Blood Pact: Newbie tips for demonologists

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Blood Pact: Newbie tips for demonologists
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. Today, Megan O'Neill visits the last warlock spec for Cataclysm newbies and rerollers, before diving back into Mists of Pandaria speculation.

One torment ended as I finally received my beta invite. Then another started as I began to get error #132 over and over again. Whether it's my old toaster of a laptop's problem or maybe beta is just really unstable right now ... you and I are still stuck with old Cataclysm warlockery. So let's finish out the newbie tips for those who are reacquainting themselves with demonology before Mists of Pandaria.

As a class with all three specs dedicated to DPS, warlocks always have one spec that serves up first in simulations. In the standard Patchwerk-style, no-holds-barred contest, who's king of the lab? It's a question I've been asked recently by some dissatisfied moonkin in my guild who are considering turning to the dark side. (After all, everyone knows we have cookies!)

Currently, demonology wins ... but not by much, I'd point out. Even Elitist Jerks mentions that demo's 2k DPS lead is only with near-perfect conditions -- conditions that rarely happen in raiding. Great conditions for demo include standing in melee range and not having to move a whole lot. Fights with needs of stacking up and great AoE like heroic Yor'sahj and the almost-Patchwerk Ultraxion are where demonology shines.

King of AoE

Demonology has been and still is the king of AoE when it comes to flinging fel things at mobs. Part of this is because the demonology-exclusive pet, the Felguard, is the best warlock pet at AoE DPS. With a Felstorm firmly spinning within a warped purple ground swirl, things die quickly.

As a demonology warlock, you also get a spec-only perk to aid you in your AoE. While being on fire will be a destruction effect come Mists, it's the mark of a demonology warlock now in Cataclysm. A talented Hellfire is useable while moving and Immolation Aura is available to those in Metamorphosis form.

As always, being in melee range is great for the use and abuse of Shadowflame. The conal AoE spell is a boost to all warlock specs but most especially to demonology. While demonology doesn't benefit as much from multiDoTing like affliction and destruction do, demo 'locks can still do it. Just use Immolate, Corruption, and Bane of Agony.

King of ... pet-twisting?

You would think that the spell located on the spec summary would be important to that spec, right? After all, Conflagrate is important to destro 'locks, and so is Unstable Affliction to aff 'locks. Clearly, the felguard is demonology's chosen pet!

Um. Well ... sort of.

You see, the highest single-target pet DPS belongs to the Felhunter, not the Felguard. Even with all that demon-damage boost of a mastery behind the Felguard, the Felhunter reigns supreme for affliction and demonology.

But the major warlock cooldown Demon Soul grants a different effect, depending on the current pet. The Demon Soul effect that best lines up with demonology (rightfully) belongs to the Felguard.

Two different pets means demonology warlocks use a strategy on single-target encounters sometimes referred to as pet twisting. A warlock will start off with the Felguard out, pop all cooldowns including Demon Soul, and when everything ends, (instantly) summons a Felhunter for normal boss DPSing. When the cooldowns are about to be up again, the warlock resummons the Felguard again for the cooldown effect.

Pet summoning spells are 6-second casts. Even with a tier full of haste, it's a pain to hard cast, and with only three soul shards per combat for instant summons, hard casting is mandatory. Pet twisting is an incredibly annoying mechanic to play with for optimal DPS -- I'd wager even more so than Improved Soul Fire, pre-four-piece tier 13.

Thankfully, in tier 13, a number of warlocks play without pet twisting and do just fine. If you do want to skip the hassle of pet twisting, choose the Felhunter for single-target fights and the Felguard for AoE fights. Yor'sahj's Black Ooze is a good Felguard-friendly fight for a bit of pet twisting.

King of cooldowns
Demonology is all about the timing of the cooldowns. All the cooldowns connect to each other to create a big burst of awesomeness. Combine this with a wicked, triple-dipping mastery bug on a long, 10-minute cooldown, and we got the volatile, crappy-to-fantastic swinging DPS of mastery-laden demo 'locks. Fortunately, bugs have been fixed and DPS spikes smoothed out a little for demonology in 4.3, but cooldowns are still the biggest thing to get right as demonology warlocks.

Metamorphosis is the obvious shiny in the cooldown kit, so let's discuss that one first. Besides turning you into a purple Illidan and giving you the illusion that maybe you could take a solid hit to the face, Metamorphosis increases all your damage dealt by 20%. You also get access to Immolation Aura, which is great to use all throughout Meta.

But access to a spell that gives you a fiery glow isn't the important part of Meta. While Meta is technically a stance like Bear Form or Berserker Stance or Frost Presence, the damage buff isn't dynamically updated as you proc spells and items left and right. Metamorphosis, like the Doomguard, takes a snapshot of all your stats (spellpower, haste, mastery, crit, and hit) when you enter Metamorphosis form and uses those values for all its damage-boosting calculations.

So in order to have a stellar Metamorphosis, a warlock needs to have all their stat-boosting cooldowns ready to go beforehand. Metamorphosis originally has a cooldown of 3 minutes, but when properly talented, a demo 'lock can often find herself a Meta cooldown of 2 or 2.5 minutes.

Two minutes is perfect for a trinket cooldown or a major spell cooldown. You can multiply 2 minutes by three or five to find the Doomguard cooldown as well. Demonology is really all about lining up the cooldowns. First, pop the stat-boosting cooldowns, then Metamorphosis, then Demon Soul: Felguard, then finally the Doomguard.

Chunk it together

Taking a page from Cynwise, let's try to put the demonology priority into chunks for newbies to follow.

Prep the big snapshot of DPS stats by popping all the stat-related cooldowns first. Use your trinkets, activate your set bonus, or pop a potion.

Use your major spell cooldowns! Shift into Metamorphosis, remember to use your Aura, and use Demon Soul if the Felguard is out. It's best if you time this with Heroism!

All warlocks have DoTs, and yours are no less important to use. Immolate is main DoT for demo; Corruption and Bane of Doom soon follow. Those who pet twist or use the Felhunter as a pet can Demon Soul just before Corruption, as the Felhunter's Demon Soul only affects shadow periodic damage. Lastly, if the 'lock is in melee range, Shadowflame if possible.

Hand of Gul'dan gets its own chunk, since its purpose is less to damage things and more to refresh Immolate.

If the target is below 25% health, then the demo 'lock has two filler spells. Incinerate if Molten Core has procced; otherwise, use Soul Fire as Decimation kicks in.

If everything else is done, Incinerate your heart out.

Blood Pact is a weekly column detailing DoTs, demons and all the dastardly deeds done by warlocks. We'll coach you in the fine art of staying alive, help pick the best target for Dark Intent, and steer you through tier 13 set bonuses.
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