Demonology Warlock Quick-Start Guide For WoW Patch 5.4 – Stats, talents and spec, glyphs, rotation, reforging and gems, and ability priorities

by on August 28, 2012

We might not have gotten to be the Warlock Tank, but Demonology warlocks have been having a great time in Mists of Pandaria and WoW Patch 5.4 doesn’t change that, as we barrel into Garrosh. But does it change new mechanics, talents, glyphs, gemming, reforging? Don’t worry – this Quick-start guide will help you get reforged, gemmed, up to speed on MoP stat weights and ability priorities, so you can get on with the evil laughter and the ridiculous DPS as soon as possible.

Updated 17th September 2013 to World of Warcraft Patch 5.4

Demonology Warlock changes in Patch 5.4

Talent changes and some other alterations.

Demonology “Rotation” and Priorities

Demonology’s new rotation is governed by Demonic Fury, our new primary resource. We build it up in caster form and spend it in demon form – and everything we do is balanced around that.

Single-target DPS

Start out by casting Corruption and Hand of Gul’dan on your target.

  • Top Priority: Maintain Corruption and Shadowflame on your target. The latter is maintained through Hand of Gul’dan.
  • Second Priority: If the Molten Core buff is active on you, cast Soul Fire.
  • Third Priority: If you have nothing else to do, cast Shadow Bolt.

You should keep doing this until you nearly have 1000 Demonic Fury. At that point, use Dark Soul, and then use Metamorphosis.

Whilst in Metamorphosis:

  • Top Priority: Cast Doom on your target and keep it up.
  • Second Priority: If the Molten Core buff is active on you, cast Soul Fire. If not, cast Touch of Chaos.

Leave Metamorphosis when Dark Soul expires.

After that, go into Metamorphosis whenever you have close to 1000 Demonic Fury. If Dark Soul is available, cast it before Metamorphosing and stay in Demon Form until it runs out. Otherwise, stay in Demon Form until you hit 750 Demonic Fury, then come out.

Preferably, time Metamorphosis for a time when you’ll have a damage buff up.

You can get more advanced with your Demonic Fury management once you’re familiar with this basic approach – see the guides in the “Links” section.


Against 2-3 targets keep Corruption /Doom up on all of them, and otherwise use your standard rotation. Also, use Command Demon to get your Felguard to cast Felstorm.

Against 4 or more targets, use Void Ray rather than Touch of Chaos in demon form, and otherwise proceed as for 2-3 enemies.


  • Dark Soul is already built into your priorities – see above.
  • Use Summon Doomguard for single-target DPS and Summon Infernal for multi-target DPS. Use both whenever available.
  • Use Life Tap to restore mana to you.
  • Use Soulshatter to drop aggro from monsters attacking you. Particularly important before using Life Tap!
  • Unending Resolve reduces damage you take – particularly valuable if you’re on low life thanks to Life Tap.
  • Soulstone now functions as a combat resurrection – remember to use it if no-one else can combat res.
  • Imp Swarm – if you’re using the Imp Swarm glyph, this is a powerful DPS cooldown. Use it to boost your Demonic Fury, too.


Summon a Felguard. Remember to cast Dark Intent, and summon a Soulwell if your party or raid wants one!

Demonology Warlock Talent Choices

Whilst MoP talents are designed to be chosen on a per-encounter basis, here’s a good talent build for most situations:

  • Tier 1: Soul Leech – makes all your damage spells heal you (a bit).
  • Tier 2: Mortal Coil – gives you a self-heal spell.
  • Tier 3: Soul Link – passive ability.
  • Tier 4: Unbound Will – gives you a cooldown which removes movement impairing effects, mind control, and magic debuffs.
  • Tier 5: Grimoire of Service – lets you summon a second demon briefly, giving you an additional cooldown.
  • Tier 6: Archimonde’s Vengeance – gives you a second Dark Soul charge.

Stats, reforging and gemming for Demonology Warlock

Intellect is still the key stat for Demonology warlocks. After that, it’s Hit to hit cap (15% / 5100 ) then Haste.

Reforging: Reforge to hit cap first (15% / 5100), then reforge everything else to Haste. Reforge from Hit over cap first, then Critical Strike.
Gems: Use Brilliant gems in Red sockets, Reckless gems in Yellow sockets and Veiled gems in Blue sockets.
Meta Gem: Burning meta gem.

Note on Expertise: Expertise counts toward the Hit Cap – so if you can’t reforge to Hit, you can still reforge to Expertise.

Demo lock Glyphs

Destro locks will mostly choose situationally amongst MoP glyphs, but here are some good general choices:

Major: Glyph of Demon Training, Glyph of Imp Swarm, Glyph of Siphon Life
Minor: Glyph of Falling Meteor, Glyph of Carrion Swarm, Glyph of Hand of Gul’dan – these DO actually have an effect.

Demonology Warlock enchants and item enhancements

You should almost always use a profession enhancement item if it provides appropriate stats instead of a general enchant.

  • Shoulders – Greater Crane Wing Inscription
  • Back – Enchant Cloak – Superior Intellect
  • Chest – Enchant Chest – Glorious Stats
  • Wrist – Enchant Bracer – Super Intellect
  • Hands – Enchant Gloves – Greater Haste
  • Belt – Living Steel Belt Buckle
  • Legs – Greater Cerulean Spellthread
  • Feet – Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step
  • Weapon – Enchant Weapon – Jade Spirit
  • Off-Hand Weapon – Enchant Weapon – Major Intellect


If you want more detail, particularly on Demonic Fury management, there are a few good guides out there right now.

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{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

Tanner August 29, 2012 at 5:39 am

You say glyph of shadowbolt but I don’t see one.


Tanner August 29, 2012 at 5:40 am

Just to edit my last post, as a main glyph I don’t see one. For minor are you saying the 3 shot glyph of shadow bolt is good?


Hugh Hancock August 29, 2012 at 10:50 am

Yeah, that information was out of date – sorry. I’ve updated to reflect currently-live glyphs.


Tanner August 29, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Thanks for getting back to me, also small typo you say destro locks for glyphs instead of demo :D .


Hugh Hancock August 31, 2012 at 10:50 am

Copy-paste template FAIL – it’s fixed now. Thanks for mentioning that!

Arrii August 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Hi im trying to update my demo warlock…I dont have shadowflame now, is it possibly a bug on wows part? Thanks


Hugh Hancock August 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Shadowflame isn’t an ability – it’s caused by casting Hand of Gul’dan. Does that help?


Arrii August 29, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Hi thanks for that, much appreciated :D


Christian August 29, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Felimps, do the most dps for demo locks at roughly 5k dps for me


Hugh Hancock August 29, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Interesting – sims show a huge lean toward Felguard for Demo –

We’ll wait and see – if the evidence for Fel Imps becomes overwhelming, I’ll change the guide.


Bryce August 29, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I am not finding a “Doom” spell, as you referenced to cast while in Metamorphosis?


James Perona August 30, 2012 at 12:47 am

Hey Bryce. I, too, was having this issue. After popping Metamorphosis, your corruption ability becomes doom, as shown both on your bars and in your spellbook at that time. Other abilities, like shadow bolt and hellfire, change as well with metamorphosis.

I hope that helps.


Hugh Hancock August 30, 2012 at 9:53 am

Great reply – thanks for helping out!


s August 30, 2012 at 12:02 am

Bryce, Doom replaces corruption when in demon form, I believe!


Detaine August 30, 2012 at 7:21 am

Something i want to know is while in metamorphasis is it better to just spam Chaos or use Soul Fire when it procs? anyone know?


Hugh Hancock August 30, 2012 at 9:52 am

That depends on whether you want to save the Molten Core stacks for more rapidly regenerating Demonic Fury. Currently I’d advise doing that instead of using them in Demon form, but we’ll see how things stack up over the first couple of weeks of testing.


Jonny August 31, 2012 at 10:32 am

Basically from what I gathered of my brief play last night is that we are being pushed to stay in demon form longer? The only way to do decnt AoE now is the hellfire/meta combo (with whatever dots you can muster).

Does hellfire still generate a lot of rage now? is it more likely to pull mobs of a tank?


Hugh Hancock August 31, 2012 at 10:56 am

I’d doubt that Hellfire would pull mobs off a competent tank – its Rage generation is decent, but not exceptional.


Reignos September 3, 2012 at 8:25 am

One thing i would like to add is that instead of spamming shadowbolt, it is better to spam felflame as a filler rather than shadow bolt, it does more dps over all. shadowbolt does higher damage per hit, but fel flame is an instant cast so all you need to wait on for it is the GCD. also using felflame keeps your corruption up is another nice bonus to it. I have tested this many times, spamming shadowbolt and then spamming felflame and the only thing better about shadow bolt is you see bigger numbers with a 2.25s cast as well as it procs your imp, so i would say use shadowbolt to trigger an imp when it is up, but then just spam felflame.


Hugh Hancock September 3, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Interesting. Do you have sims for that or have you been testing on target dummies?


Reignos September 3, 2012 at 11:32 pm

I tested this on target dummies and bosses when i was in dragon soul on saturday. felflames also gives you the option to move around if needed for a boss fight and be where you need to be.


Reignos September 4, 2012 at 2:07 am

Just did a few more tests with spamming shadow bolt vs fel flames. i ran multiple tests where i would start with 1 shadow bolt on each test to get my passive imp out, then i would use imp swarm to get 5 more imps out, then with 6 imps i either spammed shadow bolt or fel flames over the same amount of time. when i used fel flames i did an average dps of 21k, while when spamming shadow bolt i did an average of 17k. i made sure each test had the same variables, and this was on a target dummy.


Hugh Hancock September 4, 2012 at 9:48 am

Were you running full raid buffs whilst doing that?

Whether you were or not, this is very interesting – definitely need to sim this and see how it looks in simulation. It might be that FF works better for you because of some specific gear setup, but it might also be this is a general improvement.


Reignos September 5, 2012 at 4:44 pm

No, i was using no buffs, not even my 10% spell power buff, i just wanted to see the base stats of it. also if you want to see my gear set up here is my warlock –

Reignos September 14, 2012 at 2:07 am

ok i have some new news, and i just recently tested this out. the glyph of shadow bolt LOWERS dps. it is supposed to be for show. what this glyph does is changes your shadow bolt to instead shoot 3 out when you cast it that each do exactly 1/3rd of a normal shadow bolt, so you would think that it would be the same dps. but after several tests i have concluded that it lowers your dps, and this is because of the crit factor, if shadow bolt with this glyph only one of them crits at a time, and they only do a small amount each so you dont get the full crit, and i also think that this is the reason for my increased dps when spamming fel flames. after more recent tests though i will say that spamming shadow bolt (with out glyph) does around the same, possibly a bit more, dps than with fel flames, but with the tests i have done so far they are nearly the exact same dps, so i would say shadow bolt and fel flames are pick and choose, but i still prefer fel flames because it is instant so i can be more mobile and it keeps corruption up so i dont have to think about it.

Hugh Hancock September 14, 2012 at 10:26 am

Interesting stuff! Thanks for sharing it with us – I’ll look into the SB / FF issue again over the next week or so as we run up to Pandaria.

Reignos September 3, 2012 at 8:28 am

also what happened to mastery? mastery increases all of our damage from everything. i would say int > hit cap > haste to a cap (forget what it is to give us an extra tick, something like 12-15%) > mastery > crit.
haste is good, but you only need to get it to a certain cap then you want to go for mastery to greatly increase all of your damage in demo form, as well as it passively increases yours and your pets damage.


Hugh Hancock September 3, 2012 at 3:01 pm

The stat weights are all over the place right now, and it’s very hard to determine a general-purpose recommendation for Demo locks in particular. I’ve done quite a lot of research on this, and it appears that as of 5.04 Haste is, in general, a slightly higher priority than Mastery for most Demo locks – however, the numbers are very close.

If you like Mastery, you certainly won’t cripple your character or anything like it by reforging to that instead.


Reignos September 5, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Another thing i would like to suggest to people is to NOT take the hand of guldan minor talent. it might seem cool at first to get it because you can place your hand of guldan anywhere, but it gets in the way of your dps alot. It slows your dps a bit because you have to click on the ground and waste time with that, also this allows you can click on other people in your raid as you are trying to place it on a boss which makes you you un target the boss so it is slightly inconvenient to target the boss again. And the main reason not to take this glyph is because you will be unable to attack some targets with your hand of guldan anymore. some examples are on the boat fight of dragon soul, good luck getting hand of guldan on dragons, and dont even try during phase 2 to use hand of guldan on the dragon. also the tendons on the boat you cant place aoe spells past his plate so you wont be able to hit the tendons, and there are more mobs that you cant hit it with if you use this glyph.


deysong November 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm

i am trying to get my lock raid ready for my guild, and aside from the fact i could use gear (which is in the works) i am following what you have said here plus cds wehn needed and such, but i am having issues with dps, i am not able to get it very high, any tips ( the rotation i am using is what you have posted)


Reignos November 8, 2012 at 4:38 pm

a couple of suggestions that i would put out there is change the stat priority from this guide. i have found it much more productive to go for crit > mastery > haste over everything else. crit and mastery should be about the same level, but haste shouldnt be bothered with. the reason for crit is because 200% damage is always nice, but it causes a major damage increase for soul fire. soul fire now has a 100% crit chance, but the crit damage is now increased even more by crit chance. mastery comes next because it just increases your damage overall and increases your damage further when in demo form. haste isnt as important because everything you do other than soul fire is instant cast, which you get a buff that reduces the cast time anyway on it. another thing i would like to point out, which i said earlier in comments in this guide, dont use shadow bolt as filler, keep it on your bars when you go to demo form and it changes to that other spell, but use felflame as filler, it does more dps than shadow bolt (i did many tests with felflame vs shadow bolt) and it keeps corruption up so you only have to cast corruption at the start of the fight. it also allows you to be able to freely move and not lose dps while fighting giving you alot of mobility during boss fights where you need to move out of things. only time you should use shadow bolt instead of felflame is if you have an imp ready to summon and dont have the molten core buff for soul fire so you toss out a shadow bolt for the imp then continue to spam felflame. also if you have the glyph of imp swarm, dont use it right away, use it right when you use dark soul and demo form. it keeps your fury up more when in demo form as well as gives you those molten core stacks when in demo form, which i have gotten to hit for 120k each hit when popping demo form and dark soul. other than that everything about the guide here is good. sorry for the long read, but hope this helps =P


Tony December 4, 2012 at 5:33 pm

I disagree with crit being under your hit% in priority, Haste is what you want for you dots ie doom and corruption to do extrac Ticks…4717 is min before raid buff to get the extra dmg


Hugh Hancock December 4, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Ah, sorry, that may not be super-clear. I agree with you – after Hit, Haste is top priority. The guide does actually say that, but maybe not clearly enough!


Dippindots December 5, 2012 at 5:39 pm

i have done similar dps test with fel imp and fel guard….it all depends on the situation but what i have come up with is… obviously for you aoe you want felguard because of whirlwind and he can hit multiple targets.. Regardless of simulations the fel imp on single target (with demon training glyph) does about 4 to 5k more dps that single target felg guard…


brandoncrogers February 14, 2013 at 8:18 am

ok im a level 44 demonology warlock and i got into an argument with another lvl 44 demo warlock after an instance, and he was complaining about how metamorphosis is garbage and how much i suck. my spell rotation when i get my metamorphosis up to 1000 is first corruption, hand of gul’dan x2, metamorphosis after, apply doom, then just keep hitting touch of chaos like crazy. while that going on its healing me and my felguard cause of soul leech and its summoning wild imps. i just need perspective from others to know if he is wrong. i usually use that spell rotation on the bosses and i also try to keep corruption on as many mobs as possible. he just seemed to be using drain life and i feel i didnt see him even use corruption even tho he probably did at some points and he used hand of gul’don sparingly. if anyone can give some insight on this id like to know because ive had a few groups say i keep pretty decent dps but if im wrong id like to know so i can fix it. incase you need my stats the characters name is Getum on the bonechewer server and hes a blood elf.


brandoncrogers February 14, 2013 at 8:24 am

in regards to my last comment i just looked up the other guy and he has real good gear, like dignfied head masters charge which is a account weapon. i think he doesnt realize how much more dps he could be doing with a proper spell rotation. still tho id like a 2nd opinion and dont be afraid to tell me if im wrong


Reignos February 14, 2013 at 8:30 am

that gear just means he has a max level character, it doesnt mean he knows how to play that class. as i said, dont listen to him and keep doing what you are doing. i havent played in 2-3 months, but if you would like to look at my char to see his build it is Reignos on deathwing, been playing him since vanilla XD, also i have a few comments on here that you might want to look through to maximize your dps, i posted all my rotations and explanations earlier for everything.


Reignos February 14, 2013 at 8:25 am

metamorphosis is one of the main things that makes demo warlocks a demo warlock… saying it is crap is like saying its crap to use fire spells on a fire mage. your still leveling up, so you still have things to learn about playing a demo warlock, but it sounds like you are doing it all right. dont let what he said get to you. also for leveling up you might want to get the aoe drain life and use that, the aoe drain life is a very nice spell and in large crowds will do alot of damage and keep you alive if you are taking any damage.


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Damian May 26, 2014 at 8:41 am

Thank you for this awesome article and site. I love the new tips i just read. I just stumbled upon it now searching for some tips on demonology and more glyphs and i have a question. I hadn’t play wow in a while and the new warlock i created is now level 75 in 3 weeks. I’ve been playing A LOT! Lol. Anyway, i love metamorphosis but my issue is every time that i try to switch between caster and demon, i get a 5 to 6 second delay in between and it only happens during metamorphosis. As we all know, a delay that long in a fight can mean life or death. Has any of you encounter this issue before?


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