Saturday, September 15, 2012

5.0 Intro to Demo

I’ve been playing around with Demo pretty heavily the last couple days in order to get a feel for the spec and make sure that I wasn’t going to be pulling random stuff out of thin air when I sat down to write this. I’m happy to report that this spec is crazy fun now.

In Cataclysm, Demonology always felt like it was working against itself. The RNG of Molten Core procs (which, in turn, fed the RNG of Impending Doom) could make a significant impact on your DPS and whether or not it wanted to play nice could make or break the attempt for you. I played Demonology exclusively during H-Ragnaros progression and I would often swing from the bottom of the meters to the top depending on procs and RNG. Sometimes I wouldn’t see a single proc until phase 2, other times my Incinerate button would be lighting up faster than I could press it. Sometimes I had to sit through a full three minute cooldown on Metamorphosis, other times it would be available again mere seconds after the last one expired, essentially giving me back-to-back usage. I’ve never been a huge fan of the spec and generally only relied on it for the group buff or situations when it’s too useful to pass up so I’m sure that someone more comfortable with it would have had better results, but the whole experience was infuriating beyond belief. Add in obnoxious (if unintended) mechanics like pet-twisting around the Moonwell Chalice and I soon hated the spec with the fury of a thousand angry deities. By the time we were progressing Heroic DS, I had sworn that I would never touch the spec again . . . until we got to Heroic Spine and I realized that Destro and Affliction didn’t have the appropriate burst required.

Thankfully, all of the RNG of the spec is gone. Molten Core procs are still fairly unreliable, but stack instead of overwriting themselves so it’s not a huge deal if you can’t or don’t get to it right away. Touch of Chaos and Hand of Gul’dan no longer have a cast time which makes Demonology (formerly the spec most hindered by movement) incredibly mobile. Most importantly, you have all the control over Metamorphosis and how often you’re in it.

Demonology: Thematically

Where Destruction is about explosions, unstable spells and chaotic energies, Demonology is about (both literally and thematically) demonic power. It brings the biggest, nastiest and most powerful demons and draws directly upon fel energies to transform the player himself into a demonic Hulk. If you liked watching Claire push the limits of her humanity in Claymore or if you think Illidan is the coolest boss ever, then Demonology may be right up your alley.

Just like Destruction, Demonology saw significant changes in 5.0 to the point that it’s almost unrecognizable from its former iteration. Also like Destruction, optimal play depends heavily on resource management and saving them up without capping and dumping it during CD’s or burn phases. In addition to monitoring the duration of Corruption and Doom, the cooldown of Hand of Gul’dan and your mana (it regenerates quickly, but you’ll still need Life Tap handy), you’ll also need to keep an eye on how much Demonic Fury you have. Demonic Fury is the new secondary resource for Demonology for Mists of Pandaria and its primary function is to determine how much time you spend in Metamorphosis.

Spell usage

Besides any utility or defensive abilities that you may make regular use of, these are the spells you'll want to have on your action bars at all times in order to do maximum DPS, in parentheses are what each spell transforms into while in Metamorphosis:


Demonology has a unique (for Warlocks) aspect to its play in something that is historically referred to as "stance dancing". This is a practice originally used by Warriors who would jump in and out of their various stances (Defensive, Battle, Berserker) in order to gain access to certain abilities. Demonology Warlocks do something similar in that Metamorphosis now acts less like a damage CD and more like a "stance" which modifies our abilities in specific ways and, in order to keep maximum up time on these abilities, we'll need to bounce in and out of Meta to maintain them while balancing our Demonic Fury levels. While Destruction's goal of keeping Embers from capping is seen here as well (don't waste Fury generation!), Demonology feels more like a balancing act than the "ranged Rogue" that some have used to describe Destro.

For single target fights, this is how it will work:
  1. Curse of the Elements
  2. Felstorm/Wrathstorm - Keep it on CD
  3. Corruption
  4. Doom 
  5. Metamorphosis - If Dark Soul is up or if you have more than 900 Fury.
  6. Caster form - If Dark Soul is down and you have less than 750 Fury. 
  7. Hand of Gul'dan - Keep on cooldown.
  8. Touch of Chaos - Use to refresh Corruption while in Metamorphosis.
  9. Soul Fire - When Molten Core has procced and you're in caster form or if the target is under 25%
  10. Touch of Chaos
  11. Life Tap - Don't wait until you bottom out and are trying to figure why nothing is casting before doing this. Try to keep yourself above 50%.
  12. Shadow Bolt
  13. Fel Flame - When movement prevents you from doing anything else

To put it in less chart-like terms, you'll start the fight by cursing the target (if no one else is), activating Dark Soul, putting up Corruption, going into Metamorphosis to apply Doom and then spending your Fury as normal. You won't have enough Fury at the pull to stay in Meta until DS is over, so you'll spend what you have, build some back up and try to end your first Dark Soul without any Fury left. For the rest of the fight, you'll try to float between 900 and 750 Fury, only going into demon form in order to bleed off excess Fury and refresh Doom. You'll want to have around 950 Fury when Dark Soul comes off CD. When it does, jump back into Metamorphosis and stay there until Dark Soul wears off. Lather, rinse, repeat. Save Molten Core Procs until you're back in Caster Form and, once the target hits 25% and you're in your execute phase, spend Fury and MC procs as you get them. There's a lot of finesse to the spec and it will take practice, but when you get a feel for how the whole thing works, it's all very smooth.

Cooldowns  - This may seem like a bit of a copy/paste from the Destro guide because, well . . . it is. There are some subtle changes, but generally all the same rules apply.

We still have our Doomguard or Infernal and Dark Soul (formerly known as Demon Soul). The biggest change is that Metamorphosis is no longer our huge damage CD anymore (it's still a big increase but, as I said above, is more of a stance than a cooldown) and that lining it up with Dark Soul will make or break you on the meters. For Demonology, the changes to Dark Soul and its bonus being based on spec rather than pet means that pet-twisting is gone and that you can choose a pet based on its utility and the needs of the fight rather than what Demon Soul effect it gives you.

The Doomguard and Infernal (Terrorguard and Abyssal under Grimoire of Supremacy) still share a ten minute cooldown, so unless you have the CD reduction bonus from T13, you'll only get one per fight. Assuming there isn't a large burn phase where the boss takes more damage (Alysrazor's ground phase) or something like that, the best time to use it is about 10 seconds into the fight when you're still under the effect of your prepot, CD's are rolling and all of your proc trinkets or enchants are off their ICD and likely to be rolling at once. As always, use your Doomguard for single target fights and Infernal for AoE. 

Dark Soul should generally just be used as soon as it's available, even at the start of the fight when you don't have a lot of (or any) Fury to spend. The only exception to this is if you're approaching a burn phase where it will be more effective or some sort of transition phase where damage is not needed or impossible (Hagara's lightning phase) and using it would be wasted. Unlike Destruction, movement isn't a big hindrance to Demo's Dark Soul use since Soul Fire's are generally held off until you're back in caster form and everything else you would cast during Meta/DS is instant. Time it around the encounter, but otherwise use it as soon as it's available.

If you're really bad (really REALLY bad) at handling cooldowns and tend to forget to use them, then you can macro it into a commonly used spell like Shadow Bolt so that it's going off as soon as it's available, but this isn't recommended for competitive play since you won't have any real control over when it goes off, preventing you from properly lining it up with fight mechanics or Fury levels. In some cases, you could end up using it at the absolute worst time and completely wasting it. Which route you choose is entirely up to you. An ability not used is as good as an ability that you don't have, but the spec is designed around this sort of resource management and well stacked cooldowns are greater than the sum of their parts. 


The removal of Prime Glyphs that directly buff your abilities means that the remaining glyphs, like talents, are highly situational in Mists of Pandaria. The ones below are exclusive to Demonology and worth taking a look at.

Demon Hunting - The infamous "tank glyph", this glyph teaches you the ability Dark Apotheosis which is the closest thing we have to a Warlock "tank" form. The effects of this glyph are somewhat extensive, but the short version is that it adjusts your existing abilities so that you can almost fill the role of an emergency backup tank, similar to a Frost DK going into Blood Presence or a Warrior slapping on a shield wall and flipping to Defensive. I've already used this glyph to great effect in 5-mans when the tank didn't know what he was doing and we were in danger of wiping and it can be a fantastic tool for solo play, but don't expect to be your guilds new OT. You're still squishy.
Dark Soul - Again, nice for leveling when you won't be blowing CD's at every opportunity, but generally a DPS loss for competitive play.
Shadowbolt - It's been reported that this glyph is a slight DPS gain despite being a minor glyph due to the fact that each of the three bolts is considered a separate hit and has it's own chance to crit. This is NOT something that is reflected in my own simulations so I won't tell anyone to use it or not for any reason other than if you like the spell effect. 
Imp Swarm - Like Dark Soul, this can be a bit confusing. Due to the fact that the ability being on cooldown will prevent you from passively summoning extra imps, you'll invariably be giving up more than you gain with this glyph if you're using the ability on CD. However, there will be situations where the burst it provides will be more valuable than the passive effect (Spine of Deathwing, for example, and possibly Hagara since you spend so much of the fight with the boss immune). 
Felguard - Pretty much the best glyph ever.


Stat weights and reforging advice seem to be wildly variable right now and depend entirely on who you ask. This is mostly a side effect of being in this weird pre-expansion phase where everything is tuned around 90. During the Cataclysm pre-patch, I was told by several reputable sources that Crit was going to be the stat of choice for Destruction Warlocks, but ended up spending almost the entire expansion avoiding it. So, rather than worrying about how much each stat is worth, I'd like to simply look at what each stat does for us. I'll come back to edit this in a few weeks when we have a better idea of how good each one is and how important certain breakpoints or caps are.
  • Intellect - No longer increases the size of our mana pool but still increases our Spell Power on a 1:1 basis and provides a small amount of crit chance. Like in Cataclysm, this is still our best stat by a significant margin.
  • Hit - Still the same stat it's always been. The only difference is that we'll need less of it since the spell hit cap has been changed to 15% instead of 17%.
  • Expertise -  Converts to Spell Hit now. While we'll never see it on our gear, Humans and Gnomes will be able to benefit from their racial bonus to Expertise for an extra 1% chance to hit when using a sword or sword/dagger, respectively. Orcs also seem to benefiting from their Axe Specialization, in the same manner when a wand is equipped but it's currently unclear if this is intended or not.
  • Haste - Haste doesn't really do anything special for Demonology that it didn't do before. Faster casts and faster DoT's means faster Fury generation and more spells cast. Still a very good stat for us.
  • Crit -  A higher crit chance doesn't really provide any significant benefit for Demonology like it does for Destruction. You'll crit more often (and that's good) and Soul Fire uses Crit rating as a damage modifier just like Chaso Bolt (also good), but with no other mechanics tied to it and Soul Fire hitting for a fraction of what Chaos Bolt does, it's not enough to make Crit a particularly compelling stat.
  • Mastery - Still a great stat for us. Increases the damage your pet does as well as the damage you do both in and out of Metamorphosis (in varying amounts). In addition, Mastery reduces the damage you take while in Apotheosis. If you're not trying to hit a Haste break point, Mastery will likely be your go-to secondary stat.


Again, I'm mostly looking at this mechanically since numbers are still in flux.

Reforging as a system has not changed in any way since it was introduced, so the same advice applies. The various Grimoire talents don't have as much of an effect on your reforging priorities for Demonology as they do for Destruction and can be chalked up to variances in simulation passes more than talent choice. Feel free to switch Grimoires as the fight dictates.

Gemming, however, is going to see some significant changes. Cataclysm gemming mostly boiled down to "Brilliant good, everything else bad", which led to a lot of ignored socket bonuses. Mists of Pandaria gems are going to be different in that they'll have twice the budget for secondary stats than we're used to seeing. That means that instead of an orange gem having 20 Intellect and 20 Haste, our Mists of Pandaria gems will have 80 Intellect and 160 Haste. This makes matching sockets for bonuses much more interesting.

As always, what works for a Warlock in BiS H-T13 doesn't necessarily work for a fresh 85 in PvP gear and quest greens. While the stat weights that you'll pull off of Elitist Jerks or Icy Veins may be a good guideline, the best thing to do is to run your own simulations in SimCraft and do what works for your gear.

I'm aiming to have the Affliction post up before the weekly reset. After that I have an all-spec AoE post planned as well as an intro to SimulationCraft. I spend a lot of time telling people to use and rely on it so I figure I should give people the tools to do so.

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