Dragon Soul Hard Modes - Warlock Edition v2.0

Previous Topic - http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3710773960?page=1

Hi I’m Darkzyrklord (just call me Darkz). I’d been with Enigma since its creation at the beginning of Wrath. We ended the tier at US 4th, so woo! Unfortunately, we decided to put Enigma on indefinite hiatus, so now I'm with Ascend. The warlock forums are lacking in high end PvE discussion, so I’m here to talk about my experiences with the DS bosses and theorycraft a bit with you guys. This is not a normal mode discussion topic, so please don’t bring up normal mode strats or specs. Also, please refrain from asking generic "help my dps" questions. There are plenty of topics and resources that address that already.

4/18 Update: Previous topic capped, all discussion going forward will be here.

Heroic Dragon Soul has been nerfed by 15% at this point. Certain timings and strategy recommendations may no longer be the best course of action (Spine for example). Make sure to take that into account when going over this thread.

General Raiding Warlock Stuff

There’s been a huge shift towards destruction since the buffs it got in 4.3. It’s awesome to have all three of our specs be viable, but it’s not the end-all-be-all spec the forums here make it out to be. Affliction still trumps it in multi-dot potential, and Demonology beats it on a single target fight. Destruction’s main strength comes from Nether Protection, Bane of Havoc, and snap burst damage. Don’t be blinded by “buff goggles.”

I’m going to touch on reforging for Demonology briefly, because the lock community has been screaming “FULL MASTERY” for months and they’ve been mistaken. A full haste reforge vs a full mastery reforge only results in a minor dps increase in favor of mastery. In full firelands heroic gear in 4.2, a full haste reforge was dead even with full mastery. The reason I bring this up is for the sake of convenience. Haste is Destruction and Affliction’s best stat. Unfortunately for us, mastery is Affliction’s worst stat. This means that in order to swap to Affliction (and have it be viable); you need to reforge everything to haste. Staying a full haste reforge as Demonology is a minor dps loss at best, and it allows you to swap specs on the fly without wasting time or gold. Obviously if you’re going to min-max for something like Ultraxion, please go full mastery. But for your own convenience, you can just stay haste and you really won’t notice a difference.

One last thing regarding Demonology: that stupid incinerate spec. It’s only useful on Ultraxion. Stop using that spec for the other boss fights. Losing the cast time on immolate is a huge dps loss on any multi-target fight (all of them except Ultraxion).


The only fight Destruction is head and shoulders above the rest of our other specs. Use Bane of Havoc on the Morchok you’re out of range of. Use nether ward to reduce crystal explosion damage. Use nether ward while running from the shadow slime. It’s an easy fight, and you should easily be around the 38k-41k dps range at the end of the fight.

Warlord Zon’ozz

I was affliction for this fight, but honestly all our specs are perfectly viable here.

- High movement in P2 allows Affliction to get an edge over Destro and Demo.
- Self-healing from siphon life and drain life means healers can worry about you less in P2 and while you are debuffed in P1.
- Soul Swap is a huge convenience at the beginning of P2.
- Can use the Felhunter’s spell lock to stop the eye stalks from casting (the cast bar is hidden. When you see it sitting there shaking, it’s casting, so interrupt then).

- Bane of Havoc on Zon’ozz in P2 allows you to still trickle damage onto him when killing the tentacles.
- Nether protection is incredible for P2 and while you have the debuff in P1.
- Moving a ton during P2 hurts your dps a good amount due to being so reliant on hard casts.

- Great single target damage in P1
- High movement in P2 hurts Demonology a ton. Its multi-dot potential is the lowest of all our specs, and due to the movement you won’t be hard casting nukes, so less impending doom procs.

Once again, this fight is fairly easy. Single target dps during P1, split into two groups for P2 and multi-dot the tentacles and eye stalks. Use drain life if healing is an issue in P2. Having the self-healing and high P2 damage as Affliction makes it the spec of choice for me.

The first brick wall boss of this tier. I’m sure people will be very interested on how to min-max here.

Ok first off, Destruction is bad for this fight. It has some of the worst AOE potential in the game, it gets hampered by high movement, and nether protection isn’t that great on this fight. Stick with Affliction or Demonology.

- Soul swap is incredible for killing oozes. Use it on every single one you kill.
- Jinx is huge for the black phase adds.
- A soul burned Seed of Corruption can be used on every black phase. This gives Affliction more consistent AOE during each black phase compared to Demonology, but less burst AOE.
- Your self-healing means you need less heals during the purple phase.

- Highest AOE damage in the raid when all your cooldowns are popped, no question about it. If you get good RNG on impending doom procs, and good timings on black phase adds, you’ll smoke the dps charts. I guarantee the top WoL parses on this fight (for warlocks) will be from Demo locks.
- Demonology sucks for killing oozes, just straight up. It does half the damage affliction can do in the same time (assuming you’re not in meta).
- Using MWC + Meta = superpowered Infernal for black phase adds. The initial hit of the infernal meteor does around 300,000 total damage on its own. Take advantage of it.

I’m not going to outline a general raid strat for this, but I’ll focus on warlock specific things you can do.
- Use the infernal on the adds
- UA or Immolate the adds as they spawn (they spawn one at a time in quick succession). Remember that Immolate has a facing requirement, so it’s slightly more difficult to do.
- When your mana is being sucked up by the void, life tap during the cast so the void has more total mana released when it explodes. It guarantees that your healers will have more mana than they had before it got sucked away
- Position yourself well so you can hit every add with shadowflame


This is just such a bad fight for DoT classes, and warlocks specifically. You get no impending doom procs during the ice phase, and about 5 shadow bolts off during lightning. Affliction’s ramp up time prohibits using the spec. Destruction can at least dish out some burst damage while she’s stunned. Also nether protection helps in the lightning phase. I’m not going into any detail here. If your guild killed Yor’sahj, you’re going to kill Hagara as well.


I really thought I would like this fight because it’d be like Patchwerk, but I was wrong. There’s more RNG here than Baleroc ever had. I’ve managed to do 46k on Baleroc before, but the highest I ever got on Ultraxion was 42k, and the average parse ranged anywhere from 35k-39k. Basically, fading light and the twilight explosion thingy can completely bone Demonology if they happen during Meta (and it will). It’s extremely frustrating knowing that you’re doing a flawless rotation, and you’re not breaking 38k simply because of RNG. I got used to it though, so this is more of a warning to other locks here. Also, not having T13 2 piece sucks balls. Missing 800k dmg every other pull was not fun.

Luckily for us, all our specs are viable here. We had 3 locks on the fight, and we were constantly changing specs for testing purposes. Here are the number ranges we saw:

Affliction: Very consistent dps, but is hampered heavily by not getting bloodlust during the last 25% of the fight. The constant self-healing eases the burden on healers though.

Demonology: Two of us were using MWC Demo rotation, while one was using Meta on CD. Average dps was very similar between both playstyles. Bad impending doom procs will completely screw over your damage, so pray for good RNG. Also due to Soul Fire working with impending doom, you have a high chance of getting another Meta sub 25%, make sure to use it right when you get it.

Destruction: Very similar to Affliction in terms of consistency, but with slightly more RNG. Nether protection is incredible in the last minute of the fight. Make sure to use it after your time loop buff disappears.

General rule of thumb: If you lust at the beginning, Demo is going to be top. If you lust at 25%, Affliction is potentially better than Demonology with the proper buffs.
Warmaster Blackhorn


Obviously go Demonology if your raid needs 10% spell power, but go Affliction otherwise. This is a multi-dot paradise. In phase 1 you can easily reach 45k dps, and end the fight around 42k. Make sure to have a good DoT tracking addon, and easily visible name plates.

- Use shadow ward before solo soaking a shadow blast thingy on the ground (I forget the name of the ability).
- Use your port to quickly exit each onslaught and avoid the blade rush.
- Use glyph of BoA for Affliction. It’s arguable for Demonology, but the corruption glyph will probably give you just as much benefit.

Spine of Deathwing

This fight is awful for warlocks. Absolutely horrendous. It's also probably the worst fight Blizzard has ever released. Kills on this boss are not based on skill, but by class stacking. We developed our strat before anybody killed it, but seeing Kin's kill video was bizarre because it was them executing our strat properly (and class stacking). Unsurprisingly, once we had 4 rogues and 5 mages in our raid, we killed it within 2 days. If any Blizzard employee is reading this: you guys messed up. Never release a boss like this again.

If you have an alt rogue, mage or ret paladin, I'd highly suggest gearing them up before this boss.

Okay, enough of me complaining. Let's get down to lock specific stuff.

The #1 thing about this fight is damage to the tendon. If your raid cannot kill a tendon in 2 lifts, you're screwed (except for Stars, they had the only kill without doing that, but they're nuts). You have roughly 18 seconds of time to attack the tendon on each lift. Obviously any class with massive burst dps potential is king on this fight (with no ramp-up time). This is where warlocks suck. Besides hunters, warlocks and boomkins are bottom of the barrel in terms of tendon damage. Even shadow priests can do decent damage with 4 piece T13. Get used to sucking, and try and maximize your fellow raid members' damage as much as possible.


Affliction: Ahahahahahahahaha no.

Destruction: "hey I'll be clever and Bane of Havoc the tendon so I can dps it while it's gone...oh it doesn't work. FFFFFFFFFFFFF."

Demonology: Woo a burst dps cooldown! A+

Now that we've selected our spec, let's go over little things regarding it.

1. Use the incinerate spec (3/31/7). I'm never going to recommend this any other time, so listen up. The entire fight consists of you praying for impending doom procs. The incinerate spec lets you get more of them, but lowers your overall damage due to slower immolates, and lower grip break damage. It's worth the trade-off though.

2. Haste vs. Mastery: Mastery increases your tendon damage, while haste gives you a higher chance of getting impending doom procs. Personally, I ran a full mastery reforge and had roughly a 85% chance of having meta up for each tendon. A full haste reforge would probably push that into the 95% territory. A lot of it relies on how quickly your raid kills Amalgamations as well. On our kill, we had the second fastest kill time (11:59). That means we killed amalgamations very quickly. If your raid takes longer, you need less haste to guarantee meta is up.

Honestly, I'd suggest going full mastery and just pray you get enough procs.
Spine of Deathwing Continued

3. Trinkets: You're working on heroic spine, so I'm assuming you have good trinkets and some heroic rag kills under your belt. Your main options are Variable Pulse Lightning Capacitor, Will of Unbinding, Cunning of the Cruel, Moonwell Chalice or Insignia of the Corrupted Mind. Replace each with w/e ilevel one you have.

You can't control insignia, so that one's out.

WoU is useful at every point in the fight, so that stays.

VPLC and Cunning are very similar trinkets in that they have static int + a direct damage proc. Each proc also scales with our meta damage, potentially making them very powerful trinkets. VPLC has no ICD and procs randomly, while cunning has a 25 second ICD and procs randomly. Cunning can be completely wasted due to only having 18 second of burn time on the tendon, but that can be countered by doing a full DPS stop before the amalgamation explodes. VPLC fires at any target you crit, which is fine if you're only attacking the tendon. Unfortunately your immolation aura will also hit nearby bloods/corruptions, potentially wasting the proc. Both of these also have the benefit of being useful at every stage of the fight.

MWC is excellent for increasing your tendon damage on every other lift. Lining up MWC with bloodlust, potion, or power infusion is huge. Inside bloodlust + MWC I managed to do 1.5 million damage. That's pretty much max.

Basically this is just VPLC/CoC vs. MWC.

MWC = more spikey tendon dps, much lower amalgamation damage.
CoC/VPLC = more consistent tendon dps, higher amalgamation damage.

I used MWC on our kill, but used HVPLC during most of progression. I didn't notice a tremendous difference, so it's honestly up to you. Get a feel for your raid's tendon timings and use whatever you feel is more effective.

Maximizing Tendon Damage:

I'm going to make a few assumptions here:

- You're the only warlock in the raid
- You're the only source of 5% crit.
- You're not the only source of 8% spell damage

Before the tendon shows up you need to pop MWC (if applicable), Meta, Immo Aura, and Soul Burn (if you have 4 piece T13).

Here's the priority system when it's attackable:

1. Incinerate/Shadow Bolt (for 5% crit)
1a. Felstorm during the cast
2. BoD (get it up before the 15 second mark to get one tick off. That one tick hits for around 15k, so it's more than an incinerate)
3. Immolate
4. Corruption
5. Hand of Guldan
6. Shadowflame
7. Incinerate if molten core is up
8. Soul Fire if soulburn buff is up, or during decimation
9. Incinerate

NOTE: The felguard is a stupid piece of crap and you need to manually make him use Legion Strike. Make an easy bind for it and spam it during GCDs.

Burning Amalgamations & Breaking Grips

Put up BoD & Immolate on the amalgamation, then spam incinerate and pray to w/e god you believe in for impending doom procs (if you don't believe in a god, pray to Darwin and Richard Dawkins). Every GCD you waste trying to dot up a blood, casting shadowflame, refreshing corruption or anything else is another second you could be using to get an impending doom proc. The main goal here is to try and snipe a blood that is sub 25% hp to get a decimation proc. It means you have a 1.3 second nuke instead of a 1.8 second one.

Grips are mainly handled by the mages, but you still need to help break them. Precast an incinerate so it hits just as the grip starts. If you're having issues breaking grip, cast another incinerate directly after. Be careful of overburning it though, incinerate is a slow traveling nuke and tends to hit after the grip is already broken. If decimation is up, obviously use a soul fire instead.
Madness of Deathwing

This fight is ridiculously fun. You get to see a huge amount of numbers, have a ton of options, and have a ton of room to learn little tricks to maximize your output.

General Fight Strategy

You've done normal mode a bunch. Literally the only change beyond more hp and bigger numbers is the addition of the Corrupting Parasite which you need to kill (read the encounter journal or watch a kill video to see how they function).

Standard platform kill order is Green-->Red-->Yellow-->Blue

100% important holy crap you need this or your raid will literally laugh at you: Make a /target macro for parasites and bolts. You can target the bolts while they're still a million miles away.


Affliction: King spec for this fight.

- Soul swap allows for easy target switching (onto either Parasites or Bolts).
- Soulburn + SoC = god mode for bloods
- The self healing is incredibly good. I had 1.1 million healing on myself with siphon life on our kill.
- Has a stronger BoA than the other specs. You will be using this on the bloods (which I will explain why in a bit)
- Scales with haste exceedingly well (you have a ton on this fight)
- Requires constant life tapping due to ridiculously fast cast speed (1.3 second shadow bolts generally).
- Has arguably the strongest execute damage in the game. A good chunk of the fight involves things in drain soul range.

Demonology: Only use if nobody else is bringing 10% spell power.

- Roughly 10k to 20k dps behind Affliction at the end of the fight.
- Requires melee range to maximize damage, but being in melee range of the corruption tentacle is a big no-no.
- Neither Immolation Aura, nor Hellfire proc spellweaving in an effective manner.
- Horrendously bad for fast target swaps.
- Immolate does last a long time, which is good for bloods.
- Mana feed means you won't need to life tap much.

Destruction: Has potential, but isn't as good as Affliction

- Arguably better snap target swap damage than Affliction due to a quick conflag + 3x incinerate
- Readily goes into the sub 1 second cast territory for incinerate while under backdraft
- Multidot potential is lower than Affliction.
- BoH is nice, but is mainly used to ensure trickle damage onto the corruptions/wing tentacles while you're attacking bloods.
- Higher Rain of Fire damage is nice.
- Nether Ward is useful during the constant AOE damage at certain points in the fight.
- No execute whatsoever.
- The biggest problem with Destruction is that everything it brings to the table for this fight is merely acceptable, not mindblowingly awesome like Affliction.

Warlock Specific Strategies

I'm making the assumption you're Affliction for this fight, so let's get started.

Your felhunter appears to take full damage from the initial parasite explosion, also he loves to stand next to it automatically (with our positioning at least). Make sure to manually move it into the main melee clump.

The main reason Affliction is so good for this fight is because of the sheer amount of Spellweaving damage you can bring to the table. Let's go over the spells you'll be using here:


UA & Corruption & BoA: Your bread and butter dots on this fight. Every DoT tick has a chance to proc spellweaving.

Shadowflame: The direct damage portion, and the DoT portion have a chance to proc spell weaving. ***THIS IS YOUR BEST SPELL FOR THE BLOODS IF YOU ARE IN MELEE RANGE***

Soulburn-->SoC: The DD portion of SoC can cause a single tick of spell weaving, which kind of sucks. However, putting corruption on every blood is amazing.

Rain of Fire (lolwut): Here's the deal. For the purposes of spellweaving, each tick of RoF counts as a separate direct damage spell on every target it hits. Because of this, RoF is your main AOE spell on this fight. Use it on the bloods for just 5 seconds and look at your damage skyrocket. It's absolutely insane.
Strat Stuff

I'll go over what happens on each platform and what order you should be doing things.

1. Fight start: Attack wing/arm tentacle
1a. (Optional): Double dot the wing tentacle on the blue platform. This is a more advanced thing once you progress further in the fight.
2. Corruption tentacle spawns: DoT it up and send your pet over.
3. Parasite spawns: Swap to it and kill it before it explodes (potentially use soul swap)
4. Attack corruption tentacle more
5. Bolt spawns: Swap to it and kill it before it lands (potentially use soul swap)
6. Bloods spawn:
- Soulburn-->SoC
- Tab BoA each blood
- Tab UA each blood
7. Parasite spawns and bloods are dragged to it: RoF the bloods
8. Bloods & Parasite & Corruption tentacle die within a short period of time in between each
9. Swap to wing/arm tentacle
10. Tab Corruption the fiery tentacles if Alextrazsa isn't up
11. Kill wing/arm tentacle and move to next platform

Phase 2

1. DoT up the head
2. Get 3 stacks of shadow embrace
3. Go to town with drain soul
4. Tab corruption/UA the shrapnel tentacles when they spawn
5. Ignore the 2 big adds when they spawn initially
6. SB-->SoC the bloods when they spawn, then follow up with RoF as they run in.
7. Kill the 2 big adds
8. Repeat until dead.
9. Enjoy your tit staff or rathrak if you don't have the legendary already.
10. Pray you roll high enough to win one of the mounts.

The reason you stop attacking the corruption while the bloods are up is because spell weaving cleaves off the bloods and onto the corruption, thus netting you more effective dps. The off-tank will wrangle up the blood and keep them next to the corruption to ensure this. Once the parasite spawns, the OT will move the bloods over to the parasite to make it die faster as well.

Having 3 dots + RoF means you have the potential for the highest spellweaving damage of any class in the game. On our kill, 24% of my damage was from spellweaving (for a grand total of 16.7 Million damage @ 773 ticks). Take advantage of your strength and think of it as retribution for being one of the worst classes on Spine of Deathwing.
it's roughly 900 dps. I can't really feel it on most DS fights though, due to the sheer amount of variability on em.

Also, other thread capped. All new discussion will be here.
You didn't mention Destro on H Blackhorn. Could you compare it to others? Thank you.
question, How come for madness you only list UA/corruption and not BoA for the fragments but BoA is the first thing you do for bloods?
@Rainbow: I see no reason to explain how to play a sub-optimal spec on that fight.

@Bdwong: The fragments die too fast for BoA to be effective in most cases. You could make the argument to BoA at least one of them in order to soul swap to another one, but it's best saved for the terrors.
Hey Dark!

Quick question: on Madness, wouldn't you want to keep Doom on Deathwing's body, and BoA everything that spawns? Or just BoA everything?
How much of that strat for dealing with bloods on Madness is still viable with the 15% nerf?
@degauss: I use BoD on the wing/arm tentacles/head

@vreivai: Which bloods are you referring to?
Is Aura of Foreboding any better then the other potential homes for the 2 floater points in Demo?
Demonic Empowerment and Improved health funnel are worthless. 1/2 Fel synergy is more than enough to keep your pet alive. That just leaves us with 3/3 demonic embrace vs. aura of foreboding. There's no dps gain/loss either way, so it's entirely your choice.
04/19/2012 09:18 AMPosted by Darkzyrklord
@vreivai: Which bloods are you referring to?

The regenerative bloods. Specifically what I'm asking is: is it still worth it to put UA and BoA on all of them, or do they die too quickly with the 15% nerf?
depends on your group comp. Just let everyone know you're arguably the best class to maximize spellweaving, so they should back off the bloods and focus on the corruptions.
My raids comp is really aoe heavy, so our raid leader only lets a select few actually dot the bloods. The strategy to handle them is still effective, you should always dot each one with all 3 dots + Shadowflame.
For HSpine, do you ever have your Felhunter out on the fight? Also, on which lifts do you summon the Doomguard? I know its hard to eyeball it, but with my gear, if I had mwc+demon soul felguard+meta+soulburn w/4pc bonus, how much damage should I be able to dish out? Right now I'm seeing around 800k within 18 seconds on a raid dummy with nothing other than those cds (no raid buffs). thanks

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