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Affliction Warlock Guide (5.4.7)

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This guide is written mainly for players new to playing affliction in arenas / PvP.

Strengths :

- Good spread pressure and even better spread pressure with dark soul.
- Good single target pressure with dark soul & haunt.
- Good cleaving in BG/RBG with Seed of Corruption.

Weaknesses :

- Due to your low mobility (you’re limited to teleport/gate), your spammable CC and the fact that you only have one panic button (dark regeneration) your opponents will train you all day.

- This is the warlock’s spec with the lowest surviviability, you don’t have embers to heal yourself like destro does, you don’t have good damage mitigation like demo does. To survive you can only rely on your good positioning.

PvP Talents

Level 15 : Dark Regeneration

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You want to pick dark regeneration. This talent will be your « panic button » when you’re unable to teleport/gate to avoid incoming burst damage.

Level 30 : Shadowfury or Mortal Coil

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if your team doesn’t have any reliable stuns you’ll pick Shadowfury. Shadowfury is a great starter for your CC chains, for example you can shadowfury the enemy healer so he won’t be able to go out of your line of sight then you can full fear him.

If your team already has reliable stuns you’ll pick Mortal coil because it doesn’t share DR with stuns.

Level 45 : Soul Link

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You want to pick Soul link when playing with Grimoire of Supremacy because it scales pretty well with the glyph of eternal resolve & resilience.

When playing with Grimoire of Sacrifice you don't have any pet so you'll pick Dark Bargain because Soul Link is not interesting without pet. You'll use Dark Bargain to counter major bursts cooldown from your opponents when you're unable to teleport/gate.

Sacrificial pact is useless due to the fact that it doesn't ignore battle fatigue.

Level 60 : Blood Horror or Unbound Will

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In arenas, you’ll use blood horror against meleecleaves and Unbound Will against castercleaves.

Notice that Blood Horror can be grounded or spell reflected so you’ll need a cancelaura macro for blood horror. (see macro section)

If you successfully horrify a melee with blood horror then you can fear him without any risks of being interrupted. This will allow your healer to breathe.

Be careful when using Unbound Will, It’ll trigger spells that have a dispell protection such as Unstable Affliction.

Level 75 : Grimoire of Supremacy

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You want to pick grimoire of Supremacy against teams that doesn't train your pet, It’ll turn your felhunter into an observer. Basically it’s the same pet but with a bigger HP pool so he is less susceptible to die through soul link damage. The Observer also does decent damage and can dispell one magical effect with clone magic. Don't let your clone magic on autocast, you want to dispell key magic abilities like fear ward.

You want to use Grimoire of Sacrifice against teams that like to train your pet or teams with a lot of spread pressure like LSD. You'll sacrifice the felhunter to get the spell lock. Against hunter's teams you can also sacrifice the Imp to be able to dispell freezing traps on your healer with singe magic.

Level 90 : Archimonde's Darkness

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For arenas you'll pick Archimonde's Darkness, you’ll be able to burst more often with this talent. Always try to sync dark soul with your surge of dominance proc otherwise your burst will be significantly weaker. I recommend you to use an addon like Weakauras or ExtraCD to track your Insignia of dominance Internal Cooldown.

For BG/RBG you'll pick Mannoroth's fury to be able to cleave with seed of corruption.

Glyphs :

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- Eternal Resolve (Mandatory) : 10% damage reduction will make you more tanky.
- Unstable Affliction (Mandatory) : Faster UA will greatly improve your quality of life.
- Siphon Life (Recommended) : You have a bit of choice for your third glyph slot, I like Siphon Life because the healing over time is nice and steady but you can replace this glyph by glyph of Healthstone, Demonic circle is also nice if you feel you are getting trained a lot. Coex glyph, helps in lots of situations especially peeling or stopping someone from LOSing your ccs.

Stats Priorities / Gearing / Enchants / Gemming / Reforge / professions / Best races

Stats priorities :

Your stats priorities goes as follow :

6% hit > Intellect > Haste = Mastery > Crit

Haste vs Mastery debate :

Affliction benefits from both Haste and Mastery.

Haste gives you : extra ticks to your dots, extra soul shards, faster GCD and faster casts time so you’re less susceptible of being interrupted. With a haste gemming & reforge your playstyle will be a bit more dynamic.

Mastery gives you : more DoTs damage. 193.5 mastery = +1% damage to your Agony, Unstable Affliction and Corruption which is very good. With a mastery gemming & reforge your DoTs will be a bit stronger.

Most of the high rated warlocks tends to prefer the full haste gemming & reforge playstyle but my advice for you is to try full haste & full mastery and see which playstyle suits you best. Remember that whatever your choice will be it’ll not make or break your dps.

Gear :

You’ll pick all the Prideful Gladiator’s five set and the following offpieces with Haste & mastery :

Neck – Prideful Gladiator’s Pendant of Alacrity
Back – Prideful Gladiator's Drape of Prowess
Wrists – Prideful Gladiator’s Cuffs of Prowess
Waist – Prideful Gladiator’s Cord of Accuracy for non-humans or Prideful Gladiator’s Cord of Cruelty for humans.
Feet – Prideful Gladiator’s Treads of Alacrity

Enchants :

Head - None
Shoulders – 200 Int / 100 Crit
Back – Ligthweave Embroidery or 180 int
Chest – 80 to all Stats
Wrist – 180 Int
Hands – 170 Mastery or 170 Haste
Waist– Living Steel Belt Buckle
Legs – 285 Int / 165 Crit
Feet – 140 Mastery / Run Speed
Main Hand Weapon – Jade Spirit or Spirit of Conquest
Offhand Weapon – 165 Int

Gemming :

Haste playstyle :

Red : 80 int + 160 haste
Blue : 160 haste + 160 hit
Yellow : 320 haste
Meta : 665 pvp power and 775 PvP Resilience

Mastery playstyle :

Red : 80 int + 160 mastery
Blue : 160 mastery + 160 hit
Yellow : 320 mastery
Meta : 665 pvp power and 775 resilience

Reforge :

Reforge for 6% hit then follow the stats priorities I’ve gave you above. If you struggle with reforging, you can install the addon reforgelite.

Professions :

For a Human : tailoring for ligthweave embroidery (2k int proc) + Herbalism for lifeblood (+7% on-use haste buff that you’ll add into your dark soul burst macro).
For a Non-human : engineering for synapse springs (2k int on-use) + tailoring

Best races :

Alliance : Human is the best due to the fact that they are able to play with double damage trinkets. Also they got an expertise bonus for playing with 1h swords that will allow them to reforge a bit more hit into more haste or mastery.

Horde : Troll is the best for the berserking racial that you'll add into your burst macro (see macro section) for more burst.


Rotation :

Your rotation is pretty simple as affliction, first you apply your row of DoTs to a target, then you spread them to nearby targets with soul swap and to conclude you mash fear with every other globals :

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#1 First you want to apply Agony, it’s a ramp up time dot, at one stack it is your weakest DoT but at 10 stacks it’s your strongest DoT, so make sure to always refresh it when it is about to end to keep it ticking at 10 stacks.

#2 Then you want to apply Unstable Affliction, it is your second best DoT and it provides dispell protection.

#3 You’ll apply Corruption, this is your weakest DoT but it can proc Nightfall for free soulshards.

#4 Soulswap your DoTs to nearby targets, if there are no nearby targets skip to #5

#5 Apply Curse of the Elements when you have nothing better to do.

#6 Use Malefic grasp as a filler, if you’re afraid of being interrupted use Fel Flame instead. Tbh, you’ll rarely use these abilities due to the fact that you have more important things to do like spamming fears, refreshing your dots, soul swapping, or applying curses. Yes, You’re pretty much GCD starved as affliction.

About Drain soul :

This is your « execute » ability you’ll use it as a filler against targets below 20% health.

Understanding DoTs snapshotting (When to apply/refresh DoTs) :

When you apply or refresh DoTs your character’s stats are « snapshotted » therefore damage is calculated from the « snapshot » AT THE TIME of application.

Using Dark Soul will not automatically empower the DoTs you previously applied, you’ll have to refresh them so they’ll benefit from the 30% haste buff, then you’ll start soulswapping those stronger DoTs to nearby targets.

Always apply/refresh your DoTs when you have buffs that increases your spellpower or your haste like Dark Soul and Surge of Dominance. The basic rule is to apply your DoTs when you have dark soul/procs buffs up and to refresh them when those buffs are about to expire.

On the other hand, you never want to replace your stronger dots by weaker dots. if your character’s stats are significantly weaker than when you applied them don’t refresh ! (e.g Your Dark Soul buff ended but your Dark Soul DoTs are still rolling)

You also don’t want to apply/refresh your dots if you have debuffs on your character (e.g rogue’s nerve strike).

Affdots is an incredibly helpful addon. This addon compares dots on target with your current stats and shows if reapplying DoTs will make them stronger or weaker.

In the coming extension « Warlords of Draenor » DoTs will scale dynamically with your stats so you’ll no longer need to worry about refreshing or not your DoTs.

Understanding Soul swap :

Soulswap is the ability that you’ll use to spread your DoTs to nearby targets. To use Soul Swap efficiently you need to understand the previous chapter about DoTs snapshotting.

Soul swap works in 2 times (Inhale & Exhale) :

First step, Soul swap : Inhale : It copies the DoTs you applied on your target but also their duration.

Second step, Soul swap : Exhale : It applies the dots you previously inhaled to another target. (Must be a different target from inhalation)

You always want to Inhale DoTs with high duration. If you inhale DoTs that are about to fade you’ll also exhale DoTs that are about to fade and this is pretty much useless...

Understanding Soulburn : soul swap & Pandemic :

Soulburn : soulswap costs 1 shard and instantly apply your 3 dots to the target.

Warlocks got a passive ability called pandemic that extends DoTs duration by 50% if you apply your DoTs twice. What I like to do in the arena opener is to apply a full row of DoTs to a target, then use dark soul and soulburn : soulwap the same target to empower and extend the DoTs duration, then I start spreading those DoTs with my regular soulswap. Thanks to the extended DoTs duration, you’ll be able to soulswap DoTs to more targets.

How to use Haunt properly :

The main purpose of Haunt is to create pressure on a single target so you’ll use it primarily on the kill target, however haunt damage can be easily healed through.

For this reason, you’ll cast haunt on the kill target only if the enemy healer is CC’ed, look for fear opportunities on the enemy healer before casting haunt. if you cast haunt on the kill target when the enemy healer is free to cast heals on his teamates you basically wasted a soul shard.

What I like to do in 3s is to fear the enemy healer then cast haunt on the kill target and the other dps if I can. Sometimes, it's hard to get haunt casts off because smart opponents will be aware that it's one of your key damage abilities and will try to interrupt it.

About Seed of Corruption :

This spell is great for Cleaving in BG/RBG. If your opponents are clustered together Soul burn : Seed of Corruption becomes better than haunt. Notice that you can stack the regular seed of corruption and the soulburn : Seed of Corruption on the same target.

How to burst in BG/RBG with Mannoroth's fury :

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How to burst as affliction in Arenas with dark soul :
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Basic Arenas tips

During the opener you’ll wait for your surge of dominance proc, It’ll usually happen when you apply your first row of DoTs to a target, then pop your burst macro (cf : macro section) and refresh your dots with soulburn : soul swap to empower them and extend their duration thanks to pandemic then start spreading those powerful DoTs to nearby targets (including pets) with your regular soul swap, don’t spread your DoTs to the enemy healer if you want to CC him. If the enemy healer is CC’ed apply haunt on the kill target and the other dps if you can. Use Malefic grasp or Fel Flame as a filler but you usually have better things to do like fearing. Don’t forget to refresh your DoTs when dark soul is about to expire, then soul swap them again. That kind of opener will force a lot of defensive cooldowns from your opponents, then wait for your insignia of dominance ICD to come back and try to score a kill with your second charge of dark soul.

Between two dark souls keep your DoTs rolling on as much targets as possible (cf : rotation chapter) and spam fear on the DPS. Try to save your Fear DR on the enemy healer for your next burst attempt.

Viable setups :

2s :


3s :

LSD : Affli/ele/rdruid
WLS : warrior/affli/rsham
MLS : frost mage /affli/rsham
RLS : sub rogue/affli/rsham
HLS : survival hunter/affli/rsham

Comps Strategies :

Hope some very high rated junkies like Blukstack will help fill this section.

Macros :


Streams :


Conclusion :

Hope you’ll enjoy reading this guide, constructive feedback is appreciated.




#1 dredhed

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 04:52 PM

nice man.

I've found Imp CoEX to be my favorite 3rd glyph, helps in lots of situations especially peeling or stopping someone from LOSing your ccs.
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#2 Fizion

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 05:40 PM

I don't think lifeblood (2,880 haste for 20 secs with a 2 min CD) is worth losing 320 static Int from the other professions.

Overall, your guide is a great place to start! Good job and thanks for putting it together!
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#3 Flavours

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 05:44 PM

I don't think lifeblood (2,880 haste for 20 secs with a 2 min CD) is worth losing 320 static Int from the other professions.

Overall, your guide is a great place to start! Good job and thanks for putting it together!

Haste is godly for an Affliciton lock, especially this season where they are stacking haste regardless of haste breakpoints, their main CD increases haste too. 320 int is nothing
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#4 jaimee

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 05:50 PM

just wondering, but considering how badly warlocks get trained, shouldn't third glyph be healthstone? Especially vs melee teams, when I played warlock I found it to be great (obviously I'm no expert, just wondering).
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#5 glonglon

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 06:15 PM

Thank you Dredhed and Fizion, glad you liked the guide :)

About your questions :

nice man.

I've found Imp CoEX to be my favorite 3rd glyph, helps in lots of situations especially peeling or stopping someone from LOSing your ccs.

Yeah totally forgot about that glyph, I'll add it to the guide.

I don't think lifeblood (2,880 haste for 20 secs with a 2 min CD) is worth losing 320 static Int from the other professions.

+7% haste during your dark soul burst opener is better than a 320 int passive.

just wondering, but considering how badly warlocks get trained, shouldn't third glyph be healthstone? Especially vs melee teams, when I played warlock I found it to be great (obviously I'm no expert, just wondering).

Siphon life HoT will provide more healing overall but Dark Regen + glyphed Healthstone is not bad. For slow paced games Siphon life is definitely better and for BG/RBG imo it's your best option due to the fact that you can spread corruption to a large bunch of people.

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#6 Maleficent

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 07:40 PM

I personally feel that Troll is a better race for someone who strictly plays Affliction as Berserking is better overall than Blood Fury. Whereas Orc's Spellpower racial is better for Destro. Demo is a toss up because Berserking lowers the CD of Imp Swarm or maybe my PvE nerd is coming out too strong.

Either way, great guide, + rep.

Berserking + Dark Soul: Misery + Lifeblood + Synapse Springs + Proc Trinket is a nasty combination which should not be overlooked.
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#7 glonglon

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 08:30 PM

Glad you liked the guide Maleficient.

About races you're absolutely right, I'll change that.
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#8 Bluckstack

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 09:30 PM

i wouldnt recommend use any addon to track how strong your dots are, when you are a dotter you need to be ONE with your dots, thats what you are and all you are aiming to be, the same you do when you walk on the street, you dont think about how to walk, you just walk.... here its the same you dont question yourself about if yours dots have the haste of DS or the tailoring proc you just know that because you re in control of the game and you re totally aware of what you re doing, you dont need any help from any addon the same you dont need any help to walk.

Anyways extremely solid guides, cant think about anything else better for beginners or even people who is just trying to get better.

Good job :)
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#9 davislool

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 11:04 PM

good job :duckers:
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#10 Blackojrien

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 11:43 PM

Really good guide, great job!
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#11 glonglon

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 08:56 AM

@Bluckstack, davislool, Blackojrien, glad you enjoyed the guide guys.


Yeah, I totally agree that we shouldn't rely too much on addons but when you are learning how to walk you sometimes need a helpful hand to prevent you from falling :)

As a beginner, your game awareness is very poor because you're not used to your class mechanisms and you still have to think about what spell you should use next. Addons can help beginners and then when you're used to your class mechanisms you can uninstall them.

For exemple, as a beginner ret paladin I was using clcret for my damage rotation then at some point I noticed I wasn't looking at the spell priorities module anymore, my damage rotation became part of myself, so I uninstalled it. :)

Btw, you might have noticed that the "comps strategies" section is still empty, As you are one of the top EU affli lock it would be great if you could write some basic strategies for top tier comps like LSD, WLS...I'll include those strategies to the guide.

In the demo lock guide I had some very nice people that made detailed guides about how to setup kills and all that stuff. Hope the Affliction community will help as well.

Kind regards,
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#12 Sosseri

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 09:12 AM

gj man
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#13 glonglon

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 09:51 AM

Thank you, Glad you liked the guide Sosseri :)
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#14 Axenation

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Posted 17 March 2014 - 04:43 PM

A few macros that I've been using that have helped me. Maybe someone else can find use of them.

Adding the stopwatch command to my dark soul macro to track when my trinket will proc again. Proc trinket has 45 second internal cooldown. I use Snutz's script to move my soul shard bar to the bottom center of my screen and I put the stopwatch right below that. I wait for my trinket to proc, hit my DS key, then below my character it starts counting down from 45. When stop watch nears zero, I know I'll have another trinket proc soon. Way better than downloading useless trinket proc addons to clutter up my screen.

#showtooltip Dark Soul
/cast !Dark Soul: Misery
/use 14
/use 10
/cast Blood Fury
/cast Lifeblood
/stopwatch 45
/stopwatch play

Here's the script Snutz uses to move his soul shard bar. He puts it on his corruption key, but I put it on Dark Intent since It's used in the starting area every match.

/cast [@player] Dark Intent
/script ShardBarFrame:ClearAllPoints(); ShardBarFrame:SetPoint("CENTER", UIParent, "CENTER", 0, -100)

Adding assist commands to haunt. Last season was my first semi-serious season. I was having trouble keeping track of who my partner was on (lack of communication) so half of my haunts were cast on the wrong target. Now I have a key for /assist haunt (G), and another key for regular haunt (SHIFT+G). There are problems with this of course .. if your partner doesn't use /focus keys for cc, you can break something they're CCing. I was doing 2s earlier with a boomy who targeted himself to heal .. so I kept targeting him with this key .. still maybe helpful to 1500 players, not so much to experienced players. Also, if you're on the move, it will just target who ever he's targeting since you can't haunt while moving.

/assist [@partners_name, exists]
/cast Haunt;

All-in-one focus macro. If you're in arena, it focuses whoever arena1 is, otherwise it focuses who ever you're targeting. Great if you need a focus macro outside of arenas.

/focus [@arena1,exists][]

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#15 cvsbug

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Posted 17 March 2014 - 04:51 PM

grimoire of supremacy is not always good to use against caster teams
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#16 Eviaax

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Posted 17 March 2014 - 06:02 PM

grimoire of supremacy is not always good to use against caster teams

I agree. Definitely sac is better to use against teams like LSD where resummoning pet would need to be macrod into every ability
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#17 glonglon

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 12:02 PM

@Axenation, hey thank you that was some pretty nice tips to read. :)

@Cvsbug & eviaax, yeah I agree that If your pet always dies against caster cleaves like LSD with a lot of spread pressure you can play sac+bargain.
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#18 Blaxe

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 12:17 PM

Considering a warlock going for full haste, wouldn't it be interesting to go for Harvest Life? As you said survivability is quit sloppy and depending on a 2min cd doesn't sound nice :I
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#19 jaimee

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 01:14 PM

Even though I'm not a warlock; I play with them a lot and can say that if your pet will die at all in the entire game it is better to play Sac. Don't play a pet if it can die.
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#20 glonglon

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 03:30 PM

Considering a warlock going for full haste, wouldn't it be interesting to go for Harvest Life? As you said survivability is quit sloppy and depending on a 2min cd doesn't sound nice :I


As I said in the guide, as affliction you're GCD starved so you'll never have time to channel harvest life. It's better to rely on a 2mn instant cast defensive cooldown.

@Cvsbug, Eviaax and Jaime

I agree with you guys so I modified the PvP talents chapter to include the sac+dark bargain playstyle.

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