There are things I'll do and things I won't do when it comes to playstyle and gear advice.
I'm not going to tell you that there's a best spec for leveling. There are many ways to level and Mists of Pandaria is all about doing what you want to do, so following what I do may not be best for you. I'll have you know that I think leveling is far too easy still, so I tend to pick the inefficient or harder ways of doing things on purpose just to keep it interesting.
I'm also not going to debate which faction first with people. The gear choices are as varied as the leveling choices, and are meant to be mixed and matched as your drop luck will do for you. I will, however, point out the reputations you'll want to at least reach for reasonable raiding preparations.
Advice on new shinies
I also love my class and would like you to love it too. So I advise that you press buttons and see what happens. As a pure DPS class, killing things should not be a worry for you. Leveling is for you to learn about your class and figure out what you want to do with it. Maybe you'll even discover an interesting bug with your spells one day. I also recommend to forget about the meters until you get to 90 and don't let yourself be bullied by a Recount spam mid-dungeon.
Whatever you do, I'd like to share my notes about some of the new spells in 5.0 warlock mechanics.
Glyph of Dark Apotheosis I saw a lot of this glyph when it was still tanky with Nether Plating, but it's still a good glyph for the end-of-questline super mobs, elite mobs, or for general "I will pull everything in the zone" AoE pulls. It can be a bit boring or hard to keep yourself in the form since Soul Fire will spend your fury instead of continuing to build it.
Harvest Life This is a fun spell. I use it when out doing dailies and chain-pulling, but there is a big caveat: Harvest Life is an auto-targeting AoE. The AoE extends from 15 yards of your target, not you yourself. It's good for those times when you pull everything in a room ('sup Sethekk Halls). But, you'll learn some situational awareness quickly if you reach for Drain Life and forget that you're surrounded by mobs that could collectively beat you up.
Burning Rush is a really fun spell. You can't technically kill yourself with it; it turns itself off when you hit too little health, just like Life Tap fizzles. But if you get mind controlled by an NPC while talented into Burning Rush, the mind control turns on Burning Rush and doesn't turn it off when you are released back into your own cognizance.
Bottom line: If you're continuing to lose chunks of health for no apparent reason and it's not the floor beneath you, it's probably Burning Rush.
When it comes to warlock leveling techniques, here are three things I usually end up saying to new warlocks. Just because warlocks historically have a long ramp-up time doesn't mean stuff has to take forever to kill or be boring.
Quick tagging We all know that you need to tag mobs for it to count in quests, especially the loot-something quests, and quest areas at launch are super-crowded. Affliction is super at quickly tagging mobs with Corruption, Agony, and even the soulburned Soul Swap now. Demonology has Corruption/Doom and destruction can snap a Conflagrate on a mob before Immolating. When any of these fail (or miss!), Fel Flame is a good backup spell.
Be aware that if you let your pet do the majority of the damage to the mob, it will sometimes not count the mob lootable for you. So make sure you load it up with DoTs after the initial pull or throw a few filler spells its way.
Chain-pulling When friends leveling warlocks would whine about how long DoTs take to kill things, I'd laugh and say, "you're only killing one mob at a time?!" Warlocks are really made for chain-pulling through multidotting. We have instants for tagging and DoTs for keeping the mob from evading much. You'll also notice that most of our defensive PvP toolkit involves peeling (fears) and kiting (portals).
So pull things and go for a run around the quest area. If you pick a central spot for stuff to die, you can even arrange the bodies so that AoE loot picks everything up at once. Before AoE loot, I used to pile things via a figure-eight running pattern (things died in the intersection) or I'd string them out towards the entrance or wherever I wanted to go next.
I do want to put in a note to be courteous to other questers when you're out chain-pulling. Invite them to group to kill things faster. If you won't group up, then just help kill their things, to start the respawn timers faster. If someone looks like they're in trouble and trying to run away from a mob, throw a friendly Fear or slowing spell their way and help focus the mob down a little. You can even make deals with guilded healers who don't have an amazing DPS spec: I'll kill stuff for quests, and you have my back with heals. It goes by faster for the both of you.
Some might say that warlocks aren't supposed to make friends, that we're supposed to be evil. I say warlocks are for making alliances so later we can call on our lackeys -- I mean, our beloved and trusted friends, for help later.
Common pet bugs Fact: Your pet will bug out somewhere. Resummon pets stuck on ledges and opt for ranged pets (imp, succubus) if your melee pet can't reach a not-quite-landed mob. If you get the days-long summoning daze bug, try cycling with another pet; if that doesn't work, get something to kill your dazed pet and then try to resummon it.
If your demon is acting erratically/pulling mobs without warning, then set your pet to passive. Click passive repeatedly or dismiss your pet if you have to. This activity is generally reported when you use defensive stance (which attacks whatever attacks you, regardless if you're electing to not hit back), so try sticking to just assist or passive.
I thought about making a loot list, but then I remembered that a new vendor feature in MoP is that you can sort what's being sold by your class or even your spec. So you can walk up to the vendor yourself and see what warlocks could use. The only problem with it is that sometimes inappropriate trinkets end up under warlocks, like Lao-Chin's Liquid Courage, which is obviously a tank's stamina trinket.
The next question is often which faction to do first? Fortunately, with the daily cap removed in MoP, you can do all the factions concurrently pretty well. But, if you have limited time, we'll narrow it down a little further.
Items with JP costs are available at Honored; items with VP costs are available at Revered. I feel like the 450 items that are offered are likely fill-ins in case of crappy drop luck; there's often a better valor point item in that slot by another faction or raid drop. The good news is taht nearly every item has hit on it, so if you find yourself lacking, go buy something with valor points.
The Klaxxi are likely to be loved enough to get the neck and the belt at Revered, which are rather cheap in VP. Blacksmithing plans are available at Honored.
The August Celestials have the most to offer, including two flying mounts. The bracers will be popular for affliction and demonology, and the hit/crit boots aren't a terrible choice either. The enchanting patterns will be definitely desirable by enchanter 'locks. The epic 28-slot bag pattern is also available at Exalted.
The Shado-Pan have some ground mounts and delicious 489 offerings, particularly the trinket. I wouldn't write off the on-use spirit trinket, if you can spare the extra VP, since the passive intellect is a decent chunk.
The Golden Lotus have good robes and shoulders, and a hit/haste ring. At Honored, the leatherworking patterns are available, but since warlocks are more likely to be tailors than leatherworkers, Honored is the reputation for some crafted robes and gloves as well as the greater pants enchant. Golden Lotus also have the crane ground mounts.
Look for hitting these reputations:
- Shado-Pan: Revered, Exalted for mounts
- August Celestials: Revered, Exalted if you want to craft epic bags
- The Klaxxi: Revered
- Golden Lotus: Honored for patterns only, Revered if you need the pants/robes instead of the raid finder tier, Exalted if you want mounts.
- Shado-Pan: Kun Lai Summit (Lao Chin's questline), Shado-Pan Monastery quests, Townlong Steppes
- Golden Lotus: Vale of Eternal Blossoms
- The Klaxxi: Dread Wastes
- August Celestials: Krasarang Wilds (Red Crane questline), Jade Temple Grounds (dailies), Kun Lai Summit (Xuen's dailies), Tonwlong Steppes (Niuzao Temple dailies)
Blood Pact is a weekly column detailing DOTs, demons and all the dastardly deeds done by warlocks. We'll coach you in the fine art of staying alive, help pick the best target for Dark Intent, and steer you through tier 13 set bonuses.