[Mod 12.5] Charisma’s Guide to HDPS SW
Hello everyone! I’m Charisma, and after lots of pressure from guildies and seeing way too many warlocks still using Dreadtheft, I’ve decided to write up how to get the most sheer damage output from your Scourge Warlock. This guide will be written so that newer players can understand it, but hopefully even some veteran players will get a few new ideas from it too.
Please keep in mind, I’m missing the whole 8,000 guild power boon(I think we have 4000), so my power is a bit on the low side. So is my armor pen. I haven’t quite finished min/maxing my stats, but I often pull top dps in dungeons and raids regardless.
Also, I’ve just come back from a break and updated my guide to reflect any changes I’ve made. Mostly it’s all the same, so if you’ve been following for a while don’t panic! I’ll continue to update this guide with any changes I make.
IMPORTANT: This is a starting point. I will tell you do’s and don’ts and tell you why, but if you don’t use them or care to experiment with your own ideas please feel free to. This is the setup that I’ve found to give the most damage output, but this is in no way the only build SW’s can run!
Okay, now that the introductions out of the way let’s get into the build!
Your race choice is very important in Neverwinter. Every race can play any class, but some races do certain classes much better than others. For Warlocks it was recently discovered that Humans will do slightly more dps at very end game, due to the additional feats, than Tiefling or Dragonborn. For lower item level players I would suggest starting with Tiefling, then race changing to human later down the line. You’ll notice about a 2-3% increase with humans.
Tieflings are a good choice for newer players that don’t quite have the items set up to pump out dps. Their racial 5% extra damage to targets under 50% HP helps you melt bosses, and works decent on trash.
Dragonborns are also a solid option because of their additional 3% power and critical strike. This works really well for obvious reasons as a dps.
For your ability scores as a human, you want to push your Constitution as high as it can go. CON contributes a flat bonus damage increase for us warlocks, and it’s the reason you can get more from a Human than Tiefling or Dragonborn. The only catch is that you need to have the crit on your gear to back it up. Throw your secondary points into charisma to help out with the crit. Remember: CON first!
Feats and Paragon choice:
For your paragon choice I would recommend you utilize the loadout system and have a build with both paragons. Both have a place in SW’s and you’ll use either a different times. From my experience and testing, Soulbinder has the best survivability and can easily sustain itself long enough to kill almost anything. Soulbinder is the spec I’ll swap to if my dungeon group needs me to be more durable or if I’m soloing things. Soulbinder also does marginally better Single Target dps, but you lose the buff on your party from PoP. Hellbringer’s aoe damage output is better than Soulbinder. HB gives great buffs and has really good aoe damage naturally. It’s what I’ll run for dungeons normally, or if I’m trying to kill lots of things quickly.
For either paragon, you’ll be using the exact same feat setup. Hellbringer Fury does the best damage for SW’s currently, but SB Fury can get damn close. I’ll go into detail about why to choose each feat below.
Energizing Curse: There’s two points here because it’s better than toughness and because we need more points than the three we put in weapon mastery to get to empowered rituals. Plus, the added AP gain is really nice.
Weapon Mastery: Must have. Pretty self explanatory to be honest, additional critical strike chance is always good.
Empowered Rituals: As an SW lots of your damage will come from your encounter powers. Additional damage added to those is a no-brainer.
Battlewise: A good feat to have. As you get higher in ilvl you’ll tend to pull aggro from your tanks often. With this you help them out a bit and try to mitigate the threat you generate from doing mad damage.
Determined Casting: Again, another feat that seems kind of self explanatory. When most of your dps comes from encounter powers, being able to use them more would increase damage output.
Blood Pact of Cania: There’s normally only two points here because we need to choose between this, and devastating critical. If you are a human put your three points here! The screenshot of my feats is slightly outdated, back from when I ran Tiefling. This should be 5/5!
Devastating Critical: IMPORTANT! Critical severity is a coveted stat! You want it as high as you can possibly get it. Even though I’m not using a vorpal or a dread enchantment, critical chance and severity is not to be neglected!
Daughter’s Promise: Pretty obvious, With All Consuming Curse you curse anything you critically strike. You get a lot of use out of this.
Critical Promise: Another pretty obvious choice. We want our critical hit chance to be as high as possible. If you hit that goal of 100%, you’d receive this bonus damage to every one of your attacks after the first.
Gatekeeper’s Empowerment: Gates of Hell does some crazy damage in large groups. Increasing that further is awesome, plus adding more AP gain when it kills targets, and increasing your damage another 5% with Flames of Empowerment, while your AP is full. FoE is a great class feat. and one that I’ll routinely run at all times.
Infernal Wrath: Synergies well with All Consuming Curse, and with the change in armor pen helps make up for some missing Resistance Ignored.
Executioner’s Gift: This feat synergizes so well with Killing Flames and some other aspects of this build that I couldn’t recommend not taking it. (Plus, the additional damage you get from Killing Curse is tiny).
Brutal Curse: This is awesome. Additional damage to curse targets by a flat percentage, and it’s on top of the damage buff from warlock’s curse.
Creeping Death: This is really the only choice for dps warlocks. The Damnation tree and it’s capstone, Soul Desecration is now nerfed to hell and doesn’t do near as much damage as this. The other option is Temptation and that’s for healing.
Relentless Curse: When you use an ability that consumes Warlock’s curse, the enemy is then smacked with a lesser curse. Lesser Curse will do more damage than 6% of your weapon damage, no matter what weapon you are using.
Power of the Nine Hells: This feat is why everyone wants a HB Warlock in their runs. Very strong buff.
With Soulbinder your feat setup is the same. The only feats that change are the feats that change with your paragon, and I use them both.
Burning Soul: This feat is strong and you’ll get a lot of use out of it if you’re running SB when you need survivability. As a SB warlock, you don’t want to spam Soul Scorch, so you’ll build up sparks and get use out of this.
Sparkbinder: Immolation Spirits is a crazy high, single target, dps skill. The spirits will also generate Soul Sparks when they attack. Adding to the duration of this skill is awesome.
Powers and rotation!
Remember to use Warlock’s Curse as much as possible during combat! Curse every target you can, but don’t miss out on using a skill that’s off cooldown to do so. Warlock’s Curse increases the amount of damage enemies take, and can apply additional effects when you use encounters on targets affected by it.
The general rotation for either paragon is largely the same. In fact, you really only change a couple skills. I’ll list Hellbringer here, as it’s what I use mostly. Again, you’ll be more valuable to your party and have a tad bit more dps in Hellbringer.
AoE setup. Use for trash mobs and questing. (Hellbringer):
All Consuming Curse: This combined with many of our feats increases our damage output by a lot. Also at rank 4 it increases lesser curses damage.
No Pity No Mercy: This is a class feat I will always have slotted, no matter what. Very high increase in damage output from Hellish Rebuke.
Hand of Blight: Good damage and a good damage dealt debuff. Helps your tank.
Eldritch Blast: Weaker damage in single target situations but the third strike is an aoe. Decent when used in combination with Hellish Rebuke, but you can take Hand if you want to debuff.
Hellish Rebuke: Main source of At-Will damage. I’ll use this almost exclusively when all my encounters are on cooldown.
Arms of Hadar: Insane AoE damage (because of the low, stacking cooldown) and it knocks enemies prone. I spam this a lot in combat.
Pillar of Power: With my build you want to hold as many enemies in PoP as possible, because it’s damage can’t crit it synergizes really well with the owlbear cub, and because it applies a damage resistance debuff to enemies inside it. You’ll want to also stay inside that circle for as long as possible, because it increases your damage output by a very large amount and increases your damage resist.
Fiery Bolt: Good AoE damage with a low cooldown. Remember to Warlock’s Curse targets around the one you are using Fiery Bolt on to increase damage output.
Gates of Hell: Really good, instant, AoE damage. Good if trying to kill a large group really quick, rather than melting it with Tyrannical.
Tyrannical Curse: Your most important skill to doing AoE damage. Use this skill on the target with the most health in a room with lots of other enemies and watch the entire room melt when you drop PoP under the one you cursed.
Your basic AoE rotation should be as follows:
Tyrannical Curse the biggest enemy you can find and drop Pillar of Power under him. Try to catch as many enemies as you can within that green circle. The more standing in it, the more dps you’ll do. Then, while inside the circle yourself, Warlock’s Curse the targets and drop Arms of Hadar on them. Then, Fiery Bolt. While your skills are on cooldown, use Hellish Rebuke on the enemy you used TC on. You want to maximize the damage he takes. Repeat as cooldowns come back up and watch all the pretty numbers fly from the enemies as they melt.
Single Target. Use for boss fights (Hellbringer):
Class Feats: These will remain the same.
All Consuming Curse
No Pity No Mercy
Warlock’s Bargain: Applies an almost never ending DoT on your target. Also deals a portion of damage you take to the target it’s applied to and heals you while it’s active.
Pillar of Power: Really hard to beat the damage that comes out of this skill. Not only does it buff you and your party but it’s perfect for maximizing that Owlbear Cub damage. Keep the boss in this circle at all times!
Killing Flames: Very strong single target encounter with a short cooldown that increases in damage as the boss loses health. Always have this slotted for boss fights! The Soul Puppet it can spawn is kind of useless though.
Brood of Hadar: Awesome single target damage ability. The brood will swarm an enemy and do a bunch of damage plus slow, and best of all they’ll swap to another target if the target you casted it on dies.
Tyrannical Curse: Solid damage buff and amazing add control during boss fights.
Your basic Single Target rotation should be as follows:
First, open with Warlock’s Bargain. This skill should be used on cooldown, and the boss should have this DoT applied to them at all times. Then drop Pillar of Power, preferably with the boss inside. Stand in the circle for as much of the fight as possible. Now, Warlock’s Curse your target and use Killing Flames. If adds spawn, use Tyrannical on the boss. If not, use Brood. While your skills are on cooldown, use Hellish Rebuke and wait until they come back up. Repeat.
Pretty Simple, right?
The artifacts I use are the Wheel of Elements, Shard of Orcus’ Wand, Sigil of the Controller, and the Fragmented Key of Stars.
I’ve seen many Warlocks using the Sigil of the Devoted over Wheel and I can tell you from experience, the Wheel of Elements will do way more damage. Having full AP whenever you want is nice, but an additional 30% damage is better.
For Artifact sets I’m using the Orcus set because it does the highest damage out of all the Artifact neck/belt sets in the game.
Ideally you’ll want Brutal rank 12’s in all your offense slots, and Radiants once you hit about 60% crit, or Savage if you need Armor Pen. You’ll want 50-60% crit, 80% armor pen. Anything over in either of those stats is a waste.
For Weapon and armor enchantments I’m using a Transcendent Vorpal Enchantment in my weapon and a Negation in my Armor. Soulforged is a good choice aswell. Obviously upgrade them to Unparalleled when you can.
You’ll want to get chult gear asap! Remember to increase your armor pen, but don’t neglect Crit or Power!
Rex Corona and Rex Amiculum are Best in Slot, but they are very hard to get. Prioritize them. If you can’t afford the time investment for Rex Corona, Guise of the Wolf clan from the mysterious merchant in guild strongholds is a good alternative.
I’m using the Aboleth Weapon set instead of the Somi set because the work involved getting the marks to upgrade the Somi weapons aren’t worth the slight additional damage increase. If you want to grind MSVA for years, the Somi set will do slightly more damage.
I’m using the Hellish Rebuke and the All Consuming Curse artifact powers on my weapons.
I’ll now dive into what companions you should be using, and why.
-Obviously the Owlbear cub is a must. The additional damage it provides is insane. Even if you have 100% crit, you’ll still be getting use out of this little guy.
-Fire Archon: Very good damage. Synergizes well with our build. I use him to hold my bondings as well. Do not put bondings on an augment companion! Bonding runestones don’t activate on augments! Put them on a Striker!
-Air Archon: Again, more synergy with the rest of our build. Solid damage, and a must have.
-Erinyes of Belial: Critical Hit Severity is extremely strong for DPS and you want as much as you can get.
-Earth Archon: With the buffs to Earth Archon it’s damage output is really strong.
You can swap Fire Archon for Sellsword if you want. I haven’t tested it myself, but I’ve heard it works well and provides a valuable damage resist debuff to enemies. Also with the recent buffs to Siege Master you can use him aswell for a constant 4% damage increase.