Caperfin's Advanced Warlock Raid Tank Guide
Caperfin last edited by Caperfin
Hi, my name is Caperfin and welcome to my guide! For a long time there's been some negative stigma surrounding Warlock Tanking in original World of Warcraft, many players don't consider them tanks and not worth a second look. However, this stigma is typically fueled by misinformation or players refusing to go the extra mile to make it work and much rather give up halfway and play something else. Can Warlocks tank in World of Warcraft's original iteration? The short and to the point answer is, yes. Although, as previously mentioned it will demands a great deal of effort. Every possible subject that comes to mind will be dissected to answer any lingering questions you might have. In the likely situation a subject is not addressed or poorly please bring it to my attention. I expect the same amount of scrutiny from readers as I have put into writing this guide, so don't hold back.
Before continuing, an important aspect needs to be brought to everyone's attention. For some players this will be old news, but for many others players this will be a much needed revelation. The topic of Viable and Optimal is a highly controversial topic as some people simply don't see the difference or mixed these words up and commonly interject their own misguided philosophy onto it. To put it simply, Optimal is the most efficient and foolproof solution to solve a problem that eliminates as many negative variables as possible and favors a more easy going route. Next, is Viable or commonly referred to as possible, which is often seen as the more challenging path to take but to many feels like a greater personal achievement. You will often see experienced raiders from top guilds play as a pure damage dealing warlock in raid and build a tanking set while dpsing. Eventually, they will transition into Warlock tanking due to its extra challenge in an otherwise easy to clear content patch, they usually make the switch after the initial rush to get world first on a boss/raid is claimed or the subsequent following content drought approaches. As I previously stated it is not for the faint of heart, if you are brand spanking new to World Of Warcraft consider leveling up a ranged class, for example: a mage to get an adequate grasp of the PVE raids. All the while researching about tanking and talking to peers to get a feel for it and slowly transition to the world of Warlock Tanking. If you are a veteran of the game by all means start leveling that Warlock.
Let me put your fears to rest, Warlocks are fully capable of tanking 5mans, 10mans, off-tanking and even main-tanking a few raid bosses. Of course, as stated before, each form of tanking is heavily reliant on personal and guild experience. I should specify there are non-traditional factors that make tanking easier, such as generally bad server coding, bugged items/talents and traditional factors such as having: Moonkin Aura , Power Infusion, tier sets, etc... Regardless, of these implementations and their magnitude a few things never change: A Warlock's armor will never approach a warrior's armor. This results in a lower mitigation of physical damage. However, you compensate in other areas and provide some beneficial assets.
How does this affect our grim buddy? Warlocks are on another tier when it comes to outputting threat. This results in more dependable damage being dished out and correlates into predictable threat. So without further ado, let me demonstrate how to get creatures more mad at you than unusual.
Searing Pain is first on the list as it provokes a tremendously high amount of threat because of its 2x damage threat modifier. Downranking is not necessary as Spain barely consumes any mana. The main downside is early raid content is particularly resistant to fire. As a point of reference, anything that resembles an elemental (noticeable in Molten Core) will have a rather high resistance to fire. Don't worry, there are items to counter this downside, ex: Eye of Moam and Staff of the Qiraji Prophets among many others. Here is a chart to better explain the notion of resistance.
Major Rejuvenation Potion and similar healing potions as well as mana pots, bandages and eating food are last on the list of threat generators and they produce a very small quantity of threat. To be more accurate, the healing threat is global and normally .5x of the amount replenished. Unfortunately, both health and mana effects cause no threat if already at maximum capacity. Seasoned players on brisk coherent fights will often pop a heal pot after using a Goblin Sapper Charge or Major Rejuvenation Potion to induce an immense amount of threat. In the same vein, you can use Flask of the Titans and consume a pot or bandage up oneself to generate threat. Mana and healing over time potions do not generate threat. Here is a list of a few food/consumables centered around threat management.
In order of threat:
- Major Rejuvenation Potion is the highest threat generator but it can be expensive.
- Major Healthstone is given to us by a warlock with the talent Improved Healthstone
- Demonic Rune converts health into mana.
- Dark Rune identical to the previous, but can be traded between characters and bought on the Auction House.
- Night Dragon's Breath Gives mana & health. Easy to gain so get a large amount and place them in the bank.
- Whipper Root Tuber it only grants health.
- Major Mana Potion grants a good chunk of mana and drops throughout the world quite often.
- Lily Root is created from a neck item and saves on time, money, etc… (the single root will disappear after 1hr.)
- Major Healing Potion is last because the amount ratio of granted health is on a large spectrum and random.
- Crystal Restore lackluster threat, but can be casted onto you by an ally. (triggers the pot CD for ced ally)
The items above can relives some pressure from healers as they have to spend less mana to keep you topped off. As you familiarize yourself with a fight and the limits of your raiding partners, it will come intuitively what is the best to use. Its worth mentioning some items don't share a cooldown, thus can follow each other in quick succession.
Here are the two different cooldown categories:
My suggestion is to have a diverse pool of the items featured in this section to cater to any situation that might arise.
Death Coil is third on the list, sadly high level bosses are unable to be feared, however still get damaged. This spell sees the majority of its usefulness during periods where a lot of movement is required. Because the spell grants 100% of the damage back in health, it can provide a decent amount of threat if timed properly with Goblin Sapper Charge. For additional info, refer to the section Rotation on its multiple implementations. Its also important to remember this spell requires a lot of mana compared to other spells in our toolkit.
Goblin Sapper Charge is great to generate additional threat but unfortunately has a long cooldown. Luckily, there are other bombs with shorter cooldowns. Regardless, it is a definite must have against multiple mobs. The majority of explosives are created through engineering with the exception of the last one in the following list. Here is the list of explosives centered around threat management: Firstly, we have Goblin Sapper Charge the highest threat generating explosive and is also instant cast. (shares a 1min cooldown with other bombs) Secondly, is Dark Iron Bomb deals damage in a 5yrd radius but requires to stand still and a 1 sec cast. The last one is: Crystal Charge, which deals similar damage to its predecessor but in a 3yrd radius and can be cast while moving. Another similarity is that both can be activated before Sapper is off its 5min CD.
Thorns and similar reflective effects to put it simply are passive buffs that deal damage to attacker when hit. Contrary to popular belief as well as many tooltips, reflective buffs will only damage the attacker if they strike you with in melee range. Although, it provides the lowest amount of threat in our toolkit it is still note worthy. Typically, these buffs are great against multiple mobs however they still maintain some relevancy in single target scenarios, especially versus bosses with high attack speeds. There isn't a reason not to have the majority of them. The buffs below stack with each other.
In order of threat:
- Thorns originates from druids & its damage is amplified with a druid tier set bonus & a talent in the balance tree.
- Fire Shield is second and is casted by a warlock's imp and improved by a warlock talent in the demonology tree.
- Crystal Spire is an item any class can cast on you & should be gathered and stored in the bank for later use.
- Razorhide from completing a repeatable quest in the Barrens from the NPC, Mangletooth a caged quillboar.
- Static Barrier from the head item: Electromagnetic Gigaflux Reactivator. The effect will remain while unequipped.
Shadowburn is sixth on the list of threat generators and is a spell gained through talents. It is mostly utilized during periods with a lot of movement, since it triggers the GCD. Its important to remember, this situational spell consumes a debuff slot, so properly weigh the pros and cons. Some players will not pick this talent, which is perfectly fine.
Aggro and threat from teammates is another daunting obstacle to tackle with. Conveniently, there are ways for heavy hitting classes to reduce their threat. To begin with, ranged classes are highly adored because if they were to mistakenly get aggro, they are likely at that sweet 30-40yrd range, so it's easier to supervise. Also characters standing out of the 30-40yrd range will not draw aggro until they exceed the threat level of the mob's current target by 30% as opposed to 10% for melee classes. Here are a few examples of diminishers or dumps in no particular order.
- Rogue: reduce their threat with Feint & flat out wipe threat with Vanish. It might disrupt their rotation but its appreciated.
- Mage: who have the frost talent: Frost Channeling or the fire talent Burning Soul is their way to reduce threat.
- Druid: who mainly spend their time in cat form have Cower & healing druids can obtain Subtlety from talents.
- Priest: have two of the easiest threat reducers to acquire, within the discipline talent Silent Resolve and the spell Fade
- Shaman: in the restoration talent tree can get the talent: Healing Grace & casting the basic spell: Tranquil Air Totem.
- Paladin: have the basic protection spell: Blessing of Salvation & Blessing of Protection (can halt threat during)
Additionally, there are some threat reducing items that drop in the latter portion of raiding content that are used in raids to combat the threat produced. This is good news because serious petal to the metal fury warriors generate a tremendous amount of threat. So we are grateful for the melee trinket Fetish of the Sand Reaver and the caster trinket Eye of Diminution used by fire mages and destruction warlocks. Advise your high dpser's to keep an eye out for these items. Also, an honorable mention should be made for the potion Limited Invulnerability Potion and Light of Elune for its aggro reassignment effect as well as its halt on additional threat. All that was mentioned is also useful for bosses that reset threat globally due to a unique boss mechanic, a timely potion pop from teammates can help you quickly establish threat. There are some servers, where Flask of Petrification not only removes aggro but the debuff/buff it places can be clickable-off but these instances are rare and its unclear if that was the item's original intention. This guide will continue without considering this item as a key component to tanking.
First, on the list is a simple rotation and we’ll be presuming the enemy is a simple tank-spank and has very minimal or no fire resistance allowing our demonic friend to freely cause havoc unhindered. The following rotation is split into several sections to better highlight the course of action.
Pre-pull: Cast max rank Demon Armor. Next, make sure before pulling the mob all possible buffs are present on you and on their maximum duration. Refer to the section "Buffs" for suggestions. Also, ask yourself: Is there a boss mechanic or any moment during the fight with significant downtime? if yes, create Major Healthstones during these small moments/pauses.
Pulling: Sacrifice your Voidwalker, resummon it and put it on the stay command near the casters in the raid. Unlike warriors we greatly benefit from shield absorb effects. Face the boss and cast a max rank Soul Fire. While it travels,
Combat: Cast a max rank Shadow Bolt. Depending on the run speed of the boss a Shadowburn can be snucked in. At this point, the majority of debuffs should be on the boss. Proceed with a max rank Searing Pain. If the enemy suddenly targets a raid member or drops aggro due to a unique mechanic or you predict it happening, save Death Coil for this inevitability and follow it up with Goblin Sapper Charge or Shadowburn. I can't stress how much a scenario can go from peaceful to chaotic in the blink of an eye, so watch KTM Threat at all times. For foreseeable threat problems refer to the topic Threat Management. Disclaimer: it is not possible to dodge, block and parry while casting a spell, if a boss mechanic will surely lead to death, proceed with the following: Cast Sacrifice and re-summon Summon Voidwalker activate JuJu Escape, Zandalarian Hero Badge and cast instant spells, if mana is an issue resort to using a wand.
Tip: Equip pure spell dmg/spell crit gear before casting max rank Soul Fire and swap to normal tanking gear while it travels. This will increase SF's initial damage. I recommend quickly sitting and consuming some mana food.
Tip: In order to get the extra healing threat from Death Coil, activate a Sapper Charger or Flask of Titans or Dark Rune, just before.
As you probably know a character can have a theoretical cap of 32 beneficial buffs. The limit may differ from server to server or what is acknowledged as a buff. Prioritize collecting survival buffs before acquiring damage buffs. Disclaimer: because of the nature and duties of an OT, less damage is taken, therefore, it is not 100% necessary to aim for survival buffs. Also, some buffs are unobtainable due to certain patch restrictions or unable to stack with others. On a side note, I suggest installing NirkBuffRemover/NBR to help with overall buff management and ease of mind. Down below is a table of relevant buffs, separated into sub groups to better highlight their usefulness. Resistance buffs/totems are disregarded.
Blessing of Blackfathom: +5 Intellect, + 5 spirit and increases frost damage done by 15.
Wisdom of Agamaggan: +10 Intellect for 30 min.
Headmaster's Charge: +20 Intellect.
Arcane Intellect: +31 Intellect.
Warchief's Blessing: +15% Melee Haste, +300 Hp, 10 mana regen every 5 seconds.
Mana Spring Totem: +10 mana every 2 sec.
Innervate: Increases Mana regen by 400% for 20 sec.
Brilliant Mana Oil: +12 mana per 5 seconds. (Although, an enchant, it appears in the temporary weapon buff slot.)
Static Barrier: Deals 5 Nature dmg to melee attackers.
Crystal Spire: Deals 12 Nature dmg to melee attackers. (the quest is repeatable and any class can cast this)
Fire Shield: Deals 13 Fire dmg to melee attackers.
Thorns: Deals 18 Nature dmg to melee attackers.(32 dmg talented + tier set)
Flask of Supreme Power: +150 damage done by magical spells & effects for 2 hr. Only 1 flask effect can be active at a time.
Greater Arcane Elixir: +20 dmg dealt from spells & abilities.
Traces of Silithyst: +5% dmg to melee, range and spell damage dealt.
Power Infusion: The target receives +20% spell damage & healing for 15 sec.
Songflower Serenade: Increases a melee, ranged, or spell to crit by 5%, +15 all stats.
Mark of the Chosen: 2% chance when struck in combat of increasing all stats by 25 for 1 min.
Spirit of Zandalar: +10 move speed, +15 all stats.
Mark of the Wild: +384 armor, +162 all attributes,+270 all resistance.
With the Threat Increasing buffs out of the way, lets proceed to look at buffs that increase our chances of surviving a fight. Although, there is no strict order, you should still prioritize getting world buffs before obtaining other buffs. In the scenario some of the following buffs are not obtainable for whatever reason, they will be separated into categories to provide alternative solutions.
Sayge's Dark Fortune of Stamina: +10% Stamina or +10% Armor. (A armor version of this buff also exists)
Dirge's Kickin' Chimaerok Chops: +25 Stamina. (does not stack with other food buffs)
Rumsey Rum Black Label: +15 Stamina.
Power Word: Fortitude (Priest): +54 Stamina.
Mol'dar's Moxie: +15% Stamina overall.
Spirit of Zanza: +50 Stamina, +50 spirit.
Admiral's Hat: +10 Stamina (must be applied by group member & then they logout)
Blood Pact: +42 Stamina (the amount of stamina can be increased through a warlock talent)
The Lion Horn of Stormwind: When hit has a 1% chance of increasing the party's armor by +250. (can have 2 in trinket slot.)
Greater Stoneshield Potion: +2000 Armor for 2min.
Elixir of Superior Defense: +450 Armor.
Demon Armor: +570 Armor.
Crystal Ward (allies can also cast): +200 Armor.
Inspiration (Priest): Increases armor by 25% for 15 sec. (might not stack with Razorhide buff).
Soul Link: 30% of all dmg taken is instead taken by your demon. Both will deal 3% more damage but demon must be alive.
Master Demonologist (self-talent): Grants the Warlock & the summoned demon an effect as long as that demon is alive.
Power Word: Shield: Absorb 1105 dmg for 30 sec. While active, casting isn't interrupted by dmg. Target can't be ...
Scarab Brooch: Heals give a shield that absorbs damage equal to 15% of the amount healed. (can be item swapped)
Greater Heal Vestments of Faith tier set bonus 4/4 (Priest): On critical hits, cast shield absorbing 500 damage.
Greater Heal Renew Vestments of Transcendence tier set bonus. GH is now a Hot & equivalent to a rank5 Renew.
Rejuvenation (Druid): Heal for 888 over 12 sec.
Regrowth (Druid): Heal for 1064 over 21 sec.
Renew (Priest): Heal for 970 damage over 15 sec.
Dampen Magic (Mage): Decreases damage from spells by 135 & healing spells by 270. (increasable through a mage talent).
Amplify Magic: Increase dmg taken from spells by 112 & healing spells by up to 225. (increasable through a mage talent).
Devotion Aura: Gives 735 additional armor to party members within 30 yards. Players may only have one Aura on them per...
Healing Stream Totem: Summons a totem for 1 min that heals group members within 20 yards for 14 every 2 seconds.
Grace of Air Totem Summons a Grace of Air Totem increasing the agility of party members within 20 yards by 77.
Stoneskin Totem: Reduce melee damage taken by 30. (effect is increased through a shaman talent).
Mind Control Buffs:
I wouldn't be thorough if I didn't mention the wonderful world of Mind Control buffing. Refer to my video to learn more about Mind Control Buffing:
Special Event Buffs:
On an ending note for buffs, we can also get buffs from special events/holidays.
In conclusion, let's compile all of the buffs we have seen.
Here is a screenshot of the best buffs, we can get for our means: https://i.ibb.co/6bSN4k9/xdffgdfg.png
Here is a screenshot of realistic buffs, we can get for our means: https://i.ibb.co/bzfRDFw/asdqweqw.png
Having as many debuffs on the boss as possible is of paramount importance to tanking. Therefore, our interests are heavily tied to the release of patch 1.7, due to its extra 8 debuff slots introduction totaling to 16 debuffs. Tanking before patch 1.7 can be quite a troublesome route. All debuffs on the list below benefit us in either threat or survival and assumed to be at their maximum rank/talent improvement.
Improved Shadow Bolt (Warlock): Shadow Bolt critical strikes increase Shadow damage dealt to the target by 20%...
Curse of Shadow: Reduces Shadow & Arcane resistances by 75 & increasing Shadow and Arcane damage taken by 10%.
Shadow Weaving (Priest): Shadow damage spells have a 100% chance to cause your target to be vulnerable to Shadow...
Wail of the Banshee: After a 1.5sec cast, reduce an enemy's hit chance by 10% for 12 sec. (preferably casted by healers)
Insect Swarm (Druid): The enemy is swarmed by insects, reducing chance to hit by 2% & causing 324 Nature damage...
Improved Scorch: Scorch has a 100% chance to cause your target to be vulnerable to Fire damage. This vulnerability...
Flame Buffet (Arcanite Dragonling): Inflicts Fire damage to an enemy and increases the Fire damage it takes by 40 for...
Curse of the Elements: -75 resistance to Fire & Frost and increase Fire and Frost damage taken by 10%. Only 1 Curse per...
Demoralizing Shout (Warrior): Reduce melee attack power of enemies within 10 yards by 140 for 30 sec.
Curse of Weakness: Damage caused by target is reduced by 31 for 2 min. (effect is increased through a warlock talent)
Bag of Marbles: Decreases target's chance to hit by 25% for 10 sec. (a quest reward item that can only be activated once)
Gearing is simple, if facing a boss that only deals physical damage equip a set that focuses on armor>agi>stam. Against a boss that mostly deals magical damage aim for stamina>magic resist>armor>agi. Keep in mind to maintain a constant flow of damage its recommended to acquire Knight-Lieutenant's Dreadweave Gloves. Down below is a url to a spreadsheet with a plethora of options for proper gearing:
Gearing Spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...
Install the addon: “Outfitter” to assist with handling specific sets of gear against the numerous bosses out there. To give an example of a gear set, down below on image #1 is an armor centric set designed for bosses that deal high physical damage but don't require much threat. Image #2 to the right is a gear set focused on dealing threat while retaining some survivability.
An item of notable value in the image#1 is: Zandalarian Hero Badge in the first trinket slot. This trinket can be activated before a boss fight and swap out for another item, these types of items are referred to as "Pre-Activated Items". Note: Pre activating items is very situational & not included in the google doc spreadsheet above. However, some will be listed below.
Zandalarian Hero Badge: Can be switched out for another trinket before pulling the boss.
Defender of the Timbermaw: Can be switched out... lasts 40 sec, will heal if caster is below 50%.
Petrified Scarab: Can be switched... great against bosses that cast spells.
Similar to gear, enchants must be tailored against the specific boss you will be facing. Allies can also help us, by enchanting their own cloak with Formula: Enchant Cloak - Subtlety Note: To avoid constantly having to re-enchant a piece of gear to tailor to a specific boss fights, have different versions of that gear in the bank or backpack to save on time and money.
I also suggest to keep on you Faintly Glowing Skull if you are aiming to assure the takedown of a specific boss and stay on top of aggro. The skull scales with spell damage and shadow buffs alongside related debuffs.
During the harsh and lengthy process of leveling, select Herbalism and Alchemy. A valid case can be made for also having a lvl 5 alt stationed permanently in a major city to disenchant unwanted items through mail and store items at a bank for later use. Back to the subject at hand, herbalism contributes convenient reagents for alchemy and a strong source of revenue for our eventual endgame professions. It also prevents players from spending an exorbitant portion of time pestering strangers in Orgrimmar to craft potions. The objective is straightforward, gather a substantial supply of gold and a bank chock-full of fruitful potions the raid might need.
Next, I advise dropping Herbalism once the quantity of gold in one’s bags is overflowing and adopt the late game profession: engineering to scoop up a few useful tools, such as:
Finally, for secondary professions, I urge grabbing all of them as they all provide valuable assets. In terms of fishing, you can farm those elusive Stonescale Eels that are highly contested after for Flask of the Titans. First aid grants bandages for healing that dont require any mana to use.
Horde don't have access to Imp. Concentrention Aura and Imp. Devotion Aura, therefore Alliance is the most optimal. To be more specific, Horde can only reach a 50 to 60% chance to avoid interruption caused by damage while casting Searing Pain and they don't have access to an exorbitant amount of armor, unlike Alliance. They also have the added advantage of being able to use Bag of Marbles on the majority of bosses.
Escape Artist: Escape the effects of any immobilization or movement speed reduction effect. 1 sec cast.
Expansive Mind: Intelligence increased by 5%.
Arcane Resistance: Arcane Resistance increased by 10.
Engineering Specialist: Engineering skill increased by 15.
What does this mean?: Gnomes are the most optimal race for our tanking purposes within the Alliance faction.
Shadow Resistance: Shadow Resistance increased by 10.
Underwater Breathing: Underwater breath lasts 300% longer than normal.
Cannibalize: When activated, regenerates 7% of total health every 2 sec for 10 sec.
Will of the Forsaken: Provides immunity to Charm, Fear and Sleep while active. May also be used while already afflicted by Charm, Fear or Sleep.
What does this mean?: Undead provide a situation racial spell and boost to shadow resistance that does see some usefulness.
For the sake of generality and simplicity these talents setups assume a server between patch 1.9 - 1.12 and taking part in a serious guild who are confidently clearing raids.
The default talent build above is centered around this guide, calculated as the safest to pursue and viewed as a preliminary starter pack into the world of tanking 5mans/10mans and off-tanking certain raid bosses.
Centralised entirely in generating as much threat as possible. In this situation, our imp can be Demonic Sacrifice to bolster fire damage but high tier gear is required alongside buffs, such as: Flask of Titans, Moldar Moxie, Lay on Hands, etc...
On patch 1.12 a full BIS and buffed Warlock will be the closest in stats to approach a feral bear tank, let take an in-depth look at the stats to see the differences. As a guideline, the Example Druid Tank below is BIS/buffed and able to clear most bosses without a problem. A Warlock like other tanks tailors his gear in accordance with the boss he will be facing. Obviously, the Example Druid Tank can reach higher numbers and has a plethora of defensive spells, but the goal is to showcase the class with the closest similarity to a Warlock in stats across the board that gets the job done in raids.
Druids have the luxury of having multiple categories covered and a broader safety net. While Warlock tanks are required to significantly maximise a specific category for a certain boss.
Now, let's explores the threat generated by other classes to showcase where Warlock tanks stand. Remember, threat will depend on gear, boss mechanics, etc... But in general, the current standing of tanks that can do the most threat are:
1. Feral Druid/Warrior.
2. Paladin/Enh Shaman.
3. Dem warlock.
4. Priest tanks.
The threat we can produce comes extremely close to Paladin Tanks using Holy Mightstone, if they don't use it we surpass them. We can reach an even higher threat ranking by maintaining a consistent uptime of the Flame Buffet debuff.
Raid composition differs with each boss but its considered an acquired technique that develops over time and reflects the playstyle of a guild or raid. The following image is an example raid comp with a few minor exceptions that differ from the norm. This image is by no means the perfect raid comp since raid comps drastically fluctuate along side: content patch, gear, experience, etc... With the raid leader's permission offer your advice on an ideal comp that caters to your needs without overstepping. A decent raid will always make sure that every group has a Tranquil Air Totem enforced by restoration shamans. (besides the tank group)
If you enjoyed this guide and want to see more like it or are interest in other non-meta builds check out the Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/caperfin
Also, ask questions on the Discord: https://discordapp.com/invite/GYF3uNf