wotlk classic warlock leveling guide

Welcome to our Warlock class leveling guide for Wrath of the Lich King Classic! Warlocks are absolute masters of demons, shadow, and fire magic, using them to drain the life right out of their opponents gradually. They instill fear wherever they go, leaving almost anything they fight hopeless to combat their deadly tricks. A warlock and their carefully calculated damage-over-time spells allow them to excel in damage over a long period of time.

Warlocks leveling efficiency and fun are exemplary, both for dungeon leveling and solo questing. The Warlock Specializations cater to each need and want, and thanks to talent dual specialization you do not have to choose between either but you can have both. This allows you to adapt your talents for your specific need where you are running a dungeon or in between groups and blitzing through the zones questing.

If you’ve never played a warlock before, then you probably won’t know the best way to combine all your interesting spells. There’s a lot to learn, but this guide will detail some gameplay tips, your path for selecting talents and learning new spells, the best rotation to use, and everything else that influences how fast you level. It may be difficult to love your warlock at first, but once you learn all your abilities and get the hang of the gameplay, you’ll have no problem getting into the groove of methodically eliminating anything that comes in your path.

This guide will go over Affliction which focuses on solo leveling with incredible efficiency. This is achieved by the fact that an Affliction Warlock never has to stop, not for mana but also not for casting. A sufficiently geared Affliction Warlock (and it doesn’t take a lot of gear) can simply run around putting Corruption and Curse of Agony on everything that moves and never runs out of mana or health.

The guide won’t only cover solo leveling, but also dungeon cleaving. Demonology Warlocks provide the best available AOE DPS of all the warlock specializations and arguable of the game whilst leveling up. On top of that, they bring a whole lot of utility to a group, there are the usual Warlock-related utilities such as Healthstones and Soulstones, but on top of that Demonology brings the new Demonic Pact. The fact that Demonology brings both big support and insane AOE DPS to a group makes them excellent for Dungeon Cleaving.

Warlock Strengths & Weaknesses

Strength

  • Incredible low cast time per kill
    Affliction Warlocks can mostly get away with only putting up Curse of Agony and Corruption on a target to kill them entirely, this means that in the same amount of time you can kill at a high-speed rate. Making kill and collect quest, which makes up 90% of World of Warcraft questing, is a breeze to complete.
  • Efficiency is off the charts
    Thanks to the talent revamp Siphon Life now provides healing through the damage Corruption deals, the fact that we will have Corruption on everything in sight means we will also be receiving a ton of healing. Health in turn gets back converted to mana through Life Tap, and such is the vicious circle of an Affliction Warlock.

Weakness

  • Slow Single Target DPS
    When faced with elites or single target mobs the number of kills per hour suffers a lot (in comparison to the multi-dotting efficient killing machine). You can wear down anything especially if it can be feared but your single target DPS tends to have a ramp-up time which makes it slower compared to most other classes.
  • High Attention Gameplay
    Whilst not rocket science, and the rotation being super simple making mistakes can result in quick deaths. The reason for this is that in most situations you are gathering up a bunch of mobs that run after you whilst your damage-over-time abilities wear them down. The result of this is if you don’t put up your DoTs on enough targets to get self-healing or get caught and slowed down you got to make the right choices to survive. Being aware of your surrounding goes a long way in this, Affliction played to the max isn’t something you will be doing semi-afk.

Strength

  • Incredible Strong AOE
    The combination of Seed of Corruption with Metamorphosis, Immolation Aura, Shadowflame, and Cleave is not something to snide at. The Demonology Warlock best plays in group content where it can do all these things at heart’s content and melt down entire packs or multiples of them throughout a dungeon.
  • Group Support
    Not only does the Demonology bring a lot of AOE damage to cleave down all the possible trash in dungeons, but it also brings a lot of support to the group. They provide the raid with self-healing through Healthstones and wipe prevention with Soulstone. On top of that, there is high utility in getting a group quickly going after a break with Sumon Ritual. But above all of this, there is Demonic Pact, the strongest caster buff that there is in-game, providing the group with a large amount of additional Spell Power.

Weakness

  • Metamorphosis Cooldown
    Whilst Demonology provides a big chunk of AOE all of the time, there is a noticeable uptick whenever we use Metamorphosis. However, this spell is on a relatively long cooldown of 3 minutes (Nemesis brings this closer to 2 minutes) making it important to coordinate the pulling efforts to get the max out of it.
  • Bad Solo Efficiency
    Whilst it is nice to be able to burst down everything each time Metamorphosis comes off cooldown, you are forced to single target kill everything in between cooldowns. Compared to the Affliction counterpart this is significantly slower for questing and solo content.

Talent, Builds, and Glyphs

image 6
Link to this talent build

Almost all talents in the Affliction Tree are good choices when it comes to leveling efficiency. The biggest difference between the leveling talent and raiding talent is that we don’t bother going into the destruction tree, as this mostly boosts our single target damage, something we won’t be doing anyway.

These talents provide you with the biggest DPS and efficiency, our main DPS spells during leveling are Curse of Agony, and Corruption, these are boosted by Improved Curse of Agony, Improved Corruption, Empowered Corruption, Amplify Curse (faster casting = more mob tagging), Siphon Life, Shadow Embrace, Shadow Mastery, Contagion, Eradication, Malediction, Deaths Embrace, Pandemic, and finally Everlasting Affliction. As you can see this covers nearly all of the talents in the Affliction Tree.

There also are a lot of utility talents that make Affliction even better to play, Grim Reach helps us pull mobs from farther, Improved Howl of Terror gives us an instant cast escape when we get overwhelmed, and Improved Felhunter doesn’t only increase our pets DPS but also the buff Fel Intelligence provides.

Followup Talents

The logical next step is to go into Demonology, this provides us with additional self-healing and survivability. Some of the best choices based on your preference are:

Glyphs

Whilst leveling up we only have access to two of our three major (level 80) and minor glyphs (level 75) slots. On top of that when leveling at launch, most of the Northrend Recipe Glyphs (aka the best ones) won’t be available yet either. See here for a list of what Glyphs are locked behind Notherend Recipes.

Major Glyphs

  • Glyph of Shadow Bolt – Pre-Patch
    Mana really isn’t a big issue in WoTLK, this is a very minor DPS gain.
  • Glyph of Corruption – Pre-Patch
    This is the same as Night Fall, not great but also not bad.
  • Glyph of Quick Decay – Release
    This glyph causes your Corruption to scale with Haste Rating, this is the best and most impactful glyph available to us Affliction Warlocks. Here is to hoping that it will be in at launch.
  • Glyph of Life Tap – Release
    This glyph is great for any Warlock spec. It provides a significant amount of spell power for little effort. Most often we have to Life Tap anyway within 40 seconds or we have to move somewhere and have no other instant casts to use.

Minor Glyphs

  • Glyph of Drain Soul
    Overall most Minor Glyphs are situational however, this one always comes in handy. We use Drain Soul liberally, whenever we have to finish off a mob. Extra Soul Shards always come in handy whether it is for Summoning, Healthstones, Soulstones, Soul Shatter, etc… Also for Soulfire, whilst we often cast it for free thanks to decimation if the buff falls of before the cast finishes it will still consume a shard (but the cast will still have been faster).
  • Glyph of Unending Breath
    Who doesn’t like to take an ice-cold bath out in the Howling Fjords?
screenshot 2022 08 30 at 23 22 41 wotlk talent calculator warcraft tavern
Link to current build

What might stand out immediately in this talent build is the fact that we put a couple of points into the Affliction Tree to get Improved Corruption and Improved Drain Soul. The reason for this is that this build is focused on dealing the maximum amount of possible AOE damage, and whilst the Demonology Warlock has a lot in its toolbelt to shed out damage to a diverse amount of targets at once, the most often used one is still Seed of Corruption, which Improved Corruption also notable improves. The high amount of damage the Demonology Warlock does, especially during Metamorphosis with Seed of Corruption also results in a lot of threat, Improved Drain Soul should help partially offset this.

Once we start looking into the Demonology Tree there isn’t a lot different from the normal raiding build. Most notable is that we want to get Nemesis to reduce the cooldown on the biggest AOE burst cooldown that we have (in other words Metamorphosis and Immolation Aura).

Follow Up Talents:

The biggest difference is the lack of Destruction Talents at level 70, this means that our single target DPS will be behind, luckily 90% of dungeon content is AOE. To make up for this we can pick up two essential talents in the Destruction Tree to close this gap somewhat.

Glyphs

Whilst leveling up we only have access to two of our three major (level 80) and minor glyphs (level 75) slots. On top of that when leveling at launch, most of the Northrend Recipe Glyphs (aka the best ones) won’t be available yet either. See here for a list of what Glyphs are locked behind Notherend Recipes.

Major Glyphs

Minor Glyphs

  • Glyph of Drain Soul
    Overall most Minor Glyphs are situational however, this one always comes in handy. We use Drain Soul liberally, whenever we have to finish off a mob. Extra Soul Shards always come in handy whether it is for Summoning, Healthstones, Soulstones, Soul Shatter, etc… Also for Soulfire, whilst we often cast it for free thanks to decimation if the buff falls of before the cast finishes it will still consume a shard (but the cast will still have been faster).
  • Glyph of Unending Breath
    Who doesn’t like to take an ice-cold bath out in the Howling Fjords?

Rotation

Affliction Warlocks specialize in withering down their enemies with powerful curses and “damage-over-time” abilities, wreaking havoc upon their targets while steadily ramping up their damage.

Affliction Warlock is top of its class (and other classes) when it comes to multi-dotting. In order to perform at the highest rate there possible, there are a lot of things to keep track of and anticipate on. However, the leveling rotation is fairly straightforward.

We want to use the least amount of damage-over-time abilities that we need to effectively kill a target. In an ideal world, we can cut it with two instant cast dots (name corruption and curse of agony), however when undergeared or facing tougher opponents we might need to throw in an extra Unstable Affliction. The biggest benefit from using only Corruption and Curse of Agony is the fact that both are instant cast and keep us on our feet, moving, going from objective to objective.

  • Send your Felhunter into combat.
  1. Corruption
  2. Curse of Agony
  3. Unstable Affliction – Only if the above is not enough to kill the target
  4. Haunt – Similar to Unstable Affliction, only this one can not be spammed on all targets.

The healing from Corruption / Siphon Life should be enough to keep you alive and allow you to Life Tap for infinite mana. In dire moments you can still utilize Drain Life to recover health if something didn’t go as planned. Howl of Terror also provides a strong cooldown for this playstyle, it allows you to do even bigger pulls or get out of a sticky situation.

Demonology Warlocks are brought for their AOE DPS to a dungeon cleave group, as such this is what we will focus on here. If you want more information on the single target rotation I highly recommend reading the Raiding Rotation guide as it covers it quite in-depth.

The reason Demonology has such great AOE is because of Immolation Aura and Shadow Cleave from Metamorphosis, our Felguard also deals a minor bit of cleave damage thanks to, well cleave.

  • Send your Felguard into combat.
  1. Be in melee range
  2. Metamorphosis + Immolation Aura + Shadow Cleave
  3. Shadowflame
  4. Seed of Corruption spam

Metamorphosis, Immolation Aura, and an initial Shadow Cleave can all be put into a single macro. Shadow Cleave after that becomes harder as it is based on your next melee swing, which normally wouldn’t come if you are chain casting spells. However, we can use it in combination with instant cast spells such as Corruption. Shadowflame has a damage over time portion whose damage does not get limited by the AoE Cap, making it a very worthwhile spell to use.

When it comes to demon charge to close the gap there are a couple of things you got to keep in mind. The charge is not a teleport/blink so you still lose out on the travel time. It also triggers a global cooldown, this means you need to be at near max distance if you use it and don’t want to be standing waiting to cast once you arrive at your target. This also means you essentially lose out on a portion of your precious time that you spent being a demon, most often Demon Charge is not recommended and you are better off closing the gap first before using Metamorphosis.

Abilities to Train

During our leveling journey, there are plenty of spells that provide significant improvements to our leveling efficiency. However, there are also dud levels that don’t provide us with anything that will significantly increase our leveling efficiency. As such it is more than fine to pick up these spells the next turnaround. Here we will outline what spells are worthwhile to go and get when you level up, and which levels you can safely skip for now.

Level 71: Corruption
Level 72: Skip
Level 73: Curse of Agony, Death Coil and Create Healthstone
Level 74: Incinerate, Fel Armor, Shadow Bolt
Level 75: Immolate, Seed of Corruption, Shadowflame (must train level!)
Level 76: Skip
Level 77: Corruption (can be skipped)
Level 78: Skip
Level 79: Curse of Agony, Create Healthstone, and Fel Armor
Level 80: Congratulations! Now go train everything you skipped before.

Advice, Tips, and Tricks

Leveling Tips

  • You’ll probably do this naturally, but try to kill enemies anywhere and everywhere you go. If you have full health and mana try pushing your class a bit further. Hopefully, you won’t be taking much damage outside of inflicting it on yourself through Life Tap, but you may run into some dangerous situations that will leave you low on both health and mana.
  • Make sure to visit the class Trainer regularly to improve your spells to then make leveling easier.
  • Unlike other classes, you will almost always want to fight 3 or more mobs at once in order to speed up your leveling experience.
  • Try to fight enemies that are the same level as you as they grant the most XP.
  • Remember to use your Hearthstone to get around quickly, if you’re under level 10 you can also use the graveyards as well to save time running back and forth.
  • Train up your First Aid, it provides you with a means of a quick recovery and helps when things go south.

Gameplay Advice

  • Make sure to always have your Warlock Specific buffs up, Fel Armor, Spellstone, and your demon buffs such as Fel Intelligence (Affliction), Soulstone, and Healthstone ready to use.
  • What makes the warlock class so unique is the use of Life Tap. This converts health into mana, which is extremely useful when you consider how much healing a warlock has. You should never be at max health when leveling because this could effectively be used for casting more spells. Balance your health and mana against each other, but never let yourself get so low that you are in danger of dying.
  • If you are ever in fear for your life, you can use Howl of Terror to send multiple enemies scurrying. This does have a 40-second cooldown but should give you a great window to get to safety and revive your demon.

 

About the Author

Zephan

I am a Classic Warlock enthusiast and in general like theorycrafting. I am the owner and admin of the best community in the whole wide world, being the Classic Warlock Discord. This is the home of some of the best Warlocks in this game and the basis for theorycrafting and figuring out the optimal plays for us warlocks. My aim is to make sure this up-to-date information is out there everywhere to be found and to give back to the community.
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Sanoj
Sanoj
26 days ago

Superb guide, thanks! What demon should one use as affliction?

Whistles
Whistles
24 days ago

What race should the warlock be made as?

DanielD
DanielD(@danield)
Admin
Reply to  Whistles
24 days ago

Depends on your spec and on if you’re Alliance or Horde! The Classes menu at the top of the page has multiple Warlock guides you can take a look at — there is a Best Races section for each of our Warlock spec guides!

Connor
Connor
21 days ago

Hello

What spec would you recommend in WoTLK classic if I am leveling with a friend? We are mostly doing quests with the odd dungeon here and there.

Connor
Connor
Reply to  Connor
21 days ago

I can’t decide between affliction or demo. Guessing destruction isn’t great for leveling?

Zarrax
Zarrax
19 days ago

Hello,

Im wondering why I cant see in Affli rotation Immolate? It is not worth to use it as another DoT?

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