Monday, January 31, 2011

UA vs FF: A Revisit

The question of Unstable Affliction versus Fel Fire has been a bit of a contentious point for me ever since its introduction. You see, the maths clearly show UA as being superior in a clean, stand-and-fire environment. Yet I've tried with varying amounts of success to argue for a much heavier use of Fel Fire in the affliction rotation. I love the spell, and think, when used appropriately, that it can greatly improve our DPS. The sentence "UA is better cuz of maths" simply doesn't tell the whole story.

Lately I've been running a whole lot of heroics. It seems that our fledgling guild has collectively passed over the gearing hump to take most of the encounters from Frustratingly Difficult, down to Mildly Annoying and even Totally Doable. There are still some fights that make us want to bang our keyboards against a wall. Especially with mechanics like the one where you need to reflect a DoT onto yourself so that you can avoid the Paralyze. Great for Warlocks. Not so great for Pally healers. Especially when you don't have anyone else in the group that could dispel it. Better stock up on the Salfuron Slammers!

A side effect of this new sensation of heroic success is that I've really been able to start fine tuning my spell weaving. This of course brings me back to the UA vs FF debate with a new sheen of experience on my opinions. Thus, a revisit.

The good news is that I don't think the "rule of thumb" is that complicated. In fact, I already know where I've seen it said best. Thank Nibuca: "Refresh Unstable Affliction between the last and next-to-the-last tick (or when you’re moving via Fel Flames)." Done. Simple.

So we use UA anytime we're able to stand and cast. If you have to move, throw a few FF's in while you're shuffling around for a net gain. It's that simple. Any interwoven FF casts don't have to be near the end either since they just tack on time.

To elaborate a bit, this leads us to the following considerations. Is this a movement heavy fight or is it a tank and spank? We can make the decision based on phases too. If you expect a lot of movement AND are able to anticipate that movement, just spam FF whenever you're on the run. After all, what else are you going to do while running? The only other possible button press that you should be hitting with any regularity is BoA. Corruption should be kept up by Haunt. CotE maybe, but it's got a pretty long duration. Oh, you can and should tap on any Nightfall procs as well. I guess there are things, but I'm finding that a lot of the time, I really don't have anything better to do than spam FF when I'm, say, navigating to get upwind. In fights like that, it may be completely plausible that you never use UA to refresh, since there is always a bit of movement looming on the blustery horizon. And don't be fooled, squeezing in FF's while moving IS a net DPS gain. Anytime you're throwing a damaging spell in when you'd otherwise not be casting is straight gain.

So yeah, the maths show that if you're able to stand still, UA is the better choice. But the question good warlocks need to ask themselves each and every fight is: how much am I standing still. I've found the situations to be about 50/50, with half the fights being stand and fire for most of the fight, and the others being so movement heavy that anything I can squeeze in while moving is totally bonus.

I'm holding off on guide updates until 4.0.6 drops, and then my little paragraph on FF should reflect this. Unless it gets changed, of course. I don't think it will, though, because it's a pretty neat choice actually. Well balanced and easy enough to juggle once you start getting comfortable. It adds a nice little option for us without being a DPS killer if we choose poorly. Plus, hey, we got some green fire and an instant nuke. Can't beat that.


  1. Thanks Ful, I would think this would apply similarly to Destruction with Immolate in the rotation. A single Immolate cast is 8% base mana (for 15s) vs two ff (for 6s each) at 6% base each.

    I do love running around in PVP though, casting one long Immolate then spamming FF. Double damage and extending the dot.

  2. Yes, I am guilty of being a PvP FF spammer as well. Especially whenever I see totems, or a mage... pew pew pew!

  3. Spot on with my strategy of Fel Flaming UA. I also tend to pop Demon Soul when I'm moving versus while I'm standing still nuking.

  4. With regards to pally healing Ozruk, I've done it by running in to melee range as soon as bulwark comes up, swinging a couple of times (Judgement and Crusader Strike) to get the bleed and then running away before Shatter.

  5. Yeah, that's definitely an option... though I would argue that you must be a pretty solid player to pull that off; it is not an easy tactic for healers. :-)

  6. It's particularly dependent on your tank. If they're facing the boss in the same direction for Ground Slam, running the same way from Shatter and they have decent gear then it's very easy. But, judging from some of the tanks I've seen in that place, it could also be a nightmare.