Wednesday, October 20, 2010

HAOW: 4.0.3a Affliction Warlock Raiding Spec

Time to update my series, How to Afflict Others with Warlockery, for 4.0.3a.  As I get to them, they will 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.  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 our Affliction Warlock spec being the top dog, raid wise (at a T11 gear level).  However, the simulation also reveals an exciting parity amongst the specs that really hasn't been seen before.  It really does seem like all three trees are almost equally viable.  Having said that, it's never really been a choice for me: Affliction is my bag, baby.  As such, the spec I'm using at 85 is 32/1/8, a variation of the "affliction" spec in the simulation. 

Here's a picture for those of you that might not be able to access the link:

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: pick the ones that increase damage.  Feel free to leave a question in comments if you have one, but most of them give very straight forward damage increases to our staple spells.  With the new, pared down tree system, we start by putting 31 points into the affliction tree to get Haunt and open up the other trees.  We end up putting most of the remaining points into the Destruction tree. 

I skipped the two fear modifier, because I don't find them useful (the glyph is enough), and I didn't pick up Curse of Exhaustion for the same reason.  The only points spent on a talent that didn't obviously buff damage was in Improved Life Tap.  You'll need to spend those points somewhere in order to advance the tree, and I figured more mana returned translates to less tapping, hence a DPS increase. 

I used one discretionary point to fill up Seed of Corruption talent (1/1) and also topped off Nightfall (2/2).  I also chose to fill up Shadow and Flame before Bane because of group make up.  You may want to do it the other way around, as Bane is probably the better talent for personal DPS, with S&F being better for a group if you don't already a similar buff (replacing Improved Shadow Bolts).  Eventually, you'll want to fill up both talents though.

I also dropped my last point into the Demonology tree.  First time ever that I've done that.  There wasn't anything that would immediately help my DPS at that point, so it seemed like a good idea to get the extra stamina and make myself a bit more hardy.

The pared down trees really make it easier to hone in on a spec.  I wouldn't call this "cookie cutter", by any means, but there are only a handful of points that can be juggled around.  Mostly, that juggling can be done based on preference and situation.  This is what I'm going to be using for raiding, feel free to leave your own suggestions.  Once we all start leveling in Cataclysm, I'll revisit this and update it again, but I wanted to get it up and linked on the left side.  Thanks to everyone who gave me input on my first cut at the spec, it really helped to clarify a couple of choices.


  1. Glad to see a post like this since Affliction is my off-spec. I wasn't sure which Prime glyphs to go for outside of Haunt, so thanks for the help!

  2. No problem. I gotta get on the pet choice (succy unless you need the felpup buff), stat (drop spirit like a bad habit), and rotation (mostly the same, but we can clip now).

    I touched on some of these in my preliminary post, but I've been reading and playing... getting a better feel for Affliction. I'm loving my Demo spec though too :-).

  3. How about a suggestion on a spec for BG's. Not a true arena PvP spec but one that works really well in BG's.

    With rated BG's and up to 40 people anyone can get lost in the confusion. So a lock that can sort of stand back at the rear doing things and not get noticed right away type of spec.

    Would Afflic, Demo or Destro be best for this and why?

  4. @Zorch - I've had a lot of success just using my raid spec in like WG, getting on back of a vehicle and going to town.

    With that said, I would suggested using the demo spec I wrote about earlier this week. I think with the increased burst and survivability of demo, it is a good fit for PvP. I'll admit that I tend to PvP on other toons, but when I do use my 'lock, I go as demo.

    Destro is not bad, I've seen several 'locks do that well, but I would feel more like a mage: it's all about burst to them.

    In any case, unless fears become more effective somehow, your best bet is to go with a spec that balances DoTs and burst damage, allows you to survive, and uses a pet that packs a punch (so it can't be ignored). It used to be that fearing was extremely effective (and maybe we're getting back there in Cata), but right now there are just too many ways to get out of it for it to be reliable, and Affliction as a PvP spec relies heavily on the ability to fear.

    Perhaps I'll make a "for real" post later, but for now, check out my demo spec and keep these things in mind. I love Demo against other players. Use an instant soul fire as a finisher. I just hit up WG last night with this... good times. I would even suggest glyphing the same. It's good stuff. And right now ranged spellcasters have the upper hand in the BG world it seems.

  5. As much as I love Demo, I PVP as Destro. Conflag with a daze (Aftermath), Shadowfury to stun, Backlash to get some quick burst on melee attackers, Nether Ward and Nether Protection give us a lot of tools to control whoever we're killing. Sure, it's all about burst and killing, but it works for me.

  6. Completely valid, but I just can't bring myself to mage it up like that :-).

  7. I have been running heroics in Cata for a couple days now, ans it seems there is a large need for CC on most of all trash pulls now. Healers have a much large concern about going OOM mid boss fight and everything that can be done to take some heat of the healer or tank greatly improves party survivability. Succ's charm can be useful but due to the varying types of mobs make relying on seduction ineffective. Having fear glyphed and some float points being directed to improve fear will greatly help the party in most heroics from what i have seen. Just a suggestion.

  8. Cool, thanks. I probably won't be hitting heroics until after the new year, but I'll keep it in mind.

  9. just looking at the tree, if you are going for a raiding spec, you might want to drop the point out of SB: SoC. Also, the added stam is kind of a wasted talent. there is a tier 1 demo talent you can place the 2 points in. 2 points in dark art will increase the damage of your fel hunters shadow bite by 10%. It may not be a lot, but its a bigger benefit than the extra stam IMO.

  10. All good ideas. Here's why I'm not doing them at this time:

    SB: SoC - When farming and doing dailies, I love this option.
    Stam - At low gear levels, extra stam is good for heroics. Dead DPS is 0DPS :-).
    Shadowbite - The pet de jour keeps changing on me, so I didn't want to spec into something that might not get any use.

    All that being said, a big key here is that my guild hasn't started raiding yet. We're planning to start in Feb, provided everyone has had a chance to reasonably gear. We're slow casuals :-). With that and the fact that Warlocks seem to bit in a bit of a flux design wise (Blizz is stil tweaking us), I haven't tightened down the raid spec yet since it's not exactly clear where we'll be when I start raiding. It's not too terrible to have a few points like you mentioned where you just try out different things and see what works best for you right now.