Friday, October 17, 2008

I Only Have So Many Fingers

Okay, as promised, here are my thoughts on spell rotations.

First of all, I must point out that I am not always a maximizer. What I look for in a spell rotation can be summed up in one word: practicality. That is to say, I don't want to have to push 20 different buttons or be so scattered-brained that I'm losing track of things. I'm a heavy macro user (being a software engineer), so I look for a spell rotation that I can condense into one button. I like having many of my other spells available without having to switch bars or do crazy stuff while raiding. Usually I try to work it so I have one button that applies my Dots in a certain order, then I use a few modifiers so I can start at different places in that rotation. For instance, holding "alt" while using my DoT button skips the curse in my rotation (in case I want to choose a different one). Thus, I will have to play around with rotations for a bit to get a feel for where I might need to put these "shortcuts" in order to minimize DoT downtime.

That being said, I put my stats into the calculator over at MaxDPS and here is what it kicked out:

As you can see, I normally do not use immolate. I haven't used immolate for some time now because, prior to the patch, I had a heavy stacking of shadow damage and couldn't really justify throwing a fire spell in there. I may need to re-evaluate that choice, but since fire seems to be more of a destro 'lock's bag, I'm going to pass for now. So this sequence is what I put into my /castsequence macro (I'll do a proper posting on macros sometime in the future too).

In a raid environment, this cycle worked well for me. On trash, I tend to shorten it up and just do Haunt, CoA, and Corr. Then finish off with some s-bolts. This heavily depends on how quickly something is dying. If its real quick, I'll go straight to the bolts. If not, then maybe another DoT or two. You just have to feel it out.

For bosses, I find this rotation particularly fun, if a little bit challenging. As we all know, a HUGE warlock no-no is to refresh CoA before it finishes its last tick. If you do that, you're wasting a lot of damage because the curse ramps up as it goes, with the last tick accounting for a sizeable chunk of damage. Thus, how can I "one-button" this sequence without committing that faux paux?

As I was fighting the bosses in kara, I was trying to time up my rotation so as not to cut off CoA. It seems that since CoA is longer than Haunt, you will need to refresh Haunt about midway through the course of CoA. What I found that works well is to go through an entire sequence first, filling up the end with shadow bolts until Haunt runs out. Then refreshing Haunt, and s-bolt spamming until CoA runs out. After that, I quickly refresh the others, for two full DoT rotations with one button. This may result in a little Corruption down time, so I'll need to fix that (may be a good place for an interrupt). I will probably just put Corr, UA, and Siphon life on my "alt" alternative so that I can refresh those as I need to. I also my place a click-able Haunt only button somewhere on my screen, since it seems a good idea to keep that up at all times. Keep in mind that early refreshing the other DoTs does not affect their DPS, but only decreases your mana-efficiency. Since I don't seem to have a problem with mana on most fights, I usually sacrifice that a bit in order to make sure all DoTs are kept up.

For boss fights that last longer than two full cycles (most of them), I just need to click off to reset my macro. This is easily done in the shadow bolt spam phase, since shadow bolts have their own key for me. Thus, this lends itself well to repetitive application. I've found that this rotation is a bit more challenging than what I had prior to the patch without Haunt. It results in needed to use my "shortcuts" a lot more. It also really cuts down on the number of s-bolts I have time to fit in, which isn't really a bad thing. As I said, it seems like with the changes, affliction warlocks are becoming less-reliant on s-bolt spam as a main source of DPS. With my DoTs accounting for 75% of my damage done and my DPS increasing since the patch, I think the talent changes support aff'locks becoming more DoT-centric. Of this, I most definitely approve.

Obviously, my rotation is still a work in progress, but I wanted to share my findings so far in case it helps. Let me know what works for you. I'm sure a lot of this depends on what is important in your playstyle. Oh, and happy 'locking!

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