Wednesday, December 9, 2009

HAOW: 3.3 Affliction Warlock Raiding Spec

I'm going to call this series: How to Afflict Others with Warlockery.  In the next few days we shall cover such basics as speccing, glyphing, rotating, petting, and gearing.  Some of those may sound dirty, and they are, but not in the way you think.  This is simply my patch 3.3 update for Aff'locking in the World of Warcraft.  As usual, the best place to start is with the spec, so off we go on the HAOWay to Hell...

The Spec
The most recent simulations preformed over at the Elitist Jerks forums point to an Affliction Warlock spec being the top dog, raid wise (at a T9 gear level). The spec the use is noted at 55/0/16.  The spec I'm using is 56/0/15, a variation of the top spec.  I'm not exactly sure what, if anything, differs as I wasn't able to find a link on the simulation report, but I imagine it might involve pet buff talents.  I'll write more in-depth about pet choice in a subsequent article, and the short story is that I haven't decided yet, but want to use my Felhunter if it works out.   In a small way, this affects my talent choices, but all the big ones are there.

Here's a picture for those of you that might not be able to access the link (note: pic is prolly out of date as I've been playing around with a few points.  I try to keep the above link up to date with what I'm running though.  Also, this still gives you a good visual of the trees.):

The affliction tree is loaded with all sorts of goodies, and I'm not going to break down each individual talent as they all seem pretty self-explanatory to me.  Feel free to leave a question in comments if you have one, but most of them give very straight forward, percentage-based damage increases to our staple spells.  The base build is commonly referred to as the Haunt/Ruin build, naming the hallmark talents in each tree.  We put 55 well-placed points into the affliction tree to get Haunt and 15 points into the Destruction tree (mostly to buff our shadowbolts) in order to get Ruin.  Thus, there is one "extra" point that can be tweaked without losing the major talents.

Within the affliction tree, I think the only trade-offs you have to make are based on utility and personal play style.  For instance, when I was using my Succy mostly in raids, I specced out of Improved Felhunter.  Since I had to keep those points in the tree in order not to lose Haunt, I chose to take Improved Howl of Terror for an "oh shit" button. This really does nothing to help the raid and probably could have been better spent on a few other talents in there. 

In my last spec I'd also had a point in Dark Pact.  Before the life tap glyph was in existence, I used to make extensive use of dark pact since it didn't steal any health.  Now that I've grown used to life tapping and I sport the glyph, I don't ever find a use for dark pact.  As long as I'm smart about it, mana is never a problem.  Thus, I moved that point into Grim Reach, increasing my affliction spell range by 10%.  The downside to Grim Reach is that without the corresponding destruction talent, you're still going to have to be at the non-extended distance to shadowbolt spam. So that's where my one "bonus" point is going to go: Destructive Reach.  This talent has the added benefit of reducing threat caused by my SB.  I'm only taking one point in each since thats all I have left to play with.  This may or may not be useful in a fight where a lot of movement is required, depending on your playstyle, but I think I'll like the bit of extra range and threat help.

This left me with one point in the Affliction tree that had no home.  If I filled up Grim Reach, it wouldn't really gain me anything as I'd still have to be at the same range for to cast shadowbolts.  Thus, I put the point in Improved Felhunter.  It'll help for those times when the raid my need the pup buff, plus with all the recent buffing of the hunter, I may end up using this guy a lot more.

If you're not a fan of these last few talent choices, you could probably take the three points and invest them elsewhere.  I don't know really where else I'd put them to keep in the affliction tree and not lose Haunt.  I don't feel like push back is a problem, so I'm not going after the creepy hand talent.  Also, I wouldn't use the other curses, nor would I use improved fear.  Furthermore, I don't need an improved life tap because as long as I space them out properly, I don't have any problems with mana and feel like my current strategy keeps the buff up without needlessly draining extra life.  You may want to stick one of the points in an improved Imp or Succy if you plan to use those pets more and forgo the range.  It depends a bit on your personal pet choice.  I like to mix my Felhunter in from time to time, so the point won't be completely wasted.

I think that just about covers it.  Unlike a lot of other class trees, I feel like Affliction is pretty straightforward and preforms very well when you dump a lot of points into it.  There are very few tough choices in my opinion.  Really, a lot of it hinges on pet choice, and I need to do a lot more research before I make up my mind on that one.

So that's the raid spec I'm running with.  Questions? Comments?  I'd love to see what you think.


  1. I have a similar post in the works going over my 3.3 Demonology build. With Affliction being the current "top dog", I couldn't help but shed a shadowy tear for you Affliction die-hards that never caved in to Destruction just because your preferred raiding spec wasn't #1.

    Keep up the good work and fight the good fight!

  2. Quite similar to mine. I know you said you took out the point from Dark Pact. I still have it, especially since I don't really raid and when I'm out 'n about without a healer, dark pact is "safer." Although, now the life tap glyph is supposed to have a chance to proc off of dark pact, which will be nice!

  3. Yeah, it's definitely useful to have... if you use it. I found myself not using it, though if the glyph procs on it, that might change things. Still, I'm fine without it. Health usually isn't a problem.

  4. I have trouble justifying 2 talent points for 3 extra yards.. so instead I filled up Improved Felhunter and took 1/2 in Improved Life Tap.

    With the buffs to Felhunter I'm really seeing nice raid damage from Fzuwhateverhisnameis. In the 450-500 dps range.

  5. @Nibs - Yeah, I plan to continue to use the felpup. Does the Improved FH talent do something I'm not aware of? It appears to just buff his raid buff and return some mana to him. I haven't noticed him being low on mana and we usually don't use my buff (run with lots of priests/mages)...

    So I don't really like putting those points anywhere that's open to me in that spec, though I have noticed the extra range a bit and enjoyed it on fights like Daraxxus where the chick piledrives someone... usually she's out of range quicker and it lets me get an extra few spells off.

  6. I actually also ended up picking up the +hit trinket and it put me so far over cap that I removed the three points from Suppression and put them in the one for pushback. I have to keep them in the low tree or I screw everything, but I'm not real fond of either talent right now.

    There's just a handful (4) of points right now that I feel are "worthless" but I need them to make the rest work.

  7. Shadow Bite 3% mana cost 6 sec cooldown. Does 98 to 138 Shadow damage plus an additional 15% damage for each of your damage over time effects on the target.

    2/2 Improved Felhound regains 8% of its maximum mana each time it hits with its Shadow Bite ability and the cooldown on that ability is reduced by 4 sec. In addition, increases the effect of your Felhunter's Fel Intelligence by 10%.

    So it looks like the Felhunter would end up being able to shadow bite every 2 seconds.. and I think would gain more mana than he's spending. In addition to the added raid utility (that probably wasn't needed because you had a priest/mage in the party).

    I don't know how many times he'd get that 15% bonus.. Corruption, CoA, UA definately.. but not sure about Haunt.

  8. I missed the cooldown reduction: duh, they haven't updated the tooltip on WoWhead yet.

    I wonder how much each point would add to our DPS? For now I'm going to stay with what I have. I wish I could take Suppression points and put them here, but without those points, the early part of the tree doesn't unlock.

    It would be easy enough to take the one point out of destructive reach and switch it over, but then I'd have to get in range for my SB's. Stil, I'm obviously missing out on some DPS by taking the distance and threat reduction. I just wonder how much assuming I'm going with FH 90% of the time (which is up in the air too I suppose).

    It's definitely something I'll keep an eye on for some good research numbers.

  9. i found this guide very helpful. ive been playing destro for the last year, and i am wondering what stats do i prioritize, post hit cap?

    Rem the Warlock

  10. Rem - TY... there's a link to the stat portion of my guide up on the left hand side of the page. Obviously I'm focusing more on affliction, but I'd imagine destro stat weights are fairly similar except for perhaps valuing crit a bit higher.

  11. I would suggest a different spec for Raiding Affliction.

    We still have glyphs for Nightfall I would suggest taking points out , as well as out of grim reach and placing them into the Pup and into Improved Life tap as well as Cataclysm (Destro 1 point); this helps with mana issue with shadow bolt, you will be surprised how fast you will run out of mana without it.

    Grim reach: NONE
    Nightfall: NONE
    Improved Life Tap: 2/2
    Cataclysm: 1/2
    Improved Felpup: 2/2 (Does more damage now, hits for 1k each, before was 300 without points in).
    Destructive Reach: NONE

    I've been playing Affliction the entire time I have been playing wow. Affliction is pretty dear to my heart, I hope this will help out.

    Since ICC Festergut/Rotface...etc:
    To help with the Festergut fight as affliction, I may suggest placing points into Improved Curse of Weakness. Since the boss hits for a TON as well as help out Melee. This will boost their DPS and help the tanks tremendously. This is a good option instead of switching out to Destro.

    Do normal rotation:
    [Curse of Weakness], Corruption, Unstable Affliction, Shadow Bolt.

    Curse of Weakness falls of quicker than CoE it seems, so be sure to watch it!

    I linked a talent build next to my name. Enjoy! :)

    ~Avairy (Area 52) BE Warlock

  12. @Avairy -

    Cool suggestions. It sounds like it might work for you since you're concerned with your mana. I have to tell you, from where I'm sitting mana is not a problem. I need to tap every 30s or so to keep the Glyph of Life Tap buff up anyways, and with that I'm never really running out of mana (unless I'm AoE'ing a lot). Thus I opt out of talents such as Improved Life Tap and Cataclysm.

    A second thing to note. The picture no longer reflects my build. Why? Because I keep changing what I'm doing and I try to keep that link up to date (at lot simpler and more useful). I really should change the picture though.

    In any case, in my most recent iteration of speccing, I've filled up the Improved Felhunter talent as suggested. It really is just that good. I ended up dropping the point I'd previously had in Destructive Reach. I've kept Grim Reach as it allows me a little more flexibility for my DoTs (not for s-bolt obviously).

    Furthermore, the link in the post reflect three points in Suppression... which I want to get back to as soon as I can offload some spell hit. I'm currently high on hit though, so I'll swap those points back and forth between that talent and Fel Concentration (to reduce pushback). I'd like to do other things with those points, but i need them in the early part of the tree to keep access to the later talents.

    So my short point here is that if you're having mana problems: you're definitely taking the right approach and it's a totally valid spec. I, personally, am not.

    Secondly, you should know that the glyph of Nightfall stacks with the Nightfall talent. It's not horrible to have both. Still, nightfall is only a small DPS increase (~50DPS avg), so I would NOT glyph for it. There are three better majors out there (Haunt, LT, and Quick Decay). Speccing for it is still a good idea, however.

    Also, great suggestions about CoW. That's something I'll definitely have to look into. My raid group definitely isn't quite there yet though.

  13. I run with a melee heavy raid group so use CoW a lot - it lasts 2 mins and I refresh when I'm running around and everything else is up. Love the posts - but really would forget threat reduction, you're never gonna drop it far enough to make a diference - and now that Soul Shatter has a lower cd it's less of an issue - especially as our MT is a Warrior and with Vigilance on me aggro stays where it should unless I get over-happy with my Seed of Corruption

  14. I assume you're talking about Improved Drain Soul with the 10% threat reduction? I need those points early in the tree to unlock the later stuff, where would you put them instead?

    You're right though, that threat isn't too much of an issue... however, on those rare occasions when it becomes such (Lady Deathwhisper when one tank's already bit the dust), then it's great and, like I said, gotta have points low in the tree anyways.

  15. Hello

    Since none of the builds suggested above have Fel synergy and basicaly no way to self heal how often or does your pet ever die in a raid environnment?

  16. I've not yet had a problem with my felhunter dying in a raid. I'm not sure it has ever died for me when I haven't.

  17. All great suggestions. My overall dps does seem to still be substantially lower than others in groups with a 55/0/16 spec. One reason is my felhunter does die quite a lot in heroic instances. So I'm trying one point in Fel synergy - I'll live without any kind of range increase if it means that my pup lives through a fight more often than not. (I am also taking the two points from Improved Life Tap and putting them into Improved hopes my dps will increase.)

  18. I'm not sure if it is a problem in heroics, and if so, why, because I run Demo in heroics since stuff dies so fast. Perhaps in raids there's enough heals to go around from auras and healers that it gives my pet better survivability?

  19. Getting back to you regarding 1pt in Fel Synergy.
    Since putting 1pt in Fel Synergy, I have lost my pet significantly fewer times. I highly recommend putting just 1pt in it. DO NOT put 2pts in Fel would be a waste. Hope this helps.
    Addillian, 80 Lock
    Burning Blade

  20. Note for everybody reading this guide now (which is a pretty good breakdown of those last 2 or 3 points that are hard to deal with): the Life Tap glyph now procs off Dark Pact. With the stats on Icecrown gear -- less spirit -- Dark Pact is scaling better than Life Tap in this tier in terms of mana return, which leads to a slightly better sim result for dark pact builds as opposed to life tap builds. As always though your playstyle is the deciding factor! (I take dark pact because of this, because there are some situations where I need mana and don't want to sacrifice health, and because my puppy has almost unlimited mana; however, some people might find DP wonky and awkward to use due to the weird little delay before the mana is actually transferred).

  21. Hmm, thanks for the heads up. I wasn't aware of this... it's been a long time since I've used Dark Pact. It may be worth looking into...

  22. Excellent guide good work all around mate.

  23. Sorry, this may sound a little ... ignorant? ... but, when you buff your felpup, are you actually sending them in to melee?
    I always fell into the train of thought that any AoE or splash would kill them in .6 seconds and then we'd be petless the rest of the fight.

  24. He's hardier than you think. Yes, I send him in to melee, and he hasn't died very much for me either. I believe sometimes my healer may toss him a heal, but it's certainly not a focus. Remember, Blizz also has made it so that pets are naturally resistant to AoE damage.

  25. Interesting.

    The pet AoE damage reduction completely slipped my mind. Would be untouched otherwise by most melee mobs unless I'm flying solo.


  26. So i just stumbled onto this site a few days ago and i'm looking to change my aff spec to mimic the one above more closely BUT... I have yet to test out the difference between my current spec and the one listed above but a part of me doesn't want to let go of the added SP i get from spending points in the demonology tree for the Fel Armor... I guess no matter what spec I run whether it be Destruction or Aff. I always level my demonology tree enough to get my 3/3 for the fel armor +sp.... at this point it looks, from what i have read on this site... it looks like spending those points neccesary for the 3/3 of the Fel armor are better spent in either the Aff. or Dest. Tree?????

  27. From what I've seen, the points required to get Demonic Aegis are just not worth it for Affliction 'locks. There are just too many really good talents you'd have to give up.

    This isn't to say it wouldn't necessarily preform well, it's just not seen as "the" raiding spec by the folks who do the math (Elitist Jerks). If you're in doubt, I would suggest speccing both ways and visiting a dummy. It won't tell you the full story, but it could give you a general idea of how your numbers might change.

  28. I recently reached 80 on my Aff lock and this guide has definitely helped me out alot. Also I just want to mention that after reading the comments, it's nice to see that you(Fulguralis) are accepting of everyone's comments and suggestions. It's a great change from the normal elitist-whatever-i'm-better attitude that you'd usually find on these sites and I really appreciate that. Keep it up :)

  29. Ha. Thanks. I do try to keep an open mind. Plus, I've always found talking about it is a lot easier than putting it into practice. I mean, it's all well and good to know the "perfect" rotation, but things don't always work quite that way. Whether it be raid mechanics or just the latency boss, the very best gamers have to be adaptable. Thus, it's good to welcome discussion and different ideas. You never know when you're going to find a trick that improves your game.

  30. I have been raiding As a demo lock an Tbh the dps isnt great but Felguard Can hit some tasty crits and the raidbuffs are big... but anyway i always thought Affi was more on the Pvp side And destro was ubah raiding spec due to high quick crits as Chaos bolt + Conflag are almost @ the same time so im still undecided to a raiding spec but Affi is my pvp spec always!
    Love some more Persuasion towards Affi Raiding as i cant get my head around the Whole Affi boss thing

  31. I believe since like 3.2, over at Elitist Jerks (where they do crazy computer simulations), Affliction has been the top DPS "theory" winner. That is, if optimized right, Affliction should output the most DPS of the specs. This tends to vary from patch to patch, but where Destro was the king of TBC, Affloc has been the King of Wrath. Who knows when Cata comes out?

    On the other hand, I love running demo too. Especially for fights like VDW where there isn't a lot of single target, sustained damage (thus you need something burstier, and the buff you provide def helps your healers).

    Destro is nothing to scoff at either. I really don't have many complaints about the state of Warlockery right now. There's always room for a few cool, new spells, but we're in a pretty good place.

  32. You're going to want to check out my more up to date primer here: