Post by Kurtosis
I recently replied to Alive's guide on Warlock leveling
with a comment
that evolved into a full-blown leveling build recommendation for Classic PvP servers. Reposting here for posterity and continued discussion.
Leveling on PvP realms is a different beast than leveling on PvE ones and requires different build choices. The main difference is that on PvP servers you want to ditch your Voidwalker tank and run Succubus or Felhunter instead, which are stronger in PvP. That means the warlock needs to be the tank, via Drain Tanking. Here's the build and playstyle guide:
For leveling on PvP servers you’ll want to run a Drain Tanking build, likely either 30/0/21 Shadow Mastery/Ruin
or 45/5/5 Heavy Affliction
. This guide is for the former, but see notes on alternative Drain Tanking variants at the end for the latter.
Drain Tanking means letting the mob hit you, not your pet, while you DoT it up and Drain Life it. This lets you run Succubus
while leveling, which are stronger than Voidwalker in PvP. The build also selects talents like Suppression that help you survive and even win against higher level gankers.
As you level, go all the way down Afflic getting all the talents that buff DoTs, Drain Life, Life Tap and Shadow damage. Then go down the Destro tree for Improved Shadow Bolt, Bane, Shadowburn, Devastation and Ruin. Talent order:
14: 5/5 Corruption
16: 2/5 Suppression
18: 2/2 Improved Life Tap
23: 5/5 Improved Drain Life
28: 5/5 Fel Concentration
29: 1/1 Amplify Curse *
30: 1/1 Siphon Life
32: 2/2 Nightfall
34: 2/2 Grim Reach *
39: 5/5 Shadow Mastery
44: 5/5 Improved Shadow Bolt
49: 5/5 Bane **
50: 1/1 Shadowburn
55: 5/5 Devastation
57: 2/2 Destructive Reach
59: 2/5 Aftermath or anything else ***
Per Foxx33's suggestion below, save Improved Drain Life and Fel Concentration until right before you enter PvP zones and do your Succubus quest (level 26-28). Prior to that you'll be using Voidwalker to tank for you, and won't need Improved Drain Life or Fel Concentration yet. Start with 5/5 Corruption, 2/5 Suppression, and 2/2 Improved Life Tap.
2/5 Suppression is useful early on so you can fight mobs slightly higher level, especially in caves and whatnot that quests have you go into. 2/2 Improved Life Tap reduces the time you spend Life Tapping, increasing the time you spend dps'ing. At higher levels it better enables you to fight off higher level gankers, reducing your spell misses against them.
From level 19-23 fill in 5/5 Improved Drain Life, and from 24-28 fill in 5/5 Fel Concentration. Then go do your Succubus quest. This should gain you a level or two, pick up Amplify Curse and Siphon Life while you're doing this quest.
At level 29, pick up Amplify Curse, Siphon Life, Nightfall, and Grim Reach next*. Get Amplify and Siphon Life first. Amplify gives you more burst against gankers, and Siphon Life gives extra damage, leech, and dispell protection (more DoTs are harder to dispell). Nightfall is the next strongest, then Grim Reach.
Finally finish the Affliction tree with 5/5 Shadow Mastery. This buffs not only DoTs and Shadow Bolt, but also Drain Life and even Life Tap.
In Destro get Improved Shadow Bolt, Bane**, Shadowburn, Devastation, Grim Reach and Ruin. After Grim Reach you have 2pts remaining you have to spend to unlock Ruin. You can put these wherever you like, there aren't any great options left for them***. Recommend 2/2 Improved Lash of Pain with Succubus, or 2/5 Aftermath with Felhunter.
* At level 29-34 Siphon Life and Nightfall are necessary, but for the rest you have a few options: Improved Curse of Agony, Amplify Curse + Grim Reach, or 5/5 Suppression. AC+CoA is stronger burst damage for pressuring gankers, and Grim Reach helps against Hunters and other ranged classes. 5/5 Suppression lets you go up against significantly higher players (~5 levels) and surprise them. Improved CoA is relatively weak for leveling.
** Bane reduces Immolation cast time by .5s. You'll usually open with Immolate but won't recast it during the fight, relying on your DoTs, Nightfall and Drain Life instead. Bane also reduces your Soul Fire cast time in case you like to open with it for kicks and giggles.
*** You have 2pts left and nothing great to spend them on. 2/5 Aftermath is probably the least worst, it gives Immolate and Shadow Bolt 4% chance to Daze
. Can be annoying to gankers if you get a lucky proc. Other options are:
- Cataclysm (only helpful in full Destro build)
- Improved Searing Pain (you won't be using Searing Pain)
- Improved Firebolt (you won't be using the Imp)
- Intensity (Fire spells are weak in this Shadow damage build, you won't be using anything Intensity applies to)
- Improved Lash of Pain (a minor damage increase if you're running Succubus, not if you're running Felhunter)
- Aftermath (gives rare but annoying dazes in PvP)
Aftermath and Improved Lash of Pain (if using Succubus) are the least useless options, but neither are consequential so pick anything here you prefer.How to play it:
You don’t want to bother with Drain Tanking till you get 5/5 Fel Concentration at level 24. So from level 1-10 use your Imp, and from level 10-24 let your Voidwalker tank for you. You can get the Succubus at level 20, but no need until level 24.
From level 24 run with Succubus. Body tank mobs, DoT them up, Drain Life till dead. Life Tap to refill mana, Drain Life to refill health. Shadow Bolt when Nightfall Procs. Drain Soul when mob almost dead to collect soul shards. Once you get Shadowburn, use that instead of Drain Soul.
Don’t Fear mobs or they’ll probably pull others, just let them hit you while you Drain Life them, aka Drain Tanking.
If you get ganked, cc the ganker with Seduction so they can’t interrupt your Fear, then Fear them, DoT them, Drain Life, Shadow Bolt on Nightfall, Shadowburn to finish. If you fight another Warlock, Seduce them first, Banish their minion, Fear them, then repeat the above.
At 30 you get Felhunter which is arguably even stronger than Succubus, especially for an Affliction build. Learn how to use Felhunter’s Devour Magic
, one of a warlock’s most powerful and versatile spells. It can remove Paladin's Bubble (no bubble hearthing for you!), Mage Ice Block, and many other useful enemy buffs, as well as most magic debuffs applied to you like Fear, Polymorph, etc. It also has increased Stealth detection to help catch Rogues and Druids before they can open on you.
A simple Amplify Curse + Curse of Agony macro casts the two together with one keypress:
/use Amplify Curse
/use Curse of Agony
This will cast CoA both with and without the Shift key pressed, and Amplify first if Shift is pressed.Other Drain Tanking variants:
1. Short-range 30/0/21
. If you don't care about extra range from Grim Reach and Destructive Reach, you can move those two points in each tree into something else. Useful alternatives in Afflic are 2/3 Improved Curse of Agony (for max Amplified CoA burst), or Curse of Exhaustion. And in Destro, 4/5 Aftermath or something else. But the increased range is pretty strong against other ranged classes, so those "Reach" talents should take priority.
2. Heavy Affliction 41/5/5
. This may be an even stronger PvP leveling build, because in 30/0/21 you don't get the most important Destro talent, Ruin, till you hit 60. This build instead gives more useful talents earlier in the build, like Curse of Exhaustion. 30/0/21 is higher damage once you get Ruin though.
Same talent order as above, but after you get Improved Shadow Bolt go back and fill in the other Afflic talents - Improved CoA, Curse of Exhaustion, and more stamina and/or Healthstone healing in the Demo tree. You lose harder hitting Shadow Bolts and Immolates from Devastation and Ruin, but at least keep the Improved Shadow Bolt shadow damage buff.
3. Defensive Afflic/Demo 30/21/0
. Also see Dive’s Drain Tanking build guide vid
. Go into Demo instead of Destro for Fel Domination and Master Summoner. This lets you insta-cast resummon your minion if a ganker kills it. Some PvP'ers know they can gimp a warlock if they kill your Succubus or Felhunter, but not with this build. You also get Improved Health Stone and increased Stamina, and Improved Succubus which increases Seduction duration, all useful in PvP. Generally you want more damage to pressure your opponent, but a heavy defensive build like this may be a better build on some PvP realms, depending on how people play on your realm.Raid Builds at 60:
One you hit 60 you can keep these builds for world PvP, battlegrounds, or dungeons. If you want to raid you'll need to switch to a more raid optimized build. Alive has a good video and deep dive on those builds on Youtube
. TLDR: warlock raid builds are either 9/21/21 DS/Ruin
for Demonic Sacrifice + Ruin, or 30/0/21 SM/Ruin
for Shadow Mastery + Ruin + Imp's Stamina buff on the tanks.