Demonology Warlock in Shadowlands – DPS Strengths, Best Covenants, Soulbinds and Legendaries

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Demonology Warlock in Shadowlands - DPS Strengths, Best Covenants, Soulbinds and Legendaries



Shadowlands launches on November 23rd / 24th and all classes will be getting new toys to play with — from Covenant abilities, to Conduits and returning Legendary effects! This article, written by Not, will provide details on the current state of Demonology Warlock in Shadowlands, to help you to prepare for the upcoming expansion!

Introduction

There has been a handful of changes done to Demonology since the first State of Demonology article. With Beta coming to a close sooner than later here is where things have started to shake out.

About the Author

I am known around these parts of the internet by my in-game name of Not. I have been playing a Warlock since the start of Cataclysm and have not really deviated from it since. Over the years I became more involved in theorycrafting to the point of developing and maintaining a resource dedicated to all Warlocks, Lock One Stop Shop.

You can catch me online on Twitter, Twitch, and Youtube.

Check out all our Shadowlands Launch Opinion articles by our Class Writers and members of the community! Click on any of the colored specs below to see what articles we’ve released so far.
These guides were meant to give you a preview of what’s to come in the expansion, but don’t worry — our full Shadowlands Class Guides will be updated soon!

What has Changed for Demonology Warlock?

I’m only going to touch base on Demonology specific changes and not general Warlock changes (except for pet summoning) since the previous State of article.

There was not too much additional balancing done for Demonology, which is nice on one hand, but also shows that there is likely (not guaranteed) going to be a buff to our ‘hidden’ damage aura for all spells. Demonology is definitely the weakest overall spec of the three but is not unplayable, much like most of BfA.

Talent builds for for Demonology Warlock

There are actually a multitude of specs you can play for Demonology based on what legendary and/or conduits you are using, which is nice to have the variety.

There is no particular conduit or legendary you have to play, but Balespider’s Burning Core is recommended. If you are playing as a Necrolord you would take Power Siphon in the level 25 row.

No particular legendary/conduit is required for this build, you can play any option and do fine.

Playing this build requires you to use Carnivorous Stalkers for maximum value of From the Shadows.
There are a number of legendaries you can use in this build including; Wilfred’s Sigil of Superior Summoning, Relic of Demonic Synergy, Forces of the Horned Nightmare and Implosive Potential.

No particular legendary/conduit is required for this build, you can play any option and do fine.

Leveling perks

  • Level 52: Fear – reduces spell pushback, mostly only useful in PvP.
  • Level 54: Call Dreadstalkers – gives your Dreadstalkers a secondary ‘charge’ effect when swapping targets.
  • Level 56: Fel Firebolt – increases the number of casts from 5 to 6.
  • Level 58: Summon Demonic Tyrant – generates 5 soul shards when Demonic Tyrant is cast.

Covenant abilities for Demonology Warlock

Kyrian

Scouring Tithe: A consistent source of damage with an interesting secondary effect that either refreshes its cooldown (if expired when mob is still alive) or gives you 5 shards (on mob death). Generally speaking, this is just a maintenance DoT with a little bit of implication for AoE since you fully refresh your shard pool.

Summon Steward: Fairly underwhelming given you already have a Healthstone all the time but you do gain another health potion, which situationally, can be OK.

Soul Tithe: Increases the damage of your demons by 10% for 10s if the target dies with Scouring Tithe still on it. Our demons are still a fairly significant source of damage overall but compared to other conduits, this is not a very appealing option.

Necrolord

Decimating Bolt: An execute type ability that will likely be the go-to for raiding given the power of execute in general. The change to amplifying Demonbolt enables you to stack multiple sources of damage amplification for your Demonbolt, which is quite strong single target.

Fleshcraft: While not all too exciting to have yet another absorb (on a 4s channel) when you’re already basking in damage reduction and shields is mostly underwhelming but could prove useful if you’re able to get the extra absorb from channeling near a corpse. There are various Soulbind traits that modify this ability as well:

  • Volatile Solvent (Marileth) gives you various buffs based on type of monster you channel Fleshcraft next to.
  • Ultimate Form (Marileth) provides crowd control immunity while you’re channeling Fleshcraft.
  • Lead by Example (Emeni) increases your main stat whenever you channel Fleshcraft.
  • Emeni’s Ambulatory Flesh (Emeni) allows you to move while channeling Fleshcraft, probably the most powerful of any of these buffs.
  • Emeni’s Magnificent Skin (Emeni) increases your max health by 5% for 30s after Fleshcraft is used.
  • Resourceful Fleshcrafting (Heirmir) reduces Fleshcraft cooldown after defeating an enemy.

Fatal Decimation: The overall damage of Decimating Bolt is not too significant, this conduit is not overly useful.

Night Fae

Soul Rot: Could be interesting to give yourself a different form of AoE outside of Implosion, however you likely will not ever have a use for the secondary ability with Drain Life outside of questing.

Soulshape: Not too useful given will almost always have Burning Rush, Demonic Gateway and Demonic Circle available to you. Having a pseudo blink could be nice however.

Soul Eater: While an OK buff to Soul Rot, it’s very unlikely you would ever use this conduit as its overall power is quite low compared to others.

Venthyr

Impending Catastrophe: This ability is interesting because of it providing you with a (smart casted; Tongues for casters, Weakness for melee) curse between Weakness or Tongues while doing decent damage in both travel and explosion.

Door of Shadows: Another teleport with a short cast time could prove very useful in M+ to enable skips or to be used to avoid raid mechanics however suffers from the same thing as Soulshape where it shares with a lot the Warlock mobility toolkit.

Catastrophic Origin: Buffing the weakest Covenant ability by 50% is unfortunately not enough for this conduit to matter.

Picking a Covenant

Overall I think all the covenant abilities have their place for Demonology outside of possibly Venthyr. The best overall covenant for Warlock in general is Night Fae only primarily due to the fact that you will get 2 early potency conduits and a very strong final trait with Dreamweaver. However, the damage amplification to Demonbolt from Necrolord is not insignificant, especially for raiding however the Soulbinds available to you are not nearly as strong as Night Fae.

Best Soulbinds for Demonology Warlock

Kyrian

The best soulbind for Kyrian Warlocks will be Pelagos. The best trait route to follow is as below:

The strength of Pelagos is unfortunately something you cannot ignore. With Combat Meditation and Let Go of the Past giving strong bonuses to secondary stats. Combat Meditation provides an easyily maintained flat mastery buff by picking up the spawned orbs while Let Go of the Past gives you 3% versatility that is fairly easy to maintain given the variety of spells Demonology casts.

The other two Soulbind options for Kyrian are simply not as strong due to the tradeoff of a second powerful trait for your second potency conduit. Kleia offers you Valiant Strikes and Pointed Courage (but you lose a potency conduit) and Mikanikos offers you Bron’s Call to Action and Hammer of Genesis (again losing a potency conduit). The secondary damage traits would be quite good options if you didn’t have to give up your second potency conduit for it.

Necrolord

There are two options for you to go with if you choose Necrolord, both however will not unlock the second potency conduit until after Mythic Castle Nathria is open. Enemi will become very strong later into gearing when you have more stats to scale. Heirmir will offer you a similar route to your second potency conduit and a solid passive stat bonus.

Night Fae

If you choose to go Night Fae there is only one tree in particular that stands out, predominantly due to the final trait available in the tree along with early (actually the earliest) access to two potency conduits.

The final trait for Dreamweaver, Field of Blossoms has the best synergy for Demonology’s toolkit giving you 12% haste every minute and has the potential to outscale everything else given how strong haste is for us. You also do get access to a cheap death in the way of Podtender.

Niya and Korayn also have some interesting traits but shouldn’t overpower Dreamweaver long term.

Demonology Warlock Conduits

Potency Conduits

Conduit Description Raid verdict Mythic+ Verdict
Borne of Blood While there are some talent builds that revolve around Demonbolt and gaining access to more Demonic Core is nice this conduit is simply low on the totem pole of power compared to others available to us. Decent DPS gain Decent DPS gain
Carnivorous Stalkers Pairs very nicely with Dreadlash and From the Shadows in AoE situations and is actually a build enabler for Mythic+. Minor DPS gain Major DPS gain
Fel Commando A strong conduit overall since Felguard tends to be a solid source of our damage output. Should be considered the most well rounded option. Major DPS gain Major DPS gain
Tyrant’s Soul Having further access to increased demon damage even after your Summon Demonic Tyrant expires is strong overall and also provides us with a predictable source of another stack of Demonic Core Decent DPS gain Decent DPS gain
Soul Tithe Having the option/ability to further stack damage onto your demons is a very appealing trait, especially if you ensuring you can line Scouring Tithe alongside with Summon Demonic Tyrant. Major DPS gain Moderate DPS gain
Catastrophic Origin Making your curses last longer is not too impactful. No DPS gain
Fatal Decimation A simple damage amplifier to Decimating Bolt, could enable the ability to be a reliable source of target swapping at later ranks. Moderate DPS gain Moderate DPS gain
Soul Eater Increasing the radius of this Soul Rot is not great and the damage increase is fairly small compared to other conduits. Moderate DPS gain Moderate DPS gain

Finesse Conduits

Conduit Description Raid verdict Mythic+ Verdict
Demonic Momentum Is not too strong since in most cases using Demonic Circle: Teleport will be enough movement. Mediocre at best
Fel Celerity Easily the most useful Finesse conduit available to us since summoning your pet after a wipe/death while Fel Domination is painful. Very Useful
Shade of Terror Mostly useless for all content outside of soloing. Not useful
Kilrogg’s Cunning Extremely situational and in most cases will be useless outside of flavour. You aren’t going to cast this in combat and out of combat you can simply go to where you want your Demonic Circle placed. Not useful

Endurance Conduits

Conduit Description Raid verdict Mythic+ Verdict
Accrued Vitality Largely only useful for solo content. Awful Mildly OK
Diabolic Bloodstone Largely the most useful Endurance conduit due to healthstones being used often in both situations and having additional healing available to you through Leech is never bad. Good all rounder
Resolute Barrier Reducing our major source of damage reduction is good but it being locked behind a 30 second cooldown makes it lose some appeal. Situational

Picking Conduits

With sims not fully completed for Warlock this is more of a determination on how these play moreso than what is definitively best based on the numbers.

For single target you should be aiming to take:

  • Fel Commando is the best overall conduit available for single target.
  • Borne of Blood smoothens out the flow of Demonic Core generation and gives you more overall charges for movement, when needed.
  • Tyrant’s Soul should be interchanged with Borne of Blood for longer burst windows as most times after your Demonic Tyrant has expired you’ll be looking at a significant additional uptime of the already extended demons extending your damage window further.

For multi target you should be aiming to take:

  • Fel Commando is still the best overall conduit available for single target.
  • Borne of Blood smoothens out the flow of Demonic Core generation and gives you more overall charges for movement, when needed, the additional Soul Shard generation it provides is a big boon to your overal Wild Imp count throughout an AoE scenario, leading to more Implosions.
  • Carnivorous Stalkers should be interchanged with Borne of Blood when playing the Dog build, since additional Dreadbite will provide higher uptime of From the Shadows.

Demonology Warlock Legendaries

General Warlock Legendary Powers

Demonology Warlock Legendary Powers

Legendary Description Raid verdict Mythic+ verdict
Implosive Potential Increases haste by 1% per Wild Imp imploded (single target) or by 5% per Wild Imp (3+ targets). There is no cap to how much bonus haste this can provide but does overwrite the buff if a lesser bonus would be applied; ie if you have a 30% haste increase then implode a set of 3 Wild Imps for 15% bonus, the longer duration buff takes over (15% in this example). Not so great Very Good
Grim Inquisitor’s Dread Calling Increases the damage of your next Call Dreadstalkers for each Soul Shard spent. A decent legendary as it especially gives you a second mini cooldown after your Demonic Tyrant is over (simply due to the extra shards spent during Tyrant). Good Mediocre
Forces of the Horned Nightmare A 15% chance to recast Hand of Gul’dan. It mirrors the copied spell exactly and even at the 15% chance to proc makes for a good set and forget option. Good Very Good
Balespider’s Burning Core Increases the damge of your Demonbolt by up to 32% for 15s. Excellent Good

Picking a Legendary

For raiding you are going to be focused on Balespider’s Burning Core or Relic of Demonic Synergy. Balespider’s Burning Core gives you a consistent buff to your Demonbolt and your primary spec for raiding will be mostly revolved around its damage. Relic of Demonic Synergy is simply a strong overall legendary that covers your bases for single target and for cleave fights in a balanced fashion.

In Mythic+ however you have a lot of options to choose from that all offer different things to your toolkit. Forces of the Horned Nightmare offers a no fuss source of damage that retains its power in both single target and AoE, Implosive Potential offers significant bonuses for AoE due to the haste bonus giving you a lot of additional soul shard generation, Wilfred’s Sigil of Superior Summoning offers you a near 60s cooldown which pairs nicely with the pace of most dungeons and pulls within the and Relic of Demonic Synergy being once again a strong overall option for single target and cleave.

Conclusion

While we may not have seen a lot of major changes to the spec between Battle for Azeroth and Shadowlands the changes we did see were impactful and, at least in the case of the interrupt, something we have been begging for since forever. Our toolkit as a Warlock hasn’t changed and for the most part neither has our damage profile. We aren’t particularly strong in either single target or AoE but provide a consistent source of both, which in the world of RNG is a good thing.

The caveat of playing Demonology for raiding and Mythic+ is that, while you do have a mix of niches, you don’t excel at any one in particular. In raids there are very few pure single target, lower movement fights that you can excel in as most encounters have adds split off from the main boss or adds that need to be snap AoE’d. In Mythic+ we fall into the same category in most cases; for lower keys our damage is too rampy and everything dies to the classes that have burst AoE. In higher keys we have the sustain but lack major utility that you would simply rather bring another class to fulfill.

There is a lot to look forward to for Demonology going into Shadowlands especially since it offers Warlocks as a whole some of the more interesting talent and covenant choices.

We do however have to ask the question; is it better to be a jack of all trades or a master of one?





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