Monday, March 2, 2009

Future Rotations and Other Ruminations

Last night saw my first true raid leading experience in Naxx. This week, our raid alliance is getting split off into two groups, so right now we kind of have a "lead by committee" approach, with different capable people leading each run just to get "back in the swing". Last night was my turn, and it went well. We saw our first downing of both Heigan and Loatheb. We have this funny trend of struggling and wiping on an early boss, only to go and one-shot whatever we try next. That's what happened on Loatheb, which can be a tricky fight, but everyone was dialed in and we have some great healers. We'll see how the split goes this week.

The loot goods have deserted me for now, so I'm stuck hovering around a 2.1k average DPS, climbing to around 2.6k average on bosses (more on some, less on others). I still have only broken the 3k mark on that one occasion, but I also have plenty of room for upgrades. I did finally pick up my T7.10 chest this weekend, which was nice. Now if I can get the shoulders... The gloves are kind of "meh" in my opinion, since I got the Gloves of Dark Gestures from Naxx already. Next on my list up emblem upgrades is the 40 badge sash.

Before I get into my thoughts on how a 3.1 rotation might shape up, I wanted to relate the following new glyph that was brought to my attention by Abi over at Fear.Win.
  • Glyph of Life Tap - Using your Life Tap spell will increase your spellpower by 20% of your spirit for 20 seconds.
As Abi pointed out, this will probably become mandatory post 3.1. I, for one, will be picking this up for sure, and you'll see why when you look at my rotation.

I QQ'ed a little before, basically being scared that with the effective removal of two DoTs from our "standard" rotation, we might lose DPS. This still remains to be seen, but the ramifications of the change with respect to simplifying the rotation are growing on me.

Right now, most aff'locks are using some variation of the rotation I'm using: Corr, Haunt, Sbolt, UA, CoA, SL, Immo. I think most will put a SB first and rearrange them a bit, and I don't always follow the same order myself. I almost always throw up Corr first because it is instant and I never have to apply it again. This can very easily be done as I'm getting set up to be able to do my casted spells, thus not wasting those early seconds of a fight.

It's good to throw up H and SB right away to get your Shadow Embrace bonus up. This will not change in 3.1, just will only affect shadow spells. So far, the front end of my rotation looks the same. I will still probably follow with UA and some sort of Curse.

I feel like I must point out here that I move my curse around in my rotation a lot. I normally don't use a curse on trash because they just die too quick. Thus, I usually won't apply it right away until I can gauge how quickly something is going to go down. On bosses, I may try to put it up in that positioning window I talked about earlier, so right after Corr goes up. If I'm using CotE, I try to get the curse up always as early as possible. The long duration ensures that you don't have to watch it as much as CoA.

Now, the butt end of the rotation is SL and Immo. SL will be gone in 3.1 (most likely) and Immo will not receive the bonus from Haunt and Shadows Embrace. This greatly devalues the application of the spell. I don't think it'll be worth it any longer. Thus, you can just drop the entire butt end of the rotation in favor of more shadow bolts. This will also give you a nice window to take a quick breath between reapplication rounds. Before, it had been hard to throw even one bolt in there before needing to refresh. Post 3.1, this shouldn't be the case, giving us a little more wiggle room.

Of course, still throw some drain soul in at the end if you wish, but the basic rotation will now look like this: Corr, H, SB, CoA, UA. Simple, clean, easy.

Getting back to why that glyph is important, every time I reapply Haunt, I life tap. If you do it immediately following your Haunt spell, you will get healed up by the returning haunt right after you've life tapped, making for almost a free tap. This is great stuff already, but with that glyph... wow. Its like a nice little trinket pop every time you tap, and I tap once every rotation... this should almost always be up. With 'locks already carrying decent spirit numbers due to fel armor, this glyph is a no-brainer. Woot!

It's also important to realize that Corr will now return some life to you, so use it gratuitously. For instance, one thing we do on Grobbulus is have a lock or two throw the random dot onto a slime to help the OT with killing it. I almost always switch over and throw both Corr and SL. The life return can save your butt if you get hit by a muta and have to run through a cloud, plus it helps the healers which is good. Now, that will just be one GCD, one DoT. Yay! I'm sure this is going to be our bread and butter, if it isn't already. Nightfall, damage, and life return in one DoT... yes, please.

Anyways, that's just what I'm looking forward to about 3.1. I'm sincerely hoping there's no damage nerf, but at least the rotation will be a bit nicer. I may even welcome some more shadow bolts back into my life...


  1. (I'm not a number cruncher. Maybe someone who does the math would disagree, but most of my personal observation leads me to the following comment)

    I do believe your DPS would benefit from lifetapping less during a fight. The perfect encounter would have you run out of mana on your very last cast as the boss died. That would mean you used your mana pool as efficiently and effectively as possible.

    While the bonuses are nice, such as this glyph or the 4 piece T7 bonus, they still don't outweigh simply dps'ing instead. What this will provide is a nice boost for those moments when you absolutely have to lifetap, but I would highly suggest not relying on it to keep yourself at almost full mana.

    Think of it this way, if you go through 50 rotations on a long fight and lifetapping is part of your rotation, that's 50 lifetaps. 50 seconds that do nothing to your dps, whereas half that number or less would suffice to keep your mana high enough to dps nonstop.

    I've got the t7 set bonus. Lifetapping purely and ONLY to get the bonus to my spirit is a drop in my dps. What you need to do, knowing that corruption refreshes in the form it was cast, is lifetap for the bonus when your spell power is at its heighest (a trinket proc, a temporary group buff, etc...) and cast/refresh corruption then. You want the maximum spell power at the time you cast corruption, that way whenever casting haunt refreshes it, it is refreshed at the same spell power, which might or might not be less than your current one. I hear they might be changing this, but for now it works.

    In essence, don't look at a lifetap buff (that isn't very huge... 100 sp. power for 10 seconds for t7 set or whatever the glyph will give) as an integral part of your dps rotation. It will only lower your total output. Look at it instead as a bonus that when you DO lifetap, it isn't as big a waste of time and loss of dps as it used to be in the past.

  2. That's probably a good point. I guess I should mention that I don't necessarily hit a life tap EVERY rotation, only when I need it or can fit it in. For instance, if in keeping track of my DoT timers, I notice that I have at least a few seconds before one will need a refresh, I may throw one in there just to keep my life up.

    It probably would be a bad idea to give life tapping any sort of priority other than as you need mana. I'm certainly not as mana efficient as I should be, but used to use dark pact a lot instead of life tapping for various reasons. My main point is that if the glyph goes live as-is, it'd probably be a good idea to switch completely over to life tapping as needed.

    I didn't know that was how corruption worked... does that mean that casting it first would mean that it doesn't get the haunt and shadow embrace benefit? I understood it differently I guess, but if that's the case, I may want to drop corruption further in my rotation. I hope they do change it if that's the case, because that's kind of a dumb mechanic.

    If it is purely a function of what spell power you have at the time of cast (and corruption would pick up the bonuses of haunt and embrace later), the I wouldn't have to change the location in my rotation, but would want to life tap at the beginning.

    It is probably also important to note that I have my trinkets bound to my corruption cast, so that hitting Corr causes my trinket to pop on. That may be another thing to clean up.

    Thanks for the comment, and I'd be interested to know more about how the mechanic works with haunt and embrace..

  3. I think another good question would be if the choice is between shadowbolt filler and a life tap... would you want to throw a life tap in there. I believe you can fit two taps in one shadow bolt cast... so I wonder how that would work out with the new rotation having an increased amount of extra cast time at the end...

  4. "does that mean that casting it first would mean that it doesn't get the haunt and shadow embrace benefit?"

    I get a similar talent that refreshes Shadow Word: Pain and it will change on any "bonus damage" boost, but any crit boosts added on (like Imp Scorch, Winters Chill, etc.) will not effect it. I'm assuming you have Pandemic to let Corr and UA crit.. so you'd be getting the damage boost from Haunt and Shadows Embrace but you won't be getting the crit boost unless you recast it when it's up.

    I'd start with a Shadowbolt and then Haunt to not only get the boost from haunt and Shadow Embrace but to give your other casters time to get some crit bonuses and debuffs up.

  5. Yeah, the only problem with that is that I like to lead off with an instant dot to get a jump on things. I also like having a dot tick while I'm dealing with cast bars, but maybe that damage is horribly overshadowed by the benefit of waiting. I guess its all kind of hard to quantify.

  6. Hmm, I'm not sure about haunt and shadow embrace on corruption, but I do know that it tics at the spell power at which I cast it. (Try removing your weapon mid fight and renewing your corruption manually. You'll get the "a more powerful spell is already active" error message.)

    I don't think you should delay casting corruption. Cast it, let it tic, but if you notice your trinkets proc and you suddenly have 700 more spell power, refresh it manually and get its higher tics for the entire duration (assuming it doesn't drop off a late Haunt).

    I've personally subscribed to the sbolt/haunt first theory, as I like the double stack of shadow embrace before my first dots tic, and I've gotten really used to the refresh of my haunt almost as soon as I get all my dots up after I cast it.

    If I had my old trinkets (Maexxna's haste proc and the badge spell power proc), I would wait for the spell power to proc, then I would refresh corruption manually and force it at the higher level of spell power. If I had t7 bonus at that time, I would life tap just before re-casting corruption.

    I'm sure I could find it if I scrolled down your blog a bit, but for the sake of making it easier here... which addons do you use to help your affliction rotation? Are you part of the majority that use DoTimer?