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Demonology Warlock

    Hardcore viability

    Warlocks are masters of control and resource management. Within the Warlock’s toolkit one will find strong crowd control, a variety of defensive abilities, and powerful demons to do one’s bidding. The Warlock playstyle is like that of a puppeteer, subtly manipulating the battlefield with their cc and hard-hitting DoTs, all while staying safe behind their demon. Warlocks meld their health and mana bars into one dynamic resource pool, and replenish it with an array of drain and regeneration effects. The Demonology specialization accentuates the defensive capabilities of the class in exchange for less damage and resource control. With patience and strategic use of their tools, Demonology Warlocks are functionally immortal.

    Terms to Know


    Stands for ‘damage over time’. This is the primary way of delivering our damage, and is very mana efficient compared to nukes. DoTs trade upfront damage burst for ‘inevitable’ damage, which cannot be resisted after the DoT is applied. The combination of mana efficiency, low cast time, and reliable damage is what makes Warlocks very strong levelers.


    The opposite of a DoT. A nuke frontloads its damage, and usually cast time, to do a lot of damage immediately. Generally, our nukes are inefficient, and will be reserved for when we need to burst a target down at the start of a pull.


    Midway between a nuke and a DoT. Drains do damage over time, but have a long cast time and can be interrupted easily. Usually provides a secondary effect.


    A category of spell. Warlocks have access to multiple kinds of curses, but can only have one curse active on a particular target. A target can have multiple curses on it, but they have to be from different Warlocks, and some curses’ effects do not stack.


    Refers to a shield that also grants spell pushback resistance from receiving damage. The Voidwalker’s Sacrifice ability grants such a shield, and similar effects can be found on other classes. While the Paladin’s bubble and Light of Elune are banned from being used with Hearthstone, ours is not.


    Refers to a spell or effect being ignored by the target, either due to your personal miss chance against said target, or due to the target’s magic resistance. There are multiple kinds of resists, like partial resists where half the damage goes through, or a heartbeat resist where your Fear will break seemingly for no reason. It is advisable to never put yourself in a position where you are relying on a spell to land, as there is always a minimum 1% chance of being resisted, regardless of level or magic resistance.

    Threat management

    Managing your threat relative to your Voidwalker’s is very important. This will determine when a mob will stop attacking your Voidwalker and turn to you. Due to the ramping nature of Curse of Agony’s damage, it is very difficult for your Voidwalker to regain threat once you’ve pulled off, as you will continue to do more and more damage even if you stop casting/wanding. Do not worry about pulling threat; you should be pulling threat when the target is ~40% health if you are playing efficiently. Use the time that it walks towards you to wand or Drain Life, and it should be dead or close to dead by the time it arrives.

    Resource management

    Keeping your resources high is key for survival. This includes everything from your health and mana bar to your important cooldowns like Fel Domination and Amplify Curse. Knowing when to hold or use cooldowns is a skill for every class.

    Power spike

    Your power will increase and decrease relative to the level and lethality of the enemies you are facing, with certain ranks of spells, with item upgrades, and with the availability of your resources. A prudent Warlock will adjust to their surroundings, and never overestimate their own power relative to what they are fighting.


    This is the order that we sequence our abilities in to maximize our efficiency. Just as our power changes, so too does our rotation. A good Warlock will adjust their rotation based on the availability and rank of their spells.

    Best Races



    The best race for the Alliance is the Gnome, and it isn’t close. Here are the Gnome’s relevant racials:

    Escape Artist - Escape the effects of any immobilization or movement speed reduction effect. 2 minute cooldown.

    The wording of this ability is very important. It does not return your movement speed to normal; it stops the effects (plural) of anything that slows or immobilizes you. What this means is that if you are poisoned by an effect that slows you and does a nature damage DoT, you will remove both the slow and the DoT. Furthermore, it is single use and does not have a duration like Will of the Forsaken, which means it may be the correct play to wait for the second net to come out from that other Blackrock Outrunner.

    Expansive Mind - Intelligence increased by 5%.

    Straightforward increase to your mana pool and crit chance. In Hardcore, spirit takes a backseat; all you care about is having enough gas to complete the encounter you are in now, and that is what this gives you.

    Engineering Specialization - Engineering skill is increased by 15.

    I personally prefer Alchemy, but Engineering is an exceptional choice in Hardcore, and the extra skill helps a ton in a Hardcore setting where resources are tight.


    The best race for the Horde is not as clear. Both Orc and Undead have cc mitigation in their racials, but they function in different ways.


    Command - Damage dealt by Hunter and Warlock pets is increased by 5%.

    This is a slight but welcome increase to our damage, as the Voidwalker actually does a decent amount of damage, especially with the deeper Demonology talents.

    Hardiness - Chance to resist stun effects increased by 25%.

    While it is random and therefore unreliable, Hardiness does help against the most common form of hard cc that you will be facing.


    Cannibalize - Consumes a nearby Humanoid or Undead corpse to regenerate 7% of total health every 2 seconds for 10 seconds. 2 minute cooldown.

    Very nice for efficiency. Unfortunately, the corpse type restriction means that in some areas, you will have to ask your duo partner to politely lend you their dead body.

    Will of the Forsaken - Provides immunity to charm, sleep, and Fear effects for 5 seconds. Can be used during the cc. 2 minute cooldown.

    For the Warlock, I would argue that fears are more deadly in a vacuum, since you can end up running straight into danger with no mobility tools to escape. Furthermore, so long as your Voidwalker is not also stunned, it can still use Sacrifice, which means being stunned yourself is not the end of the world. You are more likely to encounter a stun, but you are more likely to die to a fear. While playing a Gnome with no resistance to either, I found myself much more afraid of fears. That being said, if you are playing carefully, neither should really be an issue, so it comes down to preference.


    Alchemy - Herbalism

    Alchemy is nice for three reasons. Firstly, you get some nice uptime with health regen pots, armor pots, max hp pots, and later intelligence and damage pots. Second, you gain access to one of the best items in Hardcore: the Nifty Stopwatch. This item solves the Warlock’s only weakness; mobility. If for some god forsaken reason you pull a guard, this is the only way you are living. Third, aside from one or two recipes, Alchemy only requires mats from Herbalism, meaning the downtime from keeping it leveled is negligible.

    Engineering - Mining

    Engineering is the other main option for Warlocks, and is especially potent if one rolls a Gnome. The main draws are early headpieces, a couple of weird knick-knacks like grenades, and Target Dummy. My philosophy is that target dummies don’t do a whole lot for a class with a beeftank by your side at all times, but some people enjoy a second “oh ****” button. Another drawback is that Engineering is harder to level as some of the nicer gadgets require mats from different sources and professions. You may need to level Skinning for leather early on before dropping it for Mining, and Fishing for leather from wreckages later. At the end of the day, this is largely preference. Both Alchemy and Engineering are great for all Hardcore classes.

    For more experienced and/or crazy Warlocks, Tailoring is a third option. In my personal opinion, the previously mentioned professions will increase your odds of hitting 60 significantly more than the admittedly nice Shadoweave set will. Also, it competes with First Aid for materials, which is incredibly important to keep leveled. If I was either running deep Affliction or duoing with a healer, then I might consider it. Unfortunately, you cannot run either Alchemy or Engineering without their respective gathering profession, and so there realistically isn’t any room for Tailoring.

    Some people will tell you to level Enchanting early for the magic wands. This is pretty much a waste of time, as those wands get replaced by questing normally. The time you spend grinding the mats and professions for it is best spent getting another 5-6 levels. That being said, do what you enjoy; that is what we are here for to begin with.

    Stats and Gear

    Stamina > Intelligence > Spirit > Agility > Strength

    Stamina is by far our best stat, as it’s also effectively an increase to our mana. With Life Tap, 1 point of health is 1-1.2 points of mana. Furthermore, Demonic Embrace is multiplying our total stamina, giving us an even greater incentive to stack as much of it as we can. With Soul Link’s damage reduction, the power of stamina stacking goes way into the stratosphere. The math on Soul Link is seriously disturbing. A 30% reduction to damage taken is not a 30% increase to your effective health; it is much higher. With Soul Link active, it would take 143 damage to kill a 100 health Warlock, meaning it is boosting your effective health by 43%. With Soul Link and Master Demonologist, it would take 166.6 damage. Stamina isn’t just the best stat in Hardcore (for non-healers), it is completely broken on Warlocks.

    Intelligence provides a nice amount of mana and a little bit of crit. Unfortunately our DoTs cannot crit. Nonetheless, it is by far our second most important stat, as all we care about is making our resource pool as large as we can.

    The other stats are relatively unimportant. Spirit is never unwanted, but you shouldn’t give up a single point of intelligence or stamina for any amount of spirit. Agility makes your wands better by an incredibly small amount, and strength is obviously a dead stat.

    Look for green items with the suffix ‘of the Eagle’, and quest rewards that give lots of stamina and intelligence. The most notable item that I would highly recommend getting is the Orb of Dar’Orahil, from the Knowledge of the Orb of Orahil quest chain around 40. Be sure to get the quest for the Shard of a Felhound, so that your completed orb does shadow damage. Also, the staff reward is significantly worse than the off-hand, as the off-hand’s active effect gives you 40 stamina worth of healing over its duration.


    Unlike some other classes, Warlocks do not rely on frequent upgrades. The only pieces of gear that really move the needle are your wand and the Orb of Dar’Orahil at 40. Questing normally will give you wand upgrades at an acceptable pace. I also recommend choosing wands that aren’t shadow damage, so you can handle shadow immune mobs easier. Here is a list of good wands and where you can find them:




    Talent Builds

    Before respec

    Deep Demo 9/21/0

    The first 1-39 build is for beginners, and is made with the expectation that one will generally play conservatively. It sacrifices a little bit of early damage in exchange for beefing up.

    Deep Demonology Warlock Talents

    We start by maxing out Imp Corruption to get it instant cast. Next, we go into the Demonology tree for Demonic Embrace and Imp Voidwalker. We grab Imp Healthstone to get enough points for Fel Dom. After Fel Dom at level 25, we take only 4/5 Fel Stamina, as that gives us enough points to start getting Master Summoner. After that, we finish Fel Stamina, and put 2 points into Unholy Power to get to Demonic Sacrifice at level 35. The next four talents can be put wherever, since we are respeccing at 40 anyways. I highly recommend Suppression and Imp Life Tap.

    After respec

    Soul Link 0/31/0

    Once we are level 40, we will respec to the following tree:

    Soul Link Warlock Talents

    This is the same tree as before, minus the points in Affliction, and getting deep enough for Master Demonologist and Soul Link. The single point in Fel Intellect is filler, but it’s the best filler.

    Important Spells


    Our bread and butter shadow damage DoT. Later on gives Nightfall procs. Becomes instant cast with talents.

    Curse of Agony

    Shadow damage DoT curse. Damage is weighted towards the end of the duration. The last 4 ticks deal the same amount of damage as the first 8. Once you rip aggro from your Voidwalker, you won’t be able to get it off of you; this spell is why.


    A fire damage nuke with a DoT mixed in. Prone to ripping aggro if you haven’t let your Voidwalker establish threat. Can sometimes break Fear effects with the initial damage.

    Shadow Bolt

    Hard shadow damage nuke. Very slow and mana inefficient compared to DoTs, and thus rarely used. The only exceptions are when you need to burst down a caster, when you get a Nightfall proc, or if you are raiding.


    No, really. Wands are busted. Use shoot. Shoot good. Shoot is 1 on my keyboard.

    Rain of Fire

    AoE fire damage for dungeons. Can also split pull with it.

    Drain Life

    Shadow damage drain. Restores the same amount of life that is drained. Is channeled, and can be easily pushed back. Niche without talents, but still nice for keeping topped off.

    Drain Soul

    Shadow damage drain. Generates a Soul Shard if the target dies while drained. Longer channel than Drain Life. Mediocre damage; most people keep this at rank 1 to minimize mana cost.

    Life Tap

    Converts X health to X mana, 1.2X mana with talents. Bread and butter resource management tool. This is our engine. As long as you have health, you have mana. Technically does not do shadow damage to the caster, despite scaling with increases to shadow damage. Instead, it is a flat reduction to your health. This means you are allowed to use it during the Felfire achievement. Sadly, it also means that Soul Link and shadow damage protection pots do nothing to mitigate the self-damage.


    The funniest and most broken cc in the entire game. Also the most likely to get you killed. It has no DR with itself, so you can keep a target feared indefinitely. Fear can be resisted in two ways: the initial cast, and a heartbeat resist during the duration of the fear. Fear will also break if the target takes too much damage. The direction the mob runs is random, but the speed is based on the speed of the monster. You can unwittingly Fear a really fast mob way out of your cast range and into another pack, so be mindful. Always assume a mob will take the exact path you don’t want it to. Always assume your Fear will be resisted on initial cast, and always assume it will be heartbeat resisted. Always keep enough mana to Fear once or twice, and later to Death Coil/Howl of Terror. If you have the time and resources, you can keep a mob from running too far by juggling between Curse of Recklessness and a different Curse, which will cause it to run back and forth while feared.

    Howl of Terror

    AoE version of Fear. Useful for getting stuff off of you if you pull too much and get overwhelmed. While you can only have one mob feared at a time, Howl is independent of this.

    Death Coil

    Instant cast shadow damage nuke that heals for the damage dealt and applies a short Horror effect. Like with Fear, Curse of Recklessness overrides the Horror. Horror is also a separate status effect from fear, and is thus independent of it. It is possible to have 1 mob Feared, 1 mob Coiled, and 5 mobs feared from Howl.

    Curse of Recklessness

    Lowers armor, but increases melee attack damage. Forces the target to attack you, and overrides Fear and horror effects. Useful for forcing a feared or fleeing mob to return to you before it pulls. Clutch for making mobs that drop quest items die at your feet instead of way off in Narnia. Also mandatory in dungeons.

    Curse of Tongues

    Makes spells take 50-60% longer to cast. Completely destroys casters. Arguably better than a silence since they won’t start running at you to melee. If a pack has a healer or caster in it, I will send my Voidwalker on the melees, toss a Tongues on the caster, and then blow it up with bolts.

    Demon Armor

    Armor, flat health regen, and eventually shadow resistance. Always keep active.


    Consumable heal. Is a spell and can crit the heal. Doesn’t share a cooldown with potions. Requires a Soul Shard and disappears if you log out for more than 15 minutes.


    Very long hard cc, but only on Elementals and Demons. Trivializes Felwood. Even though the mob is immune to damage during the Banish, you can still attack it and even build threat. Typically won’t be heartbeat resisted unless you cast it multiple times on the same target.

    Eye of Kilrogg

    Secretly Warlock’s best spell. Literal maphacks. The only downside is that you have to remember to use it. Some people say not to train it. I laugh at their lack of prescience. Also, Santa is a Warlock and this is how he knows if you’re naughty.


    Resurrects you if you die. Completely overpowered in Hardcore. I’m dead serious. What do you mean you don’t believe me? No, really, go try it. I promise it works....

    Voidwalker abilities


    This is how your Voidwalker maintains threat on a target. Technically, it is not a taunt, but rather a spell that adds a flat amount of threat on the threat table. This means it is possible to use Torment without any tangible effect. Turn off auto-cast to save mana once you pull threat; he won't get it back anyways.


    AoE version of Torment. 2 minute cooldown. Fairly high mana cost. Save for emergencies.


    Instantly kills the Voidwalker, and puts a massive shield on the Warlock. Prevents spell pushback. Lasts 30 seconds for some unholy reason. Very clutch; will save you countless times. Can be chained back to back by resummoning your demon during the bubble. It has no cooldown, so unlike Suffering, you can Sacrifice > summon > Sacrifice over and over so long as you have mana and shards. Can also be used while you are channeling your Hearthstone, since the ability is cast by the demon.

    Consume Shadows

    Out of combat self-heal for the Voidwalker. Fairly high mana cost. Can have a very high uptime on this spell if you manage its mana during encounters. If the Voidwalker doesn’t have enough mana to cast this, and it’s health is also very low, simply hardcast a resummon; it’s always quicker than waiting for spirit regen.


    Your rotation is going to change depending on your most recent spell upgrades.

    Single Target

    Level 1-3

    Shadow Bolt > Immolate > Shadow Bolt until dead while Imp uses Firebolt. Weave in dagger autos.

    Level 4-8

    Shadow Bolt > Immolate > Corruption, move to next target while Imp finishes off mob.

    Level 8-10

    Same as 4-8 with Curse of Agony as needed, as it is unlikely to tick for the full duration.

    Level 10-60

    Curse of Agony > Corruption > Immolate > Shoot or Drain Life depending on ranks while Voidwalker tanks.

    Life Tap in the downtime between pulls, or if your health is full.

    Dealing with Danger

    Unfortunately, a Demonology Warlock can handle anywhere from 3 very tough enemies to 6 normal enemies. Yes, you read that right. This is a bad thing. I am not joking when I say that the most likely thing to kill you is overconfidence. Just because you can solo almost anything in the game up to and including certain max level bosses does not mean you get to break the core tenets of Hardcore. Pull one at a time. Be mindful of your resources. Look around. Just because you can live doesn’t mean that you will. People are human and very frequently panic when presented with dangerous situations. How many Hunters die because their feign resists? How many Rogues die because they over-pulled with no cooldowns? How many times does a Warrior die with their AoE fear up? Never assume optimal play on your part. Instead, view the class’s inherent power as an airbag rather than as a crutch to rely on.

    As previously mentioned, your main weakness is mobility. If you don’t have the math to end a fight in your favor, send your demon as deep into the pack as you can and book it, Sacrificing it at the last second for the shield. If you intend to stand your ground and fight, have an escape plan should your judgement turn out to be erroneous. If you aren’t sure if you win a fight, simply move on to something else. There is no shame in skipping hard quests, even on a strong class. Your spells will get resisted, your Fears will break and send mobs into more mobs. Your Voidwalker’s taunts will resist, he will path weirdly and pull extra mobs, and he will eat a crit or nasty debuff and die unexpectedly before you can bubble. Account for the one in a hundred situation that will kill you and do everything you can to avoid it.

    Advanced Tips

    Set your demons on passive so they don’t accidentally pull.

    Keybind your demon’s abilities and movement controls to something very comfortable. You want very fine control over your Voidwalker. This will allow you to do clutch things like dragging mobs with you by swapping between attack and follow commands.

    Keep bandages up to date; you have many tools to get the breathing room to bandage.

    Keep your resources rolling; your health should be just under full so you get value from your regeneration and healing effects.

    Don’t overkill mobs; let your DoTs get full value. Gauging when to let a mob bleed out is a skill.

    Wanding on the back half of your rotation lets you regenerate a little bit of mana between pulls. Avoiding pointless Torments after you take aggro will do the same for your Voidwalker.

    Wand-hopping can be useful if you need to build distance, or if you notice a patrol running towards your mob.

    As long as you have mana and shards, you can pretty much always keep a Sacrifice shield on you. Pre-shield before tough encounters if you want to be extremely safe.

    Don’t keep too many shards in your bags; about 5 is enough.

    If you Sacrifice or dismiss your pet, you will not get the shard back. However, you will if you either outrange it or get on a flight path, so long as you have an open inventory slot. To outrange your Voidwalker, put it on stay, and walk away from it. Once you are far enough, it will despawn.

    Sacrifice is the Voidwalker’s ability, not the Warlock’s ability This means you can use Sacrifice while the Warlock is stunned, channeling, Hearthing, or otherwise preoccupied. If, however, your Voidwalker is cc'd, it won't be able to cast it. If Fel Domination is up, you can either dismiss your demon or use Demonic Sacrifice to break the cc and get a quick bubble off.

    Let mobs hit you now and then so that your defense skill doesn’t lag behind. Again, stay within reason and use your judgement.

    Sometimes, taking a few hits to keep your Voidwalker alive is a dps increase (more viable after Soul Link).

    Be mindful of your Fears. Always assume the mob will run the last place you want it to. You can use Curse of Recklessness to override any fear or horror effect. Quickly swapping between Recklessness and another curse will make the mob swap between being feared and not feared, making it run back and forth along its fear path. Fear overrides taunts, but not roots and stuns. Research which mobs are immune to fear effects.

    Be mindful of your spell ranks. Your Voidwalker gets a new rank of Torment every level ending in 0. Agony is every level ending with 8, Corruption 4, etc. Some don’t follow the every 10 levels pattern, and are every 8 instead. Some are completely random. Your spell ranks inform your power spikes which in turn informs your strength. If your Voidwalker is taunting level 29 mobs with level 20 Torment, it will not be as effective as it was when you were fighting level 20 mobs, especially with new ranks in your DoTs.

    Try to split-pull with Rain of Fire. Kite the target mob out of the pack while the rest reset. Here is a split-pulling guide by Tommysalami.

    In dungeons, Voidwalker is often a better demon than Imp, since it can off-tank in case of a bad pull, and save your life should your healer be incapacitated or if you need to Hearth.

    Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. No, seriously, don’t use it if you don’t have to. Also, I was kidding about Soulstone; it’s banned.

    Hardcore Warlock Leveling Guide

    Looking for a step-by-step leveling guide that is tailored for the Hardcore Warlock leveling experience?

    Click below to visit RestedXP and download their awesome add-on to start receiving in-game directions. The guide is free for the first 20 levels, so give it a try!

    Duo Partners

    Priests and Paladins compliment Warlocks the best, as their mana bar becomes your mana bar through their heals. Priests can amplify your shadow damage, and provide enormous bonuses to stamina and spirit. Paladins are great for their Concentration Aura, and help with your lack of mobility with Blessing of Freedom.

    Druids are interesting, but are on the opposite side of the spectrum when it comes to mobility. They compliment the more mobile, throughput based nature of a deep Affliction DoT spec or drain-tanker.

    Most other classes either slow Warlocks down like Warriors and Rogues, or are better on their own, like Hunters.

    Double Warlock is interesting, but they compete for gear and are likely going deep Affliction. Demonology Warlocks have little reason to group with anyone else.

    Viable Achievements


    Solitary Struggle - No grouping

    Trivial for a class that enjoys pumping open world content. In my opinion, due to the Warlock’s lack of mobility, you are most vulnerable in areas where your escape route is cutoff, like caves. When you think about it, a dungeon is just a really big cave. You also don’t need any dungeon items or quests.

    No Health Potions - No health pots

    Very easy; you have healthstones anyways. Mana pots are functional health pots as it saves you the opportunity cost of having to Life Tap.

    King of the Jungle - Kill King Bangalash before 40

    Bangalash is a hard mob, but this fight is easy for a Warlock if you chain Fear. Be sure to get your Fear off before he spawns his adds.


    Nobody Got Time For That - No professions

    Not having Alchemy or Engineering means you’ll have to play much more carefully than otherwise. Also, not having access to bandages can make some of the longer fights closer. If you are speedrunning, you’ll do this achievement alongside it anyways.

    Speedrunner - Hit 60 in under 100 hours, within 8 real life weeks, without rested exp

    While this is very easy to do as a Warlock, you’ll have to ignore professions if you want to stay on track for a good time. My personal run was 125 hours, and I leveled very slowly and pulled one at a time.

    Self-Made - Can only equip items you have crafted

    This achievement makes it pretty much impossible to use a wand, as Enchanting cannot be leveled past a certain point solo. You can still use Healthstones and quest items, but bags will be tight.


    Nudist - No clothes, necklaces, trinkets, or rings

    This is hard, primarily because of how strong Nifty Stopwatch is. You also lose out on quite a bit of stamina scaling. If any class can do this achievement, it would be a Demonology Warlock. That being said, it is still hard unless you are very experienced with Hardcore.

    White Knight - Only white and gray quality items

    Functionally the same as Nudist.

    Vagrant - No bank or Hearthstone

    This will test your knowledge of what to keep and when. Makes leveling professions difficult. Not being able to use Hearthstone to get out of sticky situations means dungeons are extremely risky. You also won't be able to rely on Hearthing into a Sacrifice.