Destruction 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

Burn! BURN, you oversized, underwhelming Thrall stand-in! Yes, us Destruction warlocks should enjoy WoW Patch 5.4 – at least, those of us who are sick and tired of Garrosh (which, let’s face it, is pretty much all of us) will. With this quick-start guide, you’ll be able to get your talents and glyphs chosen, your reforging and gemming done for the right stats, and your DPS rotation sorted out in time to start burning Garrosh’s minions in no time. !

Updated 17th September 2013 to World of Warcraft Patch 5.4

Destruction Warlock changes in Patch 5.4

Significant talent and rotation changes.

Destruction “Rotation” and Priorities

Destruction’s new ability rotation looks complicated, but actually is pretty simple. You’ve got two new resources – Backdraft and Burning Embers. So it’s basically “build up one, build up the other”.

Single-target DPS

Start out by casting Immolate on your target.

  • Top Priority: If Immolate is about to drop, re-cast it. If you have two “charges” of Conflagrate remaining, cast Conflagrate.
  • Second Priority: If you have more than 3 Burning Embers or you’re under a damage buff, cast Chaos Bolt, or Shadowburn if the target is below 20%.
  • Third Priority: Cast Conflagrate if you can. If not, cast Incinerate.

You can use Fel Flame instead of Incinerate, if you’re moving.

Note that you can get more complex with how you’re managing your resources here – see the guides in “Links” for more advanced strategies. This is a simple, easy-to-understand rotation.


Against up to 3 enemies, use your regular rotation, but keep Rain Of Fire up as a high priority.

Against 4 or more enemies, open by casting Rain of Fire, then Fire and Brimstone, then Immolate on one of your targets. Then cast Conflagrate, then Incinerate if you still have Burning Embers. As soon as a target drops below 20% health, use Havok then Shadowburn on it.


  • Build up as many Burning Embers as possible before using Dark Soul: Instability. Try to use Dark Soul: Instability as often as possible.
  • Use Summon Doomguard for single-target DPS and Summon Infernal for multi-target DPS. Use whichever one is more appropriate whenever available.
  • Ember Tap restores health, but at the cost of DPS, as it uses a Burning Ember. However, dead warlocks can’t DPS – so don’t be afraid to use it in an emergency.
  • Use Soulshatter to drop aggro from monsters attacking you.
  • Unending Resolve reduces damage you take.
  • Soulstone now functions as a combat resurrection – remember to use it if no-one else can combat res.


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

Destruction Warlock Talent Choices

MoP talents are designed to be changed on a per-encounter basis – however, to start off with, here’s a solid general talent setup:

  • 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 Supremacy – Grimoire of Sacrifice is slightly better multi-target, but also more complex.
  • Tier 6: Archimonde’s Vengeance – gives you more flexibility with Dark Soul.

Stats, reforging and gemming for Destruction Warlock

Intellect is most important for Destruction warlocks. After that, it’s Hit to hit cap (15% / 1537 ) followed by Mastery.

Reforging: Reforge to hit cap first (15% / 1537), then reforge to Mastery. Reforge from Hit over cap first, then Haste.
Gems: Use Artful gems in Red sockets, Fractured gems in Yellow sockets and Sensei’s gems in Blue sockets.
Meta Gem: Burning meta gem, whichever you can afford.
Expertise: Note that Expertise counts toward the Hit Cap – so if you can’t reforge to Hit, you can still reforge to Expertise.

Destro lock Glyphs

A number of glyphs have situationally specific uses, but here’s a good no-downsides selection:

Major: Glyph of Conflagrate, Glyph of Ember Tap, Glyph of Siphon Life
Minor: Your choice. No real effects in DPS terms.

Destruction 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 – Superior Mastery or Superior Expertise
  • 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


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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Gaz September 2, 2012 at 7:47 am

What about haste? Where does it fall in prority? Is there a “soft” cap?


Hugh Hancock September 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Haste’s better than Mastery, worse than Crit.


plaron March 17, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Tbh i never stack any of haste and prio is mastery for my and add crit where i caanot add mastery, got item lvl 491 and do 94k dps(on simple target like sha of fear) do you know abat that haste from expirience ir you just read abaut it? im just curius abaut that haste. i had blue upgraded hc trinket (917 int, chance for 3600 crit for 30 sec) and i got terrace trinket (1070 int, chance for 6000 haste for 20 sec) when i used haste trinket my dps was 3k less. how much you think haste someone need to get profit of it loosing mastery??


renegade September 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm

yeh i would have thought haste would be more important for chaos bolts etc


janki October 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm

I really think mastery has become good in MoP for destro Locks, the high amount of crits you can pull with chaosbolts when they crit is insane, im really not sure how much haste I should use, because I know I’m going to stack some mastery


Hugh Hancock October 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm

I’d strongly recommend simming any major stat decisions you make using the program Simulationcraft. Whilst big crits are nice, they’re not the whole story – Simcraft will stop you accidentally crippling your DPS!


Lyco October 27, 2012 at 4:45 am

I’m confused. Summon a Felhunter? Not an Imp?


Hugh Hancock October 27, 2012 at 11:52 am

Yup. According to my reading, currently Felhunter’s the best choice for maximum DPS. Seems a bit odd, but maximum DPS strategies often do!

(Although if people have theorycraft indicating otherwise, I’ll be interested to hear about it.)


plaron March 17, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Fel imp with demon training glyph is the best single target dps demon, if any of you hawe doubts abaut that just test them on dummy, fel imp 20k dps, observer 9k dps. i dont belive everything i read and i always test everything and i belive that grimorie of service is the worst grimorie of all, as demons are not that powerfull to do lots of dmg in 20 sec every 2 minutes- maybe if the summoned demons do more dmg, they might be better for short HC boss figth but in raiding is a small dps buff.


Hugh Hancock March 25, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Training dummy testing is not accurate when compared to raid DPS, unfortunately. There are too many variables not accounted for, which is why guide writers like Icy Veins, EJ, and (of course MMO Melting Pot) use simulation programs designed to accurately simulate a raid.

Now, if you can show me some tests using Simcraft (as a poster did below), that’d be interesting to see.


Steven November 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm

My suggestion is scrap glyph on conjenflate as it won’t effect ur dps or healing, grab glyph of demons raising ur imp, tomb of service for the fel imp. I did that change compared to the quick start and my aoe wasn’t as strong but my single target dps went up. If your a raider I suggest fel imp with demon glyph. But heroic dungon I agree with this guide


ellasar January 4, 2013 at 11:59 am

What does summoning a voidwalker do for your DPS ? Is that better then felhunter or worse ?


steven January 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm

I’d say its word void walkers are meant to be tanks. They are trouble in dungeons and will lower your DPs.


fetznschaedl March 21, 2013 at 11:25 am

According to Simcraft,
, the Succubus is the highest DPS pet, provided you’re talented into Grimoire of Service and use it on cooldown. While I’ve always been in love with my succubus, personally, I tend to stick with Grimoire of Supremacy (since it’s passive, I’m just lazy like that) and have my Observer laserbeam stuff (as you can see, it’s not that much of a DPS loss theoretically, and I know in practice I’d lose more DPS than gaining some cause I’d forget using the Grimoire every 2 minutes).
From these graphs, you can also deduct that at the moment, the kind of pet you have out is largely a style choice (they’re all rather close DPS-wise), provided you turn the taunt off.


fetznschaedl March 21, 2013 at 11:27 am

Oh, and the Observer is also handy to have for its interrupt.


fetznschaedl March 22, 2013 at 10:52 am

Whoa. Word Press ate my post (maybe cause it contained a link?)
Anyway, SimCraft shows that the Observer pet does the most DPS in boss fights. As you can also deduct from their analyses, pets are rather close in damage across the board, so even using a void walker/lord doesn’t REALLY ruin your damage output. ‘S all become of choice of style, which for me is as it should be.


Hugh Hancock March 25, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Sorry about WP eating that post – I’ve found it and approved it now.

I’ll have a look over that simcraft and adjust the post accordingly. Thanks!

EDIT – I agree with both your math and your reasoning – passive abilities GOOD. I’ve switched our recommendation to an Observer.


steven March 22, 2013 at 11:56 am

This guide is theory craft. And is just guide. If theres a method that doesn’t work for you and your able to push more DPS with another method then do it its what you feel right with using. Proof that its different for most is the icyveins guide is different that this one.


Machinelf May 8, 2013 at 1:44 am

Overreliance on simcraft for destro is misguided. In most fights with adds Destro is all about cheesing ember regen with AOE until you have more embers you can possibly spend – thus pushing mastery uber alles – which will not be reflected in a Patchwerk fight. Until Simcraft accounts for AOE, which I doubt it ever will, take it with a grain of salt.


Felpaw September 18, 2013 at 9:06 am

Imp became really Kinda useless after they took away the stamina buff it gave everyone in your raid/party. that’s why they recommend felhunter or Observer now that and they do a avg of 3 to 5 k more dps on the hole.


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Rhys September 25, 2013 at 7:26 am

I recently dropped my haste from 18% to 11.5% haste in order to gain an additional 20% mastery, I did not like seeing my haste drop so low as I’ve always seen haste as crucial. That being said my DPs is actually higher and raid buffed my haste is that of what it was before I dropped a load of it for a mastery stack. Mastery does seem to be the more effective stat


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