Embrace Chaos! Destruction 101

At level 100, Destruction is not really much different than it was at level 90, which is rather fortunate, but for those of you who have never played it, here’s the basics!



Tier 1: Self Healing

  • Dark Regeneration: Restores 20% of maximum health over 12 sec to you and your pet, and increases all healing received by 25% for the duration. (2 min cooldown)
  • Soul Leech: Incinerate, Shadowburn, and Chaos Bolt grant you and your pet shadowy shields that absorb 15% of the damage they dealt for 15 sec.
  • Searing Flames: Ember Tap causes 50% more healing, and refunds 50% of its Burning Ember cost.

Searing Flames is better for PvP than it is for PvE. Soul Leech and Dark Regeneration are your talents of choice here depending on what an encounter requires. Dark Regeneration is good for when you need an “OH SHIT” button, whereas Soul Leech helps smooth out constant damage over the course of an encounter.

tier 2: crowd control

  • Howl of Terror: Your howl causes 5 enemies within 10 yds to flee in fear, disorienting them for 20 sec. Damage may cancel the effect. Being hit by a damaging attack reduces your cooldown on Howl of Terror by 1 sec. (40 second cooldown)
  • Mortal Coil: Horrifies an enemy target into fleeing, incapacitating them for 3 sec, and restores 11% of the caster’s maximum health. (45 second cooldown)
  • Shadowfury: Stuns all enemies within 8 yds for 3 sec. (30 second cooldown)

Again dependent on your needs. Does an encounter have adds that need stunning? Shadowfury is the way to go. Otherwise, go with Mortal Coil for the heal it provides.

tier 3: damage mitigation

  • Soul Link: 20% of all damage taken is split with your demon pet, and 3% of damage you deal heals you and your demon.
  • Sacrificial Pact: Sacrifices 20% of your demon’s current health to shield you for 400% of the sacrificed health for 20 sec. If you have no demon, your health is sacrificed instead. Usable while suffering from control impairing effects. (1 min cooldown)
  • Dark Bargain: Prevents all damage for 8 sec, but when the effect ends, you take 50% of the damage prevented over 8 sec. Usable while suffering from control impairing effects. (3 min cooldown)

Soul Link is great for smoothing out low but constant damage. Sacrificial Pact is good if you take large, predictable, periodic hits. Dark Bargain is good if you want to bypass some fight mechanics involving damage, but be very wary of the DoT it applies afterwards!

Tier 4: Utility for health

  • Blood Horror: While active, any time an enemy melee attack deals damage to the Warlock, the enemy will run in horror, incapacitated for up to 4 sec. 1 charge. Blood Horror lasts 60 sec. (1 min cooldown)
  • Burning Rush: Iincrease your movement speed by 50%, but also deals damage to you equal to 4% of your maximum health per second. Movement-impairing effects may not reduce you below 100% of normal movement speed. Lasts until cancelled.
  • Unbound Will: Purges all Magic effects, movement impairing effects, and loss of control effects from yourself and your demon. (2 min cooldown)

Blood Horror has practically no use in PvE, it’s mainly a PvP talent. Burning Rush is the default talent, as there’s always a use for a speed boost! Unbound Will is something you take if you have need of it on an encounter, as opposed to it being an all-purpose talent. Bear in mind these health costs can be mitigated by shields from Soul Leech or Sacrificial Pact.

tier 5: demons!

  • Grimoire of Supremacy: You command stronger demons, replacing your normal minions. These demons deal 20% additional damage and have more powerful abilities.
  • Grimoire of Service: Instantly summon a second demon which fights for 25 sec. The demon will instantly use one of its special abilities when summoned. (2 min cooldown)
  • Grimoire of Sacrifice: Sacrifice your demon to gain one of its abilities, and to increase the damage of your Incinerate, Chaos Bolt, and Shadowburn by 25%. Does not apply to spells affected by Fire and Brimstone. Also causes you to regenerate 2% of maximum health every 8 sec. (30 second cooldown)

In 6.1, Sacrifice is looking to be the best talent for AoE AND Single Target when taken in tandem with Charred Remains. For times of high movement, you’ll want to go with Supremacy or Service, as Destruction has almost no movement DPS if you don’t take Kil’jaeden’s Cunning, and your damage will end up coming from your demons.

Service or Supremacy? Service has higher DPS when taken with Demonic Servitude. Supremacy has higher DPS if not.

A note about Grimoire of Sacrifice. When taken with Soul Link, it also increases your total health by 20%.

tier 6: situational dps increases

  • Archimonde’s Darkness: Dark Soul now has 2 charges.
  • Kil’jaeden’s Cunning: The cunning of Kil’jaeden allows you to move while casting Warlock spells for 8 sec. Castable while casting other spells. (35 second cooldown)
  • Mannoroth’s Fury: Increases the area of effect by 500% and damage by 100% of Seed of Corruption, Hellfire, Immolation Aura, and Rain of Fire for 10 sec. (1 min cooldown)

You need to move a lot in a fight? Take Kil’jaeden’s Cunning. Every other situation, take Archimonde’s Darkness. With the hotfix to Rain of Fire a while back, Mannoroth’s Fury is useless for Destruction.

tier 7: performance enhancers

  • Charred Remains: Incinerate and Conflagrate deal 50% less damage but generate 200% more Burning Embers. Fire and Brimstone can now also affect Chaos Bolt.
  • Cataclysm: Conjures a cataclysm at the target location, dealing [750% of Spell Power] Shadowflame damage to all enemies within 8 yards, and applying Immolate. (1 min cooldown)
  • Demonic Servitude: You are now able to maintain your control over even greater demons indefinitely, allowing you to summon Doomguards and Infernals as permanent pets.

Charred Remains is the talent you want to take for stationary encounters in 6.1, whether for single target or sustained AoE, and in tandem with Grimoire of Sacrifice. For encounters with movement, go with Demonic Servitude and Grimoire of Service, as your demon(s) will do 25-30% of your DPS over the course of a fight, and doing 25% DPS is better than doing 0 DPS! Take Cataclysm if you have 2-3 constant targets, or when you need a quick, strong burst of AoE.

Charred Remains + Grimoire of Sacrifice is viable on movement fights so long as you take Kil’jaeden’s Cunning with it.

TL:DR Talent setups

  • Stationary fights: Grimoire of Sacrifice + Archimonde’s Darkness + Charred Remains
  • Movement fights: Grimoire of Service + Archimonde’s Darkness + Demonic Servitude OR Grimoire of Sacrifice + Kil’jaeden’s Cunning + Charred Remains


Useful Glyphs

  • Glyph of Dark Soul: Reduces the duration and cooldown of Dark Soul by 50%. Great when taken with Archimonde’s Darkness, as it allows you to be able to have a Dark Soul charge nearly every time you’re about to cap on embers!
  • Glyph of Eternal Resolve: Turns Unending Resolve into a passive ability that provides a constant 10% damage reduction. Taking constant, frequent damage? Use this and Soul Link and laugh as all your fellow raiders die before you!
  • Glyph of Demonic Circle: Reduces your Demonic Circle: Teleport’s cooldown by 4 seconds, which is great if you need to use it often.
  • Glyph of Healthstone: Changes how your healthstones work, turning it from an instant heal to a heal-over-time with double potency.
  • Glyph of Siphon Life: Each tick of Immolate will heal you for 0.35% of your total health, thus increasing survivability.


Abilities and Rotation

The Destruction playstyle is about generating Burning Embers, then spending them when you have powerful procs/cooldowns active. You typically start a fight with 1 Ember, and the capacity to hold 4. Each full Ember is made of 10 increments, or what some people call “emberbits”.

Ember generators

  • Immolate: Burns the enemy for [1 + 45.82% of Spell Power] Fire damage and an additional [5 + 45.82% of Spell Power] Fire damage over 15 sec. Immolate critical strikes generate Burning Embers.
  • Conflagrate: Target enemy instantly explodes, dealing [189% of Spell Power] Fire damage and generating Burning Embers. Targets afflicted by Immolate will have 50% reduced movement speed for 5 sec. (2 charges, 12 second recharge time)
  • Incinerate: Deals [1 + 132.82% of Spell Power] Fire damage to an enemy and generates Burning Embers.

ember spenders

  • Chaos Bolt: Unleashes a blast of chaos, causing [1 + 261.3% of Spell Power] Shadow damage. Chaos Bolt always critically strikes and your critical strike chance increases its damage.
  • Shadowburn: Instantly blasts a target below 20% health for [1 + 390.6% of Spell Power] Shadow damage. Generates Burning Embers if the target dies within 5 sec.
  • Ember Tap: Heals 6.20% of your health.
  • Flames of Xoroth: The flames of Xoroth instantly revive your last demon. (1 min cooldown)


  • Dark Soul: Instability: Infuses your soul with unstable power, increasing your critical strike chance by 30% for 20 sec. (2 min cooldown)


  • Havoc: Causes your next Chaos Bolt or three other single target spells to also strike this target. (15 second cooldown)
  • Fire and Brimstone: While active causes your Immolate, Incinerate, and Conflagrate to consume a Burning Ember, hit all enemies within 10 yards of the target, and deal 43.4% of their normal damage.
  • Rain of Fire: Burns enemies in the area of effect for [(7.5% of Spell power) * 8] Fire damage over 6 sec, dealing 50% increased  damage to targets affected by Immolate.

rotation: single target

  • Immolate: Make sure this is rolling at all times!
  • Chaos Bolt/Shadowburn: When you’re about to cap on embers, or if you have powerful buffs. See below for what to look for!
  • Conflagrate: Provides 3 stacks of Backdraft, which halves the cost and cast time of Incinerate, and the cast time of Chaos Bolt.
  • Cataclysm: If talented.
  • Incinerate: Filler spell!
  • Rain of Fire: Only if you’re forced to move, you can’t cast Conflagrate, and you don’t have Kil’jaeden’s Cunning active/talented.

Rotation: 2-5 enemies

  • Immolate as many enemies as possible.
  • Cataclysm, making sure to hit as many enemies as possible. Stun them beforehand with Shadowfury if you can to guarantee a hit!
  • Havoc in tandem with Shadowfury if possible, or Chaos Bolt if not.

Otherwise, maintain your single-target rotation on your primary target.

rotation: 5+ enemies

  • Activate Fire and Brimstone
  • F&B Immolate. Keep that DoT rolling!
  • F&B Conflagrate
  • Havoc Shadowburn/Chaos Bolt
  • Rain of Fire so long as all the enemies stay in it for the full duration
  • F&B Incinerate

With Charred Remains, your AoE rotation looks like this:

  • Activate Fire and Brimstone
  • F&B Immolate
  • F&B Incinerate to generate embers
  • F&B Chaos Bolt to spend embers (bear in mind 1 cast of F&B Chaos Bolt costs TWO EMBERS)


Mastering the Chaos: Further Explanations

When do I cast Chaos Bolt?

  • Cast ONE Chaos Bolt if you are about to cap on Burning Embers, and you have no major procs/cooldowns available.
  • Cast as many Chaos Bolts as you can when you have trinket procs, Dark Soul, or your legendary ring proc. Best situation is if all these buffs happen at the same time, but don’t waste 1 powerful proc hoping a second one will happen, ’cause it may not!

Try and have as many filled Burning Embers as possible without capping. This allows you to fire off as many super-powered Chaos Bolts as possible when you get powerful buffs.

Why don’t I just sit at 4 embers?

Because you don’t generate any more embers than that. It’s wasted Embers, effectively, and means you cast fewer Chaos Bolts over the course of a fight. Chaos Bolt is your hardest-hitting spell. It’s better to fire one with no procs and get that big hit in and start generating Embers (and thus future Chaos Bolts), than cap on Embers and keep firing out lil’ nothing spells, waiting for the stars to align.

What do I use Backdraft on?

When you use Conflagrate, you gain 3 stacks of Backdraft (caps at 6 stacks). You can use 1 Backdraft stack to halve the cost/cast time of Incinerate by 50%, or consume 3 to halve the cast time of Chaos Bolt.

Generally, you want to be using Backdraft on Incinerate, however if you need to cast a Chaos Bolt very quickly (eg just before a powerful buff fades, or when a boss takes increased damage for a short time) then it’s a DPS gain to squeeze that fast Chaos Bolt out.

What demon do I use?

If using Grimoire of Service, use the Felhunter. If using Grimoire of Supremacy, use the Observer. If using Demonic Servitude, use the Doomguard/Terrorguard.

The Imp, Succubus and Felhunter all do similar DPS, but the Felhunter has an interrupt and those are always useful. Similarly, their Supremacy upgrades (Fel Imp, Shivarra and Observer respectively) do similar DPS to one-another, but Obervers have an interrupt too (and eye lasers!).

The permanent Doomguard/Terrorguard provided by Demonic Servitude eclipses all of those, however, so if you’re running with that talent, then damn well use it!


Using Havoc and Shadowburn together is a great way to do a LOT of damage. You see, whereas you can only use it with 1 Chaos Bolt, you can cast Shadowburn 3 times per use of Havoc.. The way to abuse this is to cast Havoc on a boss, and then cast Shadowburn on an add that’s below 20% health. Even if the boss is above 20% health, it will take the hit from Shadowburn, and Shadowburn hits VERY hard, harder than Chaos Bolt if it crits. Not only that, but if the add then dies, you get 2 Embers back (the Ember cost is refunded, then you also get a bonus Ember), which allows you to cast futher Shadowburns or Chaos Bolts.

secondary Stat priority

You basically want gear with as much Mastery and Critical Strike as possible. Multistrike is a good stat too, but falls behind the previous two. Haste is your next best stat, followed by Versatility.

Mastery >> Critical Strike > Haste >= Multistrike >> Versatility

2 thoughts on “Embrace Chaos! Destruction 101

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