Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Affliction Warlock Guide Updates

I decided that today would be Update My Affliction Guides Day here at the blog. Realizing that I'd neglected to do that since Cata dropped, and that I'm now getting into heroics, it seemed like a good time to undertake that task.  As such, you'll find all my guides linked at the left to be updated for 4.0.3a.  There were just minor changes really to bring them up to date, since the major work was done with 4.0.1.  Instead of reposting them all, I'd just like to highlight the changes I made here in a summary post.  For more in depth coverage, feel free to clicky on the left.  

I had talked about it a lot, but never posted my final spec at 85.  In revisiting my spec post, I double checked my choices and remedied this.  You can follow the link below to see the spec.  It reflects what I'm using going into heroics.  Here at the updates to that section of things:

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.

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.

I decided not to use Emberstorm, mostly because there have been rumblings of changes on the horizon for the way Improved Soul Fire works.  As such, I'm not trying to figure out how to weave it into my rotation, and only using it when Soulburn is off cooldown.  Thus, the talent doesn't make sense for me.  We'll see how things shake out with regards to this.  I don't think I'm currently at a point of comfort with things where this makes a different for me anyways.

Only one simple change: 

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. 

This is the basis of what I'm doing:

Corruption > Bane of Agony > Unstable Affliction > Haunt > Shadowbolt x2 &gt Curse of the Elements.

Then I basically spam bolts, refresh as needed, and watch my cooldowns.  I'm not too concerned with order at this point as I'm just getting used to making sure I'm watching everything.  You also probably want to throw your curse on a later target, provided you specced into Jinx, since this will allow you to not have to recast it.  I choose to get my "big 3" up early so I can be ready with a Soul Swap if the target is dying quickly.  Otherwise, on a boss, I might front load the instants while running into position, but try to get Haunt and ISB up as quickly as possible.  With that said, here is the major change to the guide: 

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.

I've discussed each of these new spells at length here in the past.  This reflects how I'm using them going into heroics.  It will likely change as hotfixes are made and we learn more about them, but this is what currently works best for me.  I try to blow my cooldowns at the beginning of a boss fight, and then on a heroic boss it usually has me burning them near the end.  The fights really haven't been long enough to have me using them three times.  As mentioned, I'm not keeping ISF up either, merely using it like a trinket.  That's something I'm going to keep my eye on, as trying to keep it up right now just throws me off more than helps. 

Pet Choice
Pretty simple here, I'm using my Felhunter right now:

For the regular minions, I generally run with the Felhunter. With the addition of Demon Soul to our arsenal, I've found that this pet synergizes the best with my Affliction playstyle.  I believe the Succubus may still take top honors in a pure math contest, but in my comparisons, the Felpup is better.  Since the Demon Soul benefit for your pup is a straight bonus to DoTs (as opposed to a bonus to shadowbolts), I think it makes sense.  I'm probably not the best S-bolt weaver, but, by the Shadow, my DoTs shall run uninterrupted!  Thus, you can consider me a Felhunter guy.  The Succy can be useful for solo'ing with her CC utility, which I've made extensive use of, but if I'm in a dungeon or raid, the Felpup is coming out.  

Pet Choice Hierarchy
  1. Infernal - When you want a quick AoE boost.
  2. Doomguard - When you want a quick single target boost.
  3. Felhunter - When you aren't running with a Mage and a Priest, and if you find it works best with you Affliction playstyle.
  4. Succubus - When your raid doesn't need your buffs, especially if you talent/glyph it.
  5. Imp - If you need ranged or you decide to talent for it.
I poached the new stats from the EJ Simulation post as usual.  The link can be found in the main article if you want to check it out.  Otherwise, here's what I got: 

Warlock_Affliction_PreRaid   Sta=0.0262  Int=2.9937  SP=2.4187  Hit=1.5690  Crit=0.9617  Haste=1.2767  Mastery=0.9037

Which means we have a priority of this:  

Hit (until capped) > Intellect > Spellpower > Haste > Crit > Mastery >> Stamina.

Even though the hit number no longer reflects being "best", I still think it is your best bet to work on getting capped first.  This should be a lot easier with reforging, enchanting, and gemming... but it's still a lot of hit to accrue.  The tooltip will let you know when your miss chance is 0%, and be aware that Heroic cap is only for level 87 bosses at 0%, while the Raid hit cap is 88 at 0%.  You can see this when you mouse over the stat in your character screen.  I believe the top number translates to an ungodly 1742 hit.

Otherwise, I will use the weightings in Pawn to help me judge gear accordingly.  At T11, BiS, the numbers look much the same.  Little higher on each end, but same order.  Thus, this scale should work for us for a while.

So that's it.  Those are my updates.  Did I miss something?  Did I screw something up?  Feel free to let me know.


  1. Ok, with regards to the cast rotation, why not put CoE near the front? With dungeons, especially like Vortex Pinnacle, I am putting CoE (as Destro) on one of the non-healer targets in the group. That way as you burn down the healers, their feeling the Jink buff. Plus, since it doesn't do damage per se, it shouldn't break the CC.

  2. Well, here's what I've found:

    1. Target swapping up front hurts me. It's less of a problem if I set up my DoTS, then target one of the later targets for CoE application.

    2. Stuff dies fast enough that unless I put it on a later target to make use of Jinx, it almost doesn't make sense to worry about a Curse for trash.

    3. On a boss or long fight, order doesn't matter a whole lot since you just want everything up and then the duration washes out any early guffaws.

    End result of all this is that I've fallen into the habit of deciding what I want to do with CoE while setting up my rotation. Sort of parallel processing, if you will.

    Here's something I've been thinking that I'm not sure will work... if we pop it on a banish target and THEN banish it... will jinx be up? I think Banish clears everything, but I haven't checked. Hmm...

    Either way, it's not a bad idea to bump CoE up in the order... it's just not been my priority as of yet. To me, the priority is get your "Big 3" up and go from there. When I pop over to Demo, I definitely place CoE higher.

  3. -- "Here's something I've been thinking that I'm not sure will work... if we pop it on a banish target and THEN banish it... will jinx be up? I think Banish clears everything, but I haven't checked. Hmm.."

    I've done this and gotten Jinx up on other targets. I think Banish just clears damage, because previously-placed DoTs still "tick" (they tick out "Immune") on a Banished target. However, I only did it once, so I'm not sure. =/

    Technically, I think you can put it on a Feared target as well since the Curse itself doesn't do any damage. I mean, so long as you don't put other DoTs on it, the Curse should be fine.

    -- on the article

    I don't think Succy generates greater DPS than the Felpup (buffs aside) because of Demon Soul. Sure, if you don't use Demon Soul, her glyph will probably kick Felpup's ass, but Felpup's Demon Soul effect is too kickass to give it up for a couple hundred DPS, IMO.

    I'm a UA refresher, for the most part, since FF only adds 6 seconds to the UA cast, and I'd have to put up two FFs to get UA to a comfortable "okay, now I can worry about other timers" duration. I use FF mainly as a moving spellcast or to refresh UA to a buffer point so I can get to a spot to refresh UA by casting UA. Oh, and I kill critters with it. (It's nice to kill a Shale Spider with an instant-cast 6k crit, right?)

    ISF -- oh dear, I love this the way it is. Might have to go burn my fingers on a post, lol.

    Hit cap -- 1742 is doable, though I'm in avg-ilvl 340 gear atm. My fellow guildies had "o_O 1742 hit??" thread posts as well.

  4. I find that FF makes my casting more fluid. I always had like short 1 second intervals where i couldn't cast a bolt and was waiting for like BoA to end or something. FF fills those gaps and I find myself never needing UA. That's why I use it... it just meshes well without "waste"

    I'm not too concerned about the hit cap... we'll get there. It just seems like a huge number, but everything scales.

  5. I am finding it a tad bit difficult to hit FF to refresh my UA unless it is a routine fight where I don't have to move all that much. My biggest issue is just where I have it on my action bars. It is a new spell so I am still trying to get used to it.

    As soon as I hit 85 I switched to the puppy. Currently I am rocking the Corruption glyph in place of the lash of pain one. I know it isn't ideal but the extra instant shadow bolts just make me so happy.

    I am in a mixture of 333 & 346 gear (current ilvl 340) and I am just under 13% hit. This is with reforged gear & gems. It does help having hit be a blue gem, but I just don't have that many gem slots. I also refuse to enchant for hit, that is a bigger dps loss than being under hit.

    We went into Blackwing Descent last night and I noticed that my Haunt would miss every so often, but it wasn't enough to cause a major issue. I was still pulling comparable dps/damage to the rest of the party.

    In heroics I routinely am up in damage/dps. This is even with movement heavy fights. Soul Swap is my new favorite thing. I have also gotten in the habit (and trained my guild tanks) of pre sharding before a boss fight so that I get 4 instant Soul Fires off during a fight.

    This is my rotation:

    Soul Fire
    Demon Soul
    Curse of Elements
    Bane of Agony
    Shadow Bolt

    Right now my haste is shit so I have been really bad about getting the ISB buff up due to my Shadow Bolts taking so long to cast.

    In heroics I pull anywhere from 9k-11k dps

  6. Good feedback. The only suggestion I have is that I replaced UA with FF on my action bar. Thus, when i feel the urge to refresh UA, I hit FF. I moved UA somewhere else where, when I'm not in the thick of a fight, it's still handy... just not *too* handy.

  7. Yeah the problem I have with moving UA is then it isn't in a good place for me to cast it in the beginning of the fight. As you can see from my rotation, it isn't up there in priority for me. I really do think it is just needing to get used to using it.

    I hit 85 5 days after release and have spent the past 3 weeks leveling my druid and gearing them both out so I haven't really been that good on learning the new spell locations on my bar. I'll get it eventually.

  8. Yeah, I've just been questing on my main, and FF is fun for questing :-).

  9. @Ful & KBear -- My UA key is a macro that morphs into FF when I press shift. Also, SF is shifted onto Shadow Bolt's key, so I'm not using it a lot, but it's there when I need it.

    @Ful -- if FF is more fluid for you that way, go for it! :D Possibly because of the way I have my keybinds set up it's more practical for me to refresh UA with UA more than with FF.

  10. Pon that won't work for me because I am not comfortable with modifier keys when I am dpsing. But thanks :)

  11. First let me state that I am not a shadow priest (nor ever will be), but someone posted a great article about hit cap for shadow priests on wowinsider.
    Reading this really made me start wondering how important hit really is. Right now my hit is Horrible! But when I'm running dungeons, I'm not seeing any misses and I'm still fairly high on the dps meter. I'm also not an elitist jerk so I don't know how accurate the math is.
    I'd love to hear what you and your readers think about this.

  12. Well, hit is hit for spellcasters. The only thing that might make it affect us differently is talents and I don't know enough about s-priests to talk about that. However, I did read the article and a few things poked at me.

    1. They didn't say which dummy they use... I'm assuming they used the Raider's Training Dummy because otherwise the results would be the same for any value over heroic hit cap.

    2. I totally agree with the author that STAT BALANCING is important. That is to say, we should never just totally stack one stat to the exclusion of others. In fact, I prefer to use reforging sparingly, and will gem according to color (for the most part). Thus, I'm not reaching hit cap right away, but I steadily approach it as I gear up. I use enchants as my flexibility really, as more hit comes to me naturally, I replace the enchants. In this way, I pretty much stay balanced as I go. The test runs represent a more radical approach that I don't think accurately reflects a gear progression.

    3. A miss isn't just about lost DPS. You're also losing an additional GCD and mana (to recast the missed spell). Not to mention if the missed spell happens to be one with a longer cooldown, though most of those are "self" spells and thus not at the whims of hit. Still, it's something to consider. And having to stand around to recast something may put you in the fire or something. When the pressure is on, I want to know that my spells are going to hit!

    All this being said, the article is interesting but not an "end all be all" of hit theory. At best, it's something meant to make you think and analyze why you do what you do, and that's a good thing. I would advocate a balanced approach to hit cap, but definitely getting to hit cap eventually... no way would I reforge or gem away from hit if I'm under cap. The simulation numbers don't lie, yet you'll notice that hit's contribution to DPS isn't as high as, say, intellect.

    Never should we, as intelligent Warlocks, do anything mindlessly :-).

    I should probably have made this into a proper post - and maybe I still will - but I don't like to let things hang.

  13. Thanks for your feedback. I agree with you. One of the things I always had a problem with in Wrath was all my heroic gear was full of hit gems just to get to the cap. It felt like such a waste because obviously int gems would have been better but reaching that 17% cap is impossible with gear stats alone.
    And now I look at a piece of gear and think, hmmm should I reforge that haste down so I can add hit? Obviously I'm not going to, but how else am I gonna get hit capped when all my blues don't have sockets? Ugh!

  14. Yeah, I think it's not really attainable until you start being able to replace blues with purples. They made it pretty easy to reach cap with Tier Gear last expansion, loading up a lot of pieces with it. In fact, there were points when I had too much of it just on my gear and had to try and offload a bunch. Wonder how it'll be in Cata...

  15. Hi there :) Unfortunately i dont remember the talent names and i cant look at gaming pages because of damn firewall at the work...Anyway, there's a talent in destro tree which lowers cast time of Soulfire. I wonder if it worths to drop that talent by 2 points and give those points into the one which improves damage done of shadowbite in demon tree. (if you use felhunter instead of succubus)

  16. Emberstorm is the name of the talent. I only know that because I was looking into it the other day for use if I wanted to keep my ISF buff up. In my spec, I do not take that talent. For me, those two points would probably come from improved Seed of Corruption and the Demonology point I spent.

    SoC is a great talent, but AoE isn't as common now, so it wouldn't be too terrible to part with this one. As for the Demo talent, it increases my Stamina which, while not a DPS buff, makes me less likely to take dirt naps, which is a plus right now.

    As such, I'm not willing to give either of them up for what I hear is not a very effective talent. I haven't seen solid numbers, but I've read on theorycrafting sites where it's not supposed to be that great.

    That being said, I would encourage you to give it a try on a dummy. Spec one way and spec another and see how it works out for you. Report back if you find out I'm wrong, please! IMO - that's the only way to really know for sure.

  17. so good guide, thanks.
    wait more guide.