Affliction & New Talents

Class guides will be more useful than ever. If I start a warlock it’d be nice if a veteran told me uses for my level 15 talents (1)… Before? “OK, 31 points in blah, a few points in bluh, done.” (2)

- @buglamp

I don’t know that I can say I’ll be a “veteran” when Mists rolls around with this totally new talent system.  I know a bunch about what was, but I don’t know much about what will come to pass, Frodo.

Affliction’s Flavor To Me

I’ve been playing my warlock as affliction since Feb 2008.  Almost four years, one spec the whole time.  Almost three years spent raiding, though not always on the warlock.

I can tell you I don’t play for the top theorycrafting spec.  I’ve been lucky to have affliction as top dog most of the time, but I’ve played it when it was second fiddle to destruction and demonology, too.  I’ve been frustrated with affliction in a raiding environment only twice; otherwise I’ve loved it.

The first was Valithria Dreamwalker, because I just couldn’t keep up with the burst DPS on lead-directed targets.  It took me a few evenings to find my groove as affliction — my wheedling down of big targets and spreading of DoTs everywhere.

The second time was Ragnaros, both sizes, because of the transition adds and the burst DPS I didn’t have but was required of me.  I was so frustrated and almost crying at not being able to play my favored spec on the ultimate boss of a tier.  I went destruction because I did not have the gear or the skill to pull off demonology in a raid progression environment, despite my knowledge of the three warlocks hinting that demo was possibly the favored spec for Raggy Pants.

Then I came back to Aff once I saw phase 3 of Ragnaros.  SO MUCH JOY TO COME BACK! :)

Affliction has long had a lack of burst.  Affliction, then, has long been less about the killing now and more about the killing later.  Affliction has always held a sort of sinister playfulness in my mind; we play with our food before we eat it.  Therefore, it does no good to immediately set your target on fire with a burst spell; there must be conscious suffering over a period of time before their doom is set.  I try to keep this in mind as I go through the talents, because I love affliction and would love to continue playing affliction as long as I can.

Implications for Raiding

First off, I wonder how people will keep track of the talent choosings.  Right now, with three trees of 31+ points each, there’s a #/#/# notation.  My affliction spec, for example, is 31/4/6 — 31 points in Affliction, 4 in Demonology, and 6 in Destruction.  Sometimes in theorycrafting they will talk about specific talents in a specific tree by the tier the talent is in; you need 5 points in tier 1 to proceed to tier to grab X talent.  We currently have 7 tiers of talents per tree with 41 points to spend; you need to spend at least 31 points in your spec’s tree.

The new Mists talents are 6 tiers of 3 talents each, and you can choose only one of 3.

So you end up with just six talents, but these talents are switchable like glyphs, they said (out of combat, etc.).  We’ll still have dual-spec, so you can have a set healing spec or a set tanking spec or a set pvp spec, but dual-spec may largely disappear for pure DPS classes.  If we can just switch the talents around with little cost (10s of time if you know what you want), why would you ever change whole spec sets?

For notation, I thought of chess notation at first.  Which tier followed by a letter for which talent in that tier: 1c, for example, would be Harvest of Life for warlocks.  Then I figured people would drop the tiers (we’d still refer to tiers in discussion) and just list the talent letter notations: abbaca, e.g., which would be Harvest of Life, Mortal Coil, Soul Link, Bloodstone, Grimoire of Sacrifice, Archimonde’s Vengeance.

For raiding applicants to guilds (or promotion / guidance within) and discussion of spec choice, I wonder what going away from the cookie-cutter specs will do, for better or for worse.  As of right now, as Bug said, “you put some points in blah, points in bluh, and done.”  There’s little discussion involved in where the points go, and this is especially the case for affliction.  Some other DPS specs might have actual choice in their trees, but affliction still remains largely an obviously-PvE talent versus an obviously-PvP talent.  There’s two PvP-specific (Fears) talents for Affliction’s tree — Improved Fear and Howl of Terror — and the rest you dump points into for PvE, often maxing out the talent.  Even the choosings for subspecs (the other 10 points that can go into other trees) are quite obvious which you should or should not choose.  Any Afflock who chooses Improved Immolate is either trollin’ or stupid.

Now, it will become more about tailoring to the fight.  Now, I imagine guild applications may become more interview-like.  Maybe they will be bland like a list of essay questions (“We’re standing at Baleroc.  Which talents do you choose & why?”).  Or maybe the applicant process can become more personally-involved; maybe your class officer (or fellow raid members) will be in on the Vent interview or vigorously posting on the forum app thread about the mechanics of your chosen talents and spell selection.  Will fraps’d fights become the new requirement for applications? (A WoL or two or three is pretty common nowadays.)

Blizzard appears to want to move away from “competent = correct checkboxes checked and gear worn” and closer to “competent = way you handle the fight with your given gear and spec and spell toolbox.”

But, as always, when you throw in groups of people who repeatedly test specs against a boss (colloquial: wiping on a boss), there will still be “standard” choices and “standard” spell selections.  Just like boss order in a flexible instance: no one says you have to do Shannox first but most people do it anyway because he’s the accepted “easiest”/”entrance” boss.  (UR actually does Beth’tilac first, and then we clear from there to spawn Shannox.)

So…I’m just going to give my (lengthy, rambly) thoughts on the warlock talents, as an affliction warlock raider myself.

The Warlock Talents

Pictures (MMO-Champion): Tier 1 (level 15), Tier 2 (30), Tier 3 (45), Tier 4 (60), Tier 5 (75), Tier 6 (90).

Notation-style: (a-c x6)

  1. (a) Dark Regeneration, (b) Soul Leech, (c) Harvest of Life
  2. (a) Howl of Terror, (b) Mortal Coil, (c) Shadowfury
  3. (a) Hour of Twilight, (b) Soul Link, (c) Sacrificial Pact
  4. (a) Bloodstone, (b) Soul Drain, (c) Nether Ward
  5. (a) Grimoire of Supremacy, (b) Grimoire of Service, (c) Grimoire of Sacrifice
  6. (a) Archimonde’s Vengeance, (b) Kil’jaeden’s Cunning, (c) Illidan’s Guile

Notes on Malefic Grasp: There’s an ability called Malefic Grasp (abbrev. MG) that’s mentioned in the talents.  Judging by search hits from the mere mention of it, warlocks everywhere are searching for what this new spell is exactly.  Where it’s mentioned in the talents is alongside Shadow Bolt (SB) and Incinerate (Incin), the known and current filler spells for warlocks.  Therefore, my (& others’) speculation is that MG is the third filler spell to further differentiate the three specs of warlocks.  Currently, demonology shares a filler with Aff or Destro, depending on whether shadow (SB) or fire (Incin) ends up being a better damage per execute time (DPET) spell.  With the nerfs to Drain Life in tier 12, Blizzard has already said that it intends for Shadow Bolt to be affliction’s filler, and Incinerate naturally fits destruction’s fire focus, so the concluding speculation is that Malefic Grasp will be demonology’s filler spell.

Tier Themes: After looking at all the warlock talents, I first wanted to see if I could spot the separate spec talents.  Which ones belong to affliction, which to demonology, which to destruction.  Then I realized each tier has a theme, more or less.

Tier 1 = Drain / Self-Healing

  1. Dark Regeneration | Restores 50% of your maximum health over 25 sec.  No resource / Instant-cast / 3m CD.
  2. Soul Leech | Your Shadow Bolt, Incinerate, and Malefic Grasp heal you for 25% of the damage dealt.
  3. Harvest of Life | Drains the life from the life from the target and all targets within 20 yards, causing 94 Shadow damage and restoring 2% of the caster’s total health per target every 1 sec.  Lasts 3 sec.  640 Mana + 20 per sec. / Channeled / 40yd range / GCD.
    Empowered Channel: Recasting this spell before it finishes boosts the duration by 3 sec.  Stacks 5 times.

Dark Regeneration and Soul Leech are both straight healing from ability use: DR is a CD itself, while SLeech is a rebate-like heal (you cast a spell and get some of it “back”).  The percentages make Dark Regen sound like a powerful cooldown, so I did some napkin math to put the two in perspective.

My maximum health right now, on my Armory, is about 130k.  50% ~= 65k; over 25s that means ~2.6k HPS, which is 2% max health per sec.  Without raid buffs, mind you; so with raid buffs, I’d imagine this amount would be a bit higher.  DR is a set heal over a long period of time.

Looking at a WoL log from a 25man raid, my Shadow Bolt does about 15k on an average hit (over the whole night) and 31k on a crit.  This leads to a ~3.75k heal or 7.75k heal on a crit.  SL is dependent on my firing off Shadow Bolts, which is dependent on various things like DPS assignment (multiple targets, alive-time of targets) or movement (…without KJC (t6) of course).

The difference ends up being in the healing/damage pattern, because I think the healing numbers would come out about the same.  DR is a set HoT; it will tick every so often for a fixed amount.  SLeech is a variable direct heal, which is dependent on your current DPS performance.

SLeech I imagine would be the standard raid talent; you do nothing different as your filler is what procs the effect.  It also invokes a bit of a choice; if you need a small heal NOW, you can cast your filler spell and receive one without putting strain on the healers to heal everyone up.  SLeech’s healing would also be a major factor of your self-healing, probably like how Siphon Life is now.  It’s not much, but it helps when it counts (Chimaeron as affliction is ridiculous).

DR sounds more of a heavy healer helper (it has a cooldown’s cooldown) than a regular heal.  DR sounds like something you would use when the boss fight mechanics include a large period of little to no raid damage followed by a short period of very heavy raid damage.  Typical over-time spells (HoTs & DoTs) tend to follow the rule of 3s for standard ticks, but this one might follow a rule of 5s, considering 24s would be more in line with a 3s tick.

I don’t know how well a 25s period of heavy raid damage would go over with the healers, but it would provide a bit of a buffer for healers if there’s a heavy raid damage period or blast (almost die, like Ashbury’s Stay of Execution or Chimaeron’s Massacre), and then a period of nothing for the follow-up raid healing.

Harvest of Life.  Oh boy.  This reads like an AoE Drain Life.

HoL on a single-target boss fight would even out in the healing that DR & SLeech offer: 2% per sec.  HoL on a multi-target fight, on the other hand, would have some potential awesome healing.

Except warlocks are not healers.

This might be the token PvP talent (proximity in PvP happens all the time), or, it could be a burst affliction spell, if the damage scales well enough (a good chunk of AoE dmg every second? yes please!).  Seed of Corruption has a cast time to it.  Rain of Fire tends to be both weak and takes a long time (considering raid DPS) to tick the first time, as well as being very position-dependent (targeting circle…and then the tank moves everything out of the area = sadface).  Even as a single target spell, it would be nice to get some usable burst action for affliction.

I would like to wait and see on HoL as to how worthy it can be in a raid situation.

The other interesting tidbit I found about HoL is the Empowered effect.  Naturally, I figure Empowering will come through by Soulburning, since affliction is said to still have soul shards as a resource system.  Demonology was reported with “Demonic Fury” and destruction would get “Infernal Embers.”  Demonic Fury is a powerup to a buff, while Infernal Embers sounds like combo points.  Soul Shards will remain the same mechanic, with hopefully more interesting things to do.

However, the weird part about HoL’s Empowered effect is that it encourages you to clip the ticks!  (At least, until the fifth and last stack.)  DoT clipping — that is, recasting the DoT before the last tick has ticked — has long been a big no-no in warlockery (unless a major buff proc just happened and it is worth it to recast the DoT).  In Cataclysm, the “continuation” of the last tick into the new cast somewhat fixed clipping, but you can still clip spells with variable damage on ticks, like Bane of Agony.

Tier 2 = CC (Fear, Horror, Stun)

  1. Howl of Terror | Howl, causing 5 enemies within 10 yds to flee in terror for 8 sec.  Damage caused may interrupt the effect.  1280 Mana / Instant-cast / 40s CD.
  2. Mortal Coil | Causes an enemy target to run in horror for 3 sec.  The caster restores 25% of their maximum health.  1920 Mana / Instant-cast / 30yd range / 45 sec CD.
  3. Shadowfury | Shadowfury is unleashed, stunning all enemies within 8 yds for 3 sec.  1600 Mana / Instant-cast / 30yd range / 20s CD.

All of these are existing spells; Mortal Coil is merely Death Coil renamed with some added health restoration.  The cool thing is Shadowfury, currently a Destro-only talent, will be open for Demo & Aff to use.

This tier will definitely change on your CC needs per fight; it will change up affliction PvP a bit with having a choice between either Howl or Coil, but not both (as you currently have both).  Death Coil is a good cover for a Fear (since DC is a horror effect, which does not share diminishing returns with Fear), and in PvE I sometimes use it as a clutch 2nd healthstone (Lady Blaumeux, anyone?).  Shadowfury is useful now on Ragnaros as destruction during the phase transitions, and Howl is a popular melee peel in PvP.

Tier 3 = Damage Reductions (Straight)

  1. Hour of Twilight | When a damaging attack brings you below 20% of your maximum health, all damage taken is reduced by 50% for 10 sec.  This effect cannot occur more than once every 90 seconds.
  2. Soul Link | When active, all damage and healing the Warlock takes is shared with her active demon.  That damage cannot be prevented.  Lasts as long as the demon is active and controlled.  1600 Mana / Instant-cast / 40yd range.
  3. Sacrificial Pact | Your demon sacrifices itself to prevent all damage you would take for 10 sec.  No resource / Instant-cast / 100yd range / 5min CD.

Hour of Twilight …I think this one depends on how often we should find ourselves sub-20% health.  Sounds great for PvP (except, perhaps the internal cooldown), but I don’t know how many times in raid I find myself sub-20% when it’s not a wipe situation or a specific fight mechanic (Chimaeron).  Hmmmm.

Soul Link looks the same as current for the most part, except this time it adds in the effect from a maxed-out Fel Synergy talent — the healing of your pet.  It sounds great at first, but I remember pets have a passive Avoidance for AoE spells (the Doomguard appears to ignore EVERYTHING it stands in), and even without Fel Synergy, my pet didn’t die that often.  Considering the other two read like PvP, I think this will be the de facto raid talent for this tier.

Side-track: I am of the mind that healers are not responsible for my pet in a raid setting, even if it is a large portion of my damage.  I’m one of the route where I’m responsible for my pet, even when it bugs out and stands in fire (that’s what passive is for!).  So talents for healing pets are welcome in my book.

Sacrifical Pact.  Ohhhhhhhh, I’ll be honest, this reads like old-style paladin bubble for warlocks.  All damage immunity for 10 seconds?  While that would be a great cooldown in raids, this reads for the nerf path with heavy concerns in PvP.  The 5min CD would probably prevent it from seeing action in Arenas, but in Battlegrounds, I see possible nerfing down the road in either duration or allowing some damage through or possibly exception spells like Chaos Bolt (used to be) and Heroic Throw (is).

Tier 4 = Damage Reductions (Absorb/Heal)

  1. Bloodstone | Instantly restores 44% of the Warlock’s base health and increases healing received by 50% for 10 sec.  No Resource / Instant-cast / 2min CD.
  2. Spell Drain | The next single target spell focused at you heals you for half the damage it would have dealt.  Lasts 4 sec.  640 Mana / Instant-cast / 20s CD.
  3. Nether Ward | Transforms your Twilight Ward into Nether Ward.  Absorbs 3141 damage.  Lasts 30s.  30s CD.  When you absorb damage, you gain Nether Protection, reducing all damage by that spell school by 15% for 12 sec.

Bloodstone is a straight-up heal, and then a bonus to healing receive.  Spell Drain is a half-heal ward, and Nether Ward is an absorb plus some reduced spell damage taken (what it is now, just not limited to the Destro tree anymore).

Both NW & SD are limited to spells only; any fights with physical damage will use Bloodstone better.  Spell Drain particularly sounds like a great PvP spell for when you’re getting focused down.

Personally, when I go destro on Ragnaros, I use Nether Ward (or try to!) all the time.  I figure Nether Ward will be the go-to raid talent, especially since the duration seems to line up with the cooldown.  I figure the numbers will get changed, but as is, you can add Nether Ward into your line-up as a 30s-CD spell for raid damage.

I don’t know that theorycrafting guides will advocate NW; after all, it has no DPS increase besides “you live to cast another day.”  However, I grew up a warlock who took surviving as a central part of DPS.  I approach DPS as I should take as little attention from the healers as possible; I’m responsible for any damage I can avoid.  If I can throw in a ward every 30s to reduce my damage taken, I will do it, and I’ll advocate it.

Tier 5 = Minion Enhancement

  1. Grimoire of Supremacy | You command stronger demons.  replacing your normalminions.  These demons deal 10% additional damage and have more powerful abilities.
    Summonable Demons: Fel Imp, Voidlord, Shivan, Beholder, Abyssal, Terrorguard.
  2. Grimoire of Service | Instantly summon a second demon who fights for 30 sec.  Instant-cast / 2min CD.
  3. Grimoire of Sacrifice | You sacrifice your pet to gain increased damage and health.  Lasts for 3 min.  Summoning another pet cancels the effect.  Instant-cast / 2min CD.

Ah, tier 5.

From looking at Twitter when the talents were previewed, Grimoire of Supremacy was a jizz-in-the-pants moment for warlocks everywhere, even if you weren’t Demo.  At the very least, the minions we love most have outdated models, and new, shiny things make anyone smile.

Minion choice is a thing we do in our theorycrafting; it’s why Demo uses the felhunter even though the felguard is the “demonology” flavor pet.  It’s why, for a time, affliction used the succubus, even though the felhunter is the “affliction” flavor pet.  In raid theorycrafting for a warlock’s personal DPS, you take the pet that does the best job.  Currently (as of 4.2), the felhunter is the best single-target pet for pet DPS by itself.  The felguard jumps up if you’re Demo and you have Meta and other cooldowns going, and the imp is Destro’s pet because of additional DPS benefits it provides to the warlock herself.

If there’s a talent that introduces vastly more awesome pets for all three specs, then this will be the mandatory talent to take.  Which is a problem for Blizzard, since Blizzard wants to move away from cookie-cutter specs.  The other two talents would need to boost our damage by a similar amount to compete with this one.

My other concern with Supremacy is the Blizzard Killed My Dog effect.  I love fighting with Bheezhem by my side.  Or Ormmon.  Or Bizmir.  I remember when Blizzard temporarily killed all our dogs.  I cried and canceled my raid spot because it just was not the same raiding without my felpuppy.  I felt stupid for being so upset over just a name change, but…it’s my Bheezhem.  He goes everywhere with me.

So with Supremacy will my Bheezhem just evolve or transform into something more powerful?  Or will I need to meet new minions?  Will I have to stay with these new minions? Or will Blizzard be able to balance and diversify the fights such that I can take another tier 5 talent (& my default minions) on other fights?

Service at first sounds like a mini Mirror Image for minions.  (Type “Mini Minion Mirror Image” five times fast.)  Will I get the true mirror image copy, and then have two Bheezhems running around?

Or does this mean I can summon a completely different pet and have both out simultaneously?  For Demo, currently alternating between two pets, this would be amazing.  Thirty seconds is just long enough for ability and trinket cooldowns to finish their course (and then some).

Sacrifice is the last one, and after reading the other two, it sounds a bit meh (at first).  Perhaps with some actual numbers for the increased damage done, we’ll be able to discuss it better.  Right now it is just a straight DPS increase, with the possible side-effect of a mini max-health boost, but without your minion by your side (as summoning another minion cancels the effect).

I think Sacrifice will be the choice for affliction, actually.  Saccing your demon just before you launch into cooldowns or into a multidotting situation would benefit the affliction lock more than just a second demon or a stronger demon.  None of Aff’s secondary stats significantly boost our demons’ performance; rather, we often use our demons to boost ours (Demon Soul, CC, etc.).  Versus: the tandem that destruction locks have with the casting imp macros & procs, and the almost complete dependency demonology locks have with their demons.  A straight damage increase would be more appealing to the affliction warlock as we do the heavy-lifting on our combined master-and-minion DPS.

Tier 6 = Special Ability

  1. Archimonde’s Vengeance | Curse an enemy, inflicting 25% of all damage you take to also harm them.  Lasts 15 sec.  Instant-cast / 1min CD.
  2. Kil’jaeden’s Cunning | You can cast and channel while moving, but doing so doubles the cast time or period of a spell.
  3. Illidan’s Guile | Shadow Bolt, Incinerate, and Malefic Grasp deal splash damage to enemies within 10 yards of their target.  Lasts 30 sec.  Instant-cast / 2min CD.

First off, I was sad there was no Gul’dan or Cho’gall reference in there.  Three demons just do not offer too much variety in my warlock role models.  (Also, Medivh, though I’m not sharp enough on lore to argue he’s a warlock versus a mage.)  Besides, demon warlocks are just plain boring.  I mean, they’re demons — of course they will be full of fel.  Zzzzzzzzz.

At first I thought that Archimonde’s Vengeance was Bane of Havoc redone.  Then I reread it, and, well, it sort of is.  Instead of transferring damage you deal to another target to also the cursed target (Bane of Havoc), it transfers damage you took from the cursed target.  Sounds great for a major boss-nuke phase, especially if you’re not in a position to be actively dealing damage (moving, out of range, etc.).

For PvP, it also sounds pretty cool, especially since it does not specify caster of spell damage on you.  It doesn’t say if you poke me, I reflect some back to you.  It says if you poke me or if Tom pokes me, I reflect some damage back to you.  The anti-focus-fire for warlocks, I suppose.  For PvE, this means it will work like a Bane of Havoc if we have more multi-“room” fights, like Beth’tilac’s up & down areas.  Makes me wonder if we will still retain Bane of Havoc in Mists.

It also tickles my “Demo likes melee” thought.  Demo likes melee because of Immolation Aura and Shadowflame, but Aff and Destro also like melee range for Shadowflame if they can get there.  There are other times when we need to stand in melee with others — “share the love” mechanics (Argaloth, Scorpion Majordomo, etc.).  While you almost never die to these mechanics due to the majority of the raid in the same spot splitting all the damage, it’s pretty cool to have a damage-increase incentive to share the love with my raid members.

I’m specifically looking ahead to Morchok‘s Resonating Crystal mechanic, where you need 3 people minimum to share the love, and I figure raids will often stick to just 3 people sharing.  While life isn’t so bad when you’re a clothy sharing with 12-24 other people, life might get a tad hairy if you’re a clothy sharing with only 2 others (who, if the crystal spawns in range, might also be clothies!).  With AV, on the other hand, the more damage you take, the more damage AV deals.  I think it’s an interesting concept of almost-dying-to-deal-more-DPS.

Kil’jaeden’s Cunning is Spiritwalker’s Grace for warlocks.  With a time penalty.  That makes sense since KJC would be the de facto talent everywhere if it did not have such a penalty.

I don’t think it would be terribly attractive for affliction at all.  Affliction loves haste, specifically for more DoT ticks rather than just a shorter Shadow Bolt cast time.  Affliction especially loves haste for more DoT ticks once everyone else in the raid has geared up.

You’ll notice this in the beginning of tiers and comparing them to later in the tiers.  When everyone is struggling to perform, affliction starts to shine because our DPS is more dependent on how long the target is alive / how much health there is to destroy.  The longer the fight goes, the more DoT ticks we can fit in, so the higher our DPS seems at the beginning of a tier.  As everyone gears up around us, even though we ourselves have also improved with gear, our DPS actually starts to go down on trivial fights like trash in instances, since the available health pools aren’t up as long for us to get our DoTs up and ticking.

Introducing a longer period between ticks wouldn’t be attractive to an affliction warlock.  As we are, now, affliction is actually better on movement than destruction or demonology is.  We don’t lose as much DPS from moving, and we lose even less if we’ve learned to stagger-step our Shadow Bolts in.  (Stagger-step = cast, move, cast, move, cast, move, cast, move, etc.)

Illidan’s Guile sounds a bit meh to me, possibly because I already paw at Seed of Corruption like candy on Halloween.  The difference between which AoE a warlock (or any DPSer) uses depends largely on the pattern of mob position.

If mobs are in a fixed position, more or less, then a warlock is more likely to use a target-circle (Rain of Fire) or cone effect (Shadowflame) type of AoE.  Target circles are often channeled, too, and often the only time you have to stand still for AoE is a stack-up point.  If the mobs are stacked on top of raiders (Ragnaros phase 2), then the radial AoEs will be used if they are stronger (and usually are) than the target-circle or cone-effect AoEs.

Rain of Fire just doesn’t really work out for warlocks.  Shadowflame is awesome on bosses for a bit of single-target DPS, but it’s not a typical AoE.

Radial AoEs — Seed of Corruption, Hellfire, e.g. — do not have a specific target-circle on the ground placement.  Instead, they radiate outward a set distance from a specific point; Seed radiates from the current target, and Hellfire radiates from the warlock herself.  Hellfire is currently only utilized by Demo locks, who can move while Hellfiring, and Seed is a short enough cast that Aff and Destro locks can stagger-step it at the worst.  The advantage of radial AoEs is that if the mobs move, your AoE is still very effective.  Either you move with Hellfire, or you learn with Seed to place it on the most-central mob.  (Another thing with Seed if you try to pick the target which will live longest, so you can spam it longer, which leads to sometimes switching Seed target mid-fight.)

Splash damage works like a radial AoE.  It hits things nearby.

I don’t know why specifically IG was introduced when we already have Seed of Corruption.  I think perhaps if you are Demo or Destro you may like IG, since you can deal normal damage without switching to a weaker AoE (Seed is outside of Destro’s main spell school, but Rain of Fire is a much weaker AoE).

As for affliction?  My Seed casts are faster than Shadow Bolt, reaches farther than IG (15yds versus 10yds), and if Soulburned Seed doesn’t go away, it’s actually more beneficial for me to switch to Seed to spread my DoTs than it is to use some filler splash damage (which is most likely NOT a DoT).  I suppose it could be a way to get some burst damage in; Shadow Bolt definitely hits harder as a single hit than Seed, but that would depend on how much of the original hit splashes.

My Affliction Raiding Spec?

Of course, as Blizzard intends this to be switchable on a per-fight basis, I don’t think I can say anymore that any one spec is the way to go.  But, what are the talents I will pick first?  Which talents would I wear if I was walking into a Mists raid tomorrow?

I think I will go BCBCCA: Soul Leech, Shadowfury, Soul Link, Nether Ward, Grimoire of Sacrifice, and Archimonde’s Vengeance.  (Wowhead has a Mists calculator now!  Here’s my build.)

I also find it a tad funny to see the specs flip talent screen sides.  Traditionally, the specs go in alphabetical order, so you’ll see today affliction, demonology, destruction, left to right.  The Mists talents, on the other hand, appear to have right-side affliction and left-side destruction talents.

Soul Leech is a do-what-you-do healing effect for me.  Shadowfury is a CC I enjoy when I go destro, and sometimes wish I had as affliction, since affliction’s utility is either curse application or pet-dependent.  Soul Link is because it works well enough now, and I also think it would be awesome and hilarious to have an SL/SL build* again.  Nether Ward is a great reduction for spell damage, and most raid damage, even in melee stack-ups, is spell-based.  Grimoire of Sacrifice, I gave my reasons above; in short, I think it would provide the most benefit as affliction spec.  Archimonde’s Vengeance because as an affliction warlock, I really do feel that my health, mana, and damage are fluid and connected concepts that are swapped and transformed between each other often enough.  One of affliction’s strengths is self-healing, so I’m not too afraid to take a few hits for more damage.  It also feels exciting when you’re at that point of your health pool where you could very well die in the next hit, but by definition you’re not dead yet, so you keep casting.

*SL/SL (short for Siphon Life / Soul Link) was an old Wrath build where the warlock went down the affliction tree just enough to get Siphon Life (about halfway down), and then went down the demonology tree the rest of the way.  This resulted in a high-survivability/damage build that was pretty awesome for soloing old dungeons and for PvP.

What will you pick first?  Whys are most welcome. :)

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13 responses

  1. Pingback: Blizzcon 2011 Blogosphere Reactions: Talent Trees — MMO Melting Pot

  2. I’m expecting “Illidan’s Guile” to be renamed, it just doesn’t seem to fit imo. Bring on Gul’dan or Cho’gall (but probablly Gul’dan).

    I expect there to be bugs with “Archimonde’s Vengeance”, specifically with boss insta-gib abilities, although without the old school soulstones I’m not sure how useful it will be.

    Overall i really like the theme of damage absorption, sharing and healing. As long as the mage talents aren’t similar it could be enough to make the classes feel very different.

    24 Oct 2011 at 16:31

  3. Pingback: The Daily Quest: I got your talents right here | WOW News and Tips for Warcraft Players

  4. Kalerender

    I would say your interpretation of Kil’jaeden’s talent to be slightly off.

    As I read it it allows any castable spells to still be cast while moving, except while doing so it takes the extra time. It would not affect any preexisting ticks.

    Arguably this would be a very useful talent for PvE where you can ensure proper movement + finishing off the last few seconds of a spell cast. I expect the penalty to be reduced slightly too.

    27 Oct 2011 at 08:39

    • Someone mentioned this after I posted. I still think stagger-stepping it would get off more Shadow Bolts than a twice-as-long cast time.

      But that’s my pure opinion at this point.

      27 Oct 2011 at 14:38

  5. Your definition of an Empowered Channel is slightly off. They actually said during the talents panel what this was: basically, if you start casting a channeled spell again before it’s done ticking, you get a stack of Empowered Channel. So if you, say, spammed Drain Life five times, you’d get a super-long Drain Life instead.

    27 Oct 2011 at 13:26

    • Also, I didn’t answer your end-of-article question, because I’m a big noob.

      My choices and yours align almost exactly, for basically the same reasons. I would, however, probably try Supremacy first, because I’d like to see what the beholder (presumably the replacement for the Felhunter) is like in terms of damage buffs. (Also because I’ve always liked the beholders.) I have a feeling that Sacrifice will probably end up best for Affliction, as you said.

      It’s also interesting, to me anyway as a Demo lock the other 50% of the time, that the Felguard doesn’t seem to have a replacement yet in Grimoire of Supremacy; I thought it might be the Terrorguard, but there’s Terrorguards in game, they’re upgraded Doomguards. It seems Supremacy would convert the Infernal to an Abyssal and the Doomguard to a Terrorguard; my current speculation is:

      Imp -> Fel Imp
      Voidwalker -> Void Lord
      Succubus -> Shivan
      Felhunter -> Beholder
      Infernal -> Abyssal
      Doomguard -> Terrorguard

      Most of the Beholders have channeled spells; it would be interesting if it boosts our DoT damage in some way. Sort of like a second channeled Haunt? Just some out-of-thin-air speculating.

      27 Oct 2011 at 13:41

      • Ugh. After looking up the Beholders, I really don’t want that talent if it flat-out replaces my felhunter. I love my puppy! :( Lore-wise, I really do love the felhunter as the affliction pet; it drains mana and hunts mana-users. The Beholder seems like the “mage” version of that; it deals beams of damage. o_O

        But that is interesting that the felguard doesn’t get a substitute. Demo get screwed again!

        27 Oct 2011 at 14:47

    • Ah, well, the note-takers/live-bloggers for Blizzcon did not capture that detail. >.>

      27 Oct 2011 at 14:34

  6. SmittyCity

    mine wold look very similar and unless we get a more specific amount of damage increase for Sacrifice i will be going supremacy as an affliction lock i do a lot of buffing to my fel puppy and since it hits harder the more dots that are on the target it accounts for probably 10-15% of my dps to be on par with the other 2 talents i would think we would need a 15-20% straight damage buff for sacrifice to be worth it thats just my speculation though.
    so i would probably go bcb_a_
    tiers 4 and 6 are up in the air for me between a and c on both tiers with tier 6 i agree most fights AV is the choice but i could see blizzard having fights with a main boss that you dont want to switch off of and the occassional ads spawn where IG would be nice to not have to change what you are doing to deal with adds. as for tier 4 netherward is really cool and often times i’ve wished i could have it as affliction but if i can make a soulwell full of bloodstones…. that would make healers very happy during some high damage situations such as with majordomo in scorpion phase you could easily take another swipe if everyone poped bloodstone possibly 2 or 3 with the extra healing.

    01 Nov 2011 at 11:44

  7. Pingback: World of Warcraft @ Blizzcon – My Thoughts (Part III) « Lashings of Liam

  8. Pingback: Two Years, Still Blabbing « Fel Concentration

  9. Pingback: Pandaria.nl – World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria blog » Blog Archive » The Daily Quest: I got your talents right here

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