Socketing Guide for Warlocks (PvE and PvP)


Up to date with 3.3.5.

Most epic gear items are equipped with one or more gem slots. A gem is generally an item that can be placed into a socket of another item to give that item additional bonuses, powers and/or procs. The downside of gems is that they cannot be removed once they are placed into a socket; however they can be overwritten by another, destroying the original gem in the process. They can be placed into a socket by shift-right-clicking on the gear item. You will then see the empty gem socket, and you can simply drag and drop the gem from your inventory to the socket. Once you are happy with the gems you selected, click the “Socket Gems” button at the bottom of the window. Be aware that once your gems are socketed, you will have to destroy them in order to store a new gem there.

Sockets can have three different colours: red, yellow and blue. Red sockets can host red, purple and orange gems. Yellow sockets can host yellow, orange and green gems, whereas blue sockets can host blue, purple and green gems. You don’t always have to take these settings into account – you can put any gem color in any gem socket (except for meta gems and meta sockets), it’s just that if you want to get the Socket Bonus, which is usually described underneath the sockets in your gear description (e.g. Socket Bonus +7 Spellpower), you have to pay attention to the gem colours. Socket Bonuses are gained when all sockets are filled with gems that match the colours of the socket.

Meta sockets and gems provide powerful bonuses, and are quite rare. Usually you will only find them on head slots. The sockets only accept meta gems, and these gems only fit in meta sockets. The gem need their own specific requirements to activate, e.g. “Requires at least 3 blue gems”, and if these requirements are not met, the meta gem will not be activated. Secondary colours gems will count towards both the colours they are eligible for, for example purple gems will also count for the 3 blue gems requirement.

You don’t have to fill all the sockets of an item at once. You can fill one of the sockets, and wait to fill the other ones until you find fitting gems. Beware of ‘unique-equipped’ gems though, this means that you can only have one of these gems equipped at the same time. You can have as many as you want, but you can only wear one. This means that if you have one equipped in your PvE gear and one in your PvP gear, there are no issues when swapping between gear, but you can’t have two of these gems equipped in your PvE gear.

When you hit level 80, you should always try to equip epic gems. Their stats are much more powerful than those of their “rare” counterparts. You can get the base materials for gems on the Auction House (e.g. Cardinal Ruby is needed to create a Runed Cardinal Ruby), and then ask a Jewelcrafter to craft your desired gem, or you can simply buy the gem itself on the Auction House. If you want to get your gems even cheaper, try to do your daily battleground and farm some honor. You can buy materials (like the Cardinal Ruby, Eye of Zul, etc.) for 10 000 honor in the Hall of Legends, Orgrimmar.

PvE Gems

Besides reaching the hit cap, the most important stats in PvE are spellpower, crit/haste, and spirit. Naturally, you will look for gems that give you either spellpower or a combination of spellpower and one of the other important stats.

Meta Socket: Chaotic Skyflare Diamond is the meta gem that is preferred for warlocks in PvE. Crit isn’t actually a stat warlocks should gem for, but because this 3% extra crit damage is multiplied by Ruin it actually gives a 9% extra damage when you crit, which is a considerable amount.

Red Sockets: Always fill these with a Runed Cardinal Ruby. These gems give an additional +23 spellpower, and spellpower is the second most important stat for warlocks (after hit rating as long as you haven’t reached the hit cap).

Yellow Sockets: You should fill these sockets with orange gems. If you aren’t hit-capped yet, then go for the Veiled Ametrine gems. They give a combination of spellpower and hit. As a general rule, try to get spell power in every gem you stack. If you are hit-capped however, you should go for the Reckless Ametrine gems, which offers a combo of spellpower and haste. These are extremely useful since higher-level gear often gives a lot of crit, but hardly any haste. As an Affliction warlock, haste is a more valuable stat than crit, but as a Destruction lock however, it’s more a matter of opinion. Some Destro warlocks prefer to have about 30% crit or more and choose to gem for crit instead. If you want this, go for the Potent Ametrine, which gives +12 Spellpower and +10 Critical Strike Rating.

Whether to gem for haste or crit in combination with spellpower, is a matter of preference and spec. Destro warlocks have more use for crit than affiliction warlocks; but that doesn’t mean they should totally get rid of haste either. For Destro, anything around 30% crit and 500 haste is fine. Affliction locks will definately need more than 500 haste, but they need less critical strike rating.

Blue Sockets: Fill these with purple gems, to at least get some amount of spellpower from these sockets. The Purified Dreadstone (+12 spellpower and +10 spirit) is the way to go. If you have enough blue gems stacked to activate your meta gem – which means 2 blue gems – you can put Runed Cardinal Ruby gems in the left-over blue sockets. They will not give you the additional socket bonus, but they will give your spellpower a huge boost.

The general rule is that if a socket bonus gives you anything less than +7 spellpower, it’s not useful stocking the right colour, and you should stock a Runed Cardinal Ruby instead.

PvP Gems

In PvP the stats importance is a bit different. The hit cap is much lower, 6% at tops, so you will most likely not have to gem for hit. The next most important stats include spellpower and stamina/resilience and then comes crit > haste > spell penetration The thing is that most decent PvP gear items (e.g. Furious Gladiator’s Felweave set) already have a lot of stamina and resilience as stats. Without gemming for resilience or stamina, and with a combination of Furious and Relentless gear on, my warlock already has 1902 stamina and 1119 resilience, which is more than enough to survive in battlegrounds and gives me around 26 000 health, unbuffed and without pet. It’s wise to gem for other stats, even in PvP. However, if with your gear you have around 600 resilience or less, you could gem for resilience until you get yourself some better gear. Aim for at least around 800 resilience.

Some people say crit is a more important stat in PvP than haste, because it helps you to get your enemies down faster, since two crits in a row can get most PvP’ers down, whereas haste is more important in boss fights, because you can cast quicker. Personally, although I admit my haste is lower in PvP than in PvE, I like to have a combination of both – because honestly, how quickly you can cast fear also helps your survivability in battlegrounds and arena’s a lot. It’s all a matter of preference though.

Meta Socket: Everyone who has played a battleground before, knows how frustrating it is to get stunned or silenced often while all you’re really trying to do is kill the enemy player. Rather than the Chaotic Skyflare Diamond, it’s useful to gem the Trenchant Earthsiege Diamond in PvP, which decreases the stun duration by 10% and gives you a nice bonus of +25 spellpower. However, if you get silenced more than you get stunned, go for the Forlorn Skyflare Diamond, which reduces the silence duration by 10%.

Red Sockets: The Runed Cardinal Ruby with the +23 spellpower bonus is still the best way to go.

Yellow Sockets: If you’re low on resilience, go for the Durable Ametrine, which gives you +12 spellpower and +10 resilience rating. On the other hand, if you have more than enough resilience already, then pick the Potent Ametrine instead, for the crit bonus.

Blue Sockets: People often forget the Spell Penetration stat – and it’s not a stat you’ll find in many gear items either. What this stat does, is help casters against enemy players who wear resistance gear or are buffed against resistance, for example Mark of the Wild. Each point of spell penetration negates one point of a target’s resistance. Curse of Elements lowers the enemy player’s resistance and thus increases spell penetration. However, it’s useful to gem for this stat too as it can be very powerful against targets with resistances. You should aim to get at least 75 spell penetration to counter Improved Mark of the Wild (druid talent) and a max. of 130, which also counters most of the Paladin’s buffs. More spell penetration than 130 is absolutely useless. You can choose to socket the Stormy Majestic Zircon, which gives you +25 spell penetration, but offers no additional spellpower bonus, or you could go for the purple combination gem Mysterious Dreadstone, which gives you +12 spellpower and +13 Spell Penetration. If you get the Cloak Enchant: Spell Piercing, this gives you an additional +35 Spell Penetration, and you will only have to gem for the remaining 40-95 Spell Penetration.

4 Responses to “Socketing Guide for Warlocks (PvE and PvP)”

  1. 1 John

    Just to note, something that was left out in your talk about crit vs. haste, haste not only increases the cast speed of fear, but it allows you to drain life, mana and soul at a quicker rate, which to me is the main reason to go haste.

  2. 2 Audrey

    Hi! Very nice article but i have a question tho: what are the caps for hit rating, spell penetration and haste? [from the 3.3.5 patch point of view?]

  3. 3 whisperica

    hit rating 17% or 440,spell penetration 75 is good and haste 1300+ 🙂

  4. 4 Tristan


    As a destro warlock you will NEVER have to drain life anyway, so haste is really only for faster fears and DD casting (which is nice, and which is why I also take a haste & crit mixture for pvp)

    As an affi lock, one should obviously stack haste. No questions asked.


    The caps for Spell Penetration are obviously 130 to counter all resistances (as mentioned above).

    The hit cap is 6% for pvp (as mentioned above :?) and 11% for pve if you have the right build.

    There is no cap for haste.

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