Specifically talent spec, glyphs, and pets.
I was going to do a fishing reprise, now that my guild has the feast. Because since we have the feast, that doesn’t mean “stop fishing.” Actually that means “keep fishing more.” But our guild bank is going through supplies quickly, so I figured less writing, more fishing. I’ll finish it later. I keep forgetting the more tag.
Since only a radical expansion-changing change would change talents around beyond minor edits for this post, I’m going to leave it a vague title and update as needed. Raiding is in parentheses since that’s my main focus, even though this discussion could apply to various spec foci.
Updated for 4.0.1.
Making a T&G Build
I’m all for making your own build. Even as you level. I find it a bit of a fun game to see if I can guess the raiding talent & glyph build as I level and then check it only when I hit 80. I usually get pretty close, too. I may have chosen leveling talents, but I can tell almost the exact raiding build upon hitting cap level.
For a caster DPS, anything that increases your damage means you should obviously take this. Beneficial procs like haste or crit are also, dur-hur, taken. In the Cataclysm trees, those heavily-bordered talents are actually spells that get added to your spellbook in your specific specialization’s tab.
In Cataclysm, you must spend 31 points in one tree before you can branch out to the other ones, and then you have 10 points to put wherever you wish. I will run a 32/3/6 build when I hit 85, so you don’t have to leave the Affliction tree once you’ve got your 31 points. Beyond about 33 for PvE is getting a bit ridiculous, however.
Discussable Talents for Afflic
You wouldn’t discuss whether maxing out Improved Corruption or Everlasting Affliction is a big deal or not. Taking both of those is a no-brainer in the land of PvE DPS. (Even PvP DPS, dare I say.)
Improved Life Tap | I’m going to run with ILT 2/2 because I’m all for more mana back during a Life Tap. I would have to Life Tap less often, which would certainly please my healers who, I’m told, will be seriously confined by mana in Cataclysm.
Jinx | Taking Jinx means that you can cast Curse of the Elements and have the spell effect extend to any-enemy-body within 20 or 40 yds. Which is cool if you’re raiding and don’t have an Unholy DK (Ebon Plaguebringer talent) or a Moonkin (Earth & Moon talent) to help spread the love. You can get by with a 20 yds increase if you’re a smart warlock and don’t Seed on the outside of mob packs. (It’s the same deal with CoE; put it on the middle mob for max effect.)
It also does something to manaless powers regeneration, but I guess that extends to PvP. I don’t see how it does in Battlegrounds since players tend to die in a matter of seconds. Plus, usually when I die to a rogue it’s because I’m stun-locked, not because OH NOES his energy is regenning like CRAZY YO. However, I’m a relative PvP beginner, so maybe I’m just talking a load of crap here.
Curse of Exhaustion (abbrev. CoEx) | I consider this a definite take, mainly because I’m excited to CC. I’d say “CC again,” but as a Wrath raider, I didn’t have much CC’ing going on in the first place. I already have it in my 80 raiding build in 4.0.1, and it serves some use on Val’Kyrs in the Lich King fight. Or the various mobs in Dreamwalker. I don’t consider this a discussable talent, but some min/maxers may if they have other classes with slows covering them.
Improved Fear / Improved Howl of Terror | These are PvP talents, for the most part. Generally Fear isn’t used in dungeons because the warlock has no control of where the Feared mob will run. Often it will run into the next mob pack and pull everything. With the Glyph of Fear, however, we may be able to use Fear again, since the glyph keeps the mob in place with the Horror effect rather than running around. Regardless, the mob moving slower after the Fear falls off is rather useless in PvE. Also, slapping a CoEx on the mob would slow it more for longer than the maxed-out Nightmare effect would.
Howl of Terror is an AoE fear; i.e. you’d use it when the melee specs close in on you in battlegrounds. There is no glyph to hold mobs in place, so using this in a dungeon practically guarantees you’d pull the entire place (unless, it’s the last mob pack).
In the days of the 51-point talent tree, Affliction warlocks would branch out into the Destruction tree, mainly for improvements to Shadow Bolt (which is a Destruction-school spell). Bane and Shadow and Flame are the two talents most appealing to Affliction warlocks. Bane shortens your Shadow Bolt’s cast time. Shadow and Flame increases the damage of your Shadow Bolt, but it also puts an effect on the mob that increases spell critical strike against that target.
With a Soulburn, Soul Fire becomes instant-cast, regardless of your warlock spec. With Improved Soul Fire, the min/maxers may prove that burning a SF at the beginning of fights is an increase in DPS (since you’ll have 15% haste). I personally don’t want to take this talent; Affliction is shadow and drains to me, not fire. It’s not in the personality of the rotation for me. So maybe the min/maxers will flame me *chortle* for that.
In the days of the 51-point talent tree, Affliction warlocks would branch out into the Demonology tree for survivability use. There was a build called SL/SL (Siphon Life / Soul Link) that was particularly fun to solo old dungeons with. You could even almost solo world elites (I remember doing the last parts of the Hemingway Nagrand quests as SL/SL). You were almost invincible. Except for, you know, being a clothie. Bah, cloth.
Typically, as a raiding lock, only the first tier is available, and not even all of it unless you want out of the Destruction tree entirely.
Demonic Embrace will increase your stamina by 4/7/10%; this is helpful considering most of the healer Cataclysm discussion reveals we will endure boss fights at around 70% health on average. More stamina means more health means more 70% health to knock down than a talentless 70% health. More health also means more Life Tap before you annoy your healer and kill yourself.
Dark Arts might be useful if Affliction ever gets back the Felhunter as a pet. Currently, the Succubus with her Glyph is the best DPS I’ve gotten out of a pet. Before 4.0.1, the felpup was awesome since he had both a talent in the Affliction tree and a glyph. Now he just has this Demo talent (same effect from his old talent).
I’m probably going to opt for Fel Synergy 2/2, which heals my pet for a portion of my damage. Pets already have a 90% avoidance to AoE effects, but with healers having trouble keeping up players, there’ll be even less of a chance for your pet to be kept up.
Plus, what are we without demon pets?
Here’s the possible Affliction glyphs you can obtain: Bane of Agony, Corruption, Unstable Affliction, and Haunt. The pet glyphs are Lash of Pain and Imp (and Felguard, but you have to be Demo to have a FG).
We use the succubus as a pet, so Lash of Pain is in. In fact, her glyph is what makes her better than the felhunter. I fly with Haunt and Bane of Agony.
Unstable Affliction I don’t find very useful, especially with the amount of haste I raid with. Corruption will give you double the change you had to get a Nightfall proc (instant SBolt). That’d be helpful in heavy-movement encounters, but it’ll remain my backup choice for now.
Major glyphs are that middle ground between prime and minor glyphs. Minor glyphs are complete utility; prime glyphs visibly affect your DPS. Major glyphs, then, are utilities that can also help out your DPS.
Soul Swap, as an Affliction lock, is a must-take. Once you get the hang of using Soul Swap, you’ll know why. Soul Swap originally takes your DoTs off the first target before putting them on the second. The glyph lets your DoTs stay on while you copy them over to the second target. So you’re multidoting without the ramp-up time. How COOL is that?
Most min/maxing advice will tell you the Life Tap glyph is next. I don’t agree. The min/maxers use simulations and theoretical math to determine the best of everything — talents, rotations, gear, glyphs. I have a feeling that these simulations just Life Tap whenever a certain mana threshold has been reached, regardless of what you’re doing at the time.
Furthermore, I believe Life Tapping is a bit more of an Art; there is a right and a wrong time to Life Tap, but it’s so variable, it’s really hard to put about set rules for when you should Life Tap. You get a feeling for when you’ll be able to survive without 15% of your health for the next few seconds. You might need the mana now, but maybe a big raid-wide damage effect is supposed to happen and you know your healers will be grinding their teeth just trying to keep you guys up. Minus fifteen percent isn’t going to help them out.
And really, half a second is going to help you out? I’d rather be Life Tapping while I can’t DPS; maybe I’m out of range (Sindy’s air phase) or I’m moving (spore running on Festergut). At least then I’ll be doing something futurely beneficial.
Glyph of Healthstone might be useful — I’d rather see if I really do need the extra oomph from a fel cookie to survive an encounter. As Affliction, I’ve got Drain Life and burning DL SOOPAFAST DOWNLOAD! and then whatever health pot I have, then my Healthstone, plus whatever I’m getting from Siphon Life off my Corruption. As Affliction, I’ve got a variety of options to keep myself alive, compared to other classes and specs.
Glyph of Fear will help you bring back your main warlockery Crowd Control ability. C’mon! What’s a warlock without Fear? I discussed this earlier when talking about the Fear talents.
The last glyph I picked was Shadow Bolt; it reduces the mana cost of SBolt by 15%. Shadow Bolt easily takes the most out of my mana pool without using AoE abilities. Less mana cost means more casts per mana, but it also means I need less mana to do the same DPS. In healer-speak, I won’t need to Life Tap as much.
As far as minor glyphs go, warlocks got shafted. Of course, a lot of classes are rather PFFT about their minor glyphs, but it’s really hard to tell you that even ONE of these six possibilities is needed. We used to have Drain Soul as a definite, since it had a bonus effect of possibly generating a second shard. Back when we could have like 32 or more shards.
But now we only have 3. And Glyph of DS doesn’t have that shard bonus anymore. Whoop-de-damn-doo.
I opted for Souls, Unending Breath (I hear dere’s dem water zones now), and Kilrogg (FLYING EoK YESSSSSSSSSSS). It’s really more what floats your boat than what’s useful.
And that should be it for talents & glyphs. I’m not on beta, so I can’t really do a rotations thing at 85. You’ll have to wait for me to get to 85 to tell you all about that one.
It’s Too Long For A Comment. In this case? WAY too long. Ridiculously long. Therefore, I shall provide anchor links & a “Read more” link for your readerly benefit.
About & Resources
This post is part of my Affliction Lock Endgame Basics (ALEB) series. These are my choices on talents & glyphs for affliction warlocking at level 80. I’ve seen variations, but I’ve tried to pick out what I believe are the core talents every affliction warlock should have, and then I’ll explain some of the optional ones I’ve taken or others have taken. The major glyphs are practically unanimous in the affylock community, and the minor glyphs are unanimously a joke for the most part.
I rock deep affliction with shadow bolt support from destruction. I’ve rocked this spec since I was leveling, and I have barely changed it since I broke 80. Click the picture to see it bigger. The green boxes signify what I think are the important or core talents of affliction raiding. The purple boxes show talents I’ve taken or have seen taken, because they’re useful but you had a couple of points left to throw around. There’s also glyphs in the picture (since I screenshotted the WowHead Talent Calculator), but I’ll discuss those later. For those who can’t see the picture for whatever reason, here’s a link to the WHTC I used.
- Aff Tier 1 — All: Improved Curse of Agony buffs the “damage” curse affliction locks use; the other curse we like to use is Curse of the Elements, which helps all spellcasters on the target. Suppression is important because it decreases the amount of hit rating you need on your gear to reach the hit cap. Improved Corruption is just one buff of many to the staple spell of affliction.
- Aff Tier 2 — Imp DS & SS: This tier tricks out Drain Soul for you. Improved Drain Soul helps your mana if you use it as a finishing move on even trash and it reduces our ridiculously generated threat by a chunk. Soul Siphon ups Drain Soul from a mere utility spell (shard generation) to a real damaging spell by buffing it according to however many Affliction buffs you have on the target.
- Aff Tier 3 — Amplify Curse: This is the only useful spell in this tier for PvE action. It means you can cast other things faster because your GCD for your curse is smaller.
- Aff Tier 4 — Nightfall & Emp. Corr: Nightfall is the warlock version of the shammy Elemental Mastery. Your Corruption ticks can proc an instant Shadow Bolt, which is awesome. Empowered Corruption increases the spellpower coefficient of your Corruption: aka, more oomph per point of spellpower.
- Aff Tier 5 — Sh. Emb. & SL: Shadow Embrace is a twice-stacking debuff applied by Haunt & Shadow Bolt that buffs all your shadow DoT damage on the target. Siphon Life used to be a spell by itself, but is now a passive part of Corruption. It drains health back to you as Corruption damages the target. This is an excellent tool for soloing, but also gives warlocks a unique edge in helping out healers.
- Aff Tier 6 — Shadow Mastery: This is a straight buff to your shadow spells and a bit of a buff to the Felhunter minion. Rumor has it Blizzard is trying to bring back the felpuppy as the token affliction pet.
- Aff Tier 7 — Erad. & Contg.: Eradication is amazing when it procs; when it does, this is a cue for you to spam Shadow Bolts, since even with moderate haste, you can see cast times under 2s. Contagion is a buff to Corruption, Seed of Corruption, and Curse of Agony, and also provides the PvP dispell resist.
- Aff Tier 8 — Malediction: This used to be a buff to others on only the Curse of Elements spell, but it’s now a straight buff to your spell damage and spell crit.
- Aff Tier 9 — All: Death’s Embrace helps you out when your health is low, but it’s taken more because of the execute phase it defines. At 35% target health, all your shadow spells do more damage. Unstable Affliction is a staple DoT in the affliction rotation, as well as a powerful PvP spell if dispelled. Pandemic is crit-ical (/groan): it allows Corr and UA ticks to crit, and it lets Haunt crit for twice the damage.
- Aff Tier 10 — Everlasting Affliction: EA gives your Corruption infinite life while you work your rotation. This is especially important if your take the Quick Decay glyph, since moderate haste could allow Corr to fall off if you didn’t have the arsenal of refreshing spells.
- Aff Tier 11 — Haunt: This is the other talent-gained spell in the affliction rotation. It buffs your shadow damage on the target as long as its debuff is applied and in tandem with Siphon Life, its heal offsets your Life Tap health drops.
- Destro Tier 1 — All: Improved Shadow Bolt buffs the SB spell, since it’s one of the only non-Affliction tree spells you will use. Bane makes casting SB less time-consuming.
- Destro Tier 3 — Ruin: This is Destro’s Pandemic: it allows your SB (and the imp’s FB) to crit for twice the normal damage.
- Aff Tier 2 — Improved Life Tap: I’ve taken this because it buffs the mana I get from Life Tap. Less LTing means more SBing for me.
- Aff Tier 3 — Fel Concentration: Despite being my blog’s name, this talent is useless in PvE. However, I’ve seen PvP warlocks take it.
- Aff Tier 6 — Improved Felhunter: Blizzard is trying to bring back the felpuppy as the affliction token pet; this talent buffs your Felhunter a bit. If you use the FH a lot, it’s a good talent; however, I find the FH dies too much to party/raid damage for these 2 points to be useful to me.
- Aff Tier 7 — Dark Pact: This lets you steal your pet’s mana instead of your own. Prime use is with a phase imp buffed with Blessing of Wisdom, so you have your own regenerative, reusable mana pot. Dark Pact will also proc the Life Tap glyph buff, which I find handy when healers have their hands full or a big party/raid-wide damage is incoming.
- Demo Tier 1 — Imp. HS & Dem. Emb. & Fel Syn: Improved Healthstone buffs the amount of health returned by using a healthstone; this is a utility talent that other classes like. Demonic Embrace increases your Stamina, which is important for survivability, but it’s also a buff to your mana pool through Life Tap. Fel Synergy makes more sense since, as suggested by KoalaBear21, heals your pet for a portion of the damage you do. Good stuff for those felpuppies who stubbornly stand in whatever AoE is behind the boss. I’m too lazy to redo the picture right now–it’s the far-right one on tier 1.
- Destro Tier 2 — Cataclysm: I took this once as throwaway talent points; it takes off a tiny bit of mana for using Shadow Bolt or Rain of Fire. It’s a negligible difference for Shadow Bolt, but Rain of Fire, as typical AoE spells do, uses a massive chunk of mana.
- Destro Tier 4 — Destructive Reach: Some warlocks take this in tandem with affliction’s Grim Reach to increase the range of all spells to 40 yds. I think it’s mostly taken for the threat reduction on Destro spells, however.
The WowHead Talent Calculator also lets you pick glyphs, and it awesomely lists the description of the glyph along with what main talent tree the glyph affects. Here’s a screenshot of the affliction major glyphs (QD hasn’t yet been classified as affliction, but it is). Click for the bigger picture.
The three you want to take are Quick Decay, Haunt, and Life Tap. The Glyph of Haunt is a straight buff to Haunt’s debuff, which itself buffs your shadow damage on the target. The Glyph of Life Tap gives you almost a second Fel Armor buff for 40 seconds. All ranks of Life Tap and Dark Pact can trigger this buff, so it’s not uncommon for a warlock to use Life Tap (Rank 1) at the beginning of a fight. The Glyph of Quick Decay applies your haste to your Corruption ticks. You get faster ticks, which is more damage per second in the long run. For more information on how QD works, revisit my post on the glyph.
The minor glyphs available for warlocks are more or less a joke. Only Drain Soul is moderately useful: a small proc chance of generating two shards instead of just one off a Drain Soul tick. The rest, well…just pick two more or leave them blank. I picked Souls & Unending Breath: the former because at least I would use it and the latter because I’m lazy and wanted a hilarious “useful” buff to cast on people as thanks for casting a buff on me.
Questions & Comments?
As always, I welcome constructive criticism, question, suggestions, and opinions from other affy locks out there–new or old. :) This post is currently updated for Patch 3.3.0a.