Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Preliminary Look at the 4.0.1 Affliction Warlock Spec

With patch 4.0.1 on our e-doorstep, it's finally time for me to acknowledge the existence of change around here. If you're a regular reader, you know I've pretty much avoided the pre-cataclysm buzz, favoring to focus on the here and now. Well, the here and now means respeccing in a completely redesigned talent tree.  Eventually, I plan to rework all of my guides on the left and update them for 4.0, but until I get time to do it properly, I want to throw out some preliminary thoughts about class setup (speccing and glyphing mostly).

It is important to note that these are preliminary.  That means I would love feedback.  My goal is to start here, and then as information becomes more readily available at theorycrafting sites and such, to compile that information into an updated guide.  So, for now, please read, consider, and respond.  Leaving links to your sources of research would help me a ton too.  In other words, I'm not claiming to "know it all" yet.  Like most of you, I'm just trying to use the information as its presented to make the best choices I can.

The first spec we're starting with is, as promised, my Affliction Warlock raid spec for 4.0.  Prot Pallys, Demo 'locks, and DK's will follow shortly.  The goal of the spec I'm presenting today is to be ready to continue raiding now.  This is not a Cataclysm leveling or raiding spec (there may be changes between now and then).  We're still raiding, so all of my choices are made with this (and my current group makeup) in mind.

So, without further ado, the big reveal:

Fixed the link here.
I'm not going to go through every talent I chose, but rather touch on those I avoided.  Since I'm using this to raid, my primary goal was to do whatever I can to maximize my DPS.  I choose all talents that obviously did that.  I skipped the two fear modifiers, since fear is rarely used in raids, and I didn't pick up Curse of Exhaustion for the same reason.  What I see as the only optional points when filling up the tree were the points spent 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.

Does anyone know what happened to Dark Pact?  Obviously it's not in the tree.  If I can still demon tap, I may put the points spent in ILT into one of the fear mods, since that might be more useful.  This is something I'll need to do some research about.

After I filled up my Affliction Tree, then the option to spend points in other trees becomes available.  I went right back over to look for my old friend, Bane.  You'll see a somewhat newish talent next to it called Shadow and Flame (which is mostly a re-skinned ISB, but including fire).   I actually opted to fill up S&F first as it makes a target weak to spell damage.  I'm assuming this would benefit all casters in the group (same as the old ISB), so it's a great raiding talent to pick up.  I plan to fill Bane out by 85.

Recall that you only get 1 talent point per every 2 levels, so the level required for this spec shows up as 79.  This is by design.  (I forgot about this and at first thought there was some sort of glitch).

The glyphs I chose are as noted:
Perusing the offerings, I found myself easily able to narrow my choices to four for Prime and Major.  The Minor glyphs are still pretty slim pickings for us, so I just went sort of how I've gone in the past.  I won't waste words on those. 

For Prime, Agony and Haunt are no brainers.  Corruption has always been a minimal (~50DPS at 80) DPS gain, but I don't know how much decreasing the cast time of UA would give me either.  I enjoy more Nightfall procs, so I went with Corr.

For Major, Soul Swap is a lock (I expect to love this new spell).  I also plan keep using my Felpup for as long as his DPS is a solid choice for Aff'locks.  Thus, the Felhunter glyph seemed to be a solid choice.  Finally, I decided to go with Shadowflame over Life Tap.  I'm hoping the slow effect on Shadowflame might work on the Valks for the LK fight.  If nothing else, it seems like a fun modification to a situational spell, and I'm already improving my Life Tap. 

Lately, I've been doing this:

Shadowbolt > Haunt > CotE > Corr > UA > Refresh as needed, when not: bolt filler > LT as needed > Sub in Drain Soul for the last 25% filler.

It is important to note that Soul Shard mechanics have been changed, and I haven't even looked at how to use those properly yet.  For the sake of this preliminary look, I'm going to assume them to be a bit situational, or something you throw in every few rotations, or a modification of what we'll use anyways, and not a staple.  A.K.A - I'm going to ignore it for now until I understand it better.

With that said, the key change to note is that we should now be able to cast both Bane of Agony and Curse of the Elements.  Additionally, we'll have Soul Swap to use when popping between targets.  There also seemed to be some minor mechanics changes to Drain Soul and Death's Embrace that may make it worthwhile to use DS all the time (or none of the time, or just woven in with bolt filler).  The operative here is that I don't believe DS gets a special bonus for under 25% (edit: was moved till tooltip, still plan to use DS under 25%).  All of our spells do via Death's Embrace (and Drain Soul gets a buff when we're low).  I'm not sure how the numbers will work out, but I would think we'd need to keep S-bolts going to utilize the buffs we picked up in the Destro tree.

My plan is to start with my current rotation and squeeze the new stuff in.  The major mechanics don't really seem to change, but we may need to revisit this.  So, in 4.0 it'll look more like:

Shadowbolt > Haunt > CotE > BoA > Corr > UA > Refresh as needed, otherwise fill with S-bolt to keep S&F/ISB buff up, otherwise DS > LT as needed > Soul Swap before target dies if you're going to switch to another target.

What do you guys think?  I would love links to theorycraft numbers/data (and plan to run over to the Den and EJ when I get some time).  All in all, I'm pretty excited about the changes, though I haven't even touched on the soul shard mechanics yet.  Or the stat changes (just rolling with the gear I've got).  Or mastery (you can get the baseline at 80).  Sheesh!  The blogosphere should get mighty busy here.

Also, side note: we did some research and soul shard bags are going to be "converted" into a normal bag of "roughly equivalent" size.  Your guess is as good as mine as to what that means.

(edit: if you want to see some great counterpoints and further discussion, Poneria does a great job here.)


  1. Awww crap, I think my comment's on the long side. Blog post, maybe?

  2. One quick thing -- with Glyph of Fear (tremble in place instead of running) it would seem that Fearing, and possibly Improved Fear, would have a place in PvE now. The Glyph, at least, seems like it's a solid dungeon choice now, because you don't have to worry about pulling more mobs.

  3. "Roughly Equivalent" size = 10 slots short on the Abyssal. So they said "Roughly equivalent value," and most people seem to think Glacial Bags > Abyssal Bags.

    Pffft, no nostalgia, those people.

    Also, you get to hand-delete any shards you still had in your bags. At least, on the PTR that's how it was. So maybe dig up a shard-deleting macro for logging on later.

  4. Lost to the Affliction was any buff to the Felhunter damage boost. Dark Arts (1st line of Demo tree) boosts damage of Felhunter Shadowbite by 15%, this used to be in Affliction tree. That said, I wonder if the Succubus will be at all viable using the Prime Glyph "Lash of Pain" (25% damage increase to lash of pain).

    I had seen the Succubus being used on the PTR, and would have tried it out myself had I had more time. I just wonder if you have seen anything out there that compares the two pets for raid viability.

    Also, numbers went back and forth between Drain Life and SB as filler (not just as refresh). It'll be interesting to see if the increased damage that DL does will compete with SB. Just a couple thoughts, I enjoyed your summary very much!

  5. @anon - iirc, CC is going to be a major portion of raiding in Cata, so the fear and exhaustion talents may be highly desired.

    @poneria - i've heard we get 18 slot bags, we shall see.

    @gronthe - I totally agree. On the beta, I've points into Dark Arts and Doom and Gloom for my destro build.

  6. @Elkagorasa o_O 14 slots off our 32 slot bag? Brb, slaughtering Blizz devs in rage.

  7. @ The angry Warlocks above ^

    I've heard anywhere from 18-22 Slot bags. We'll see once we log in. I'm going to doubt that you get a 14 slot bag from a 32 slot shard bag because that's just cruel >.<

    Then again, I've been really incorrect about a lot of stuff. I'm totally off on my "guessing".

    If so, I will help with the slaughtering :D Perhaps, I can get my Divine Intervention back...

    <3 Fuu

  8. @ Fuubaar I didn't mean a 14 slot bag, I meant 32-14 (which is...18...I think >.< I can't count). But yes, please, come join me in the slaughtering! :D

  9. lol. I wish I could get to my comments at work to join in the fun!

    @ Gronthe - I have had the same thoughts about pet choice, but haven't seen numbers anywhere yet. I will do that research eventually, though I favor my felpup when in doubt.

    @ Poneria - Re:Shards - I would think a simpler solution would be to set whatever shard manager you have to zero shard (Necrosis for me). I think due to raiding last night that I only have five left anyways. I'll keep my eyes open for a macro though.

    @ Elk and others - I believe you guys covered the bag thing. Thanks :-).

    @ Anon re:fear - I will likely seriously look into using fear in Cataclysm. However, for now I'm not concerned about it since most things we raid tend to be immune. I'm hoping that gets fixed in the x-pac, but I won't hold my breath either. Fear has a long history of being hated.

  10. Also, Pone - If you ever do write a blog post in response to something I wrote... feel free to link the post in comments. Chances are I'll see it at your place anyways and will try to link back to it later, just depends on where I am (see aforementioned blockage de work).

  11. Ha, see the post and I'm home... thus...

    Want more? Lots more? Find it here:


  12. For the record: Shards were deleted for us.

  13. "For the record: Shards were deleted for us."

    WOO! I wasn't using a shard manager since I had a 32 bag and that was the max number. I also like to keep my shard bag full, so...o_O But no worries now!

    P.S. Thanks for putting the link down here. I did a trackback, but /shrug maybe Wordpress ate it.

  14. We got a 22 slot bag

    CC will be needed, I used the glyph :D

    I did a test run on the dummy last night. Even without self buffs I was doing over 6k. Hawt!

    Also, just wanted to mention that you are missing out on a stack of Shadow Embrace by only Shadow bolting once before your Haunt.

    This is my basic rotation. Still need to work in the new shard stuff:

    CoEl -> SB -> SB -> Haunt -> UA -> Cor -> BoA -> SB filler

    gets those 3 stacks up quickly AND helps your SB to benefit from the curse

  15. It hurts to say this, REALLY hurts.

    After more than five years as my primary spec, I don't think I'll be using Affliction in Cataclysm. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it just doesn't feel right to me.

    As a matter of fact, I'll likely be using my Shaman as my main.

    I'll be rolling a Worglock, and that will likely be Demonology, going WAY back to my roots.

    I feel dirty.

  16. @ Sam, why is it that you don't like it?

    So far I haven't seen too many changes, we just get more buttons to push :D

    I actually told my guild last night that I was going back to affliction :D

  17. @ Sam - Yeah Sam, that is sad. To each his own, but I've sort of enjoyed the changes so far. It feels like more things to juggle, which was one of my complaints during Wrath (got a lot easier to juggle, almost too easy). It's still early though.

    @ kbizzle - I do need to get that third stack up... it's a good rotation you suggested. It doesn't really matter when you get it up, as percentage mods are applied to each subsequent tick, but why miss some early ones? I'll be trolling places like EJ this weekend or so to see what the actual maths point to.

  18. The whole Affliction tree is a no brainer, pvp or pve really. But I am not in love with the nightfall talent. I rather load up on Bane first, making your shadowbolt cast shorter, which always have been your priority cast dps wise. And then take 2 points in Shadow and Flame. You can switch these for now 3/2 or 2/3 but thats something ill just have to test.

    Its either 0.2 faster cast or 4% damage for the shadow bolt. But I would take either one over nightfall for now!

    Kind Regards,

    Yarák Trollbane

  19. Yarák here again.. To comment on my own post, I am solely playing pve and that is what I want to continue doing untill the release. So do with it whatever you want, it's just my POV. Thank you

  20. @Yarak - yeah you're probably right. I'm also thinking about dropping the SoC point, since when I do use SoC, I tend to spam it (and how does that work with Corruption? Plus rumor has AoE being lessened in Cat proper). Nightfall isn't a great talent, but you ahve to take at least one point to progress and I just tended to fill things up. I guess having half fill talents bothers me, but Bane is probably better.

    I probably won't respec for now, since we'll all be leveling, but I may redo things at 85...

  21. I think with the new shard system, LD might be a good thing to rotate in. Also, after working with a destro lock in my guild, I might be switching to destro. Where I could pull 7.2k on a heroic dummy and he'd pull about 6k, he's now pulling over 10k where I can only pull about 8.8k. The only issue with his rotation that I can see is how much threat he generates, so it might not work in ICC or CATA, because it appears they made it harder to hold threat so DPS will now have to behave themselves. No more leading off with SoC before the tank has them all or starting a SB before the tank has pulled :(

    Either way, good post and good responses.

  22. This may be a dumb question, but has anyone considered the pros and cons of Bane of agony v Bane of doom? The early talent in afflic gives the crit bonus to both, and rolling the doom will free up that prime glyph for unstable afflic. In addition, from my play testing, the demons seem to proc fairly often.

    In addition, what do you guys think about the mastery stat? Sinc3e we no lon ger have the 100% boost to crit damage in destro AND life tap no longer uses spirit, it would seem to me that either crit or spirit would be a good choice to downsize in favour of mastery. (via reforging)

  23. Based on testing with the dummy, the felpup does ~700-750 dps (note, he also has the fel int. raid buff)
    The Succubus, on the other hand, does about ~800-850 dps.
    If you then use the glyph of lash of pain, she does ~950-1k dps
    this would seem to indicate that not only is the succubus a better option than the felpup, but the glyph of lash of pain giving at least ~100dps could be a better choice than glyph of corruption (which gives ~50dps?)
    keep in mind that these are unbuffed quick figures, confirmation may be required.

    Also, has anyone else's demon names changed? oh Haaroon i will miss you :'(

  24. @Jerrid - EJ has a destro spec being top dog now. I'll stay with Affliction (always have, and it's a close second), but the bottom line is its good to see parity in our trees. Warlocks are in a good place.

    @Guithorlox - I haven't seen a new BoA v BoD comparison yet. Prior to 4.0.1, CoA was the clear winner for aff'locks, so I'm sticking with it for now.

    Re: Stats - Spirit is all but useless to us now, drop that in favor of anything. Crit is still good. I don't believe you can stack/gem mastery yet, but it will be useful in Cat... remains to be seen where it falls in the scheme of things.

    Re: Pets - I do believe the Succy is going to be DPS queen. My group sometimes uses part of the Fel Intellect buff (sometimes are short a mage), so I have gotten into the habit of using my felpup. They're not going to be totally out the ballpark with each other. I'll look more in depth at it soon. Thanks for the feedback. And yes, the names changed, but they're working to fix it.