Learning Demonology: Part 1

This blog, in general, is about Warlock topics – well, it says it is in the corner – but up to this point it would be more accurate to say it’s a blog about Affliction Warlock topics. The reason for that is simple – I play Affliction, and I don’t play anything else. I played 4.3 Destruction and it is still probably my favorite spec (but keep in mind, I’m a Cata baby), and I played Demonology for Spine, but for the entirety of MoP I’ve played Affliction and only Affliction.

This choice to only play one spec hasn’t come to haunt (ha ha ha) me yet, but it’s always nice to have another specs or all specs available to you because each specialization actually does have its own unique strengths – or least that’s the case for Warlocks. As my current guild is constituted there’s no need for Demonology on any fight  we’ve done – on Will of the Emperor Heroic our current comp nukes down grouped Emperor’s Rages quickly enough, and on Wind Lord Mel’jarak Affliction is every bit as strong as Demonology, but is there a compelling case to play Demo on Sha of Fear Heroic? There seems to be, so I’ll be writing about my process and experience as I learn this spec.

Starting Off

actions+=/dark_soul
actions+=/service_pet,if=talent.grimoire_of_service.enabled
actions+=/felguard:felstorm
actions+=/wrathguard:wrathstorm
actions+=/summon_doomguard
actions+=/corruption,cycle_targets=1,if=(!ticking|remains<tick_time)&target.time_to_die>=6&miss_react
actions+=/doom,cycle_targets=1,if=(!ticking|remains<tick_time|(ticks_remain+1<n_ticks&buff.dark_soul.up))&target.time_to_die>=30&miss_react
actions+=/metamorphosis,if=buff.dark_soul.up|dot.corruption.remains<5
|demonic_fury>=900|demonic_fury>=target.time_to_die*30

actions+=/cancel_metamorphosis,if=dot.corruption.remains>20&buff.dark_soul.down
&demonic_fury<=750&target.time_to_die>30

actions+=/hand_of_guldan,if=!in_flight&dot.shadowflame.remains<travel_time+action.shadow_bolt.cast_time
actions+=/touch_of_chaos,cycle_targets=1,if=dot.corruption.remains<20
actions+=/soul_fire,if=buff.molten_core.react
actions+=/touch_of_chaos
actions+=/shadow_bolt

The above is the SimC action list for Demonology with all the non-rotational (Life Tap, Fel Flame) elements, taken out. This is the foundation on which I’m going to build my Demo play off of – sit in front of the dummy, practice this until there’s some muscle memory. Afterwards, I’ll layer on extra elements – how do I open? What do I do when there are multiple targets? What about AoE? But to start, having the foundation to always be able to DPS acceptably when in a single target situation is important.

Now, I started with the SimulationCraft list, but I could have just as easily started with Evrelia’s guide, or a resource like Noxxic. Using the SimulationCraft list has the extra benefit that it’s not immediately human readable, and so I’ve tricked myself into doing a little homework: “Translate the SimCraft APL into a set of rules that you can use to play.”

There are groupings that we can use to simplify the process of making this list: both Touch of Chaos and Shadow Bolt are fillers. Wrathstorm/Service/Doomguard/Dark Soul are cooldowns. Corruption and Doom are just DoTs. The main things to pull out of the list are the Fury thresholds and the fact that ToC is used to refresh/extend Corruption.

Here’s my list then:

  • Cooldowns
  • Maintain DoTs
  • Metamorphosis if Corruption about to expire/Demonic Fury > 900/fight ending
  • Caster Form if all of the following are true: Corruption just refreshed, no Dark Soul, < 750 Demonic Fury
  • Hand of Gul’dan
  • Extend Corruption with ToC as needed
  • React to Molten Core
  • Filler

WIthout looking all the tricks that Demonology uses to maximize its DPS (and there are a lot), this is a pretty simple action list. The next stop is an hour or two in front of the raid dummy. But before I do that, there’s one other thing that I need to do, something I’ve written about as so important for Warlocks/my playstyle: adjusting my UI.

UI Considerations

Just based off of my list above, there are a few things I know I need to track:

  • Cooldowns – Grimoire of Service (just in case), Dark Soul, Imp Swarm, Wrathstorm/Felstorm, Doomguard.
  • DoTs – Doom (since my Affliction UI already tracks Corruption), Shadowflame DoT
  • Hand of Gul’dan cooldown/charges
  • Demonic Fury
  • Molten Core proc/stacks

In addition, I have to bind my skills. All of this is fairly simple. HoG replaces Haunt. Shadowflame goes into the Haunt debuff tracking. Doom aura directly replaces Agony aura. Meta goes into my Soul Burn slot. Soul Fire replaces Drain Soul. Shadow Bolt/Touch of Chaos replace Malefic Grasp. The fact that Doom/Corruption are the same key means my keybinds shift up by one.

The Importance of Keeping Informed

All of the above is fine for playing a simple Patchwerk fight adequately, but not to any earth-shattering degree. To be the best at any given spec, not only do you have to be mechanically sound, but you have to be active (a term I use to mean that you should be planning ahead and not being reactionary), know the spec’s quirks inside and out, and understand the flow of the fight as it relates to your spec. For all of those things, you need knowledge you’re not going to have as you’re first starting out. Any quest to learn or master a spec will be shortened considerably if you’ve kept up with the theorycraft and/or tips for the spec. Here are a few things I’ve read about that I’m going to incorporate from the get-go into my Demonology play:

But what about Stats/Talents/Glyphs/Gemming/Reforging/etc.?

*one big shrug*

My only concern now is to learn how to play the spec correctly, and to feel comfortable. In terms of Talents and Glyphs, those things are either obvious generally, or obvious on a fight-by-fight basis. Finally, as I’m still main spec Affliction, I have that leeway to just stick with Affliction gemming and secondaries. When it comes down to it, playing correctly trumps having the perfect secondary stat allocation. Until I am comfortable, any time spent on Demonology should be spent achieving that aim, not by squeezing extra DPS out of my gems and reforges.

And that’s it to start! After dummy practice comes LFR practice, where I’ll get some logs and then I can really compare what I’m doing to what I should be doing.

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5 thoughts on “Learning Demonology: Part 1

  1. simcraft doesn’t properly sim it last I heard, so the action list doesn’t reflect this. It is a fairly decent DPS win to enter meta while HoG is in flight, so your shadowflame ticks with your meta damage bonus. (and maybe also HoG itself hits?) It’s also a win if you can pull it off to time your HoGs in pairs, so your 2nd HoG creates a 2-stack of shadowflame. (meta for the 2nd HoG, meta CD is longer than the 6 sec spacing you need). I’m not sure how many ticks of shadowflame you can clip and still come out ahead (due to lost fury generation), but I think I usually clip maybe one tick. Casting our 2nd HoG while shadowflame has about 2.5 seconds left is about right. Or exactly 6 seconds after your first HoG. Other things can easily be higher priority than double-stacking your HoGs, e.g. being in meta for dark soul without sitting on 2 charges of HoG. If you have DS up, in meta, and meta is off CD, you can drop meta, cast HoG, and meta again, effectively casting a HoG (not chaos wave) without losing any other meta uptime. Obviously don’t stay out long enough to double-stack shadowflame, and don’t drop meta if you can’t re-enter meta right away for the rest of DS. This is esp. good if you’re low on fury, and maybe a win over another touch of chaos. Shadowflame ticks hard, even on one target. It’s very nice on wind lord or stone guard.

    I play demo on N Garalon, and H stone guard because I can take soul link to reduce aoe dmg taken (with a pet). Also it’s easier to only move after starting a cast to avoid the KJ snare, important for painting on stone guard. Also on stone guard, you can pay attention to painting at first, then burst hard fury dump with DS and still do good dps even if you barely multi-dot while painting. (camera angle, ugh). Just make sure you have an icon for the stone form buff so you don’t accidentally DPS a 90% reduced dmg dog.

    I also demo it up on N wind lord, and our H wind lord attempts. Fury dump into the boss with recklessness is huge burst, esp with skull banner up. (+30% dmg on soulfire auto-crits, pretty good). I’ve posted on the wow forums demo thread about dpsing normal wind lord:
    http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/6572357287?page=3#54

    With grimoire of service, I have enough fury at the start of the fight that I don’t delay DS/meta until HoG has recharged once. So that’s a pretty big win.

  2. also, Zinnin isn’t exactly right about demonic calling. If you don’t consume the buff right away, your 2nd demonic calling can happen sooner than 20 secs after using up the buff. So on the pull, you will actually see demonic calling come up pretty soon after your pre-cast shadow bolt. Casting imp swarm right after consuming demonic calling is actually a loss, I think, since you could wait a couple GCDs for another demonic calling, then imp swarm. (if you even use the glyph).

    (I pre-cast shadow bolt, not soulfire, because I don’t try to pre-pot while it’s in flight, and I don’t want to spend that much pre-pot time casting low dmg per execute time stuff).

    • hrm, took 9 seconds for demonic calling to come up again after consuming it, that’s probably too long to delay imp swarm, since you need the fury for your first DS, which I do as soon as I cast my 2nd HoG and enter meta (5 and a bit seconds after my first HoG, which is generally my first GCD after I pre-cast.) I thought the imp swarm glyph was a loss single-target, since at least with 4T14 it doesn’t line up with later DS.

  3. tested some more, one try had a demonic calling applied within 1 sec of it falling, in my combat log. Another had 5 secs. Another was 15 secs. (unglyphed). So planning a pull around it coming up again is not that consistent.

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