Affliction Warlock Guide (5.4.7)
This guide is written mainly for players new to playing affliction in arenas / PvP.
- 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.
- 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.
Level 15 : Dark Regeneration
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
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
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
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
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
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.
- 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.
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
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
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 for 6% hit then follow the stats priorities I’ve gave you above. If you struggle with reforging, you can install the addon reforgelite.
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.
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 :
#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 :
How to burst as affliction in Arenas with dark soul :
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 :
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.
Hope you’ll enjoy reading this guide, constructive feedback is appreciated.