Warlock Leveling Guide

Warlock Leveling Guide
  • Author: Luxrah
  • Date: May 19, 2024
  • Updated: May 27, 2024
  • Expansion: Cataclysm

Warlocks are a pure DPS class with three different trees devoted to dealing damage. In Cataclysm, all three specializations are viable for leveling. Demonology is the most traditional solo specialization with its high survivability thanks to its emphasis on pet utility. Destruction provides strong, bursty single-target damage that is great for quickly burning through enemies both in dungeons and in the open world. And Affliction allows you to run around putting DoTs on everything in sight, chain-pulling and kiting your way to the level cap.

In this guide, we’ll go over helpful tips, where to spend your talent points, what to look for when gearing, effective use of your abilities, and other general advice to make the leveling process as smooth and easy as possible!


  • Three viable leveling specializations to choose from
  • Good damage, with each build having its own strengths
  • Pets bring strong utility and survivability
  • Able to chain pull thanks to abilities that restore mana and siphon health


  • Pets add a layer of complexity and micromanagement
  • Heavy reliance on pet for defense

General Leveling Tips

The best approach to leveling will depend upon which specialization you choose. Demonology Warlocks will do well as solo questers thanks to the assistance of their pet. Destruction Warlocks can do fine in the open world as well, but will feel great in dungeons where they can focus on dealing damage and not controlling mobs. Affliction Warlocks strike a balance between both and will feel best when you can chain pull enemies and run around while your DoTs tick.

As far as pets go, Affliction Warlocks will utilize a Felhunter, Demonology Warlocks will use their Felguard, and Destruction Warlocks will stick with their Imp.

Stat Priority

  • Intellect
  • Haste
  • Critical Strike
  • Mastery



Affliction relies on spreading their DoTs around and then finishing off enemies with Shadow Bolt and Drain Soul.

  1. Cast Haunt on your primary target and ensure that your pet is attacking the target.
  2. Cast Unstable Affliction on your primary target.
  3. Cast Corruption on your primary target and any additional targets you are pulling.
  4. Cast Bane of Agony on all of your targets.
  5. Cast Soul Swap on your primary target.
  6. Cast Soul Swap: Exhale on another target, ideally a target that doesn’t have your DoTs yet or on which they have almost expired.
  7. Cast Drain Soul if your target is below 25% health.
  8. Cast Shadow Bolt otherwise.


Demonology relies on its pet damage along with a fairly simple rotation of DoTs and other spells.

  1. Cast Immolate on all targets and ensure that your pet is attacking something.
  2. Cast Corruption on all of your targets.
  3. Cast Bane of Agony on all of your targets.
  4. Cast Hand of Gul’dan on a target, ideally one that is clumped with other enemies.
  5. Cast Soul Fire if your target is below 25% health.
  6. Cast Shadow Bolt if you get a Shadow Trance proc.
  7. Cast Incinerate otherwise.


Destruction focuses on quickly burning down one enemy at a time with powerful DoTs and single-target spells.

  1. Cast Soul Fire once you have the Improved Soul Fire talent to get the buff, and every time you get an Empowered Imp proc.
  2. Cast Immolate to apply/maintain the DoT on your target.
  3. Cast Conflagrate on cooldown.
  4. Cast Chaos Bolt on cooldown.
  5. Cast Corruption to apply/maintain the DoT on your target.
  6. Cast Shadowburn if it will kill the target.
  7. Cast Incinerate otherwise.



cataclysm warlock leveling affliction build
cataclysm warlock leveling affliction build order

Aside from Dark Arts, most of the talents we took in the Demonology tree are optional and could be moved around. We skipped Jinx and Curse of Exhaustion, but both could be useful for leveling: Jinx if you are fighting tougher enemies and find that it’s worth casting Curse of the Elements, or Curse of Exhaustion if you want another tool to help you kite.


cataclysm warlock leveling demonology build
cataclysm warlock leveling demonology build order

The build above will boost your damage and your pet’s damage and while there is some wiggle room (particularly in the lower tiers of the Demonology tree), there isn’t much else that is worth taking with those points.


cataclysm warlock leveling destruction build
cataclysm warlock leveling destruction build order

Beyond the talents pictured in the build above, you might consider dropping points from Backlash in order to get Nether Protection if you find yourself taking more spell damage than physical damage. You can also keep both by dropping Improved Life Tap.






  • Glyph of Imp
    Since you’ll be relying on your Imp as a Destruction Warlock, this is a nice buff to your damage output.
  • Glyph of Immolate
    A solid buff to Immolate, your most important DoT.



  • Glyph of Life Tap
    This glyph effectively lets you double the mana you can get through Life Tap with a single global cooldown.
  • Glyph of Soul Swap
    Makes Soul Swap much more useful since it will allow you to copy rather than transfer your DoTs to the second target.





Warlocks are able to use Wands, Staves, Daggers, and One-handed Swords. You should always try to use whichever weapon gives you the best stats, combining a one-handed sword or dagger with an off-hand item or using a staff in both hands.

Weapon upgrades will often be the biggest damage increase while leveling. Weapons are your primary source of Spell Power, and will be a big boost every time you upgrade.

Warlocks are only able to use Cloth armor. This means you will never be particularly great at taking physical damage, but you have a few spells you can use to mitigate or avoid physical damage entirely! Play smart and your armor will rarely be a hindrance.


Your professions won’t really affect the leveling process much, but if you want some useful passive bonuses, you can go with gathering professions like Herbalism or Skinning. These will be easy to keep up with while leveling and also offer the best gold-making potential. You can also opt to start working on any crafting professions that you want to use at endgame.

Useful Macros

There aren’t many super important macros for leveling, but there are some that are nice to have.

Spammable Channeled Spells

This makes it so that channeled spells can be spammed without recasting them mid-channel. This prevents unnecessary refreshing / mana wasting. This can work for any channeled spell!

#showtooltip Drain Life
/cast [nochanneling:Drain Life] Drain Life


About the Author


I've been playing World of Warcraft on and off since vanilla, usually as a healer or caster and often as a guild leader. I play both retail and classic. I also love RPGs, sandboxes, and sims.
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