Monday, November 1, 2010

HAOW: 4.0.3a Affliction Warlock Glyphs and Rotation

So we've already covered speccing, pet choice, and stat priority.  Next we need to talk glyphing and rotating.  This final installment on How to Afflict Others with Warlockery will cover the art of slapping stickers on your spellbook, as well as how to spin in circles with enough intensity to cause others to puke (no easy feat, I assure you).

The Glyphs
Previously, I had been running with the BoA, Haunt, and Corruption in my Prime slots.  Felhunter, Soul Swap, and Shadowflame contributed in the Major area.  Unending Breath, Souls, and Drain Soul rounded out my minors.  You'll see I made one change after running with these for a week, but otherwise I like my original choices.  Here's the breakdown.

  • Glyph of Haunt - Chosen for the simple spell damage increase.  If you're specced Affliction, this one is a no-brainer as you should be frequently using Haunt.
  • Glyph of Bane of Agony -BoA should be our main bane. Longer running means bigger ticks at the end and more damage.  This is good stuff.
  • Glyph of Corruption - The extra Nightfall procs are only going to minimally help your DPS (to the tune of maybe 50 more DPS at 80).  My alternative here would be Lash of Pain.  Thanks to Poneria for pointing out my goof (LoP is Prime not Major), I will have to consider swapping this in here whenever I go Succy.  Totally worth it, as long as you have your Succubus out.  Luckily, glyph swapping is pretty simple and painless these days.
  • Glyph of Soul Swap - A total must have for any Affliction Warlock.  Soul swap makes us beastly on trash and any fight where you need to swap targets.  Being able to not remove your DoTs when you swap is a great DPS bonus, plus incredibly useful.  It could be bad if you switched early and something didn't die for lack of DoTs.  This alleviates that concern as well. 
  • Glyph of Shadowflame - I got this to be able to potentially slow the Valks in the LK fight.  We haven't gotten back to it yet after the forced patch reset, so I can't report much.  I don't see a whole lot I'd rather have in this slow though, and I like the utility of a spell we should be throwing in every now and then.  If you don't like this choice, Life Tap isn't a bad glyph, it's just that I haven't really found myself having any problems with mana right now and I'd rather have something useful.
  • Glyph of Fear - Made a change here.  With CC being key in heroics, I think every Warlock needs to be running with glyph.  It makes Fear as good as a Sheep, and along with a nice focus macro makes you the cock of the walk.  Definitely worth the slot.
    The Rotation
    Now that you've got your stickers on your spell book, let's bust open the blasted thing!  As we've come to expect, Affliction Warlockery will continue to be dominated by rotational thinking.  Some classes may rely on reactions to procs, but we are all about premeditated murder on this side of the spectrum.  If you've made it this far, you probably already know that aff'locks are for dots.   That's what we do and we do it well.  So here's the carousel of disease.

    Before you do anything, make sure your buff yourself.  All 'locks should be popping on their Fel Armor, but you'll also want to make sure your Soul Link is active.  All specs have it now, so make sure it's up.  Good stuff.

    Above 25% Health, Single Target
    Corruption > Bane of Agony > Unstable Affliction > Haunt > Shadowbolt x2 &gt Curse of the Elements.  Spam SB until a refresh of each disease is needed (monitor them individually with a DoT timer.  Fortex or Xperl is great for this).  Life tap sparingly.  You don't have to worry about clipping for anything but BoA, so ideal refresh time is to start casing somewhere in the last two seconds to make sure you don't get any drop off.

    After the initial set up, there are a few cooldowns to watch for as well.  First, we want to throw in an Improved Soul Fire whenever Soulburn is off cooldown, letting us cast it instantly.  ISF doesn't stack with heroism-like effects, so try to use it outside of those times.  Second, we want to use Demon Soul when it is off cooldown as well.  Finally, you may want to use Fel Fire to refresh your UA cast.  I use it exclusively.  There is some debate whether it's better to use FF or UA for a full refresh.  I fall firmly in the FF-user category.  When all is said an done, I think it provides me with better DPS.  When maths are done, I think it comes out to about the same with a slight skew toward UA. 

    A lot of folks will want you to open up with a Haunt and SBx2 combo to get your SE and ISB stacks up early.  I am not one of those people, and here's why.  With the addition of Soul Swap to our arsenal, I believe it is in our best interest to get our "Big 3" up as soon as possible.  That way, if something starts to die more quickly than expected, you can inhale a swap and be ready to go.

    The aforementioned folks will try to convince you that buffless ticks on your DoTs equates to a DPS loss.  I have my doubts about this.  Sure in a theoretical environment, this would be the case.  I mean if you just add everything up, I'm with you.  But often starting out with a nuke is a bad idea.  Maybe we'll crit and draw aggro.  Additionally, aren't we missing full ticks of DoTs while we're casting?  It would seem to me that if we slap up the DoTs quickly, it's safer from a Soul Swap perspective, and it'd be at least a wash in DPS as you'll get ticks while casting the other crap.  I don't think a simulation can take things like "am I moving into position" or "is this going to die quickly" into account.  And once everything is up, we're all the same.  The order does not matter.  There are no more rolling bonuses.  All of the spell buffs are percentage based modifiers which apply to every tick individually.  The only things you need to make sure to do before you start a rotation are your normal pre-fight buffs and trinket popping.

    So my recommendation is to throw up the Big 3 first if they're not already there as part of a swap.  That's what makes the most sense to me  After that, I want to get Haunt and SE rolling.  This is when an early Nightfall proc is a sweet addtion.  Then, finally, I'll pop CotE on something.  Usually I try to put it on a later target, since with the talent Jinx it works as an AoE debuff now.  The less you have to worry about refreshing CotE, the better.  On a boss, just pop it on him.

    After you get your stuff set up, you should be able to just watch a dot timer and refresh as needed (Corruption should always be refreshed by Haunt, but if you let it fall off, then make sure you get it back up).  Even if I were trying really hard, I realize I would never be able to perfectly line my spells up.  Not matter how I slice it, I'm still going to end up watching timers for each spell individually, so I don't bother with a castsequence macro.  I mean, what if fire spawns under me, then it's all gone to shit unless I sit still and literally DIAF (or am really good at macros I guess).  Simply using timers makes sense to me, but feel free to swap up the order as fits your playstyle.  What matters is that you use all of the spells mentioned above and keep them ticking the best you can with minimal down time.  How you execute best is up to you to decide.  (I can definitely offer tips and suggestions if you want to email or comment!)

    For life tap, you want to use it sparingly.  Basically, the goal is to life tap only enough so that at the very end of a fight you're Out Of Mana (without having any downtime due to OOM).  Any extra life taps are lost DPS to Global Cool Down.  When I'm going to tap, I try to weave it in right after I cast a Haunt refresh.  The benefit to tapping right after casting Haunt is that you'll generally beat the fly time for the haunt spell and thus get a nice little heal to offset some of your tap.  Not freaking out healers or wasting the health regen is a good thing in my book.  I almost never succeed in the gold standard of OOM at the end, but I'm not ending over 50% either.  We have a ton more mana now, so with replenishment and such, it's been completely reasonable to never life tap.

    Curse choice used to be a problem, but since we now can do a Bane and a Curse, it's not so much of an issue.  Use CotE and BoA, period, unless another 'lock is taking care of CotE, then you're off the hook.  Affliction talents buff BoA enough that it'll be better for us than Bane of Doom.  It's really this simple.  Also, don't forget you have Curse of the Tongues if you're on Crowd Control duty for something like Faction Champions (remember that? /shudder).  It's a good one to remember for any PvP like shenanigans.  Oh, and one more time: absolutely do NOT clip BoA when you use it.  You've probably heard it a million places, but the last tick does almost half of the spell's damage, so you'd be missing out on a lot and it still clips.  Just try to time your refresh for when it's over.  It'd be better to have a bit of downtime for that spell than to clip it.  (The other dots are not so prissy, but BoA must still run it's course prior to a refresh).

    Under 25% Health 
    The rotation stays the same except at this point you'll want to start using Drain Soul instead of your SB filler.  Don't worry too much about keeping the Improved Shadow Bolt buff up either.  DS will be doing a hell-ton of damage if your other dots are up.  So keep 'em up (DS should also help by refreshing Corr and UA).  The only caveat here is that if the baddie is about to die in the next 21 seconds, you shouldn't refresh BoA as it won't have time to run it's course.  Other than that, keep up the Big 3 and Haunt (which should refresh Corr and SE), and CotE for sure. It's also good if you can try to time your refresh casts to be immediately after a Drain Soul tick.  Just look for the abnormally large damage number on your screen (or get an addon that helps you. I don't use one, but suggestions welcome in comments).

    Multiple Target Situations
    If there are three or more targets, you should be thinking "Area of Effect" spells.  Now, this hinges a lot on your tank and the difficulty of the mobs.  If aggro is a problem, or if it is deemed best to down one target at a time (maybe CC is being used, maybe the leader wants a quick burn, whatever), then we'll just do our normal single target rotation (with Soul Swap!).  The difference in this case would be that you might be able to get away with throwing corruption up on the other targets, depending on the situation (the extra chance at nightfall procs is fun).  If you've specced into the Seed of Corruption talent, a Soulburn is a great (and effective) way to do that.

    Also, proper target switching can really help your DPS as well.  Back in the day (which was a Tuesday), when people used to use CC, it was key to know when to switch targets.  Switch too soon and the first guy might not die, or the tank might not be ready and you'll find yourself munching mud.  Switch too late and you're gimping your DPS and taking longer to kill things (which I guess, given the name of the blog, isn't all bad, but we still want to do our job the best we can).  Being dependent on damage over time spells, Warlocks need to be highly cognizant of when to switch.  There is no hard and fast rule, but the goal should be that your dots would have started dropping off the instant the baddie hits 0%.   Thus, if it's got like 5% health left, dropping fast, and you don't have anything to refresh, you'll probably want to get set up on the next target.

    Soul Swap makes switching a lot easier now.  With one quick, instant click we inhale our Big 3 to exhale onto the next target (starting them at full duration).  This really levels out our DPS into something respectable on trash and add fights.  All around, the spell is just amazing, especially with the glyph.  Switching targets used to count as downtime, but no more!  Now it's just a chance to get a free DoT refresh with a bonus set.  The ease of multiple target ramp-up now makes it more imperative than ever to watch out threat though.  You don't want to be that guy

    Some of this may seem like a lost art to old warlock hands, since in the Wrath world (... of warcraft), a vast majority of your muli-target pulls were simple AoE groups.  Still, I wanted to start out with the more controlled, rarer multi-target situations because it's going to become increasingly important for to know. But lets be honest: we still love huge baysplosions of damage from straight AoE spells.  And for Affliction Warlocks, we have two main choices: Seed of Corruption or Rain of Fire. 

    Seed of Corruption tends to be the better damaging spell for us, but not as easy to control.  The explosion area of seed can often reach outside of, say, a Paladin's consecrate and cause you to get unwanted aggro.  Thus, our AoE spell choice should be highly dependent on the situation.  If the tank clearly has everything locked down and you're not going to get stragglers, definitely make use of seed.  It will explode all over the tank-led dance party and cause you much glee.  Don't forget to toss in a Soulburn + SoC near the beginning to get Corruption up on all the targets too.  Great times, huge numbers!

    However, if you have other adds wandering around, not clearly in the tank's control, use RoF.  It's sized to perfectly fit on top of a consecrate (or DnD), so if you're running with one of those tanks, you should be able to just rain on top of their aura with little fear of pulling the mobs off.  You may have to be careful not to just spam if your gear is significantly better than the tank, but, for the most part, the aura abilities of a tank can outstrip our RoF.  If you're running with a Warrior or Druid tank, just try to center your RoF on them as they lack for visual cues.

    If you happen to be close enough, throw in a Shadowflame as well.  Again, be wary of aggro pull, but when you get a chance to go wild... man, we can put up some good numbers.  

    So it's simple: In good AoE situations, use SoC (tossing in a SB + SoC).  In shaky AoE situations (where you want more control), use RoF.  Both will yield solid damage results.  If you've got a crazy situation where AoE is probably a bad idea, don't be afraid to switch to your single target rotation (using Soul Swap).  After all, a live 'lock has far better DPS than a dirt napper.  For single targets, get your dots up, s-bolt spam, and refresh as needed.  Make sure to the big 3: Corr, BoA, and UA, plus Haunt, and CotE.  Under 25%, switch from SB filler to Drain Soul.  Sho'nuff you'll be toppin' da meters (or at least doing your job). 

    As always, questions/comments are welcome and I'll do my best to clarify anything I may have failed at in this attempt at 'splainin.


    1. Lash of Pain is a prime glyph, not a major glyph, Ful. I use Haunt, BoA, and LoP for my primes.

      Soul Swapping is SO MUCH FUN ZOMG. Of course, everything in dungeons now dies before I can even get UA/BoA/Corr up (which is saying something since two of those are instants). But Princes? Putricide? Those fights are now way way way too much fun. :)

    2. Ah crap. That means I'll likely cycle through that and Corr depending on my pet choice. I'll fix it as soon as I get home tonight and have access to Wowhead. Thanks.

      SS is so totally the whoop. Trash used to be a snoozefest (since I'd either AoE or just suck)... now it's like exciting again. Plus, I don't feel worthless on things like DBS's blood beasts. Good times.

    3. Edited to fix my goof... thanks Pon.

    4. Our major glyph choices kinda suck apart from Soul Swap...

    5. To go along with the drain soul ticks thing:

      For those that need visual reminders, I use Quartz to show my casting/channeling bar and have the ticks marker enabled. It doesn't help for dots unless you enable the timer, but it's what works for me.

      It's good to know I'm not alone in the change in life taps. I used to life tap whenever I hit about 75% or so but now I'm finding myself going really low during boss fights. Without the spellpower buff it seems almost useless to do it consistently unless you need the mana to keep casting. Now I'm actually using potions. What the hell, mate.

    6. I've heard that's a good addon.

      As far as Life Tapping: it's been really hard to break myself of the habit of tapping the life tap. My fingers just want to tap, tap, tap-a-roo! Yet with Replenishment, I find that I don't need to for an absurdly long amount of time. Like you said, I could throw down a single potion if I got too low and still probably be fine. I mean we're going from life tapping a good two dozen times on a boss fight to maybe once or twice.

      That's one of the major reasons I didn't pick the glyph back up too. I know "life tapping less = better DPS", but I don't think I'm tapping enough to make a difference either way.

    7. I guess I need to go back to Affliction for a while. I played with it in the Beta and couldn't get the hang of soul swap. Gladly they glyphed it so the dots don't drop.

      Luckily I trained myself to re-LT when I saw my poweraura pop. No buffed LT in my destro (aka PVP) build. By simply disabling that aura, I never lifetap now.

      I never could get Quartz configured the way I liked it. Couldn't find a way to move the bars out of on top of something else. I've minimized to just using the cast timers in xPerl.

    8. It's fun. I feel like overall I got a nerf on boss damage, but I can now do full damage on trash and add fights so it's way better in the grand scheme of things. I may have peaked higher on stationary fights before, but now I'm just more solid (and useful) all around.

      I just use Xperl as well... I have Fortex as my backup (sometimes the big debuffs don't display properly I've found... jumbling up on themselves and what not).

    9. Don't forget that drain soul will refresh UA and corruption for you under 25%, so you'll only need to manually refresh haunt and BoA. Talk about an easy mode execute!

      As far as addons go, I'd like to recommend eventhorizon. It puts a nice little box on my screen that shows all of my DoTs and their duration as a bar that moves from left to right as they count down. It shows GCD, cast times, drain soul channel time and also drain soul ticks.

      check it out:

      I still use Quartz's cast bar for SB spam as I love the latency display on it. Working with Australian lag can be difficult from time to time.

    10. Thanks for the rec!

      For the Drain Soul refresh, is it supposed to happen every time or is it a proc? I'll have to investigate more. I know it's supposed to do it, but for some reason I don't think I've been seeing it consistently. Either way I should add a note about it in the post.

    11. I've noticed that Drain Soul refreshes UA whenever I start to channel it.

    12. Yep, looked it up... it's 100% chance due to the Pandemic talent. I just wasn't paying attention very closely I guess. I mean I was keeping it up, but it didn't dawn me that I wasn't really, you know, keeping it up. :-)

    13. Why cannot all posts be as good as this? I am a NOOOOB! and cannot do with so called criptic comments Thanks!1

    14. Ha. Thanks! My goal is also to make it as accessible to all levels of play as possible, glad to know I'm hitting the mark :-).

    15. This helped me out big time! Also A newb and once 4.01 my casual routines didnt work.

    16. Glad it worked out for you and thanks for the comment!

    17. Just wanted to take two seconds to thank you for this post. I haven't played my lock in a while and my routines were completely out of whack.

      This was very helpful, thanks again!

    18. YW - and come back soon when I update these for level 85. Fel flame is a bit of a game-changer! I'm having loads of fun leveling right now :-).

    19. Very Nice, Thanks!

    20. According to EJ, waiting that long to use haunt is a dps loss. In most cases you wont be moving that soon on most fights. You should cast haunt before dots, because haunt's debuff missed on those initial dot ticks is a DPS loss. Always has been. Always will be.

    21. How much of a loss? I argue that it won't be significant over the course of a boss fight.

      If you wanted to be anal about it, you should ideally use your instants while running in as soon as the tank pulls, and then cast Haunt as soon as you get to your position. I don't know about you, but normally I'm out of range to start fights (to make sure we don't accidentally pull), then run in. I start casting as I'm running in. If I led off with Haunt, I'd have to wait until I was stationary, which, depending on where I'm supposed to be in the room, could be a couple of completely missed ticks as well. However, if I'm stopping immediately in-range, then it would be the same and your point would be valid.

      It all depends on how you play, and, worst case, it's a very minimal DPS loss. This is what works best for me. If you're more comfortable leading off with Haunt, that's great. Why not lead of with CotE? Or Soul Fire for the haste buff? Or get the ISB buff up? Or pop trinkets (mine are macro'ed to my first spell)? Those could all arguably provide better DPS as well.

      Simulations aren't the be all, end all of theorycrafting that some would have you believe.

    22. Dps loss on initial dots placed because of haunt's debuff + that first start of SE + Demon Soul. It'll also take a little bit longer for SE to get set up fully as well.

      If anything, your rotation for starting would be situational on fights where you have to move into position. One such fight that doesnt require movement at all at the start, would be the entire four winds raid encounter.

      And obviously you should place CotE on first(if you are suppose to be supplying it), and use soul fire instant cast before you do anything. Should be almost more than enough time to get you into position. Dont you think?

      As for refreshing UA, i would suspect that just recasting UA would be better. FF, only adds another 6 seconds to your UA's life. Seems like UA popping up every six seconds could become a hassel that way. Currently, casting UA when you are not running around is not very useful in our rotation, and our teir set bonus that gives extra to UA is still up in the air.

      I would also recommend saving your soul burn SF for when you lose IMP SF. There are just too many times where you have to move and are unable to refresh it hard cast. Having to hard cast SF sucks, and its unwise to dot while you dont have that crucial 15% haste buff.

      But, just my two cents. :)

    23. Oh, and i find drainsouler to be an excellent drain soul mod. I cant play without it.

    24. Good recommendations. I think at the end of the day we just need to be flexible and know our spells so as to decide which way to open is best. I actually do try to open with the cast-time modifiers when I'm starting off in position, but I'd say that's only maybe half the time. In addition, that wouldn't work on trash as well because I feel like my main focus needs to be on getting DoTs up to be able to Soul Swap as much as possible. The other modifiers are sort of secondary.

      For instance, I like to CC, throw my DoTs up, and then find the last target to throw my CotE on for trash (making use of Jinx). So my order is a lot different there.

      At the end of the day, the order you start up in will only be of minimal effect to overall DPS. The key is in getting as close to 100% uptime as possible with your DoTS.

      To that effect, I've found FF to work very well for me in keeping 100% uptime where UA refresh I was never as good. UA has jumped to my second most damaging spell on fights behind Corr! Basically you end up casting two FF's for every one UA you'd cast, which would be a loss unless you find ways to weave it in. Since it's an instant and simply adds duration, I hit it automatically when dodging the bad and things of that nature, so I think it ends up being better for me.

      Again, a lot of this is based on playstyle, so I'd encourage anyone to test out the different choices and see what works best for them.

    25. great blog funny comments helpful and amuseing

    26. I still have to disagree with the use of FF. You should only ever use FF when you are moving, or when you get the 4pc proc. Apparently, the new 4pc set bonus will make FF do 300% more damage, instead of increase crit chance.

      All sims point to refreshing UA with a new cast than with just FF.

      But i understand writting guides is tough. It's why i dont do them myself. You have your way of doing it, and sometimes its hard to put down in writting what you do as second nature. I get that.

      When you get down to it, guides are ment to give the reader an understanding of the basic mechanics and the ins and outs of whatever you are explaining. So i guess what im trying to say is that a good player can look at this info, and then learn and adapt to fit the situation on his own.

      Also as a side note, right now, succy + lash of pain glyph is superior to the felpup and BoA glyph. However, i heard talk of switching to felpup using a soul burn for the 25% phase was an optimal choice. Especially since SF, according to the PTR, will now be tier 3 in destro, and no longer gives the haste buff. Just something to think about.

    27. Fair enough. I can't deny what the sims say, so what it comes down to is how much faith you put in sims. Like you pointed out... people should do what works best for them.

      I'm not rolling with the Lash of Pain Glyph right now. I'm going to hold out until 4.0.6 goes live and see the finished abilities before I make any changes.

      A lot of what I do hinges around what I think Blizz *wants* me to do. That is to say: I think, in their minds, Affliction Warlocks should be using FF, should be using the Felpup, and shouldn't be casting SF except for with SB. It's my believe that they'll continue to tweak things until they get there. I don't have a lot of good reasons, other than that, to me, seems like the vision for the class and spec.

      How much better is the Succy (especially if you can find a number w/o LoP glyph)? I haven't been able to find that number. When doing something purposefully unideal, I'd like to know how dumb I'm being :-).

      Long story short, I'm going to be stubborn about this until there is a clear winner, and IMO right now things are still quite muddied (as evidenced by how much they're tweaking us). Warlocks have always ended up relatively stable at some "mature" point in the each expansion (unlike, say, Pallies), so I'm confident we'll get there again, then we can all be on the same page.

      For now FF/UA, Succy/Felpup - We still should be able to top the charts.

    28. I have to thank you for this posting. I've played Affliction since I started my lock in BC. She's changed factions and servers with me, but I have to admit being lost when Cata Talents came out an completely ignored anything that didn't exsist before (soul Swap looked so stupid at the time) I have been failing at dps in the dungeons (my addiction) and it has really saddened me as I was doing good in WotLK. I looked up Elitest Jerks and took some pointers but they are so technical that I was having a hard time following it. I kept searching and found this post. Thank you
      I feel that I will have a much better understanding of what I should and /can/ do on my lock after reading this page.

    29. You're welcome. That's exactly what I was aiming for. EJ can be a bit hard to follow, and different players have different learning styles, so while I don't always diverge from what they're serving up over there... I like to think I make things a bit easier to swallow.

      I did update this guide for 4.0.6 and that can be found linked up on the top left of this page.