NB: This guide begins where my video guides end, the full list of which can be found here. The video guides cover levels 1-10, and the abilities therein. This guide will be structured such that it is based around talents. For the new abilities you can learn from trainers between 11 and 80, check out my guide here.
Now I must stress before we start that I think leveling as Destruction is a bad idea. For about 85% of the time you will have low survivability, your rotations will depend on killing things before they can hurt you too much, and your mana usage will be horrible – actually, you’ll essentially be a Mage. However, it is possible; it just won’t be nearly as easy as picking a different spec. But if you’re determined, so be it.
So as mentioned, Destruction depends a lot on direct damage spells, AKA “nukes”, for example Shadow Bolt or Incinerate. With this spec your DoT spells are far less important than with Affliction or Demonology, but you should still be using Immolate at least, as it complements your play style with its upfront damage. Additionally, some of your main spells later on will depend upon the Immolate debuff being on the target.
While leveling, you’ll want the Voidwalker (VW) out as a tank. At later levels when you can kill things more comfortably, or during instances, you may want to consider the Imp as a dps pet.
This is a link to the complete talent tree which you’ll have at the end of this guide.
Levels 10 to 14
For the first five levels, put points into Bane – this will reduce the casting time of Shadow Bolt (our main nuke at the moment) and also Soul Fire, a spell we will learn at a higher level.
Levels 15 to 17
So as I’ve said, two big problems are survivability and mana consumption, especially at this low level. Taking three points in Molten Skin will make you 6% less squishy!
Levels 18 to 20
We can also reduce the mana cost of our spells by 10% with Cataclysm, which means we’ll be able to squeeze out more spells from our mana pool.
Levels 21 to 25
Now, Ruin is a great talent which means that whenever we crit, we crit for 100% more, and as Destruction we’re actually going to be critting quite a lot due to the build’s nature. So, lots more damage.
Levels 26 to 27
In the unfortunate but likely event that you have a mob or two attacking you and not your pet – it’s true that it’s far too easy to out-aggro the VW – you may see that your spells get interrupted or delayed. To help prevent this we can take Intensity.
Levels 28 to 29
Destructive Reach both increases the range we can attack from (further away from nasties = good) and reduces our threat, which is great for both instances where you’re grouped with other players and for solo’ing when you need the pet to be taking the damage.
Considering it’s just one talent point, Devastation is well worth it as it gives us a sweet 5% more crit chance.
Levels 31 to 33
Improved Immolate gives us a straight increase to damage – like I said earlier, Immolate might be the only DoT you use, but just make sure you do use it. It’s good damage, and Warlocks are supposed to use DoTs in one way or another, plus some spells will rely on it as we will soon see.
For this level, just place one point into Backlash to unlock the next tier. Backlash itself gives us more crit chance (Destro Warlocks crit a lot, remember) and it also provides a nice defensive mechanism whereby when we’re physically hit we have a chance that our next SB spell will be instant cast, which is good for either nuking on the move or for trying to quickly finish that last mob when it’s about to kill you.
Levels 35 to 39
We’re going to see that Destro becomes very fire-based at later levels, as opposed to shadow-based, and Emberstorm is proof of that. A nice talent, it gives us 15% more fire spell damage and allows us to cast Incinerate (you don’t have it yet) faster.
Conflagrate is one of my favourite Destruction spells. It’s instant cast, which is always good, and it deals quite a lot of damage. The idea behind it is that if you have an Immolate (or Shadowflame) DoT effect on a mob, you can ‘consume’ that effect and deal all the damage the DoT would have done all together in one go. However, it does mean the DoT will disappear, unless you get the glyph, which I advise.
Levels 41 to 42
Let’s go back now and finish maxing out Backlash to improve the +crit and also the chance of the effect proccing.
Levels 43 to 44
We’re gonna continue the trend of beefing up our damage by silly amounts by taking two points in Aftermath, which gives us 6% more periodic (DoT) damage from Immolate and also allows Conflagrate to daze the enemy – this reduces their movement speed, so if you’re fleeing or PvPing it can be pretty handy.
Levels 45 to 49
What, all the damage boosts so far weren’t enough for you? Fine then, let’s give all our main spells another 20% with Shadow and Flame!
Levels 50 to 52
Backdraft will give us a huge increase in spellcasting speed for the next three spells we cast after each Conflagrate – this is actually very, very helpful, especially if you’re nuking something down and it needs to die quickly. It’s also a major DPS increase for instances.
Levels 53 to 54
Two points into Pyroclasm will allow us to both unlock the next tier of talents and give us a damage increase when we critically hit with some of our quicker nukes.
Levels 55 to 59
Fire and Brimstone – that smell you just can’t get out of your robes sometimes. Um, wait, no, I mean… You know what, never mind. Let’s just settle for more reasons to keep Immolate’s DoT component up on the target and a silly amount of +crit chance to Conflagrate.
And now comes the last talented spell to join our arsenal – Chaos Bolt. This rather awesome spell looks good, hits hard and pierces absorption effects, all which are traits I look for in prospective women spells. Note that by ‘absorption effects’ it means things like Shadow Ward or Mana Shield, not immunity effects like a Bubble or an Ice Block.
Finish off Pyroclasm by putting a last point into it.
Levels 62 to 64
Soul Leech is a nice little ability which will help now that the Outland mobs are hitting you harder. Essentially, whenever you deal damage you have a 30% chance to heal yourself for 2o% of the damage you do, which averages out to you healing yourself for 6% of the damage you do each time you cast a spell. I think. Either way, it’s good.
Levels 65 to 66
This leads to Improved Soul Leech, which gives you back 2% of your maximum mana each time the Soul Leech effect restores some health, and it restores the same to your demon. Additionally, it will give the Replenishment effect to your raid or party if you’re in one, which is a great buff that’s generally considered to be necessary, so this should help with those instances you’re probably not doing since Outland is full of naught but Death Knights.
Levels 67 to 71
From now on, you ought to be considerably less squishy than you used to be, and you might be able to kill things before they can do too much damage, especially if you use an Imp. So from now on, we’ll be focusing on being better in groups, etc, because the only other accessible talents now are about survivability or DoTs, neither of which you need.
To tide you over into Northrend then, we’re going to take Improved Shadow Bolt, the reason being is that you’ll be doing instances while you level now (this time, I’m not being sarcastic) and this is good for groups since it increases the crit chance of everyone attacking the affected mob or boss. And you do more damage.
Levels 72 to 74
Chances are at this level your gear won’t have as much hit rating (a very necessary stat) as it could do, so Suppression will help with that by giving you a nice, toasty 3% right off the bat.
Levels 75 to 77
Improved Imp will make your Imp a bit scarier, and it will also make his (is it a he?) buffs more powerful.
Levels 78 to 80
Lastly, Empowered Imp will get your Imp doing some more damage, and it will also boost your own dps indirectly.
… Ding! Congratulations on hitting level 80 after your (probably) arduous struggle as Destruction. Hopefully following this guide helped to alleviate the pain, and you can now go and get involved in the multitudes of end-game activities which are available. Good luck and best wishes!