The First Goal: 100 spell power by 32
This ensures that you will have zero problems leveling the rest of the way through to Outland. This is not a required number, it is a ballpark figure illustrating the important of Spell Power on your gear. Spell Power not only increases the damage you do, but also decreases the damage you take. If you can kill a mob faster, it does less damage to you. If you hit harder, Siphon Life heals proportionately more. If you have very low spell power at level 32, you will take a lot of damage, spend mana re-casting Corruption on targets that should have died already, and Life Tap more to regain this mana. It becomes very inefficient. The more you can get, the better. If you can't get 100 by 32, don't fret, but Spell Power should be the only stat you look at.
Here is a list of gear that you can get, and where to get it, by level 30. Most of it is attainable by 27. Note that there will not be Dungeon or Heirloom gear here because not everyone has uber 80's or assistance.
This is a wowhead profile I created showing easy to find gear from either the AH, Quests, or Tailoring. The profile shows 93 spell power but it is possible to have upwards of 116 using only AH, Quest, or Tailoring gear.
Here is the link I used to find these items:
You can make more than enough gold by simply mining Copper Ore while riding around to your farm/quest locations.
Most of the time, money should not be too much of an issue, but availability is. If you are having a hard time with finding some of these items, there are several things you can do instead.
Enchant Weapon: http://www.wowhead.com/?item=18259
Oil: http://www.wowhead.com/?item=20746 (Stacks with enchants!)
Lastly, here is one more profile fully decked out with the best you can find, including enchants. 204 Spell Power. You're a fricken beast with this much SP.
I removed this from all of the Affliction specs posted, but some of you might feel like hitting up the talent Nightfall. It is a 4% chance to give you an instant Shadow Bolt. It has a sound effect and displays these awesome black flecks on your character. That sounds pretty bad ass, but there are some issues with doing so. Here is when using a Nightfall proc is useful:
-When you are comfortable with the amount of damage you are healing
-When you are comfortable with your current mana level
-When you want another mob to pull
Some of you may be rolling a Warlock from another class, such as Rogue. You may feel like wasting a proc is a crime due to your prior experiences. A word of caution - Nightfall makes shadow bolt an extremely attractive button to press. Try to resist this urge because like many things it can get you killed. Shadow bolt is the least efficient single-target spell in the game. (This is intentional but I won't explain why as it requires another post by itself). When spec'd correctly with sufficient gear, this is an amazing spell. Unfortunately, this is not the case while leveling. It provides a decent burst of damage but is not your main source. As such there are times to use it and times where you shouldn't. Here's a few "shouldn't" scenarios to get you thinking the correct way.
Scenario 1: You have a lot of mobs on you and are spamming drain life. Your health is slowly dropping. Sacrifice is on cooldown. Pressing shadow bolt means 2 seconds of no heals, which can be unrecoverable if your hp is low enough.
Scenario 2: You have a lot of mobs on you and are spamming drain life. Your health is fine, but your mana is low. If you cast shadow bolt, thats 2 drain life spells you no longer have the mana for. Which means you life tap. Which means 2 seconds of no heals and a chunk of your HP missing.
Play with it. If you find that you have a lot less mana than normal, then the way you just used it is not a good idea. Myself, I use it like my pet - added damage if I need the target to die a bit sooner. So if I Corruption and Agony first, the pet will do the rest of the damage. The second can have Immolate as well to do the rest of the damage. The third I can drain. The fourth I can shadow bolt if I get a proc. The rest I drain as well.
Glyphs, and why the suggestions are the right ones:
Here is a list of every possible glyph you might use in your quest to 80 and why you shouldn't use them. If you feel it in your gut that I am wrong here, I suggest you give it a go, as it just might work for you. Chances are it won't, but that's my experience talking and you need to learn If the glyph is not listed here, either you will never have that spell (Chaos Bolt) if you follow this guide, or it is a PVP glyph (Fear) which may or may not have PVE applications, but for the most part is a waste of the slot.
Corruption - More free shadow bolts means more desire to cast shadow bolt. I said above, I'll say it again. Without all the talents to prop up Shadow Bolt, it's the worst spell in the game. Casting it is stupid without the spec (usually raid spec), a loss of mana (extremely inefficient), and a loss of health (to recover the mana). More time life tapping is less time staying alive via drain life.
Curse of Agony - Mobs won't be alive longer than 24 seconds, so why extend it to 28 seconds?
Haunt - This is a raiding glyph.
Health Funnel - Just kill the things surrounding you while/before your pet tanks the elite, then you don't have to worry about pushback.
Healthstone/Soulstone - If you died, you failed. An extra 30% should not save you - this is a crutch, and you should not rely on crutches.
Immolate - Periodic damage won't tick fully to get maximum benefit from this glyph
Incinerate/Shadow Bolt - Direct damage is not how you level.
Voidwalker - He should not be getting hit.
Why Affliction will ~always~ beat out Destruction and Demonology:
Quite a simple answer, if not immediately obvious - looting. Destruction and Demo have the capability of killing a mob from range, thus forcing you to walk to it. Affliction lets the mobs beat on you, guaranteeing close proximity to loot quest items, gold, etc. Then you mount up, run into the middle of another camp, and repeat.
And since half your quests require you to walk to point A and get items B, Affliction lets you leave a trail of bodies going there for you to loot going back. Destro would force a zig zag pattern that is not efficient to retrace.
Leveling in Instances:
Not a whole lot to say here really. You will use Rain of Fire a lot. Demonology and Destruction should single-target the tank's target. Affliction should test the tank - put corruption and agony on all mobs the tank is dealing with and nuke the tank's target. If you pull aggro on anything, single target. If the tank gets mad, single target. If you don't pull aggro, keep doing it! When you get UA, replace CoA with UA. If you're Meta spec'd, have fun with Immolation aura, but ask the tank if its ok first. Not everyone leveling is capable of dealing with the threat gen of a good warlock, nor should they be.
Leveling in BG's:
This is a tremendous amount of fun. If you follow the guide, level 39 pvp might be the most fun you will have as a warlock, ever. With minimal gear you shrug off even some of the better geared twinks. With amazing gear, you can easily turn a losing battle into a dominating victory. I highly recommend you try this, as any spec. Kill healers, Paladins, and Warriors first. Rogues are trivial until they get Cloak of Shadows (level 66). Hunters hurt a lot so either deal with them immediately or stay away. Keep your HP up and use your Voidwalker for the shield.
Leveling as Destruction:
So you want to do it eh? Good on you! Destruction is extremely viable now and in the hands of the right player can surpass Demonology for speed in Northrend. Unfortunately, going from 1-40 as Destruction is extremely painful. I highly recommend you play as Affliction for as long as you can, at least to 55. When you just can't take it anymore...
Start with this:
Earliest lvl 41 spec: http://www.wowhead.com/talent#IZZVcGVbMuVo
Suggested lvl 55 spec: http://www.wowhead.com/talent#IZZVcGVbMuVsVsoo
Glyphs: Life Tap, Unending Breath, Drain Soul (add Conflagrate when you get the slot)
End with this:
Glyphs: Conflagrate, Life Tap, Unending Breath, Drain Soul
Playstyle: Immolate, Conflag, next target. Immolate, Chaos Bolt (replace with Shadow Bolt if you don't have it yet), next target. Repeat until OOM and dangerously low on HP (30%). Add Curse of Agony after Immolate if you need extra damage. Use Succubus as you would 30-54 Affliction. Do not drain life unless you're going to die - killing the mob and eating is faster, no matter how slow it feels. Grab food instead of water because food returns more hp than water does mp at this level, and life tap makes this more efficient.
Don't take Empowered Imp - 3 Talent Points for 3% crit or less is not very good. (Imp has 5% unbuffed, which translates into ~3% for you) Also, Imp has to stand to cast - this is the same as a Succubus or Voidwalker tanking, and we know how that part works.
Rhadatip or Pawn:
Some people use these tools to compare gear and have mentioned its use. You can download it from curse:
And the values you want to use are here:
Haste Rating=1, Crit Rating=0.7, Spirit=0.5, SpellPower=1.6, Stamina=0.5
And the copy paste code is here:
( Pawn: v1: "Warlock: Leveling": SpellHasteRating=1, SpellCritRating=0.5, Spirit=0.5, SpellPower=2.0, YellowSocket=10, RedSocket=10, BlueSocket=10, Stamina=0.5 )
( RhadaTip: "Warlock: Leveling": SpellHasteRating=1, SpellCritRating=0.5, Spirit=0.5, SpellPower=2.0, YellowSocket=10, RedSocket=10, BlueSocket=10, Stamina=0.5 )
I'm 80! Now what?
Start running dungeons. In order to queue for heroic modes, you must have an average iLVL of 175 blue gear (~187 green). Use your armory page and click the "Gear View" button just above your glove slot, and make an emphasis on upgrading anything that is green and under ilvl 150. Chances are, this will be your trinkets, wand, bracers, and cloak. These items fill those slots nicely and (fairly) cheaply:
Trinket 1: http://www.wowhead.com/item=42990
Trinket 2: 4 Quests into Icecrown http://www.wowhead.com/item=44013 (Yeah, mp5. So what, you got into the heroic, put the green one back on!)
Bracers: http://www.wowhead.com/item=35682 or http://www.wowhead.com/item=35654
If there are more items, use this link to find suitable replacements on the AH. Otherwise, you're on your own with wowhead.
Lastly, if you still have issues, you're wearing Heirloom gear! Heirloom gear is not counted as valuable as Blue gear. I would recommend:
Weapon: http://www.wowhead.com/item=41821 (Amphitheatre of Anguish - Hope you didn't sell it!) or http://www.wowhead.com/item=43871 and http://www.wowhead.com/item=37889
Shoulders: http://www.wowhead.com/item=37673 or http://www.wowhead.com/item=37196
Chest: http://www.wowhead.com/item=41554 (VERY CHEAP MATS) or http://www.wowhead.com/item=44355 (Easy quest)
A link to the original discussion which spawned this thread can be found here.