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So you've rolled a warlock, and now want to know everything about leveling a warlock. And you just need to know the fastest and most efficient method. You have come to the right place, my friend. This article will discuss warlock tactics, abilities, talents, roles, and how best to employ them. Note that this is not a questing guide, we will not discuss specific quests, but rather how to approach any situation as a warlock. Please note that I am biased towards Affliction.

Classese Death Knight Demon Hunter Druid Hunter Mage Monk Paladin Priest Rogue Shaman Warlock Warrior
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Levels 1-5

When you start a warlock, like starting any other class, it's always quicker to level with a second person. This is not always possible, but if you can, it makes things go much faster. Be aware that leveling with a partner hits you in the wallet because you split all the gold, but the speed may be worth it if you're looking to quickly get to features of the game available only to higher levels. Fortunately, for the warlock, the menagerie of minions you will be able to summon is very much like having a second person level with you. The difference is, they don't take half the gold!

When you first start out, all you have is Shadow Bolt and an Imp. So you shoot things. At level 3, you get Corruption.

Level 3: [Corruption], which is an instant cast. You almost can't go wrong with your spell rotation at this point, but the most efficient attack is: Corruption, then Shadow Bolt, and then bolt until it dies. Your Imp will auto attack the target you cast Corruption on. Due to corruption's high damage and low mana cost at level 3, a good tactic is to space corruption on all low leveled creatures you see. Make sure your run from the creatures! You will gain fast experience using this method at a low level.

Level 5: You will get the ability to learn professions. It's highly recommended to get started on your professions as early as possible, especially if you choose the prototypical warlock profession, Tailoring. You can skill up Tailoring along with your level and the cloth armor you make will almost always be among the best choices available. But if you let it lag, you will be making clothes for nothing. See Starting a Warlock for more information about how different professions can benefit the warlock. It is also possible to not have any professions. It takes time away from gameplay and nets you very little XP (when it does). Some players choose not to start with a profession until very late, when resource farming becomes easier and doesn't depend as much on your ability to kill things to get to the resource.

Level 5 is when the first Wands usually become available. It is highly advisable to seek out wands for the early levels. Later on, wands may not make that much of a difference, but for now they are invaluable.

Beginner warlocks can have trouble with pulling too much Aggro. Wands are good at doing damage without pulling very much aggro. If you are going to use the wand instead of Shadow Bolt, a good starter wand is the [Lesser Magic Wand] as it has the highest damage of any wand until the low-to-mid teens. Remember to upgrade your wand regularly if you plan to keep on using this tactic. If a target is nearly dead after using Shadow Bolt or wand (less than 10% or so), you can just let the DoTs finish it off without much more effort and without pulling more aggro.

Levels 6-9

Level 7: [Drain Life]. At these lower levels, Drain Life is much more important. When it crits, you've pretty much ended the fight. This cast heals you a bit, so it's a good finishing spell to give you back some of the health you may have lost during the fight. But it's a short channel and it doesn't give you very much life back. This used to be a much more useful spell. It's causing Shadow Damage and restores a portion of your Health every 1 second, for a total of 6 seconds.

Level 8 gives you the Voidwalker (VW) and [Demon Armor]. Now you can tank as if you were running around with another player. Let the VW pull aggro, then DoT and wand all over the place. Your goal is to let the VW maintain aggro while you slowly drain the target of health. So apply your DoTs after the VW starts attacking, then finish off the enemy with a couple of damage spells or the wand. And remember to always keep your Demon Armor on.

Level 9: [Healthstone], which you can use like a health potion. You can only have one Healthstone at a time, but it's a good idea to keep that one in stock as often as possible.

If you've been playing straight through to this point, it should take you about an hour to level to 6 or 8. Level 9 seems to get much slower, but that may be just because I'm anticipating all the fun things that happen at level 10. At level 9, you should be encountering some kind of final Boss (or series of bosses) whose XP will yield enough to push you over to level 10. If not, just keep killing things until you reach level 10.

Level 10

As with other classes, level 10 is really where the warlock starts to differentiate itself. In the case of the warlock, your minion becomes more important and your DoT spells really start to take off. Other classes have DoT spells, but the warlock is a DoT specialist.

Abilities (10-19)

[Control Demon], which lets you point your VW in a direction and cause trouble; [Drain Soul], which is a channeled spell like Drain Life (but causes much more damage); and [Soulburn], which buffs other spells to make them work better. At this point, Soulburn works best with summoning a minion instantly.

Talent Trees

You can specify your talent spec at Level 10, and your gameplay up until now should give you a hint as to which talent tree to pursue.

This tree gives you more DoT versatility and efficiency. It also comes with some nifty self-healing bonuses. You should be aware, however, that you will need this healing because your DoT spells will take more time to achieve their effects, so you will generally be in fights longer. Your spells will also be strengthened and be harder to dispel. This tree gives you [Unstable Affliction], a potent DoT spell. Affliction is a good PvP/battleground spec because of its focus on crowd control. When other players think of a warlock, this is the spec they think of.
This tree boosts your survivability and focuses on the damage done by your pet. This is intended to be a tanking tree, and it comes with a tank minion, the Felguard. However, the Felguard in my opinion is not quite as good as a VW for maintaining aggro like a tank should. But you do get some nice minion abilities, and some great health improvement benefits. Demonology is a good PvE spec because of its focus on health bonuses and your minions as if they were other players helping you progress through the game.
This tree focuses on DPS through mostly fire spells. You get a fire bonus and a nifty instant companion spell to Immolate, [Conflagrate], which is available to cast on targets that are currently being burned by Immolate. This is the quick & dirty warlock tree and is good for destroying things quickly. Your DPS will be appreciated in raids/instances, and the damage done may outweigh the reduced crowd-control abilities. Your damage comes at a price, though. Your destruction spells cost a great deal of mana, so you should have replenishment materials on hand and be prepared to frequently pop Life Tap. You should be aware that almost all mages will be able to deal more damage than you at less mana cost, and they will be preferred over you in groups for that role.

So, is your gameplay focused on controlling the world around you, staying alive, or dealing damage? The choice is yours. Unlike previous patches, once you choose a tree, you will be locked into it until you're at a very high level. You can change your specialization (which costs money, more money each time you do it), and you can Dual spec (covered later), but you can only be active in one tree at a time.

Also unlike in previous patches, and unlike many other classes, the warlock’s spec is really focused on style of gameplay rather than role. All warlock spec trees can fill all of the roles that a warlock will be expected to fill. For example, Warriors can specialize in a tanking role, if they want, but a warlock will always be expected to fill those multiple roles described above. Your spec should reflect your own personal style of gaming. So even though a Destruction warlock is capable of doing more immediate damage, Affliction and Demonology warlocks can do just as much damage, if not more, in different ways.


You may wish to try out your character on PvP battlegrounds. Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin are available to queue for at this level. WG is much more popular, and queue times will generally be shorter. A warlock will become most useful in a battleground at level 14, when you learn Fear.

You can level somewhat more quickly in battlegrounds than by questing. This point is arguable and is argued often. However it is definitely true that you can level more quickly if you are on the winning side in battlegrounds, especially on battleground weekends, where there are four days of increased honor point and experience point gains. A level 10 warlock on Friday can come out a level 30 on Monday on a Warsong Gulch weekend (ymmv).

However, there are many things that will pass you by if you play exclusively in battlegrounds. The most notable might be weapon/armor drops at your level from NPCs. But you will also miss out on cloth drops for your tailoring profession, cash from quests, and reputation gains that give you some nice rewards. If you have oodles of cash, you can be exclusively a PvP player, getting all your gear from the AH, and not worrying about your reputation. It can also be so much fun that you find yourself not wanting to level that quickly and regretting the switchover from the 10-14 group to the 15-19 group.

If you do play battlegrounds, it would behoove you to acquire at least 400 honor points by level 17-18. The more the better, but you want those honor points to take with you to Silverwing Grove/Warsong Outpost to buy some really cool stuff that only becomes available at level 18.


You may hear references to being "geared". This means obtaining the pieces of armor that provide the most and most effective specs that you can get your grubby little hands on. At Level 10, this starts to become more important. If you've been leveling your Tailoring along with your character, you should be set pretty well. Finding a weapon with some good stat bonuses will help a lot also. You won't actually use the weapon, so choose one (or a set) that has the best stats. Remember that you can also wield a one-handed sword or dagger along with an off-hand item, so choose wisely among whatever you happen to find.

The stats you should be focusing on throughout the game are (in this order): Stamina, Intellect, and then anything to do with spells (Spell Crit, Spell Power, etc.). Then Critical Strike, Attack Power, and Haste. Agility adds a slight amount of crit, but Strength does nothing for you. Spirit affects health/mana regeneration, but generally is not something to seek out. Various resistances are nice, but not worth giving up other more important stats. See 'God of Death Mode' at the end of this article for more about Spell stats.

Soul Shards

The warlock-specific soul shard system starts at level 10. This is similar to the Paladin's Holy Power rune system or the Death Knight's rune system, but there is no automatic regeneration or decay. You have three soul shard slots, and you can either use them or keep them for use later. They are for exclusive use with Soulburn. If you have a soul shard available, you can pop Soulburn, and then you have 10 seconds to pop another ability that soulburn enhances, like summoning one of your minions instantly. If you don't pop that other ability, you will lose the shard.


Anyone who locks on to a warlock for attack should try to silence you in some way. Blood elves and Tauren have racial abilities designed to prevent the Alliance warlock from casting. They can take your weapon, strip you naked, and kill your minion, and you can still win a fight. But if they take away your ability to cast spells, you're about as useful as a bag of day-old sushi. Alliance races do not have racial stuns, but it's the Paladins and Rogues that really mess you up on either side. The only way to be sure of defeating you is to apply stuns or otherwise incapacitate you in some way. Fortunately, with a few execptions, most stuns and effects of this sort are either short lasting or else have to be done from close range. Exceptions include the Hunter's [Scatter Shot] (20 yards), a glyphed version of the Paladin's [Hammer of Justice] stun (15 yards), and, of course, other Warlocks' Fear.

Levels 11-19

For now, using the VW as your own personal tank is a viable PvE strategy. Start your damage out slow to allow your Voidwalker to generate some aggro, and make sure that the Voidwalker is set to auto-cast [Torment], which helps to pull. Starting out with slow-acting spells or wands can decrease your DPS and make leveling slower, so you may choose to opt for outright destruction, with your minion aiding you in the offense. Either way, you should be able make it through these levels mostly unscathed. Often, you simply start a fight with a mob (at extreme range), and your minion will chase and pick up the aggro while the mob is trying to catch up to you.

Fear (level 14)

This is arguably the Warlock's most important spell, and is the signature Warlock move. It is probably the most complained about ability of any character who is not also a warlock. To which the warlock says: tough noogies. [Fear] is your friend. Fear keeps you alive. Fear should be your opening move in PvP if you're not running for some other reason. Fear causes almost complete incapacitation in an enemy, causing him to run around randomly like a chicken with its head cut off. If you're a warlock, it's amusing.

Fear suffers from Diminishing Returns, which means you can't just keep casting Fear on the same player over and over, hoping your DoT spells will do their work eventually. The first time you Fear someone, it's usually for about 8 seconds (unmitigated), the second time it can be for 2-3 secs, and then hardly any time at all. The second Fear might be worth it depending on the situation, but after that, your casting time probably isn't worth the effect.

Affliction Warlocks can Improve the Fear spell at higher levels by causing the target to lose some running speed after the Fear effect ends.


At level 15, the Dungeon Finder becomes available. This is probably the fastest way to level up. It is possible to level two or three times in a single 60-90 minute dungeon instance, something that can take a few hours of PvE or battleground play.

In a dungeon instance, it is extremely important to be aware of what your party members are doing at any given time. Granted, your role is strictly as a damage dealer, but your particular brand of damage is very important to the party's health as a whole. Because you are a DoT specialist, it's extremely important for you to follow the tank and apply your DoTs almost immediately after the tank has engaged the enemy. Your DoTs will be most effective if applied early in a fight so they can deal as much damage as possible. If you begin while a given enemy is already at half-health, your DoTs will most likely be wasted.

Your DoTs will really shine when your party confronts Dungeon bosses. It usually takes a good long while to kill one, so all of your DoTs will have enough time to take their full effect, and those effects will be appreciated.

This is the only aspect of the game where Fear is rarely used. In Dungeons, there are often a series of small rooms or closed-in areas where a mob who is running around randomly can inadvertently alert other mobs to attack your party. Sometimes a lot of other mobs. It's not your role to alert enemies to your party's presence, so conservative use of Fear is warranted.

Soulstone (You Will Die)

There's no getting around it. You minion may pull too many mobs for it to handle. You may generate too much threat at the wrong time and get pounded on. Especially as an Affliction Warlock, you may experience the dreaded add, where a mob regenerates from nowhere right next to you. In any case, you will die at some point.

At Level 18, you learn [Soulstone]. This is a wonderful ability that no other class has at this level. It's the ability to resurrect yourself (Shamans get the [Reincarnate] at level 30, but it can only be used on themselves). If you die out in the middle of nowhere, it can take precious time away from gameplay as you scamper back from the graveyard. But if you have soulstone cast on yourself, you can resurrect right then and there (make sure you won't get attacked again right away before you rez yourself). This ability has a 15 minute cooldown once used, but the instant it becomes available again, you should Soulstone yourself once more. You should always have a Soulstone active on yourself in PvE.

In Dungeons, you should cast your Soulstone on the Healer whenever possible. The Healer can't resurrect himself (except as noted above), but he can resurrect other players, so granting this ability to him can save your party a ton of time in the event of a wipe.

Other Abilities

Available at these levels are:

  • [Bane of Agony]: A bread-and-butter DoT, usually used in conjunction with Corruption.
  • [Health Funnel]: You can heal your VW just like a regular healer does to a tank.
  • [Soul Harvest]: Non-combat self-healing spell that also regenerates your Soul Shard bank.
  • [Unending Breath]: Most useful in PvE and some Dungeons where there are multiple underwater areas. Cast this on individual party members. It won't buff the entire party at once, like many other buffs from other classes.
  • [Rain of Fire]: Channeled. Most useful in PvE when your minion has pulled aggro on multiple mobs and is apparently overpowered. Be careful with this in PvP and Dungeons as it will pull aggro on almost all pets, which will then all attack you at once. However, once the tank has aggro on multiple dungeon enemies, this is an extremely effective damage-dealing spell.
  • [Searing Pain]: High threat. Most useful in PvP for protecting other players or your minion. It can also be cast on enemies who have just been Feared. Destruction Warlocks receive some nice improvements to Searing Pain which can make it a good play regardless of its threat. But in general, there are better offensive spells you should consider before using this one.

Levels 20-29


At level 20 you get the riding skill and a Felsteed. The warlock class, along with the Paladin class (and the Worgen race), does not have to purchase a mount or the Apprentice riding skill at traditional riding trainer areas. The ability to summon this mount is purchased from a Warlock trainer for very little money in comparison to how other classes get their mounts. Do not purchase the Apprentice riding skill from a trainer, it will be wasted money. Whether or not you purchase your racial mount for your own amusement is up to you.

You will have to learn higher riding skills, but not this one. Remember that later on, you should always choose the riding trainer whose faction you have the best reputation with. The higher your reputation, the cheaper the cost of the train.

If you are a Tailor, it would be adviseable to check the auction house periodically for something called [Golden Draenite]. If you are also not an enchanter, you should also check the price of [Arcane Dust]. These items (4 draenite and 4 dusts), along with some vendor-supplied thread and Netherweave cloth are needed in order to produce a [Flying Carpet] when you level to 60 (300 Tailoring). This can be the only mount (fast ground & normal flying) you will ever need at higher levels (there are faster mounts available later on, but they are extremely expensive and it can take more time to acquire the materials than is saved by flying faster), so keep that in mind when you're comparing AH prices and mount prices. Purchase these items at any time when the price becomes reasonable and store them away for this later use. Never too early to plan!

Remember that you will also have to save up for up to 3 separate flying abilities in order to fly everywhere (Outland, Northrend, and Azeroth all require separate riding skills), which can cost upwards of 800g total depending on your reputation. But you won't have to save up for buying the actual mounts. Warlock/Paladin Tailor/Engineer are the only class/profession combinations which never need to purchase mounts from vendors. Druids can also shapeshift into their own flying mounts without a profession.

Golden Draenite is obtained from mining high-level ores, most often from Khorium veins. Maybe the best way to get make it is from Prospecting these ores: Khorium, Adamantite, Nethercite, or Fel Iron. These are all available only in Outland. So you can either make friends with a miner or a jewelcrafter or else go the AH route. I got lucky once and was able to find 4 golden Draenites for 5 gold each. These can sell for up to 80g per on some servers.

For enterprising Warlock Engineers (& Miners), the materials are a bit more complicated for your flying mount. You will need 26 Fel Iron bars, 5 Mote of Fire, and 10 Mote of Earth, along with the vendor-supplied Star Wood. You will need to craft some intermediate items. However, unlike with Tailors, it's possible to obtain all of your materials through your chosen professions, so you can choose whether or not to monitor the AH for these (motes are post-60 drops available to all players).

Abilities (20-29)

By now, you should be comfortable with the offensive rotation you have settled into. It could be: bolt, fire, DoT, DoT, fire or it could be whatever. At Level 20, things start to get a little bit more complicated and situational. You should also pay attention to the classes of spells that you have. A class is a set of spells that are cast exclusively from one antoher. That is, you can only have one spell per class on a target at any one time. You can also only have one spell active on any target at any one time.

Example: the Curse class. If you cast Curse of Weakness on a target, you can't have any other Curse on that target at the same time. If you cast another Curse on that target, the first Curse is overwritten and disappears. In addition, if you cast that same Curse of Weakness on another target, the original target loses that Curse and is applied only to the new target. Fortunately, you can spread your Curses around on different targets as long as they are different Curses.

There are three general classes that you must be aware of: Curses, Banes, and Channeled Spells. Fortunately, there are other spells that are not of a class.

  • [Bane of Doom]: a long-acting DoT spell that does a considerable amount of damage every 15 seconds. This is very situational in nature, so Bane of Agony should be the primary Bane to use unless Bane of Doom is called for. Doom is useful for the following situations:
  • On PvP rogues or druid cats. If a stealthed character is Doomed, he will be unable to maintain stealth because of the periodic the damage that Doom does. This can be maddening to stealth players.
  • On mechanical devices with high health that have not yet reached their target. Because it takes a full minute for Doom to deal all of its damage, it must be cast early on. But it's still a lot of damage.
  • On a flag carrier in a PvP capture-the-flag battleground. It usually takes a while before a flag can be captured, so a 60-second DoT is very effective.
  • On a boss, because of the amount of time required to kill them.
  • [Soul Link]. Your minion experiences some of the damage that you take instead of you. You should always have this on.
  • Succubus. This is a useful PvP Minion because of two crowd control abilities: [Seduction], which renders the target incapable of fighting (much like Fear), and [Whiplash], which is a ranged attack that pushes the target or multiple targets back a few yards and stuns them for a short time. The Succubus also deals physical damage as a ranged attack, which is the highest damage output of any other minion at this level.
  • [Eye of Kilrogg]. You can travel through an area in a virtual floating "eye" for about a minute in order to see what's there without having to encounter anything. This is generally not useful for power leveling.
  • [Drain mana]. A channelled spell that drains the target of mana and transfers it to you. This can be used effectively in PvP against healers. It can also be used on casting mobs to force them to stop casting stuff at you (or your personal tank).
  • [Curse of Tongues]. Causes target to increase the time needed to cast spells. Best used against casting healers in PvP, and self-healing mobs. Combine with Drain mana to really fluster a caster.

You may be noticing by now that many of your DoT spell effects are left unfinished by the time your target dies. There is some waste in this in that you consume a certain amount of mana to active them, but they don't do all of the damage that you expect them to. Corruption is mana-cheap compared to Bane of Agony, for example, and because Agony does most of its damage on the back end of the spell, you often don't gain all of the damage that mana is entitled to. It's like having buy a train ticket for all the way to New York when you only wanted to end up in Chicago.

It's at this stage of the game when managing mana becomes a real issue. Those shadow bolts are expensive. The Affliction Warlock may choose at this stage to abandon using Shadow Bolts altogether in favor of using casts and then Drain Soul as a finishing move. But Drain Soul is more expensive than Shadow Bolt, you may say. Ah, true. But how many Shadow Bolts do you need to finish your target off? Two? Three? Drain Soul is a quicker and more efficient kill move. Destruction warlocks get various talents that improve the time for casting, which helps, but they are still expensive.

Remember that you can use Life Tap while in combat. Brilliant.

Levels 30-39

At these levels, you really start to notice the differences in the Warlock trees. You should have 12 talents spent by level 31, giving you at least enough to choose the first spec specialization active talent. (You can theoretically choose these a little earlier, but most don't because of the bonuses offered from earlier talents.)

  • For Affliction, this is Curse of Exhaustion, a nice kiting tool and PvP annyoer.
  • For Demonology, this is Demonic Empowerment, which bestows some excellent attributes to each minion: Imp heal, VW aggro & health booster, Succubus and Felguard escape from stun effects (Felgaurd also gets additional immunity for them for 15 sec), and Dispels all harmful magic effects from a Felhunter.
  • For Destruction, this is Shadowburn, which is a finishing move that works like an instant Drain Soul, but is only usable on targets with 20% health.

In my opinion, Curse of Exhaustion is by far the most useful of these.

Dual Spec

At level 30, you can Dual Spec, which means you can have any given tree active at any one time. If you're Affliction, you can suddenly become Demonology with the click of a button (and some casting time).

  • You will lose all of your mana when you switch specs. This can be really annoying, so if you do plan to change specs, plan to pop a few life-taps and then get your health back somehow (Soul Harvest, eat something, potion, etc.). Alternatively, you can do this before you set off for somewhere and by the time you get there, you will have regenerated that mana back. Note that if you change specs during the warm-up period of a battleground, you will not lose your mana. So if you are primarily a Destruction warlock, you can switch to Affliction at the start of a battleground and not experience the pain of mana regeneration. To go back to Destruction after the battleground, however, you WILL lose it all.
  • You will lose your current minion. Again, annoying.
  • Your tree-specific abilities will automatically switch, and your action bars will switch also, so just be aware that some controls might not be where you think you left them.

Where to Go

You will start to have many different choices as to which zone to continue on to in order to keep leveling. My advice is to choose the zone where you have the best chance of leveling up your chosen gathering profession. For example, if your profession is tailoring (almost assumed if you are a warlock), go to a zone where you will encounter the most humanoids that will drop cloth.

  • Stranglethorn Vale is primarily a beast zone, but there are some trolls & humans that will yield cloth.
  • Thousand Needles is good for cloth drops,as there are many humanoids around.
  • Western Plaguelands is good because undead NPCs drop cloth also.
  • Dustwallow Marsh, although populated with many humanoids, is not a great place for cloth.
  • Desolace, too, is not an ideal place for cloth, although it does have certain specific areas, such as the Centaurs, the Burning Blade cult, and the Hatefury demons. Areas that are dense with demons are nice because you can detect them on the minimap to help you cut a path to your objective.
  • The Hinterlands has some good humanoid concentrations of trolls in certain areas.

Similarly, you will find the best herb gathering in swamps, fields, & marshes, and the best ore gathering in mountains, caves, and foothills.

If you don’t have a profession, then stop complaining about all the choices you may have and just go somewhere.

Abilities (30-39)

  • Enslave Demon: You can steal a demon from off the street and use it as you would any other minion for five minutes. After the five minutes are up, the demon escapes and becomes hostile. Not extremely useful. it can't be used on other player's minions, and there aren't many free-roaming demons around to enslave.
  • Hellfire: I never understood this one. It's a channeled area-of-effect spell that damages everyone around you... and yourself.
  • Felhunter: This is a nice anti-caster-type demon that also bites like a Hunter pet. It can remove beneficial magic effects from enemies, silence them (at later levels), and induces a mana-pool bonus in your entire party. Also has increased resistance to all magic schools. Not an exceptionally good tank, but more of a complementary companion.
  • Banish: Incapacitates demons and elementals, making them impotent, but also making them invulnerable. If there are a group of elementals or demons, you can cast this on one of them to take it out of the fight initially. It will eventually attack, but by then you should have killed off enough of the others to make it a fair fight. For extra-added elemental/demon fighting, Banish the 1st demon, then enslave the 2nd demon to make it fight the 3rd demon. Then it can fight the 1st demon when the Banish spell ends.
  • Shadow Ward: A protective bubble for hostile shadow damage. Useful against warlock- and priest-type mobs. Also very handy against PvP shadow priests. Although their Mind Flay will still slow your movement down, you will be protected from its damage. Destruction warlocks can convert this to Nether Ward with a 4th-tier talent (usually at later levels), which protects you from all magic schools.

Levels 40-49

These levels are highlighted by Death Coil, an awesome damage/health spell at 42 that you can do anywhere anytime. But around this level, the warlock seems slightly underpowered to me in comparison to the similar-level mobs and definitely in PvP. Other classes are starting to get and use their anti-warlock abilities more effectively and freely. There is perhaps no other class in the game that other classes must have specific mitigations against than the warlock. Although Priests don't get Fear Ward until the 50s, other classes have by now maxed out their talents against "effects which cause loss of control".

Because of the various healing abilities available particularly to Affliction Warlocks, there is no real reason that your Warlock character should ever die in PvE from here on out. Obviously, you're going to get smoked sometimes in PvP, but if you're aware of your situation at all times in PvE, you should be able to stay alive with little problem. This doesn't mean that you should stop using Soulstones, but it does mean that you shouldn't expect to be wasting time trying to run back from a graveyard. At around this level, graveyards become maddingly far away from the most difficult areas in a zone. Felwood is a particularly nasty run back from a graveyard, especially if you get killed in the underground tunnels there.

Abilities (40-49)

  • Dreadsteed: For this mount, you have to learn the Journeyman riding skill from a riding trainer. But you don't need to buy a separate mount if you don't want to.
  • Death Coil: This is a fun one. It deals decent damage, and causes a short disorient-type effect. And then it also HEALS you for 3x the amount of damage it did. This is often enough to replenish your health at this level. If it didn't have a 2 min cooldown, I would be using this sucker all the time.
  • Ritual of Summoning: Opens a portal to allow a couple of party members to teleport to your location. Usefulness is highly specialized and is usually intended for raids and dungeons/instances.
  • Howl of Terror: An anti-melee spell that is sort of a mini-Fear done to multiple targets within 10 yards. Affliction Warlocks can choose talents that makes this an instant spell.

Felwood has always been a great place to farm Mageweave cloth from Furbolgs, one of the scarcest types of cloth.

Levels 50-59

At this level, you should be finishing up all of your earthly quests and getting ready to go to Outland. You're going to need some serious gold to learn to ride flying mounts. If you're a tailor, you should be getting ready to make that Flying Carpet so you can use it throughout your post-50s game. Unfortunately, you're going to need materials that are only available from drops in Outland, including the Netherweave cloth. It's always faster to use the AH, but Netherweave drops are pretty abundant, especially in the first few quests from Honor Hold. You're going to need 30 of these for 6 bolts, so the choice is yours as to how to get it.

Abilities (50-59)

  • Nethermancy, one of the few passive warlock abilities, serves as an Intellect bonus.
  • Summon Infernal is an area-of-effect stun spell that does something really weird. A sort of demon called an Infernal comes out of the area and starts beating up on everyone for a short time. It will be most attracted to beating up on enemies that you have cast your Banes on, Doom and Agony. So it's a good idea to cast those beforehand or immediately after. It does a hell of a lot of damage in a crowd, and is great for PvP. But it has a 10-minute cooldown, so it can only be used every so often.
  • Curse of the Elements is a debuff that reduces the target's resistances to all damage schools except Holy and Physical. Interestingly, it lasts for five minutes. So if someone gets away from a fight, it will still be in effect. This makes it a great target for longer-acting DoTs, like Bane of Doom.
  • Soul Fire is a really awesome spell. It was more devastating before the Cataclysm patch, but it's still pretty awesome. The only problem is that it takes so long to cast. But by buffing with Soulburn first, it becomes an instant spell, which is fantastic. You may notice that Soul Fire has no cooldown. But Soulburn does, and unfortunately, it's a fairly long one. Destruction warlocks can choose talents which make Soul Fire cast more quickly.
  • Summon Doomguard is similar to Summon Infernal except it does more direct damage and does not have the stun effect.

A devastating combination is to cast the instant Soul Fire, then Death Coil. The disorient effect from Death Coil will give you some time you to cast something else, like Immolate or Searing Pain something else you may prefer, and then you can Fear and DoT and you're done.

Levels 60-69

Make your Flying Carpet and obtain your Outland flying mount skill as soon as you're able. It will vastly improve your questing efficiency and speed throughout these zones. Even though your Azeroth flying skill is available now, you don't necessarily need it if you're going to spend all your time in Outland, so you can save your cash for something else for now. In truth, because the Azeroth flying skill can only be acquired at a level where there are no more worthwhile leveling quests available (all are below 60), this is kind of a vanity skill. It can be fun and it has its limited uses because you won't have to run around the maze of your capital city (assuming you go there), but it's not strictly necessary. Cold Weather Flying for Northrend, on the other hand, should be considered necessary, so save up for that instead.

The Azeroth flying skill can be useful if you’ve put off leveling your gathering profession(s) and you now need to travel to various zones to level up your skills.

Level 69 also is when your end-game specialization ability becomes available. You know, the whole reason you specced your warlock the way you did.

Abilities (60-69)

  • Demon Leap is an interesting spell. You jump a few yards forward, causing area-of-effect damage and producing stuns. Be aware that this spell, even though it is available at level 60, it requires you to be in Metamorphosis, which is only available to Demonology warlocks at level 69.
  • Immolation Aura is another area of effect spell that surrounds you, causing DoT fire damage in a 8-yard radius. This spell, too, requires Metamorphosis but is available earlier than Metamorphosis is available. This spell does a tremendously wicked amount of damage in melee range, but it costs a hell of a lot of mana.

  • Fel Armor. This is a self-buff that dramatically increases your spell power and gives you 2% of your health every 5 seconds. You can't have Demon armor and Fel armor on at the same time, so you have to choose between the attack bonus and the defensive bonus. In general, Demon Armor is better for PvE because it helps you survive. Fel Armor is better for PvP because you're going to die anyway so you might as well do the most damage you can.
  • Incinerate is a complement spell to Immolate. If your target is currently affected by a DoT Immolate, this spell increases its damage output by around 15% or so. Other than that, it can become a bread-and-butter ball/wave-style attack. Destruction warlocks can select talents that give Incinerate a higher chance to be an instant spell.
  • Soulshatter is a threat-busting spell useful for getting PvE mobs or PvP pets away from you.
  • Ritual of Souls is a nice timesaver for PvP or raids/dungeons. Just complete the spell (w/ 2 other party members), and everyone can click to automatically receive a healthstone.

Endgame Talents

At level 69, you've spent 30 talents, so the final talent tree ability becomes available for use. It is advisable to choose it when you get this opportunity rather than spend those talent points elsewhere at this level.

  • Affliction: Haunt is really cool. Not only does it do instant damage, and then DoT damage, but when the target dies, you get the same amount of health back as the damage it did. But that's not all. Even if the target doesn't die, after the Haunt spell is done DoT'ing on the target - or even if it's dispelled - you still get the health back from the damage it did up to that point. But wait, there's more. If you cast Haunt on one target, then cast Haunt on a second target, the health bonus comes back from the 1st target for whatever damage it did to that point, and then comes back to you again from the damage it did to the 2nd target when it's done there. And now, the bonus part: it buffs all of your other Shadow DoT spells on the target, making them do more damage as well.
  • Demonology: Metamorphosis causes the warlock to effectively turn into a demon for 30 secs, and then all sorts of wacky things can happen. In addition to the abilities that become available (described above), your armor, base damage, resistance to stun/snare effects will boost and the chance that an enemy will crit you goes down. Be aware that you are now a demon, and other warlocks can now track you on their minimap and Banish you. Fortunately, they can't enslave you. Other anti-demon abilities from other classes also do not work on you as a demon. The three minute cooldown is not cool.
  • Destruction: Chaos Bolt. This pure destruction spell is awesome in PvP because, even though it belongs to the Fire school of damage, no one can have any resistance to it. Additionally, it ignores any absorption effects. Its small mana cost is offset by the relatively long casting time, however, and it does have the potential to be reflected back at you.

Levels 70-79

Starting maybe at level 68 you should be able to successfully start questing in Northrend (although there are areas in Outland that are still suitable for low-70s play). To maintain my scheme, though, I'll just call it 70. At level 70, you will be eligible to purchase some semi-epic gear from the underground PvP merchants in Dalaran, assuming you have enough honor points from your various PvP encounters. Your flying carpet can take you there nicely in a few minutes. Because they cost honor points and not gold, it's a cheap way to get geared fast. There are some nice Warlock-friendly garments available. There are also sets for level 80, and other vendors here sell BoA gear. BoA gear is nice, but is most useful if you have other characters on that same server who would benefit. Because you can mail BoA gear to any of your characters and have it be useful at their level, it really jump-starts lower-level progress.

Update: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm BoA gear and other specialty gear is now available in capital cities Stormwind/Orgrimmar. However, the Dalaran PvP stuff is still worth the trip because it's a bit better for specialty PvP gear.

Levels 80+


"God of Death Mode"

Some affliction warlocks choose to spend their time while leveling collecting +Spell Crit and +Spell Dmg over other stats. The goal is to maximize spell damage as early in the game as possible (See external links below for suitable armor). The advantage of doing so in favor of Stamina and Intellect is that it boosts the damage and healing of drain life which offsets the loss of health and mana. A skilled warlock should be able to balance out his life-tapping and life draining to keep himself over 50% in both health and mana at all times, thus rendering large amounts of either unnecessary due to having no downtime anyways. If enough damage is accumulated, then a phenomenon the original writer of this section called "God of Death Mode" appears. In GoDM the combined damage of Corruption, Curse of Agony, and the occasional Haunt is enough to kill an enemy, as a result a warlock can cast 2 instant casts while moving between targets to rapidly kill enemies. This allows the warlock to take on 4-12 enemies (depending on level and gear), while sometimes draining life on one enemy to maintain his health, (although it is not always necessary thanks to siphoned health, and later, Haunt). This is a much faster method of grinding and questing since there is no time wasted stopping to cast or on spell push back. Dark pact greatly facilitates this due to no longer having to worry about using health for mana. This form of grinding is similar to AoE Grinding of Tankadins and Frost mages, but requires more changes of focus. The cons of this style of grinding, especially at higher levels, is that it requires complete focus on several mobs and one’s own life total, and especially important in Outland and Northrend, leaves the Warlock more open to ganking than usual.

Update for Cataclysm: Curse of Agony is now [Bane of Agony], and is only available to be cast on one target at a time, so this strategy now has to be very accurately timed with other casts in order to work adequately.

Useful Macro Examples

See main article: Useful macros for warlocks

Early Imp attack

/petattack [nocombat]
/castsequence reset=target/combat Immolate, Corruption

Attack with CoA (Affliction warlocks may want to cast Corruption before CoA)

/petattack [nocombat]
/castsequence reset=target/combat Immolate, Curse of Agony, Corruption

For Drain Tanking with VW, add a 2nd macro

/cast [nochanneling:Drain Life] Drain Life

External links

Icon-time.svg This section concerns content that is out-of-date.
  • (Dead link) Warlock Build - warlock build used for fast leveling up to level 85 (updated for Cataclysm 4.0.6)
  • Blood Pact - weekly warlock feature at WoW Insider