This is a follow up to the State of Havoc Demon Hunter in Shadowlands Beta posted back in July, a lot has changed in 4 months and we will look at that these changes mean and the strong and weak points for Havoc Demon Hunters in Shadowlands.
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 Havoc Demon Hunter?
For a full list of changes going from 8.3 into 9.0 and Shadowlands view this great article. Shadowlands Demon Hunter Class Changes.
For this article we will only focus on the more meaningful that occurred since our previous article.
Notable Changes Since Last Article
- All 4 different Covenants received numerical alterations bringing them closer together.
- Some tuning has been done to various talents and spells.
- Unbound Chaos was changed… AGAIN.
On one hand, removing the Inner Demon from the talent is great as the landing has been historically buggy and highly dependent on the player latency. On the other hand, the Inner Demon offered an iconic feel and visual to this talent. Overall I think for the greater good, this is a great change apart from the 50% nerf that came with this change in order to put the talent in line with the other two talent on the same row.
Glaive Tempest now works as intended.
Fodder to the Flame – Has just been reworked.
- Not exactly the most insane rework but it makes the ability stronger.
Leveling Perks in Shadowlands
Every two levels leveled in Shadowlands will grant you a new passive effect.
- Level 52 – Fel Rush.
A nice damage boost to Fel Rush, nothing extraordinary but great nontheless.
Level 54 – Metamorphosis.
- The Chaotic Transformation azerite trait as a passive. This somewhat restrict our usage of Metamorphosis around min/maxing the effect of this passive which is generally great but on some niche encounter can also be very limiting on how and when we use our 4 minute cooldown. Generally a good passive to have.
Level 56 – Chaos Strike.
- Havoc pure single target damage is slightly below average in Shadowlands and this passive is a very welcome one.
Level 58 – Eye Beam.
- We commented on the previous article about the lost of Furious Gaze and what it meant for the spec going forward and Blizzard heard us. Furious Gaze passive is extremely powerful and benefits our cooldown based spells greatly. What is even better is that in Shadowlands Furious gaze is haste % and not haste rating like it was in BFA, which means that the secondary stat DR will not affect this powerful passive.
Gameplay Repercussions from the Recent Changes
Not much of the recent changes had major effects on the playstyle of Havoc Demon Hunter. Glaive Tempest is now the talent of choice on the level 30 row, Demonic remain dominant but Momentum has some niche use. Fel Barrage is still extremely underpowered and is likely to gather dust all expansion baring some very big tuning. None of the new conduits or Legendary add anything noteworthy to our toolkit beside damage.
Each zone of the Shadowlands is controlled by one of four powerful groups: the Kyrian of Bastion, the Necrolord of Maldraxxus, the Night Fae of Ardenweald and the Venthyr of Revendreth. We will experience a preview of each covenant as we level through their respective zones and will be required to make a heavy choice at max level and choose one covenant to join. Choose wisely. Changing Covenants is not difficult, but returning to a previously abandoned Covenant will be very difficult.
You can read the full overview of the Covenants Here.
- Elysian Decree is quite nice ability to use. The sigil being AoE and on a short cooldown gives it a good niche that emphasize one of Havoc’s strength. The 3 lesser soul fragments are also nice to have access to and synergize well with Demonic Appetite granting you basically 90 fury every time you use the spell.
- Repeat Decree – This conduit generates a second sigil in the same spot that deals a portion of the damage. Unfortunately it doesn’t also generate extra souls. Still, it’s a respectable increase to one of our most powerful AoE damage abilities.
- Summon Steward This ability offered strong utility in M+ due to the amount of debuff it could cleanse from the player but now that Nathria testing has concluded, this signature looks even better. Most encounters in the raid involve bleeds which can be cleansed from the potion.
- Fodder to the Flame – Has just been reworked, again. Not exactly the most insane rework but it makes the ability stronger. The newly buffed Empowered Demon Soul is also a significant buff for us on a 2 minute cooldown which means that every other use will also by synced up with Metamorphosis for big gains.
- Brooding Pool – This extends the duration of the damage buff from absorbing an Empowered Demon Soul. It’s a strong choice if playing Necrolord, as it can provide a significant uptime increase to a 25% bonus.
- Fleshcraft The shield can be quite powerful in niche situations which seems to be the theme for Signature abilities. We can all think of / remember encounters where having this shield would’ve been a life saver and I don’t think Shadowlands will be any different.
- The Hunt has received a nice buff recently making it more competitive with the other covenant ability. The dot is still extremely weird to apply with 100% confidence as mob hitbox are very often deceptive in their size on top of a charge ability. The cast time makes this ability extremely awkward to use as well to say the least.
- Sinful Brand. is the highest damage covenant ability for us. The downside compared to the Kyrian ability is that Sinful Brand is only single target outside of when you Metamorphosis every 4 minutes and apply Sinful Brand on all targets hit by Meta.
- Door of Shadows A teleport can be situationally nice however for the same reasons the Night Fae signature was pretty useless outside of these moments for us.
At the moment, there are only two covenant that seems viable, the Venthyr and the Kyrian. These Covenant offers us not only the best two Ability but also the best two signatures. Venthyr has slightly better Soulbind traits and has a more single target damage focused ability while Kyrian has slightly better conduits available early on for progression and has a more AoE / Cleave oriented ability.
Best Conduits and Soulbinds for Havoc Demon Hunter
- Relentless Onslaught – For Raiding. This conduit will give us a great single target damage bonus which is the desired type of damage for most raiding encounters.
- Growing Inferno – For M+. A very solid buff to Immolation Aura in AoE and cleave making our sustained DPS noticeably stronger.
- If your soulbind tree allow for two Potency conduit, use the two above in all situations. They are simply that good
- Finesse – Finesse conduits do not provide great benefits for Havoc so if we pick them we will use them in this order.
- Felfire Haste – a nice movement speed buff.
- Ravenous Consumption – situationally nice but enemies having multiple buffs to purge is a rare occurrence, strong in PVP however.
- Viscous Ink – a flat magic damage reduction? Most damage taken from encounters is magic. This conduit is extremely strong in all content of the game.
- Fel Defender – another strong defensive conduit on a short cooldown ability. This is great all around.
- Shattered Restoration – especially strong when playing Demonic Appetite due to the extra orbs spawned, so some niche uses.
Best Soulbinds for Havoc Demon Hunter
As mentioned previously, the Venthyr and the Kyrian are our best options for Covenant, so we will focus on them for Soulbinds.
Nadjia offers several very powerful traits and is the best Soulbind for Havoc Demon Hunters.
- Thrill Seeker is a powerful haste buff with decent uptime in Raid, and very good uptime in Mythic+.
- Agent of Chaos is a solid interrupt ability, with many possible uses in Mythic+.
- Exacting Preparation is just a permanent buff to consumables, which is always good.
- Dauntless Duelist is a solid passive, equivalent to 3% Versatility. Unfortunately it requires a second Finesse conduit, putting it behind some others.
Pelagos is pretty weak soulbind for us. The original Let Go of the Past was extremely strong for us but since the change that changed the versatility buff to a magic damage reduction Pelagos does not offer much for us Havoc Demon Hunters. Having two Potency conduit however makes Pelagos still a strong choice.
If you were to use Pelagos, I’d recommend the following tree:
Legendaries are back and we have a lot to pick from, it seems. In reality only a few provide powerful enough effect to be utilized.
- Demon Hunter Legendaries
- Collective Anguish – This power is very strong. Provides very strong AoE burst and reliable single target damage also.
- Darkest Hour – 0 throughput benefits, RNG defensive as darkness does not guarantee any damage being prevented to begin with… very weak.
- Darkglare Boon – This legendary provides a powerful buff… when it procs… With a 20% chance to proc the delta between good and bad pulls is very large. Very up or down feeling with this legendary. Numerically it is strong but in practice, reliable damage is almost always preferable.
- Fel Bombardment – This legendary synergize well with both Master of the Glaive and Momentum. However with recent changes to how the legendary works, it is quite lack luster to use. The extra glaives are very buggy, but at least they don’t pull extra adds anymore. The damage provided by this legendary is strong in all situations, but unfortunately it is still bugged and does not throw the correct amount of glaives resulting in a lot of damage lost.
- Havoc Demon Hunter Legendaries
- Burning Wound – Is a decent legendary on AoE and mostly for M+. It requires a lot of tab targeting to fully utilize but if you can maintain the debuff on multiple enemies the damage ramps up quickly.
- Chaos Theory – Recently buffed and now a strong legendary for single target when using First Blood. There is some RNG involved in proccing this but the bonus it provides is very very strong.
- Darker Nature – Very strong bonus but the proc condition for this legendary are quite hard to meet. Holding Eye Beam for the end of a pull is very very bad as well and sniping killing blow isn’t the easiest task to achieve.
- Erratic Fel Core At first glance this looks amazing paired with Momentum but in reality the extra time we spend in Momentum is basically wasted as we do not currently have the resource generation to empower the added momentum uptime. Later in the expansion this legendary power will gain a lot of value.
- Neutral Legendaries
- Echo of Eonar – Was weak, buffed, and then nerfed. It has too low of a proc rate to be useful and the effect itself isn’t even particularly powerful despite being random.
- Judgment of the Arbiter – Same as every other legendary in this category. It does some damage but weak.
- Maw Rattle – Simply useless outside Torghast.
- Norgannon’s Sagacity – We aren’t casters. Useless.
- Sephuz’s Proclamation – This is decent in Mythic+ due to the high uptime on interrupts and stuns. It’s a decent option but not quite as strong as others.
- Stable Phantasma Lure – Something for world content? Probably unnecessary.
- Third Eye of the Jailer – Nice buff, but useless in PVE or PVP.
- Vitality Sacrifice – Used to be good for Vengeance but for Havoc, pretty useless once again.
Choosing a Legendary
Concerns Going Forward
Since the inception of the spec in Legion Havoc has always performed pretty well in the global balance of the game and it will most likely continue to do so. However this does not mean that there aren’t major issues with the spec. The performance of a spec does not correlate to how engaging / fun it is to play. Havoc suffers a lot from this. When stripped down to the core spec spells the Havoc toolkit is extremely minimal and weak. Synergies between talents and abilities are far and between. The recent beta patches brought some good changes, Eye Beam mainly, but also failed to fix our weaker talents. Havoc has always been a spec that scaled well with systems provided and having strong interactions with these systems but in Shadowlands the power growth from these power is severely weaker than in Legion and in BFA and so far the tuning of Havoc has not been adjusted to compensate. The spec still lacks an interesting proc to react to and play around. Chaos Brand saves the day again. We make our Warlocks and Mages overlord happy and keep our raid spot, for now.