A friend of mine asked me for some help with her Destro warlock alt. Even though all I do these days is tend my farm and tinker in my workshop, I threw together the following guide to the basics of Destruction Warlocks at the end of Mists of Pandaria.
Let me stress: these are the basics. I’m not kidding when I say all I do is putter about on my farm these days.
CYNTHIA BLOCK’S GUIDE TO DESTRO
Okay, nugget! Listen up! Sgt. Block here to talk to you about warlocks.
Facing a warlock is like, holy fucking shit everything is on fire and then there are fucking green dragons flying at you. There’s fire out of the sky and you’re on fire and then fucking green dragons. Did I mention those fucking green dragons hurt? Hit the fucking warlock in the fucking face with your fucking shield, nugget, and don’t let her get back up. Ever.
By the fucking Light, green dragons? REALLY? Who plays around with shit like that?
… wait, you mean you want to learn how to play Destro? Fuck, I’m the wrong soldier for that. I thought you wanted to know how to take OUT a Destro lock. Let me go get the wordy lady. She’ll talk your ear off.
(Nobody in their right mind lets a warlock finish casting, though. Hit them with your fucking shield until they stop moving.)
Right. Here’s the big lady. Don’t forget to salute, nugget.
CYNWISE’S INTRODUCTION TO DESTRUCTION
Thank you for that introduction, Sgt. Block. I think.
Destruction requires you to become awesome while on fire. This is both a joke and a literal truth; the primary way to succeed at very high DPS is to manage your Burning Embers resource (setting you on fire) while alternating between different kinds of nukes and CDs. There’s some dot management (Destro is a Warlock spec, after all) but it is only a component of your damage, not the whole thing.
Ready to be awesome while on fire? Let’s begin.
You’ll use the following spells to inflict pain.
- Chaos Bolt
- Rain of Fire
Very optionally, you can add Fel Fire on to this list once you are comfortable with those six spells and you have room on your bars.
You have two resources: Mana and Burning Embers. Playing Destro means you ignore your mana. Seriously. Mana is a limiter for you casting too many of one kind of spell in a row; the only way you should be running out of mana is spamming Fel Flame or Rain of Fire or Incinerate, maybe.
Ignore mana. Look at your Burning Embers instead.
You gain Burning Embers by having things be on fire. You always have one, and it will regenerate pretty quickly out of combat. Incinerate, Rain of Fire, Immolate, Conflag, Fel Flame all generate Embers. You spend Embers on the following:
- Chaos Bolt (big nuke)
- Shadowburn (execute)
- Fire and Brimstone (AoE)
- Ember Tap (self-heal)
- Flames of Xoroth (pet regen)
We’ll talk about all these uses later, but only the first three will matter in a dungeon.
For something that is going to live for a minute or so, like a dungeon boss, you do the following.
- Set them on fire with Immolate. Refresh Immolate when you get a strong proc or when it’s about to fall off.
- Blow them up with Conflagrate. There are two charges; just hit them both to start out with.
- Spam Incinerate to build up Embers.
- When you have some Embers and/or get a good proc, let fly with some Chaos Bolts. (When your Embers are at 3.5 or so, you should start spending them to avoid capping them out.)
- When the boss hits < 20% health, Shadowburn is INSANE DPS. It takes the place of Chaos Bolt. Always SB, never CB when SB is available.
Right. So. Immolate, Conflag when it’s up, Incinerate as you generate Embers; Chaos Bolt and Shadowburn when you have Embers to spend.
For a trash pack (3+ mobs), your strategy revolves around Fire and Brimstone instead of Chaos Bolt/Shadowburn. F&B turns your three primary spells (Immolate, Conflagrate, Incinerate) into AoE spells (hit all mobs around the target) at the cost of a Burning Ember and reduced damage. It acts like a toggle as long as you have Embers available; hit it once and it stays on until you are drained, or until you turn it off.
Multi-dotting is an extremely strong DPS strategy, but it does require mobs to live a *little* while. If they’re going to last more than a second or two:
- Start Rain of Fire over the area.
- Hit Fire and Brimstone.
- Cast Immolate to spread dots everywhere.
- F&B a Conflag when you have another Ember (should be very fast)
- If you run out of Conflag charges to F&B, Immolate and RoF are both up, but still have Embers, F&B Incinerates.
- As mobs start dropping in health, SHADOWBURN them. Steal those killing blows.
If trash packs are blowing up quickly, I usually drop step 3 (F&B Immolate) and do AOE Conflags instead. This has two advantages: it almost always returns a full Burning Ember, so I’m able to Shadowburn once stuff drops, and it gets some damage out on the mobs FAST.
Shadowburn returns 2 Burning Embers for the cost of 1 if the mob dies within 6 seconds of you casting it, so you should walk out of a trash pack with a full Ember Bar if you do it right. Shadowburn is the key to good trash DPS.
WREAKING HAVOC ON THE WINGMAN
For 2 mobs, or a boss and add, you’ll want to use Havoc. Havoc is a curse that says, “the next three things I do, do to this target too.” (Chaos Bolt counts as three things.) Here’s how you use it.
- You are facing Mob A and Mob B.
- Cast Havoc on Mob B.
- Target Mob A.
- Cast Immolate on Mob A. Both Mob A and B are now on fire.
- Cast Conflagrate on Mob A. Both Mob A and B blow up.
- Cast Incinerate on Mob A. Flames shoot out at both A and B.
- Cast Conflagrate on Mob A again. You’re out of Havoc charges, so only Mob A blows up.
Unlike F&B, the spells aren’t reduced AOE versions of the spells, and they’re not limited to your top three damage spells. You can Spell Lock or Curse two mobs at once (which is fun when you’re fighting a lot of casters.) But the real fun comes from using your Burning Ember spells on two mobs at once.
- You are facing A and B. Havoc B, target A.
- Cast Chaos Bolt on A.
- DOUBLE DRAGON
or, better yet:
- You are facing A, B, and C. They’re big adds or mobs, think of the ones in Vortex Pinnacle at level.
- Immolate everything like a good multi-dotter, then DPS focus on A.
- When A is at about 1/3rd health, Havoc C.
- A drops to 20% health. Shadowburn A, which hits both A and C.
- Switch to B (which your friends have probably AoEd down to 20%. Shadowburn B, which hits C as well.
- A, B, and C are now all dead and you have a full Burning Ember bar.
Chaos Bolt costs 3 charges, but Shadowburn only costs 1. Remember that.
I use a mouseover macro to manage Havoc. This lets me target A and mouse over B. Alternately, if I’ve set my focus (on a healer, usually) it will cast Havoc there.
/use [@focus,harm][@mouseover,harm][harm] Havoc
Practice this a lot on dummies until it becomes habit.
MANAGING PROCS AND BURST
You must have a burst macro. I fought against this for a long time as Affliction (what’s a burst?) but, no. You want to maximize your periods of burst when you get procs off your gear or enchants and when you are fully charged with Burning Embers.
Warlocks have burst now, it’s called Dark Soul. There are three different versions (one for each spec) and the Destruction one greatly increases your Critical Strike chance, which in turn makes your Chaos Bolt and Shadowburn damage AMAZING.
Here’s my pump macro.
#showtooltip /use [spec:1] Dark Soul: Instability; [spec:2] Dark Soul: Knowledge /use Unending Resolve /use Volcanic Potion /use Potion of the Jade Serpent /use 14 /use 10
Some of this is specific to Cynwise; by specifying the [spec:1] and [spec:2] I can use the same macro for Destruction and Demonology. You can just use /use Dark Soul, I suppose. I use an Intellect potion at the same time, and trigger either my DPS trinket or Synapse Springs, whichever is off CD.
Unending Resolve has both a 40% damage reduction (which is neat) but ALSO has an 8 second immunity to Silence and Interrupts, which is … well, I’m using this in PVP. When I pop my CDs I don’t want to get Kicked into losing massive damage.
The important part is hitting this when you’ve got procs going – Lightweave, Jade Spirit, Heroism, whatever – because Dark Soul on top of those procs is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
If you use Grimoire of Service, you can add in /use Grimoire: Felhunter to this macro. GrimSac can add in /use Grimoire of Sacrifice to get more DPS if you aren’t running petless all the time (like in PvP, where you want to alternate pet/petless for double Spell Lock.)
You’ve also got Demonic Guardians (Doomguard, Infernal) on a 10 minute CD. Use them on the tough bosses. Doomguard is single target. Infernal is AoE and an AoE stun. They don’t need a keybind if you don’t have space.
ABILITIES THAT SHOULD BE ON YOUR BARS
You’ll want the following:
- Chaos Bolt
- Shadow Burn
- Rain of Fire
- Fire and Brimstone
- Curse of the Elements
- Dark Soul / Pump Macro
- Doomguard or Infernal (These don’t need a keybind, it’s a 10 minute CD.)
These are useful and should be there, too, but have no impact on your DPS.
- Demonic Command
- Ember Tap
- Twilight Ward
- Flames of Xoroth (Another one that doesn’t need a keybind, but is really handy to have when you need your pet back in a hurry.)
Shadowburn is one of those spells you want to cast IMMEDIATELY, no matter what else is going on. Use a stopcasting macro to interrupt whatever else you are casting.
/stopcasting /cast Shadowburn
I have long had a OH SHIT macro for massive healing.
/use Dark Regeneration /use Healthstone /use Alliance Battle Standard /use Ember Tap /use Master Healing Potion
That can bring me to full from 10% in about 5 seconds. A simpler version is just using a Healthstone in conjunction with Ember Tap:
/show Healthstone /use Healthstone /use Ember Tap
I have a buff macro so I don’t have to worry about getting all my buffs back up when rezzing at a Spirit Healer. Adjust to suit your particular Grimoire.
/castsequence reset=5 Dark Intent, Grimoire of Sacrifice, Create Soulwell, Unending Breath, Crystal of Insanity
I like tossing out guild battle standards when they are off CD, but I only want them on bosses. So I tied them in to my Chaos Bolts.
/cast [mod:shift, @focus, harm] Chaos Bolt; Chaos Bolt /use 10 /use Battle Standard of Coordination /use Standard of Unity /use Banner of Cooperation
Since Fel Flame doesn’t refresh dots anymore, and you can cast Incinerate while moving in PvE, I don’t use it as much as I used to. I do still use it for juking / fake casting in PvP though. Quick way to interrupt a cast while still doing SOMETHING.
/stopcasting /use Fel Flame
Here are some Weak Auras I use to help call out when to use different spells.
Spinning Circles: I have three circles which go around my character, center of field of vision. The inner one is “is Immolate on the target?” The next orange one is “is Conflagrate available?” and the third, big purple one is “is Shadowburn castable if so OH GOD CAST IT”. These only appear in combat.
Auras to be aware of: these show icons of things that you need to know about.
Dark Intent: I have been going through every alt and putting an aura of this type up whenever I can. It says: there is an essential self-buff you need to cast (almost always on my Z key.) In this case, it’s Dark Intent.
Dark Soul: Shows your Dark Soul countdown in BIG ASS LETTERS to make sure you don’t waste it.
Burning Rush: When Burning Rush is ON and your health drops below 50%, this reminds you that you have a speed boost on which can POTENTIALLY KILL YOU.
Fire and Brimstone: Big Icon showing that, hey, you’ve got F&B on.
That’s it. Enjoy being awesome while on fire.