Caperfin's Full-Time Warlock Raid Tank Guide

  • Warlock Tank Guide

    About                                                                        alt text Hi, my name is Caperfin and welcome to my warlock tank guide! I'm known in the community for pushing WoW to its absolute breaking point during my +6 years of playing it and have redefined what classes can do. Today, I will be going over how to tank as a full time warlock tank. If you have questions regarding warlock tanking, feel free to drop by my Twitch stream.


    Can a warlock tank in WoW? The short and to the point answer is, yes. You might be rubbing your eyes right now in disbelief of this answer. Perhaps concocting up an entire four page manifesto around how only warriors can and should tank. Although, I could go on a long rant about how there are many other classes that can tank, today, I will be focusing on our demonic friend, the warlock.

    Table of Contents

     - Intro       - Basics      - Race                 - Profession      - Threat
     - Talents     - Rotation           - Buffs              - Debuffs
     - Gear+Ench       - Comparaison   - Raid Comp.


    My intent and statement with this warlock tank guide is not to upset anyone or downplay different classes but to bring to light a rarely talked about topic of the game. Nothing about what will be detailed in this guide is orthodox, many distinctive elements can be tied to other hybrid classes looking to stray away from the path of normality.

    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 seen as the more challenging path to take but to many feels like a greater personal feat.

    With all of this in mind, where is a warlock tank placed? Warlocks are classified under Viable. Many warlock tanks will agree their motivation comes from the glory of accomplishing something the the rest of the server population dares not even try. If this sounds like you, I encourage you to continue reading on. To restate my point, you decide to go warlock tank if you want a challenge in an otherwise easy to clear raid. For example, Molten Core can be cleared without any contention. If it wasn't made obvious before, shield bearing is a sizable undertaking. When experienced players pick up a warlock tank and put in the effort, it shines tenfold. Nonetheless, your guild must also be experienced and prepared for a tempestuous task ahead.

    You will often see experienced raiders from top guilds play as a purely damage dealing warlock in raid and build a tanking set on the side. 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 or raid is claimed and the subsequent following content drought approaches.


    Let me put your fears to rest, a warlock tank is 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. An important fact needs to be stated before moving on. A warlock's overall armor will never approach a warrior's armor mitigation. This results in a lower mitigation of physical damage.

    On this notion, pending any major weird coding or other factors, a warlock tank can do about the same threat as a protection talented warrior. But there is a drawback, many spells are mana intensive, so be prepared to farm some mana regenerative items before a raid. However, you compensate in other areas and provide some beneficial assets.


    Horde don't have access to Imp. Concentration Aura and Imp. Devotion Aura among many other aspects, therefore Alliance is the most optimal. I don't recommend selecting a race on the Horde as there are clear and defining limitations.


    While leveling, select Herbalism & Alchemy. Herbalism provides reagents for Alchemy and a source of gold for our eventual endgame professions. The goal is to gather a large supply of gold and a bank full of potions the raid might need, for example the potion, Flask of the titans. A valid case can be made for having a lvl 5 character in a major city to disenchant unwanted items through mail and store items at a bank for later use.

    After drop Herbalism and go for the late game profession, Engineering. In order to scoop up a few useful tools, such as the trinket: Gnomish battle chicken, Goblin sapper charge among many other beneficial gadgets.

    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 don't require any mana to use.


    Now, let's examine the threat of a warlock. With proper optimization, their threat is nearly equal to a pure protection warrior and in some situations just shy of a druid tank. Of course, the shorter a fight, the better, since a warlock can freely throw mana around without going out of mana as fast. Resulting in more dependable damage being dished out and correlates into predictable threat. Let's see 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 & similar potions are global and .5x of the amount given. Health or mana effects cause no threat if at maximum capacity. Players on coherent fights will use a heal pot after Goblin Sapper Charge to deal a lot of threat. Below are Food/Consumables, in order of threat:
      Major Rejuvenation Potion is the highest threat output but it is costly.
      Major Healthstone is given to us by a warlock through a trade window.
      Major Mana Potion does share a cooldown with the two above items.
      Demonic Rune / Dark Rune (Shares a cooldown with the below items)
      Night Dragon's Breath Easily acquirable, so place a few in your bank.

    • Death Coil is third, sadly high level bosses are unable to be feared but 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.

    • Goling Sapper Charge and similar bombs are great to generate additional threat and a definite must have against multiple mobs. The majority of bombs are made with engineering with the exception of the last two in the following list.
      Goling Sapper Charge (It shares a 1 minute GCD w/other bombs)
      Dark Iron Bomb requires standing still and a 1 second cast.
      Crystal Charge this can be stacked up to 20 and used while moving.
      Note: Not a bomb but Cluth of foresight (shares CD w/bombs) is an arcane spell good for fire resistant mobs.

    • Thorns and similar reflective effects deal damage to attackers when hit. Typically, these type of buffs are great against multiple mobs but still have relevancy in single target scenarios. You can only have one reflective buff on you at a time. The second highest dealing damage reflective effect is: Fire Shield.

    • Shadowburn is sixth on the list of threat generators and gained through talents. It's mostly utilized during periods with a lot of movement, since it triggers a 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.

    Threat Diminishers

    Aggro and threat from teammates is a daunting obstacle to tackle. 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 threat diminishers or dumps in no particular order:

    ─ Rogue deal with threat thanks to their spell Feint & wipe threat with Vanish.
    ─ Mage as a frost talent can get Frost Channelling & fire talent Burning Soul.
    ─ Druid spending time in cat form can Cower. Healing druids have: Subtlety.
    ─ Priest within the discipline talent can get Silent Resolve and the spell: Fade.
    ─ Shaman can get the healing talent Healing Grace & use: Tranquil Air Totem.
    ─ Paladin reduce threat Blessing of Salvation & halt aggro: Blessing of Protection.

    Formula: Enchant Cloak - Subtlety: Used by high threat dealers within raids.
    Limited Invulnerability Potion: It will prevent aggro gain during its effect.
    Fetish of the Sand Reaver & Eye of Diminution: Obtainable within AQ/Naxx.
    Light of Elune: Prevents the user from aggro'ing. (one time usable Alliance item).


    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:

    Similar to gear, enchants must be tailored against the specific boss you will be facing. 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.

    Here is an Enchant Spreadsheet Link.


    There exist two possible talents for a warlock tank. Naturally, if you are only doing dungeons the road ahead is much easier and there's more freedom to move points around. However, raid tanking is rigid and follows strict guidelines in order to be effective.

    • "The Basic" 0/31/20 The new player starter pack in 5mans. Pick if unsure of an upcoming boss fight or are still learning about dungeon warlock tanking.

    • "The Advanced" 0/31/20 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...


    Because dungeon tanking is fairly trivial, the following rotation will mostly surround raid tanking. Naturally, many actions are synonymous with both tanking environments.

    • Pulling: Sacrifice and resummon Voidwalker and put it on the stay command near the casters in the raid. Unlike warriors, we and the Voidwalker benefit from shield absorb effects. Face the boss and cast a max rank Soul Fire followed by Shadow Bolt

    • Combat: Depending on the run speed of the boss a Shadowburn can be sucked in before most debuffs are applied and the boss reaches you. Next, continuously cast Searing Pain.

    • Situational: 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. For foreseeable threat problems refer to the topic: Warlock Tank Threat.

    • Healer Actions: Power Word: Shield should be active constantly alongside similar defensive buffs, see: Buffs for suggestions. Voidwalker should only have Stamina related buffs and appropriate resistance buffs.


    Prioritize obtaining Defensive buffs before acquiring Threat related buffs. Agility for example has the added byproduct of helping with defensive and threat measures. Generally, off-tanks or known as "OT", take less damage, therefore, it's not fully needed to aim for Defensive buffs. Also, some buffs are unobtainable due to certain patch restrictions or unable to stack with others. There is a max of 32 buffs: Talents, Set bonuses & Equip effects don't count. But Gear enchants count with exceptions: (Crusader enchant and enchants from the profession enchanting don't count.) Resistance enchants however need to be reconfirmed as they make it seem now like those should count. Let's move on and explore relevant buffs to our tanking duties. The following buffs are classified into sub-groups to better highlight their usefulness and showcase different options.

    • Note: Voidwalker should be get Stamina related buffs.

    Threat Increasing Buffs

    Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian: (can't stack w/Moonkin Form)
    Slip'kik's Savvy: +3% Spell Crit.
    Moonkin Form: +3% Spell Crit.

    Wisdom of Agamaggan: +10 Intellect for 30 min.
    Headmaster's Charge: +20 Intellect.
    Arcane Intellect: +31 Intellect.

    Mana Spring Totem: +10 mana every 2 sec. (Only causes threat if you cast)
    Mageblood Potion: +12 mana per 5 sec.
    Innervate: Increases Mana regen by 400% for 20 sec.

    Oil of Immolation: 50 Fire dmg to target within 5yds every 3 sec for 15 sec.
    Static Barrier: From Electromagnetic Gigaflux Reactivator.
    Crystal Spire: (From a repeatable quest & anyone can cast it on you)
    Fire Shield: Deals 13 Fire dmg to melee attackers.
    Thorns: (Improved by Cenarion Raiment (3/3) tier set bonus)

    Brilliant Wizard Oil: On a swappable weapon only for the pulling of a mob.
    Blessed Wizard Oil: Ideal for Scholomance, Stratholme & Naxx.

    Flask of Supreme Power: (Can't stack w/Flask of the Titans, choose wisely.)
    Greater Arcane Elixir: +20 dmg dealt from spells & abilities.
    Traces of Silithyst: +5% dmg to melee, range and spell damage dealt.
    Power Infusion: Target gets +20% spell damage & healing for 15 sec.

    Songflower Serenade: Boost melee, ranged, or spell to crit 5%, +15 all stats.
    Mark of the Chosen: 2% chance when hit of increasing all stats by 25.
    Spirit of Zandalar: +10 move speed, +15 all stats.
    Mark of the Wild: +384 armor, +16 all attributes,+27 all resistance.

    Elixir of Greater FIrepower: Bolster fire damage by up to 40 for 30 min.
    Blessing of Blackfathom: +5 intellect & spirit. +15 frost damage.

    Survival Increasing Buffs

    Sayge's Dark Fortune of Agility: +10% Agility.
    Ground Scorpok Assay: +25 Agility.
    Elixir of the Mongoose: +25 Agility, +2% Melee Crit.

    Sayge's Dark Fortune Stamina: +10% Stamina.
    Sayge's Dark Fortune Armor: +10% armor (can't stack w/similar Fortunes)
    Dirge's Kickin' Chimaerok Chops: (can't stack w/other food buffs)
    Rumsey Rum Black Label: Purchase from Booty Bay.
    Power Word: Fortitude: +54 Stamina.
    Mol'dar's Moxie: From Dire Maul
    Spirit of Zanza: +50 Stamina, +50 spirit.
    Blood Pact: +42 Stamina.

    Flask of the Titans: +1200 Hp.
    Elixir of Fortitude: +120 Hp.
    Regrowth: From the (6/6) Dreamwalker Raiment T3 raid set bonus.

    The Lion Horn of Stormwind: (a friendly tank can activate it for you.)
    Greater Stoneshield Potion: +2000 Armor for 2min.
    Elixir of Superior Defense: +450 Armor.
    Crystal Ward: (allies can also cast this on you)
    Inspiration: Increases armor by 25% for 15 sec.

    Greater Heal Renew: From the (4/4) Vestments of Faith T3 raid set bonus.
    Power Word: Shield: Absorb 1105 dmg for 30 sec.
    Scarab Brooch: (Healers can trigger its effect on you before a fight)

    Greater Heal Renew: From (8/8) Vestments of Transcendence T2 raid set.
    Rejuvenation: Heal for 888 over 12 sec.
    Regrowth: Heal for 1064 over 21 sec.
    Renew: Heal for 970 damage over 15 sec.

    Dampen Magic: Useful for magical heavy fights.
    Amplify Magic: Useful for physically heavy fights.

    Alliance Only:
    Devotion Aura: +735 armor. Players may only have one Aura on them per...

    Horde Only:
    Grace of Air Totem: +77 Agility.
    Healing Stream Totem: Doesn't cause threat for you.
    Stoneskin Totem: Reduce melee damage taken by 30.

    Resistance Buffs

    Greater Fire Protection Potion: Absorbs fire damage.
    Fire Resistance Totem: +60 fire resistance.
    Frozen Rune: Absorbs 1500 to 2500 fire damage.
    Juju Ember: +15 fire resistance for 10 min.

    Greater Frost Protection Potion: Absorbs frost damage.
    Frost Resistance Totem: +60 frost resistance.
    Juju Chill: +15 frost resistance for 10 min.

    Greater Nature Protection Potion: Absorbs nature damage.
    Nature Resistance Totem: +60 nature resistance.

    Greater Shadow Protection Potion: Absorbs shadow damage.
    Crystal Basilisk Spine: +10 Shadow resistance & Frost for 1 min.
    Gift of Arthas: +10 Shadow resistance for 30 min.

    Mind Control Buffs

    It is possible for an Alliance priest to use  Mind Control or someone with engineering to use the head slot item  Gnomish Mind Control Cap versus players on the Horde. For that duration the mind controlled Horde character is now considered an Alliance player. This allows the character to receive buffs from paladins. In the many guild raids I’ve taken part, we'd have 2-3 players on their paladins and priests stationed near the raid entrance for mind control buffing. It's also possible for a priest of any faction to Mind Control certain mobs, which can dish out buffs to all raid members.

    Greater Blessing of Sanctuary: (Will stack w/Stoneskin Totem).
    Greater Blessing of Wisdom: (can't stack w/Mana Spring Totem)
    Greater Blessing of Salvation: (can't stack w/Tranquil Air Totem)
    Greater Blessing of Might: (can't stack w/Strength of Earth Totem)
    Greater Blessing of Kings: +10% to all stats for 15 min.
    Improved Lay on Hands: Possible once it expires to go outside to get re-buffed then re-enter the instance & summoned back to allies.

    Mind Control Buffs from mobs

    Fury of Ragnaros: From Twilight Emissary in BRD.
    Resist Arcane: From Scarlet Medic in Plaguelands.
    Resist Fire: From Scarshield Spellbinder in BWL.

    Special Event Buffs

    On an ending note for buffs, we can also get buffs from special events. An example, is The Midsummer Fire Festival an event celebrating the hottest season of the year. It lasts about two weeks (mid-late June to early July). The next ones are Love is in the Air, Lunar Festival, Wickerman Festival and Scourge Invasion. The following buffs are separated by their event.

    Thunder Bluff Gift Collection: +30 Intellect for 1 hour.
    Ironforge Gift Collection: +30 Intellect for 1 hour.
    Stormwind Gift Collection: +30 Intellect for 1 hour.
    Undercity Gift Collection: +30 Intellect for 1 hour.
    Orgrimmar Gift Collection: +30 Agility for 1 hour.
    Darnassus Gift Collection: +30 Agility for 1 hour.

    Fire Festival Fortitude: (stacks w/stamina buffs above)
    Midsummer Sausage: Bolsters damage from spells by up to 23.

    Fire-toasted Bun: +2% hit chance for 1 hr.
    Fire Festival Fury: +3% spell and melee crit for 1 hr.
    Elderberry Pie: +13 defense for 1 hr.
    Buttermilk Delight: +13 defense for 1 hr.
    Very Berry Cream: Bolsters damage from spells by up to 23.
    Dark Desire: +2% hit chance for 1 hr.

    Celebrate Good Times!: +10% to all stats for 30min.

    Elune's Blessing: All stats increased by 10% for 1hr.

    Wickerman Festival (October 18th - November 1st)
    Invocation of the Wickerman: +25% health & mana regen. +25% stamina.

    Scourge Invasion
    Soul Revival: +10% to all damage caused for 30 minutes.


    There can be a total of 16 debuffs on a boss. Having as many debuffs on a raid boss is crucial. All debuffs on the list below benefit us in either Threat or Defensive aspects and assumed to be at their maximum rank and talent improvement. The following debuffs are placed into sub-groups to better highlight their utility and showcase different options.

    Improved Shadow Bolt:
    Curse of Shadow: Reduces Shadow & Arcane resistances by 75...
    Shadow Weaving:

    Wail of the Banshee: (affected by spell hit, usually casted by healers.)
    Insect Swarm: Reduces target's chance to hit by 2%...

    Thunderfury, Blessed Blade: (can't stack w/Thunder Clap)
    Thunder Clap: (can't stack w/Thunderfury's slow effect)

    Improved Scorch: To increase Searing Pain damage.
    Flame Buffet: To increase Searing Pain damage.

    Curse of the Elements: -75 resistance to Fire & Frost and increase Fire...
    Gift of Arthas: If a target strikes you, they have a 30% chance...
    Nightfall: Spell damage taken by target increased by 15% for 5 sec.

    Demoralizing Shout: Reduce attack power of mobs by 140 for 30 sec.
    Curse of Weakness: (effect is increased through a warlock talent)

    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:
    Here is a screenshot of realistic buffs, we can get for our means:

    Tank Compare

    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.

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    Druids have the luxury of having multiple categories covered and a broader safety net. While a warlock tank is required to significantly maximise a specific category for a certain boss.

    Raid Composition

    Raid composition differs with each boss but is seen as a skill that evolves over time and reflects the playstyle of a guild or raid. The following composition is an example with minor exceptions differing from the norm. By no means is it perfect since compositions change along side: patches, gear, experience, etc... With the raid leader's permission offer your advice on an ideal comp catering to your needs without overstepping.

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    Thanks for Reading!

    If you have any questions regarding warlock tanking, feel free to drop by the Twitch stream to chat.