My name is Sjele. I mostly play a warlock as long as it is good, and when it is not, I cry as I reroll to whatever is better. I have been in the top 20 scene since Uldir, and I've been in Method since Sanctum of Domination.
Demonology is a fairly simple builder/spender class where you build resources and spend them on summoning demons. An easy way to think about it is that every demon is a damage of time effect (DoT), but instead of the effect being on a target, it is on the ground.
Demonology is good at single target burst and sustained cleave as long as it is stacked.
Movement during cooldown setup and spread cleave is a weakness of the spec.
In my opinion, demonology is extremely fun to play, and once you get into it, it feels very natural in terms of the "flow" of the gameplay.
Core Ability Overview
If you are already familiar with the core abilities of the spec, feel free to skip through this part.
It is more for new players that are going in completely blind.
Demonology abilities can be sorted into three main “groups.” “Builders” that build or generate resources (Soul Shards). “Spenders,” that spend the soul shards, and “Cooldowns,” which are your heavier damage cooldowns.
How Imps work
Imps, when summoned, do not have a set lifespan as other demons do. They will last until they have emptied their energy bar, which is enough for 6 firebolt shots, or 40 seconds, whichever comes first. In most situations, they will empty their energy way before the 40 seconds mark is ever reached, but it's worth knowing about the interaction.
- Shadow Bolt: This ability generates one soul shard per cast. This is the lowest priority spell in your rotation.
- Demonbolt: This ability generates two soul shards but has a very long base cast time. You cast this when you have demonic core procs to generate shards. Demonic core stacks to 4 stacks.
- Soul Strike (talent): This ability commands your Felguard to strike the target and generates 1 Soul Shard. The best way to think about this ability is that it's an instant “shadow bolt” that deals increased damage.
- Hand of Gul’dan: This ability will spend up to 3 Soul Shards per cast and summon imps depending on how many shards were spent. If you cast Hand of Gul’dan on 3+ Shards, you will summon 3 imps. This is maximum efficiency. If you cast Hand of Gul’dan on 1 Shard, the Hand of Gul’dan cast will do the same damage, but it will only summon 1 imp because only 1 shard was consumed.
- Call dreadstalkers: This ability is your bread and butter as a demonology warlock. It summons 2 (or 3 with the talent Ripped Through the Portal) dreadstalkers that will fight for you for 12 seconds. When your dreadstalkers time out, they will give you 1 demonic core per dreadstalker. Although it has a 20 second cooldown, I don't list it under "cooldowns" because it is something you almost always want to press as soon as it becomes available, and it is integral to the "flow" of the spec.
- Vilefiend (talent): This talent shares a talent node with Soul Strike but is more single-target focused. It summons a Vilefiend to fight for you for 15 seconds. Usually, this ability is paired up with a Demonic Tyrant, which is covered in the rotation section of the guide.
- Summon Demonic Tyrant: Although this is technically a talent, I don't think there is a way to get around picking this up. It summons a Demonic Tyrant for 15 seconds, which will increase all damage done by your pets for its duration and extend any demons currently summoned by the same duration. F.ex if you cast Summon Vilefiend and Call Dreadstalkers followed by demonic tyrant, they will have their base duration increased by 15 seconds. More on how to utilize this properly is in the rotation section. For the duration of the Demonic Tyrant, imps have their energy cost reduced to 0, essentially "freezing" their energy at whatever it was at the start of the Demonic Tyrant duration. This also applies to imps summoned during the Demonic Tyrant.
- Nether Portal (talent): This is a very powerful 3-minute cooldown that will summon additional demons to fight for you for every time you spend soul shards for 15 seconds after it's cast. This cooldown changes your rotation slightly during its duration but more on that in the rotation section of the guide. This cooldown is especially powerful when it's paired with the capstone talent Gul'dans Ambition. Gul'dan's Ambition summons a very powerful Pit Lord at the end of the Nether Portal based on how many demons were summoned during its duration.
- Grimoire: Felguard (talent): This ability summons an additional Felguard to fight for you for 17 seconds. It casts felstorm, legion strike, and the usual “felguard” abilities. Just as all your other demons, it can be extended by Demonic Tyrant.
- Guillotine (talent): FELGUARD THROWS THE HAMMER DOWN! It puts an AoE effect on the ground for 8 seconds and makes the basic attacks of your main Felguard cleave to enemies around the target. This ability is ok for AoE, but at the time of writing this guide, it is slightly underwhelming, doing about 4-5% of your AoE.
What has changed
We do not have many core gameplay changes coming from shadowlands. It functions the same as it has for 2+ years. You build shards with shadow bolt, demonbolt, and soul strike (if talented) and spend them on summoning imps through Hand of Gul’dan, dreadstalkers, and various other demons. Except for the addition of Imp Gang boss, Guillotine, and Gul’dan’s Ambition, the core of Demonology is the same as in Shadowlands.