Spectral Insight: Getting started with Demon Hunters in Legion
It’s official: Demon Hunters will be hitting World of Warcraft servers on August 9th. If you’ve pre-ordered Legion and are still on the fence about playing one, or even if you’re all set and ready to go with the new Hero class, we have you covered. Today, we’re doing a broad overview of both of the Demon Hunter specs, including abilities, rotation, and overall playstyle.
If you’ve been keeping up with our Demon Hunter articles, some of this may be familiar — but it’s still worth checking out, because Demon Hunters have been one of the classes with the most changes over the course of the Legion alpha and beta. Also, please keep in mind that this is intended as a basic 101 for anyone who might be playing the class on August 9th. We’ll have more in-depth coverage of each spec as Legion draws nearer.
While each spec has its nuances, there are some abilities that you’ll be able to use no matter which you pick. Most are utility/defense abilities you’ll want to keep in the back of your mind, but Metamorphosis and Shattered Souls are especially important to take note of because, while they are technically shared, they function differently for each spec.
Another important thing for all future Demon Hunters to note: stat priorities are still very much in flux. As such, I’ll be going over them in more detail in the dedicated Havoc/Vengeance columns closer to Legion’s launch.
With that said, let’s dive into abilities!
- Throw Glaive: Depending on your spec, you may have talents that adjust this later on. For now, it’s a great way to pull or damage mobs who are out of melee range.
- Imprison: Depending on the last time you checked up on Demon Hunters, this one might be new. It’s a standard Hex/Polymotph/Shackle sort of ability that just makes sense for a Demon Hunter.
- Consume Magic: All melee classes need an interrupt. Ours happens to be ranged and will also grant 50 Pain/Fury (depending on your spec) on success.
- Spectral Sight: This one has been a pretty hot topic since it was first demoed. Not only can you see regular units through objects, you can also see stealthed and invisible units anywhere, plus treasure in the world. Of course, it’s been brought down a peg — it currently only lasts 10 seconds and has a 30 second cooldown. Plus, attacking or being attacked disrupts it.
Darkness: Another new-ish ability, this is not only cool looking but also very useful. It’s like Rogues’ Smoke Bomb but instead of reducing damage by a percent, it gives everyone in its radius a percent chance to avoid damage completely.
- Update: This ability is now Havoc-only.
- Metamorphosis: This is the ability we stole from Warlocks that still brings them pain to think about. You can see the specific effects of it above, but in both specs’ cases, it’s used as a strong cooldown that makes you better at what you do. For Havoc, use it during Bloodlust/Heroism or “Feast” phases where your target takes more damage. For Vengeance, save it for high-damage phases or oh-crap moments.
- Shattered Souls: For both specs, this causes killing a target to sometimes leave behind a Soul Fragment that heals you, with the amount varying by spec — for Havoc, it’s a flat percentage and for Vengeance, it’s based on Attack Power. Additionally, it will increase your damage by 20% if the soul belonged to a demon. Lastly, Havoc Demon Hunters will want to collect these if low on Fury, as they provide 30. Soul Fragments are a key part of Vengeance’s gameplay.
Havoc is the DPS spec for Demon Hunters and on a basic level, Havoc feels a bit like a Combat Rogue mixed with a Windwalker Monk. Havoc Demon Hunters slice through enemies and have the highest mobility of any class in the game. Depending on talent choices, Havoc can go from a basic build/spend class to a unique melee attacker that dives in and out of melee range to boost damage.
- Demon’s Bite: This is our “build” ability, but it’s important to note that if you take Demon Blades at 100, you lose this ability completely.
- Chaos Strike: This is our big “spend” ability. You’ll be using this often to avoid Fury capping. Something to note about this ability: It actually is carried out through two strikes (one with each glaive). The total damage in the tooltip is accurate, but due to the dual-strike nature of it, any damage meters you use will display damage as the damage done by a single strike (i.e., half of what you’d expect). This ability becomes Annihilation during Metamorphosis.
- Eye Beam: A strong AOE spell that damages in a line. One thing to note about this ability: It always crits, so even though the tooltip reads a certain amount, it’s always going to deal double that amount.
- Blade Dance: A short-cooldown AOE ability that not only looks cool but also grants 100% dodge for the 1 second it’s up. Becomes Death Sweep during Metamorphosis.
- Fel Rush: One of your two major movement abilities, Fel Rush has two charges and launches you forward in the direction you’re moving. Note, it does not let you rush backwards like Monks’ Roll does. For now, you don’t need to worry about this as much, but it becomes very important post-100 depending on talent choices.
- Vengeful Retreat: Another movement ability that pairs well with Fel Rush and similarly becomes important if you take Momentum at 106.
- Fury of the Illidari (Artifact): Technically, this is not something you will have to worry about until Legion, but I wanted to throw it in here since it’s one of the first new abilities you’ll get in the expansion. This is a very strong cooldown ability that you’ll want to use as often as possible.
- Chaos Nova: Stuns enemies for 5 seconds and deals a small amount of damage. Not part of our rotation, but it can be useful depending on the situation.
- Blur: Really the only baseline defensive ability outside of Darkness, use this when you get in trouble and need to take less damage.
- Mastery: Demonic Presence: A straightforward damage increase to Chaos damage with the addded bonus of a movement increase.
For now, we’re just going to go over the talents available until Legion. In this case, that’s the level-99 and 100 talents.
Level 99: For soloing and leveling, this tier will depend on how many targets you plan to hit at once. Fel Mastery will work best overall if you plan to take on one at a time, Chaos Cleave is a two-target talent, and Blind Fury will help you decimate groups of enemies.
Level 100: I’ll be honest, I hate Demon Blades. It removes your “build” ability and feels awkward to me — but it can be a strong choice especially when paired with post-100 talents. Demonic Appetite is the second-easiest talent to manage in the tier because it’s a mostly passive effect on your “spend” ability. Lastly, Prepared will vary in usefulness depending on how often you find yourself using Vengeful Retreat.
For single-target fights, Havoc has a relatively simple build/spend rotation. Especially pre-Legion, there’s not much reason to get fancy with your abilities. For multi-target fights, Eye Beam takes priority in your rotation and Blade Dance is added in when you have low Fury. In both cases, you want to save popping Metamorphosis for until you have Fury built up in order to make the most of Annhilation.
Vengeance is the tanking spec and overall, feels like a mix of Brewmaster Monks and Blood Death Knights. It has strong mobility and fast melee attacking but is heavily reliant on self-healing via Soul Fragments. This self-healing can be increased by Attack Power.
- Demon Spikes: This is the ability you’ll be using most often. For the most part, you can keep the uptime high but since it won’t be available 100% of the time, you’ll want to avoid spamming it on cooldown if you’re not taking heavy damage.
- Fiery Brand: This reduces the damage a single enemy does to you by 40% for 8 seconds. You’ll want to save this one for when you’re going to take extra damage or when you’re healing is having trouble or when you don’t have Demon Spikes available.
- Empower Wards: This ability has a relatively short cooldown and can be strong if up against enemies dealing magic damage. However, it’s useless against anything non-magic.
- Soul Carver (Artifact): Another ability that won’t technically be available yet, but one you’ll want to keep in mind. The number of Soul Fragments generated makes this a powerful self-healing tool.
- Immolation Aura: In addition to generating Pain, this is a great way to deal damage and gain threat on large groups of enemies. Use it as often as possible (but make sure it’s available before pulling).
- Shear: The ability you’ll be using most often. Shear’s big draw is that it can generate Lesser Soul Fragments when used on an enemy. This works incredibly well with your “spend” ability. Speaking of which…
- Soul Cleave: Your “spend” ability! This not only hits more than one enemy at once, it also draws in all Soul Fragments within 20 yards. The important part with Soul Cleave is keeping track of how many Fragments are nearby and making sure not to draw them in if you’re at high health.
- Torment: It’s Taunt. That’s all it is, really. All tanks have one.
These get their own category because their a pretty unique part of Vengeance. While you won’t use them all the time, it’s important to remember you have them at your disposal! In general, Sigils are placed on the ground and expand over 2 seconds until finally exploding to cause a unique effect.
- Sigil of Flame: Likely the one you’ll use most often, this adds some helpful AOE damage when tanking groups of mobs.
Sigil of Chains: Having trouble positioning mobs? Need to pull one toward you? This Sigil draws all enemies caught in it to its center. Great for mob placement.
- Update: This ability is now a level-106 talent.
- Sigil of Misery: This was once a talent, now it’s baseline. While it only lasts 30 seconds, it’s a great way to do temporary group-wide CC.
- Sigil of Silence: This Sigil does exactly what you’d expect it to. It’s really nice as a one-two punch with Sigil of Chains for pulling in multiple casters.
- Infernal Strike: Vengeance’s response to Fel Rush, this is essentially Warriors’ Heroic Leap with two charges. Use it for movement primarily, but as a fun way to leap into a pull if you’re bored (and your healer is okay with it).
- Mastery: Fel Blood: Makes Demon Spikes do what it does better and also gives you a boost to Attack Power — keep in mind, Attack Power increases the self-healing received from Soul Fragments.
- Demonic Wards: In addition to boosting Stamina and Armor to compensate for wearing leather, this also gives Demon Hunters a 10% reduction to magic damage taken.
Level 99: I prefer Agonizing Flames, as it helps with all-around damage dealing and grants a useful movement buff. Razor Spikes is a more reliable damage increase on a single-target and will vary in usefulness based on how good you are at keeping Demon Spikes up. Abyssal Strike is a cool boost to mobility, but not as useful as the other two in this tier.
Level 100: This tier gives you the choice of a guaranteed boost to healing (Feast of Souls), a high risk/high reward chance at healing (Fallout), or a straight damage increase (Burning Alive). Your choice between the first two will depend on how many mobs you’re up against and how well you can manage Soul Fragment consumption, while the third is useful for soloing as Vengeance or if you find yourself at high health often.
The most important part of Vengeance tanking is not overhealing yourself with Soul Fragment consumption. Use Shear to generate Fragments and Soul Cleave to draw them in. You’ll also want to be using Immolation Aura and Sigil of Flames as often as possible, especially when tanking multiple mobs. Keep high uptime on Demon Spikes and be prepared to use your other cooldowns depending on upcoming boss abilities.
Aaaaand that’s it! Demon Hunters are a really fun class and I’m excited to see what you all think of them. Be sure to keep an eye on Spectral Insight in the coming weeks for a more in-depth look at each spec. See you August 9th!
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