’s probably not intended to be warlock gear and will be limited use to you.

My tank is annoyed with me / other people say I am tanking

Don’t attack before the tank

The tank should start each fight, and will attack the mobs first. Don’t attack first – even if the tank is already running towards the mobs, be sure you don’t start casting a spell which will land before she gets there.

Don’t use fear unless you’ve been asked to do so

Fear can be very useful, but it can also really cause problems. Casting fear on a monster (or mob, as many people will call them) may seem like a helpful thing to do, but it can actually make things worse. The tank will have to regain control of the mob, possibly by chasing after it. Even worse, the mob might run so far that it encounters other mobs, not currently part of the combat – if that happens the additional mobs will join in the combat, making things much harder for everybody.

If you’re using the Glyph of Fear, victims of your Fear spell will not run away, but will still often focus on you instead of the tank. If in doubt, don’t use Fear at all.

My teammates say my damage sucks

Make sure you’re using the right spec

Talent Points are additional powers you get as you level up. To see them, press “N”.

Warlocks have three talent trees available, each of which is capable of a high damage output when used correctly. Whether you choose Affliction, Destruction or Demonology, make sure that you’ve spent all of your talent points. Take a look at our guides to talent builds for Affliction, Destruction and Demonology warlocks for examples of good talent builds to choose.

Make sure you have the correct glyphs

You can find Glyphs from the bottom of your Talent window (press “N” and look for the Glyphs tab at the bottom). Most glyphs are not that important, but you need to have the following Prime glyphs – fill up as many Prime Glyph slots as you currently have:

  • For Affliction warlocks, use Glyph of Unstable Affliction, Glyph of Corruption, Glyph of Haunt and Glyph of Soul Swap.
  • For Destruction warlocks, use Glyph of Immolate, Glyph of Conflagrate and Glyph of Imp.
  • For Demonology warlocks, take the Glyph of Immolate, Glyph of Metamorphosis and Glyph of Incinerate.

    Whatever your spec, you’ll probably want to take the Glyph of Life Tap as well.

You buy glyphs from the Auction House. Some may be very expensive – it’s worth saving up for them (see our guide to making enough money to buy things on the Auction House) . You, or a guildmate, may be able to make the glyphs you need if you have the Inscription profession.

Make sure you’re using a sensible rotation

Playing a warlock is quite challenging, especially at higher levels. Not all of your spells will be equally useful at all times.

If you’re not doing enough damage, try the following very simplified ability rotations to start with.

When casting a Damage Over Time spell (DoT) don’t re-cast it if it’s still running on the monster you’re attacking. A simple way to do this is to try to use each of the Damage Over Time spells about three times a minute, or alternatively check the boss display at the top of your screen to see if the spell icon is still there. If it is, don’t re-cast yet. You can also use an addon (see our guide to WoW addons to track Damage over Time spells.

Affliction warlocks should use the following abilities (in order from most important to least important):

  • Cast Demon Soul if it’s available.
  • Cast each of your abilities that cause DoTs – that’s Haunt, Bane of Doom, Corruption and Unstable Affliction.
  • Cast Shadow Bolt.

Destruction warlocks should use the following abilities (in order from most important to least important):

  • Cast Demon Soul if it’s available.
  • Cast Conflagrate if it’s available.
  • Cast each of your abilities that cause DoTs – that’s Soul Fire, Immolate, Bane of Doom and Corruption.
  • Cast Chaos Bolt.

Demonology warlocks should use the following abilities (in order from most important to least important):

  • Cast Metamorphosis if it’s available.
  • Cast Demon Soul if it’s available.
  • Cast each of your abilities that cause DoTs or debuffs – that’s Hand of Gul’dan, Immolate, Immolation Aura, Bane of Doom and Corruption.
  • Cast Shadow Bolt.

If you are not high enough level to have some of those abilities: Ignore the abilities you don’t have yet and just use the others.

Once you’ve mastered this simple rotation, you can move on to a more complicated priority system. Our guides to Affliction, Destruction and Demonology rotations will help.

Use Dark Intent

Casting Dark Intent on one of your teammates will benefit them, and will also increase the damage you do. Make sure to pick a player who uses periodic healing effects or period damage-dealing effects. Good choices would be any healer, or most ranged spellcasters (particularly fellow warlocks). You can’t use Dark Intent on yourself.

My teammates say my gear is bad

Don’t use gear with the wrong stats

As a warlock, your most important primary stat is Intellect. If any of your gear does not have Intellect on it, your damage ability will be much weaker. In particular, you shouldn’t use any gear which provides a bonus to Spirit, unless it also provides a large bonus to one of your important stats.

Warlocks can only ever use cloth armor.

My teammates keep asking for ‘ss’ or ‘soulstone’

Don’t soulstone yourself

When you’re questing on your own, you might be used to creating a soulstone and using it on yourself. In a group, this is rarely the best decision. Instead, you should soulstone the healer (unless your group has specifically requested that you use your soulstone on somebody else). That way, if the entire party is killed the healer can immediately ressurect using your soulstone. She can then ressurect the entire party (healers usually have a spell to resurrect people).

My teammates keep asking for ‘hs’ or ‘healthstone’

Provide a soulwell for your party

Once you hit level 68, you’ll gain the ability Ritual of Souls. With it, you can create a soulwell, which will provide every member of your party with her own personal healthstone. It’s polite to create a soulwell at the start of the dungeon. You may be asked to create a new soulwell occasionally, to refresh the group’s supply of healthstones. You’ll need two additional party members to help you with the Ritual of Souls.

My teammates keep asking me to ‘sum’ or ‘summon’ or ‘portal’

Create a summoning portal when needed

Your teammates want use the Ritual of Summoning to create a summoning portal. The portal can be used to summon party members to your location, in a similar manner to the summoning stone outside the dungeon. You’ll need two additional party members to help you with the Ritual of Summoning.

You won’t be able to learn the Ritual of Summoning spell until you reach level 42.