A Belated Introduction to Warlock PvP in Wrath of the Lich King

As the Wrath expansion winds down, I find more and more friends are spending time in the battlegrounds.  There’s not a lot of PvE content to keep people raiding, and the impending gear reset in Cataclysm is discouraging folks from grinding out gear on their alts.  So players go to where things are interesting, and battlegrounds are always interesting.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve fought 300 battles on that map, the next one is always going to be unique.

So a lot of folks are leveling new characters and getting them ready for Cataclysm, and that includes playing BGs.  If that character happens to be a warlock, then this post is for you.

I know that with each expansion, classes change, sometimes dramatically.  But — unlike the Emblem grind, which I think is honestly futile at this point if you’re not actively raiding — I think learning how to PvP on a class gives you a solid foundation upon which to build in the next expansion.  Generally speaking, the focus and playstyle of a class won’t change so radically that the time spent learning how to PvP in one patch is lost in another.  Yes, there are some major changes coming to Warlocks.  But Affliction locks are still going to dot dot fear run away and Destruction locks are still going to seduce nuke their way out of trouble.  Demo locks… well, they’re actually going to change a lot.  But I don’t know how to play a Demo lock in PvP yet, therefore I’m not worrying about it now.

So, while it might seem a little late in the expansion to start, here’s an introduction to Warlock PvP in Wrath of the Lich King.  Why?

Because it’s never too late to start being awesome.


Most of what I wrote early on in the expansion about Warlock PvP talents still holds true.

If you have chosen the path of AFFLICTION, then go 54/17/0 to start with.  There is a little wiggleroom in this spec, basically between how much you put in Shadow’s Embrace versus Eradication vs Improved Felpup, but it has all the bases covered.

If you have chosen the path of DESTRUCTION, you have choices:

  • 0/20/51 (Improved Succubus) gives you a very fast Seduction.  This is good for 1v1 or Arena.
  • 0/17/54 (Soul Leech) gives you self-healing, good for BGs, but no Seduce nukes.
  • 3/17/51 (Suppression) gives you hit, freeing up your gear to hit a bit harder.

If you have chosen the path of DEMONOLOGY, well, I’m not sure if I’m the right person to advise you.  I love playing Demo in PvE, but in PvP?  Haven’t been able to make it work.  I’d go with a 0/58/13 deep Demo build to start off with and see how that works.


There’s some flexibility in your glyph selection.  Here are some good ones.

The only Minor glyph you should take is Unending Breath.  This gives people with your Unending Breath buff a 20% swim speed increase, which can help in AB and Twin Peaks.

If you want to know what I specifically use, I use:

  • Quick Decay, Life Tap, and Soul Link for Affliction, and
  • Incinerate, Chaos Bolt, and Soul Link for Destruction.

I used to run Incinerate, Conflagrate, and Shadowflame back in 3.2.  You may find Conflagrate better to start with instead of Chaos Bolt until you’re used to the spec.


As a Warlock:

  • Keep at range.  You’re probably the sturdiest of all the cloth classes (with Soul Link active) but you’ll still go down to a Bladestorm.
  • Keep moving.  ALWAYS KEEP MOVING.  Cast, move.  Cast while moving.  You can stop when you’re dead.
  • Fear.  Fear.  Fear.  Howl of Terror.  Fear.  Death Coil.  Guess what kind of spell you should be casting all the time?
  • You have Shadow Ward.  Use it.
  • You have Demonic Circle.  It will save your life many many times, but only if you drop the circle first.  Get in the habit of dropping one all the time.

For Affliction:

  • Your mantra:  Dot ’em up, Fear ’em away, Drain ’em down.
  • Your tools of choice: Corruption, Unstable Affliction, Haunt, a lot of Curses, Drains, and Searing Pain.  Yes, Searing Pain.
  • Your demon of choice: the Felhunter.  Get a good pet macro and use your Felpup’s abilities.  Spell Lock will save your life, or kill a healer.  Lock healers down so dots can tick.  Devour Magic is awesome.  Learn to use both abilities.
  • Your voidwalker — remember him? — is AWESOME against rogues and good against other melee.  Sacrifice gives you an absorption shield you can trigger while stunlocked.
  • Corruption is your main source of damage.  With Siphon Life, you’ll get healing back too, so spread Corruption around to as many targets as you can in a BG.
  • Haunt and Unstable Affliction should be cast in rapid succession whenever you stop moving.  Keep in mind UA is no longer just a dot – it’s a dot that hurts enemy healers.  That makes it an AWESOME dot.
  • Improved Howl of Terror is for when melee gets too close.  Get them moving away from you and then RUN AWAY.
  • Curses should be chosen according to situation — Exhaustion for melee, Tongues for casters, Agony for general damage, Elements for getting through resistances.
  • The only time you cast Shadowbolt is when Nightfall procs.  Otherwise, Drain Life / Drain Soul / Searing Pain to fill in the time.
  • As soon as you get locked out of the Shadow school, switch over to Searing Pain.  Spam it – hard.

For Destruction:

  • Your mantra: Stand still, this won’t hurt a bit.  Oh wait, yes, it did.
  • Your tools: Immolate, then Chaos Bolt / Conflagrate / Shadowfury all at once.  Incinerate as secondary nuke.  Shadowfury, Seduction and Fear to hold them in place.
  • Your pet:  Succubus or Felhunter.  Use the Succubus’s Soothing Kiss on melee classes.  Seduce and Fear share diminishing returns, so think before you use it.
  • Destro excels at stacking burst damage and suddenly knocking 75% of someone’s health off in a GCD.  Timing combos to hit all at once puts tremendous pressure on enemy healers.
  • The most basic combo is CICD: Chaos Bolt, Immolate, Conflagrate, Dead.  Chaos Bolt has travel time, so after casting it you immediately put Immolate on the target.  Depending on range and Haste, Immo will land just before or just after the Chaos Bolt hits.  Follow up with a Conflagrate, and, for extra damage, a Shadowfury.  If they’re still alive, take advantage of Backdraft and hit them with hasted Immolate/Incinerates.  (If you have the Glyph of Conflagrate, Immolate is still on the target, so you can just Incinerate away.)
  • Keep Immolate on the target as much as you can.  Never cast Incinerate if Immolate is not present.  Use Shadowburn instead (or better yet, cast Immolate!)
  • Learn to weave your Seductions and Fears in with your nukes.  If you put Curse of the Elements and Immolate on a target, then Seduce, then CICD, then Fear, then Immolate and Incinerate, then Shadowfury, then Shadowburn… well, your opponent hasn’t had much of a chance to harm you, have they?
  • Curses: Elements gives you 12% damage bonus and lowers resistances.  Tongues can be okay against casters.
  • Use Corruption as a trash debuff to protect your Immolate.
  • When fighting pet classes, try to get the pet in with your Shadowfury.
  • Chaos Bolt cuts through all bubbles.  Bubbles hate Chaos Bolt.

For Demonology:

  • I… got nothing.  I have no idea how to play Demo in PvP.  Let’s revisit them in Cataclysm, because things are looking much better there.


You’re going to want macros.  Lots and lots of macros.

I have a very popular post on warlock macros that is unfortunately starting to age a bit. Macro syntax has improved since I wrote that, and I’d like to revisit it in a lot more depth – but I’m holding off for Cataclysm.  So here are some quick updates, in no particular order.

Totem stomping macros no longer work. You used to be able to send pets after specific totems, in order… but no more.  Sad warlock.  Use this mouseover petattack macro instead:

/petattack [target=mouseover]

As Destro, I modified my Chaos Bolt to shoot rockets if CB is on cooldown:

/cast Chaos Bolt
/use 10

And changed my Immolate macro to include Soothing Kiss:

/castsequence reset=target/combat,2 Immolate, Incinerate, Incinerate
/use 13
/use 14
/cast [@pettarget] Soothing Kiss

While playing Affliction, I used the following extensively:


/castsequence reset=target/combat,3 Corruption, Curse of Agony,  Fear, Frostweave Net, Drain Life
/cast [@target] Devour Magic
/use 13
/use 14

That lets me go dot dot fear, with an optional snare at the end.  I was of two minds about having the Felhunter’s Devour Magic in there; sometimes it worked great, other times it left DM on cooldown when I needed it.  The last two lines were to fire pump trinkets (I”m still using the Platinum Disks from WG, is that sad?)

Here’s the other mainstay of my rotation in Affliction:

/castsequence [mod] Unstable Affliction; reset=target/combat,4 Haunt, Unstable Affliction, Searing Pain, Searing Pain, Searing Pain
/use 10

This is my “stand-and-cast” macro, applying the two important shadow spells and then spamming Searing Pain on the target.  It also fires rockets at the target.

As always, the official macro page and WowWiki Warlock Macro page are great places to go for inspiration.


Here are some add-ons I find helpful with my warlock.

  • NeedToKnow – lets you track buffs and debuffs in highly visible bars.  I use this to make sure that Immolate is on the target, check to see if Backdraft or Backlash have procced, and track my Shadowfury / Chaos Bolt cooldowns with it.
  • SaySapped – lets people around you know that you’ve been sapped.  Rogues, we hates them, we hates them forever!
  • OmniCC – adds a countdown to any ability that’s on cooldown.  Great for tracking mutiple CDs at once.
  • DRTracker – tracks diminishing returns on your Fear and Seduce.  Very important!

I’m a big fan of NeedToKnow.  Here’s what my setup looks like:

I put the buff/debuff timers below the casting bar, and cooldowns above it.


Ready for more?

  • My Warlockery page is a summary of the posts I’ve done on Warlocks, and there are a lot of them.
  • I must link Dusk’s Guide to Warlocks in Battlegrounds every other week on Twitter.  It’s awesome.  It’s the reason I never wrote a post like this before — he covers a lot of ground and gives great advice.
  • The Warlock Resources section of Murloc Parliament is a great collection of how-to posts for the various specs and styles.  Good collection there.
  • I’m still in love with the Destruction Duel video, and wish more videos like this got made.

All set?  Great!  Good luck, and happy warlocking!


Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual, Warlockery

4 responses to “A Belated Introduction to Warlock PvP in Wrath of the Lich King

  1. Here’s something i learned from when Blarr was trying out demo, don’t be afraid to park your felguard. The charge is amazing, so send him back to his spot and have him charge again. It’s also handy in duels, it just opens up the opportunity to get multiple charges off.

  2. Wickedsauce

    I cannot access the PvP guide you linked by Dusk. It takes you to the new forums now where the guide is no where to be found. Any ideas if this is up anywhere else on another site maybe?

    Wickedsauce of Silvermoon.