Monday, April 20, 2009

Revised Warlock Post 3.1 Spec

(Updated for 3.2 - there weren't any Warlock changes to affect this)

After Abi's comment last week and when I was able to get some time over my busy weekend, I took a good hard look at my spec. Abi's suggestion of taking the Ruin talent over in the destro tree was certainly a sound one. I had mentioned in my original short discussion on my spec that I had about five points of "optional" (read: non-raiding) crap that I have always taken just for the utility of it.

Then I got to thinking, I plan to dual spec soon and I've been scratching my PvP itch with my Death Knight. I really don't do much on my 'lock other than raid at this point. Sometimes I'll do some random dailies (and have started the Argent Tournament quests on him), but I hardly need my utility spec for that. Additionally, If I feel I'm missing some of those talents, I could always dual spec something less raid-worthy.

Add to this the fact that I'd felt slightly nerfed with the patch, plus I realized how much more dependant we are on shadowbolts. Prior to 3.1 and post WotLK, you were lucky as an Aff'lock to throw in two s-bolts per rotation. It was just hard to squeeze them in if not for Nightfall procs. However, with the simplified rotation, we have a lot more s-bolt time. Ruin was a good talent before, but now it's even more so, especially if I'm going to put ten points in the destro tree anyways.

So, I went back and squeezed out a new spec: 56/0/15. (I hope that link works because I used MMO-champion this time because WoWhead's talent thingy was still cutting off the destro tree, though I still ended up chopping the bottom on my own. Blame it on being on the travel laptop all weekend). Here's the work-friendly screenshot (you can click for a bigger version):
There are a few notable changes here. First of all, I knew I needed five points to fill out the ruin talent. That brought up the question of where to pull those five points from. I quickly found out that one of those "optional" points needed to be in there in order to progress my tree to the next tier (if I didn't have at least one of them, it wouldn't open up the next level of talents). So I removed the point in Improved Fear, but kept the point in Improved Life Tap. I like the Improved Fear talent for PvP crap, but I don't really do that on my 'lock anymore, so it was obviously a good idea to lose it. Life tap I will use a lot of, but I still wasn't sure I wanted it beefed up anymore since once I got the glyph, I'd want to be life tapping a bit more.

I still needed four more points. Looking right above the fear talent is Grim Reach. It is important to note that this talent improves your range for only your Affliction spells. Recall that shadowbolt is a Destruction spell. Thus, if I'm becoming more reliant on s-bolts, I have to stand in destro range anyways. What am I really getting out of Grim Reach? The chance to open up earlier? The points there don't really make sense unless you take the matching range bonus talent in the destro tree, and I wasn't about to do that. So there was two more points.

To squeeze out the last two, I took a hard look at my pet choice. I like running with my Felhunter. I like the utility he brings (I love spell locking to help my Pally tank familiar, since Pallies don't have a silence). However, in nearly all of our raids, his buff is getting overwritten. Also, I don't really have mana problems with him now that I life tap more. Finally, whenever I have a mage in group, I plan to use the Succubus or Doomguard anyways as their buffs are usually better (I had already been trying this out, but wasn't sold on the idea yet since I'm nostalgic for my pup). Taking all this in mind, the two points spent in improved felhunter can be easily foregone as well.

Thus, I had squeezed out my five points for ruin. Going back, I still didn't like the point in life tap, and realized I could take Amplified Curse instead and still progress the tree as I needed to. Amp'd Curse seems kind of "meh" to me. I mean it reduces your curse GCD by 0.5s. So every time you're casting your curse, you're getting a half second back where you can hopefully get right to casting other things. I don't know about you, but I'm rarely that precise as to make full use of an extra 0.5s. Some nights, when I'm really "on", yes. But other times, that's gobbled up by lag easily. Still, it's better to have than not, so I figured I'd give it a try and see how it affects me. Hopefully I'll be pleasantly surprised by the extra time of a shorter GCD.

Finally, I looked at the two points I had in Improved Howl of Terror, making it an instant cast. I decided to keep those, because that is really my only emergency button to get away from things out in the world. I like having an instant cast AoE fear at my disposal for a variety of situations and reasons. It is certainly not a big "raid" usage though, and if you're really looking to maximize your spec, you could probably take those two points and stick them on the first tier of the Demonology tree in something like Fel Vitality or the Stamina boosting talent. Neither of those will really help your DPS, but they do help with survivability (which we all know a dead 'lock/pet does no DPS). I haven't had life issues yet ('cept when it's a wipe), so I didn't feel the draw of those talents.

To wrap this up, I wanted to mention two more talents that I've seen different in other specs that I took in mine. First, I did NOT spec into the Fel Concentration talent. I have my questions about the worth of the talent, because I just don't feel that pushback is much of an issue for me, especially since the limit is now set at two "pushbacks" per spell cast. Add to that having instant and short casts, and I don't think I see a lot of use in this except maybe on heavy AoE fights. If a lot of my shadow bolts are getting pushed back, this may be something I consider putting those howl of terror points in as well.

Finally, I did spec into the Improved Drain Soul. I did this not so much for the mana return, because that really is a non-issue, but for the affliction spell threat reduction. I find myself constantly high on threat meters, so keeping that down is a good thing and means if I get a string of crits and nightfall procs, I shouldn't be in danger of pulling the boss off the tank. Also, some of those fights where your DoTs continue to tick during an "air phase" can get tricky too, so less threat is really a good thing, IMO.

I think this covers just about all the generally accepted "must haves" for a raiding Affliction 'lock, without having a whole lot of "fat" on the trees. The only points I might suggest spending elsewhere would be the howl of terror points. I think I'm certainly getting the most out of the rest of my points, which is good for a raid spec (which my first cut at a spec wasn't really a focused on).

I have actually respecced twice as part of my on-going debates, the last one having been purely to switch the one talent point into Amp'd Curse. I was only able to run something just before that last respec, so without the Amp'd Curse talent I was seeing DPS well over 3k (~3.2k), which was quite a jump from what I seemed to be doing before respeccing into ruin (~2.9k). That makes a certain amount of sense, but there are also other factors like having gotten my addons running properly in the mean time. Still, I was doing over 3k on the trash as well as the boss; there wasn't as big of a DPS drop off, which is good stuff. I'm not sure how much Amp'd Curse would help that, but it's certainly not going to hurt.

I plan to develop a more "fun" or "utility" spec when I get around to dual speccing in either destro or demo. With the way destro is sounding right now, it may be key to have a bursty spec for those fights where DoTs just don't cut it (think Gothik or KT wave fights, where you just tank in DPS because the crap dies too fast).

All in all, though, I'm still really enjoying my Affliction spec and it is still putting up some very good numbers. 10k Drain Soul crits... yes, please.


  1. Interesting. My Affliction Spec is 53/1/17. I run with my Succy. My Dual spec is 00/41/30.

    I run primarily 10 mans with a group of friends.

    We have downed 5 bosses in Ulduar so far. Flame Leviathan - Spec does not matter at all. For Razorscale and Deconstructor I was 41/30 - the AoE damage from RoF is helpful.

    For Iron Council I went Affliction - and after a few tries ended up putting away the Succy and bringing out the Felpup to help with interupts and spell steals.

    For Kolgarn I stuck with Afflcition and used the Succy.

    So far I have been pretty happy with my Lock - (he became my Main as 3.1 dropped).

    I have been in the top 3 in damage done on all fights - and at the top for the Council.

    As an added note, Affliction is not too bad for Ulduar trash either, it's a lot of single target killing - you can get through your rotation easily, pop off a couple of Bolts and Drain Soul. It's nice having to work again!

    I enjoy reading your posts keep up the great work.


  2. TY... and I like that dual spec. I may end up settling on something like that. I'm assuming you took Ruin in the destro tree along with the 10 points of s-bolt improvements... what are your other two points in?

  3. @Fulguralis
    I'm not sure, but I imagine he has those two points invested in the reduced cool down talent for the imp's fire bolt and succy's lash of pain.

    But, I wanted to post in RE: to your original post. Basically, I wanted to give you props for your insight and the sharing of the thought process behind how YOU play YOUR warlock. I was reading through your comments and was appalled to see that guy's remarks criticizing you rather disrespectfully when he obviously didn't even read your post to begin with. You clearly stated that your style of play, and choices in talents, may not be how the reader wants to play his lock, but this is how I play mine and why I like to play it that way.

    I haven't been coming to this blog very long, but so far you've been up front and honest with all your postings. Your posts have reflected your thought process and understanding of the changes being made to our class as you understood them to be at that time. This post shows that you weigh constructive criticism given to you in comments, while also remaining true to thyself by changing some points around where you see fit. Your posts, in my opinion, have reflected the growing in understanding of a fellow lock as I myself have grown and learned with you and your community.

    So, thanks for putting it out there, considering all angles, and reflecting on the communities thoughts before rinsing and repeating.


    (Sorry for the long rant post...)

  4. Yes my extra two points went into Demonic Power.

    A little bit about myself - I have been playing WOW for nearly four years - 99% of that time playing a Hunter. I am in a Progressive Raiding Guild, we cleared all of vanilla WOW -(except old school Naxx, we only dropped four of the bosses). We cleared all of BC, and I was burnt out.

    I stepped down from my officer role, and decided to just have fun and concentrate on 10 mans. I run with a group of people I enjoy spending time with. We sometimes struggle to get 10 people online and when we do our groups are anything but balanced. In fact when we started WotLK, we were running 4 hunters in our group!

    We cleared Naxx, Maly, and 2 Drake Sarth with ease. We got hung up on 3D with just never having a good group make-up. Along the way, I slowly started playing my Lock more and more, another Hunter switched to his Rogue, and yet another switched to his Warrior.

    I guess I mention all this to say I understand picking unconventional builds for personal reasons - my Hunter was BM in Vanilla, was BM all through BC and continues to be BM to this day. I have dabbled in all the specs, but I enjoy that playstyle.

    All that being said, I am still learning the ins and outs of being a Warlock - I read a lot of blogs, I read EJ, I like to learn as much as I can, then put it into practice. My current build(s)are pretty much cookie-cutter - the points just seem to make sense when I look at them. I will most likely tweak them in the near future. I really enjoy both specs but I think I will always be an affliction guy deep down.

    I also like having the felpup out - and when we don't have a mage, or priest, every little buff helps. So those points in Demonic Power could probably be moved into Imp Felhunter or possibly Imp Healthstone in the very near future.

    Wow - I got really wordy - and for that I apologize - after all this is YOUR blog!


  5. Thanks to both of you for the good comments. It's always good to know who's reading you and that what you're saying isn't being completely misrepresented :-).

    I know personally one of my flaws is being stubborn, so I tend to stick with talents and spells longer than some. I tend to put a larger premium on "comfort" with a spec than just what the maths say. After all, if you don't execute it, all the math in the world isn't gonna put up good numbers for you (unless you're a DK right? ;-P).

    Anyways, its good to have feedback and any blogger will tell you we do this for the love of writing and the enjoyment of helping the community.

    I think the game would certainly get boring if there was only *one* way to do things.

  6. Yeah I was stuck with using 1 filler point in my Haunt/Ruin spec as well and I just threw it in to Fel Concentration to get it over with. I also opted not to get Dark Pact since I use the Life Tap glyph.

    The new build looks pretty solid, man. Hopefully you enjoy it just as much.

  7. Anyone know if the patch is going through today? I didn't have time to check this morning before leaving for work and can't find any info now that I'm here. (all gaming sites are blocked oO)

    Do you visit wowinsider any? They had their resident lock do a post in a series called 'Blood Pact.' I was amused by it simply because it is essentially the same thing you posted here...only a couple of days later. ^^

    About me: (joining the Desparatus bandwagon)
    I too have been playing since vanilla wow. Picked up raiding as a lock in the days of ZG and MC. Cleared all vanilla wow up until naxx...think we got 3-4 bosses in there too. Did all but sunwell in BC and then IRL called. It was time to get married, buy a house, start a new career, etc. I now raid with a more casual guild...who doesn't care when I show up, but loves to have me when I do. My gear isn't the best in my class, but my DPS doesn't show it, so I at least feel like I'm still pulling my weight. :)


  8. @Abi - Yeah, since I've pretty much only been raiding on my warlock (before I had two 80's, I only had one toon to do everything on, including PvP and stuff which I like to do sometimes), it made more sense to go with a spec like this, and so far the numbers have been rewarding. Tonight is our first crack at 25-man naxx since the patch (last weeks got scrapped due to lag), so I'm really looking forward to a full night's trial.

    @NzB - I'm pretty much in the same boat. I didn't start in vanilla wow, but shortly after TBC. However, I'm getting married on July 18th and thus have always been a casual WoW player. In college (when we all just study all the time and never spend any time with gaming... aha), I played the Final Fantasy MMO. The nature of that game is far more grindy, which I didn't like... but we spent a lot of time with it. I don't know if we were "Hardcore" then, but we sure spent a lot of time on it.

    As for WoW insider, I'm familiar with the article series, but don't keep up with it since it's blocked. I should probably put it on my feedreader but I just never have. Good to know I'm not missing a whole lot ;-).

    As for the quick fixes today... it was announced on the site that there would be downtime today. How much is anyone's guess. I won't find out for sure until I read it somewhere else or go home.

  9. Yes, Patch today, extended downtime. All talent points being cleared so we get a free respec ... (after I dropped 50 gold to move 2 points last night!)

    I moved points out of Demonic Power and into Imp Felhunter - we ended up with no Mage or Priest last night - so the buff was not wasted.


  10. I'd like to thank you for your insights. I was having a very stressful WOW-week last week and nothing seemed to be working out for me post 3.1.

    I got to really dig in on the weekend and work my tree and rotations out. I have always liked Affliction and am doing well in raiding dps so I don't think I am going to switch to Destruction just yet.

    I really appreciate your insights and rationale. It helped me when I decided to tweak the recommended Affliction build with my own personal preferences.

    I had previously been using cookie cutter builds and running on everyone else's advice and I realise now that wasn't the best idea for me.

    Thanks for all your insights. Doing a solid 2k in raids now, hoping to improve that as my gear improves.

    Unfortunatley I won't dual spec my lock because I'm leveling a priest and would rather spend the gold on dual speccing her.

    Keep up the good work.

  11. @SS - TY for the feedback and chance to help. I've always maintained that everyone will play just a little differently. Cookie cutter specs are great for getting you started, but at some point you need to make your spec work for you. The math may prove that one way has the most potential, but in the end you're the one who needs to execute it, and for that you need to be comfortable with your spec.

    I haven't been able to dual spec either of my toons yet due to lack of time/gold. I've been doing the Argent dailies to raise some extra gold, but it may be a while for me too. I may dual my DK first too, just to have the tanking option.

  12. WHOOW what wait?! Did I read that right? You wanna tank??

    *drops dead on the floor*

    HA HA That's such a need slapper.

    Thanks for the funnies today hun :)

  13. Mogresh of Moon GuardApril 21, 2009 at 1:40 PM

    I read in your article that you start your rotation with corruption after you proc your lightweave. Is this for every fight? I can understand if you are doing this while closing the distance to a boss, maybe as a possible rank 1 LT, Corruption, CoA, LT combo to do some incidental damage. But are you doing this on relatively stationary fights? If so you could put out a little more dps by leading with Shadowbolt and Haunt to put up the shadow's embrace buff to get more damage out of your dots.

    Also a bit of advice for you if you are just starting to use drain soul at the end of the fights. Only let it tick once or twice. Don't cast it for the full channel bar. If you want to keep seeing those huge ticks, you need to keep your dots up, and If your dots are up you need to keep haunt up as well to keep the dot's damage buffed. Once you get the timing down you'll get a good feel for when drain soul ticks and then you can refresh haunt and cast another drain soul for a tick. Then you usually need to refresh UA and get another couple of drain soul ticks before refreshing haunt and Coa again. Once you get that down, start tossing your infernal into the mix. You will see your dps skyrocket at the end of your fights. I usually go from about 2.8-3k on patchwerk to well over 3.5k by doing this.

  14. *knee slapper

    wow sorry about that...

  15. @mogresh - I start after a life tap while positioning myself (lightweave procs are a bonus). My whole point is just to advise to treat the life tap bonuses the same as you would a trinket. You want to keep a trinket popped at all times within reason. Lightweave is just a nice little bonuse. On stationary fights it is definitely better to start with your H and SE effects, however I usually still put up Corruption first just out of habit, the castables soon follow though, minimizing the number of Corr ticks that might miss the multiplier. UA and CoA always come afterwards (CoA sometimes earlier if there is a lot of running).

    I definitely do not let the whole Drain Soul tick. You're exactly right in saying you must give your DoTs your priority still if you're going to make those DS ticks hit big. I need to get into the infernal business too... I've never really done that but know it's certainly worth the effort. Where do you pick up the reagents for it?

    @Fuu - Way to dual spec lolret. It's not my fault you want to be like me ;-)

  16. *cough

    you wanna roll with a "tank" spec & you call me a follower?!

    Cute hun... take your lolDKIDONTKNOWWFTIMDOING and roll a hunter ;)

  17. @Fuu - Last I checked, you're the only one of us with a hunter. I have my DK for that :-). You're the only one of us that played a mage too... oooooh. burn.

  18. I liked seeing the tweaks, and your new build is almost the same as mine. The only difference is I put 2 points in improved life tap rather than improved drain soul.

    Although, I'm wondering if I should put those 2 points back... now that my gear has had some big upgrades, I'm riding the aggro wave a bit more.

    Gosh, I really need to get this updated posted on my site too. xD But then I might start a new trend of Syranacraft instead of my entertainment filled babble. :P

  19. "now that my gear has had some big upgrades, I'm riding the aggro wave a bit more."

    lol Syrana.

    Immolate Crit -> Chaos Bolt Crit -> Conflag Crit = Me tanking Sartharion. Dying at 95% wasn't a good idea.

  20. Yeah, I've been riding high on the aggro wave as well and am glad I took that talent plus the threat reduction in my meta gem slot.

  21. you all just need a good pally tank to treat you right :)

  22. I use a pretty similar build to yours, 54/1/16 (hope the link works)
    I use my imp for heroics, and I've probably wasted 1 point on him in Demonic power not sure if he's all that good but I hate the Succubus and I'm embarrassed to say I haven't got the felpup.

    I notice you have 3 points in eradication? Everything I have read on the net says 1 point there is enough? should I change mine, move the 2 spare points out of fel synergy and demonic power and into this? does having 3 points instead of 1 make that big a difference?

    I'm not brilliantly geared yet having only recently started heroics, so my hit is low (7%) and my Dps hovers around the 1500 mark, soon have my ebonweave robe though and with the gloves it should boost my hit substantially I find that my imp has good survivability with the 1 point in synergy, he tanked a minor elite npc in HoS while my back was turned shooting the tanks target and did quite well with my spells healing him nicely throughout.

  23. @Anon - The reason that has been said is that the talent suffers from "diminishing returns". That is to say, the first point gives you the most out of it and then after that it's not as good. I haven't really analyzed the math on this, but don't know where I'd personally rather put those points. I like having the haste boost.

    If your pet is dying, Fel Synergy helps with that. That doesn't benefit me much, personally, but I'd say it depends on you.

    Demonic power is a good one if you're relying on the imp. Does anyone know how the imp benefits from the player's haste? I'd wonder what the effect of the haste bonus would be on the imp.

    My advice would be, if you're concerned about it, to hit up a training dummy with one spec and then the other. I wouldn't fret over those points though, as they're not what I would call a "key" talent either way.