Destruction Warlock spell rotation – how to get the most out of your destro lock in WoW

So, you’d like to know what the optimal Destruction Warlock spell rotation is? Guess what? There isn’t one. Strict rotations are a thing of WoW’s past. Most classes now use a priority system, and destro locks are no exception. If you’d like to know how to get the most out of the standard Destruction priority system, read on.

Destruction Warlock priority system

This priority system is the one generally recommended by the warlock community. It’s designed for a boss fight – your system for trash mobs will be much simpler. Take a look at our guide to Destruction warlock stats, rotation and spec to find a good talent build and more information for warlock players.

The priority system for most destro warlocks will be:

  • Soul Fire – you should open with this, and re-cast it at least every 15 seconds, to make sure that the buff from the Improved Soul Fire talent is always active.
  • Demon Soul – cast it if it’s off cooldown. On certain fights it may be worth holding off on Demon Soul until a specific moment (a DPS burn phase, for example), but with a 2 minute cooldown you can be confident of hitting this more than once per fight. As a general rule, if you’re not sure, cast it.
  • Immolate – you can afford to allow the Immolate DoT to fall off for a couple of seconds, if you really must, but make sure it’s in place again before you cast Conflagrate.
  • Conflagrate – Boom. Instant cast, instant damage. Use it whenever it’s off cooldown.
  • Bane of DoomBane of Doom lasts a full minute, and is instant cast, so keeping it up shouldn’t be very hard. Don’t be scared to refresh this before it expires – doing so will not override the current ‘tick’.
  • Corruption – instant cast, 18 second DoT. You had this in your repertoire since early levels, so you should be very familiar with it by now.
  • Shadowflame – you may wish to skip this entirely. Remember that it’s a frontal cone AoE, which won’t be appropriate in all circumstances. If you have to move more than a few steps to cast it, or if an AoE blast is not safe, don’t do it.
  • Soul Fire – If your Imp’s buff from Demon Soul is active, cast Soul Fire even if the buff from Improved Soul Fire doesn’t need to be refreshed yet. Doing so will make big numbers appear on your screen, and will cause the little green bar above the boss’s head to get smaller.
  • Chaos Bolt – that’ll leave a mark. It has a 12 second cooldown (10 seconds if you’ve bought the talent). Ideally, the cooldown for Chaos Bolt should alternate with the cooldown for Conflagrate.
  • Shadowburn – only usable when the boss drops to 20% health. Note that this comes almost at the bottom of the priority list. Don’t be tempted to cast Shadowburn in favor of other, higher-priority, spells just because it’s suddenly become active.
  • Incinerate – if you’ve absolutely nothing better to do, you might as well cast Incinerate. Be prepared to interrupt your casting to cast a higher-priority spell instead, if the better spell comes off cooldown halfway through. It’s often worth doing – the DPS loss from the missed Incinerate will be minimal.


It’s the thought that counts

Let’s talk about Dark Intent. It’s 30 minute ‘buff’ that affects you and one lucky fellow raider. It’ll increase the damage from your DoTs, and it’ll also increase the damage from your new best buddy’s DoTs (or the healing from her HoTs). The decision as to who to favor with your dark intentions is a complicated, and subjective, one. You really, really should read this thread on MMO Champion, which breaks the whole thing down and which is reproduced as part of the Elitist Jerks Destruction thread, but the basic summary is: use it on a healer unless your healers are utterly amazing, in which case you can throw it at a DPS class. The best classes to pick are Restoration Druids, Holy Priests and Restoration Shaman. If you’re targetting a DPS class, a Shadow Priest is your best bet, followed by Balance Druids and Fire Mages.

You should also consider Curse of the Elements. The chances are you won’t need to bother – many other classes and even some hunter pets provide similar buffs which won’t stack with CotE – but if nobody else is bringing the debuff to the party, be a responsible Warlock and add Curse of the Elements to your priority system. It lasts for 5 minutes, so for most fights you should be able to throw it down right at the start and then not worry about it again, but do remember to check. A 6 minute fight where the last minute is a DPS burn race is exactly the wrong fight to let CotE fall off!

Remember to check out our guide to Destruction warlock stats, rotation and spec in 4.2 for more information.

Have we got our priorities all wrong? Do you have any clever tips and tricks for Destruction Warlocks? Let us know in the comments.

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